Any Zen out there?

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  • #26
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Simetra7 said:
Dr.Yes said:
Yes. I've also heard or felt that Zen is a rather exclusive sort of practice where its a kind of boot camp nazi crap, a kind of brain washing technique that disallows for things other than "the now".

What 'other things' are you talking about?

Conditions other than 'the now' may include any of the following:

then, again, before, after, probability, possibility, prediction, plans, history, prehistory, imagined scenarios and so on.
 
  • #27
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Dr.Yes said:
Conditions other than 'the now' may include any of the following:

then, again, before, after, probability, possibility, prediction, plans, history, prehistory, imagined scenarios and so on.



I don't think that Zen "disallows" any of these things, but shows us that dwelling on the past or wishing for our circumstances to be different in the future does not enrich our lives because we live in the present and it is here and now where we have the power to make a difference.
 
  • #28
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Simetra7 said:
I don't think that Zen "disallows" any of these things,

Let us know when you know for sure.

I haven't suggested a person should dwell on any one, single aspect of being. I am suggesting that all aspects of life, past, present and future, have something to offer in terms of usefullness and practicality. More importantly, these aspects (among others) add a balance and breadth to the near-sighted condition of "the now".
 
  • #29
somasimple
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hi All,

I just PubMed meditation and there are thousand...

Int J Neurosci. 2005 Jun;115(6):893-909.

Impact of regular meditation practice on EEG activity at rest and during evoked negative emotions.

Aftanas L, Golosheykin S.

Psychophysiology Laboratory, State Research Institute of Physiology, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia. aftanas@iph.ma.nsc.ru

The main objective of the present investigation was to examine how long-term meditation practice is manifested in EEG activity under conditions of non-emotional arousal (eyes-closed and eyes-open periods, viewing emotionally neutral movie clip) and while experiencing experimentally induced negative emotions (viewing aversive movie clip). The 62-channel EEG was recorded in age-matched control individuals (n=25) and Sahaja Yoga meditators (SYM, n=25). Findings from the non-emotional continuum show that at the lowest level of arousal (eyes closed) SYM manifested larger power values in theta-1 (4-6 Hz), theta-2 (6-8 Hz) and alpha-1 (8-10 Hz) frequency bands. Although increasing arousal desynchronized activity in these bands in both groups, the theta-2 and alpha-1 power in the eyes-open period and alpha-1 power while viewing the neutral clip remained still higher in the SYM. During eyes-closed and eyes-open periods the controls were marked by larger right than left hemisphere power, indexing relatively more active left hemisphere parieto-temporal cortex whereas me
ditators manifested no hemisphere asymmetry. When contrasted with the neutral, the aversive movie clip yielded significant alpha desynchronization in both groups, reflecting arousing nature of emotional induction. In the control group along with alpha desynchronization affective movie clip synchronized gamma power over anterior cortical sites. This was not seen in the SYM. Overall, the presented report emphasizes that the revealed changes in the electrical brain activity associated with regular meditation practice are dynamical by nature and depend on arousal level. The EEG power findings also provide the first empirical proof of a theoretical assumption that meditators have better capabilities to moderate intensity of emotional arousal.

Publication Types:

* Clinical Trial
* Randomized Controlled Trial


PMID: 16019582 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
 
  • #30
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Dr.Yes said:
I haven't suggested a person should dwell on any one, single aspect of being. I am suggesting that all aspects of life, past, present and future, have something to offer in terms of usefullness and practicality. More importantly, these aspects (among others) add a balance and breadth to the near-sighted condition of "the now".
I agree with this. I believe however that the argument is simply a matter of semantics. I've read Eckhart Tolles book and I think it is quite good.
Tolle uses the word NOW in terms of the nothingness that everything is happening in. He doesn't mean that only the present moment counts, he means that both the past and the future is happening in the NOW - which is of cource true because it couldn't be any other way. The future is always a concept, an idea, sence it hasn't yet happend. If you're focusing on the future it is a sure sign that you are focusing on abstractions of what is happening in the NOW. Do you see? I, as you, believe everything is of equal importance but I agree with Tolle when he says that NOW is all there is. To focus your whole attention on an abstraction, the future, is to run from life - which is happening NOW.
 
  • #31
Les Sleeth
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Let's say you wanted to understand Socrates. Do you read books by people who studied Plato's reports, or do you read Plato's reports? I don't understand all this talk about Watts, Tolles, Capra, et al when we have original texts to study. 20th century interpreters of the Buddha being studied over the Buddha himself :confused: it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.

Dr. Yes, I especially cannot follow this sort of thinking, "I haven't suggested a person should dwell on any one, single aspect of being. I am suggesting that all aspects of life, past, present and future, have something to offer in terms of usefullness and practicality. More importantly, these aspects (among others) add a balance and breadth to the near-sighted condition of "the now".

Understanding all aspects of life may very well have something to offer one, but what does this have to do with Zen? Study it historically, from original texts, and precede that by studying the Buddha because Zen is nothing more than a slight variation on how the Buddha taught, adjusted for the Taoist audience Bodhidarma was to address.

"NOW" is exactly, precisely, totally what Zen (and all samadhi meditation) is about. There is nothing near-sighted about it . . . rather, it is specialized. Do you think it is easy to attain the experience of now? If it were then you might have a point. But it takes years of practice, and serious dedication. So just like someone who wants to be an Olympic wrestler gets focused (tho according to you, near-sighted), to achieve the very difficult realization of "now" a person dedicates himself.
 
  • #32
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Les Sleeth said:
Let's say you wanted to understand Socrates. Do you read books by people who studied Plato's reports, or do you read Plato's reports? I don't understand all this talk about Watts, Tolles, Capra, et al when we have original texts to study. 20th century interpreters of the Buddha being studied over the Buddha himself :confused: it doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.

Dr. Yes, I especially cannot follow this sort of thinking, "I haven't suggested a person should dwell on any one, single aspect of being. I am suggesting that all aspects of life, past, present and future, have something to offer in terms of usefullness and practicality. More importantly, these aspects (among others) add a balance and breadth to the near-sighted condition of "the now".

Understanding all aspects of life may very well have something to offer one, but what does this have to do with Zen? Study it historically, from original texts, and precede that by studying the Buddha because Zen is nothing more than a slight variation on how the Buddha taught, adjusted for the Taoist audience Bodhidarma was to address.

"NOW" is exactly, precisely, totally what Zen (and all samadhi meditation) is about. There is nothing near-sighted about it . . . rather, it is specialized. Do you think it is easy to attain the experience of now? If it were then you might have a point. But it takes years of practice, and serious dedication. So just like someone who wants to be an Olympic wrestler gets focused (tho according to you, near-sighted), to achieve the very difficult realization of "now" a person dedicates himself.

Hello Les, I have a good understanding of the tao (way) and the now. This has been going on for 24 years for me. I am offering a flip-side or the shadow side of Zen where I view it's focus on "the now" as a resource among many other available resources. Nothing more. Nothing special about it. Equal in importance to learning wrestling, as you have mentioned.

Claude Monet (an early impressionist artist) was near-sighted. This condition helped him to produce what we view today as masterpieces of impressionism.

Monet's near-sightedness was a resource that was useful in his endeavour. That doesn't mean it was the gospel to all art or even all impressionist art. In this case near-sightedness was simply one of an infinite number of conditions from which one can draw resources.

As for your confused state concerning the book list I posted: I recommend staying in the now and accepting those events that you have attracted to yourself. o:)
 
  • #33
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WeeDie said:
I agree with this. I believe however that the argument is simply a matter of semantics. I've read Eckhart Tolles book and I think it is quite good.
Tolle uses the word NOW in terms of the nothingness that everything is happening in. He doesn't mean that only the present moment counts, he means that both the past and the future is happening in the NOW - which is of cource true because it couldn't be any other way. The future is always a concept, an idea, sence it hasn't yet happend. If you're focusing on the future it is a sure sign that you are focusing on abstractions of what is happening in the NOW. Do you see? I, as you, believe everything is of equal importance but I agree with Tolle when he says that NOW is all there is. To focus your whole attention on an abstraction, the future, is to run from life - which is happening NOW.

Quite often a carpenter will have to focus on the future and wonder if he can fit a piece of wood into a slot or whathaveyou. He must contemplate the future in order to work in the now on the piece of wood that must fit into the slot in the future.

The carpenter uses the future as a resource that is helpful in constructing somthing in the now that will remain for some time, into the future... and become something from the past which may also be useful at another point.

You said someone named Tolle wrote " NOW in terms of the nothingness that everything is happening in".

This is an assumption. My assumption is that nothingness is a part of everything and that everything is simply... happening.

I cannot confirm or deny that everything is happening in something. Therefore, I'd rather not assume anything of the sort. Thanks!
 
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  • #34
Les Sleeth
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Dr.Yes said:
Hello Les, I have a good understanding of the tao (way) and the now.

What does the Tao have to do with Zen? Taoists aren't reknown for meditation, but rather for participating in life a certain way, in harmony with the Tao. This has absolutely nothing to do with Zen.


Dr.Yes said:
This has been going on for 24 years for me. I am offering a flip-side or the shadow side of Zen where I view it's focus on "the now" as a resource among many other available resources. Nothing more. Nothing special about it. Equal in importance to learning wrestling, as you have mentioned.

What is the shadow side of Zen, meditation? Zen IS meditation and the experience that results when that meditation is successful, period.

Sorry, but I don't think you are making sense. We are in a thread talking about Zen meditation, and what it might offer. So what if there are other valuable resources? (I assume you mean conscious resources.) We aren't talking about other resources, we are talking about Zen.


Dr.Yes said:
As for your confused state concerning the book list I posted: I recommend staying in the now and accepting those events that you have attracted to yourself. o:)

I am not confused, I just don't think you know much about Zen, yet you are acting like you do. Watts was a lifelong alcoholic, who nonetheless thought he could expound on Zen philosophically. I read him quite a bit when I first started meditating, so I'm not guessing when I say he was trying to explain silence by talking about it. See the problem?

Today all the lazy people think they get to be an expert on Zen by reading books, when the people who made Zen a reality had to meditate for decades. I am into my fourth decade of daily meditation and I am pretty sure I can recognize when someone is experienced in meditation and when they are talking from theory. Which are you? Here's a sampling of your thinking which I say gives away you are philosophizing sans experience:


Dr.Yes said:
There are Zen practitioners who have spent 20 years painting the image of the same mountain for 20 years. Through this disciplined approach to understanding a phenomenon, there is the belief that the practitioner will understand every mountain, every tree, every river, every rock and everything else, just by concentrating, fully and wholey on one aspect of their environment.

You might be right that there are people doing this, but it isn't anything the Buddha or followers faithful to his teaching ever recommended. This is something made up by people who believe as you stated you believe, "Personally, I am of the belief that Jack of All Trades, Master of None can evolve into a form of what the Zenists have tended to attempt to attain." Such thinkers decided they could interpret the Buddha's teaching anyway they pleased, and did just that. But I say Bodhidarma was true to the Buddha's teaching, and that the only true Ch'an/Zen masters have been those true to the Buddha's teaching. If you want to call devotees of bastardized approaches "masters" then make them masters of archery or motorcycle maintenance, not Zen.

Before you claim you can do what Zen masters have done, don't you think you need to understand what samadhi is? What is, or I should say, was Zen? As I pointed out in my first post to this thread, Zen is the later Japanese pronuciation of the Chinese word chan-na -- abbreveated Ch’an -- which was their rendering of the sanskrit word dhyana, which means meditation. The realization that can come from samadhi meditation the Buddha taught is what Ch'an, and early Zen was all about.

It is a very specific skill, and requires a very specific practice. You are really misleading people (and this is why I am challenging you) when you claim someone can realize via the jack-of-all-trades approach what someone realizes through a dedicated meditation practice. I know because I do both, and I know that there is no possible way to get what one gets from meditation any other way than from doing the work of meditation.

A true meditator knows that to practice, one has to actually reverse one's attention 180° from the usual "out there" focus to a totally inside focus. It is not the normal way consciousness operates, and it take a lot of practice to get anywhere. So how does one go around doing only out-there stuff and attain that inner realization? When someone tells me they meditate by staring at candles or a wall, or by communing with nature, or by mastering archery or painting . . . I know they are lost (when it comes to Zen) because they are focused in the wrong direction.

I am not trying to say that your practices are wrong, or even that they might not be superior to a true Zen practice. If they work for you that's fine. What I am trying to say is that you haven't been speaking accurately about Zen.
 
  • #35
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[/QUOTE]Today all the lazy people think they get to be an expert on Zen by reading books, when the people who made Zen a reality had to meditate for decades.[/QUOTE]



You stated in your first post in this thread that anyone who is serious about learning Zen meditation should be careful about who they let teach them. In your opinion, is learning from a master of the original teachings the only way to truly learn this ancient discipline, and if so, are there many Zen masters around the world who still teach this way.
 
  • #36
Les Sleeth
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Simetra7 said:
You stated in your first post in this thread that anyone who is serious about learning Zen meditation should be careful about who they let teach them. In your opinion, is learning from a master of the original teachings the only way to truly learn this ancient discipline, and if so, are there many Zen masters around the world who still teach this way.

Private message me if you are interested.
 
  • #37
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Les Sleeth said:
Private message me if you are interested.



This was more of a general question in line with the content of this thread. I was just wondering whether these people are out there, and available to teach someone who may be genuinely interested.
 
  • #38
Les Sleeth
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Simetra7 said:
This was more of a general question in line with the content of this thread. I was just wondering whether these people are out there, and available to teach someone who may be genuinely interested.

Well, let me answer your question like this. How many people do you know who have meditated over an hour per day for nearly 32 years and still consider themselves unworthy to teach? The only reason for that is because the competence of stillness of who taught me is still far beyond what I have achieved. So why should I get in the way? Yet I am thrilled with what I've accomplished, and can heartily recommend others to try it.

My experience is, there are many, many willing to teach, but very, very few who actually can both impart the experience and keep one on track until one realizes how to realize the experience for oneself.
 
  • #39
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Les Sleeth said:
What does the Tao have to do with Zen? Taoists aren't reknown for meditation, but rather for participating in life a certain way, in harmony with the Tao. This has absolutely nothing to do with Zen.

I takes a certain meditation to participate in harmony with the Tao. I refered to the Tao because I saw it mentioned somewhere in the above posts.




Les Sleeth said:
What is the shadow side of Zen, meditation? Zen IS meditation and the experience that results when that meditation is successful, period.

The "shadow of Zen" is another way I attempted to describe the "flip-side of Zen".

Les Sleeth said:
Sorry, but I don't think you are making sense. We are in a thread talking about Zen meditation, ......edit We aren't talking about other resources, we are talking about Zen.

On the contrary, if you include my participation in this discussion, we are talking about resources etc.

Les Sleeth said:
I am not confused, I just don't think you know much about Zen, yet you are acting like you do.

My opinions are based on what I've experienced or know about a subject like you or anyone else.

Les Sleeth said:
Today all the lazy people think they get to be an expert on Zen by reading books,

They are experts at reading books.

Les Sleeth said:
I am not trying to say that your practices are wrong, or even that they might not be superior to a true Zen practice. If they work for you that's fine. What I am trying to say is that you haven't been speaking accurately about Zen.

Superiority is an unbalanced state which I try to avoid. I've only spoken generally about Zen. If Zen Buddist tradition is similar to what the Dali Lama practises, I have it on good authority that it is as outdated and psudo-domineering as the Roman Catholic Church and its cousins.

Meditation (of any sort) is one thing. Organized meditation is out-of-balance and down-right-plain-dangerous.

And please don't tell me about how organized, vigilante meditators can save the world. What are they, everyone's Mommy?
 
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  • #40
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Les Sleeth said:
My experience is, there are many, many willing to teach, but very, very few who actually can both impart the experience and keep one on track until one realizes how to realize the experience for oneself.


So are you saying that the original meaning and practice of Zen meditation could eventually be lost forever, or are these teachings passed down through generations of certain dedicated families.
 
  • #41
Les Sleeth
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Dr.Yes said:
Superiority is an unbalanced state which I try to avoid. I've only spoken generally about Zen. If Zen Buddist tradition is similar to what the Dali Lama practises, I have it on good authority that it is as outdated and psudo-domineering as the Roman Catholic Church and its cousins.

Well, you are making my case for me that you've been talking about something you don't know much about. Besides the fact that modern Tibetan Buddhism is another subject, if you review my posts you will see that I've attempted to describe the origin of Zen--what it originally was--and not anything that's "organized" today. I am as against religion as anyone I know because I believe every time it strays miles from what the original teacher was doing.

That's why, if you read my first post in this thread, I attempted to show that Zen (Ch'an) started out with someone still trying to keep what the Buddha originally taught going (what I called a "preservationist") while the religion of Buddhism had totally overshadowed what little preservationism was left. Most of what people call "zen" today has little to do with the type of serious and lifelong dedication to meditation the Buddha and his faithful were into.

By the way, there were serious meditators within first the early Eastern Greek monasteries and later in the Catholic monasteries (although they called it "prayer" such as prayer of the heart or union prayer). The Catholic monastics appear to have learned this from the Orthodox practitioners, who themselves descended from the desert hermits populating remote areas of Palastine, Egypt, Asia Minor soon after the death of Jesus. The inner practices of these "preservationists," IMO kept the original teaching of Jesus alive for centuries while, again, the Christian religion grew and dominated until today all people think Jesus was about is the dogmatic and fantastic beliefs that represents so much of religion.


Dr.Yes said:
Meditation (of any sort) is one thing. Organized meditation is out-of-balance and down-right-plain-dangerous.

What is "organized meditation"? Meditation is personal, you can't do it "with" someone else even if they happen to be in the same room doing it too.

If you mean organizations set up to promote meditation, then it seems you equate "organized" with evil, but I don't think that's a fair assessment. The Buddha organized a sangha (monastic lifestyle) for people who wanted to give their full attention to inner practice. While devotees had the benefit of his single-pointed focus, the organization served a meditation purpose. But later (after the Buddha's death) when those in charge of the organization started adding religious practices, then the organization started serving a religious purpose. So organization isn't inherently evil, it depends on what the focus is. In the early Ch'an monasteries, it appears the focus was meditation just as it had been with the Buddha. But now, look at all the stuff people are doing in the name of Zen and you can see what the focus is (or isn't).


Dr.Yes said:
And please don't tell me about how organized, vigilante meditators can save the world. What are they, everyone's Mommy?

I haven't said or implied anything of the sort. In my profile you can review every post I've made here, and you will find me always recommending meditation for personal enlightenment, not world enlightenment.
 
  • #42
Les Sleeth
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Simetra7 said:
So are you saying that the original meaning and practice of Zen meditation could eventually be lost forever, or are these teachings passed down through generations of certain dedicated families.

Well, this is a difficult question to answer quickly. To do it right, I have to distinquish between Buddhist meditation, and the practices specific to Ch'an (I'm going to use Ch'an because the Chinese are who developed the practices that later became part of Japanese Zen).

The meditation the Buddha mastered and realized enlightenment through is called samadhi, which means union. It's called union because one's consciousness, normally split into several aspects (intellect, sense data, emotions, etc.) all merge into one single experience. The mind becomes still, and one experiences "oneness" with the whole of reality. This practice involves a series of methods where one learns to recognize the inner brightness of consciousness, its inherent vibrancy, a gentle pulse consciousness has, and a total release from holding or feeling the body. Believe me, it takes practice to get anywhere first because the thinking mind won't let go either of control of consciousness, or of the body.

Letting go becomes a big deal, because as one learns, one realizes that one is surrendering one's self to a greater "something" that will absorb it once one can get the mind to submit (just as Mohammed said). When that absorption happens, that is samadhi/union. Most people think the purpose of meditation is to stop thinking, but it isn't (not samadhi meditation anyway). It's just that thinking prevents absorption; the real goal of samadhi/union meditation is that absorption.

If an individual has the right inner methods, then he can attain union. One can get so good at meditation that he achieves it at every sitting; but alas, the experience fades over the day, so one keeps practicing daily so that the union experience can last through life's hassles. This partial, in and out experience is not enlightenment, which is when someone achieves permanent absorption. When that happens, then that person may go and teach others if the orignal teacher is dead.

So, back to the Ch'an story. What the Buddha did was to achieve permanent union, and then he set up a situation where he could teach. Never in history have students had the opportunity for so much attention from a master. The Buddha taught for 40 years, and as a result quite a few people realized enlightenment. These people (the "preservationists") kept the experience alive, teaching others through the generations, but as the religion of Buddhism grew some went off to teach in more "neutral" settings (i.e., where Buddhism wasn't the dominant thing).

Before China, it appears some Buddhists taught Hindu priests because meditation masters show up there. The great master Kabir claims to have been taught by a Hindu master, and many believe Kabir taught Nanak, who would initiate several generations of serious samadhi meditators before it deteriorated into the Sikh religion. Some say Jesus went to India during his "missing years" and learned union; that would certainly explain the presence of monks and nuns practicing union in monasteries centuries after Jesus' death.

Anyway someone went to China about a thousand years after the Buddha. As usual, a preservationist adjusts his message to fit the beliefs, values and attitudes of his audience (the Buddha, for instance, designed his message for the forest full of ascetics who were his first followers; his "middle way" was a message aimed directly at their severe self-denial practices which were often physically debilitating and even life threatening). The preservationist who went to China, thought to be Bodhidarma, likely found his most enthusiastic followers among Taoists. I say this because you often see in the pecularities of Ch'an the Taoist value of naturalness. This shows up in the best Ch'an koans where students are constantly pressed to experience, and stop maintaining a concept about enlightenment.

I consider Joshu the greatest of all Ch'an masters, someone who meditated for 40 years and waited for his master Nansen's death before teaching. His koans show the naturalness that Taoist understanding seems to have imparted to Ch'an. For example, someone asked Joshu, "Master, where is your mind focused?" Joshu answered, "where there is no design."

"No design," is a what union is like, which is what is practiced first and foremost in meditation. If you know that, then you can see what a true master, someone within the experience himself, is doing when he interacts with students. He is trying to keep them in the "oneness" experience all day. That's how the experience eventually becomes permanent.

Here's another good one (and reflects Taoist influence too):

A monk asked, "Master, what does the enlightened one do?"
Joshu said, "He truly practices the Way."
The monk asked, "Master, do you practice the Way?"
Joshu said, "I put on my robe, I eat my rice."

There is "no design again. The Way is not a concept but the undivided experience of the present. Another example:

A new monk asked, "I have just entered the monastery, and I understand nothing. Please master teach me."
Joshu answered, "Before entering the monastery, you understood even less."

In other words, before you entered the monastery you hadn't heard about the Ch'an concept of being an empty vessel and understanding nothing, but now that concept is in your head which violates "no design." Here's one of my favorites:

A monk asked, "When you do not carry a single thing with you, how is it then?"
Joshu said, "Put it down!"

That is a teaching of no design too. Joshu recognizes the monk is carrying a concept about not carrying concepts instead of being in the experience of no design.

I've tried to show what was really going on FIRST in the original Ch'an, which was samadhi meditation, just like it was with the Buddha's followers. What people now think of as Ch'an or Zen is merely the external techniques used to guide students to stay in the experience. But obviously no student can be guided who hasn't experienced union regularly, yet that is exactly what Zen today has become. It isn't about samadhi (and that's the only kind of meditation to associate with the Buddha), it is about naturalness, and koans, and slapping initiates, etc. It's like trying to drive a car without the motor in it. You aren't going to get anywhere with Zen if you don't have the union experience there that Zen was designed to assist in maintaining.

Now to answer you question. My point has been that I believe preservationists have kept the experience alive throughout the centuries. Samadhi meditation still relies on the same inner methods, but the external methods change with each teacher. I don't see Zen as alive anymore, its time is past. But it I do think it was a great approach because it emphasized, just like how the Buddha taught, the experience and discouraged concepts.

Is there anyone around today qualifed to teach samadhi/union? As I said, I only discuss that in private.
 
  • #43
selfAdjoint
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Les sleeth said:
If an individual has the right inner methods, then he can attain union. One can get so good at meditation that he achieves it at every sitting; but alas, the experience fades over the day, so one keeps practicing daily so that the union experience can last through life's hassles. This partial, in and out experience is not enlightenment, which is when someone achieves permanent absorption. When that happens, then that person may go and teach others if the orignal teacher is dead.

Believe me Les I don't want to insult you or your practices, but I have to respond to this.

Suppose I said "This is a person who has trained his brain to produce a certain result by self-hypnosis, biofeedback or whatever, and the brain produces it by say, a subclinical complex partial seizure such as Zooby has posted about, and now the person can reliably trigger that seizure, whose only perceivable symptom is this experience of oneness (which some epileptics also experience)?" This explanation accounts for the effects and uses only known facts about the brain. How would you respond?
 
  • #44
Les Sleeth
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selfAdjoint said:
Believe me Les I don't want to insult you or your practices, but I have to respond to this.

Suppose I said "This is a person who has trained his brain to produce a certain result by self-hypnosis, biofeedback or whatever, and the brain produces it by say, a subclinical complex partial seizure such as Zooby has posted about, and now the person can reliably trigger that seizure, whose only perceivable symptom is this experience of oneness (which some epileptics also experience)?" This explanation accounts for the effects and uses only known facts about the brain. How would you respond?

You aren't insulting me, so I hope you understand this response.

Suppose I said of the love you feel for your grandaughter, "This is a person who has trained his brain to produce a certain result by self-hypnosis, biofeedback or whatever, and the brain produces it by say, a subclinical complex partial seizure . . . and now the person can reliably trigger that seizure, whose only perceivable symptom is this experience of [grandaughter love]?" Are you ready to buy my theory, based on my own belief system about what a human being is, or do you prefer to trust your experience?

If your theory is that a seizure is at the root of 3000 years of consistant reporting by inner practitioners (and don't you think a seizure would grip the body in tension instead of producing the most total and complete relaxation I've ever experienced?), then it seems to me that should show up on electroencephalagrams, which it hasn't.

You can't dispute a theory that fits the facts, but competing theories can be made to fit the same facts. The only thing one can be sure of is one's experiences. I could go into why brain malfunction doesn't make sense, but you still won't be convinced because you and I can't share facts about the experience. I know it, you don't, so you are free to speculate anything you please about what it is or isn't. But I am constrained by what the experience has taught me. I say it is nothing like a seizure.
 
  • #45
hypnagogue
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Les Sleeth said:
But I am constrained by what the experience has taught me. I say it is nothing like a seizure.

Have you experienced any seizures?

Actually, whether these transcendent states are related to seizures or not, it is known that the baseline EEG of experienced meditators is different from non-meditators in a marked and predictable way, and various other brain imaging studies have shown distinct neural correlates of transcendent or ecstatic states arising from meditation.
 
  • #46
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hypnagogue said:
Actually, whether these transcendent states are related to seizures or not, it is known that the baseline EEG of experienced meditators is different from non-meditators in a marked and predictable way, and various other brain imaging studies have shown distinct neural correlates of transcendent or ecstatic states arising from meditation.

I have seen this said before and never followed it up. Have you any sites where I might learn more about these meditation imaging studies?

And BTW, Les, I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that my love for my granddaughter, along with all my other thoughts and emotions, are the product of brain states. Whether I trained my brain to produce them I don't know - I loved her from the moment I saw her, only minutes after she was born.
 
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  • #47
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Les Sleeth said:
Well, you are making my case for me that you've been talking about something you don't know much about. Besides the fact that modern Tibetan Buddhism is another subject, if you review my posts you will see that I've attempted to describe the origin of Zen--what it originally was--and not anything that's "organized" today. I am as against religion as anyone I know because I believe every time it strays miles from what the original teacher was doing.

That's why, if you read my first post in this thread, I attempted to show that Zen (Ch'an) started out with someone still trying to keep what the Buddha originally taught going (what I called a "preservationist") while the religion of Buddhism had totally overshadowed what little preservationism was left. Most of what people call "zen" today has little to do with the type of serious and lifelong dedication to meditation the Buddha and his faithful were into.

By the way, there were serious meditators within first the early Eastern Greek monasteries and later in the Catholic monasteries (although they called it "prayer" such as prayer of the heart or union prayer). The Catholic monastics appear to have learned this from the Orthodox practitioners, who themselves descended from the desert hermits populating remote areas of Palastine, Egypt, Asia Minor soon after the death of Jesus. The inner practices of these "preservationists," IMO kept the original teaching of Jesus alive for centuries while, again, the Christian religion grew and dominated until today all people think Jesus was about is the dogmatic and fantastic beliefs that represents so much of religion.




What is "organized meditation"? Meditation is personal, you can't do it "with" someone else even if they happen to be in the same room doing it too.

If you mean organizations set up to promote meditation, then it seems you equate "organized" with evil, but I don't think that's a fair assessment. The Buddha organized a sangha (monastic lifestyle) for people who wanted to give their full attention to inner practice. While devotees had the benefit of his single-pointed focus, the organization served a meditation purpose. But later (after the Buddha's death) when those in charge of the organization started adding religious practices, then the organization started serving a religious purpose. So organization isn't inherently evil, it depends on what the focus is. In the early Ch'an monasteries, it appears the focus was meditation just as it had been with the Buddha. But now, look at all the stuff people are doing in the name of Zen and you can see what the focus is (or isn't).




I haven't said or implied anything of the sort. In my profile you can review every post I've made here, and you will find me always recommending meditation for personal enlightenment, not world enlightenment.

You're right Les, I don't know anything about Zen because I don't practise it. Its like you said, people reading books about Zen don't cut the mustard, what I've heard about Zen doesn't cut the mustard either.... ya really "got to get some on ya" (Ken Kesey) to know what it is.

I apologize if I mistook you to be a modern day nazi boot camp zen kamindant. You have clearly shown me that you are simply a person who wishes the best for himself and others and offers an example to anyone who shows an interest in doing the same. I'm all for that.

Are you cutting and pasting all this information into this page or do you type at a ferocious speed with perfect accuracy and grammar???
 
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selfAdjoint said:
I loved her from the moment I saw her, only minutes after she was born.


One of those perfect NOW experiences that makes the world a better place...
 
  • #49
hypnagogue
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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selfAdjoint said:
I have seen this said before and never followed it up. Have you any sites where I might learn more about these meditation imaging studies?
I don't have time to do a web search right now (will try later), but experiments of this sort are described by the researchers in the book .
 
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  • #50
Les Sleeth
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hypnagogue said:
Have you experienced any seizures?

Indeed I have not. But the literature is abundant, and even the word seizure is derived from the concept of being "seized," and that is just about exactly opposite of the "release" that occurs in union. If reports about seizures are accurate, then it is easy for me to differentiate what I experience and what's described as a seizure.


hypnagogue said:
Actually, whether these transcendent states are related to seizures or not, it is known that the baseline EEG of experienced meditators is different from non-meditators in a marked and predictable way, and various other brain imaging studies have shown distinct neural correlates of transcendent or ecstatic states arising from meditation.

True. But what if what is being measured only tells what physical effects meditation has on the body? Only if you assume up front that a transcendent state is purely physical can you also assume that the EEG is reflecting all that's going on.
 

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