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A ZEN DESCRIPTION OF GOD

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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09 April 2014 22:09
 

On a lot of the basic premises of meditation I think we agree, maybe with some variation. For example, I think things like subduing ‘ego’ and ‘levels of consciousness’ ultimately disappear as concepts at some level and so while we see things in those terms at some points when contemplating, at others its a matter of coming full circle to the ‘everything is just as it should be, everyone is already enlightened’ point of view. But that’s a long discussion and one I might be ill-equipped to put into words. Again, with some variation, I think we’re more or less coming from the same place on the nature of the fundamentals in meditation. More of a Vipassana background myself, by the way, although I’m somewhat familiar with Zen. Hazy on how Zen relates to the original religion of Buddhism and how much of the original sutras it ‘accepts’ or if it’s just a philosophy sort of removed from that.


I am going to be hard-headed about this point, though. And just so you know, this is my nature - I look for inconsistencies in arguments, and I think this comes across as judgmental sometimes. Like “I’m going to ignore the ten paragraphs you wrote that I liked, and fix all my attention on the point I disagree with”. Please know it’s a matter of finding such points interesting, not trying to be contrary to you as a person.

tenbones - 09 April 2014 06:27 PM

Well let’s do a ghetto-thought experiment (i.e. totally bullshit, but we’re on the internet so) - So my stance as a Zen practitioner and I do have non-dual experiences regularly, where I’m not making *ANY* claim that these things are the province of Zen Buddhism, or any other kind of Buddhism, or any kind of religion - you can even be a filthy pagan blood curdling human-sacrificing savage - and still have these non-dual experiences. So no one gets to lay claim on them. Now the QUALITY of the experience and the downstream effects will most assuredly color them. By making no proclamations about ones practice I eliminate the possibility of such experiences being conditional on the beliefs themselves. It’s *not* conditional. What IS conditional - is you must have a practice to do it. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t. I’ve never read of anyone that didn’t.

So having enjoyed the position on both sides of the fence, which I fully cede is anecdotal, yet - then everyone else that has done the same has them too. I’m forced to look at Mr. Epstein’s position as someone that hasn’t had them, does not, to my understanding do anything that would generate this state, speak about it with any real authority? It’s much like the group of old white guys that makes decisions for women on women’s health issues.

Again the quality might be different - because having a non-dual experience is only the tip of the iceberg. But not having one at all… well kinda leaves one only in the realm of pure speculation. Right?


How can you answer this question, if I say “Tenbones, how exactly do you know you had an experience of non-dualism”? To my mind, any person has to resort to statements like:


“I experienced it / I just know it / I saw for myself”. Yet these very statements could describe a perception created in the mind - how do you know it wasn’t, again, the equivalent of a runner’s high or a neural misfire caused by the sensory deprivation of meditation or extended suggestion to the mind by thinking / reading about non-dualism? And how are you going to prove that this is not the case? I don’t see any way to except falling back on reaffirming the statements you started with - “I’m just sure of it / I saw / I know”...


You have to begin by accepting that the initial proposition - once you free yourself of all conditioning you’re going to ‘have’ this state - is true. And how do you verify this proposition? By experiencing it. And how do you know this wasn’t just a neural misfire or perceptual ‘high’ but a non-dualist state? Because you accept the initial proposition. But how do you verify that proposition… This is some kind of logical fallacy but I don’t remember which.


All great truths end in paradox, as they say. Anyways, I’m glad you’re enjoying your experience with Zen. Mark Epstein, btw, is a long time meditator, his very condensed bio from Wikipedia:

Epstein has been a practicing Buddhist since his early twenties, when he traveled to Ajahn Chah’s forest Buddhist monastery near Bangkok, Thailand together with his American Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Richard Alpert.

He is a contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and his books include Thoughts Without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart. Both books deal with the difficult and counter-intuitive Eastern teachings of non-self.

 
 
saralynn
 
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saralynn
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09 April 2014 22:41
 
NicLynn - 09 April 2014 08:09 PM

On a lot of the basic premises of meditation I think we agree, maybe with some variation. For example, I think things like subduing ‘ego’ and ‘levels of consciousness’ ultimately disappear as concepts at some level and so while we see things in those terms at some points when contemplating, at others its a matter of coming full circle to the ‘everything is just as it should be, everyone is already enlightened’ point of view. But that’s a long discussion and one I might be ill-equipped to put into words. Again, with some variation, I think we’re more or less coming from the same place on the nature of the fundamentals in meditation. More of a Vipassana background myself, by the way, although I’m somewhat familiar with Zen. Hazy on how Zen relates to the original religion of Buddhism and how much of the original sutras it ‘accepts’ or if it’s just a philosophy sort of removed from that.


I am going to be hard-headed about this point, though. And just so you know, this is my nature - I look for inconsistencies in arguments, and I think this comes across as judgmental sometimes. Like “I’m going to ignore the ten paragraphs you wrote that I liked, and fix all my attention on the point I disagree with”. Please know it’s a matter of finding such points interesting, not trying to be contrary to you as a person.

tenbones - 09 April 2014 06:27 PM

Well let’s do a ghetto-thought experiment (i.e. totally bullshit, but we’re on the internet so) - So my stance as a Zen practitioner and I do have non-dual experiences regularly, where I’m not making *ANY* claim that these things are the province of Zen Buddhism, or any other kind of Buddhism, or any kind of religion - you can even be a filthy pagan blood curdling human-sacrificing savage - and still have these non-dual experiences. So no one gets to lay claim on them. Now the QUALITY of the experience and the downstream effects will most assuredly color them. By making no proclamations about ones practice I eliminate the possibility of such experiences being conditional on the beliefs themselves. It’s *not* conditional. What IS conditional - is you must have a practice to do it. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t. I’ve never read of anyone that didn’t.

So having enjoyed the position on both sides of the fence, which I fully cede is anecdotal, yet - then everyone else that has done the same has them too. I’m forced to look at Mr. Epstein’s position as someone that hasn’t had them, does not, to my understanding do anything that would generate this state, speak about it with any real authority? It’s much like the group of old white guys that makes decisions for women on women’s health issues.

Again the quality might be different - because having a non-dual experience is only the tip of the iceberg. But not having one at all… well kinda leaves one only in the realm of pure speculation. Right?


How can you answer this question, if I say “Tenbones, how exactly do you know you had an experience of non-dualism”? To my mind, any person has to resort to statements like:


“I experienced it / I just know it / I saw for myself”. Yet these very statements could describe a perception created in the mind - how do you know it wasn’t, again, the equivalent of a runner’s high or a neural misfire caused by the sensory deprivation of meditation or extended suggestion to the mind by thinking / reading about non-dualism? And how are you going to prove that this is not the case? I don’t see any way to except falling back on reaffirming the statements you started with - “I’m just sure of it / I saw / I know”...


You have to begin by accepting that the initial proposition - once you free yourself of all conditioning you’re going to ‘have’ this state - is true. And how do you verify this proposition? By experiencing it. And how do you know this wasn’t just a neural misfire or perceptual ‘high’ but a non-dualist state? Because you accept the initial proposition. But how do you verify that proposition… This is some kind of logical fallacy but I don’t remember which.


All great truths end in paradox, as they say. Anyways, I’m glad you’re enjoying your experience with Zen. Mark Epstein, btw, is a long time meditator, his very condensed bio from Wikipedia:

Epstein has been a practicing Buddhist since his early twenties, when he traveled to Ajahn Chah’s forest Buddhist monastery near Bangkok, Thailand together with his American Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Richard Alpert.

He is a contributing editor to Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and his books include Thoughts Without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart. Both books deal with the difficult and counter-intuitive Eastern teachings of non-self.

As I said to you on another thread, it is all a matter of faith, isn’t it?  Generally, Buddhists get indignant when I make this claim, but I think it is true. I, as you know, am much more in accord with Buddhist concepts than Christian, but, to me, “meditate and you will see for yourself what occurs!  Millions of people can attest to it. It happened to me…I KNOW the truth because I EXPERIENCED the truth”  is very similar to “pray to Jesus with a sincere heart and you will see what occurs!  Millions of people can attest to it. It happened to me.  I KNOW the truth because I experienced it!” 

But, you know what?  I dismiss no one’s experience, unless they are really daffy..  The experiences ARE very similar through time and across many traditions and may indeed point to that “something more” I sense exists.  In other words,  faith, which, in my case (and I think yours) cannot exist without doubt.  If it did, it wouldn’t be faith; it would be a form of self-administered brain washing.

 
burt
 
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burt
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10 April 2014 00:14
 

I think the point being circled around is the nature of the state of empty mind awareness.  A person who has experienced this state will recognize it: “...the eternal presence of clarity upon emptiness.”  I don’t have any background at all in Buddhism (other than casual readings), so can’t comment from the Buddhist of Zen perspective, but this is why I keep saying in various threads that when one reaches the Tavern (or Saloon, or Tea House) one doesn’t ride in on the horse that got you there.  Of course the ego structures want to tell everybody about this marvelous experience and they get attached to the particular paths but if the path has been traveled successfully then those structures are tamed although they can still pester one.

I’ve found the Orch-OR model interesting and will hear, I guess, about any new evidence favoring it in a couple of weeks at the Tucson Consciousness Conference.  The issue that still exists is that most people in the sciences who think about such things believe that consciousness emerges from the material world whereas, as EN says, I think the relationship is more complicated. 

What does the Holy Cow say?

Mu

 
sojourner
 
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10 April 2014 01:39
 

saralynn, burt - Yes, I think this gets back to what Sam Harris has said - ultimately a subjective state is evidence of a subjective state. If you take the state + a ‘feeling of certainty’ of truth as evidence of truth; then you can either do that in every case, including religious revelations, some drug experiences, alien abductions, etc.; or you can just throw logical consistency out the window and say ‘This is evidence, but only in my case. Because solipsism, or something’. If you take it at face value, then all you can really say is that an experience is evidence of an experience. An experience of feeling non-dual emptiness and being sure it’s the fruit of meditative practice; of seeing Jesus and having ‘God removed all doubt from my heart’ certainty; or, quite frankly, of having Capgras syndrome and feeling absolutely sure that your family member has been replaced with an impostor.


I think how, if ever, such experiences can be ‘verified’ (to the extent anything is verifiable) is an interesting question. I’ve said before that I find NDEs interesting, for example, in that there’s no clear-cut connection between the experience and the results they often produce. Why would almost dying and having some sort of oxygen-deprived, seizure-like activity before going brain dead cause people to be more loving, trusting, open, spiritual, committed to helping others, etc.? It’s possible that just by coincidence, NDEs, as well as meditation, just happen to do some kind of bizarre damage to an unknown ‘happy loving altruism center’ in the brain that causes very specific behavioral outcomes, but it seems like if one was looking at benign brain damage that’s not exactly the most likely set of symptoms. So there may be some corresponding measures that could be looked at for consistency, although ultimately, subjective evidence is always a conundrum.

 
 
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10 April 2014 03:00
 
NicLynn - 09 April 2014 11:39 PM

saralynn, burt - Yes, I think this gets back to what Sam Harris has said - ultimately a subjective state is evidence of a subjective state. If you take the state + a ‘feeling of certainty’ of truth as evidence of truth; then you can either do that in every case, including religious revelations, some drug experiences, alien abductions, etc.; or you can just throw logical consistency out the window and say ‘This is evidence, but only in my case. Because solipsism, or something’. If you take it at face value, then all you can really say is that an experience is evidence of an experience. An experience of feeling non-dual emptiness and being sure it’s the fruit of meditative practice; of seeing Jesus and having ‘God removed all doubt from my heart’ certainty; or, quite frankly, of having Capgras syndrome and feeling absolutely sure that your family member has been replaced with an impostor.


I think how, if ever, such experiences can be ‘verified’ (to the extent anything is verifiable) is an interesting question. I’ve said before that I find NDEs interesting, for example, in that there’s no clear-cut connection between the experience and the results they often produce. Why would almost dying and having some sort of oxygen-deprived, seizure-like activity before going brain dead cause people to be more loving, trusting, open, spiritual, committed to helping others, etc.? It’s possible that just by coincidence, NDEs, as well as meditation, just happen to do some kind of bizarre damage to an unknown ‘happy loving altruism center’ in the brain that causes very specific behavioral outcomes, but it seems like if one was looking at benign brain damage that’s not exactly the most likely set of symptoms. So there may be some corresponding measures that could be looked at for consistency, although ultimately, subjective evidence is always a conundrum.

My point is that if I can teach somebody to experience a particular state and when we compare notes we agree that it’s the same state I’ve experienced then there is the possibility of objective verification.  No need for feelings of certainty or such.

 
sojourner
 
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10 April 2014 11:05
 
burt - 10 April 2014 01:00 AM

My point is that if I can teach somebody to experience a particular state and when we compare notes we agree that it’s the same state I’ve experienced then there is the possibility of objective verification.  No need for feelings of certainty or such.


I agree, but this is true of many re-creatable causes and conditions. We would both report similar states if given a dose of morphine, kicked really hard in the shin, given a puppy to hold (so long as you’re an animal person), etc.


What people argue about is what these states mean. And this is what I was saying with Tenbones - s/he seems sure that experiencing non-dualism / ‘oneness’ equals an unconditioned state, but goes on to note that you pretty much have to have a ‘practice’ of some sort in order to experience it. So does that mean it’s unconditioned, or does that mean different paths use methods to create causes and conditions that cause a subjective state and, as above, we can’t know if it’s like a dose of mental morphine or the raw nature of consciousness?

[ Edited: 10 April 2014 14:21 by sojourner]
 
 
burt
 
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10 April 2014 14:56
 
NicLynn - 10 April 2014 09:05 AM
burt - 10 April 2014 01:00 AM

My point is that if I can teach somebody to experience a particular state and when we compare notes we agree that it’s the same state I’ve experienced then there is the possibility of objective verification.  No need for feelings of certainty or such.


I agree, but this is true of many re-creatable causes and conditions. We would both report similar states if given a dose of morphine, kicked really hard in the shin, given a puppy to hold (so long as you’re an animal person), etc.


What people argue about is what these states mean. And this is what I was saying with Tenbones - s/he seems sure that experiencing non-dualism / ‘oneness’ equals an unconditioned state, but goes on to note that you pretty much have to have a ‘practice’ of some sort in order to experience it. So does that mean it’s unconditioned, or does that mean different paths use methods to create causes and conditions that cause a subjective state and, as above, we can’t know if it’s like a dose of mental morphine or the raw nature of consciousness?

Different paths can get you to the same place.  An argument going on in philosophy of religion is exactly about that.  One side claims that once a person reaches the State, it’s identical in every case (bracketing levels and such) while the other side claims that it’s just subjective conditioning induced by the particular belief system and there is nothing beyond that.  The problem is that when a person describes the experience it is done so in the language available for them and that automatically casts things into a particular context.  So it’s really a matter of “you’ve got to experience it to know” and for that to work, you’ve got to follow the indications.

 
saralynn
 
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10 April 2014 14:59
 

Oh my!  I am sitting in the doctor’s office reading through magazines and I bumped into this author in a NY Times book review….

We gotta read this book, Nic! 


http://www.npr.org/2014/04/08/300520210/a-nonbeliever-tries-to-make-sense-of-the-visions-she-had-as-a-teen

 
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10 April 2014 15:17
 
NicLynn - 09 April 2014 08:09 PM

On a lot of the basic premises of meditation I think we agree, maybe with some variation. For example, I think things like subduing ‘ego’ and ‘levels of consciousness’ ultimately disappear as concepts at some level and so while we see things in those terms at some points when contemplating, at others its a matter of coming full circle to the ‘everything is just as it should be, everyone is already enlightened’ point of view. But that’s a long discussion and one I might be ill-equipped to put into words. Again, with some variation, I think we’re more or less coming from the same place on the nature of the fundamentals in meditation. More of a Vipassana background myself, by the way, although I’m somewhat familiar with Zen. Hazy on how Zen relates to the original religion of Buddhism and how much of the original sutras it ‘accepts’ or if it’s just a philosophy sort of removed from that.

Zen relates to “original Buddhism” (which is a debatable topic itself) in keeping the the understandings of the Four Noble Truths, 8-fold Path, and the Sutras as forefront like most Buddhist practices but with the emphasis on sitting meditation as the real vehicle for action (so to speak) that makes it all work. Effort to effortless. <—paradox! It tries to do away with all the claptrap and junk and keeps things bare bones. But as I said - it does have its own conceits depending on which form of Zen you practice. Rinzai and Soto (the two big ones) have slightly different emphasis on things like koans. You’lll find a lot of cross-pollination.

NicLynn - 09 April 2014 08:09 PM

I am going to be hard-headed about this point, though. And just so you know, this is my nature - I look for inconsistencies in arguments, and I think this comes across as judgmental sometimes. Like “I’m going to ignore the ten paragraphs you wrote that I liked, and fix all my attention on the point I disagree with”. Please know it’s a matter of finding such points interesting, not trying to be contrary to you as a person.

Hah! Fair enough! Let’s get to the real meat!

tenbones - 09 April 2014 06:27 PM

Well let’s do a ghetto-thought experiment (i.e. totally bullshit, but we’re on the internet so) - So my stance as a Zen practitioner and I do have non-dual experiences regularly, where I’m not making *ANY* claim that these things are the province of Zen Buddhism, or any other kind of Buddhism, or any kind of religion - you can even be a filthy pagan blood curdling human-sacrificing savage - and still have these non-dual experiences. So no one gets to lay claim on them. Now the QUALITY of the experience and the downstream effects will most assuredly color them. By making no proclamations about ones practice I eliminate the possibility of such experiences being conditional on the beliefs themselves. It’s *not* conditional. What IS conditional - is you must have a practice to do it. I don’t know of anyone that hasn’t. I’ve never read of anyone that didn’t.

So having enjoyed the position on both sides of the fence, which I fully cede is anecdotal, yet - then everyone else that has done the same has them too. I’m forced to look at Mr. Epstein’s position as someone that hasn’t had them, does not, to my understanding do anything that would generate this state, speak about it with any real authority? It’s much like the group of old white guys that makes decisions for women on women’s health issues.

Again the quality might be different - because having a non-dual experience is only the tip of the iceberg. But not having one at all… well kinda leaves one only in the realm of pure speculation. Right?

NicLynn - 09 April 2014 08:09 PM

How can you answer this question, if I say “Tenbones, how exactly do you know you had an experience of non-dualism”? To my mind, any person has to resort to statements like:


“I experienced it / I just know it / I saw for myself”. Yet these very statements could describe a perception created in the mind - how do you know it wasn’t, again, the equivalent of a runner’s high or a neural misfire caused by the sensory deprivation of meditation or extended suggestion to the mind by thinking / reading about non-dualism? And how are you going to prove that this is not the case? I don’t see any way to except falling back on reaffirming the statements you started with - “I’m just sure of it / I saw / I know”...


You have to begin by accepting that the initial proposition - once you free yourself of all conditioning you’re going to ‘have’ this state - is true. And how do you verify this proposition? By experiencing it. And how do you know this wasn’t just a neural misfire or perceptual ‘high’ but a non-dualist state? Because you accept the initial proposition. But how do you verify that proposition… This is some kind of logical fallacy but I don’t remember which.

This is actually a simple question for me. Because the question itself is a conditioned statement. Let me try to explain. I’m a doubter. Experience and my nature makes me seek things, I believe I’m a natural skeptic for various reasons. Your position is to induce doubt where doubt has already been - “How can you know this state is just not a neural misfire?”

So let’s unpack that - what IS a neural misfire? That we misapprehend what our five senses tell us? WE, you, me, everyone reading this, do that *ALL* the time. We make value judgements based on that sensory input. Almost exclusively we apprehend our “self” as separate from that data. The data comes into us. The “reality” is our brains simply take all the data and recompiles it in our head. How we perceive reality, by definition, is virtual.

By that fact alone - doubt will, must, ALWAYS exist. But the case you’re making is not informed doubt, it’s doubt by way of ‘ignorance’ in the actual meaning of the term (I’m *NOT* calling you ‘dumb’ or anything remotely like that - I’m saying you’re ignoring something by way of uncomprehension, or non-familiarity). We have every reason to doubt things we perceive. But we can only do what we can do.

So by calling non-dual experience a “neural-misfire” - what you’re really saying is, “Because I’ve never experienced a non-dual state, this guy Tenbones is blowing a bunch of hooey (for lack of just saying I call bullshit, heh) up my butt with his fantastical claims.” What it then justifies is your ability to dismiss it. Well that alone bespeaks of what you’re accusing me of - of having a presupposition of what non-duality is. That view itself is a presupposition, but a passive one. You’re changing your doubt to certainty by act of negation.

As I’ve said, I too doubted. but I doubted fairly. As I’ve said several times, it doesn’t take any special criteria to do it. You just have to do it. It’s like exercising. Now using exercise as a material example is probably dubious at best, but bear with me.

Imagine the world was completely obese (Or like most of America) And the concept of exercise did not exist. Then some generally fit guy called the Buddha starts running around telling everyone, “Hey guys, if you get active, and eat healthy you won’t be so fat. Here’s how I did it <the Buddhist P90X program>. And it’s free.”

The fat people just keep stuffing their faces saying “Why would you do that?”  That is the analogy here. It’s not a case of Why. No mandate is being made here. It’s there for people to try. And it’s germane because a casual glance at the world of nutrition reads *very* much like the debates of religion and philosophy - where people have their own beliefs about macro-nutrient intake, the one true way, Paleo-diets, Ketogenics, Low-Fat blah blah blah (and there’s tons of myths and deception and bad science and logic - the effect is the same. It takes everyone’s eyes off the ball: you don’t *need* a system to achieve the goal, but they’re there because they’ve worked for someone.

In this regard, I have to fall back on my rationality. I never even *heard* of a non-dual experience before I got into Zen. I hadn’t even heard of kensho. I was into martial arts and my instructor was a Zen lay-teacher. He told me that cultivating my awareness would help me focus. So I did. (and it sucked). I had no expectations until something finally clicked. That “click” was not easy to get to. It required me letting go a lot of things in my mind. Literally everything. The experience is just that. An experience. Is it magical? Absolutely not. But I can see, twenty-five years later, with studying developmentall biology and psychology that people so inclined to believe in such things WOULD most certainly think so.

Years later - after reading about transpersonal psychology, and reading about non-dual states, I said “Eureka!” (well not really, I said “Whoa…” in a very Keanu Reeves-like fashion) the progressive states of Zen kensho/satori co-terminus with Nirvikalpa samādhi in the Hindu tradition (thousands of years old), IS non-dual experience. I’m *not* inventing anything here. Neither is anyone coining the term “Non-duality”, as Eastern Traditions have been experiencing it for literally thousands of years.

So where does that leave us? For me, as a skeptic that has anecdotally experienced through this practice, it’s irrevocably changed my life. Is that subjective? Absolutely. But then for those that likewise have undertaken the practice, they corroborate at minimum with similar results. To me, that’s tantamount to peer review by action than reaction. That’s a very important distinction. My understanding in the non-dual state where my subjectivity and objectivity dissolve (man, that’s about as dry as one can make it without trying to sound WOOO) does not require any special thing to pull off. The downstream effects in my personal life and those around me are sufficient enough to share with others who also happen to be “into” it. The converse of that fact is manifest in the world, hows that working? I still doubt. I but I do so with the intent of first-hand knowledge.

NicLynn - 09 April 2014 08:09 PM

All great truths end in paradox, as they say. Anyways, I’m glad you’re enjoying your experience with Zen. Mark Epstein, btw, is a long time meditator, his very condensed bio from Wikipedia:

Yep I’m very familiar with Mark. I agree with a lot of his ideas. Some not so much. But that certainly doesn’t mean we don’t speak the same language in terms of is Buddhism open to rational inquiry - ABSOLUTELY. In fact, that’s how I approach it. The difference between our views (yours and mine) is as someone who has been delving into non-dual experiences I can say with all my rational faculties without trying to sound melodramatic - we do not possess sufficient language to encapsulate the experience from a western perspective. That *is* the paradox. The knee-jerk reaction is to sweep it under the rug of “Religion” when it qualitatively does not require religion, or anything else for that matter to experience. So I leave it to Peer Review. Seems that those that do, agree. Those that don’t? Well… how good is the process if the premise for NOT doing it, is the assumption it’s hocus-pocus? heh.

 
tenbones
 
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10 April 2014 15:29
 
NicLynn - 10 April 2014 09:05 AM
burt - 10 April 2014 01:00 AM

My point is that if I can teach somebody to experience a particular state and when we compare notes we agree that it’s the same state I’ve experienced then there is the possibility of objective verification.  No need for feelings of certainty or such.


I agree, but this is true of many re-creatable causes and conditions. We would both report similar states if given a dose of morphine, kicked really hard in the shin, given a puppy to hold (so long as you’re an animal person), etc.


What people argue about is what these states mean. And this is what I was saying with Tenbones - s/he seems sure that experiencing non-dualism / ‘oneness’ equals an unconditioned state, but goes on to note that you pretty much have to have a ‘practice’ of some sort in order to experience it. So does that mean it’s unconditioned, or does that mean different paths use methods to create causes and conditions that cause a subjective state and, as above, we can’t know if it’s like a dose of mental morphine or the raw nature of consciousness?

@burt - bingo is your name-o.

Nic - ahh okay, let me shift gears a bit. Clarification: the “practice” I refer to is contemplative practice. How you want to do it, meditation, ecstatic dancing, Backyard Wrestling, doing sit-ups, Tantric sex etc. is up to you. Whatever “gets you there”. I’m using it euphemsitically to denote “talking about non-dual states on the internet” isn’t, likely, one of them. In other words the “practice” is “whatever you use to effectuate the result”. That’s all I mean. For me - it was Zen meditation. Do I need Zen meditation to do it? No. Neither do you - but in my personal experience it seems it’s a lot easier than other methods, but your mileage may vary.

Now as to WHAT an unconditioned state or non-dual experience is? It’s a point where there is no distinction between the subjective and objective awareness of reality. Again, the words only work in description by trying to either evoke a feeling tied to a word that does neither justice. I mean… by analogy it’s like trying to describe an orgasm (assuming you’ve had one). At best it’s an approximation. Of course once you’ve had one, then those descriptions take on new dimensions. That’s precisely why such discussion in Zen, in particular, sound so allegorical, and to western minds, especially those that hinge on the precision of language without understanding the real fluid nature of language - these descriptions are both paradoxical and insufficient.

But let’s be clear: this isn’t magic. This isn’t miracles. This isn’t religion.

 
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10 April 2014 15:47
 
saralynn - 09 April 2014 08:41 PM

As I said to you on another thread, it is all a matter of faith, isn’t it?  Generally, Buddhists get indignant when I make this claim, but I think it is true. I, as you know, am much more in accord with Buddhist concepts than Christian, but, to me, “meditate and you will see for yourself what occurs!  Millions of people can attest to it. It happened to me…I KNOW the truth because I EXPERIENCED the truth”  is very similar to “pray to Jesus with a sincere heart and you will see what occurs!  Millions of people can attest to it. It happened to me.  I KNOW the truth because I experienced it!” 

But, you know what?  I dismiss no one’s experience, unless they are really daffy..  The experiences ARE very similar through time and across many traditions and may indeed point to that “something more” I sense exists.  In other words,  faith, which, in my case (and I think yours) cannot exist without doubt.  If it did, it wouldn’t be faith; it would be a form of self-administered brain washing.

Slight distinction between these two statements.

Firstly, unless one cares enough to do meditation/contemplative practice - what does it matter? Making an equivocation of Christian doctrine from Christians that tell you to “pray the right way to Jesus in order to experience the TRUTH!!!” with “meditate and you will see for yourself ... I experienced the TRUTH” has only a couple of things in common: it uses the same letter and at times has the same words. The values and intent and *entirely* different.

Zen (and Buddhism writ large) isn’t making any mandate that MUST MEDITATE… OR ELSE. You don’t even have to believe in Buddhism. You don’t even have to BE a Buddhist. You don’t even have to *MEDITATE*. There are plenty of ways that others have had non-dual experiences. Meditation is the method du-jour because that’s simply how Buddhists do it (and a vast number of non-Buddhist as well).

Of course in Christianity - this is not the case. Nor do the meanings of what “Truth” or “Faith” as you awesomely pointed out, mean the same things to more rational minded folks, of which I consider those participating in this fun conversation. smile

The second part - experiences are subjective and in this case only matter if you care enough for it to matter. That you intuit there might be something “more” going on here… is probably indicative that you do care. The real question will remain, as always in the important things in your life - what to do about it? The “rub” as it were!

 
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10 April 2014 16:12
 

TB: The second part - experiences are subjective and in this case only matter if you care enough for it to matter. That you intuit there might be something “more” going on here: is probably indicative that you do care. The real question will remain, as always in the important things in your life - what to do about it? The “rub” as it were! - See more at: http://www.project-reason.org/forum/viewthread/27919/P30/#350358

Well, I rub a lot…usually my forehead.  I may be subconsciously looking for my third eye.  I also rub my solar plexus,  but I don’t think it implies anything spiritual. it usually means I have acid indigestion.

 
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10 April 2014 16:25
 
saralynn - 10 April 2014 02:12 PM

Well, I rub a lot…usually my forehead.  I may be subconsciously looking for my third eye.  I also rub my solar plexus,  but I don’t think it implies anything spiritual. it usually means I have acid indigestion.

That’s about as Buddhist of a quote as I’ve ever heard, heh.

 
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10 April 2014 16:39
 

saralynn - ha, we should start a book club!


burt, tenbones - I’m getting really frustrated, so I’m going to take a step back at this point. When I speak from frustration it becomes about ‘making’ people get my point while not noticing what message they are conveying in return. Tenbones - in your case for example, I see a ton of exuberance and enthusiasm for this path you’ve undertaken, and I see how quick I will be to ignore that and focus on “Goddammit, why don’t people understand what I’m saying?!” and try to steamroll my point home, which is about me, not you.


One more time and then I’m done commenting on this thread for a bit - I think you are approaching this from “Niclynn doesn’t understand this experience! She doesn’t get how real and pure and authentic and true it was! How I did away with every last assumption and bit of conditioning to get there!’ I am willing to believe that or assume it as a starting proposition. I’m saying, go back and replace ‘emptiness’ with ‘aliens’ or ‘Jesus’ and tell me that you couldn’t make the exact same argument. What I’m saying is, when you say:


I had an experience that consisted of: feeling this amazing, empty state; thinking this state represented the unconditioned mind; and feeling 100% certain that this was true, the only thing you actually have evidence of is that:


I had an experience that consisted of: feeling this amazing, empty state; thinking this state represented the unconditioned mind; and feeling 100% certain that this was true.


Now substitute alien abductions or those colorful Grateful Dead bears and tell me how the exact same logic doesn’t apply.


So if you are 100% sure that your experience represents the truth of a certain proposition; good on you. From my POV, all I can say is that I’m chatting with someone who feels 100% certainty that their experience matches a given verbal proposition. I’ll even accept it would be possible for me to have an experience that would make me 100% certain my experience matched a given verbal proposition, and yet, from where I’m standing now, I don’t see how that’s evidence of anything except that you can make individuals feel 100% certain of things.


Apparently this is some weird part of my spiritual path where I keep waiting for someone to explain to me, via logic, how Nietzsche was wrong, and no one has an answer other than ‘faith’. Oh fer Chrissakes, saralynn, fine, get out the tissues and I’ll join you in your state of woeful uncertainty. Let’s order a bunch of pizza and make it a girl’s night.

 
 
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10 April 2014 17:14
 

Nic: Apparently this is some weird part of my spiritual path where I keep waiting for someone to explain to me, via logic, how Nietzsche was wrong, and no one has an answer other than ‘faith’. Oh fer Chrissakes, saralynn, fine, get out the tissues and I’ll join you in your state of woeful uncertainty. Let’s order a bunch of pizza and make it a girl’s night. - See more at: http://www.project-reason.org/forum/viewthread/27919/P30/#350366

I didn’t say we couldn’t hope and root for our favorite team. 

Doesn’t that book seem interesting to you?  I read another book by the author which I enjoyed about her experience with cancer and how she was “brightsided” by positive thinkers and new agey types.

 
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