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August 11, 2021

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It's difficult to think that as we get older, this body and mind will, either gradually, or in more dramatic steps, fall apart.

"Growing old is not for the faint hearted."

And yet, from sixty to ninety, that's three decades of living with various machinery that functions at varying degrees of not today, not this hour, or not at all.

Still, with each passing year there are gifts, internal gifts of understanding and the joy in every moment.

When the great choreographer, Agnes DeMille, was paralyzed by a stroke she wrote that her work ended. And when it did the freedom and joy she experienced was without boundary. She wrote that she thought it was good that younger people did not discover that joy, because if they did, they would lose the drive to accomplish anything.

There are such gifts in moments of utter loss.

My biggest mistake was an affair that destroyed an already troubled marriage.

It was big, public.. I was a partner in a firm and so was she.

I've written about it here before.

For decades, I would awaken to the memory of my ex wife crying over the phone when I could not deny it. It has haunted me ever since that day


I was never good with secrets. That was the most painful day of my out-of-control life.

She asked for a divorce immediately.

I elected give my wife everything I owned at the time, including my ownership units in the company. My attorney made me sign a document that I did this against her advice.

But I had committed a crime.

As difficult as it was to feel that I, who had helped the company grow, so that many young executives could marry and begin raising their own families, had not only sinned against my wife and son, but against them all, the worst was yet to come: When my son was eight and asked me to tell him what had happened.

I knew what I was going to say, I knew the day would come. I told him I had committed a crime, as surely as any crime defined by law. That I have lived to pay that debt in whatever way I could. And that had I to live my life over I would have found another way.

How I wished I could reach back in time to my younger self! I would have shouted, "Don't you understand how this will harm everyone? Including your son? You don't know this now, but even if you can forgive yourself, which you will have to in order to survive, you will live with this damage every day for the rest of your life? That this will set your destiny in a way you will be unable to recover from? " But I also said to Sam that I could not find a way to get along with his mom. We could not find peace under one roof. All I could do was create a place for Sam, the most peaceful I could create. And so that is what I have tried to go, acknowldging that my sins my own alone.

My spirituality forced me to be honest, but did not protect me from my own weaknesses.

But it has been, gradually, a source of sanctuary and strength. And peace. And joy.

This life is fleeting, and there are more important things to live for. And we must deal honestly with who and what we are, however we find out. The great joy is to discover we are more than this, that we can awaken to more than these flawed bags of clay.

A point of Clarification. The affair was with another partner in the firm. "She" refers to that partner. Our firm had five partners.

Well, I have a close friend in his 50s who recently had urinary problems, and visiting the doc he found he has stage 4 prostate cancer.

I don't know what else to suggest for your condition but a keto/carnivore diet. It has worked for other people for prostate issues.

https://meatrx.com/man-heals-prostate-enlargement-hypothyroidism-carnivore-diet/

It may sound extreme and very un-yogic to eat this way. I know, as I was sold on vegetarianism being the only sane way to eat since I was a teenager. I was an avid vegan for many years. But I'm now convinced that we were meant to eat meat. I thought it was a totally crazy idea. But, I've seen the testimonials of hundreds of people who suffered from this or that health problem for many years with no relief until they started eating meat.

I'd missed this post.

Yep, apparently "catheter depression" is a thing. An uncle of mine had to get one a couple months back. Very cheerful dude, at one time very popular with the ladies, and despite the age difference, a friend of mine. Amazingly, and wholly unexpectedly, he's come down with depression. He of all people. He's getting treatment, for both things, and I've every confidence he'll bounce back.

Hang in there, Brian. I'm sure you'll do fine. Also, and although I've only the sketchiest idea about this myself, apparently surgery can, if it becomes necessary, make a huge difference, gets you back to pre-catheter form. Or so my uncle tells me.

Thanks for sharing about the preventable nature of this thing. That suggests routine annual prostrate check-ups might be a good idea, when one's older, I don't know, 55, 60, 65, something like that?

My good wishes, Brian, for a complete recovery from this thing. (That would probably involve surgery, though, full and complete recovery I mean, per my sketchy and second-hand knowledge of this business.)

Appreciative Reader, prostate surgery requires a functioning bladder. Otherwise there isn't an ability for urine to pass through the urethra via the pressure exerted by the bladder.

That's why I was so disturbed when the second-opinion doctor told me, "You don't have a prostate problem, you have a bladder problem." A prostate problem often or usually can benefit from surgery. There is no surgery for an atonic bladder that loses its muscle tone. There's a chance I could benefit from prostate surgery, but just a small one, since my bladder tone is so poor.

The bladder has smooth muscle, which doesn't recover tone once it is lost, as other muscles can. So when someone's bladder goes atonic, that's a lifelong condition with no "cure" except a catheter. As I said in the essay, I knew that I had a prostate problem, but the bladder problem was an unpleasant surprise.

Also, the reason you missed this post was that after I published it, I unpublished it for a while, as I wasn't sure whether it belonged on this blog. Today I decided that it did, so republished it.

Spence, very courageous of you to share those personal details so openly. You're an honorable man.

Not my business, obviously. But here's a perspective, that I offer because it might help you blame yourself less.

You know that old saw about adultery in the mind being no less adulterous? I'm not religious, but that seems wise, that idea. Point being, someone who's open to an affair at all, either because the marriage is troubled or even by temperament, would only be perpetuating a facade by holding back. Not saying you did right to give in to temptation, but suggesting that the marriage was probably broken already, for you to have considered the affair at all.

Sorry, not to intrude. Just, this POV might help you blame yourself less over what happened, especially given that you acted honorably afterwards.

Spence, thanks so much for sharing your story. I do remember seeing a comment from you that mentioned the affair, but I'd forgotten about it. It takes courage to be so open about such a distressing event. I often say to myself that I need to give up my regret about the past, but this is much easier said than done. Other people tell me the same thing, to not live in the past.

So long as we have memories, it's really tough not to feel regret. And some regret is healthy, as it helps keep us from making the same sort of mistake. I take some solace in my belief that likely we humans don't possess free will, or at least not as much as we consider that we do. However, for me this is a case of a philosophical understanding being less powerful than my emotion of regret. At least, to me regret feels more like an emotion than a thought, because it carries with it such a strong feeling.

I guess I'm fortunate that I'm able to tell myself a reasonable story that my bladder would have been nonfunctional regardless of whether I'd gotten quicker medical attention. In the case or an affair, obviously it is more difficult to think that the affair would have happened regardless of what someone did. Again, unless we accept the absence of free will or the presence of unavoidable destiny/karma.

Oh. But, is the bladder thing separate from and independent of the prostrate thing, or was the one the result of the other?


Of course, your doctor knows best. I only hope there's some way to bounce back, although given what you say I wouldn't know how exactly. My very best wishes, Brian.

Appreciative Reader, as noted in my essay, the second-opinion doctor said that a pocket in the bladder wall was caused by the bladder muscle trying to push urine past a partial blockage caused by an enlarged prostate. So yes, a prostate problem can lead to a bladder problem.

In my case, I'd assumed that the problems I had with frequent urination and with difficulty starting to urinate were both caused by my prostate problem. Actually, it now appears that my bladder was losing its muscle tone also, a bigger problem. Like they say, hindsight is 20-20. Unfortunately, the past becomes clear only after it is past.

@Spence
Thanks for sharing that very human story. I have a slightly different perspective. You said you committed a crime and payment was required. In a certain way that may be true but not as you have described.

IMO your crime was: “not being unconditionally loving and teaching everyone around you the same.”

Conditional love means I will love you if... if you do the right thing.

Unconditional love means you are loved no matter what you do. That’s a big order. But without that our lives end up miserable.

No blame — unconditional love, that is the next step for most of humanity.

To live with people who will love you unconditionally no matter what, and to be that way with them changes everything. If you don’t have that you’ve made a big mistake. A crime that must be paid for.

It is not constantly altering your behavior so it won’t trigger others.

Really enjoyed reading this post and everyone’s comments. When I say “enjoyed” I mean that it really captivated me. Covered a lot of areas—physical pain, mental distress, social disruption, with humor and resolution.

I’ve had a lot of bladder issues in my life. but haven’t been catheter dependent so I can’t say “I know what you’re going through”. I don’t fully understand but certainly appreciate how uncomfortable it can make one feel. Gosh, just reading about using a catheter stresses me out.

The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys, so when things get backed up, hormones start releasing improperly in a big way. The depression/anxiety thing isn’t just psychological. There’s some biology at play with urinary issues. It’s complex. You can Google it. :)

Sorry, you’re having to deal with this but very happy that you have so many wonderful things in your life as well.

Hmm 🤔 the worst “thing” I’ve ever done spanned two years. You remember, the two years I drank almost every day and randomly blabbed way too many of my darkest thoughts and secrets on this blog. Yep.

I can laugh about it now. And I don’t feel the need to “confess” anything more.

It’s like I was temporarily an alcoholic for two years and then one day the cravings just disappeared. I’m 48 and I’ve never had an addictive personality. Never had a problem with addiction before those two years and don’t have a problem now. I didn’t understand alcoholism or drug addiction before experiencing it for myself, but now I have a great deal of empathy for people struggling with addiction. And I’ve gotta say, I don’t believe it’s necessarily always a permanent condition. That’s contrary to what most support groups will tell you, however, your brain chemistry can change and then your cravings change as well.

This particular post’s honesty and acceptance of imperfection reminds me why I love Independent Films. The really good ones have carefully developed characters that on some level you can relate to. Whereas, the glossy Hollywood blockbusters often leave you feeling drained and disconnected.

Thanks for sharing your story.

Go too often, and it's trouble too.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/3451581/why-you-should-avoid-just-in-case-pee-bladder/

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Hi 271 days

Yes, among other things this taught me more about unconditional love. Absolutely. I thought I understood it, but I did not. I didn't understand what it means to be selfless. To live selflessly. I thought I did. But I did not.

I'm still learning. I can say this about devoting my life to my son. It has turned out to be the wisest choice I could have ever made. And the greatest source of happiness. It is a smaller life but a happy one.

Sometimes a relationship that hasn't worked for years becomes acute. Had I only sought professional help at the time! I did so after the break up, and it helped also, but it was too late by then to salvage the marriage. We had tried going to therapy together years earlier. And I asked if we could go again but she refused. I should have gone anyway.

So each day I certainly accept it as an undeserved blessing and do what I can to be helpful and kind to all around me.

When my son and I pray at night we thank God for those we love, and even those we don't love, and thank God for helping us learn to love everyone as he does.

Hi Brian Ji!
When we become the person we thought we would never, ever be, that is the nightmare. And we are haunted by the memories of harm, and hurt of those we hurt. So this is why meditation for me has been so important, simply so I could function, and be a father to my son. It has helped me to understand the function of prayer in the lives of others who have gone through trauma. In my case my trauma was my own doing.

So whatever I was given I didn't value, and I would say more is often given to those too weak to survive here otherwise. We don't see it. When we do we are humbled.

It's not a symbol of advancement, but of helplessness.


When that same problem
started here
14 years ago

I asked My Lover Maharaji
to fix it, and HE did

7

Dungeness, thanks for clarifying that in such unequivocal terms.

Spence, you too I guess, since you did post two comments in response to my post, but did not touch on those two questions, I guess you don't know, either.

I'm surprised that you don't try to find out about this, and with life-and-death urgency. I mean, I'm pretty much interested, even though my interest is essentially casual in nature, at least so far: while you guys, this RSSB business is a major part of what makes up your worldview.

And you, Spence, you speak of going "Let's find out", and of scientific investigation, et cetera. I'm surprised that, given that, and further given your broad familiarity with, as well as association with (even if somewhat peripherally) the medical research establishment, you don't try to find out what the cutting edge science on this says. And beyond, to seeing if further more focused science can be initiated.

That is, your "let's find out" seems to comprise of simply immersing yourself more into your meditation and your visions. And to an extent swallowing, to a degree, the ad hoc story that RSSB teaches. Now immersing yourself in meditation, that I can understand, sure; but wouldn't the "let's find out" spirit and the "let's do science" spirit that you invoke, lead you straight to, along with your meditation, also trying to find out the actual, objective answers to those questions?

(You keep talking about the research you yourself did, and quote other similar research, but those are out-and-out nothingburgers. Those are simply incidental non sequiturs, the research that shows that meditation in general has salutary effects on body and mind. That's bona fide science too, but it pales to utter insignificance next to the question of what RSSB experience actually represents.)


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To be clear, I'm not demanding of either of you that you produce evidence-backed explanation of RSSB theology, or that you must devote yourselves to finding out such. Whether to do that or not is your call entirely. What I'm saying, is expressing surprise, amazement even, that, given everything that this means to you, finding out about this isn't a matter of life-and-death urgency for you.


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Find out what? For clarity, let me repeat:

(1) What is the RSSB masters' claim (or explanation) of how it is they came to know about the theology that RSSB teaches.

and

(2) What reasons do you have for believing that RSSB-mandated visions (those sounds, those lights, those bearded masters within) are in any way desirable, are in any shape or form something to be sought to be cultivated, and whose manifestation in someone in any way says anything at all about the one having those visions. I mean, what's the big deal about those specific visions --- and this question not asked rhetorically, but with intention to understand, clearly, exactly what is the deal there, why those specific visions are somehow "good".


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Like I said, I'm not holding a gun to your heads about these questions. Your call, how much importance you wish to place on them. But if you'd like to discuss how come you guys are all so "meh, whatever, don't know" about questions that, given your focus, one would expect to take on life-and-death urgency for you, then I'm curious to hear that discussion.

@ AR

Remembering vaguely something said by a monk in an documentary years ago on the spiritual sanctuaries on the peninsula Athos, i tried to find it on Internet.

Surfing around, listening to monastic greek orthodox chants, I came across the name of an canonized greek ortodox Saint by the name of Paisios venerated by the public for his geopolitical prophecies among others.

What is going on in these orthodox corners of Christianity makes whatever happens in Beas seen as innocent child's play.

In beas the restrict themselves to the inner world but those orthodox saints have things to say about our geopolitical future that makes one shiver.

It makes one also realise how selective people are ... in giving attention to one and completely being ignorant about others.

Search the internet with "Elder Paisiios" ... read here and there and you will understand what it means to be a science and religion CONSUMER... because that is what all people are that are not scientist or theologian, priest themselves .... having no understanding of either, ... having their daily religious/scientific hamburger

@ AR

Try this one ... hahahah
https://orthochristian.com/133779.html

Be sure to have some strong coffee at hand .... hahahah

Hello, um.

Just checked out the wiki entry for the Elder Whatsisname, as well as your link above, and Wow! This is seriously cuckoo stuff.

Thanks for posting about this. I'd never heard about ---- *looks up name* ---- this Paisius person. It's the sort of thing that everyone who is interested in crazy beliefs should know about. (And that includes everyone who's interested in spirituality, because spirituality comes so liberally peppered with this kind of utter insanity, and therefore these instances serve as object lesson of what to keep well away from.)

What takes the cake is this crackpot was less than 100 years ago. And apparently a whole gaggle of even nuttier crackpots/ gullible idiots got together and actually canonized him less than a decade ago.


-------


(Of course, I've taken the easy way out, and directly pronounced the man crazy and his fans gullible idiots. That, if I'm going to be strictly honest, isn't methodologically sound, even if in practice it is 99.99999999999% likely to be spot on. To be methodologically correct I'd need to actually look the whole clutch of stuff that Elder Whatsisname actually prophesied, then do some fact-checking on the reportage of those prophesies, and after that see how those played out in practice. But I'm damned if I'll go out on an expedition to find bigfoot so that I may announce in methodologically correct form that bigfoot is myth, and nor am I going to book a seat aboard Richard Branson's space ferry so that I can report back in methodologically correct fashion that the earth isn't flat.)

Amazing. Food for thought, this kind of insanity, of the kind of utter nonsense people will swallow.

@ AR
>>What takes the cake is this crackpot was less than 100 years ago. And apparently a whole gaggle of even nuttier crackpots/ gullible idiots got together and actually canonized him less than a decade ago.<<

Watch your adjectives AR .... :-)) ... keep them in check

One of the reasons to bring this up is the very fact that there are thousands of orthodox people all around the world, related to the three abrahamic religions, that are not only awaiting, but also trying to make things happen, if possible in their own life time, that is believed to be ordered by their God to happen.

The return of their founders, the restoration of their territories etc etc.

Religion AR, is not a thing to be rational discussed that much as it is and has always been a cultural and social tool for people to create for themselves what they want in gods name.

That is also why most of these religions hate own their mystics that are only interested in inner experiences, experiences that are harmless.

While you are discussing whether these things can be rational explained or scientifically proved ... others are planning how to bring the armageddon to live.

@ AR

Just have a look at what is going on in Afghanistan, what has happened in Syria and for long in the occupied territories of Palestine ... the religious forces that are controlling the stage. as it was done in the past by crusaders, missionaries etc etc spreading and defending Christianity ... have a look in your own country.

That are all concrete facts to worry about and the fact how those who only have hear saying at hand use or misuse what they hear without understanding what they hear.,... against THAT background inner experiences are like playing music when the titanic is sinking

"The world would be a much better place if everyone simply did as I say."
William F. Buckley

I think we need to be careful about pointing to what we perceive as the obvious ignorance, stupidity and irrationality of others.....And picking the most obvious examples to justify our own blinkered thinking.

Because most truth lies in the unknown. What we don't actually know yet. And history has proven that many scientific facts were entirely irrational to scientifically minded "rational thinkers" at the time they were first considered.

So the fault is not simply in people with wrong notions, but with folks who believe they have an unassailable handle on the truth, when in fact we just don't know.

"Your idea is crazy. But it's not crazy enough to be true."
Niels Bohr

"What an amateur is, is a lover of a subject. I’m a lover of facts. The fact is the savior, as long as you don’t jam it into some preconceived pattern. The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge."
Daniel Boorstin

When we point to the ignorance and false beliefs of others, and conclude they are all wrong, as an effort to defend what we believe is truth, in fact we are just defending our own ignorance and false beliefs.

If you are doing science, you can then speak to that.

"...While you are discussing whether these things can be rational explained or scientifically proved ... others are planning how to bring the armageddon to live.
(...)
Just have a look at what is going on in Afghanistan..."

-------

Oh, agreed, um. Like Dungness had said upthread, and like I'd agreed with him wholeheartedly, there are cults and cults, and there are religions and religions: some are far more toxic than others are, and that should never be lost sight of, and the relatively harmless ones must not be conflated with the more toxic ones.

Also, and like you yourself say here, these issues are complex. These are geopolitical issues, and often issues to do with personal advancements of specific individuals, that are twined in with religion.

That said, I think permitting irrationalities, even the harmless ones, prepares the ground in which the more toxic varieties can thrive as well, so it's best to not give in to irrationalities at all.

Still, like you rightly point out, people like us who discuss the pros and cons of relatively harmless faiths like RSSB (harmless so far at least) are unlikely to have anything to do with the murderous nonsense that those others indulge in. I kind of agree. Although I'm not sure what we are to do with that agreement, except nod our collective heads wisely give vent to world-weary (or, if we are so inclined, despairing) sighs. :---))

"I think we need to be careful about pointing to what we perceive as the obvious ignorance, stupidity and irrationality of others.....And picking the most obvious examples to justify our own blinkered thinking."


.......Hello, Spence.

If that was just a general observation, then I agree. But if it was prompted by my post, then let me clarify that I'm not really doing that, at all. I am actually interested in this, both what I'd asked earlier, and what I asked now, and I'd like to discuss this further. (Only if others, including you, also are willing and happy to do that; otherwise I'm happy to drop the subject.)


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"If you are doing science, you can then speak to that."


.......That was kind of the point of (one portion of) my post. You keep on saying this, but you yourself most emphatically are NOT doing the science, at all, in any shape or form.

See, you yourself are uniquely situated, Spence, in terms of both your remarkable inner experiences and visions, as well as your general scientific training, as well as your association specifically with the field of medicine and medical research (if only peripherally). You are so uniquely situated to arrive at (or at least go a good way towards arriving at) a scientific resolution of all of this. Specifically, all these visions, what exactly ARE they? Are they merely random visions? Might they be some kind of epileptic episodes? Might they be some anomalous gland acting up? Might they be simply the result of direct excitation of certain portions of the brain? Or might they actually point to deeper realities?

How to ascertain that, scientifically? Well, for one thing, a thorough medical check, centered specifically around those areas. Then familiarizing oneself with research specifically around this. Finally, encouraging fresh research, neuorobiological research, that address these questions scientifically.

And yet, when you keep crying, "Let's do science", what does that actually translate to? It translates to simply going down the meditation rabbit hole. (Which is all good and fine, and right too, but kind of misses the point.) Or it engages with whole tangential (and, in this context, entirely inconsequential) research about the generally beneficent effects of meditation.

Where is the urgency to actually do science, with something so close to your heart?


-------


Not saying this to attack you, Spence, or to challenge you. As you know I've very interested in things of this nature. And, like I said, I find this astonishing.
And, should a discussion along these lines be welcome, then I'd like to hear your POV on this. If the discussion is not welcome, I'm happy to stop it right here, right now, with apologies if feelings have been unnecessarily hurt.

@ A.R.

Once I said ... look I am not born to be your father, nor are you born to be my child, the sister/brother, the nice/nephew,, the grand child to your grandparents.

You are on your own

Being alone, make the best of the roles that are attributed to you

Later ... I added to it, that I was not born to know, understand everything that can be known and make an end to the surfing the internet with the exception of things I needed directly.

Now ... I would like to add to it, that there is no reason to go out into the world, unless there is something I do need to do there. ... related to an advice that was once given to me, do not leave your path of life, in order to see what you can do for others because if you do that you will never return or refind your own path. But ... if walking your own path another aproches you see what you can do. And another advice, if you are alone don't go to the neighbors because most of the time you will return more miserable than you were before. Stay alone and see to find the joy of your own company.

It is a way of living ... not to go out into the streets and waste ones time there with what is ultimately their own bussiness.

You look at the things that are to be seen. They are there and can be seen and are seen from many sides, discussed in many ways etc etc, there is no end to it what one can do with THINGS.

But what about the SEER, the human that sees, the human that has to die one day?

If I am interested, that interest is focused on humans and ultimately only on what I m doing. So the question about the truth of Rssb, its teachings, its teachers does not arise even. I am pondering the questions as How did I came to know about God, Rssb? Why did I believe the things I did as a child and later one? How did I act as an disciple towards the one that initated me etc etc etc .., the list is endless.

The answer to all these questions are to be found INSIDE the house.

You call yourself a rationalist .. stof for a while having rational arguments with people and find out why you are an rationalist, how it came to be so etc etc etc Then, if you will find an answer even to ONE of these questions, you will have learned more that you ever did discussing with others.


"there is no reason to go out into the world, unless there is something I do need to do there. ... related to an advice that was once given to me, do not leave your path of life, in order to see what you can do for others because if you do that you will never return or refind your own path. But ... if walking your own path another aproches you see what you can do. And another advice, if you are alone don't go to the neighbors because most of the time you will return more miserable than you were before. Stay alone and see to find the joy of your own company."


..........At one level, and seen in isolation, there is much wisdom in those words, um.


--------------------


"...the question about the truth of Rssb, its teachings, its teachers does not arise even. I am pondering the questions as How did I came to know about God, Rssb? Why did I believe the things I did as a child and later one? How did I act as an disciple towards the one that initated me etc etc etc .., the list is endless.

The answer to all these questions are to be found INSIDE the house.

You call yourself a rationalist .. stof for a while having rational arguments with people and find out why you are an rationalist, how it came to be so etc etc etc Then, if you will find an answer even to ONE of these questions, you will have learned more that you ever did discussing with others."


..........Not to have this spiral off into a tangential and potentially lengthy-in-and-of-itself meta-discussion, but: https://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2021/07/open-thread-40-free-speech-for-comments.html?cid=6a00d83451c0aa69e20282e11993ba200b#comment-6a00d83451c0aa69e20282e11993ba200b .


A.R.

>> Not to have this spiral off into a tangential and potentially lengthy-in-and-of-itself meta-discussion,<<

Don't worry .... :-))

The stage is all yors again.

Ha ha ha, no thanks! I'll borrow from the wisdom of the part of your post, rather than from the folly of the latter part of mine!

*bows out*

Except, you might want to clarify what I'd asked in that post that I'd linked to. I'm genuinely curious. (No, I won't claim the stage thereafter --- read your comment in silence is all I'll do should you elect to respond to that linked post.)

Hi AR:
You asked
"Specifically, all these visions, what exactly ARE they? Are they merely random visions? Might they be some kind of epileptic episodes? Might they be some anomalous gland acting up? Might they be simply the result of direct excitation of certain portions of the brain? Or might they actually point to deeper realities?"

Whatever they are, they are certainly connected to my physiology. But there is much that is unknown. This is my main point. Doing science doesn't necessarily confirm your hypotheses. It generates new hypotheses. Because the experience of testing yields more information as a result of observation. So the journey, and the joy, is to see more along the way.

You wrote:

"How to ascertain that, scientifically? Well, for one thing, a thorough medical check, centered specifically around those areas. Then familiarizing oneself with research specifically around this. Finally, encouraging fresh research, neuorobiological research, that address these questions scientifically."

Yes to all the above. My health is fine. My parents took me to various doctors as a young child, trying to get to the bottom of my experiences. And this was one of my motivations, after moving from surface and nuclear physics as a major, to psychology, and then to physiological psychology, and behavioral health. I worked in locked facilities where people claimed all sorts of visions. These seemed to lessen with better medications. But, for example, fourty years ago Haldol was popular and it basically reduced people's level of wakefulness. Most drugs available suppressed or dampened their experience. And most of those experiences were attended with heightened levels of anxiety, fear, anger. It seemed as though these inner visions were projections or reflections of a disturbed state of mental health.


But this also lead me to deeper reading of mystic writings. Experiences people had with an advanced level of calm, peace and insight. The ancient and more recent writings all pointed to such practices as the way to Truth. Now, I wasn't so sure this was so, and still reserve drawing conclusions about that.

I did conduct some meditation research for my graduate work in College. However, my interest at that time was to serve. I had been working in mental health, and then with developmentally disabled young adults and made that my career for many years, before moving on to hospital management consulting.

All three avenues of investigation: meditation science, as well as research into ancient meditation practices, and my own practice, have brought me to a much deeper understanding. All three are current pursuits. However, having written this, my understanding is certainly not conclusive.

You wrote:
"And yet, when you keep crying, "Let's do science", what does that actually translate to? It translates to simply going down the meditation rabbit hole. (Which is all good and fine, and right too, but kind of misses the point.) Or it engages with whole tangential (and, in this context, entirely inconsequential) research about the generally beneficent effects of meditation."

Science means just that. It is a matter of investigation around existing literature, anecdotal and academic, and translating that into a hypothesis which you can then look to see if it's been tested, and yes, doing your own practice. Meditation is no more a rabbit hole than opening your eyes and walking about. It's the same "you", you are just picking your area of investigation. Wakefulness is really seeing, and in seeing, you are at best seeing what your brain is creating better. And reduced wakefulness, distraction, unfocused mind, that is the rabbit hole..That is what isolates us from what is going on.

When I was in college Russian class, (at that time you had to know Russian if you were going to do anything with nuclear physics since that was where much research was happening) I met a middle-aged fellow in class who seemed to be the best Russian student in the class.

Next semester this guy was in my Tennis class. Best player in the class.

Then I had swimming...This guy was one of the best swimmers in the class. Now, this was a class with college team swimmers!

I thought I should get to know him better. He introduced me to Sant Mat and Sar Bachan.....

And the stages of the inner journey I read there matched precisely what I had experienced periodically from a very early age. Exactly. That was kind of astounding.

I read more.

At that point this was the most detailed and accurate picture of my own personal experience. So, as a good scientist, I felt that these writings reflected accurately something that might be real. Certainly real for me.

It didn't hurt that Charan Singh looked a lot like my Dad. He was harmless. I liked the philosophy. I didn't need to think of him as anything more than a teacher...not even a friend...The rest would have to be the result of whatever I would experience in meditation.

I liked the idea of limiting the harm I was causing...limiting my "harm" footprint, as today folks limit their carbon footprint. The vows are great for that.

The science is just these things. Continuing to honor and investigate the current research, to learn from it, and, to actually do some form of testing. There is no substitute for the information you will gather doing your own testing. Reading what others have done helps you gain insight into what you are experiencing, and that further informs your own further refinements to your testing.

Now, along those lines, you have mentioned a few times that you are indeed doing your own practice.

I would like to learn much more about that. What are you practicing? How did you come to choose that approach? What preparations do you do, and what have you found beneficial to your meditation, and what have you found harmful to it? And what has been your experience in Meditation? And as well, what effects of practice have you found in your personality, outlook, and response to situations outside of practice?

These are much more interesting than any static opinion about stuff that is very remote from one's own practice. Stuff that either can't be tested or which folks aren't really interested in testing, or stuff they have already drawn their own conclusion about. That's history. And I am very interested in the current research and testing of anyone. Your life IS your laboratory.


@ AR

Alright, have gone through it trice.

When confronted with the teachings of sant mat, my mind was flooded with questions; questions needed to be answered in order to form a complete picture of what it was all about ... compare it with reading the first 100 pages of "the lord of the rings" in order to create an internal blueprint of that world to imagine.

So I started asking and asking, There was no end to it and everyanswer did create an host of ne answers.

Soon I realized that none of the answers I was given by the teacher himself, his [advanced] students and even those that were not initiated, were of no avail ... I ahd to see it for myself, in order to convince myself .... it was my problem, and I was my own problem and nobody was able to help me solve it.

Of course, I enjoyed the kindness of those who were willing to help me out and often their ingeneous answers full of insight of human psychology, that that was not what i was looking for.

So I stopped ... realizing that nobody can answer personal questions, related to the choices one has to make in life.

If I am in an unknown city, there is no problem asking were this or that street is but it makes no sense to ask others where to go, where to find things that are interesting to me.

So Ar foodies cannot know what my taste is and i cannot know what their taste is and whether or not they are compatible.

Well, what more can I say

Thanks, Spence. Squarely answered.

To meet your frank response with frankness on my part as well, the two questions I'd asked, prior, was partly to test the veracity of RS teachings, but partly plain curiosity. Much like I'd asked Osho Robbins, to begin with with no more than curiosity, I was wondering if any RSSB master has actually detailed how exactly they've come to know their theology. Had I been an RSSB follower, I know that question would've been of great importance to me. I was unable to quite figure out --- still am --- how any bona fide follower can similarly not burn to know that.

Anyhoo...

You asked about my own practice. I try not to go too deeply into details about myself --- partly out of not wanting to talk overly much about my humble and inconsequential fumblings, but partly also because this is an open forum (which is not, in the slightest, to reflect in any way on how you yourself share your own experiences, whatever one is comfortable with) --- but well, briefly, trial and error has led me to settle on the techniques of three traditions. Well, two primarily, more or less daily, and the third a once-in-a-while thing. One of the two is a Theravadin system, and the other based in Tantra. Over time, despite the differences in technique, I've found one essential similarity, which would be the stilling of the mind that follows. Yes, I've had some experiences, but none anywhere close to what you've had. More like very deep absorption. Benefits? Well, it's enjoyable, it brings about demonstrable centeredness and peace of mind, one sleeps better, one's days go better when one does it than when one doesn't. All of which is great, and enough too at one level, but I do hold out hope of some 'higher' breakthrough --- but I'm content should that, well, not happen.

You know what, reading so extensively about RSSB meditation had given me the idea of perhaps giving RSSB a test run. I don't know if I'd have actually tried it, but certainly I was seriously considering it, seriously thinking about it. Learning about the sordid financial shenanigans put an end to that. Might it be that the method's sound but the preceptor's a crook? Well, it's possible, I guess, but it's highly implausible; and in any case my plate's full enough as it is.

....Enough about me, already! Talking about myself makes me uncomfortable, quite apart from the open-forum thing as well, but I wanted to clearly address your questions given how forthcoming you always are about your own experiences here.

-------

Going back to what I'd asked, and relating that with my own practice, the Tantra-based practice does speak of deeper RSSB-like experiences. But I like the Theravadin approach to dealing with these things better, which sees every experience, mundane or dramatic, as merely passing phases, none better, none worse, each to be witnessed and moved on from.

But true centeredness, I have found, no matter which technique you follow --- at least in my limited experience --- slows time down, and brings you a certain ...happiness I think I'll call it, that springs from the heart, and flows out of the heart spontaneously and endlessly. That alone, when accessed, is worth the price of admission.

There's a great deal of mumbo-jumbo attached to both traditions, Especially the Tantra thing. But I pay them no heed. I see no reason to think of them as anything other than fiction. At least so far.

Thank you for that response, um. Sincerely answered, from the depths of your own experience. I respect that.


That would be another application of the wisdom I'd referred to in your earlier comment: I agree, discussions of this kind, while usually entered into with the best of motives, sometimes tend to take on a life of their own. At such times --- or at least, as applicable to a subset of such times --- it may make sense then, as you suggest, to return back to the stillness of one's self.

Hi Appreciative!

Thanks for sharing!
What form of Theravadin meditation practice have you been doing? Calming, or insight/observation?

What is the technique you are using?

Both, Spence. Shamata as well as insight. Individual schools do teach specific techniques; but now, a few years in, I'm comfortable employing a more eclectic repertoire. Breath, visualization, mantra speak to the first; and bodily sensations, and emotions, and thoughts to the latter. But of course, and as you no doubt experience it more fully than I myself have, after a point the technique is moot. It is only when that point is reached that one actually meditates; the rest, as you say, is only preparation, preliminaries, incidentals.

-------

Incidentally I'd asked the Tantra teacher what I'd asked Osho Robbins and you and Dungeness. The mechanism how he knew of those tall tales. He gave me a beautiful deep serene mysterious smile, and spoke wise words that did not clarify. I'd have respected him more if, like Dungeness, he'd admitted to not knowing. But of course, I'd next have asked him why he teaches what he does not actually know, so maybe he was wise, at a surface superficial level, to go with the BS.

Hi Appreciative.

When you mediate tomorrow, can you track something for me?


What is the cycle time when you attend to either bodily sensations or mantra?

The time lapse between attention to the object, distraction, and return to attention?

One minute, ten minutes, thirty minutes or?

Ha ha ha. Spence, you're sounding like a fitness freak who's overjoyed at having come across a fellow gym enthusiast, and blurts out, "So how much do you bench press?" (And I empathize with that!)

Never tried measuring it, really. I'm not sure how I would do that, actually, with any kind of exactitude, because sitting with a stop watch at the ready is hardly likely to produce the effect that one will try to measure! :--))

But to answer your question: As far as formal structure, meditation starts with Shamata practices (which could be breath, or else visualization, or else mantra), and is typically attended to for fifteen minutes to half an hour. That is followed by insight practices (forcused on either sensations, or else feelings, or else thoughts), and would typically be expected to last for half an hour to an hour. Ideally this cycle is adhered to twice a day. (In my case, because I mix and match with other systems as well, therefore I limit myself to just once a day, usually early in the morning.)

But that's more like theory, more like prescription. In practice, it all kinds of gels together. Sometimes one focuses more, even at times entirely, on Shamata; other times insight practices spontaneously take up more of one's practice, even most of it. After a point such structures don't matter too much.

A more pertinent question, given the more advanced level at which your particular interest would likely be piqued, might be: How long does actual mediation, actual thoughtlessness, obtain? And that, like, depends, entirely. I'm no black belt, and with me, on good days, thoughtlessness (well not quite literally that, I guess, but what feels like it) would probably last minutes, single digits, and before distractions set in, to be gently observed and passed over. Other times distractions are what the meditation time seems full of. (One is tempted to think of the former times as more successful than the latter times, but the attitude that is suggested --- and this philosophy agrees with me --- is that one treats both as equivalent, because at the end of that day that is what they are.)

Yes, there have been occasions when those "cycles" have lasted significantly longer than that norm. But let's not dwell on that overly much, not important.

Unlike you, my meditation hours aren't --- unfortunately! --- quite the biggest-hightlight-of-my-day-that-I-always-enjoy-immensely that you describe your own sessions as; on the other hand, nor are they the one-ear-out-for-the-dinner-bell joke that Non-Credo describes in the other thread here. Somewhere in between, I guess, at this point. You know, kind of like working out. One likes doing it, sure, by and large; and one loves the feeling one gets after having done it well; but skipping/cheating and slacking off feels great too, once in a while.

H Appreciative!
Great comments. You are a scientist, trying out different things and noticing their effects.

The issue of cycle time and sustained focus can be taken on two levels, maybe more.

On one level, meditation after relaxation is an effort at heightened awareness.. Hence prolonged focus on sensations, thoughts and breath.

The brain is actually multiple systems doing multiple things simultaneously. That includes having its own stopwatch! As awareness grows, sensitivity grows, this rises to conscious awareness.

A goal of observation, mindfulness, is simply to become aware by calming the mind. But in fact this only works if you also, like an athlete, become an observer of what your brain is doing.

So an athlete, like Simone Biles, can only function effectively at the task by also maintaining a highly advanced level of situational awareness.. Ie, right in the middle of doing, she is also watching.

When Simone temporarily lost situational awareness, heightened awareness, when she was no longer 100% in touch with where her body was in space at all times, every microsecond, she could no longer perform, and had to withdraw from competition. Gymnasts call this loss of situational awareness "the twisties"...

But the whole point is that even while performing, the successful athlete is absorbed in absolute awareness of what is going on around and with them. And that means their higher executive functioning isn't asleep or resting. It is actively observing, and adjusting.

The second meaning is related to the first. Your mind, even distracted, at some point automatically returns to the subject. Could be seconds later, minutes later, hours later, days later, years later. It is part of how the brain functions. It isn't necessary to worry about regaining focus on the object of contemplation once you are distracted. Your own mind will automatically pull you around. It is already geared to cycle through its priorities.

Reducing that cycle time lapse can be a natural process, working with your mind. And that, therefore, automatically increases sustained focus, and the natural rising of awareness as focus is sustained.

So, try to track your cycle time, not eliminate it. Become aware of it... Often after the fact... It reflects a great discovery.. Your conscious awareness is not actually continuous. It operates in beats. Your brain may be awake every tenth of a second, or every 39th of a second, but it isn't aware continuously. That is an illusion, because it is unconscious during that cycle time. So there is the observable cycle of thoughts, moving from second to minute to hour.... And there is the more subtle cycle of conscious awareness, which operates in very tiny cycles, fractions of a second. During those beats, we are completely unconscious, we black out, dozens of times a second. But we also wake up dozens of times a second. It's a natural process of the brain. And this mini cycle is also attended with that much larger cycle we can observe cycling to different thoughts and an equally natural process to be brought back. No need to force any of that. As what happened to Simone, pressure can interfere with that process.

Accepting cycle time, and then tracking cycle time is just another natural element of growing awareness... That actually precedes sustained focus, and one of the secrets to achieving it.

Let me put this another way. As difficult as it may seem to sustain focus, it is actually impossible to return to any subject without your own conditioning bringing you back. And that is a mechanism that works independently.

Becoming aware of the fact that your mind blacks out and wakes up in its own cycles is part and parcel of learning about sustained focus, growing awareness, which is the natural pull away from the these physiological functions that turn wakefulness of and on, and which move thinking along lines of conditioning, to a higher level of continuous awareness that is purely observational.

Great comment, Spence, food for thought there. Clearly borne of your direct first-hand experience. Thanks.

-------

A general observation, that you've no doubt observed yourself: A lovely bonus of meditating is how it sometimes effortlessly spills over from your "sitting" time, and helps you with your everyday work. You're working on something, perhaps even something intricate. You're researching something, or working on a report, and you suddenly become aware of a certain ...centeredness, and focus (you could call it Grace, if you're religiously inclinded) that seems to make it that much easier for you to do whatever it is you're doing.

-------

And a small nitpick, a very minor and incidental correction, as far as this part of your comment:
"...meditation after relaxation is an effort at heightened awareness.. Hence prolonged focus on sensations, thoughts and breath ..." :

Actually, while breath, or visualization, or mantra make for Shamata, or Samadhi, or relaxation, or absorption; insight is practiced by observing changes in sensations, and emotions, and thoughts. That is, focusing on breath, or Anapan, is a Shamata technique.

(Like I said, just a nitpick. But given your interest in meditation and its various techniques, I thought you might appreciate that clarification, even if it isn't in any way central to our discussion.)

Hi AR
You wrote
"A general observation, that you've no doubt observed yourself: A lovely bonus of meditating is how it sometimes effortlessly spills over from your "sitting" time, and helps you with your everyday work. You're working on something, perhaps even something intricate. You're researching something, or working on a report, and you suddenly become aware of a certain ...centeredness, and focus (you could call it Grace, if you're religiously inclinded) that seems to make it that much easier for you to do whatever it is you're doing."

Keep at it and have your mind blown: having solutions appear in your mind, and spoken then by those around you. All you needed to do was be there, hear, attend.

@ Spence : "Your brain may be awake every tenth of a second, or every 39th of a second, but it isn't aware continuously. That is an illusion, because it is unconscious during that cycle time. So there is the observable cycle of thoughts, moving from second to minute to hour.... And there is the more subtle cycle of conscious awareness, which operates in very tiny cycles, fractions of a second. "

Fascinating. I have to wonder though if thoughts/images cease
during the brain's mini-outages. Or, is their genesis external via
a mind operating independently and only using the brain to post-
process and analyze them. That would explain "seeing through
a blurry haze", ie, those times when imagery seems to come out
of nowhere and/or are dim and ill-formed as if we fell asleep at the
cinema and awakened to the sounds of gunfire from the shootout
at the OK Corral. Our companion the mind nudges us and chides
"Hey, you missed the best part. Try staying awake next time."

Hi Dungeness
Your hypothesis explains many things.
What is the generation of these thoughts that maintains constancy as the brain switches on and off? Every computer needs hard coded memory. The human brain doesn't have that kind of memory, but it does have several other kinds, particularly short term and super short term.

Physiologically the current theory is that the network extending into the billions of connections in the dendritic trees bounces signal around like a volleyball. So consciousness is theorized to be in the net.

But that net relies on emf signals from the brain to overcome physical barriers to the connections.... That is much more reliable, but potentially sensitive to other emf signals, including strong magnetic fields. It helps explain the remarkable speed of signal transmission... Several times faster than biochemistry alone. The emf signals actually helps solve a long standing paradox: How can the brain function so quickly and massively when biochemical signal transfer times are incredibly slow?

So much isn't known. Your hypothesis would rquire much more research into the very tiny emf fields around the brain and other subtle fileds that naturally surround it. This will occur naturally as we learn how to measure those fields.

One thing is certain. If our brain relies upon tiny self - generated emf fields, while this helps explain the remarkable speed and computing prowess of the brain, the functioning of the brain is not self - contained to its biochemistry alone.

Hi Brian,

This was a most beautiful, touching, courageous and authentic post, one of the best posts of yours I've read in a long time. Thanks for sharing, I am sure this will be of great benefit to those who are or will undergo similar medical conditions in future, as failing health is very much a challenging part of the human condition, especially if we are lucky enough to live into our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.

Kudos also to Spence for sharing so courageously his own challenges in life.

I think it reveals something about your character to so openly and vulnerably share of yourselves without censorship.........I bow to and am humbled by such truth, such authenticity, and it is rarely observed in these virtual RS spaces.

I think over the past 20 years I have, if anything, perhaps shared too much about my own many flaws, regrets, experiences etc on online forums - from being involved with street gangs as a child which including selling drugs, sexual intimacy with a (deeply unhappily) married woman (many years ago), having experienced deep depression and suicidal thoughts (many years ago), for eg. I have also often mentioned that due to my deep and unwavering obsession with "mysticism" or the nature of reality that I am probably the least academically educated person on these forums, have a not very challenging job in finance which I stumbled into, not financially well-off comparative to many of my peers, and never got married or had children (to which I think Brian once replied "Some of us have an actual life" :).

I am going to try and resist the temptation to qualify all of that by mentioning how I wouldn't change a single thing in my entire life and feel immense and overwhelming gratitude for it all.....damn it :)

But anyway, that's me!

Brian - if there's any way round the discomfort or inconvenience thing with the catheter for a period of 8 hours, please do your own research (the more the better), and consider a medicinal dose of psilocybin mushrooms. I feel very, very confident it would be a beneficial experience for you, but only if you don't end up "tripping" about putting on or taking off the catheter, because if you're doing that for 3 hours whilst on them that probably won't be great (can you just leave it on for 8 hours without too much inconvenience or discomfort? Apologies for the ignorance on the subject).

Anyway, I wish you all the best,

Manjit


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