« Floating in a boundless sea | Main | Open Thread 3 »

August 18, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am interested in meditation and would like your viewpoint as a now semi-skeptic who has dabbled in various mystic traditions.

In short i wish to ask you 2 questions:

1) why do you meditate?

I understand there are pseudo health benefits with ppl trying to accumulate evidence for it and that it is a way to generally relax the mind etc - but is there some other reason you do it so religiously (every day for 40 years) for lack of a better word?

2) have you ever had a mystical experience through meditiation?

By mystical experience i do not mean walking your dog, riding your scooter or tango, tai-chi, etc. I understand you've experienced a sort of void-like dread on the cusp of sleep, but that is not meditation.

Having spent 30 years with RS, i presume you've had extensive experience of shabd yoga and was wondering if you have ever felt or glimpsed the shabd or its pull? Or indeed having experienced something else using another meditation technique.

Repetition is law of nature. This world runs on repetition alone. Everyday the sun rises in the east and rests in the west to reappear and repeat. The breathing exercise is no different from repetition. By repetition alone one can memorize any number of events, numbers or words.

Every living being comes in to life by repetition and multiplication of cells. Similarly, non-living things are by virtue of repetition of atoms, molecules, elements and compounds. Life has evolved from amino-acids, is by means of repetition only.

Virtually, every phenomenon on this earth involves repetition. Repetition is the fundamental unit of the fabric of this existence.

Therefore, religious arguments keep being repeated, are not something strange but follow the law of nature.

It is not copied from any book/ journal. But imo……………………………………..

Before brian and his gang wade in to demand proof or tAo makes his ridiculous and entirely predictable comments, you do raise interesting points.
We experience this world as a series of repeating events, and so we form the concept of time, the period between repeating events.
If it was not a cyclic world, OR, every event that took place had a period longer than our lifetime, how would we experience the world?
Is the experience of time simply that resulting from the repetition of events, after all, the scientific value of time (which cannot be measured directly) is in relation to repeating events (frequency for example).

George, good questions. Before meditating this morning I was re-reading an interesting book about meditation and the nature of consciousness. I'm planning on blogging about it tomorrow, so that will be a more complete response to you.

Briefly, currently I meditate because I'm fascinated with consciousness. After all, what else is there for me? If I wasn't conscious, I'd be nothing. Life and living is nothing but consciousness, really.

The book asks, "Is there such a thing as pure consciousness, consciousness without an object?" I don't know. But I enjoy experimenting with my own consciousness to see what happens when I do such and such. Like, ignore the external world, calm my mind as much as possible, and be aware of what remains.

Regarding mystical experiences: I've had a few sensations of inner sound and light, being pulled out of myself (whatever that means) into another realm or state of consciousness. I don't know whether these were truly mystical experiences, or a result of brain sensory deprivation -- as some theorize.

I feel better when I meditate. I guess that's the main reason I continue to do it, although not as long as I did before (20-30 minutes now in the morning, versus 90-150 minutes before). I look upon it, in part, as brain exercise. I work out at an athletic club three days a week. I figure it is good to do some mind exercises also -- but that isn't the only reason I meditate.

Dear Neut er all,

You are absolutely correct. Time is the fourth dimension.

If the period of the events is longer than our lifetime, frequency does not exist for us. It will be static world for all of us.

Let us experience what lies before our eyes.

with kindest regards,


Yes i'm also fascinated with consciousness, but wondered if your extensive meditation has given you insights into consciousness or the psychological workings of your own mind? 'Know thy self' is the often repeated mystic mantra.

I will await the main article you intend writing on the topic.

On the question of mystical experiences, i'd also be most interested if you could expand on the unusual lights and sounds you experienced; and if there were any accompanying feelings other than the sensory stimulation.

It would be particularly interesting to hear a description of your experience of being pulled out of yourself into a sort of different reality - that sounds quite something. How often did you experience this and do you still experience it since foregoing the RS path?

George, I see two questions here: (1) what is consciousness? and (2) how does human consciousness operate? Settling down into a "not-doing" state seems to me to be the best way of looking into the first question. What am I when I'm not busily being me?

So on the "workings" question you asked, I think it's when I've been in motion, so to speak, that I've learned the most about how my mind works. The main lesson here is that doing something is different from thinking about doing something.

I'm a touch typist. I type pretty fast and pretty accurately. Yet I have no idea where "q" or any other letter is on the keyboard, if I was asked to point out the location without moving my fingers. I know by doing -- though when I was learning how to type in high school (took a summer school course, at the urging of my mother, for which I'm lastingly grateful) I had to memorize where the keys are.

Same lesson applies to ballroom dancing. Martial arts. Skiing. Playing tennis. Riding my scooter. Tai Chi. And lots of other activities that I do or have done. Just doing, once you know how to do something, seems to work a lot better than reflective consciousness -- where a part of you is doing and a part of you is watching yourself do it.

On the mystical experience front, right after I was initiated into the RSSB system I sat down in my noisy college apartment next to a busy street in San Jose, California. I repeated the mantra as I was told. And heard a couple of loud "gongs," bell sounds, just as the initiation instructions said might happen at some point.

That point just was right away. I was thrilled. But then the sounds never returned. I have no idea what this experience means. One theory: my mind was so excited about getting initiated, and so wanting to have a mystical experience, one was manufactured unconsciously. Another theory: inner sounds (and lights) really do exist, perhaps as a subtle manifestation of the energy of consciousness that usually isn't apparent. Again, I don't know.

The being pulled out of myself actually was more like entering a void, a peaceful place of darkness, of unity. This is easier to explain non-mystically, as I did in some blog post about the neuroscience of meditation. Shutting off sensory input causes the brain to do something or other (can't remember details) that can lead to a sense of oneness, immersion in a void.

I used to meditate for a much longer time. I believe this "voidness" phenomenon requires that an area of the brain receive no stimulation for quite a while, but I could be wrong about this. This could explain why a longer meditation is more likely to result in an "immersion in the void" experience.

Thanks for your honesty Brian.

On those ringing bells, you sure you had not been smoking puff the magic dragon or there were not any churches nearby?

I've never experienced that, i've imbibed a few substances in my youth and felt feelings of euphoria, but never experience physical sensory inputs like noises or lights or bells, could be halluconogenic and LSD or mescallin might open a few doors of perception, but if its ultimate reality we are after, not sure they add much.

Dear Brian,

I think you would find this video from youtube very interesting...its a video on taboos..
It is interesting for everyone in this blog actually.

Dean Radin on Quantum Physics 1/3


I am in the academic world...if you zoom into your google map...you will see that this post comes from a uk institution. I can tell you with certainty that in the academia...from the chemical enginneer field to philosophy, to sociology this is the case as this man says. I will not elaborate more,,,its a taboo and I might come across as stupid.

To all:

For your possible further consideration:
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/3318/ .

Robert Paul Howard

Robert, thanks for the interesting link. I read it fairly quickly, skipping some parts, but got the main message about consciousness. This is one of the clearer (though still necessarily complicated) explanations of how the physical brain may produce a seemingly immaterial sensation of consciousness.

IT, I watched the video. This guy makes very little sense. He claims that evidence of psychic phenomena exist, but scientists are afraid to reveal it because they'd be considered "stupid." Huh?

The scientist who presents solid demonstrable evidence of ESP or some other psychic phenomena will garner great acclaim. It's ridiculous to argue that researchers are sitting on research that would generate a huge "Wow!" because the subject matter is taboo.

He also tries to argue that if intelligent people believe in something, then this helps prove that it is true. Well, lots of intelligent people believe in God. Does this make God true? No, demonstrable evidence is what makes something true, not the number of people who believe in it.

I've heard this tired argument before: that scientists, who are as egotistical and ambitious as the rest of us (I assume), would rather not reveal some ground-breaking fact about reality because it would overturn some cherished belief system.

Wrong. Scientists love to come up with fresh facts and new ways of understanding some phenomenon. That's how their careers flourish.

Lastly, this guy apparently is from the Institute of Noetic Sciences. I used to subscribe to their publications. Interesting stuff, but the Institute doesn't claim to be rigorously scientific. See:

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.