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December 12, 2012

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There's at least 2 major problems with this article.

The first is that Sacks states, without any evidence, that NDEs occur when people come out of coma and not while inside coma. This kind of blanket statement of alleged facts is common but misleading and possibly dangerous.

The second is that you state meditation practices produce hallucinations of God and other spiritual realities, except you yourself are a testimony, a very fine one, of the falsity of this conjecture.

david r, apparently you didn't read Sacks' article very closely. Here's what Sacks said about NDE's and coming out of coma:

"The one most plausible hypothesis in Dr. Alexander's case, then, is that his NDE occurred not during his coma, but as he was surfacing from the coma and his cortex was returning to full function. It is curious that he does not allow this obvious and natural explanation, but instead insists on a supernatural one. To deny the possibility of any natural explanation for an NDE, as Dr. Alexander does, is more than unscientific -- it is antiscientific. It precludes the scientific investigation of such states."

So actually it is the spiritual believer, Alexander, who is being dogmatic. Sacks isn't making any sort of "blanket statement" as you wrongly asserted. Sacks says "most plausible," "possibility of any natural explanation," "scientific investigation."

Sacks, entirely reasonably, says that the first place to look for an explanation of "supernatural" experiences is nature, since everyone who claims such an experience is living as a physical body/brain. If there is no evidence that consciousness has left the body, we should assume that consciousness had the experience while in the body/brain.

I'm not sure what you mean by me falsifying the conjecture of meditation practices producing hallucinations of spiritual realities. My brain has produced lots of hallucinations of spiritual realities during my 40 years of daily meditation.

I've felt immersed in a peaceful void where "I" no longer exist. I've felt sounds, vibrations, flashes of light. I've felt embraced by a loving presence, especially after contemplating on my guru (when I believed in one), just as Sacks says beliefs can turn into perceptions. And back in my college days, with the aid of psychedelics, many times I experienced how the brain can conjure up all sorts of hallucinations.

Note that Sacks says:

"(For those who are not religiously inclined, such experiences may occur with meditation or intense concentration on an artistic or intellectual or emotional plane, whether this is falling in love or listening to Bach, observing the intricacies of a fern, or cracking a scientific problem.)"

So hallucinations, or perceptions of the brain uncaused by objective outside reality, come in many varieties. You seem to think that only a full blown hallucination of heaven, or whatever, counts. Actually all of us experience some form of "hallucination," either in meditation or in other aspects of everyday life.

My brain has produced lots of hallucinations of spiritual realities during my 40 years of daily meditation.

I've felt immersed in a peaceful void where "I" no longer exist. I've felt sounds, vibrations, flashes of light. I've felt embraced by a loving presence, especially after contemplating on my guru (when I believed in one),

You have stated many times in the past that you didn't experience anything when you did meditation, not even the slightest.

Gaz, not true. I've said that I've experienced a lot in meditation. How could I not? Meditation is an experience. Everything we experience in life is an experience.

What I question is whether i've had a supernatural experience, or a "mystical" experience involving something other-worldly. For example, here's what I said in this post back in 2005:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2005/09/i_reveal_my_mys.html
--------------------
That said, and I’ve said it countless times, I still meditate every day for an hour or so. I enjoy my meditation. But I’ve never experienced anything that I could conclusively call “mystical,” “spiritual,” or “divine.” I’ve felt like I was rising up into a blissful void, but neuroscientists theorize that this could be the result of sensory deprivation (I usually use earplugs and a blindfold).

I’m a strong believer in inner meditation. It seems to me that this is the best way to grapple with eminently scientific questions about the essential nature of consciousness, life, and existence. If I can simply be conscious, simply live, and simply exist in meditation, I feel that I’m going to be closer to getting some answers.
----------------------

Good conclusion! as I see it

...Hallucinations, whether revelatory or banal, are not of supernatural origin; they are part of the normal range of human consciousness and experience.... They provide evidence only of the brain's power to create them.

What is that odor...? Ah, it's that distinct reek of dogma. Of a certain supercilious certainty about the nature of hallucination. It's appropriately draped with scientific due process of course. Guilty - step right up to the gallows reserved for all things hallucinatory.

But "whether revelatory or banal"- not all religious insight/perception can be herded into a hallucinogenic box. The fact that the "very same systems of perception in the brain are deployed" doesn't invalidate their authenticity either. The a priori necessity of "a brain in the vicinity" at the time of someone's religious or mystic vision doesn't prove the brain was causal. Or that inner realization of a transcendent reality is myth. Maybe a hallucinogenic sub-category is needed - call it "brain-less epiphanies" to invest it with the scorn it undoubtedly deserves.

Brian, this is what you said:-

But I’ve never experienced anything that I could conclusively call “mystical,” “spiritual,” or “divine.”

Now, according to Oliver Sacks the experience that Eben Alexander had was an hallucination. According to Alexander, it was a "mystical", "spiritual" and "divine" experience.

Whereas you have said that you have never hallucinated any of those things in your 40 years of meditation practice.

I think that says more than needs to be said. Don't you think you are wrong? I think you are.

How can a hallucination experience be cataloged into mystical, spiritual, or divine? It's just an experience, nothing more.

david r, I'm confused by what you think I'm wrong about. Here's what I'm saying. Please choose which statement you consider to be wrong.

(1) I've meditated every day for more than forty years. During those meditations I've had lots of experiences. In fact, every conscious moment I'm experiencing something or other, whether while I'm meditating or at other times.

(2) Those meditation experiences have included bursts of sound, flashes of light, sensations of being at one with reality, rising into a vast void, feelings of connection with my guru, and other experiences that some people would call "spiritual."

(3) I haven't considered the experiences in (2) to be of a mystical, supernatural, or other-worldly reality. I consider them to be emanations from my own mind/brain, lacking evidence to the contrary.

So, again, what have I said that is wrong?

Perhaps you're confused by the word "hallucination." I view this term as a continuum, not a discrete specific thing. Some hallucinations are on the extreme end of the spectrum, like when someone perceives something that they are absolutely convinced is objectively real, yet isn't apparent to others and likely emanates from their own mind/brain.

In my case, I "hallucinated" experiences that seemed subjectively real (because they were), but which I didn't assume were objectively real -- perceptions of an actually existent supernatural reality.

So because I"m scientifically minded, am married to a psychotherapist, and know quite a bit about how the brain works, I haven't jumped to ill-founded conclusions that many other meditators come to.

That's it we're done. Blogger B and his quotes have indisputably shown that the physical brain is the source of all experience, however that experience is interpreted.

Once the brain is dead and its atoms are dispersed as ashes or worm castings, so are we for all eternity. A number of years like the amount of the national debt multiplied to the 100th power is just the very beginning, the very first nano-second instant, of the duration of our eternal non-existence.

Sheeeit! Bummer. We're toast. All we can do is distract ourselves from the crushing weight of the awareness of our death and what that implies. Everything we love or do or create, our very selves, will one day be gone. Life is meaningless.

"All we are is dust in the wind. All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see."

That's it. It's been settled. No further discussion is needed. Blog over. Science wins. No God. No heaven. No Buddha nature. Just this fleeting moment and then we're gone. pffffft. Life is over in a flash.

However, it could be something like this:

Consciousness is prior to manifestation and our brain is simply one of the myriad of manifestations in consciousness. Our brain and sense of individuality are a congealed locus, a mere amalgamation in the colloidal suspension that is the objective Universe.

The Universe is Conscious. Primordialy this consciousness is undifferentiated. Consciousness moves (Will) and as a result space and time result and dualism is manifest. Thus, the Universe of objects is born including our brains with which Consciousness identifies itself. This creates the sense of 'self and other' when in actuality there is neither. It is Consciousness's play to see and recognise itself. It is the play of "God".

Then, Consciousness rests. Space and time disappear. As a result, objects cease to exist as well as duality. The manifest Universe disappears. The undifferentiated state persists unidentified...until Consciousness moves again.

The question is consciousness, or no
consciousness.

We are trained to think like this.

But, what if there is Something Else
that is neither ?

Mike,

I liked,

"But, what if there is Something Else
that is neither?"

---Nice question, but the "something else" is still going to be relative. Do you have further info on the "neither," that could be such?

Mike, you are really something special.

I like the "something else" term. No matter how hard you try to pin it down or what words you use it is still "Something else". But "something else" still conveys a something that beckons you to try to find it.

But it is never reached because it is what is reaching and I don't mean "you". "Something else" is not a "thing" as we know the term to mean. It is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. "You" never reach it.

I'm stuck. How does one express something which is also nothing? As soon as one thinks they see it and says, "Ah, It's that!" then they'e lost once again.

It's something else for eternity.

Hi tucson, Elizabeth and Roger,

The Something Else sees the ideas of
consciousness and nonconsciousness
and duality and non duality as funny.

These concepts are a joke.

Just like the "self" is joke.

All these things above are beliefs.

Beliefs based on our limited capacities,
due to our limited senses.

They have no reality. There is no continuity
of consciousness (see Susan Blackmore).
Consciousness itself is a delusion like
the frames on a film. Like an aircraft
propeller appearing round when it spins.
The clenched hand is not a fist.

If consciousness was the product of evolution,
not the cause of it; and
it just happenned by itself then how
did the just "happenning by itself"
get here in the first place ?

Can an ant understand the mysteries
of the universe ?

This is why "Something Else" is both
yes and no to the same question.

You do not go looking for Something Else.

It comes looking for you.

It helps you fulfill your wish to
help others.

For that is its wish also.

It wants people to awake from their
slumber.

Something Else is the bull in the
China shop.

Not the saint in church.

Twirling concepts is like churning water,
you can never make butter out of it.

If you look at one side of a coin
its is tails. If you look at the other
side of the exact same coin it is heads.

Something Else is the coin itself.

That's why Something Else is both heads and tails. And, Something Else is neither heads
nor tails.

Both yes ..... and no ... and neither.

http://www.crisishq.com/why-prepare/economic-collapse-inevitable/

The "Something Else" could be another dualistic term or wordag,e for the non-knowable.

"Something Else, the non-knowable."
quote Roger

Yes. We look at duality and nonduality
as a play between the opposits.

Or consciousness and nonconsciousness.

Something Else is aware, but this awareness
cannot be related to consciousness.

We tend to look at things in two dimensions
of philosophy.

The Something Else is the 3rd dimension
we cannot consider, due to our limited
perception.

There can be awareness without consciousness. Something beyound what we can grasp or comprehend.

Beyond petty consciousness.

Hi Roger, cont. from above

"Something Else" is aware of everything.

Our consciousness is aware of very few
vibrations in the universe.

Something Else is the 3rd dimension
of esoterics our Gurus are unaware of.

Something Else and Gurus are polar
opposites.

Something Else is Positive and Gurus
are negative.

With all the Gurus in Indian history,
India is still the most corrupt place in the world.

"Something Else" has been called something else. Among other names it has been called "noumenon".

Noumenon is a difficult concept to convey because (besides not really being a concept at all) what it means is not something that can be comprehended by our conventionally perceiving subject-object minds. As Mike says, it is like another dimension.

Noumenon represents the total absence of being or non-being, consciousness or unconsciousness...as objects of cognition Yet, "in" noumenon consciousness and unconsciousness reside. One might say, "Noumenon is absolutely nothing, right?" Wrong. Noumenon is no "thing".

It is a verbal symbol of the origin and source of mind itself. It is Potential. It is the mutual negation of consciousness and non-consciousness, appearance and non-appearance.

Bear with me here. This is difficult to express because it is not something to be known. We can only "be" it.

Whatever appears is phenomena. However, noumenon, not being apparent phenomenally, is absent as anything that can be perceived or known objectively. However, it is not really absent either.

Noumenon is a symbol for the non-objective Origin of conceptuality...the Non-well from which the water of conceptuality and appearance is drawn.

Hi tucson,

Yes, a mirror cannot see itself.

The mirror can be itself.

The mirror reflects both this....and that.

The mirror is both yes and no...and neither.


Yes, also to other dimensions,( as contrasted to non existant inner planes. )


http://www.geminiauction.com/details.asp?inventorygroup=cc&inventorynumber=16810&category=Search

There probably is a 'something else'.

Humans have evolved to understand existence (in its broadest sense) in terms of the poles of mind and/or matter.

The nature of the universe is material/energy and consciousness emerges/evolves out of that. Or, the universe is the appearance of a cosmic consciousness.

Both of these are deeply problematic - although the current philosophical and scientific view favours the former since the latter can't help but collapse into solipsism.

But still, both these views are the product of biological limitation. We are an evolved shrew. Why would an evolved shrew understand, cognise, grasp, comprehend the ultimate nature of reality?

Of course we think we do already. I'm sure they did 10,000 years ago. In a hundred thousand years from now (if humans survive), almost everything we hold as final and true will have been superseded by paradigm shift after paradigm shift.

And so, that there is something more to all this seems extremely probable. There is no need for any form of supernatural explanation - it's simply that the true nature of existence is beyond our reach.

Hi Jon,

The most interesting philosophical
debate I have ever heard of was around
5,000 years ago.

The debate was amoungst sheep herders.

Did consciousness preceed the universe,
or was it the end product ?

The end product herdsmen won the debate,
when they showed intoxication was
the result (end product) of wine.

Wine itself is not intoxicated, of course.

(But it should be noted they were all drunk
when the debate began, to be fair.)

tucson,

Good write on the noumenon. I'm guessing, only the GOD consciousness can perceive such. The Absolute, is what is being referred to here.

Hola Roger,

I think Noumenon is undifferentiated formless beingness and as such does not perceive anything as "other" or as an object of perception. Maybe we could think of It as a "ubiquitosity" that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere as Source or Potential (God if you like).

That's right. I am not an atheist.

It only knows itself via the process of its "movement" resulting in the appearance of space/time, duality and the manifest phenomenal universe.

Hi tucson,

Agree with you. The Noumenon is the
coin itself. We, the phenomenon,
see it as heads and tails.

So, the answers of yes and no and
neither are all correct.

Noumnenon sees itself as neither.

We see it as heads and tails.

If noumenon has an awareness that
preceeds the beginning of the
Universe, it could be called God.

But, God does not seem to fit its definition.

We always think of God and Lucifer.

Heads and tails.

But, what if the Noumenum is Something Else ?

Such as ....... both.

And God and Lucifer are two just sides of
the coin of Noumenon ?

Mike,

I think..

The standard concepts of God do not apply to Something Else or Noumenon. Noumenality knows no "I". It is pure "will" that manifests infinitely as this and that, but is simultaneously neither and both.

All concepts of heavenly father, all-knowing benificent creator, brahma, vishnu, shiva, krishna, zeus, lucifer, light, love, protector, allah, jesus, guru, radha soami, kal, buddha, barak ob*ma do not apply. They are all one side or other of the non-coin. The coinless coin.

It is formless, nameless and unknowable. It is and it isn't. But as Prior, as Potential, as Noumenon, as Something Else that is unidentifiable as any sort of 'thing', that is both transcendent and immanent, it could be called "God".


Yes, God is a product of Something Else.
The standard concepts of God do not
apply to Something Else or Noumenon.

Like consciousness was the product of
evolution, not the cause. The type of
awareness Something Else might have
we cannot fathom.

Noumenon, Something Else, cannot have an I,
because it is the Substance of all form.

Hi tucson,

It seems there may be no God. But, the fact
is the Noumenon, Something Else, can easily
be proven..

The fact we exist proves the Noumenon
exists.

"I think, therefore the Noumenon exists"
Descartes

The fact is I am not a Radha Soami.

I am a Rhonda Soami.

http://www.rhondafleming.com/

Good comments, Mike and Tucson.

From the Something Else and Noumenality, manifests the:

"A dual state of mind projects its relative limits in much the same way that looking through a pair of binoculars projects its circular limits. The mental screen of relative words and thoughts through which we look is similarly projected on the limitless horizons of consciousness. What we see is real, though the mental boundaries we unwittingly project are not. From this one might surmise that life is really some form of self-projection, both individual and collective, and that the world serves as a mirror in which it reflects."

Good one Roger.

Mike,

My mother knew Rhonda Flemming. They used to do lunch or social/charity events with mutual friends/acquaintances. I spoke with her a little as a kid would politely do with an adult that is forced upon them. Actually, she was pretty nice and never hit me once. I grew up in the West L.A./Palisades/Santa Monica/Malibu area where many Hollywood people lived. The place was crawling with them and couldn't be avoided like ants on a patio.

Dear tuscon,

The New Rhonda Soami Faith will surely
be a smash hit. Rhonda must have given
you initiation. She is my Goddess.
I bow at your feet.

She is phenoumen-al.

This is her best movie
Inferno (1953)
absolute classic must see for free.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvnpFZpcpIU

Someone actually posted this stupid stuff
on the internet on why Jaimal wrote a letter
saying he couldn't follow Salig Ram's
meditation.

"1. Five names vs. Radhasoami nam
2. Dhyan should be done of the initiating guru and not his successor (or
pictures).
3. Probably too much reliance on a T stick vs the bhajan position
4. Bachan 250 concerning how to treat a successor."

Jaimal did not write that letter. Salig Ram
was the Founder of Radhasoami Faith.

Jaimal learned the new faith (3 regions above the
old Sat Lok faith of the Sikhs) by attending
Salig Ram's satsangs. Jaimal named
Dera Beas... "Radhasoami" Beas based on
Salig ram's new religion.

How could anyone be so stupid they say the Founder of the faith gave out wrong initiation procedures ? Certainly Jaimal would not have.

There is no difference between Beas and
Agra initiation. Jaimal would have known this, so its obvious his sevadars wrote the letter, which Beas now admits they were doing.

I have had both initiations from both groups.

Salig Ram threw jaimal out of his satsang
for having very young girls he lived with
down the street from Salig Ram's satsang
where he lived.

Also, Radaji did not give permission to
Sawan to initiate. Chachaji allowed
Sawan as administrator at Beas, although there is no record of anyone at Agra allowing Sawan to initiate.

It is unknown if either Swami Ji, or Radaji,
ever knew who Jaimal was.

No one gave either Jaimal, or Sawan permission to act as Guru. They were
both self declared.

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