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April 13, 2019


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Hi Brian
You wrote
"There is no enduring soul or self to be liberated. As Harris says in his book, genuine spirituality is realizing this. Thus a belief in the existence of soul leads one farther away from the truth, not closer. This is basic Buddhism.."

The idea that there is no self, Anatta, is fundamental to Buddhism.
But also fundamental to Buddhism the endless cycle of Samsara, where something does continue into rebirth and experiences that painful cycle. If we really do return, we don't remember, so does it really matter?

But nirvana is the liberation from that rebirth, liberation from the cycle of samsara, in Buddhism.

Buddha, as the story goes, realized that the spiritual leaders of his time advocated practices that would simply result in a better birth, not true liberation from that (nirvana).

In Western Secular Buddhism all those Buddhist teachings about liberation from rebirth is considered part of a theory that isn't actually in the here-and-now present experience of most people. So it is viewed as irrelevant and a mental distraction from our actual experience.

Our consciousness is reborn all the time. And in the case of Alzheimers', can be destroyed altogether. Our experience is largely constructed by our brain, and suffers the instability and unreliability of this magnificent bag of goo we call the brain.

In Sant Mat all considerations of such things as soul in theory are also largely considered to be mental conceptions. Meditation serves the purpose of taking us beyond mind so that we can also find liberation from birth and death.

If you consider that our consciousness is really a mental construction, then it is easy to understand that soul is not mind or consciousness. But soul as we describe it is a mental notion, therefore it isn't real.

But what is it, then, if "we" are destroyed at death yet return again in a different form?

Hence the concept of soul.

But if they're is something beyond thought, how can we experience that more permanent reality, or whatever it is that continues through Samsara, the circle of transmigration, our potential permanence?

The secret, if you can call it that, lies in changing your point of view. Raising your vantage point. And that can be done with a number of different kinds of meditation.

Meditation is in part changing our perspective. This is done by what we choose to look at.

We choose to watch our thoughts. Or we choose to focus on a specific thought, etc. In these processes there are, initially at least, a few similar dynamics.

But in the main, we simply become more aware of either our inner or outer experience. Meditation changes your consciousness simply by being able to see at least some of your own thoughts from an independent perspective.

In some ways all our experience is inner. Whatever we perceive is happening inside this brain.

With a little focus we don't see the table, we see four partial circles. But in time we may see four openings, and then realize the whole page is actually empty regardless of color, and it's nothing but a portal covered in sensory qualities. And in time we enter that portal and witness something completely different that is more stable and reliable than page, or our own thoughts and sensory perceptions.

That's how focus works. Constant focus takes you deeper into what you are focusing on, until it takes you somewhere else.

At some point the photo is just dots on a page. And the whole page is a flat mental construction.

You may not have a soul. "You" might not actually exist as a separate entity. But if you can experience that liberation, it's nirvana. And that is absolutely permanent.

Our consciousness is reborn all the time. And in the case of Alzheimers', can be destroyed altogether.

Spence, did you perhaps mean much of the awareness associated
with consciousness is increasingly impaired rather than entirely gone?

From a lay perspective I thought I understood Alzheimers to be just
diminishing memory awareness but in some cases not extending to
distant memories, for instance, and with many cognitive faculties
still intact, able to enjoy music, recognize cherished objects, respond to
affectionate words, etc.

You do not have a soul,because you have to work hard to search the soul which has lost her identity.So,it is easy to say that there is no soul.No soul,no meditation,no sitting,no hard work.Enjoy this life.There is nothing after life.No problem to go other species after this life.That is a theory.This world is real.So enjoy .

Dear Brian
Sweet Larry
This is you at your best. I really like this blog. Will catch up on the links later.
I’m looking for some form of meditation that is outside of the simran based RSSB. This looks like it hits the spot.
I’ve ordered the book.
Thank you 🙏
Peace Goodwill and Strong Meditation to all at the Church of the Churchless

Hi Dungeness
There are moments within a single second where you and I are entirely unconscious.. Dozens. As the brain deteriorates, there are more of them.

We live our lives largely unconscious, and large blocks of life in a state of hypnosis. Try binge watching TV and then reflecting afterwards, "where did those hours go?!" It's not good for the brain.

So consciousness only appears continuous to us, because it's all we remember. The brain works hard to reconstruct it all the time.

And it's being destroyed all the time as well.

Health influences that.. The moments we are actually conscious.

And meditation is a practice to help us see those moments we lost consciousness... And to try to stay awake, aware, 'mindful' continuously for more than a few seconds.

When that happens our consciousness naturally begins to withdraw to what Maharaji called the eye center. We just experience it as being here now, centered and awake.

And that place itself is peace, and readiness. Itself it is a form of withdrawal. Focus is itself a form of withdrawal to our center.

And any decent meditation serves the function of helping that to happen. More concentrated, more focused, we are more aware, more awake, more conscious.

If we can learn to experience that without pushing, letting it follow its own path, remarkable things happen. Withdrawal is actually natural. Our brain also works hard to prevent that, to keep us moving from object to object. But our brain also has the natural pathway back to the center, which we can control through meditation: The protocol and programming to close down varies tasks as we stay calmly focused. The result is we have greater awareness. What Dr. Benson labeled the Relaxation Response.

We use some form of disciplined practice to let that happen, to stay in that mode where the brain /sensory mechanisms turn off one by one and we become more aware as a result. Like shutting down tasks on a computer, leaving more processing power for a larger single task. And that task is already a program to take us beyond the stars. But it only runs under very stable conditions. And we only get to the higher levels of that game working through the lower ones.

It may well turn out those regions are part of the brain. They must be.

But it is a part science is only beginning to understand. Perhaps the most magnificent part.

We live our lives largely unconscious, and large blocks of life in a state of hypnosis. Try binge watching TV and then reflecting afterwards, "where did those hours go?!" It's not good for the brain.

Hi Spence,

You're right and I'm swearing off all the talk shows right now :)

Amazing how we say "where did the time go" when enjoying
conversation with a friend too. Only no guilt afterwards.

Sam Harris a Buddhist or atheist?

Buddhists are atheists, since Buddhism doesn’t believe in a god. So Sam Harris embraces both atheism and Buddhism.

To say Buddhism is atheistic is incorrect.

To say Buddhism is not atheistic is also incorrect

If you understand this perhaps you have realized the root ( Samkhya ) and are in accord with the valley spirit which nourishes all life.

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