UPDATE: Spence Tepper has apologized to me for his ridiculous attempt to claim that my 35 years of daily meditation while a member of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, usually for several hours a day, amounted to "nothing." Good for Spence. He recognized how wrong he was.
Hopefully from now on he will realize that my approach to meditation is the wise one: don't challenge someone's personal experience in meditation, but DO challenge any claim that this experience proves the existence of a supernatural realm beyond the physical.
Spence doesn't like my skepticism toward his brand of religious fundamentalism. I've pointed out to him that his proselytizing comments are being left on a Church of the Churchless blog, not a Church of the Churched blog. For 18 years I've criticized religious fundamentalists who want others to believe in their dogma without any evidence. I sure won't stop now.
One of the joys, if that's the right word, of having a churchless blog for the past 18 years is that I get a lot of first hand experience responding to religious fundamentalists who, for reasons known only to them, like to leave judgmental comments on a blog devoted to spiritual independence.
Here's a latest example, a comment from Spence Tepper today which was so ridiculous, I figured it deserved to be elevated to a blog post so its absurdity could be on fuller display. My responses to Tepper are in bold italics.
Hi Brian Ji
"Hope this clarifies things. Demanding proof of someone who, say, claims to have experienced the divine sound and light that creates and sustains the cosmos is fully warranted."
Exactly. And that's why there is the meditation.
Had you conducted the practice with any discipline at all you would have your own evidence first hand.
Wrong assumption #1. I was initiated by Charan Singh into the practice of meditation as taught by Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB) in 1971, after first learning to meditate from a yoga teacher while in college.
I diligently followed the RSSB meditation instructions for 35 years. Never missed a day of meditation. Mostly I meditated for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours a day. When I was working and had a young child, it was more difficult to do the prescribed 2 1/2 hours. So I had plenty of discipline in my meditation. You shouldn't make assumptions about someone else's meditation experience.
Also, hope you realize that RSSB stresses that initiates shouldn't talk about their meditation experiences. I'm OK with this being done, since I've done it myself. But you, like me, are breaking a RSSB rule.
You could have said," Yes, I saw the blinding light and have been able to reproduce it at will. Then I saw the sun, then the moon. I'm convinced it is simply the brain gaining access to signal directly outside the visual nervous system....but why the sun, why the moon? I'm still investigating to try to see where these images may have come from. They are far more intense than memory, especially when I can take time to look at them, even approach them... "
You could have developed a real theory around real information.
I did develop a real theory around real information. Based on my 35 years of RSSB meditation experience, and countless (almost) conversations with other members of RSSB about meditation, I've come to the conclusion that while some people report seeing scenes of supernatural regions of existence beyond the physical, almost certainly these don't reflect an objective reality but rather are subjective emanations of their brains, since there is no demonstrable evidence of those supernatural regions other than subjective reports.
Now all you have is the second hand evidence of the founders of every religion. And of every mystic who ever lived and documented what they went through.
Utterly false statement. There are lots of different approaches to meditation. What I experienced during my 35 years of RSSB meditation was very close to, if not exactly, how Buddhist and Taoist teachings describe meditation. I felt my self slipping away, probably because I don't have or am a self. I felt a sense of unity with all things, probably because everything is interdependent. Mystics have all sorts of different experiences. I don't really consider myself a mystic, but I've certainly had mystical experiences that are very difficult to describe in words.
Yes it evidence. And yes it deserves to be evaluated. But the only way to do this objectively is create the conditions to recreate the experience in your own lab and then you may test it as millions of others have done and are doing every day, with any way you like, including testing your own hypothesis about the causes.
You failed to do this.
Not true. I conducted the experiment of meditation, RSSB style, for 35 years. I've written a lot on this blog about what I found. Use the search box in the right sidebar to find those posts. Your fundamentalist attitude prevents you from realizing that different people can meditate and have very different meditation experiences. There isn't one right way to meditate, and there isn't one genuine meditation experience. If you believe there is, you're hugely mistaken about what meditation is all about.
Let me be more pointed, Brian Ji.
You didn't have to reproduce the entire journey.
Again, you're assuming there's only one journey people take in meditation. Actually, people have all kinds of different journeys.
Any part of it would have been fine. But what you report is zero.
Not at all. Every day I meditate, continuing to the present -- today -- I have a decidedly-nonzero meditation experience. Just because it isn't your experience doesn't make it any less meaningful or valid for me.
That's practically impossible.
It's very possible. You should get out more and talk with other people about their meditation experiences. Since I did so much public speaking for RSSB, wrote three books on behalf of RSSB, and was the secretary of our local group for many years, as noted above I've talked with lots of people about meditation. Again, a Buddhist or Taoist would find my meditation experiences perfectly compatible with their spiritual outlook.
Anyone with a minimum of self-discipline can conduct any of a variety of meditation methods and at least watch their thoughts.
I've done that, and much more, for 52 years of daily meditation. It's astounding how you believe that, without ever having met me or knowing me in person, somehow you believe that you're privy to what I've experienced in meditation. How do you think you know this? Obviously it isn't possible.
They could at least report what was happening to their body as they did so... And as they worked to gain some control, some level of mastery.
Geez, unbelievable. All of your own meditation sure hasn't affected the Judgmental part of your brain. I could ask, "Spence, how could you do so much meditation and end up such a religious fundamentalist with an exaggerated sense of your own divinity?" Oops, looks like I did just ask that.
They could at least notice the change in their thinking during meditation. And even learn how their brain reacts to different thoughts, how simran works, how distraction alters your level of consciousness wakefulness, and how focus raises it to observe more thoughts, their seeds and their destination all at the same time.
Been there. Done that. For 52 years.
But you report zero.
Not only does that make no sense at all. It is downright suspicious.
And not in any way scientific.
So there is no point in leaping to conclusions when you have not made the least effort to note just exactly what happened and to report it here for peer review. Then we can discuss what is going on within.
Why? I'm preaching the gospel of spiritual independence on this blog. I don't view meditation the way you do, as a way of demonstrating how evolved meditation has made me. I see meditation as a form of mental exercise and relaxation, in much the same way I view physical exercise. Tai Chi helps me understand what my body can do. Meditation helps me realize what my mind can do.
As to what others report, they are reporting what happened to them, not for you to take second hand, but to note as their guide, testable reference points. Your own experience from your own effort is all that matters.
Hey, I agree with your last sentence. So why did you write this lengthy comment, most of which goes against what you just said?
The other testimony is meaningless to you because clearly you didn't take it seriously. Sorry to be so blunt.
I'm sorry to be so blunt in return, but you're totally wrong.
But you are being less than candd to suggest that 35 years x 365 days x 2.5 hours was spent entirely unconscious.
Wrong again. Amazing how many times you can be wrong in one blog post comment. I was awake and aware for virtually every moment in my 52 years of daily meditation. Sure, occasionally I fell asleep, but that was fairly rare.
31, 937.5 hours...
That's not meditation. It's sleep.
And what you just said isn't an intelligent observation. It's bullshit.