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Science and Meditation

Differential diagnostic procedures for Ñanas?

Hey, Daniel's thread "My Dream of a New Scientific Journal" has got me wondering if there aren't any things like:

Differential diagnostic procedures for: 
- Three Characteristics vs. Re-observation (maybe vs. Depression?)
- A&P vs. 
- A&P Event vs. Fruition (maybe vs. manic episodes?)
- The above vs. dropping into various jhanas.

Please bear in mind that the above comparisons are only from reading things like MCTB and the DhO forum (and some occasional doubts about what's going on in my practice), rather than enough experiential knowledge on my part since I am only a beginner, so they might be wrong. The point is that people often seem to talk about being unsure of which they're in.

Is there anything like a standard Questionnaire on the Ñanas (plus other symptoms), perhaps in the style of Myers–Briggs questionnaire:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers–Briggs_Type_Indicator#/media/File:MyersBriggsTypes.png
i.e. a list of questions, maybe in the form of a tree diagram/flow chart. I've seen Daniel's Ñanas and Jhanas table, as well as the flowchart, but it seems some benefit and clarification could be gained from something with more guidance. I have seen peoples descriptions of the Ñanas, as well as the various phenomena they experience, but I get the impression that some people are not sure how to really approach them the descriptions when it comes to considering their own practice and something with more rigour would help.

The reason for the eventual diagnosis would then be to lead to a corresponding "list of interventions" (meditative or otherwise), obviously as opposed to having a corresponding badge or belt colour.

Obviously having a teacher available would be better in much the same that a doctor would be when suffering from an ailment, but it might have some benefit in the absence of such a person since I see a fair few people on this forum with doubts raised about their own diagnosis. I can imagine that there are enough people on this forum to make lists of questions to distinguish different phenomena which could then be compiled. And I also wonder if maybe it could also provide a basic framework for clinicians.

RE: Differential diagnostic procedures for Ñanas?
Answer
10/6/17 5:46 AM as a reply to junglist.
The idea is good, but unfortunately the hardest thing is coming up with the right questions/criteria for the overall context of practice, which is what really is diagnostic... One of the reasons that daily practice logs were so popular in the early days of DhO and on AwakeNetwork is that it becomes very clear how to diagnose. The main diagnostic criteria is rarely the experience itself, but rather the overall context and practice pattern. That's why as soon as someone asks "I experienced X, where am I at?" the next question that gets asked is "what is your practice, what has been going on in your practice, what was your practice like in the months, days, and hours leading up to experience X?" 

There is a shadow side to this as well. The stages are helpful for troubleshooting practice, but they aren't really problems in themself. Solidifying them with criteria and interventions (especially interventions) kind of overlooks the fundamental thing that needs to be learned in all of the nanas: these experience arise without our direct control in the space of just sitting around doing nothing. They are dream-like reactive patterns that we need to SEE as reactive patterns, not as something that is wrong with us, but as goofy quirks in our mentality that are unhelpful and need to be investigated. The direct seeing of this is what allows us to have the essential insight into the nana.

So the nanas are different than psychological problems in this essential way. No intervention is really needed (except maybe slowing down, using less effort, so that we don't overwhelm ourself). The point is not to fix a nana, but rather to go through a nana. 

So really the list of interventions boils down to one package of things do to: find a way to get some perspective, humor, and compassion about the junk that bubbles up during the sit. Find it curious and bizarre and interesting, rather than using it to define yourself as wounded or a victim. Talk with others who have been through it if you have doubts. And keep your practice going so that you continue to experience the difficult situation in just the right dose -- high enough that you can experience it and study it, but low enough that you don't get re-traumatized and are unable to be objective about the situation.

So definitely the idea is a good one... but sometimes these "organizing" ideas can be a sidetrack. And again, daily practice logs have a way of collecting all the data that is needed for diagnosing, so those are always good ideas.

I hope this helps in some way.

RE: Differential diagnostic procedures for Ñanas?
Answer
10/7/17 5:10 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:

There is a shadow side to this as well. The stages are helpful for troubleshooting practice, but they aren't really problems in themself. Solidifying them with criteria and interventions (especially interventions) kind of overlooks the fundamental thing that needs to be learned in all of the nanas: these experience arise without our direct control in the space of just sitting around doing nothing. They are dream-like reactive patterns that we need to SEE as reactive patterns, not as something that is wrong with us, but as goofy quirks in our mentality that are unhelpful and need to be investigated. The direct seeing of this is what allows us to have the essential insight into the nana
Perhaps it would be best to deal with this bit first – should this thread be "burnt" before it does more harm than good?
The idea is good, but unfortunately the hardest thing is coming up with the right questions/criteria for the overall context of practice, which is what really is diagnostic... One of the reasons that daily practice logs were so popular in the early days of DhO and on AwakeNetwork is that it becomes very clear how to diagnose. The main diagnostic criteria is rarely the experience itself, but rather the overall context and practice pattern. That's why as soon as someone asks "I experienced X, where am I at?" the next question that gets asked is "what is your practice, what has been going on in your practice, what was your practice like in the months, days, and hours leading up to experience X?" 
Of course! Anamnesis/medical history are a standard part of any diagnosis - Doctor says: "What the matter? [e.g. with pain] What kind of pain is it? How long have you been experiencing it? Have you had something like this before?" Doctors would also even ask about the patient's family history (maybe Buddhists might do so about past lives...:dryemoticon

Here you've provided then the basic framework for beginning the questioning:
- What is your practice?
- What has been going on in your practice?
- What was your practice like in the months days, and hours leading up to experience X?
So the nanas are different than psychological problems in this [the first quote above] essential way. No intervention is really needed (except maybe slowing down, using less effort, so that we don't overwhelm ourself). The point is not to fix a nana, but rather to go through a nana. 

So really the list of interventions boils down to one package of things do to: find a way to get some perspective, humor, and compassion about the junk that bubbles up during the sit. Find it curious and bizarre and interesting, rather than using it to define yourself as wounded or a victim. Talk with others who have been through it if you have doubts. And keep your practice going so that you continue to experience the difficult situation in just the right dose -- high enough that you can experience it and study it, but low enough that you don't get re-traumatized and are unable to be objective about the situation.
Perhaps using terms and language that used for pathology might have been a mistake, but a differential diagnosis procedure could be used for other states and conditions that would not usually send someone to a doctor:
"Doctor, my digestive system seems to be functioning really well these days."
"Really? How long have you noticed this? Have you changed your diet recently? Have you been getting more exercise recently?"
So definitely the idea is a good one... but sometimes these "organizing" ideas can be a sidetrack. And again, daily practice logs have a way of collecting all the data that is needed for diagnosing, so those are always good ideas.

I hope this helps in some way.
Thanks! I hope it helps as well!