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April 24, 2019

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There is just so much to confound the mind/brain with regards to this topic. Frankly, it gets quite trippy for me. Here is a fascinating video about consciousness and reality that I find impossible to summarize but it is worth your while if and when you have an extra 10 minutes to spare. https://youtu.be/tlTKTTt47WE

Hi Brian
Meditation practices can help improve our capacity to process the above and help modulate those internal stimuli. And at the same time find inner peace and happiness doing so.

It is not difficult to understand. And this is why meditation research has demonstrated that cognitive performance and perception improve with mental practice.

Interestingly, meditation practice shuts down certain parts of the brain while activating others.

So, there are healthy things we can do to perceive with less filtering, less variation caused by our mental state, etc. Long term meditators tend to have an unusual amount of control over neural firing. Controlling reactive thinking, so that one thought doesn't cause us to to go down a trail of emotional reactive and disfunctional thoughts. It's no surprise this is the benefit of practicing putting your mind onto a different thought, even if that thought is the "now". And it takes practice to get good at it.

So if we must live in this gooey prison house called the brain, there are things we can do to help improve the functioning of the brain.

To see things "as they are" might be considered a metaphor for seeing things with a little less subjectivity. A good anthropologist learns to see and record what is before them and to try to put aside their tendency to react without thinking and judge new things with old familiar filters.

Observation studies for example, involve recording the actions that are happening moment by moment without trying to overlay a conclusive interpretation.

But this requires the practice of putting our conscious thinking into observation mode, and to stay focused on what we are seeing.

So you can take old culture bound metaphors from the past and understand their very real corrolates in more objective terms.

Mystic experiences, for example, are travels through parts of the brain that are only accessible under controlled conditions through such practice.

So you might not actually be leaving the body. But you may feel that you are floating or flying, have visions of the heavens, or other regions and beings reliably, repeatedly and under your control (you can't change them, but you can control access to them) .

To have controllable access to these internal experiences is simply a matter of practice, and a brain that is hardwired with an aptitude for such things. When it is a daily event it is no longer imaginary. Because it is reliable.

But what we interpret, for example, as a flood of light, or a vision of the stars most certainly happens within the brain, but it is something deep within the brain. That's a great adventure all of its own. We simply need to separate the actual events from the symbolic and culture bound descriptions of them.

The different sounds, for example, become very reliable. We hear the flute when we aren't distracted. Focus on that leads to the wind, and if we can leave our daily activity to sit in meditation, the bell, the conch, and then a reverberating big Ben bell that feels as though the whole place is vibrating. Focus on that leads to lightening, then they lightening, which we learn is under our control because it's actually our own concentration wavering. But not at have something to focus n on, the new light. Focus on that then becomes a flood of light, we are pulled up into stars, the moon, the sun, an exploding star and to into a shower n of multi colored stars... Etc..

These aren't imaginary events. They are real neurological events. Meditating can give us access and control over them.

When we see the Master within for our inspection, it is a detailed as any outer experience. When we are pulled b through an immense dark curving tunnel that seems to take forever and can be at first terrifying, we realize there is a reality to this. So whatever the brain is doing, it is doing so with full performance. And hence we realize that these are hardwired places within the brain. That going there is also healthy for the brain, and gives us rest and recuperation, so that our worldly concerns become irrelevant in light of this greater experience are all positive benefits of practice.

I can't say why some people have different levels of experience, since my own is purely based on whether I'm keeping up with my practice and maintaining a stable and peaceful lifestyle. But that some can do this and others cannot can only be differences in the brain's aptitude for such inner experience. Some people have an aptitude for skiing, for mathematics, for chess, some for writing, and some for going into this internal pathway. We can remove all the religious language and simply understand it in neurological and experiential terms.

Very interesting post Brian.

I am reading Waking up from Sam Harris also..

Tathata can not be understood by the intellect, only pointed at.


Controlling reactive thinking, so that one thought doesn't cause us to to go down a trail of emotional reactive and disfunctional thoughts. It's no surprise this is the benefit of practicing putting your mind onto a different thought, even if that thought is the "now". And it takes practice to get good at it.

Interesting. Personally, I've always experienced an insidious kind of
entanglement when trying to oust a "bad thought with a different
thought-- even a pleasant one. The "baddie" just steps back into the
shadows, waits for a distraction, then jumps back in the ring to renew
its counter punches.

The only relief comes when consciousness makes me aware of a
thought and helps me let go moment to moment. All of this happens
in the timeless "now" . I'm filled with gratitude for that help.

@Dungeness,

“The timeless now”... I love it 😊

Just a little Zenniness I found in a book...

“Perception selects, and makes the world you see. It literally picks it out as the mind directs. The laws of size and shape and brightness would hold, perhaps, if other things were equal. They are not equal. For what you look for you are far more likely to discover than what you would prefer to overlook.”

“Reality needs no cooperation from you to be itself.”

And, Brian, your home—just the little you showed—looks very peaceful.

Hi Dungeness
You wrote
"The only relief comes when consciousness makes me aware of a
thought and helps me let go moment to moment. All of this happens
in the timeless "now" . I'm filled with gratitude for that help."

Funny how more of that happens when we choose to spend time on that wonderful thought...wherever it came from.

And when we seriously decide not to think about things that waste our time or debase us, an alternative thought arises.

But as you write, where did that other notion that arises, that we could think differently, come from?

Just finished re-reading "The Unknowing Sage" Faqir Chand by David Lane. Faqir's beliefs and teachings towards the end of his life began aligning with Buddhist thought, especially with the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Faqir was an interesting being who was ahead of his time I think. I wish he was born 50 years later and he could have really turned things upside down. Refreshing to hear his frankness, openness about who and what he was. Didn't care if you gave a crap about what he said and asked anyone to come and explain to him a better way, and he would adopt it. Fascinating.

No guru complex with him and very approachable. Wasn't afraid of saying he didn't know. Didn't even live in the mandir he built for his disciples. Paid and lived in his own house a few minutes away. Unbelievable soul. Something I think is missing in today's climate of the guru business.

Thanks for letting me share.

In Search Of, thanks for mentioning "The Unknowing Sage." I'm familiar with him from Lane's writings, but I've never read the book. Just ordered it from Amazon.

One thing that's often overlooked about Urgyen's Buddhist method: it requires one-on-one transmission from the enlightened teacher to the student. I believe Harris mentions this. In other words, you can't just read about Urgyen's teaching and expect to really get it. It's something that has to be intimately passed on in person to have any real impact on the psyche of the seeker.

" It's something that has to be intimately passed on in person to have any real impact on the psyche of the seeker".

And this does happen, it is not a myth or fanciful teaching. Zen is described in fact as "a transmission outside of scriptures". The transmission happens but there is still work to do. What is transmitted is the truth of causality and is something that can not be imagined. It is real and serves for a lifetime.

Mike

But when the teachings are given Vipassana forinstance..
No teacher is needed anymore..
One can just do and live it..

Living a compassionate respectful life in clarity is a profound way of living.

Hi 'tence spepper'
You wrote
"Own your own perspective. It should stand upon its own legs. Be ready to answer detailed questions.

If you saw Jesus in the clouds, be ready to answer sincere questions with sincere detail about what he looked like, when, what he said, what you drank, injected or smoked before you saw him."

This sounds odd familiar and quite agreeable. But who is the mirror behind this reflection? Is it in peace? Or tense and rippled?

I have never been impressed with any of Brian's writings about Buddhism that I have ever read.

Okay, I now amend my previous comment. This article is really impressive: https://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2019/03/vipassana-vs-surat-shabd-yoga-meditation-i-pick-a-winner.html

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