Message Boards Message Boards

Science and Meditation

Science and spirituality

Toggle
Science and spirituality
meditation universe science spirituality neuroscience physics quantum
Answer
3/11/17 12:15 PM
Hi!

I'm looking for a few things in this post.

1 - References for books, videos, websites, etc., that make good crossovers between all kinds of serious science (neuroscience, physics...) and meditation, philosophy, spirituality, etc.

2 - Excerpts or your own words about scientific models or perspectives that may help investigate or deconstruct reality/experience in a somewhat liberating way. For instance, using neuroscience as a way to relativize the idea of the self or free-will; or physics showing how all beings/things are made of parts and do not exist by themselves; or theories about the nature of the universe or the existence of an external world or lack thereof, like quantum physics, the holografic/information universe; Einstein's relativity of time and space; etc.; how science helps deconstruct the belief in naive-realism, etc.

I do find that different perspectives help in deconstructing the deep seated beliefs in inherent existence, materiality, self and so forth.
Thanks!

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/11/17 1:18 PM as a reply to Andre Pais.
Check out The Quantum Activist documentary or Amit Goswami's books.



RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/11/17 6:45 PM as a reply to Andre Pais.
Andre Pais:
1 - References for books, videos, websites, etc., that make good crossovers between all kinds of serious science (neuroscience, physics...) and meditation, philosophy, spirituality, etc.
"The ego tunnel"
Andre Pais:

2 - Excerpts or your own words about scientific models or perspectives that may help investigate or deconstruct reality/experience in a somewhat liberating way. For instance, using neuroscience as a way to relativize the idea of the self or free-will; or physics showing how all beings/things are made of parts and do not exist by themselves; or theories about the nature of the universe or the existence of an external world or lack thereof, like quantum physics, the holografic/information universe; Einstein's relativity of time and space; etc.; how science helps deconstruct the belief in naive-realism, etc.
My current take on some stuff - A Framework of Awakening

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 1:10 AM as a reply to Jason Massie.
Jason Massie:
Check out The Quantum Activist documentary or Amit Goswami's books.



Or, even better, don't. Sorry, but it's the motherload of pseudoscientific bullshit. It'll infect your brain with quantum flapdoodlery. Steer well clear.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 1:49 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Jason Massie:
Check out The Quantum Activist documentary or Amit Goswami's books.
Or, even better, don't. Sorry, but it's the motherload of pseudoscientific bullshit. It'll infect your brain with quantum flapdoodlery. Steer well clear.
If you don't let the memes fight, how will you know which is the best? Ah, right, the one that tells you not to subject it to any other memes.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 4:25 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
If you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out! 

Better luck,

n

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 7:01 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hey DW,

more seriously now. I am very much in favour of an open market of competing ideas. However, some ideas can only be evaluated with a certain degree of expertise. This applies for any highly specialised field, and it certainly includes meditation, neuroscience, and physics.

Unluckily very few people have the time to accumulate the knowledge and experience of a PhD (or a 4th path, which is fun to think of as a PhD in meditation) in one of those fields, let alone all three. So this leaves us all with the problem: We have to rely on the opinion of experts in the topics we are not experts of.

This is very tricky of course. When I started meditating, I had the problem: How to tell Saints apart from Psychopaths? I was lucky to chance on this community. Many have ended up in cults or practice dead ends.

Now back to physics. There are Saints and Psychopaths in physics too. However, unlike with meditation, physics has peer review in place. It is a far from perfect method, but it is the best one we have. So the physics community is pretty good at singling out psychopaths (quacks). Ad good as can be reasonably expected from a human community.

Now my claim here is that the whole quantum consciousness thing is quackery. It would be very complicated to explain in detail why. It would be off-topic and definitely not the reason I am on this forum. Hence the snarkiness. I think it's useful to shout out a warning, but pointless to enter into the gritty science details.

My suggestion to anyone curious about quantum consciousness and the like is to head to a forum for physicists and ask there. Of course, I advise physicists who are interested in meditation to head to a practical dharma community. Isn't it just fair? :-)

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 8:37 AM as a reply to Andre Pais.
Mind Illuminated - Culadasa
Science of Enlightenment - Shinzen Young
Waking Up - Sam Harris
Realising Awakened Conciousness - Richard Boyle

All written by actual reputable scientists.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 9:11 AM as a reply to Rainbow.
Rainbow:

Realising Awakened Conciousness - Richard Boyle


Haven't read this one. Is it good? I'm assuming yes, since you are recommending it... could you tell me more? Thanks emoticon

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/12/17 8:02 PM as a reply to neko.
neko:

Now my claim here is that the whole quantum consciousness thing is quackery. It would be very complicated to explain in detail why. It would be off-topic and definitely not the reason I am on this forum. Hence the snarkiness. I think it's useful to shout out a warning, but pointless to enter into the gritty science details.

My suggestion to anyone curious about quantum consciousness and the like is to head to a forum for physicists and ask there. Of course, I advise physicists who are interested in meditation to head to a practical dharma community. Isn't it just fair? :-)

This quantum thing is coming up so often, there should be a ready-made answer to that, right?
What about this one:
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/quantum_quackery

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 12:55 PM as a reply to Andre Pais.
Ken Wilber has written some very interesting and often brilliant things about the intersection of wisdom traditions east and west, science, philosophy, meditation, and western psychology (freud, jung, behaviourism; basically all schools).

The books Integral Psychology and Integral Spirituality would be good places to start (both excellent books).

He also has a book "Quantum Questions" (that I haven't read but from what I know about touches on some of what you bring up) that is about the ways in which spirituality and quantum physics do and do not relate.

From an amazon reviewer: "Wilber culls the writings of these great minds [the great western physicists - Einstein, Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Bohr, Eddington, Pauli, Plank and more] to uncover their opinions, and discovers that they are virtually unanimous in the opinion that modern science can offer no support for mysticism in any variety. And yet they are all mystics of one sort or another! They simply do not believe modern physics can fully describe the universe we live in. Modern physics isn’t in opposition to spirituality, it is simply indifferent to it. Eddington explains: “We have learnt that the exploration of the external world by the methods of physical science leads not to a concrete reality but to a shadow world of symbols, beneath which those methods are unadapted for penetrating.”"
eg. many of them explicitly claimed to have a mystic view of reality, but also claimed that science wasn't a mystical path.


In general Wilber tends to make some points about how learning a theory or intellectual knowledge about physics, particularly lots of the "new science" relating spiritual-type concepts of no-self and quantum physics, can't replace actual spiritual practice and the realisation of awakening itself. Eg you can read and intellectually understand physics as much as you want, but it won't get you enlightened, and becoming enlightened won't get you to know anything about physics.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 2:00 PM as a reply to Andrew K.
Andrew K:

Eg you can read and intellectually understand physics as much as you want, but it won't get you enlightened, and becoming enlightened won't get you to know anything about physics.

I like this, but I would rephrase it another way. Enlightenment has two main flavours: the Eastern one (anatta, advaita, and all that), and the Western one:

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

Studying physics (and understanding it) will give you full Western Enlightenment (WE). It will cure any false belief in superstition, superpowers, reincarnation, gods, and all that. However, it will give you no Eastern Enlightenment (EE) at all. Actually, it might make getting EE harder, if you are excessively skeptic about the nature of the human mind, or fall into the skeptic fallacy ("because the traditional explanation of the meditative experiences are full of superstitious BS, then the practice of meditation and any claims made by meditators, must be BS too").

Conversely, intensive meditative practice can give you EE, but no WE. Actually, it might make getting WE harder, if you start to believe everything you read in ancient texts which are full of wonderful meditation techniques and mind maps, but also plagued with superstition and bollocks. The Buddha (if that person ever existed) probably had full EE, but when it came to WE, he was in no better position than the average farmer (or scholar) in the Middle Ages.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 2:01 PM as a reply to bernd the broter.
bernd the broter:
This quantum thing is coming up so often, there should be a ready-made answer to that, right?
What about this one:
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/quantum_quackery

Thanks, I need to bookmark this emoticon

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 10:00 PM as a reply to neko.
+1

I got cured of this after reading Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics in the late '70's. He used a then current since disproved model of particle physics to explain Taoism, if I recall correctly.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 10:12 PM as a reply to Rainbow.
Hi Rainbow,

Mind Illuminated - Culadasa
Science of Enlightenment - Shinzen Young
Waking Up - Sam Harris
Realising Awakened Conciousness - Richard Boyle

All written by actual reputable scientists.

Shinzen is a meditation teacher, actually a quite fine meditation teacher, one of the best in my opinion, who has collaborated with scientists over the years suggesting possible experiments and participating in them when appropriate. But he is not a scientist. His book has nothing to do with science, as he freely admits in the introduction, but rather is about his meditation technique, which, again in my opinion, is the best vipassana technique around. So go buy the book if you're interested in learning it.

Sam Harris is also not a scientist nor even a meditation teacher, but rather a journalist. The book is a good introduction to the benefits of meditation at a fairly basic level (MBSR style). But it does not get into the complexities nor difficulties that await someone determined to explore meditation via the hard core dharma path.

I've not read the others. Folks here have had good things to say about Culadasa, and recently I read an excerpt from one of his books about sathipattana, which seemed quite sensible and sound, but I do not know his background.

RE: Science and spirituality
Answer
3/13/17 10:18 PM as a reply to Andre Pais.
Hi Andre,

If you are really interested in the science of meditation, go to Google Scholar and google it. Also try googling some of the folks who have done research on meditation, like Willoughby Britton or Kelly McGonigal. You are not likely to find, as neko so succiently puts it, quantum flapdoodle, there but you will find solid psychological and social science studies, most likely with properly done statistics. There are a few papers around on FMRI studies, but they should be read cautiously as the interpretation of FMRI studies is still somewhat under dispute (especially for meditation). Sometimes, the papers will be paywalled but often there is a link to a free version.