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September 21, 2019

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Dr. Sood writes
"Could these states and visions just be a product of the brain's electrical activity?"
Yes, just as the aha moment of every great invention or symphony, or the pure joy of a sunset, and the warmth of a friend's smile . Every wonderful invention, every work of art.

All of it comes through the brain.

Unfortunately, just as a work of art is a very complex interaction of history, skill, biology, and environment, and could not be adequately explained by biochemistry, the same is true for mystical experience, particularly those that are the result of years of practice, and which can be repeated at will.

The problem of dismissing any internal experience in this way runs a terrible risk. It enables those who like to say "or doesn't exist"

But if Dr. Sood and others work with long term meditators, then in time the opportunity exists to replicate the experiences through biochemical means. Probably at the same time that modern biochemistry will enable memory transfers, personality and entire PhD educations with a single injection.

Until then, the mystery can be unraveled more practically in bringing to light the health advantages of practice.

Brian some thoughts re the Loch Kelly book -
‘The waves and particles are made of the invisible potential of the quantum field of Self-essence…..
thou shalt not invoke quantum theory in an area where it has no application. Like, awareness and mindfulness’. 

I got the impression on reading your post with info from Kelly that he/she were angling towards a bigger picture/foundational view - hence Self-essence with a big S. Sounds pretty flowery but possibly a reasonable term for the ‘what is’. Most folk taking a scientific approach to meditation must surely come to how ‘awareness’ exists/is. Taking a purely physical view, when you keep breaking it down smaller and smaller, what we get to are energy fields, behaviour of which can be explained by quantum theories. It would seem to me therefor that awareness and one process to access/develop such (mindfulness), could well be inherent within quantum mechanics, well that’s my take on it.

‘In families with a faith-based practice, these teachers are considered a conduit to God. Annoying or disbelieving them or their instructions would be considered worse than heresy’.

I think Sood describes the cult-like approach and deeply ingrained beliefs around guru status etc well. It fits with the view of many of the commentators on this blog.

‘when I heard about people with no meditation experience who were perceiving the deepest samadhi states as a result of acute stroke’.

I’ve certainly heard of visions/experiences people have particularly during serious illness.
I would be interested to hear more about the nature of the ‘perceiver’ he describes by those having acute stroke - deepest samadhi??

‘Using the scientific method polished with common sense I came up with a few key ideas for how to better align our understanding of mindfulness with twenty-first-century challenges so it can better serve resilience.
Educate people about their brains, emphasizing how our neural traps generate negative emotions and hurt our attention.

Me - Pretty basic psychological stuff. Be good to see what he means by ‘neural traps’ and how he describes this (if he does) in terms of neuroscience.

(2) Offer different (briefer and deeper) attention practices that are easier to practice and adopt, that provide uplifting emotions, and that center on relationships.

Briefer and deeper - again wonder what he has in mind here. Going deep quickly may not be the best thing for some people given that they may gain insight into the nature of their ‘self’ (small s) and not have the tools/training/help to deal with it.
Be interesting to see what he presents in regard to a brief, deep practice that results in uplifting emotions and is centered on relationships - some sort of combination of moving meditation with gospel singing? :-) What sort of relationships is he on about?

(3) Return mindfulness to its ecosystem in the company of compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, relationships, hope, inspiration, and courage’.

Yes adoption and then application of these terms are great for supporting resilience. Their interaction could be described as an ecosystem. Yet they can all be generated in ways other than use of mindfulness. Also, they are attributes that arise through the practice of mindfulness imo, and each in itself (or most of them) can be a particular focus in mindfulness practice as in Buddhist teachings.

One of the most interesting and insightful takes on the process and its outcome was posted recently by AP they wrote:
“as the practice of "effortless mindfulness" deepens, one begins to discover subtler and subtler layers of conception in the mind, all the way down to the levels that construct so-called "physical reality." At that point, the mind becomes free of the illusion that physical reality can be responsible for the construct we commonly describe as "consciousness." This freedom comes not by inference, but by direct insight”.

This is both purpose and outcome of meditation in my view. A ‘briefer and deeper’ practice that can safely/sanely give ‘that’ - would be really useful- though probably not for meditational dabblers.

Best wishes

This Amit Sood guy sounds sane. A rare quality these days. Sadly, he had to use the title "his holiness" when he should have just called the dalai lama guy by his name, Tenzin.

That quantum quote is hilarious. I got the feeling from the parts of that book you quoted in the other article that it was a bit new-age, but "the quantum field of Self-essence" really outdoes the other stuff.

Google just recently created some super powerful quantum computing system that is going to be used to kill millions of humans someday, like all technology does, which will make the word quantum a lot less funny in the future. Let's laugh while we can.

Jesse, you seem to have a perverse obsession with peoples' names, even the names they get from their parents.

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