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Daniel quoted in BBC article

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Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/8/16 7:28 PM
Is Mindfulness Meditation Dangerous? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2nB1psRz3JFQpzDh6J2Z6xl/is-mindfulness-meditation-dangerous)
Another fan of meditation is Daniel Ingram, an emergency doctor in Alabama who also runs an online meditation forum with 5000 members. From Daniel’s point of view, strong experiences from meditation are exactly what you should expect, if you follow the theory of Theravada Buddhism. In that tradition there’s a phase of meditation called the “arising and passing away”, after which you get the “dark night” - and for some, the dark night is very dark.

“For an unfortunate few, it can be pretty extreme depression, micro-psychotic episodes, and psychotic depression, and can make people suicidal, and occasionally even kill themselves. It’s really amazing that somehow western science has largely missed this. Which is unfortunate, considering the large number of people who are now meditating in sufficient doses to cross the arising and passing away.”

Which is not necessarily that large a dose. “I mean, you should see the emails I get,” says Daniel. “There’s a lot of this out there. And, it’s not just people who are going on long intense meditation retreats. I know plenty of people who have crossed into this territory spontaneously, including a number of family members, I know someone who ran into it on the way home from a yoga class and wrecked their car. They drove it straight into a telephone pole. I get all kinds of calls from people who said, ‘I just did a mindfulness-based stress reduction course. And all of a sudden, I’m having these crazy experiences’.” Is this likely to increase as mindfulness and mediation become more fashionable, I asked him? “Oh, yes. I would say it’s nearly guaranteed.”

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/9/16 12:27 PM as a reply to Matthew.
Right, well, that's exactly what I was afraid was going to happen and was why I wrote my memoir, Silicon Valley Monk. The "Mindfulness Industry" kind of doesn't want to acknowledge DNs and A&Ps. Meditation is, as Daniel says, serious transformative stuff and the teachers need to acknowledge that serious difficulties can arise. It seems to me that nothing has really changed, the mushroom culture still rules. But then maybe its expecting too much for people who are trying to make money on meditation to give a balanced view. Paraphrasing Mark Twain, it's difficult for a person to acknowledge the truth of something when their livelihood depends on believing the opposite.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/9/16 1:37 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk, to integrate your comment: because of mushroom culture itself, probably many "mindfulness practitioners" never cross the A&P in the first place. When it does happen, there is an alternative framework for explaining the negative psychological effects (western psychotherapy), and in any case it happens uncommonly enough that mushroom teachers are able to unsee the pattern that is there.

Given the time, it will change, hopefully.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/9/16 5:52 PM as a reply to neko.
It would be nice to have better data. What is the incidence of mindfulness practictioners having that kind of serious trouble? I suspect, but cannot prove, that there is a greater likelihood that vipassana practitioners and practitioners of other "deeper" methods of meditation having dark night episodes that could be classified as serious as opposed to MBSR practitioners.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/10/16 12:43 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris,

Perhaps but the quote from Daniel in the BBC article implies he's run into a couple cases where people were practicing MBSR and ran into A&P or DN. But I think that certainly adverse outcomes are more likely with retreat practice.

The person who would have the data is Willoughby Britton (http://www.brittonlab.com/). She has done/is doing a study on adverse outcomes.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/10/16 1:17 PM as a reply to svmonk.
Thanks, svmonk.

I suspect it's impossible to ascertain incidence rates from Daniel Ingram's comment - he's like flypaper for folks having trouble with their meditation practice. All of his correspondents self-select so the sample is biased.

I've met Willoughby Britton - I'll comb through her published articles for some better data.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 9:22 PM as a reply to Matthew.
Jolyon Jenkins (in the BBC article):
"From Daniel’s point of view, strong experiences from meditation are exactly what you should expect,
if you follow the theory of Theravada Buddhism. In that tradition there’s a phase of meditation called the “arising and passing away”, after which you get the “dark night” - and for some, the dark night is very dark."
Perhaps Mr. Jenkins is misquoting Daniel, but I will note that the basic issue here should not, can not be characterized as a defining aspect of Theravada Buddhism.

Sayadaw Mahasi's terms for stages of development (from The Progress of Insight) are approximations of material from the Visudhimagga (and are further approximated in MCTB ):
Knowledge of Arising and Passing Away (udayabbaya-ñana)
Aka "A&P", a themeheavily documented in the Pali Sutta-s.
Knowledgeof Dissolution (bhanga-ñana)
Awareness of Fearfulness (bhayatupatthana-ñana)
Knowledge of Misery (adinava-ñana)
Knowledge of Disgust (nibbida-ñana)"
Dark Night" refers, roughly,to these stages, which have corelates also in the Sutta-s.


All these stages are, however, forms of "knowledge", or "awareness" (why the alternative translation for the same Pali 'ñana' ?), and in general framed as masteries of understanding, in the Sutta-s and the commentaries (i.e.Buddhaghosa, Mahasi, MCTB, etc.). They are not framed traditionally so much as overwhelming psychological crises as they are in the modern interpretations. In fact, the modern (Western) interpretations seem overwhelmed by a need to frame it all as psychological, as, more specifically, Western-style personalities issues (MCTB "stuff"). Again noting the degree to which psychologists dominate in modernist Buddhist circles; perhaps they detect an existential threat in the Buddha's teachings and are compelled to assert authority and "adapt" (aka distort) dhamma into a more acceptable dharma?

To identify these issue with Theravada Buddhism is exaggerated to the point of being outright misrepresentation – more expression of the dominant Romanticism cultural bias (as in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's book) than accurate understanding of Theravada dhamma. Call it 'dharma', 'meditation', etc., but, as in recent pointed critiques by Bikkhu Bodhi, Thanissaro Bhikku, et al, attributing Western deeply culturally-biased partial understanding to Theravada is tantamount to the "false dhamma" that the Buddha foretold (as per the Pali accounts).

Perhaps also not just Theravada here, as, in that video with the Dalai Lama attending Willoughby Britton's presentation of her research (aired a while ago here in DhO "Willoughby Britton Dalai Lama presentation" http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5792064), where he asks, in re those meditation techniques resulting in out-of-control psychological crises, "Who taught you to do that?" That sounds to me like he's also defending the teachings in his tradition against modernist misinterpretation and outright poor teaching.

re: Chris Marti (5/10/16 1:17 PM as a reply to svmonk)
"I suspect it's impossible to ascertain incidence rates from Daniel Ingram's comment - he's like flypaper for folks having trouble with their meditation practice. All of his correspondents self-select so the sample is biased."
Not to deny the situations where individuals get into serious trouble doing "meditation", it's clear that entertaining A&P and DN experiences is fashionable here in DhO, and to a large extent precipitated by "suggestion" that triggers strong latent biases.

re: neko (5/9/16 1:37 PM as a reply to svmonk)
"…because of mushroom culture itself, probably many "mindfulness practitioners" never cross the A&P in the first place. When it does happen, there is an alternative framework for explaining the negative psychological effects (western psychotherapy), and in any case it happens uncommonly enough that mushroom teachers are able to unsee the pattern that is there."
Another alternative to add is that many dhamma practitioners experience A&P or DN type phenomena without being torn apart by it, rather taken in stride and buoyed by the rewarding facets of the progress of the path. I recall this does get mentioned in MCTB (and DhO), but is routinely far overshadowed by the emphasis on the more sensationalist cases.

In that view, perhaps "pragmatic" teachers at times fall into a reaction to "mushroom" teachers, but end-up getting stuck in similar blind spots.

(edited typos, added emphasis 20160511)

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 1:58 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi Chris,

With all due respect to Than Geoff, Bikkhu Bodhi, etc., I think you need to consider that these folks are professional religious people, i.e. clerics. If you were to ask a Catholic priest about the divinity of Christ, he would of course reply that it was true. I actually asked Than Geoff a question many years ago after a talk about the karma of owls. Owls tend to eat the weakest of their young when they are nestlings shortly after they hatch, especially when food is scarce. This functions as a measure of population control. Than Geoff told me that of course this would generate bad karma and the owls would be reborn in the appropriate realm. Actually, owls evolved that way through differential reproduction, i.e. the offspring of owls that ate their young survied more often than those that didn't so the trait became dominant in the population. They don't have any choice in the matter. Darwin rules here. Since then, I have had a tendency to take what Than Geoff says with a grain of salt.

I also think that there probably were cases of trainee monks losing it at traditional monestaries. I don't know much about the case of Theravadan monks, but the Tibetans do talk about it in other traditions than the Gelugpa, some Zen koans verge on craziness (google "Nanjing kills a cat" and he was a master) and the Sufis have many stories about pirs that end up in the mental hospital. So it would not surprise me if the Thervadan tradition also had such cases, but simply didn't talk about them. Mostly my experience (from the retreat I did in 2011) is Thervadan monks don't like to talk about stuff that's hard or difficult coming up during meditation, even to give you strategies for dealing with it. I got my best advice during that retreat from a Western vipassana teacher.

Anyway, I can say that, personally, Daniel's book explained a lot about my meditation history that was puzzling when I encountered it in 2013. I can't say that it explained everything, and I'm not sure I agree with the fine differences in the various degrees of Knowledges, etc. that he sets out in his maps, though there are others on this forum that have more experience with them and have found them helpful. The fact is that some people some of the time do experience negative outcomes from meditation. These run from short period of mild depression to psychotic eposides of short or longer duration (my experience) up to and including suicide*. Whether or not these people are "practicing correctly" according to some abstract scheme laid out by Than Geoff, the Visudhimagga, the Pali Canon, or anywhere else is completely beside the point. Whether or not the Dali Lama agrees with Willoghby Britton's research, which is, after all, simply recording the stories of these people is also beside the point. The point is: how can these people be helped, how can we change or modify meditation instruction so that these kinds of incidents occur less often, and, if such an incident should occur, how can we get compassionate and caring help to these people and not simply throw them to the hounds of the Western medical and mental health system? So far, the answer to this question from the Western meditation community, both pragmatic and traditional, is resounding silence. With the single exception of this discussion forum, which is why I hang out here.

*The most heartbreaking story of this kind is the case of a young American woman who took a course in Theravada during her freshman year in college and then did a retreat during the semester break in Bodhgaya. During the interviews, she told the teacher that she had achieved insight into her karma and realized that she had to die in order to become enlightened. On the last day of the retreat, they found her dead, she had jumped off the roof of the retreat house. Daniel mentioned that when he was in Bodhgaya, he visited the emergency room (professional courtesy) and the doctors there told him that young people occasionally end up in the emergency room after retreats.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 2:40 PM as a reply to svmonk.
I assume that was in reply to Chris J. Macie?

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 2:45 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris M.,

Yes, that's what it says in the message header. Sorry for the confusion.

          jak

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 4:15 PM as a reply to svmonk.
Not to flog a dead horse, but Than Geoff also spoke conclusively on how breathing can stop while you're deeply absorbed and you can breathe through the pores of your skin (I can't reference the exact talk, but it was one on audiodharma, IIRC). So yeah, take things with a grain of salt as required*. Just so we're clear, I have benefited tremendously from many of his talks and books, so count me among his fans, just not of his more spurious claims emoticon

As a counter example to the case of Theravadin monks... I've also heard Ajahn Amaro speak about difficulties along the path. In particular, stories of bhikkhus who broke under pressure and had benefited from some kindness, either from fellow monastics or the abbot (I'm thinking of two stories, one where Ajahn Chah sat up all night with a monk who was on the verge, or had just broken down; and IIRC Amaro doing the same with another young monastic who had flipped out, "escaped" down to a pub in town and was making a scene).

* As practitioners of the Dharma, I think we're instructed to do this. Ehipassiko and all that, amirite?

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 9:16 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
re: Chris Marti (5/11/16 2:40 PM as a reply to svmonk) and svmonk (5/11/16 2:45 PM as a reply to Chris Marti)

"I assume that was in reply to Chris J. Macie?"
Thanks for pointing out how crowded the "Chris"-name-space has become here. Accordingly, I've edited my identifier to "CJMacie".

btw: "Chris", from "Christopher", or "Christina" or variations, apparently goes back to a Greek word meaning "annointed" – the "Christ" meant "the annointed one", i.e. specially picked-out, designated; perhaps a sort of Messiah notion. More informally, one might say "oily" or "greasy". emoticon

"Christopher" is especially risky, as it (still) gets routinely truncated to "Christophe" in order to fit computer 10-character data-fields. Perhaps better would have been "Kristofer", as the grandfather whose name I inherited was in fact German.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/11/16 9:18 PM as a reply to Small Steps.
re: Small Steps (5/11/16 4:15 PM as a reply to svmonk)

"…Than Geoff also spoke conclusively on how breathing can stop while you're deeply absorbed and you can breathe through the pores of your skin…"
Yes, that was a day-long at IMC/Sati-Institute, Redwood City, a couple of years ago. (I was there.) As outlandish as it may seem, he did mention scientific evidence that had to do with using wet-suits or perhaps space-suits,which cut-off the skin from air-contact, being associated withmedical problems. There's also talk in gi-gong traditions of surviving without ingesting food, but rather deriving sustaining nutriment from breathing and skin-absorbing just air ("qi" has among its many meanings, simply "air", or "gas").

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/12/16 12:37 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Chris, no need to defend magical thinking. I enjoy flights of fancy from time to time as well ;)

With regards to this qi gong idea... I would love to believe it, then it would completely remake the answer to the question, "What is one?" from "All beings subsist on food," to "All beings need to breathe."*

* This is from Than Geoff's excellent essay "We Are Not One" is in his latest collection of writings, Noble and True. I believe it was also published in one of the Buddhist glossy mags recently.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/12/16 1:21 PM as a reply to Small Steps.
Small Steps:
Chris, no need to defend magical thinking. I enjoy flights of fancy from time to time as well ;)

With regards to this qi gong idea... I would love to believe it, then it would completely remake the answer to the question, "What is one?" from "All beings subsist on food," to "All beings need to breathe."*

* This is from Than Geoff's excellent essay "We Are Not One" is in his latest collection of writings, Noble and True. I believe it was also published in one of the Buddhist glossy mags recently.
In humans and most other mammals, cutaneous respiration accounts for only 1 to 2 percent.[3][1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutaneous_respiration

And, 

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013067/full

One could suppose, it may be possible to survive through breathing through the skin, but one would have to be in some kind of hibernation state, i.e. Nirodha Samapatti.  I do not think breathing ceases in the arupa jhanas , I think one is just unaware of the breathing body at those times. Hence Arupa, not physical.  And the reverse would also be true,  If one is aware of the breath , then it is not arupa jhana.

Magic is just science that we don't understand yet.” — Arthur CClarke


Sci  emoticon

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/12/16 1:44 PM as a reply to Matthew.
These forums seem to have a disproportionate number of people named Chris.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/15/16 5:17 AM as a reply to svmonk.
re: svmonk (5/11/16 1:58 PM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

Owls and Darwin's rule…
The religiosity with which science/scientists juxtapose one belief system against other kinds of "professional religious people"/belief-systems is, historically, rather transparent. History, albeit an enterprise of "views", does add perspective where so much of peoples' views dwell rather naively in present-day popular beliefs ("Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it")An interesting alternative view can be found in the substantial documentation (in Buddhist Romanticism – the book by Than-Geoff) that much of the modern attitude towards "science", and in particular the evolution of the "evolution" issue (Darwin and those who presaged the ideas that became identified with his work) is arguably a product of the German Romantic worldview.

"So it would not surprise me if the Thervadan tradition also had such cases, but simply didn't talk about them. Mostly my experience (from the retreat I did in 2011) is Thervadan monks don't like to talk about stuff that's hard or difficult coming up during meditation, even to give you strategies for dealing with it. I got my best advice during that retreat from a Western vipassana teacher."
Not to forget, the current form of "meditation retreats" is a modern invention, the norm inthe West, and it's origins in Asia closely intertwined with Western influence over the last couple of centuries. More traditional teacher-student relationships were more along the lines of one-on-onetutorial or apprentice arrangements, most often over an extended period of time – years to decades.

No, they don't talk about "stuff" in Canon or commentaries, as it's more properly individually oriented. In the proper teaching context, the analogous know-how was very likely more often available and applied as not. Fixating on outlier cases, which occur in any context and time, seems is a specialty of the Western approach, as dramatically shown in the media culture.

Through this, and other discussions, the hypothesis that the "mushroom" and the "pragmatic" modernist approaches are variations on the same theme is appearing increasingly plausible, IME.

Traditional Theravadan and Tibetan views (and methods) being "besides the point", and "The point is: how can these people be helped, how can we change or modify meditation instruction so that these kinds of incidents occur less often, and, if such an incident should occur, how can we get compassionate and caring help to these people…" – attempting a Ralph Nadar / EPA approach, legistlate teacher qualifications? Yet another modernist variation? Why not just leave the traditions out of it, and press ahead with some new, "secular" or "pragmatic" system that can stand on its own?

… continuing "view ping-pong"…

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/15/16 11:56 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
I have had two alarming experiences while on retreat. In the first case, I had encountered a sense of depersonalization, or maybe I should call it a strong opening into anatta, prior to the retreat, and had talked with a couple of meditation teachers, one of whom recommended I tell the retreat teacher where I was at as soon as I got there. She recommended avoiding techniques that increased concentration, and to focus on grounding, with more walking meditation and also ordinary walks outside. In the second case, I was on a jhana retreat and ended up feeling as if I were going to float away. The teacher said to cut my time in meditation and just back off. 

Both instructions were similar, in telling me to do the opposite of what I usually try to do while in retreat. Grounding practices, especially eating heavy food, lots of physical activity, and even the yogi job, were an antidote to the head trips I was on. The point is, I was lucky to have instructors who knew what to tell me to do. Telling a person to "keep meditating" is not helpful. I am not saying that what worked for me would get anyone else sorted out, but it would be a good start for teachers to all know the territory. 

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/15/16 10:21 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi CJM,

I do not subscribe to the postmodernist view that science is the equivalent of Buddhist/German romanticsm as you seem to be implying here. The scientific method involves constructing a theory explaining existing evidence but extending beyond the existing evidence to make new predictions, then collecting evidence to verify the theory, and either accepting or discarding the theory based on whether the evidence is in accordance or opposed to the theory. This has, in fact, been done with evolution, in a case involving the change in the coloration of moths in the British countryside near Leeds due to air pollution (the experiment was done in the mid 20th century before widespread pollution controls), as well as numerous other cases. And now we even have a mechanism underpining the observations, namely genetics. Now, there are some folks like Richard Dawkins who believe science is superior to every other intellectual tradition, even those that deal with areas where observation and  experiment are not possible, and there are some scientific areas like string theory which may be in principle unverifiable and therefore more like mathematics or philosophy, and I'm not saying I agree with them either. But unless I misunderstand your point, what you seem to be advocating regarding owls and Than Geoff is what creationists on the Christian side adovcate, namely a faith-based approach.
Traditional Theravadan and Tibetan views (and methods) being "besides the point", and "The
point is: how can these people be helped, how can we change or modify
meditation instruction so that these kinds of incidents occur less
often, and, if such an incident should occur, how can we get
compassionate and caring help to these people…
" – attempting a
Ralph Nadar / EPA approach, legistlate teacher qualifications? Yet
another modernist variation? Why not just leave the traditions out of
it, and press ahead with some new, "secular" or "pragmatic" system that
can stand on its own?
Religous traditions, like any human institution, have a vested interest in presenting the best story possible about the effectiveness of their soteriological claims. I believe we today would call this "spin". Therefore, it is not surprising that we don't see any stories in the texts (what is suprising is that in the Sufi texts the pirs talk about it a lot) concerning people who have had difficulties to the point of committing suicide. Today, I think we have a more honest view about these kinds of problems, or maybe the Internet just makes it harder to hide them. As I understand it, one of the primary injunctions of Dharma practice (at least on the Mahayana side) is to develop a compassionate response to the world, not just visualizing in retreat, but also in our day to day interactions with others. Therefore, I would in fact like to see a truth in labeling Dharma talk once a year by teachers that deals with the possibility of negative outcomes and how to deal with them should they occur. I view this as a test of whether Dharma "walks the walk" as well as "talks the talk" so to speak. And the development of a set of tools and techniques shared among teachers about how to handle such cases. I don't know if teachers are yet discussing it at teachers' meetings, I suppose it will take a high profile event to really make them address the issue as was the case with teachers sexually harassing students.

<Pong>

Edited minorly

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/16/16 5:35 AM as a reply to svmonk.
re: svmonk (5/15/16 10:21 PM as a reply to CJMacie)

"…the postmodernist view that science is the equivalent of Buddhist/German romanticism…"
Sorry for not being clear, but it wasn't intended to imply such an equivalence. Contemporary science can be construed as a pure methodology, as you well describe. It remains, though, a complex human cultural endeavour, with its own intricate conditioned evolution. The hypothesis is more that the emergence of science as we now know it, the general cultural attitude towards it, was formed around the turn of the 19th-Century, intertwined with the philosophical, aesthetic, religious etc. principles first formulated in the ideas of the (largely German) authors of the Romantic worldview.

Science into the 18th-Century was still largely under the spell of an interpretation, from Newton onward, envisioning a largely mechanistic model. Marked by dramatic shifts, notably in Hershel's reshaping of astronomy (discovering a vast panorama of "evolving" galaxies) and from biological discoveries (implications from the fossil record and observations in vivo of the sort Darwin is most famous for), science became understood, or interpreted, in a new way. The metaphors that emerged interpreting the implications of advancing science were reciprocally shared with radically new interpretation of other principle areas of human culture – scientific interpretation and cultural interpretation shaped each other back-and-forth, neither prior -- sort of a chicken-and-egg situation. How people thought of themselves, dressed, revered (or not), fashioned and experienced artistic forms, etc. shifted markedly from the norms prior to the French Revolution. And this new worldview from the succeeding period (post French-, and perhaps American-revolution), not without cracks and strains from emerging influences (e.g. technology and globalization), persists substantially today. "Postmodernists" may have their own spin on this, but the basic outlines have been recognized through all the sub-phases of the last two centuries.

The connection with, critique of (Western) Buddhism(s) is actually a minor issue. The more fundamental matter (vis-à-vis my interpretation of Than-Geoff's endeavour) is realizing the import of the (Pali) Buddha teachings in terms of radically understanding the manner and extent of conditioning, of the cultural melieu one finds oneself in, but more focally as it impacts one's own mental life; and finding a way to "unbind" from this conditioning.

" …what you seem to be advocating regarding owls and Than Geoff is what creationists on the Christian side adovcate, namely a faith-based approach… "
No and yes. Every human knowledge system involves also a belief system; unless one subscribes to some sort of Absolute Truth of it all, which would more clearly resemble religious belief. That's the "no" – nothing like Christian fundamentalism (as literal scriptural interpretation). The "yes" is more subtle. "Faith" (or "belief") is distinguished classically* (and arguably in common sense) at multiple levels:
1) "blind" faith, often mixed with passionate, perhaps desparate enthusiasm (Sharon Salzberg has a memorable term for this, which I can't recall at the moment -- maybe "radient" faith?); analogy: "scientific" projections such as that death and disease will be "conquered";
2) "Verified" faith/belief, worked out through self-critical experience into a pragmatic sense of trustworthiness; maybe similar to a generally accepted scientific theory, albeit subject to later refutation.
3) absolute confidence (note the"fides" root there, Latin for faith), perhaps better said as direct knowledge (gnosis) – experience that has thequality of certainty, irrefutability; however, when expressed, communicated, it has the appearance of "belief", as the phenomenology of the experience itself is private (unless, of course, someone else can read it, like a "bhumi" emoticon ). I don't think this has a correlate in science, though some may believe so.

So what I advocate is the perspective that Than-Geoff's view of the owl's plight may be grounded in a view-framework, a belief system, but also that the scientific explanation is also a view from within a framework, a belief system. Understandably a button-pushing assertion for those who believe in science -- which actually confirms it.

This viewpoint stems, in part, from study of the work of an eminent German historian of medicine (Paul U. Unschuld, former chair of medical history at the TÜ Munich medical school – now retired and residing in Berlin -- you may have crossed paths with him last year), who's also leading expert in the history of Chinese medicine. He has demonstrated ("hypothesized" – he's a scientific historian) that (classical) Chinese medicine shares the quality with Western medicine of being a scientifically grounded system (medical modalities not so grounded being, in his view, medical "arts"). The two systems differ, but share grounding in impersonal, relatively un-culture-bound empirically observable observation. Each of the two systems has significant areas of proven efficacy, as well as limitations. He himself professes a near-absolute faith in modern Western medicine (cf his only non-scholary book "Was ist Medizin?"), but, with his deep understanding of history and human nature, admits to Western medicine being, also, a belief system.

Btw: I whole-heartedly agreed that the teaching of "Dharma" needs substantial improvement as to teaching standards and sense of responsibility. Outside of, say, the Spirit Rock training program, the process of becoming a "dharma teacher" is rather haphazard, opportunistic.

* In Judaic-Christian terms, the Urtexts in Hebrew, Arameic, Coptic, etc. languages had three distinct terms, flavors of "faith", all of which got shoe-horned into a single word in Helenistic Greek, the universal language prior to Latin. (For instance the Greek title "Pentatuch" (the 1st 5 ("penta") books of the "Old Testament"), as for Hebrews, except for a few more deeply educated rabbis, Greek was also the lingua franca for centuries. Also Paul of Taurus, educated Roman citizen that he was, wrote in Greek, and his use of that single Greek word substantially contributed to the ensuing 20+ centuries of Christian exegetical confusion, if not outright warfare.)
Also I do believe that this three-flavored interpretation of "faith/belief" is approximated in the Pali Canon, if one catalogs the various meanings and levels of "doubt" and it's antidotes.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/17/16 4:10 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
As a possibly interesting aside...

I sent an email to Zasep Tulku asking the following question after discussing this with an ordained Vajrayana monastic:

Dear Zasep Tulku Rinpoche,

I hope this message finds you well.

I would like to respectfully ask you a question, if you have a moment of time for this. 

I was wondering why the stages of insight, as found in, say, the Abhidhamma, Visuddhimagga and Vimuttimagga, specifically the Arising and Passing Away, Dissolution, Fear, Misery, Disgust, etc. do not clearly appear in the Mahayana and Vajyrayana literature that I am aware of, which certainly not anything resembling all of it. Or, if they do, where would one find them?

It seems to me that these stages of insight are useful for all meditative training traditions, as I see them arise again and again in practitioners across traditions and vehicles, often without good contextualization that might help them recognize and better navigate these stages.

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/17/16 4:10 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The reply was as follows:

"Zasep Rinpoche asked me to pass on this answer to your question:

In the Tibetan Buddhist literature of Mahayana and Vajrayana there are extensive general teachings according to the Kadampa and Gelug traditions on recognizing arising mental delusions as you meditate on Samadhi-Shinay, and one will recognize the passing away of delusions gradually as you practise Samadhi-Shinay. This is the general explanation.

A truly dedicated disciple-yogi needs to take advice on Samadhi-Shinay from his Guru. This advice is called "Nyam Trid", experiential teaching {Not experiment} on how to progress. Disciples take this teaching, then go away to the hermitage or cave and practise - practise for a long time, as long as it takes, and whatever cost of hardship. He should then report the result and progress to his Guru once every three months or six months or as his Guru has advised. The disciple has to surrender to his Guru one hundred present without any questions or debate. In this way there could be progress. 

This is how it was done according my lineage of Gelug Tibetan Buddhism. Different Gurus have a little different way of leading the disciples.

Yours in The Dharma,

Zasep Rinpoche"

RE: Daniel quoted in BBC article
Answer
5/31/16 4:00 AM as a reply to Matthew.
People seem to get into trouble if they start meditating in order to escape painful feelings.

Watching painful feelings is ok, but it needs to be accompanied by expression of the feeling - like a safety valve.

eg.  fear > watch > express it  > ?fear > yes but less so > express it  > ?fear > no, sadness > express it...

I'm still of the opinion that dark night (aka 'depression') is unecessary and unnatural.