How to determine the reality of mystical experiences?

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  • #51
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Les Sleeth said:
It is interesting too that experienced practitioners stop referring to the experience as "mystical." It is just mystical at first because one compares the experience to what one is used to experiencing.

After enough experience, what in the beginning seemed mystical incorporates itself into one's "normal" consciousness. It becomes normal to feel the unity of things; it becomes normal to include deep feeling in the conscious evaluation of reality; it becomes normal to see colors so brightly, taste so acutely, hear with such richness . . .
Yes i would think that after u got somewhat used to it that it wouldnt seem mystical anymore. I also agree with Royce that we should call them "metaphysical experiences", since the experiences tell something about metaphysical questions we have here on earth.

The article also mentions that the experiences are "ineffable":

Mystic experiences are ineffable, incapable of being expressed to another person. Although mystics sometimes write long accounts, they maintain that the experience cannot be communicated by words or by reference to similar experiences from ordinary life. They feel at a loss for appropriate words to communicate the intense realness, the unusual sensations, and the unity cognition already mentioned.
Would u say that this is true?

All this happens in the experience of stillness. The skeptics never achieve that stillness and so believe the mystical experience is an illusion or brain chemistry. But stillness, and I mean TOTAL stillness, is what brings it. Since they are thinking non-stop, there is no possible way they are going to accept such an experience exists. They are trying to think it when in reality one has to become still in order to feel it.
Reminds me of this quote by Alan Watts:

"Just as one must sometimes be silent in order to hear what others have to say, so thought itself must be silent if it is to think about anything other than itself." :biggrin:
 
  • #52
loseyourname
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That thing about mystical experiences being ineffable really depends - it seems to be limited to western (Abrahamic) and oriental civilizations. There is a long history of indigenous people that experience a higher plane of reality: shamanism. They also go into meditative trances of sorts, but with far different results. Rather than experiencing an ineffable unity at the core of existence, they experience a spirit world not so different from the everyday world, with regular animals and persons, only non-material and more powerful.

A description I remember reading of the Hmong shamanic journey was particularly interesting. The shaman rides a horse on the spirit plane over a lake of fire and battles dragons to find the lost souls of his ailing fellow villagers and barter for their return. Which brings us to another key point of difference. Not only are their experiences not ineffable, but they are not personal in the other sense that western mystical experiences are. They are not enlightening or pleasant and not undertaken for personal growth or other individual ends. They are often quite draining, dangerous, and violent, and are undertaken for the health of the community. The mystic in these societies is not a personal spiritual learner, but a spiritual physician of sorts.

There isn't the literary history that Les speaks of in regards to his mystical tradition, since these mystics practice in societies that are generally non-literate, or have only been literate for several decades at most. (Ironic, isn't it? That the mystics whose experiences are "ineffable" are nonetheless the ones who write about their experiences?) Nonetheless, I can only imagine that these traditions are just as longstanding and rich.
 
  • #53
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loseyourname said:
A description I remember reading of the Hmong shamanic journey was particularly interesting. The shaman rides a horse on the spirit plane over a lake of fire and battles dragons to find the lost souls of his ailing fellow villagers and barter for their return.
Not too long ago i read that Graham Hancock wrote a book about shamanism, and i stumbled across his site which contains these images:

http://www.grahamhancock.com/gallery/supernatural/

These are the kind of shamanic experiences ur talking about right?
I think the difference with the union type experiences, is that these people use drugs to get them, they also seem similar to LSD stories of giant insects or talking closets. Im not saying they are less real, just that they are different because they use a different way to get to the experience.

The stillness Les talked about can probably not even be achieved by using drugs or shamanic rituals.

Which brings us to another key point of difference. Not only are their experiences not ineffable, but they are not personal in the other sense that western mystical experiences are. They are not enlightening or pleasant and not undertaken for personal growth or other individual ends. They are often quite draining, dangerous, and violent, and are undertaken for the health of the community. The mystic in these societies is not a personal spiritual learner, but a spiritual physician of sorts.
Yes i agree. I once saw a TV show where a BBC reporter went to some tribe in the amazon and wanted to go through such a shamanic ritual. They gave him drugs(some plant/root), put him in a hut filled with smoke, and he started vomitting, hallucinating and dreaming and it lasted several days. It was quite painful for him and he wasnt really allowed to talk about what he had experienced afterwards. The only things he mentioned, were that he experienced weird dreams about his past and childhood (things he had long forgotten) and that he experienced it in such a way that he understood what the impact of his actions had been on others.

This of course reminded me of near death experiences, where people experience their life from the perspectives of everyone they had interacted with (simultaneously). Yet in the NDE there is sometimes also the feeling of being one with everything else (perhaps like Les's union, but i dont know).
 
  • #54
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Paul Martin said:
Your four categories are interesting. The first three correspond pretty closely to Penrose's three "worlds" and your fourth one, from what you wrote, seems only to be an "other" category in case there is something which doesn't fit in one of the others. That seems to me to explain why the category might be controversial.
Spiritual reality exists. It is not a catch all category. It is real but only as a part of the One reality that is all. The reason that I think that it is controversial is that we do not experience it every day as we do the other categories and some deny that spirit exists at all. I am not talking about ghost or evil spirits. I am talking about the spirit within us all whether God or Buddha or our souls, the spirit in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Ghost) in the Holy Trinity.
What I took to be the Buddhist Void was not empty at all but choke full of being and beings. It lies beyond consciousness. It may be that which is conscious or just another aspect or property of One.

But let me ask you to do some thinking about those first three categories. Your "Objective or physical reality" seems to be exactly what Penrose calls the "Physical World". Your "Conscious reality" seems to correspond exactly to his "Mental World". And your "Subjective reality" seems to be his "Ideal World". Both you and he seem to be describing Plato's Ideal world, although some of Plato's Forms, like virtue or beauty, might be missing. I guess that if things like virtue or beauty are real, they either belong in the Ideal World or in the Mental World.
These are only my opinions, my understanding. Consciousness and Mental-ness are different and not interchangeable. Mental-ness refers to our minds and thoughts and ideas as well as abstractions and symbols such as mathematics, language and Logic; whereas, Consciousness is identity, awareness, being and experiencing.

I don't think that Plato's forms have independent existence but are properties of things, intrinsic properties. I don't know if they are mental or consciousness properties that we are aware of and experience or if they are mental properties that we recognized such as chairness in that we recognize and know that an object is a chair regardless of its shape, form, style or color.

Let me ask a few questions to clear up this categorization. I'll guess at what I think your answers might be. Let me know if I'm wrong.

1. Do triangles exist? I think you would agree that they do.
2. In which category do triangles exist? Plato says that true and perfect triangles exist in the Ideal World (I hope you don't mind if I use Penrose's names), and imperfect approximations of triangles exist in the Physical World. But some sort of image or concept of triangles can also be held in the Mental World, although -- at least in my mind -- they are fleeting, not very straight or true.
3. So isn't there something sort of triangular existing in each of the three worlds?
Do triangles exist in objective reality or is triangle-ness a property of an object? Triangles certainly exist as abstractions in our minds. Is there a triangle consciousness or a property of consciousness that is triangular? I don't think so. I believe that triangles are abstract mental constructs and properties that we mentally recognize.

4. Does the algorithm to generate the Mandelbrot Set exist?
5. Where? Again it exists in some sort of form in each of the three worlds: as a computer program in the Physical World, as a concept in the Mental World, and as a precise algorithm in the Ideal World.
6. What about the Mandelbrot Set itself? Is it real?
7. Any physical representation of the Mandelbrot Set cannot be the set itself because the set consists of numbers and the physical representations are approximate diagrams, wouldn't you agree?
8. The concept of the Mandelbrot Set can exist in the Mental World in someone's mind, especially while looking at a picture of it, but wouldn't you agree that this concept is not the set itself?
9. Does the Mandelbrot Set exist in the Ideal World?
10. Do specific features of the M'Set, like "Seahorse Valley", that have been consciously observed by people exist?
11. In which world(s) do they exist?
12. Do specific features of the M'Set that have never been observed by any human being exist? Or do they come into existence only after they are observed?
The algorithms certainly exist. How else could we create and display the results. Again like Penrose, I think that the results or effects were discovered rather than invented. Are Mathematics and Logic only human abstract mental constructions, inventions or are they universal properties of reality that we are discovering?
 
  • #55
Les Sleeth
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loseyourname said:
There isn't the literary history that Les speaks of in regards to his mystical tradition, since these mystics practice in societies that are generally non-literate, or have only been literate for several decades at most. (Ironic, isn't it? That the mystics whose experiences are "ineffable" are nonetheless the ones who write about their experiences?) Nonetheless, I can only imagine that these traditions are just as longstanding and rich.
PIT2 is correct to classify the experiences you describe as something other than the mystical experience that's been researched and documented by scholars the world around (usually as part of the Religious Studies department).

I once observed a teacher of union trying to instruct some Africans who'd loved the message and idea of his meditation. During the instruction many of them attempted to enter into trance because it was part of their native religion. Finally the teacher paused the session and said he wouldn't continue if they didn't stop since what he wanted to teach them was something entirely different.

In my opinion, "mystical" was an unfortunate choice for the term to describe what union/samadhi meditators attain. It is not trance, I can tell you that, and it very much becomes part of one's everyday conscious life. Just because those inexperienced with meditation lump everything remotely internal together doesn't mean all internal stuff is the same. It would be like saying mugging people and working out at the gym are the same because they both involve exercise.

You have to understand that the mystical experience (the one achieved through union meditation) isn't otherworldly, it is an addition to one's previous conscious experience. It's like living your whole life unable to see, and then sight is added to your other senses. There is a new realm to know and experience, and also another consciousness ability that gives you new information.

The mystical experience adds unity first and foremost; that is, one experiences (i.e., it's not intellectual) the universe as a whole, as one, as united at its absolute foundation AND one experiences oneself as integrated with that unity. This experience occurs in silence, mental silence. It doesn't automatically occur in silence, some people require achieving silence many, many times over years of practice before it occurs. But once it occurs it's yours forever if you want it.

I said a new experience is added to one's consciousness, but it would be more accurate to say one joins, merges really, with something that seems huge. The experience of vastness is always with one. One’s consciousness “brightens” too; I’ve described it before like changing your internal light bulb from 100 to 150 watts. Music sounds richer, food has more taste . . . one generally feels everything more deeply.

For me it has been like adding life to my consciousness. Before I was all mind and belief, but then the experience accentuated being, being more fully conscious. Yes, mind and belief took a back seat when feeling (as described) and oneness came to the forefront. I could still think, and be fully human but I also know I’d become conscious of I was part of something I hadn’t known before. So to me, meditation, specifically union meditation, was a way to develop a new muscle for my consciousness.

By the way, not all shamanistic practices are as you and PIT2 described. Possibly you are familiar with Castaneda’s account of the “way of knowledge” taught to him by Don Juan.
 
  • #56
Les Sleeth
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PIT2 said:
Yes i would think that after u got somewhat used to it that it wouldnt seem mystical anymore. I also agree with Royce that we should call them "metaphysical experiences", since the experiences tell something about metaphysical questions we have here on earth.

The article also mentions that the experiences are "ineffable":

"Mystic experiences are ineffable, incapable of being expressed to another person. Although mystics sometimes write long accounts, they maintain that the experience cannot be communicated by words or by reference to similar experiences from ordinary life. They feel at a loss for appropriate words to communicate the intense realness, the unusual sensations, and the unity cognition already mentioned."

Would u say that this is true?
All experiences are ineffable in a sense. I often use the example of communicating the taste of, say, a mango to someone who's never tasted it. Is there any possible way he will have the actual experience of mango taste from anything I might say, no matter how capably descriptive I might be? However, if someone has tasted a peach, one might get the person a little closer to what the mango is like.

Well, with the mystical experience, there isn't much one can compare it to amongst the usual conscious experiences, so not only is it ineffable like all experiences are, it is more so because one can't create a reference point. Myself, I've experienced something very similar taking peyote, but it isn't quite the same because the "peace" is lacking with the drug. The drug is a bit of an overload even though it does the job of forcing one open too.

That's why I wrote earlier that meditation can be seen as the practice of opening up. Looking back at when I started, it is very clear to me how much more constricted I was than now. Meditation is partly relaxing that constriction and gradually opening it up.
 
  • #57
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Les Sleeth said:
All experiences are ineffable in a sense. I often use the example of communicating the taste of, say, a mango to someone who's never tasted it. Is there any possible way he will have the actual experience of mango taste from anything I might say, no matter how capably descriptive I might be? However, if someone has tasted a peach, one might get the person a little closer to what the mango is like.

Well, with the mystical experience, there isn't much one can compare it to amongst the usual conscious experiences, so not only is it ineffable like all experiences are, it is more so because one can't create a reference point. Myself, I've experienced something very similar taking peyote, but it isn't quite the same because the "peace" is lacking with the drug. The drug is a bit of an overload even though it does the job of forcing one open too.

That's why I wrote earlier that meditation can be seen as the practice of opening up. Looking back at when I started, it is very clear to me how much more constricted I was than now. Meditation is partly relaxing that constriction and gradually opening it up.
I'm actually a little hesitant to post this because I don't want to appear closed-minded about it (or hijack the thread:frown: I think it is on topic). I'm quite curious to know what "it" feels like. I don't doubt your sincerity and believe you to be quite knowledgeble about the subject. Please don't doubt my sincerity in asking these questions of you to expand my knowledge of the subject.
I don't doubt for a second that you are experiencing something. I just have hard time understanding the importance of it all. Which is always where I get stuck in the process. So part of my skepticism comes from that, and partly from my view of religious practices, in general. The part about what would happen if you don't practice "union" meditation or meditation at all. The whole God question.
I think the innefable quality about it to me personally is the significance/benifit of the experience. So many interpretations, so many theories.
Haven't we survived as a species far better when the majority of the population was in a normalized state of conciousness? Our brains normalize for a reason, because it is the optimized state to be in to deal with our everyday "real" lives. I can accept the notion of oneness, (I have tasted the peach, to see what a mango tastes like) I am really wanting to know, your opinion, on why being in a "hyper-state" (so to speak) is more benificial? Could we function in the real world if we did? Isn't that what exactly is happening in people labeled as "dysfunctionate"?

Your answer to this might depend on your answers to above. Now could it be that it is beneficial to experience oneness purely for the clearer mental ability, which allows you to do complicated problem solving, and make better decisions? I would say, I can see the benefit in that. But why isn't the human race a species of meditators? Why hasn't that trait been selected for? I think it might be of little significance to the overall survival of the species in the real world. I am of the opinion that our natural mechanism to aid in that function is to sleep. I think the same thing happens when you sleep, "you" just aren't watching. You could probably be going over the exact same scenarios while you are in deep sleep, you just don't always remember it. But act accordingling afterwards whether you were concious of it or not.
I'm interested to know where my opinion is flawed. I am still open-minded enough to listen to reason. I would be grateful for your time. Anyone else is welcome to answer as well.
 
  • #58
loseyourname
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PIT2 said:
Not too long ago i read that Graham Hancock wrote a book about shamanism, and i stumbled across his site which contains these images:

http://www.grahamhancock.com/gallery/supernatural/

These are the kind of shamanic experiences ur talking about right?
I think the difference with the union type experiences, is that these people use drugs to get them, they also seem similar to LSD stories of giant insects or talking closets. Im not saying they are less real, just that they are different because they use a different way to get to the experience.
These actually aren't what I'm talking about. Strictly speaking, these experiences are mislabelled as "shamanic," which comes from the Tungus-speaking peoples of Siberia and which generally applies only to them and also to some natives of North America that also live at or above the Arctic Circle. Although the Hmong I spoke of are native to Laos, but they have migrated southward over the last two thousand years or so thanks to persecution from the Chinese empire. They used to live in what is now northern Mongolia, in fairly close proximity to the Tungus speaking people.

Plants rarely grow all the way up there, so drugs are not used. Usually the shaman is someone that is either mildly or strongly epileptic and capable of entering these trances almost spontaneously, though they generally use drumming and repetitive dance.

Guys like Eliade and Castaneda, who are largely responsible for disseminating these ideas to the west, are not really thought of as reliable sources any more. A good place to start for serious shamanic studies, without an agenda, is Alice Beck Kehoe, who does a good job of chronicling the accounts of anthropologists who have lived with these circumboreal people, mostly in Siberia (a lot of them were actually intellectuals that were exiled there during the early Soviet era and became anthopologists to salvage the situation). Then you could move on to these first-hand accounts.

Another guy to avoid is Michael Harner.

Also, I'm not saying these experiences are akin to what Les reports. In fact, my point was that they are not. They are nonetheless experiences of a greater and more fundamental reality induced through an altered state of consciousness. And don't tell a real shaman that this doesn't seep into his everyday reality, because from what I know, it does. At least with the Hmong shamans, even the ones living in California in Merced seem to genuinely experience an animistic world, interacting with spirits even in their everyday lives. The two planes of existence are not strictly separated, at least from what they report.

For what it's worth, they do experience the same profound sense of connectedness to and unity with the natural world.
 
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  • #59
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
I don't doubt for a second that you are experiencing something. I just have hard time understanding the importance of it all. Which is always where I get stuck in the process. So part of my skepticism comes from that, and partly from my view of religious practices, in general. The part about what would happen if you don't practice "union" meditation or meditation at all. The whole God question.
I like talking about the experience as developing a new consciousness potential. But the person who taught me speaks of it a different way. He talks about how good it feels, blissful even (depending on how successful one is), to have the experience. I think that is something humanity really needs, to feel happy and content. No matter how smart we are, if we are discontent we aren’t going to either enjoy ourselves or benefit humanity more than we hurt it.

I can’t say it is “important” exactly, but I can say I would not now want to live without the experience. It makes life so much more fulfilling to feel it deeply and to grow in wisdom.

As far as what will happen, who knows? I do it because I love it, not because I worry about what will or won’t happen if I don’t. However, I don’t think one has to answer the God question to want to be more consciously developed or happy/content. If the experience reveals God, that’s good; and if it doesn’t, one can still enjoy the experience.


RVBuckeye said:
Haven't we survived as a species far better when the majority of the population was in a normalized state of conciousness? Our brains normalize for a reason, because it is the optimized state to be in to deal with our everyday "real" lives.
Normalization isn’t always a good thing. How about when it was normal for ancient Romans to enjoy the cruelty of the games? Humanity has benefited from those who stood up and often died for needed changes. If you ask me, Jesus (and others) stood up for a more compassionate humanity, and while his example may not have perfected us, I wonder if we’d still be heading to Sunday blood sports without such sacrifices.


RVBuckeye said:
I can accept the notion of oneness, (I have tasted the peach, to see what a mango tastes like) I am really wanting to know, your opinion, on why being in a "hyper-state" (so to speak) is more benificial? Could we function in the real world if we did? Isn't that what exactly is happening in people labeled as "dysfunctionate"?
Why do you think it is a “hyper-state”? If anything it is a calmer more centered state, but with heightened awareness. You can function even better with it in my opinion because you see more, and therefore understand in a bigger way.


RVBuckeye said:
Your answer to this might depend on your answers to above. Now could it be that it is beneficial to experience oneness purely for the clearer mental ability, which allows you to do complicated problem solving, and make better decisions? I would say, I can see the benefit in that.
It is beneficial to mental clarity, but you don’t seem to quite grasp the benefits of seeing the whole and feeling deeply. My experience with people is that most, if they are smart, are micro-focused. I seldom meet anyone who sees really big. But this experience naturally exposes the big thing to you, and then when it is time to evaluate details, you have a much better sense of the context where those details belong. In terms of feeling, every enjoyment you have is a feeling, and so if you are able to feel more deeply each thing you want to enjoy, then your enjoyment of life is enhanced. Wiser and happier, what could be more practical? :wink:


RVBuckeye said:
But why isn't the human race a species of meditators? Why hasn't that trait been selected for?
What makes you think humanity is through evolving? Looking big, life achieved consciousness a relatively short time ago. How do you know that those like the Buddha aren’t harbingers indicating the direction humanity will eventually go?


RVBuckeye said:
I think it might be of little significance to the overall survival of the species in the real world. I am of the opinion that our natural mechanism to aid in that function is to sleep. I think the same thing happens when you sleep, "you" just aren't watching. You could probably be going over the exact same scenarios while you are in deep sleep, you just don't always remember it. But act accordingling afterwards whether you were concious of it or not.
Boy do we disagree about that. Sleep is absolutely nothing like the incredible awakeness of union experience. There is nothing sleepy, dreamy, unconscious etc. about it. One simply become conscious of a dimension one wasn’t conscious of before.

Look, it really is like trying to describe, say, what sound is like to a planet full of deaf people. They have no concept of sound, no language to describe sound, cannot grasp what the benefits of experiencing sound are, and so on. But you and I have lived with sound for awhile, and we know how beneficial it can be. And then, since we can’t even get them to understand the benefit of sound in general, how can we ever communicate the advanced things that can be achieved and appreciated with sound, such as music?

The only way I know of for someone to understand is for them to have and develop the experience. I have seen it many times where it was impossible to explain it, but seconds after having their first experience they understood everything.
 
  • #60
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Les, Roy Masters, who I have mentioned before and whose method I originally used to learn to meditate, calls it waking up, waking up to the reality of the moment. I have always thought that was a rather good discription. Of course it can be much more than just that, but he was talking about learning and starting to meditate for beginners.
 
  • #61
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Les Sleeth said:
Why do you think it is a “hyper-state”? If anything it is a calmer more centered state, but with heightened awareness. You can function even better with it in my opinion because you see more, and therefore understand in a bigger way.
It was just a figure of speach. When you say you see more. Are you talking about you have a wider peripheral vision? (from your perspective) Are you more relaxed, or feel sedated, but feel no fatigue? Do you feel like your skin is tingling from hairs standing on end?
It is beneficial to mental clarity, but you don’t seem to quite grasp the benefits of seeing the whole and feeling deeply. My experience with people is that most, if they are smart, are micro-focused. I seldom meet anyone who sees really big. But this experience naturally exposes the big thing to you, and then when it is time to evaluate details, you have a much better sense of the context where those details belong. In terms of feeling, every enjoyment you have is a feeling, and so if you are able to feel more deeply each thing you want to enjoy, then your enjoyment of life is enhanced. Wiser and happier, what could be more practical? :wink:
I do see the benefits. I do. I don't really see why you have to go through all that trouble to be wiser or happier, or even make other peoples lives happier. Why is that not the "big picture"? What perspective are you at when you reach that state. Do you feel like you are the center of the universe or do you feel like you are outside the universe looking in?
What makes you think humanity is through evolving? Looking big, life achieved consciousness a relatively short time ago. How do you know that those like the Buddha aren’t harbingers indicating the direction humanity will eventually go?
Looking big, I would ask if some people have a natural ability to achieve this state more readily than others, or is everyone equally capable? I see people like Buddah, Jesus, having a greater ability than others were born with. (I'm not saying it was un-natural, more like a random gene mutation or something). They just don't seem to have many children to pass on that trait.
Boy do we disagree about that. Sleep is absolutely nothing like the incredible awakeness of union experience. There is nothing sleepy, dreamy, unconscious etc. about it. One simply become conscious of a dimension one wasn’t conscious of before.
I know it sounds like we disagree, I just can't explain it good enough.
Look, it really is like trying to describe, say, what sound is like to a planet full of deaf people. They have no concept of sound, no language to describe sound, cannot grasp what the benefits of experiencing sound are, and so on. But you and I have lived with sound for awhile, and we know how beneficial it can be. And then, since we can’t even get them to understand the benefit of sound in general, how can we ever communicate the advanced things that can be achieved and appreciated with sound, such as music?
Try me. I know it's just like the whole peach/mango scenario, but I have used several methods to experience the mango, (forbidden fruit) so if there are certain aspects about some, it might paint a more accurate picture for me. (knowing it would ultimately be impossible to actually experience it exactly, but I could measure how close I have come)
The only way I know of for someone to understand is for them to have and develop the experience. I have seen it many times where it was impossible to explain it, but seconds after having their first experience they understood everything.
Most of the stories I hear are from people who haven't developed the experience. It just happens for them unexpectedly. I wonder why that is and if it is the same state.
Edit: Jeez, sorry for all the questions. You don't owe me a response, but I appreciate your time.
 
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  • #62
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
When you say you see more. Are you talking about you have a wider peripheral vision? (from your perspective) Are you more relaxed, or feel sedated, but feel no fatigue? Do you feel like your skin is tingling from hairs standing on end?
If you think about how your consciousness operates now, we look from thing to thing. It all seems like a collection of parts.

With the opened experience a new perspective has been added when you look out at the world. That perspective is that it's all one big picture. The experience is both visual and mental, and there is a feeling to it too, a feeling of vastness. If you want you can still zero in on details, but that is no longer the priority of consciousness. The default, if you will, is the big perspective.

Before I became part of that experience I was always trying to intellectually piece together different parts of reality to create ideas about reality; I usually did that in order to understand what the bigger thing looked like. But after the experience I just see it already joined, so to understand now (intellectually) it is a matter of trying to figure out how the relationships of the parts are related to the whole, and how the parts are joined to each other within the whole. I no longer do any piecing together (in terms of trying to understand what reality is like).

Despite Loseyourname's opinion that Carlos Castaneda is off the recommended list, I think he (Castaneda) presented the best description of "seeing" I've ever read. Try "Journey to Ixtlan" for a great account of the Yacqui Don Juan's explanation to Carlos.

Now, that's the "seeing" aspect. There is a feeling aspect to the experience too, and that is of stillness, joy, and oneness with the greater thing. The body is calmed too. Very enjoyable.


RVBuckeye said:
I do see the benefits. I do. I don't really see why you have to go through all that trouble to be wiser or happier, or even make other peoples lives happier. Why is that not the "big picture"?
You don't have to do anything, this is all a matter of choice. If you want you can learn to cook. I seemed to like it early on, so I kept learning. I love cooking, I love eating my own cooking, I love turning people on with my cooking, I love my cooking tools as well as researching and buying them (and the new ones I'm lusting after). I didn't have to learn it, I did it because I wanted to. But there are benefits to knowing how to cook well, both for myself alone and socially.

Similarly, I was fortunate that when I first started to meditate that I had good successes right away. Then for the next 22 years I stuck with it even though my progress slowed significantly. Then all of a sudden I really got the stillness thing down, and I started achieving samadhi/union at every sitting. That was 10 years ago and I am still enjoying the heck out of it each morning I practice.

If you don’t want to be happier or wiser, it is no matter to me, or anyone else. I am only here (in this thread) doing my best to give an accurate representation of the so-called mystical experience and why some people choose to pursue it. There are too many misconceptions about this subject. As you can see, I’ve been trying to de-mystify it and bring it down to Earth where it belongs. I believe it is a great human potential humanity has yet to fully discover.



RVBuckeye said:
What perspective are you at when you reach that state. Do you feel like you are the center of the universe or do you feel like you are outside the universe looking in?
It feels like you have joined with something vast, and you have been given a little spot just so you can be part of it. It is your spot, no one can take it from you.


RVBuckeye said:
Looking big, I would ask if some people have a natural ability to achieve this state more readily than others, or is everyone equally capable? I see people like Buddah, Jesus, having a greater ability than others were born with. (I'm not saying it was un-natural, more like a random gene mutation or something). They just don't seem to have many children to pass on that trait.
It seems to me that some people have a predilection for it, but since all it involves is developing something all humans have, there is no reason why everyone who wants to develop it can’t.


RVBuckeye said:
Most of the stories I hear are from people who haven't developed the experience. It just happens for them unexpectedly. I wonder why that is and if it is the same state.
Well, that is an interesting point.

Imagine you are a total new age space case and never realized the universe has a physical side. So you waltz around in life ignoring that, living in your fantasy world where everything is supernatural, and no rules apply except those you make up (I think I’ve know a few people like this). One day you read David Bohm, say, and he creates a bridge to physicalness you can handle. Eureka, you have a epiphany and wake up to an aspect of reality you weren’t aware of before. Now enlightened you join Physics Forums and post your theories of physics. How do you think that normally goes here? :tongue2:

My point is that people wake up to things all the time. Relative to how they were, it seems they’ve really realized something. What they don’t know is that people who woke up to it long ago have been developing expertise in that area. In my analogy above, maybe amongst other new agers you are enlightened, but amongst physicists you are a gross beginner.

When it comes to the inner thing, most people have no clue how far it has been realized. That’s why the market is filled with everybody and their uncle claiming he/she is qualified to teach. And that’s also why there are so many skeptics about this whole thing . . . beginners leading the blind is messing it up for everybody.

There are no short cuts. Yes, you can open up a little and have a great realization, but it is just relative to where you were at before. If you study all the great practitioners, they practiced for decades. Realization is the result of dedicated, daily work practicing the correct inner methods.
 
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Les Sleeth said:
Despite Loseyourname's opinion that Carlos Castaneda is off the recommended list, I think he (Castaneda) presented the best description of "seeing" I've ever read. Try "Journey to Ixtlan" for a great account of the Yacqui Don Juan's explanation to Carlos.
I did as you suggested and read "journey to Ixtlan" this morning. I think I can follow the progression to what "seeing" is like. He touches more on my point on the correlation to dreams. If I take it as an appropriate description of the process one would go through "to see", I would say it is remarkably similar to lucid dreaming. I won't expand on my experience with this, I've already brought it up several times in various posts of mine. But I will say, it is an appropriate description in touching upon the initial experience. (we all dream. Right?) Anyway, I think I get it now.
Now, that's the "seeing" aspect. There is a feeling aspect to the experience too, and that is of stillness, joy, and oneness with the greater thing. The body is calmed too. Very enjoyable
I would imagine so.
There are too many misconceptions about this subject. As you can see, I’ve been trying to de-mystify it and bring it down to Earth where it belongs. I believe it is a great human potential humanity has yet to fully discover
I see your point.
Well, that is an interesting point.
I was bound to make one:smile:
My point is that people wake up to things all the time. Relative to how they were, it seems they’ve really realized something. What they don’t know is that people who woke up to it long ago have been developing expertise in that area. In my analogy above, maybe amongst other new agers you are enlightened, but amongst physicists you are a gross beginner.
An even more interesting reply. Very insightful.
When it comes to the inner thing, most people have no clue how far it has been realized. That’s why the market is filled with everybody and their uncle claiming he/she is qualified to teach. And that’s also why there are so many skeptics about this whole thing . . . beginners leading the blind is messing it up for everybody.
Here are you talking about unskilled teachers of the practice, or the unskilled interpretations of the "meanings" or "implications" of the experience inself? I would say the latter for me personally.
There are no short cuts. Yes, you can open up a little and have a great realization, but it is just relative to where you were at before. If you study all the great practitioners, they practiced for decades. Realization is the result of dedicated, daily work practicing the correct inner methods.
Now this is just my assumption here. Say I'm dreaming. I know what I'm experiencing is a dream, it's different than reality and the normalized state we walk around in. Now, is the ultimate goal of "union", the merger of the two states, into one state? One in which the concious observer is unaware or oblivious of the dream. Realization of the dream state? (of course you're not dreaming at all, you're awake) Does that make sense? Is that the gist of it?
 
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I know this has been said before, if not by me by others; but I think that it bears repeating here.

The benefits of learning to meditate are almost immediate. We start to learn simple by sitting down closing our eyes and focusing our attention on something, an image of a burning candle, our breathing, our hand, our navel, anything. As our minds wander off and get caught up in our thoughts or a day dream we notice this and bring our attention back to whatever we are focusing on. This does two things for us right away. We learn to quieten our minds, control our thoughts and it brings us into the moment. If we are not thinking of the past or of the future, we are obviously in the present moment, in the real moment. Not thinking of anything or trying to do anything but just sitting quietly noticing, paying attention without effort, concentration or will, we begin to live in the moment, in reality and notice this too. We simply observe and experience the here and now. We are not yet meditating but we are already learning and benefiting. If nothing else it give us a few moments of relaxation without any pressure or distractions,

It takes some practice and getting used to but in a few days or weeks we will be able to sit quietly and control our thoughts and not be caught up in our thoughts or day dreams or the constant chatter of random thoughts of our minds. Once we are able to do this without effort our mind almost automatically go into the meditative state and we begin to experience all of the things we have been talking about, union, oneness etc.

We do not try to meditate nor concentrate nor make anything happen. We just sit quietly and let whatever happens, happen. We observe and experience what happens and benefit from it mentally intellectually and physically. We resolve old issues that have bothered us for years. We get rid of any anger, resentment, guilt or shame we may have stored up inside eating away at us.
We become better, healthier, happier people awake and living in the real moment and see reality as it is, not as we have been taught or think or want it to be, but as it really is. This takes years of practice and after thirty years of practicing I am still learning and getting better. I’m not done yet and have a long way to go but I started out one very screwed up individual. Now I’m just a little screwed up.
 
  • #65
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
Say I'm dreaming. I know what I'm experiencing is a dream, it's different than reality and the normalized state we walk around in. Now, is the ultimate goal of "union", the merger of the two states, into one state? One in which the concious observer is unaware or oblivious of the dream. Realization of the dream state? (of course you're not dreaming at all, you're awake) Does that make sense? Is that the gist of it?
I will try to answer you in the "dream" context you are putting things. I've mentioned this before, that incessant thinking, our beliefs, our conditioning . . . all work together to create what I call a "semi-dream" state of consciousness.

You already are familiar with how if you think angry thoughts all day over something, it can create a mood. Well, we've been thinking and feeling some things nearly all our lives. These patterns are more or less grooved into our consciousness, and reinforced on a regular basis. The result of nonstop mentality is to create a sort of blended mood that affects everything we see, believe, do, accept, reject, desire. We often call this mood "me" or self because we've identified with it so strongly.

Actually it is a dream that we maintain all the time. When we perceive, everything is intercepted by the dream. We have our view of reality alright, but upon perception it is immediately incorporated into the "me" dream. Because of this we never experience reality pure, without the coloration of our dream unless, that is, one finds a way to return to the original uncolored condition of consciousness.

It is important to understand the theoretical basis for union mediation to see why it's said to be possible to re-acquire the pure consciousness state (children are born with it). The assumption of union meditation is that consciousness has a "nature," something that is distinct from whatever condition it is in. One of those conditions is the semi-dream I was describing, another is our current residence in our physical bodies which also has a powerful affect on consciousness. Most important is that, according to this theory, consciousness is NOT the personality or the body or the beliefs or the conditioning or the intellect, all those are (using the Buddha's term) the acquired self.

So what is the nature of consciousness then? Imagine consciousness is a field, not an EM field, but a kind of light field. It's pure self-aware illumination and not derived from any physical source, but from a much larger illumination source. This illumination is vibrant, it is bright, and it has a gentle pulsation.

Well, a couple of thousand years ago, some dedicated guys in India retreated to forests (thousands of them) and started practicing how to experience this light. The things they discovered over a period of a hundred years or so eventually became known as yoga (yoga just means "yoke" in the sense of binding the mind to a discipline or practice). Of the many yogas developed was the yoga of light; the Buddha was the first true master of that yoga. In my opinion, all the great masters, like Kabir and Nanak, descended from his realization (even Jesus).

The yoga of light is four meditation techniques. They have been a carefully guarded secret all this time, very few people know about them. The techniques are actually the experience of one's consciousness "pure" nature broken down into four aspects. Now here's where I get back to your dream concept.

If we are in a dream state, one that's been reinforced by years of participation, and if we for the most part totally believe the dream is real, then how can we escape it? Well, according to this venerated path of light, the way to escape is to practice experiencing pure consciousness. Now, rather than just being a victim of your juggernaut dreaming, you have a new influence affecting you.

Of course, with so much momentum behind the dream, there is no way the new experience is going predominate. This is why it takes years of dedicated practice, because it takes time for the pure experience to neutralize the momentum of the dream.

The way this light thing works is really very simple. Consciousness is light, but it is so caught up in activity it only sees itself as activity (like thinking, believing, etc.). But in union meditation one sits and experiences the base qualities of consciousness, its brightness, its vibrancy, its subtle pulse; also, as I mentioned earlier, one discovers consciousness is "constricted," so another thing one does is relax that which results in consciousness gradually opening and expanding.

What happens in "union”? Well, as one learns how to experience the base qualities, one allows them to predominate more and more. The chattering “acquired self” holds on too, but at some point the base consciousness qualities win, even if for just a moment, and one’s conscious energies previously tied up in the “me” dream all merge into the pure experience.

The dream disappears, one is awake for the first time, the mind is opened, one’s breath has been absorbed into that gentle pulsation of consciousness. It is a moving and beautiful experience, and if I am speaking accurately, then you can see why people who experience it claim it is more real than their “normal” conscious state.

But the dream is only momentarily arrested, it creeps back in . . . over and over and over and over and :yuck:. It will reestablish its rule totally if the practitioner doesn’t stick with his practice. This is also why I say it is only those fooled by their initial experience who think enlightenment happens “instantly,” as some today claim.

One last point. You know that subtle pulsation I said is part of the experience? Well, that is very interesting because the more one experiences it, the more one feels the whole universe is sort of breathing and that that pulse is its “breath.” If you read someone like Kabir saying “students, what is God? He is the breath inside your breath,” that is what is being referred to. As one lets go more and more, eventually a second kind of union happens where not only does one’s individual consciousness integrate, but one seems to join with a vastly greater source of illumination. In my opinion, this deeper merging is the origin of the only reliable reports about God (whether it is a correct interpretation that the light source is God is another issue).

So there you have my little dissertation on how union meditation contributes to waking from the “me” dream, and why some serious inner practitioners believe in God.
 
  • #66
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Les Sleeth said:
So there you have my little dissertation on how union meditation contributes to waking from the “me” dream, and why some serious inner practitioners believe in God.
That's an amazing description.:approve:
After I posted last night I thought long and hard about the subject, trying to figure out what you were saying and tried to follow it to it's conclusion. That's what I thought meditation was. To sit and think about things, kind of just a way to work out your problems. I say to myself, "what's so special about that? I can do it without meditating." Before I fall asleep, my mind is constantly mulling over something.

Then there are other times when I don't have anything important to think about, I do sit back and enjoy the light show that goes on behind my closed eyelids. Random shapes float by my eyes, sometimes fuzzy, surreal images. Sounds of thoughts. Things like that. It just never leads to anywhere for me. I just seem to have a natural proclivity to be distracted by the faintest noise, or an itch, or something. :yuck: Maybe it also could be that I try too hard to actually control what I see. I often think that I should think about something and try to visualize it in my conscience. I've never, ever been able to think about an object, and then watch the lightshow coalesce into an image that appears "real" in anyway. (from what you posted, I can see now, this has been wrong way to go about it). I've done that for hours before and then I think, "man I need some sleep." (then I turn the tv on to provide some background noise and drown out my thoughts) Never have I fallen asleep that way.

Now dreaming is a different beast. I don't have any control there either. I can't wake myself up in a dream at my beckon call. It only happens if something triggers me in my dream. Most often it's a scary dream. Not really a nightmare, per say. I think I catch them before they turn into nightmares. But, when it happens, I'm definitely conscious, and I'm definitely in a dreamlike state. But there is no doubt that I’m dreaming. It's a totally different state, but definitely nothing that I would call "real".

As I digress and come back on point here. From what I gather form you and Royce, (hello Royce), I always had a misconception that it wasn't possible to quiet the voices without actually falling asleep. I just assumed meditators were actually falling asleep, yet never getting into a deep sleep. (if that makes any sense). But if they weren't falling asleep, it didn't make sense that they would be so refreshed afterwards, because then it would be like such a struggle to maintain control of their senses. It would be exhausting. So I guess my question now is, do you think that this meditative state is somewhere teetering on the brink of sleep and being awake?

Also, once you are in this state, do you then have any control over what you see or experience. Do the problems you are meant to work out present themselves and run their course as you observe? (this is where I'm asking about the "knowledge" people claim they get out of it)

I suppose it wouldn't hurt for me to try it again. I'll check back in with you all in 20 years or so.:cry: (a lighthearted joke, no dis-respect intended)
 
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  • #67
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
That's an amazing description.:approve:
It's about 6:50 AM here and I am going to meditate for an hour or so. I will then write you immediately from the experience to see if that helps me communicate what it's like.
 
  • #68
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
So I guess my question now is, do you think that this meditative state is somewhere teetering on the brink of sleep and being awake?

Also, once you are in this state, do you then have any control over what you see or experience. Do the problems you are meant to work out present themselves and run their course as you observe? (this is where I'm asking about the "knowledge" people claim they get out of it)

The experience is not between sleeping and awake, it is something different altogether. Let’s say your consciousness is a light field, as I suggested in my last post, and that it’s spherical in shape. And say we have this special device that can make your body and brain disappear so that all we see is you, consciousness, as a light field.

Because you are thinking, part of the field, that on the periphery of sphere, has numerous constricted spots that are active; a little more interior in the sphere is more constriction that’s not so active, its rigid due to having been there a long time because it is conditioning, established beliefs, attitudes, personality . . . At the center it is bright, calm and fluid, that’s the core that always retains its original nature.

Now if you could attain union while we watch, we’d see the periphery would lose all its constriction. The field would brighten and expand because that constriction “darkens” the periphery, so when it is released it allows consciousness fill out again and shine with all its light. If you go outside and look around, you will notice how everything sparkles, and how it all looks like one big scene. It looks “one” because your consciousness isn’t split up into all the thoughts, worries, beliefs and so on that normally fragment it. You aren’t defining or philosophizing or commenting or critiquing . . . you are experiencing the fullness of the moment with the fullness of your consciousness.

You can go ahead and think if you want to, or you can just experience. Learning to unify consciousness doesn’t take anything away from a person, it only adds a new consciousness skill. It “cleanses” consciousness of orientations, which is a good thing when it’s time to use the intellect. It relaxes the body, it brightens consciousness, it gives a new perspective of wholeness, it makes you want to laugh more and enjoy everything more, and for some people, it convinces them they are part of a much larger consciousness realm.

In every respect, union results in a positive change. That’s why I surmised before that it might be an evolutionary direction humanity will one day take, and people like the Buddha and Jesus are evolutionary harbingers. Maybe that’s why humanity has been so stimulated by these heralds, because what they’ve achieved resonates with our true nature at the “heart” of consciousness.
 
  • #69
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Les Sleeth said:
The experience is not between sleeping and awake, it is something different altogether. Let’s say your consciousness is a light field, as I suggested in my last post, and that it’s spherical in shape. And say we have this special device that can make your body and brain disappear so that all we see is you, consciousness, as a light field.

Because you are thinking, part of the field, that on the periphery of sphere, has numerous constricted spots that are active; a little more interior in the sphere is more constriction that’s not so active, its rigid due to having been there a long time because it is conditioning, established beliefs, attitudes, personality . . . At the center it is bright, calm and fluid, that’s the core that always retains its original nature.

Now if you could attain union while we watch, we’d see the periphery would lose all its constriction. The field would brighten and expand because that constriction “darkens” the periphery, so when it is released it allows consciousness fill out again and shine with all its light.
This is what I was implying when I described it as "hyper-state". (not because I've actually seen it but I just imagined what it would look like.) All I had been able to imagine is an orb at the center with lights emitting from it. Kind of like a space ship going into hyper-drive and stars wizzing past you. (I'm sorry for the horrible analogy, just putting it in a perspective I think most people will get). I have never imagined it as you described. Pretty facinating though. I'm assuming this is while you are actively meditating.....

If you go outside and look around, you will notice how everything sparkles, and how it all looks like one big scene. It looks “one” because your consciousness isn’t split up into all the thoughts, worries, beliefs and so on that normally fragment it. You aren’t defining or philosophizing or commenting or critiquing . . . you are experiencing the fullness of the moment with the fullness of your consciousness.

You can go ahead and think if you want to, or you can just experience. Learning to unify consciousness doesn’t take anything away from a person, it only adds a new consciousness skill. It “cleanses” consciousness of orientations, which is a good thing when it’s time to use the intellect. It relaxes the body, it brightens consciousness, it gives a new perspective of wholeness, it makes you want to laugh more and enjoy everything more, and for some people, it convinces them they are part of a much larger consciousness realm.
....here are you talking about post-meditation? Is this what you experience afterwards, as lingering effects? If so, how long does that last? Or is it more, once you've reached union, forever more you experince the world this way?

I truely appreciate you taking this time to respond to my questions. This has answered the seeing/experiencing aspect for me very well. (I'll hold off on God stuff for a different place and time, although I'm facinated in this too, as you know.) Do you have any opinions on what is actually going on in your brain during all this? I wonder if somehow, it is triggering the brain to produce an intoxicating chemical or something. Any idea there?
 
  • #70
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
This is what I was implying when I described it as "hyper-state". (not because I've actually seen it but I just imagined what it would look like.) All I had been able to imagine is an orb at the center with lights emitting from it. Kind of like a space ship going into hyper-drive and stars wizzing past you. (I'm sorry for the horrible analogy, just putting it in a perspective I think most people will get). I have never imagined it as you described. Pretty facinating though. I'm assuming this is while you are actively meditating.....
Well, there is an experience of light at the center, and less brightness around that. I don’t know what it would actually look like on that imaginary machine. Mostly I was trying to explain the principle of union, where all the conscious energy one has tied up in intellect, senses, conditioning etc. is reunited into a single experience of consciousness. The integrated experience is what I am absolutely sure about; the way consciousness might objectively look is an informed guess.


RVBuckeye said:
....here are you talking about post-meditation? Is this what you experience afterwards, as lingering effects? If so, how long does that last? Or is it more, once you've reached union, forever more you experience the world this way?
It is post meditation, but you also have to understand that the idea is to stay in the experience as long as possible. At first one’s deep-rooted habits and interaction with the world pull one right back into the old patterns. But as one practices, one finds one can maintain the integrated thing better and better.

And then yes, eventually there is a sort of “flip” where the oneness experience becomes a permanent part of consciousness. With more practice it gets more stable, and one relies on it more and more. I am still learning to rely on it and so consider myself a student.

Relying on it may not be the end of development because of claims it is possible to attain another level of oneness, that where one joins with the larger thing. IMO, that’s what Jesus was saying when he said, “I and my Father are one.” The Buddha also referred to it. He called the individual experience of union I’ve been talking about samadhi, and the universal merging nirvana.


RVBuckeye said:
Do you have any opinions on what is actually going on in your brain during all this? I wonder if somehow, it is triggering the brain to produce an intoxicating chemical or something. Any idea there?
I don’t know, but I definitely do not think what happens is a brain state. However, I wouldn’t doubt there is some corresponding brain/chemical action, (which physicalist believers will surely interpret as the brain causing my experience). :wink:
 
  • #71
Rade
Les Sleeth said:
I don’t know, but I definitely do not think what happens is a brain state. However, I wouldn’t doubt there is some corresponding brain/chemical action, (which physicalist believers will surely interpret as the brain causing my experience). :wink:
I am confused by this comment--that is, that you do not think that what happens to you during meditation is a "brain state". :confused: If not, exactly what type of "state" do you hypothesize the experience to be ? Where exactly in space-time is this experience being experienced by you if not within your brain ? Not trying to be difficult, just confused. Also, you are aware are you not that bight light phenomenon you experience during meditation can also occur during other activities--that is, it is not limited to process of meditation, thus I see no special import to its occurrence.
 
  • #72
Les Sleeth
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Rade said:
I am confused by this comment--that is, that you do not think that what happens to you during meditation is a "brain state". :confused:
I was saying that the brain likely has a state that corresponds to union experience, but that state is triggered by consciousness attaining union. Physicalists interpret the observation of a brain state just the opposite, as the brain causing the associated conscious experience.


Rade said:
. . . exactly what type of "state" do you hypothesize the experience to be ?
It is a consciousness state first, and the brain follows with its own state.

Let me try an analogy to illustrate the concept. Imagine the Pacific ocean as a whole is conscious. It decides it wants to make various positions, or "points," on it individually conscious. To individuate any given point on/in the Pacific ocean, it must isolate it from the ocean whole. It does that by freezing a spot on the ocean and then containing the ocean point within the ice structure.

The structure of the ice has many compartments, each with specialized functions so that when that point of water encased in the ice enters a compartment, that makes the ocean point think or remember or feel . . . in other words, that ice structure not only isolates the ocean point, it also teaches it consciousness skills.

However, the ocean point went into the ice structure already conscious; it just wasn't individually conscious, only generally conscious (having always been merely part of the great ocean). So it is proper to say the ice structure develops the point's consciousness, but it isn't proper to say the ice structure creates consciousness.

The point that's within the structure is clueless about what it is. It first "woke up" as an individual within the structure, so as far as it knows, it is that structure. When it experiences union meditation the point learns to experience its "essence" as consciousness and sees it has a nature deeper and more abiding than the structure it is now entwined in.


Rade said:
Where exactly in space-time is this experience being experienced by you if not within your brain ?
Well, it is taking place positionally within the brain, but that doesn't mean the brain is causing it.


Rade said:
Also, you are aware are you not that bight light phenomenon you experience during meditation can also occur during other activities--that is, it is not limited to process of meditation, thus I see no special import to its occurrence.
If light is the substance of consciousness, then it might very well manifest in other situations. In meditation one recognizes its import.
 
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  • #73
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Les Sleeth said:
It is a consciousness state first, and the brain follows with its own state.
I doubt it. Explain why conciousness goes away under anesthesia then.
Well, it is taking place positionally within the brain, but that doesn't mean the brain is causing it.
If light the substance of consciousness, then it might very well manifest in other situations. In mediation one recognizes its import.
I have no reason to doubt that you experience exactly what you say you do. The numerous accounts and consistancy of said acounts give credence to its validity. I did need some time to think on it for a while to formulate an adequate response, since you've been so kind enough to share your experience with us. (I've been stuck inside most of the winter and was going a little stir-crazy there). I think you explain the phenomenon in your description of it. The key is that you "see" or "feel" or "hear" things while you're in the meditative state. I don't take this to mean you actually hear things with your ears, or see with your eyes, or feel with your skin. Those things are effectively tuned out while meditating. Without me trying to present a new theory...I will try and keep this concise and any further point you want me to expand on later, I'll try to do so.
First, as I understand it, when you meditate, you try to eliminate any external sensory input into, as a Zen might say, a “blank slate” state of mind. What you may be unaware of (or haven't stated in your posts) is that most neurons emit impulses or action potentials even while nothing external is happening. (base rate of firing). So my hunch is that while you are meditating, your concious mind, which normally filters out this "noise", is being deprived of the external stimulus. Which makes perfect sense when it is interpretted as being "real". In doing so, what you are actually doing is conditioning your mind to give more importance to this noise, and later integrating it into your "normal" state of conciousness. (post-meditation)
So what does that tell us about reality? Well, to me, it tells me that you have aquired an ability to physically sense the things that your average person conciously doesn't pay attention to. This internal sensory data has now become part of your aquired self. Which I must say is also remarkable to me. But no, if you and I look at the same object, I don't think you are picking up on more of the reflected light of the object than I am. I would be stunned if meditation actually improves the eyes ability to percieve more of the visual spectrum.
I know there have been many claims as to the benefits of meditation, specifically with the improved functioning of the brain. I don't deny that that could be true. I still would be intersted to see if the same effects aren't seen with people who read more books, or get more sleep than your average person.
This is not intended to mock in any way your beliefs. I just think you might be hoping it means something more than it actually does.
 
  • #74
Les Sleeth
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RVBuckeye said:
I doubt it. Explain why conciousness goes away under anesthesia then.
First let's make sure you get my concept. I claim that consciousness may enter the body as "general" consciousness, without identity or intellectual skills, and that the brain teaches it to segment, specialize, and compartmentalize parts of itself. Meanwhile, a central core remains "pure" consciousness, and that is both the "me" or self-aware part which is aware of its own existence, and what one accentuates in union meditation.

Since that tiny point of consciousness is made self-aware by the separation from its Source the brain provides, since it is dependent on all the segmenting and compartmentalizing the brain does for it, and since it is fully entwined in the brain's architecture, that consciousness is fully dependent on the brain to function in the physical setting.

So if you put the brain to sleep, the consciousness follows; if you stimulate part of the brain, consciousness follows; if you destroy part of the brain, consciousness loses whatever part of the brain that was contributing to its development (at least while still living in the body).


RVBuckeye said:
So my hunch is that while you are meditating, your concious mind, which normally filters out this "noise", is being deprived of the external stimulus. Which makes perfect sense when it is interpretted as being "real". In doing so, what you are actually doing is conditioning your mind to give more importance to this noise, and later integrating it into your "normal" state of conciousness. (post-meditation).
The problem with your theory is that the meditative state isn't noise. Why should one become utterly calm? Why should one's breath disappear? Why should one feel like one has separated from the body? Why should one's conscious picture seem so vast (compared to before)? Why should one feel love more deeply? Why should one smile more readily? Why should one experience a sense of unity with the whole universe?

Why should "noise" do any of that?


RVBuckeye said:
So what does that tell us about reality? Well, to me, it tells me that you have aquired an ability to physically sense the things that your average person conciously doesn't pay attention to. This internal sensory data has now become part of your aquired self. Which I must say is also remarkable to me.
There have been great union meditators who've been deaf and blind. How do you explain that? You are really on the wrong track here, it isn't sensory data that one is experiencing; that is exactly why one withdraws from the senses . . . so one can experience this not-sensual thing.


RVBuckeye said:
But no, if you and I look at the same object, I don't think you are picking up on more of the reflected light of the object than I am. I would be stunned if meditation actually improves the eyes ability to percieve more of the visual spectrum.
Well, I would say it isn't the eyes that are perceiving more, it is that consciousness has become more sensitive to information the eyes were providing all along. This is another reason why your "noise" theory is wrong. One of my hobbys is music and stereo systems that can reproduce it accurately. What do you think an amplifier's noise contributes to the reproduction of a signal? It interferes. The ideal amp is one that provides the cleanest possible power.

Likewise, consciousness in union elimimates noise and so makes the conscious field more sensitive to information.


RVBuckeye said:
I know there have been many claims as to the benefits of meditation, specifically with the improved functioning of the brain. I don't deny that that could be true. I still would be intersted to see if the same effects aren't seen with people who read more books, or get more sleep than your average person. .
You are really showing your lack of experience with meditation now. I read plenty, and sleep well. Meditation is nothing like this. Why are you trying so hard to discredit the experience? Isn't it because you don't want to allow that it might be anything extraordinary?


RVBuckeye said:
%his is not intended to mock in any way your beliefs. I just think you might be hoping it means something more than it actually does.
I don't "hope" anything. I don't care what it "means." I merely practice, experience, and enjoy the benefits. I attach no meaning to it. I speculate in these discussions, that's true, but not because I care whether the experience means anything beyond what it gives me.
 
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I'm not trying to discredit the experience at all. I absolutely believe you speak the truth. I've never been more certain of it. I just wanted to be clear about that before I continue. The OP is about the reality of the experience. Meditation was brought up (not by me) as a topic for discussion. Since I don't currently practice it, I wanted to get an accurate picture of it, (from a credible, respectable source....You, Les). I've gone out of my way to be courteous, and thankful for your input. I'm still not opposed to it, even though it could be another one of the mysterious functions of the bio/chemical interactions of the brain. I would think that just the possibility of experiencing something similar might entice someone to try. Even if the former is true.
Les Sleeth said:
First let's make sure you get my concept. I claim that consciousness may enter the body as "general" consciousness, without identity or intellectual skills, and that the brain teaches it to segment, specialize, and compartmentalize parts of itself. Meanwhile, a central core remains "pure" consciousness, and that is both the "me" or self-aware part which is aware of its own existence, and what one accentuates in union meditation.
Since that tiny point of consciousness is made self-aware by the separation from its Source the brain provides, since it is dependent on all the segmenting and compartmentalizing the brain does for it, and since it is fully entwined in the brain's architecture, that consciousness is fully dependent on the brain to function in the physical setting.
So if you put the brain to sleep, the consciousness follows; if you stimulate part of the brain, consciousness follows; if you destroy part of the brain, consciousness loses whatever part of the brain that was contributing to its development (at least while still living in the body).
As always, you give excellent replies. No doubt from the many years of contemplating/rationalizing your experience.
The problem with your theory is that the meditative state isn't noise. Why should one become utterly calm? Why should one's breath disappear? Why should one feel like one has separated from the body? Why should one's conscious picture seem so vast (compared to before)? Why should one feel love more deeply? Why should one smile more readily? Why should one experience a sense of unity with the whole universe?
Why should "noise" do any of that?
Noise is just a metaphor. Let me explain a little bit further, as I was correct to assume my summary in my last post might lead to confusion. Let's take the sense of sight as an example. First, perception is defined as the process by which the brain constructs an internal representation of the outside world. This internal representation is what we experience as reality.
So how do we see with the organs we call the eyes? Since we know that even in complete darkness the ganglion cells constantly send signals back to the brain, in order for light to be detected, this activity must change enough to be noticed. This is a two-step process. (and yes, conciousness does play a role) First is the sensory process which creates the visual experience by interpretting the change in activity of the ganglion cells. The decision process (conciousness) chooses whether or not the visual experience resulted from the light being absorbed by the retina or the random activity of the ganglion cells. In normal sight, imo, this random activity is filtered out by the decision process, and the resulting visual experience is percieved as reality. When all that your conciousness is given access to is the random activity, it ultimately becomes percieved as reality while you're in this state. Afterwards, after many years of dedicated conditioning, this random activity (noise) which would normally be filtered out of your perception of reality, is now incorporated into your new perception of reality. But now, the noise isn't seen as noise, or interference at all. It's all integrated into the experience. (You are right, I've never achieved union. But to think of me as a gross-beginner in the mysterious world of psycological experiences, you're not giving me enough credit)
To address your many questions, it would be impossible to explain your subjective experience. It's not all biological either, the body produces several intoxicating chemicals too. (I'm sure you're familiar with DMT?)
There have been great union meditators who've been deaf and blind. How do you explain that? You are really on the wrong track here, it isn't sensory data that one is experiencing; that is exactly why one withdraws from the senses . . . so one can experience this not-sensual thing.
As for your first question, I don't know. I really would be guessing. Do they claim to experience a perception of sight or hearing in the meditative state? As for your statement, if you remain concious as you seem to be, you can't withdrawal completely from your senses, only from the external stimuli.
Well, I would say it isn't the eyes that are perceiving more, it is that consciousness has become more sensitive to information the eyes were providing all along. This is another reason why your "noise" theory is wrong.
I think I explained what the noise is above. I could be wrong. Like Socrates, at least I know that I know nothing.:wink:
I read plenty, and sleep well. Meditation is nothing like this.
I was not trying to suggest they are alike in any way. I was merely trying to explain that I have seen no study regarding the better mental functioning between different types of people. I have seen research conducted on test subjects who practice Zen meditation which suggests this to be the case. No dis-respect intended. In fact, I think that supports the idea of meditation being good for you.
I don't "hope" anything. I don't care what it "means." I merely practice, experience, and enjoy the benefits. I attach no meaning to it. I speculate in these discussions, that's true, but not because I care whether the experience means anything beyond what it gives me.
OK, this isn't the point. No matter.
 
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