For a long time I thought that I shouldn't think during my meditation time.
I'd been taught to either (1) repeat a mantra, thereby keeping thoughts away, or (2) rest in a thoughtless state where the meditator gazes into inner darkness and listens to inner silence, waiting for divine light/sound to appear.
Now, though, I've expanded my meditative horizons, questioning assumptions that I used to accept, well, unquestioningly. Such as, whether it's really desirable to stop thinking while meditating.
Here's my pithy current answer: no. But it's up to the meditator. That's my answer, nobody else's.
I think (there I go again!) it comes down to one's goals.
These are going to be founded on a vision of what life in general, and meditation in particular, are all about. Some religions, mystical practices, and spiritual paths believe that we humans have (or are) a soul that's trapped by our bodies and minds.
So the goal of meditation is to release our pure consciousness from the muck and mire of materiality and mentality, things and thoughts. Detachment from this world supposedly enables the soul to become attached to God, or ethereal divinity.
However, there's another basic way of looking at what meditation is all about: becoming aware that there's no enduring separate entity which can be released from anything.
No soul, no pure consciousness, no Atman that yearns to be united with Brahman. There's only stuff happening, Thoughts are part of that stuff. As is not-thinking and doing other stuff.
So from this perspective it doesn't really matter whether we think during meditation or become thoughtless. If we continue to believe "I'm distinct and separate," the illusion of Enduring Me carries on -- bringing with it the distress of viewing ourselves and life as at odds to some degree or another.
Buddhism is big on this second way of looking at the world. Yet lots of people, me certainly included until recently, feel that thinking is a no-no (or at least to be discouraged) in Buddhist meditation.
In Bodhispaksa's engaging book, "Living as a River," which is based on the Buddhist Six Element Practice tradition, he dispels this notion.
In contemporary insight meditation, when thoughts and images come up, they are to be observed without interference and allowed to pass. The impermanence of thoughts and images is noted, but thoughts and images are not actively cultivated.
...In the Six Element Practice, in contrast to Goenka-style vipassana [insight meditation], we do in fact consciously cultivate the arising of thoughts and images. In other words, we reflect and imagine.
...All this, however, goes against a certain idea of mindfulness, which is that mindfulness involves being aware only of what arises in our present-moment experience, such as the sensations presented to our bodies and any thoughts and feelings that arise naturally.
In the Buddhist tradition, however, the mind is considered to be a sixth sense, so that when we reflect on our internal organs or on the solidity of the earth we are simply paying attention to the present-moment experience of our visual and tactile imagination. Mindfulness can include these things.
...As part of the Six Element Practice, for example, we may repeat the phrase, "This is not me; this is not mine; I am not this." A verse such as this is, as it were, dropped into the mind.
Often when teaching students a technique like this I'll suggest that they imagine they're dropping a stone into a deep well. The verse is released into the depths of the mind, plunging into the waters of the subconscious. Then we simply "listen" for a response.
The verbal thought is simply the first step in a process of reflection that begins in conscious awareness, affects our unconscious mind, and then returns to consciousness in the form of sensations, images, etc.
This makes a lot of scientific sense.
It's well known that most of our brain activity occurs behind the curtain of conscious awareness. So dropping thoughts into the well of our unconscious increases the raw material available for processing into insights, transformations, even "enlightenment."
Thinking about what appears to be real and unreal is going to guide the mind in the direction of reality. It has to. This is how Einstein said he arrived at the general theory of relativity. If it worked for him, I'm more than willing to give it a try.
Having gone to bed in a deep depression, convinced that a coherent theory was forever beyond his grasp, Einstein suddenly had the solution appear "with infinite precision, and with its underlying unity of size, structure, distance, time, space, slowly falling into place piece by piece...[until] like a giant die making an indelible impress, a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one celar vision."
His insights were subsequently expressed in mathematical and verbal form, but they began on a more visceral level. Again, the conscious mind struggles, and the subconscious delivers. Both parts of the process are crucial to the final insight that arises.
(Here's an interesting Seed Magazine article with a lengthy all caps title: "MANY OF BUDDHISM’S CORE TENETS SIGNIFICANTLY OVERLAP WITH FINDINGS FROM MODERN NEUROLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE. SO HOW DID BUDDHISM COME CLOSE TO GETTING THE BRAIN RIGHT?")
It should be mentioned Einstein did not win the Nobel Prize for the General Theory of Relativity. E= Mc2
Matter squared velocity laws were discovered by a French woman scientist
around the late 1700's/
Alexander Graham Bell did not discover the telephone, but stole a patent and replaced his name on it.
Thomas Edison did not discover the light bulb and it was actually a Polish woman
scientist that discovered the double helix
of DNA, which was stolen from her by one of the two scientists, whom was awarded the Nobel Prize.
History is not quite as it seems. Women are taken advantage of. Darshan Singh denied woman Gurus, but one of the Agra Gurus
was in fact a woman.
Even scientists can be crooks.
It seems the world is a Turkish prison
where everyone runs around stabbing
everyone else in the ass.
Then go to church on Sunday.
Did you know that during the last Bush administration the Patriot Act was passed.
It stated the government may confiscate
all gold in a financial crisis.
All gold minted after 1933. Before 1933
the gold coins must be worth at least twice
in numismatic value to escape.
This is why silver is at $35 an once now
in a recession. Gold is over $1400 an once.
Everyone knows the US Dollar will collaspe
in the near future and many developed countries such as Japan, England, France
are right on our heels.
When Nixon took us off the gold standard
it allowed the federal reserve to print money out of thin air. Our true national debt is at $90 Trillion Dollars with social security, Medicare, etc. Social Security
is a book entry as an IOU to the American
people, paid for by each new generation as a ponzi scheme.
I do not recommend buying gold. But, CEF,
a Canadian holding firm is a good stock,
with 60% gold and 40% silver. FXF Swiss Franc is better, because downside is
Go to You Tube. Punch in dollar collaspe and
Federal Reserve. Read Faber, Celente, Schiff, Keiser, Ron Paul. These guys have had incredible accuracy over many years.
You won't believe what they are saying now.
Hey Brian. Someday you may have many visiting exsatsangis coming to Oregon.
Hope there's lots of fish in your streams
up there. And, a large stock of Budweiser
and cigarettes for trading. Please keep
mine on ice.
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 22, 2011 at 03:10 AM
That was an excellent encapsulation of the economic situation by Peter Schiff in the youtube link provided above by Mike. I don't think anyone could have said it better, or more clearly and concisely in 6+ minutes.
Schiff is not a flake. He was one of the few voices warning of the real estate bubble back in 2005 before it happened.
Now is the time to prepare for disruptions caused by the inevitable currency collapse. Americans are going to have to adjust to a lower (I prefer the term "simpler") standard of living as wealth evaporates.
Try to be more self-sufficient in terms of food and basic needs. Store non-perishable barter items. Food may be as good as gold or even better.
John Fogarty was four decades prescient in his song "Bad Moon a-Risin'"
Well, that moon rose on March 19.
Posted by: Meher Caca | March 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Hi Meher Caca,
Democracy is failing. In fact it has
already failed. The USA is the next Rome.
If you collect Roman coins as I do it can
be seen in the currency.
First, most coins are silver. Then debased
to silver mixed with copper. Then copper
only. From 100 BC to 400 AD this is what
happenned to Rome. There was very little
gold coins back then and they were used
by the wealthy exclusively.
In 1963 the USA switched from silver
coins to zinc copper. In 1971 we went
off the gold standard, which proved
to be our undoing. Why ? Because now
the Federal Reserve could print money
with absolutely no value.
Before you could tade your dollars
for gold and silver. Not now.
We used to have silver notes.
The Federal Reserve buys 70% of the USA
Treasury bonds right now. They print
money out of thin air, which devalues
In June the Fed will stop QE2 buying.
Bill Gross, Pimcos president, the largest
bond buying fund in the world, said they
sold off all their USA bonds.
China and Japan hold about 1 trillion
Dollars each of our bonds.
Most money in the world is worthless NOW.
Not latter, but right now. U.K., France,
Spain, Italy, Greece etc. have huge
national debts. Japan is worst.
Long ago they passed the point of EVER
being able to pay back this money.
National debt by country.
What happens when the Fed starts selling
back to the public all the USA bonds it
has bought ?
Interest rates zoom up.
Continued next post
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 23, 2011 at 06:54 AM
Obama's campaign accepted $1 million dollars
from Goldman Sachs. Obama accepted $500,000
from each of the presidents of the 5 largest
oil companies in the world. $2,500,000 total.
The banks own the politicians, as do
the oil companies.
We have the greatest reserve of natural gas
of earth in the USA. Can run every car and
truck on earth with clean fuel extremely
cheap. T. Boone Pickens says the same.
The bailout paid back Goldman Sachs and others
by buying back their toxic assests. Now,
the taxpayer must guarantee all these bad
The rich got back their money from bad loans.
The public has to pay for this.
FXF, an ETF, Swiss Franc is best. It only
has a downside of 15%. Whereas gold
can go down 75%. Whats more, in a stock
crash, gold goes down. People sell gold
to pay their margin debt.
Gold doesn't work well in the beginning
of a crash and is highly volatile.
FXF, traded as a stock is best. Unlimited
upside in a dollar crash and only 15%
downside. Swiss Franc just hit new all time
highs against the dollar. Swiss Franc
is backed by 40% gold reserves
and their country only has 35% national debt.
Even holding 5% of your assets in Swiss Franc
could save you from alot of pain some day.
The Swiss Franc goes up in a stock crash.
Unlike gold which goes down.
Very important thing to know.
If you are holding stocks, SDS
and DXD are 2x bear etf's. If you
can act fast enough during a crash,
you need not sell your portfolio.
Just buy one of these.
My entire portfolio is completely
hedged. I make 7.5% on bonds, paid
monthly, using closed end funds sold
as stock, with an offest hedge
of SDS, 2x bear S&P 500.
So, I don't care if market goes
up or down. I am completely arbitraged.
Sym Qty Last Chg $ Mkt Value
AOD 300 5.961 -0.039 1,788.30
AWF 300 14.76 -0.02 4,428.00
CFD 50 27.80 -0.05 1,390.00
CHY 200 13.41 -0.08 2,682.00
COY 600 7.15 -0.01 4,290.00
CYE 600 7.15 0.00 4,290.00
DHF 500 4.71 0.00 2,355.00
EAD 250 10.17 0.00 2,542.50
EHI 200 12.88 -0.06 2,576.00
ERC 200 15.0395 0.00 3,000
EVV 200 15.96 -0.05 3,192.00
FFC 200 17.5592 -0.0008 3,511.84
FXF 10 109.72 0.00 1,097.20
GDO 300 18.25 0.00 5,475.00
HIO 1000 6.40 0.00 6,400.00
HIX 400 9.88 -0.02 3,952.00
HYG 80 91.67 -0.12 7,333.60
HYT 300 11.68 0.00 3,504.00
HYV 200 11.83 0.00 2,366.00
JNK 300 40.402 -0.058 12,120.60
JPS 300 8.21 -0.04 2,463.00
JTP 300 7.60 -0.01 2,280.00
MHY 300 6.37 -0.02 1,911.00
MMT 600 6.71 -0.01 4,026.00
PCEF 200 25.47 -0.03 5,094.00
PPT 600 6.4225 +0.0025 3,853.50
SDS 600 22.15 +0.1275 13,290.00
VTA 100 12.862 -0.028 1,286.20
Total Mkt Value: $112,505.64
SDS is the hedge stock. This
account is meant to keep principal
about the same, while you only
collect monthly dividends.
$683 is the monthly dividends.
SDS $13,290 is offset hedge.
So, technically the account
works with $99,000 invested.
No stock advice is given, nor
should any be inferred. Investments
may make or lose money.
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 23, 2011 at 06:55 AM
Good points and investment ideas Mike. People need to wake up before it's too late.
Republican and democratic congressmen are smart enough to know this but they don't care, by and large. They are blinded by ideology, self interest, or obligations to their corporate backers, or all of the above.
Fiscal conservatives get confused with religious conservatives, war mongers, and rapacious corporate goons and thus are not listened to by the left.
You lefties out there need to understand the economic situation. The government has no money to pay for your dreams. The tit is dry.
Posted by: Meher Caca | March 23, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Hi Meher Caca ,
Tim Geithner worked for Goldman Sachs.
Most of the people on the Federal Reserve
Board once worked for Goldman Sachs.
Obama got one million dollars campaign
donation from Goldman.
The Fed bailed out Goldman, along with
Warren Buffet. But, they did not bail
out Lehman Brothers, which caused the stock
Most of the money AIG lost was owed to
guess who ? Goldman Sachs.
The government bailed out AIG to save
Besides this, an estimated 1/2 trillion dollars was paid to Goldman for their
toxic assets by the Fed.
The Fed did not have to disclose and Bernanke
told the Congress he would not disclose
where he paid 2 1/2 trillion dollars for
toxic assets. Ron Paul asked Bernanke
and he said "NO", he wouldn't tell.
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 23, 2011 at 02:47 PM