Russian pragmatic dharma. Cult? - Discussion
Russian pragmatic dharma. Cult?
The article is about an amateur linguist who spent many years developing his own constructed language called Ithkuil. It's supposed to be ideal for communicating nuances of meaning (sidenote: would be interesting if meditators could utilize this or another conlang for describing experience). The article goes on to tell about how a Russian self-help-ey movement thingie took an interest in his language (for Sapir-Whorfian reasons) and invited him to speak at their conference in Russia. As it turns out the creator of the movement and some of the attendees had questionable backgrounds, so the guy had to separate himself from them.
The narrative of the article seemed clearly to paint the movement as questionably-eugenic questionably-terrorist questionably-nationalist probably-at-least-cranky. Being (if only virtually) attracted to plausible-but-possibly-culty movements I Googled for it: "psychonetics". Turns out there is almost nothing written in English about it, save for the New Yorker result, AND... the first Google result:
I'm here to suspiciously say: the above article (online book?) is interesting, seemingly consistent with much of what is said on this and sister sites, and seemingly remarkably sane. I recommend checking it out (at least for comparative pragmatic dharma reasons).
The orientation of the book seems to be toward developing pure attentional skills. Awakening, insight experiences, etc are only alluded to. I'm gonna paste some excerpts, focusing on similarities with systems known here, and on potential novel practices. I'll start with some pictures because, you know, we're all experts on attention here.
Psychonetics originated from academic research and appears to employ scientific criteria and methodology (such as [27, 28]) in many aspects.
Psychonetics, like science, is agnostic. This implies that there is no ultimate truth to believe in. Each new practitioner must validate all psychonetical statements experimentally and personally, without the need to conform to anyone else's opinion, including opinions of Bakhtiyarov or the author of this book.
Psychonetics makes a few assumptions, such as assuming the existence (or at least subjective existence) of a practitioner, of perceptual modalities (visual, auditory and somatic) and the ability of a practitioner to command his or her perception in mentioned modalities.
Based on its assumptions, psychonetics provides unbiased descriptions of various perceptual phenomena together with practices to experience them. Although some phenomena are relatively easy to experience and thus validate their existence, other phenomena might take time and effort to achieve and thus validate.
Here are the basic principles that define psychonetics:
Perception-driven: psychonetics operates with phenomena that are perceived directly, such as "concentrated attention", "visual modality" and "imaginary space". With practice, the list of such directly perceived phenomena increases.
All subjects that cannot be perceived directly (initially or through practice) are avoided in psychonetics.
Empirical (practice-driven): psychonetics is studied through practice and not through abstract thinking.
The reason for this approach is that abstract thinking cannot substitute for the personal experience of perceptual phenomena that psychonetical practices provide.
Abstract thinking typically operates through verbal interpretations; in the case of new experiences, it can assume the role of a censor, thus limiting perceptual capabilities.
However, abstract thinking can be a good tool to store, summarize and communicate the acquired knowledge.
Technological (practice-oriented): psychonetics seeks reproducible practical results and not verbal explanations or interpretations of why these results occur.
The reason for this approach is that the human mind appears to be capable of producing many more experiences than it is capable of explaining.
Psychonetics suggests that a verbal explanation of a perceptual phenomenon is not required for its practical usage. In some cases a verbally inexplicable phenomenon can be used practically through pure meanings (see below).
However, pure meanings appear improper for the tasks of storing and communicating knowledge, in which a verbal description is a better tool.
Unbiased: strict avoidance of unnecessary or one-sided interpretations makes psychonetics ideologically (ontologically) unbiased.
Psychonetics does not deny or confront ideologies, interpretations or explanations, which many people consider important in their lives. However, ideologies, interpretations or explanations are either considered a personal choice of a practitioner that is outside of the scope of psychonetics or their role is reduced.
"Psychonetics is an engineering discipline and therefore it is not tied to paradigms (that is the lot of science) or ontologies. All psychonetical ontologies are operational ontologies [suited to resolve particular tasks]. Psychonetics is well aware that any ontology (including its own) is always partial." 
Sober and discreet: psychonetics promotes a sober, non-emotional, discreet and (in a certain way) humble attitude toward itself and toward the experiences that psychonetics produce.
This attitude comes from the deliberate avoidance of "the ultimate interpretation" of what psychonetical experiences truly are. There is also no ultimate interpretation of what is the true purpose of psychonetics.
Such an attitude helps to avoid certain misuses of psychonetics, such as overrating one-sided interpretations and overrating alternative aspects of the world.
Precise: psychonetics struggles to be as precise in its statements as possible. For this reason, Bakhtiyarov promoted the use of an artificial language Ithkuil [33, 34], which appears to be potentially superior to a regular language in both expressive capabilities and precision.
Extensible: psychonetical practices are customizable and extensible, which enables creating new practices and/or adapting existing practices for different purposes.
The core psychonetical concepts include
Pure meanings (pure semantics)
Psychonetical concept: Will
Psychonetics relies on an assumption that an individual has the ability to command his or her perception. This ability is proposed to be named "will".
A broader definition of will is "a goal-oriented activity unrelated to any motivation or external stimuli" [3, 15]. Although an individual can perceive will as his or her "self", it stands completely independent from both physiological and psychological bodies and their manifestations.
Psychonetics assumes that true will is independent from seemingly everything, which makes will an ideal monitoring and controlling authority of mind. In Russian, the word "will" ("воля") is a synonym of "freedom", which makes it an accurate term for describing the underlying experience.
It appears that the concept of will occasionally became discredited through history, apparently in cases when some individuals associated will with a physiological or a psychological function. For example, the Nietzschean "will to power"  concept is often confused by its followers with the animal instinct to dominate.
Will need not be associated with such things. More appropriate subjects that can be associated with will include personal freedom and creativity.
Psychonetical concept: Perceptual modalities
"Modality" in psychonetics is a space in which each of the human senses operates. Basic psychonetics operates with 3 modalities: visual, auditory and somatic.
Visual modality determines the perception of a 3D space. It is typically the most practically used modality.
Auditory modality provides perception of sounds and can contribute to perceiving 3D space, but its most distinguishing quality is the perception of time.
Somatic modality provides perception of body sensations. Psychonetics picked the "somatic" term over "tactile/kinesthetic" because the former addresses both body surface sensations together with body internal sensations.
There are also imaginary modalities – simulations that a mind can produce for each of its senses.
Psychonetical concept: Attention
"Attention" in psychonetics is a perceptual resource which has functional and substantial aspects.
The functional aspect of attention includes such functions as forming figures, concentration and deconcentration of attention.
The substantial aspect of attention manifests in practices in which attention fills a volume, such as local volume of attention exercises or volumetric deconcentration.
Psychonetical concept: Pure meanings (pure semantics)
"Pure meanings" is a mental area that contains knowledge without words, symbols or any sensorial simulation (imagination). The pure meanings area has its specific mental sensations, but they are unrelated to any sensorial sensations and are typically ignored by normal attention.
"Pure meanings" ("чистые смыслы", Russian) appears a better term than does "pure semantics", which I used in my earlier article , because it reduces the tendency to overcomplicate a subject that is not that complex.
The concept of "pure meanings" and "pure meanings theory of consciousness" was developed by several Russian scientists, such as Vasiliy Nalimov , Andrew Agafonov  and Andrew Smirnov .
It appears that most individuals have experienced pure meanings sensations – that is, when they have a feeling of knowing something, but the words do not appear for some reason. This experience could occur in situations of being very tired, situations of being sick or in extreme situations. This experience also occurs when a person tries to use a language with which he or she is not comfortable ("code switching problem" ).
Another area in which pure meanings are easier to track is art. Music, for example, enables some individuals to experience diverse pure meanings, which are not easy (or not even possible) to transform into words. In the case of art, however, it is important to be able to isolate pure meanings from emotions.
Yet another hint concerning where to seek pure meanings sensations is childhood. These sensations are obvious for children, but the same sensations are typically ignored in adulthood.
Approaching the pure meanings mental area consciously via practices reveals that it contains not only meanings of anything an individual knows but also a multitude of unknown meanings for which there are no words or descriptions.
Although it is difficult to understand and explain what pure meanings really are, using them for practical purposes appears much easier.
Pure meanings enable practical usage of some perceptual phenomena that are either difficult or impossible to explain verbally.
One of many groups of exercises for working with attention that stuck out as potentially interesting here:
(VM.LVA) Local volume of attention (LVA)
A local volume of attention can form naturally once the focus of the eyesight and the locus of attention become separated, such as through the VM.AA.1: Becoming aware of attention exercise.
Once attention becomes detached from where the eyes are looking, it normally forms a volume.
For example, it could form the volume of a cloud or a sphere of a different size, depending upon the distance from a practitioner.
The difference between Concentration of Attention (CA) and LVA is that whereas visual CA perceives a surface of an object, LVA perceives a volume – all at the same time. This perception is different from visual observation of surfaces (from outside or inside). Ideally, LVA becomes a special sensation of perceiving volume at the same time from all sides, both inside and outside.
When a complex object rotates and is observed through regular visual perception, its immediate visual shape changes. With LVA, the shape of an object is unaffected by rotation.
Psychonetics works with attached and unattached LVA.
Attached LVA fills the volume of an object. Unattached LVA is not attached to any particular object.
(VM.LVA.1.INT) (Introductory) Creating an LVA
A practitioner places attention anywhere in the room, such as in a room corner (which is visible by peripheral vision) without watching it directly and commands attention to form a ball or a cloud. A practitioner attempts to isolate and intensify the specific perceptual sensations of an LVA that this exercise produces.
(VM.LVA.2) Moving an LVA
A practitioner forms a ping-pong-ball-sized LVA an arm's length in front of the practitioner's head and then starts rotating it around the head in a horizontal plane in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
The practitioner notices the difference in perception of the LVA when the LVA leaves the visible area and goes in the area of visual non-perception (see below) behind the head and then when the LVA comes back from the other side of the head into the visible area.
To increase the complexity of this exercise, a practitioner can add multiple LVA balls – 2 and then 4 balls – and rotate them all at the same time. These balls can be rotated in the horizontal/vertical planes or in any orbit around the head and in any direction.
(VM.LVA.3) Sensing with LVA
A practitioner forms a ping-pong-size-ball of LVA and passes it through different objects. A practitioner tries to notice the perceptual differences when the ball passes through an object and remember these differences.
(VM.LVA.4) Attached LVA
A practitioner creates an LVA that fills the volume of an existing object. The LVA takes the selected object shape.
It is easier to start with simple and small objects – such as a water bottle or a coffee can – and then try to do this technique with larger and more complex objects.
(VM.LVA.5.ADV) (Advanced) Rotating an LVA
A practitioner rotates an LVA ball. This action might be difficult to perform but it seriously intensifies the LVA-specific perceptual sensations .
This practice is useful to suppress any visual imagination, because visual imagination cannot keep up with the perceived phenomenon. Somatic imagination should also be suppressed.
A more complex version of this practice is to rotate two halves of the ball in opposite directions.
Yet another way to make this practice harder is to rotate the ball in two or more directions at the same time.
(VM.LVA.6.ADV) (Advanced) Creating an unattached LVA of a specific form
A practitioner starts with creating simple and smaller forms with unattached LVA. A practitioner works on improving the quality and precision of the created form.
For example, the first step is to transform a ball of LVA into a torus. This may become a difficult task, because attention should not fill the empty space inside the torus .
Then, the practitioner can increase the complexity and size of the LVA form.
(VM.LVA.7.ADV) (Advanced) Creating a moving unattached LVA of a specific form
Once a practitioner gets good experience with creating and controlling LVA, a practitioner attempts to create moving forms, starting from the smaller and simpler objects.
For example, it is possible to create a realistic shape of a bird with LVA and make it fly.
A more complex exercise is to create an exact copy of an individual's body with LVA and make it walk around the room.
And another, getting more out there,
Group of practices (AM): Working with attention in auditory modality
Auditory modality practices are conceptually similar to visual modality practices.
When doing exercises in auditory modality, it is critical to learn to isolate auditory perceptual sensations.
In many cases, a perceptual habit automatically makes visual imagination follow auditory perception. For example, an individual might automatically imagine 3D space with a direction from where a sound came (which is a useful skill that could later be evolved into echolocation techniques). However, psychonetics struggles to place perceptual habits under conscious control. Thus, for educational purposes, it is important to learn to perceive sounds on their own.
Isolated perception makes auditory perception sharper and more detailed and allows noticing weaker signals that were initially beyond the perceptual boundaries.
Another reason to isolate auditory perception is that doing so eventually leads to discovering its background – the abstract flow of time, which opens possibilities for practices with time.
Here are the auditory modality practices:
(AM.ACA.1.INT) (Introductory) Auditory concentration of attention
With eyes closed, a practitioner concentrates on any particular sound. A practitioner notices how a sound is recognized as a figure in time and how a direction is associated with this particular sound.
(AM.ADA.1) Auditory deconcentration of attention
With eyes closed, a practitioner starts by selecting the loudest and the quietest sounds and then spreads attention equally on all sounds in between.
With auditory deconcentration, no auditory figures are formed in time. In other words, all recognizable sounds (such as music, people talking or birds singing) are deconstructed and perceived simultaneously without any notion of what these sounds are, where they come from or selecting any individual sound with attention.
The sounds are grouped by the moment in time when they occur, not by their sources, figures or directions. To achieve this grouping, the perception of duration of any individual sound is reduced to the length of 0.5-1.5 seconds.
One trick that helps reaching auditory deconcentration is to place attention on the eardrum and notice all sounds the moment they come while at the same time suppressing the creation of sound figures in time.
(AM.AFT.1.ADV) (Advanced) Abstract flow of time
When doing the auditory deconcentration, a practitioner focuses attention on the gaps between sounds in which no sounds exist.
Starting with the perception of gaps between sounds, a practitioner switches to perceiving duration in its pure abstract form, which is the perception of the abstract flow of time (This type of perception belongs to a "non-form" perceptual category in psychonetics.)
Experiencing the abstract flow of time leads to multiple exercises with time. For example, a practitioner can hold short and long time durations in mind at the same time, eventually creating perception of a 2D time.
It is also possible for a practitioner to combine various pure meanings with the flow of time and study how they affect one another.
Reversed flow of time.
Reversed flow of time
Yet another practice is to stop volitionally the subjective flow of time. It is also possible to roll the subjective flow of time in the direction that is opposite to its normal flow.
The subjective sensation of a reversed time flow (in a practitioner's mind only) is relatively simple to achieve with training. Bakhtiyarov expressed great enthusiasm [1, 16, 17] about a theoretical possibility to unfold somehow the sensation of a reversed time flow in a human body or in a society, thus preventing it (at least theoretically) from aging and dying. However, thus far, there are no reports or observable evidence that anyone has achieved any progress in such tasks.
Bakhtiyarov has also mentioned  that deconcentration over periods of time and events enable tracking synchronicities . A synchronicity is an alternative type of events relationship wherein similar events are synchronized by the time when they occur, without having normal cause/effect relationships between them.
There were also unconfirmed experiments on provoking synchronicities  by "freezing" an event in the abstract flow of time and then creating a special "tension"/"subtle anticipation" sensation that a synchronicity will occur.
Psychonetics defines two operations with pure meanings: folding and unfolding a pure meaning.
Figure PM.1: Folding a pure meaning
Figure PM.1: Folding a pure meaning
Figure PM.2: Unfolding a pure meaning
Figure PM.2: Unfolding a pure meaning
Folding an entity (a text, a quality, an object, a system or a situation) into a pure meaning is to perceive the pure meaning sensation of this entity directly, isolated from any sensorial perception, imagination, symbols or words.
Unfolding a pure meaning is a process of materialization of a pure meaning sensation into a text, symbols, an action or an area selected with attention.
For example, the process of folding a text into a pure meaning can be called "understanding", or "de-verbalization". Unfolding a pure meaning into a text can be called "explanation" or "verbalization".
Folding and experiencing pure meanings sensations is part of the will meditation, that is, when a practitioner attempts to sense the pure meanings of the meditation phrases ("I am", "I am will").
(PM.F.1) Folding pure meanings
A simple practice to start with is to use colored 2D geometric figures, such as a green triangle, red circle and blue square (any color with any figure).
With eyes closed, a practitioner imagines a selected figure in imaginary space, pronounces its textual name and tries to catch a sensation of the meaning, of the underlying sense, semantics that the figure produces. This sensation of meaning is easier to catch when a figure changes, so the associated pure meaning sensation also changes in mental space.
Figure PM.3: Colored figures
Figure PM.3: Colored figures
Initially, drawing the actual colored figures and watching them can also help. A practitioner watches colored figures consecutively while trying to notice the subtle difference in mental sensations that these figures produce.
Once the pure meanings sensations are noticed, a practitioner tries to isolate and maintain only these sensations while cleaning the mind of any visual imagination and without pronouncing words.
Colored figures might not be the best choice to start with for everyone. A practitioner could start experimenting with anything that appears more natural to him or her, such as sounds, tactile sensations or written words/symbols/concepts.
For example, for a software engineer, it could be simpler to notice the pure meaning of a "Web Server" in comparison with the pure meaning of a "Database Server", rather than comparing colored figures.
However, after pure meaning sensations are reached in one area, they become easier to notice in other areas.
After learning to sense pure meanings of colored figures (or any other practice entities), a practitioner tries to learn to select a colored figure through its pure meaning, without naming or imagining it. After selection, a practitioner unfolds the pure meaning either to the visual imagination space or by naming the colored figure verbally.
(PM.F.2) Folding abstract qualities
Starting with the previous exercise, a practitioner extracts the pure meaning of any particular color (for example a red color) and holds it in mind without naming it or imagining an object or a surface painted with this particular color. Then, a practitioner does the same with other colors.
In the same manner, abstract shapes can be extracted – a triangle, a square or a circle. The perception of a shape as a pure meaning happens without imagining it being painted in any color and without verbally naming it.
In the same manner, any abstract quality can be extracted. For example, Bakhtiyarov emphasized practices that use "abstract fluidity" and "abstract luminosity" qualities.
Any area can be used to extract abstract qualities. For example, they can be extracted from the basic elements, such as fire or water. Fire contains the abstract qualities of luminosity and heat. Water contains the abstract qualities of fluidity and wetness. All of these qualities can be experienced as pure meanings and potentially applied for some practical tasks.
(PM.CUQ.1.ADV) (Advanced) Creating unreal qualities
Experiencing pure meanings of abstract qualities opens the possibility of creating pure meaning sensations of qualities that do not normally exist.
Bakhtiyarov proposed two ways to create unreal qualities: through addition and through subtraction of qualities .
For example, adding abstract luminosity with abstract fluidity results in experiencing a luminous fluidity quality. Such a quality might not exist in the regular world but can still be experienced as a pure meaning.
Subtraction of qualities lead to experiencing pure meanings of a black light, loud silence, a 3D space with fewer than 6 regular directions, a 3D space with two right sides and no left side and so on.
(PM.DA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Deconcentration in pure meanings mental space
This technique is used for resolving complex intellectual tasks, such as software engineering tasks .
In the case of colors, to deconcentrate over all available visible colors in pure meanings mental space is to perceive a pure meaning of a rainbow (without imagining it or naming it).
A more complex task is to deconcentrate over pure meanings of all available geometric figures.
For individuals with professional experience, it can be simpler and more interesting to deconcentrate over entities in their professional domain area (which most likely already has strong pure meanings to deconcentrate).
Perception of some area through deconcentration is not as sharp and clear as through concentration. In contrast, the sensation can be blurry and uncertain. However, there is a clear and relaxing sensation of knowing this area, knowing what it contains and being able to work with it in an efficient manner.
A semantic tree
Deconcentration in a sensory modality typically starts from perceptual boundaries and then goes toward the center. When deconcentrating in pure meanings mental area, the boundaries are quite arbitrary, and the entire pure meanings space can be structured in many different ways .
One approach recently mentioned by Elon Musk  is to structure the knowledge of a domain or a project as a semantic tree. This structure is convenient for deconcentration and allows viewing a domain or a project as a dynamic and growing organism that has its roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Such an approach allows better understanding of why things are how they are, in which directions the tree is growing and how to guide its growing process consciously and in a healthy manner.
(PM.UF.VDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into volumetric deconcentration
This practice enables efficient solution for various real-world tasks.
Generally, the state of deconcentration produces a certain indifference to whatever occurs in the world. Thus, a pure meaning is used to set a specific goal together with anticipation that this goal will be achieved.
In the example of the combat shooting exercise described above, the pure meaning of the phrase, "the shooting move needs to be recognized as early as possible because it is critical for survival," is unfolded into the volumetric deconcentration to push the task-resolution process.
Volumetric deconcentration is also used for tasks that require identification of weak signals (for example, searching for difficult-to-notice or hidden objects). Such tasks require unfolding a pure meaning of what must be found into volumetric deconcentration. The pure meaning of a task goal must be accompanied with a sensation that this goal is very important, with a strong anticipation that this goal is going to be achieved no matter what.
(PM.UF.LVA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into a local volume of attention
This practice demonstrates an interesting perceptual phenomenon.
For example, unfolding the pure meaning of fire into an LVA attached to an object makes this object subjectively hot (although a thermometer does not show any difference). The object can retain this subjective perceptual quality for a long time.
(PM.UF.SDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into somatic deconcentration
This practice allows affecting a practitioner's physiological body (or at least its subjective sensations).
A practitioner starts with somatic deconcentration and then unfolds a pure meaning into it. For example, a practitioner can unfold the pure meaning of heat into somatic deconcentration space to feel warmer in cold weather – or unfold the pure meaning of cold to cool down in warm weather.
It is important to remember, that these kind of practices affect subjective body sensations and not necessarily the physiological capacity to withstand cold or heat. There were incidents of individuals getting pneumonia or getting overheated because of excessive reliance on mentioned practices.
As long as the limitations of these practices are taken into account, they can still be employed.
(PM.UF.PMDA.1.ADV) (Advanced) Unfolding a pure meaning into a pure meanings mental space
This technique is used for resolving complex intellectual tasks, such as software engineering tasks .
As with previously described techniques, a pure meaning here is used to set the goal that must be achieved.
First, the working area is perceived in a pure meanings mental area all at once through a deconcentration technique (exercise PM.DA.1.ADV).
Then, the pure meaning of a task goal is unfolded in this area, together with anticipation that this task is going to be resolved. When this technique is performed properly, attention either highlights a potential solution almost instantaneously or identifies areas that require gathering more information.
(PM.SYN.1.ADV) (Advanced) Experimenting with synesthesia
Synesthesia refers to the abnormal perception of modalities, such as "hearing a color" or "touching a sound" .
Psychonetics allows experiencing this phenomenon consciously by folding a pure meaning from one modality and then unfolding it into another modality (or folding a pure meaning of one quality type and then unfolding it into another quality type). For example, a practitioner can try to fold a pure meaning of a color and then attempt to unfold it into a sound or into a geometric shape.
I deliberately selected some of the more exotic practices there. Much of what's there would seem standard to this site. Concentration/deconcentraiton in visual/auditory/somatic space. Where deconcentration, roughly, seems to be what Culadasa would call peripheral awareness. Will meditation seems to correspond roughly to 'buckling down long enough to get access concentration'. There are also practices working with manipulating optical illusions. Neat.
The whole pure meanings thing isn't totally clear to me. Clearly there is precedent in Buddhism for working with 'qualities' in a 'pure' way -- fire kasina, earth kasina, etc. Perhaps this is talking about the generalization of that.
The warnings about practicing too much and about general mental health seem sane to me,
Progressing in psychonetics has similarities with progressing in sports.
Figure SN.1 Thresholds of balanced training over time
Figure SN.1 Thresholds of balanced training over time
Making too little efforts causes no progress at all (but also no problems), and making too much efforts can cause traumas, which in the case of psychonetics appear as various mental disorders such as psychosis.
Training perception is similar to training muscles. It must be performed regularly without under-doing or over-doing it.
With time, the abilities of a practitioner increase. Therefore, more-intense training and exercises can be tolerated with less risk.
Here are the psychonetical safety norms:
Mental health: an individual must be mentally healthy to practice psychonetics.
Bakhtiyarov's organizations require a certificate of being mentally healthy provided by a legal psychiatrist from all students attending seminars.
Personal responsibility: psychonetics is mostly practiced individually and can have strong effects on a practitioner's mind. To address adequately the changes that psychonetics can introduce, a practitioner should be capable to assume full responsibility for what occurs with his or her life and to be able to act accordingly.
Will meditation is the warm-up and the cool-down for training. It must be practiced as recommended (20 minute warm-up, 2-5 minute cool-down). Will meditation can also be practiced any time during or outside training if a need appears to stabilize personal psychophysiological state.
Time limits: the recommended time limits have to be respected. These limits are as follows: no more than 15 minutes on any individual exercise (except will meditation and perceptual loops) and no more than 2 hours for the overall daily practice.
Controllable: all effects induced on a practitioner by psychonetical practices must occur in a controllable manner.
If a practitioner starts experiencing any uncontrollable effects (even when these effects are subjectively perceived as "good"), the practice must be paused.
Ideological safety: it is advisable for a practitioner to avoid unnecessary explanations and one-sided interpretations, particularly ideologically/ontologically biased ones, as much as possible.
It is also preferable to avoid quick conclusions and keep healthy doubts of what psychonetical experiences truly are while removing doubts about doing practices to progress further.
This attitude is particularly important when approaching the phenomena of will and pure meanings. Bakhtiyarov mentioned that these two subjects are most commonly confused by beginners with other physiological or psychological sensations. He also mentioned that some students tend to simulate psychonetical experiences by their descriptions without actually reaching them . Retaining doubts and avoiding quick conclusions helps to prevent these problems.
It is very important to follow practice guidelines and safety norms to reduce the risk of excesses and undesirable side effects.
Among others, Bakhtiyarov mentions the following risk areas when practicing psychonetics :
Activation of personal problems: while providing a better access to personal subconscious mental structures, psychonetics can uncover past traumatic experiences and memories that an individual had forgotten or somehow compensated for. Such discoveries can be difficult to address. If an individual continues the practice, personal problems typically clear up and psychonetical practices become easier to do.
Overrating alternative aspects of the world: psychonetics provides numerous experiences of alternative aspects of the world, which can be new to a practitioner. There is a risk of overrating these alternative aspects over the normal, familiar aspects of the world. There is also a risk of one-sided interpretations of such aspects, for example through a mystic or religious ideology.
Combining psychonetics with some other types of practices: psychonetics is not compatible with practices and training that include an excessive rise in emotional level, suggestive techniques, sleep deprivation or long fasting.
Overdoing the practices: overdoing the practices can lead to a psychosis. It is important to maintain subjective body tonus (energy level) under conscious control and pause practices if this level becomes too high (thus preventing an energy burst).
In seminars, Bakhtiyarov warned about the following symptoms of an approaching psychosis:
A practitioner's body feels overloaded with energy after practices, occasionally even trembling with energy
A practitioner's body feels total loss of energy after practices
A practitioner's body feels rotation from inside after practices
A practitioner hears voices in his or her head and/or feels otherworldly presence
A practitioner feels he or she is gaining "magical powers"
"At some point through your practices," Bakhtiyarov said in a seminar, "you might have an experience as if God is talking to you and asks you to bring His message to the world. This is normal, just stay calm, avoid quick conclusions and continue your practice. Treat this experience as yet another distraction."
Psychonetics does not deny religious or mystic interpretations. Such interpretations are considered a personal choice of a practitioner and are outside of the scope of psychonetics.
However, psychonetics suggests maintaining a cautious and discreet attitude toward phenomena that are considered mental disorders in psychiatry (such as hearing voices in the head), and avoid these phenomena if they occur in an uncontrollable or overrated manner.
If the symptoms cannot be treated with a sober attitude, a cold shower and a good sleep, the practice must be paused. Practice-induced symptoms typically do not last long when the practice is stopped .
In more-serious cases, a practitioner must seek the help of a professional psychiatrist.
The author of this book, Igor Kusakov, seems to be a software developer. He makes many software metaphors, suggests using version control and Git to fork versions of psychonetics, suggests agile methodology for your practice scheduling, etc.
It's mentioned that the creator of psychonetics drew on various sources. It would be useful to know those sources exactly.
Overall, would recommend checking out. Wouldn't recommend getting recruited into a nationalistic terroristic Russian cult. YMMV.
One point of note is that it says when doing LVA to suppress somatic imagination, but it seems to me (in my brief attempts at the exercises while reading) that those two go hand in hand, that one of the core differences between CA and LVA is that the LVA creates a type of somatic illusion of the projected volume. Maybe the author refers to suppressing ones own body when they state "somatic". Perhaps its an accident of Vipassana that I can experience what I'd call "somatic" sensations projected into the space-volume that aren't spatially correlated to my own body but are experienced as part of the same "somaticness" flavour type. Whether the somatic sensations seem like my own body or a projected volume seems arbitrary in some sense, in that they don't exactly correspond to the location in space of my own body, and the sense of them being my own body or not corresponds to an additional sensational-component, or perhaps of another quality, I'm not quite sure. Thoughts of the self seem to play a role and this self can be "volumetrically projected" too.
The potential cult thing is unfortunate. It seems appropriate to try to get the other side of the story here. If a Russian article were to write about Western dharma I can imagine it wouldn't be hard to make it sound scandalous/culty/etc (reader slightly use your imagination).
I have more to say about all of this which I didn't have time to post in the OP. I'll just put it here.
I can say that the author of the online book appears to be very sane. There's one other article on that site; it's devoted to applying deconcentration in conceptual space to improve software engineering skills. Near the bottom of the article it says,
Bold is the creator of psychonetics who has been implicated in shadiness. See this post by the creator of Ithkuil:
So, this apparently sane author is in some kind of contact with this potentially dangerous leader. Weird. I'm probably going to collect some questions I have about all this (including this one) and email the guy (his email is near the top of the page). Some other obvious questions: is this book a direct translation of existing practices? How many more are there?
Like Andrew said, I wonder if he's aware of our community of pragmatic dharma. It would be fascinating if he isn't. It would seem he wrote this long fucking book for an English speaking audience with the intention that SOMEONE should read it. If anyone in the English speaking world is going to use it it's going to be someone zero to two nodes away from the DhO.
For all I know there could be thousands of hardcore psychonetic practitioners writing about their experiences on Russian forums. Maybe we should all painstakingly learn Ithkuil and try to talk to them, if so :^)
For anyone who didn't read the article(s), here's some sample Ithkuil
“Aukkras êqutta ogvëuļa tnou’elkwa pal-lši augwaikštülnàmbu,” -- “An imaginary representation of a nude woman in the midst of descending a staircase in a step-by-step series of tightly integrated ambulatory bodily movements which combine into a three-dimensional wake behind her, forming a timeless, emergent whole to be considered intellectually, emotionally, and aesthetically.”
“Eipkalindhöll te uvölîlpa ípçatörza üxt rî’ekçuöbös abzeikhouxhtoù eqarpaň dhai’eickòbüm öt eužmackûnáň xhai’ékc’oxtîmmalt te qhoec îtyatuithaň.” -- “I am privileged to have had the rare experience of having what I think of as a hobby propel me to faraway places where one encounters new ideas along with new cultures and new peoples generous in their hospitality and respect, leading me to humble introspection and a new appreciation for the human spirit and the wonders of the world.”
Does anyone on the DhO speak Russian? It would be a great help. The footnotes have:
 Oleg Bakhtiyarov lectures (audio) about the history of modern psychotechnologies:
Oleg Bakhtiyarov at the "Global Future - 2045" international congress (Russian)
19 sounds particularly interesting. Wish I could understand.
In the footnotes the author included a link to an online version of Oleg's latest book about all this (in Russian of course). It's not super readable with Google Translate, but here is at least the table of contents translated by GT.
The author's foreword
A few preliminary comments
Section 1. Psychological equipment
Chapter 1. Volitional psychotechnics in the general context of psychotechnics
1.1. Three ways of viewing the world and man
1.2. Psychotechnical strategies
1.3. Three types of psychotechnics
Chapter 2. Volitional psychotechnics: principles and definitions
2.1. Volitional Techniques: How to Overcome Language and Attention Dependency
2.2. Willful intent and obstacles to its implementation
2.3. Introduction of the initial description language
2.4. Immediate experience of volitional intent
2.5. Volitional impulse
2.7. Deployment environment
2.8. Will-power "I" and the body of consciousness
Chapter 3. Volitional Meditation
3.1 Technique of execution
3.2. Resistance of strong-willed meditation from the "body of consciousness"
3.3. Splitting of BM and mental processes
3.4. Will meditation: deployment of states and use of synesthesia
3.6. Will meditation and mental silence
3.7. Will meditation and strong-willed "I": the interpretation of the body of consciousness
Chapter 4. Perceptual medium management
4.1. Perceptive environment (PS)
4.2. Management of the PS
4.3. Control of processes in the field of vision with closed eyes
4.4. Controlling non-equilibrium color environments
4.5. Managing consecutive images
4.6. Control projections of equivocal figures
4.7. Splitting Visual Perception
4.8. Management of somatic and kinesthetic environments
4.9. Further Practices
Chapter 5. Deconcentration techniques
5.1. Techniques for the formation of visual planar dKV
5.2. DKV in the field of vision with closed eyes
5.3. Techniques for formation of auditory dQV
5.4. Somatic dKV
5.6. Using dCB techniques
Chapter 6. States of attention and cycles
6.1. Abstract plane of view
6.2. "Visual nothingness" and the state of visual attention
6.3. Cycles of visual attention
6.4. Phase failure
6.5. The local scope of attention (BWI)
6.6. Empty space
6.7. The local scope of attention, formed from HF, dKV and APZ
6.8. Forms of attention
6.9. Cycles of attention
6.10. Paradoxical forms of BWOs
6.11. The abstract passage of time and abstract duration
6.12. Abstract somatics and abstract energy
6.13. Abstract zones of strong-willed meditation
6.14. Cycles of "non-forms"
Chapter 7. "Non-perception"
7.1. Visual "non-perception"
7.2. Audial non-perception
7.3. Somatic non-perception
7.4. Non-perception of space
7.5. Total non-perception
7.6. Non-perception as a state and as a focus on areas beyond perception
7.8. Cycles of "non-perceptions"
7.9. Non-perception and dynamics of the "I"
Chapter 8. Working with "non-forms" and "non-perceptions"
8.1. Imaginations and their use in work. Colorless luminosity and black colors
8.2. Colorless luminosity, fluidity and flowing luminosity
8.3. "Non-existent colors"
8.4. Rotation of the APZ
8.5. Spaces arising on the background of volumetric deconcentration and the abstract plane of view
8.6. One-time "freezing" of two durations and the formation of a two-dimensional time
8.7. Formation of the "body of attention" and manipulation with it
8.7.1. Local volume of attention and its movement
8.7.2. Changing the shape of the body
8.7.3. Formation of structures of intensity TV
8.7.4. Rotation of homogeneous bodies and flat spots of attention
8.7.5. Organization of processes inside the TV
8.8. The body of attention, coinciding with the physical body, and operations with it
8.8.1. Stopping the attention and independent TV movements
8.8.2. Turns TV inside a physical body
8.8.3. Organization of processes inside somatic TV
8.9. Use of substances of other functions in the differentiation of TV. Visualization of the "body of attention"
8.10. The space of attention and visual space
8.11. Operations "with what is not"
Chapter 9. "The stop of consciousness" and the shift of subjectivity beyond the limits of the "I"
9.1. The cessation of consciousness as the termination of interpretation
9.2. The cessation of the formation of space and time in the process of stopping consciousness
9.3. Going beyond the "I" while maintaining strong-willed subjectivity
9.4. "I": disidentification and identification
9.5. "I" is ideal, "I" is distorted, "I" is different
Chapter 10. Reflective-Willed Instance
10.1. The concept of reflexive-volitional authority
10.2. Formation of reflexive space
10.3. Formation of RVI
10.4. Tracking the transitions of states of consciousness and expanding the actual present
10.5. Stabilization of reflexive space
Chapter 11. The ABC and Methodical Principles of Psychonetic Work
11.1. Subject of work
11.2. Classes of objects of psychonetic work
11.3. Senses and contents of consciousness
11.4. Consciousness and function
11.5. The differentiating process and the counterprocess
11.6. Psychotechnical techniques
11.7. Psychonetic procedures
11.8. Cycles and stratifications
11.9. Deployment of "sleeping" areas of consciousness
11.10. The principle of conservation of volitional activity at all stages of practice
11.11. States of consciousness: syntax and semantics
11.12. Polycontextuality psychotechnician
11.13. Movement to reality through its image
Chapter 12. Excesses
12.1. Excesses and subexcess states
12.2. Activation of personal issues
12.3. Panic invasions
12.4. Excesses of deconcentration
12.5. Excesses of non-forms and non-perceptions
12.6. Reassessing alternative aspects of the world
12.7. Uncontrolled recovery of the tone and euphoric states
12.8. Excesses of strong-willed meditation
12.9. Collisions with "other entities"
12.10. Induced psychoses
Section 2. Directions for further work
Chapter 13. Results and application
13.1 Formation of "I" -activity
13.3. Volumetric consciousness
13.4. Background thinking
13.5. Formation of coherent realities
13.6. Personal transformation
13.7. Deploying the "I" in the body of attention
13.8. Deployment of "alien memory" from "non-memory"
13.9. The unfolding of energy and its transformation into a substance
13.10. The transformation of "I"
Chapter 14. Phenomenology of the Psychonetic Process
14.1. Phenomenology of primary practice
14.2. The consequences of working with non-forms and non-perceptions
14.3. Phenomenology, accompanying the awakening of active subjectness
Chapter 15. Psi-bodies: function - language - game - culture - technology
15.1. Unrealized psi-organs
15.2. The procedure and phenomenology of the deployment of "sleeping" zones of consciousness
15.3. Perverted deployment of the psi-organs
15.4. The Savant Syndrome
15.5. The projection of psi-organs on the cultural and technological fields
15.6. Awakening psi-organs: synchronicities
15.7. Example of spontaneous activation of the psi-organ
15.8. Psi-bodies of wakefulness and sleep
Chapter 16. Will, Clear Consciousness and the Point of Creativity
16.1. The theme of the will in modern philosophizing
16.2. Will as metapsihicheskaya instance
16.3. The layer of absolute subjectivity and creativity
16.4. Will and Clear Consciousness
16.5. Will as a creative factor and types of creativity
16.6. Willed creativity as an imitation of the act of Creation
Chapter 17. Transformation and Metaphysical Choice
17.1. Man and superman
17.2. Overcoming cultural conditioning
17.3. Overcoming Morphogenetic Conditionality
17.4. Metaphysical choice
17.5. Psychonetic metaontology
Chapter 18. Comparison with traditional and modern practitioners
18.1. Psychonetics and traditional practices
18.2. Psychonetics and Yoga
18.3. Objects of consciousness in psychonetics and Buddhism
18.4. Gurdjieff: "I" and the will
18.5. Psychonetics and Nahualism
18.6. Matches and differences
Chapter 19. Conclusion
19.1. The main provisions of the work aimed at enhancing consciousness
19.3. Managing Reality
19.4. Training or initiation
Here are a couple parts I thought were interesting,
18.6. Matches and differences
Thus, intersections are found, and sometimes direct coincidences with techniques used in psychonetics and in various, often ideologically and metaphysically opposed, doctrines and doctrines.The coincidences are explained by the really existing structure of consciousness, and differences are explained by the concrete tasks of practice.
The psychonetic practice of working with consciousness differs from yoga and tantra not by technical methods, but by the preservation of internal volitional activity and focus on activity in the manifested world. In psychonetics implicitly there is a different order of values, rather than in the ancient Indian sacred practices. Orientation to the preservation and strengthening of the active "I" inevitably modifies techniques and technologies built from them. It is important here, what exactly can be done from this position, what can be projected and deployed.
This is largely due to the difference in the cultural context in which work is done. The practice of working with consciousness is not supported by the whole system of the surrounding culture, in contrast to those times when sacred psychotechnical systems were created. The absence of a uniform interpretation of the phenomena accompanying the transformation of consciousness, the lack of a hierarchy of achievements generates uncertainty about the reliability and truth of the results achieved. The results are not fixed by the cultural environment, they are not signs of spiritual achievements. Therefore, there is a need for a pragmatic confirmation of the truth and significance of what has been achieved - either in persistent socially significant achievements or in creativity of fundamentally new forms.
Creating a new form, a person in a sense ritually reflects the act of creation and thereby obtains a language in which one can "talk" about the transcendent.
11.8. Cycles and stratifications
Cycles are introduced to facilitate the execution of individual procedures and procedures and to accelerate the process of mastering psycho-skills. The cyclical nature of the work allows one to avoid exhaustion of efforts with long practice and use forces that destroy the given state for the formation of the following, equally exotic phenomena.
Cycles by the method of transition from phase to phase are divided into: cycles with the transition to the next phase as the previous one is depleted; cycles in which the transition occurs when the peak of the phase is reached. In the first case, the cycle contributes to the elongation of each phase, in the second - to their deepening.
Cycles allow us to use the energy of depletion of individual phases of practice and related deviations from the task to move to other phases of the cycle, while maintaining the main thing - the level reached in the course of practice of approaching certain objects of consciousness, states or positions for a long time.
Layering, i.e. the formation of new phases of the cycle while preserving the former, transform the cycle into a deepening of several forms of consciousness and consolidation of the achieved positions. In the development of psychotechnical systems, the cycle, as a rule, precedes the layering.
That said, he described some of the unique ways programmers have to hold models of systems in their heads in order to solve problems and write code accurately. And certainly over the last few years, I've found myself more able to solve programming problems by sort of relaxing into the perception of the mental model and allowing a solution to float up, rather than linearly trying to think through it, though that might be just an effect generally of continued learning and expertise, rather than necessarily meditation skills/mindfulness - seems likely a combination of both.
Funny, this reminds me of the work of a software engineer named Christopher Lofting who did some interesting work on the I Ching and the meaning of language. I stumbled upon him about 10 years ago while deep down a Myers-Briggs tunnel, as part of his system was designed to allow one to change one's psychological type at will. I couldn't tell if it was madness or genius or some combination of the two, and I couldn't find much about Lofting himself. Just a post on a metallurgy forum by someone whose professor knew him, who'd said Lofting was the smartest man he'd ever met but that he'd gone mad with the Tao.
I did some experimentation with his stuff, and admittedly did gain a greater degree of psychological flexibility in that period of time, but I was working with a variety of techniques so who knows?
Eventually, I sent him an email. His sister replied saying he'd died two weeks earlier of lung cancer.
Gotta love the internet and how it can connect us to such interesting ideas.
I've tried several of the techniques, and they produce good results. The folding/unfolding into and out of nonconceptual mental space is a bit tricky, and I'm not sure whether there's a problem with the translation or if you just have to practice a very long time to get it. I'd be interested in hearing what other DhO members can make of it all.
Yes, I have some particular questions. How popular is psychonetics in Russia? Estimated serious practitioners? Are there psychonetics forums? Does Bakhtiyarov sound sane and well-adjusted to you? How is his reputation with a Russian-speaking crowd?
Yeah I saw the diving stuff in the article. Pocketed the article. Thanks. How much practice have you put into psychonetics? What resource did you use? How were the results?
This: https://www.scribd.com/document/87792060/Language-of-the-Vague-Chris-Lofting ? Are there practical aspects to his system? Looks interesting, but, certainly potentially nonsense.
Glad you like it! The practical orientation is definitely there.
I'm an aspiring software engineer too. Likely a combination of both, imo. This is an interesting topic to explore in relation to mathematics too. Many famous mathematicians have written about intuition, creativity, problem-solving, etc.
It reminds me of what Loch Kelly in "Shift into Freedom" calls "unhooking local awareness". Another technique which comes to mind is from Bodhipaksa (Wildmind), he suggests feeling the breath in three different spots at the same time.
But I haven't seen anyone explaining it as concisely as Natalia Molchanova, who summarizes deconcentration of attention as "evenly spreading of the attention in the whole perception area"(http://www.nucsub.eu/nucsub/Articles_files/The%20freediver%20psychological%20training.pdf).
I will definitely read Igor Kusakov's paper, thank you so much for the pointer!
A question for those here who practice noting: Who is correct, those who say that it is possible to direct the attention to multiple things (by deconcentration), or those who say that attention can only focus on one thing at a time? As far as I know the Abhidharma tells us that the mind moments are strictly serialized. Or is this simply an equivocation, i.e. "attention" meaning two different things?
A question for those here who work with Culadasa's TMI: Is "peripheral awareness" a state where the attention is deconcentrated?
Culadasa's models (which are inspired by the Abhidharma, if I understand correctly) also call for a strict serialization of mind moments. But I am able to feel both index fingers on my thighs, if I ease into a state where I watch the sensations from the corner of my eyes, so to say.
How do those parallel sensations fit in the system of Buddhist phenomenology?
I used the Deconcentration of Attention site's description of the psychonetics exercises. The most readily adaptable ones were the placing of attention within a volume of space or a sensory field. These are a good extention of the well-known body scan exercises to other sensory maps. So, for example, the exercise of successively putting your attention on the eight corners of a room (including the ones you can't see) without moving your eyes, then attending to the entirety of the room's space, zooming focus in and out of a fixed visual field to capture specific details or the field as a whole, rotating attention among two or more senses and combining and separating them all produce interesting effects on the concentration spectrum.
The "folding" and "unfolding" into and out of non-conceptual, non-discursive states isn't something I could do with just the instructions on the website, even though I know how to get those states by other means. There's something missing in the instructions.
Neurologically speaking, it's possible to have divided attention or combined attention of multiple things. That's why you are able to naturally interpret the sight and sound of a TV show, for example, as those people actually talking as long as the sound syncs up with their mouths moving. It's also why young people in particular enjoy loud, energetic or lively music when they're doing homework--it helps fill the spare attentional bandwidth.
The Buddhist focus is traditionally on single-pointed attention and stability, resulting in an attentional model that is serial rather than parallel, but it's certainly possible to train in divided attention or wide-angle attention tasks as well.
I've thought before about sharing this stuff but couldn't find anything in English. I've been at 1-day psychonetic training, and some of my friends have practiced this system for 1-3 years.
They are not really a cult, well maybe a little, in a way that you have charismatic leader who is kinda revered. He had (maybe) trained some spec ops guys in Ukraine & Russia. He is also Orthodox Christian, which seemed weird to me. Otherwise there's this place, called "Institute of Psychenetics" http://www.ipir.ru/psychonetic.php . They have live sessions (2-3 consecutive days * 8 hours) every month and on-line courses (2 times per week for 2 hours). 1 month of online sessions is worth about $60 so it's quite affordable even in Russia. I don't know how many people out there are trained in this system. Depends on what 'trained' means too. 2-3 hundreds is my guess. They also do some research, for example on brain-computer interfaces.
It is real deal. Some practices are kinda hard to grasp right without guidance. I have discussed system with my friends trying to compare notes and 'align' it with pragmatic dharma. It is not hard to find some common ground there. For example seeking of origination of intent seems to be a focus for some of their more advanced practices which closely resemples realizing the Witness.
Here you can download some of their game exercises: http://www.ipir.ru/student/the-test-training-program.php . Descriptions are in Russian but feel free to ask me if Google translate won't help you.
Oh wait, I came up with this stuff and published it first, LOLOLOL, Well not all of his stuff. I'll have to look into it deeper and see how much more than my stuff -
Very similar though. cool.
I am Russian speaker ) If any questions, feel free to ask, may be i will be able to help (may be not, but i will try my best).
I just recently discovered psychonetic and this book for myself.
Looks like u guys have a lot of fun here ).
Any updates from those brave who tried to practice the technics?
I signed up for this site specifically for this thread since psychonetics seems like a very powerful method but unfortunately I'm a few days into my practice so far so can't say I've gotten any results yet