Bill Joslin interview – “Meditation: Deconstructing Nonsense” – #202

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This episode is about Meditation and is called Meditation: Deconstructing Nonsense. It’s being released on Thursday, June 19, 2014, and was recorded on Monday, June 16, 2014.

Bill Joslin at an early age developed a fascination with mind and awareness. Subsequently he spent 16 years studying Bonpo, Nyingma Buddhist and Taoist practices. He spent a year in Asia interviewing Buddhist monks in Laos, Cambodia, Nepal; Taoist practitioners in Indonesia, and Bonpo priests in Northwest Nepal, comparing practices as taught in the west with the original monasteries and traditions from which the teachings originated. Nine years ago, Bill was asked by a number of people to counsel them with mediation practices they were having difficulty with and not finding aid from their current teachers. From a sense of responsibility Bill then went through a process of questioning every aspect of meditative knowledge he had gained over those years, essentially applying critical thinking to spiritual practices. In short order the illusion of meditation, spiritual teachers, and philosophical frameworks dissolved and a concise, non-mystical view of mind, self and world emerged with simple clarity. Meditation and spiritual guru-ship is an ancient form of control, the residue of which we live with today.

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  29 comments for “Bill Joslin interview – “Meditation: Deconstructing Nonsense” – #202

  1. James Ledogar
    June 21, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    #202 is spot-on. I visited a zendo and practiced meditation (a few days a week) for a few years. The teacher was awesome and generous, but as I “Progressed” and came to meet his teachers I soon encountered an agenda. There was a right way and a a wrong way to think for sure and that’s mind control. My BS alarms cooled off my practice. I did meet a lot of cool people and learned a lot as well but, I don’t think it was what those higher-ups were serving.
    I did take note that more than a few of the charismatic spiritual teacher types will nail whatever sweet-thang they can (F*n jealous! kidding). That really sucks as many folks approaching that sort of thing are easy prey. That beast is as prevalent with the rimpoches as it is with the senseis and roshis.
    This podcast is awesome, I especially enjoyed the association of this info with the trivium. Brilliant. Time for me to cough up some cash. Thanks.

    • Patty Jackson
      July 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      My experience as well, James. Mind control is very active in the current yoga/chanting culture here in the states, keep your brain on if you are involved with any of the groups surrounding it, esp. with a popular “rock star” teacher that is being promoted. I spent five years in intense study. I would classify myself as one who got hurt in the process, I’ve made a good recovery however. I think the MAIN reason I got out of it was truly my study of philosophy (critical thinking) in college! I am glad that I happened upon this site which covers the trivium in detail. Thanks very much Jan.

      When you are constantly in these meditative states they can brainwash and train your mind. I saw this happening but I really trusted my teacher…to make the story short they tried to get my children involved and keep on asking me to bring my children. This was a “tantric” community…so I knew where that was going. “It’s all one love” – you see…:-P. All boundaries are bad, etc. They used music a lot in their brainwashing techniques.

      They threatened me and my family when I started to pull away. I realized with the threat level and the amount of intimidation in different parts of the city that this is a heavily connected group linked to other ones…very dark. It is becoming more and more clear to me in researching this that most likely these covert programs like MKUltra are still very active today.

      All I did was sign up for yoga! I still love yoga as a practice but I find Bill’s comment about the difference between the concept of energy vs. awareness interesting and helpful. I’m going to investigate that more. I appreciate his bringing all this down to reality and simplicity within the human being. What makes a good human being is one of the important questions I ask myself regularly now. Chop wood carry water.

      I’m making a donation as well and will continue in my study of the trivium! Much gratitude!

      • Patty Jackson
        July 4, 2014 at 9:32 pm

        To clarify in my post above, instead of “dark” I should have said “light”. The obsession in these cults is with the light, the light within.
        I realized that when looking directly at the light – what can I really see? Nothing. This is why people are called “stars” when they “make it”. All the popular songs on the radio are written by these people. I had to embrace my darkness, my imperfection, my ability to think for myself, and to be outside their acceptance to find the real thing. I do not agree with all of his ideas, of course, but I found Dante’s inferno an especially helpful read recently, where he states that hell is populated by people who have lost the good of intellect.

  2. jAck
    June 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Looks like Jan hits another out of the park. I found this interview online with a guy called Yuri Bezmenov. He was a Soviet defector who explains how the KGB used eastern meditation as a way of brainwashing the hippies of the past. Crazy stuff….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnf0I2dQ0i0

  3. darren geffert
    June 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    The link to;
    http://dbgak.net/Presentation.pdf
    is not working.

    I get the error;
    Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

    Please fix. Thanks

    • June 28, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Should be working now. Everything is also on screen in the video version.

  4. john cokos
    June 29, 2014 at 6:40 am

    I was going to “meditate” over Bill’s interview, but I changed my mind :)

    • Joe Marin
      July 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      The ‘Maharishi’ school are indeed a bloody joke, with a course named SIDDHI (i.e. spiritual powers) which costs a fortune and is supposed to give you spiritual powers. Shrewd self-help seller Deepak Chopra claims he can ‘play Spiderman’ (by the grace of his late guru, Maharishi).

      I agree 100% that Maharishi is just a pseudo-school for dupes, as many others are. I don’t buy the Free Tibet Kool-Aid campaign, either. However, I do not share the views of both interviewee and interviewer. The bitter experiences of Bill Joslin reflect by no means my experience as a meditator (or perhaps I’ve had similar disappointments before finding the right person and system).

      The way I’ve been taught is:

      – To effect intently a positive change in society.

      – Strong action and rebellion are not discouraged, and none of my teachers sympathises with Gandhi in the least (they all have rather grim views on him).

      – ‘Ahimsa’ is misunderstood and used for control: you must defend yourself and the innocent, but if you are to use force, do so with that intent, and not to destroy your enemy (i.e. avoid unnecessary cruelty towards the enemy and revelling in violence and destruction).

      – We certainly do follow, or try to follow, a strong code of ethics and conduct, but it’s nothing outlandish.

      – Physical freedom cannot be infinite, as material resources are finite and one’s freedom ends when another’s starts (those would be the only reason), but mental and spiritual freedom and expansion must be absolutely encouraged.

      – My teachers encourage me to think sharply, and to act. Action is very important in my ‘school’ (non-commercial, they don’t advertise).

      – We are all expressions of One infinite loving Consciousness, and the caste system, oligarchy, and other systems of exploitations must disappear from the face of this earth. One man cannot exploit other, for the other is also an expression of the Absolute (and that goes against God’s Law, Common Law or whatever principle you wish to quote).

      – (If we are to use the ‘G’ word:) the way to serve God is to serve His children, i.e. humanity. True spiritual seekers take this seriously.

      – It is not ‘I’ who creates all (who am ‘I’ anyway, if I only notice a small portion of myself?) The world is the creation of an Infinite Loving Consciousness, to which one tries to attune.

      Who I have learnt with or what is unimportant here: I am not here to do any proselytism, but just to share my experience. I’m also against New Age bollox, if that wasn’t clear by now.

      Finally, notwithstanding the abundant criticism thrown on this website against vegetarianism, my experience is that I feel a lot better since I am a veggie (17 yrs). I would also mention two remarkable people: Dr VE Irons, who died in perfect state of health at 98 (hit by a car), and Norman W. Walker, who died at 113 (if I remember rightly): both practiced what they preached (both advocated vegetarianism, and wrote books on health & diet). Their long lives speak for themselves. [This may not constitute kosher proof, but may be useful for those undecided.]

      • July 5, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Regarding vegetarianism, it’s eugenics. See the evidence we’ve provided as well as the detailed discussions without dismissing it as “abudant criticism thrown on this website against vegetarianism” as if we didn’t provide a whole lot of material to substantiate the facts. See for instance, the Bulletproof coffee shows, or Sally Fallon, etc. No, we won’t be sharing eugenics here. The brain runs on saturated fats. My aunt died last week at 105.5 and never ate low fat. She wrote 25 books. Thanks. Most kosher food is pretty toxic.

        Also, were these guys labor workers, did they drink a lot of milk or butter fat? etc. Very doubtful they ate a lot of grains, etc. If you drink a lot of milk and eat a ton of butter you’ll be ok, but generally it’s not a safe diet by any stretch of your wildest imagination – especially for developing children.

        Have you tried the bulletproof coffee, have you looked at the work at all? Or did you just come here in defense of this religion?

        Thanks.

        • sadun kal
          July 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm

          you can get saturated fat also from fruits n vegs i think. i doubt one needs to eat meat to survive or live healthy, but it might help if ones got limited access to bananas n stuff. the body is adaptive. just sayin

          • July 7, 2014 at 11:42 pm

            Please study the posts on this topic on this site (Sally Fallon, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Peter Glidden, Dave Asprey, etc) before posting unhealthy, unfounded diatribes. Your body will fill up with so much sugar that you’ll drop dead with cancer like Steve Jobs. Go peddle the sugar diet someplace else. The brain and reproductive systems run on saturated fats… not sugar, not vegetables.. I get that you’re a vegetarian and thought you’d share this without doing any research – hence why you’re a vegetarian. It’s an urban religion. This low fat, low protein diet is killing everyone and they’re fatter and sicker than ever. The China study was completely refuted: http://www.rawfoodsos.com – it’s nonsense.

          • Andie S
            August 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

            I had my genetics tested thru InherentHealth and found that I had a difficult time processing carbs and was better off on fats and proteins. People who are genetically better at carbohydrate digestion would seem to be the ones who might have an easier time being vegans. Sally Fallon said somewhere that the Japanese get most of their saturated fat from rice – perhaps this is a genetic glitch?

            I know from experience that I do not do well as a vegetarian / vegan. I also have ethical issues with factory farming. I’ve been looking into the work of Temple Grandin on humane slaughter, though that seems like an oxymoron to a vegan. It is possible.

            I wish the vegan police would take into consideration that some people can do well and many cannot on their diet. They do tend to be fanatics – I would expect them to take genetic info like that and use it to cull meat eaters, if they had the power to.

          • August 1, 2014 at 8:55 pm

            No one does better, really. It’s just eugenics.

        • James Ledogar
          July 8, 2014 at 9:33 pm

          I started drinking Bulletproof Coffee over a year ago. It’s evolved into more of a Bulletproof Smoothie — anyway, I’m down 45 pounds. I’m no longer a lard-ass! I don’t diet, I just5 avoid carbs and sugar. When I stray, eat pizza, ect, I get inflammation, beer and booze likewise. When I avoid wheaty, floury, sugary foods, I have a lot more energy, a better mood and a clearer mind. The “Wheat Belly” and “Bullet Proof Coffee” podcasts are loaded with excellent information and were a great help in steering me away from the carb addiction. That coffee’s a huge part of it — it’s the slow burning energy it packs that got me off the carb roller-coaster. I’ve seen disciplined vegetarians who seem very healthy and all the best to ‘em, but that’s not for me. I also hate killing animals but, what can I say, Earth is a rough place.

          • July 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

            Well said… and fruits are sugar… your story is the same as everyone else… without exception. The vegetarianism – that’s a religious cult that I used to belong to. It’s dangerous and almost killed me. Anyone who promotes vegetarianism/veganism here will not be tolerated. It’s a very sick lie.

        • sadun kal
          July 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

          Im not a vegetarian but i tried to live as a raw vegan for a while, a few years ago. I actually felt pretty good but it was difficult to find the right food all the time so I surrendered to the popular foods. But no Im not a vegetarian now, I eat meat regularly, I eat all kinds of stuff :) The china study may be refuted but thats irrelevant, bananas and many other things also contain saturated fats, that was my point. Those who got the resources may as well avoid meat, It’s not absolutely necessary imo, there are examples signifying this I think.. The trouble is the misinformation in general, makes it difficult to calculate how much of what is essential, but people are flexible really. Other than that I can easily believe that the reason behind vegan propaganda is at least partially to weaken the people, or deliberate manipulation due to lack of empathy or sth like that.. Eat meat if you need it.

  5. Ryan Gilmore
    July 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I’m going to have to give this repeated listens to try and mull over the details, but my first impression is that this is an extremely important episode.

    I recall Alan Watts giving lectures on the double bind. In this one cites Gregory Bateson’s work on it, and talks about how society puts children in a double bind (perhaps often unwittingly) and that this leads to state of perpetual frustration and even a kind of psychosis in the children:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsI04FhF418

    But in this clip Watts shows he is quite aware that the Zen master is putting their students in a double bind, but it’s a playful game and done out of compassion:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXX8XaZ8vV4

    This episode has got me thinking that most Zen masters are not doing it out of compassion.

    Is there such a thing as beneficial, controlled psychosis? Does a little part of us have to die to grow? Maybe. Is heroic ego death necessary for human development? Or must it always be a gradual process, lest the human mind is at risk for breaking?

    Stellar work Jan and Bill, very valuable discussion.

    • July 13, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Great comment, Ryan.

      Watts and Bateson both we know were MKULTRA related. Bateson was a founding member of the OSS. Eventually I’ll have to write that up. There’s a paper Joe’s got that’s halfway done on Bateson.

      As to your questions, I’ll leave the onus of proof to you, and you bring us the evidence when / if you find it. Until then….

      It’d sure be interesting to know… obviously from a predatory position it’s all to the advantage, so … I suppose in that sense there is a beneficial, controlled psychosis. But I doubt that’s what you meant.

  6. Omaraven Hurst
    August 25, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Well this was an incredible episode; a little difficult to get into but really worth persisting with and if I may be so bold, I’d call it the CORE item on Gnostic Media, if we take together the host, his thesis, the guests, their theses, the community and their responses. Bill takes apart the archetypal ‘spiritual’ ‘journey’ and critiques it until it whimpers. I even sensed that in the course of the process, the host may have had an ‘I am a sinner’ moment, in the context of an exemplary use of grammar, logic and rhetoric as tools of analysis but, crucially, as TOOLS OF EXPRESSION. We have, all of us, much to learn from this man’s industry and presentation.

  7. Omaraven Hurst
    August 25, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Can I also add that never was more clear to me that the exposure of agenda attached to the ‘liberation’ TOOLS of meditation, psychedelics, etc etc, has an END point beyond which we might start to be able to use the tools to our OWN agendas. That is that the substances, techniques etc, taken for themselves do not contain the agenda (or ‘a hammer is not always a weapon even after you’ve exposed that it has been used as one’)
    This also applies to the teachings, researches and writings of those who are and have been exposed as being TOOLS of CIA agendas.
    The duping process does not begin with end-users but with notions such as ‘patriotic duty’, ‘national identity’ etc etc, all of which are TOOLS OF MIND CONTROL much more powerful than the items currently under analysis.

  8. Dee Dee
    August 26, 2014 at 7:43 am

    What a great podcast. I had to comment.
    “Energy is awareness” THANK YOU. As a movement teacher and practicing meditator of over 25 years, getting people out of their minds and into their bodies to experience energy as awareness has been probably the hardest thing for people i have worked with to grasp. Those who think they are healers and energy workers are always the most out of touch with their movement and connection to breath and body. It all goes on in their heads.
    Also understanding the world intellectually does not help when developing awareness of movement within the body.
    Tension of every day modern life etc can cause emotional reposes when released, if a teacher or system put’s something on this or leads it, or if the person feels they have to react a certain way to emotions nothing changes. On the other hand if the person just takes note of what has come up the possibility to drop that emotion or tension arises and there is the possibility to move on, to relax.
    Emotions can effect the heart which in turn effect the mind or shen as it is known in TCM. The mind can be easily confused and manipulated in this state. the media use this all the time.
    Having worked with profoundly mentally and physically disabled people I found that a soft or clear, emotional approach with no associated preconceptions made for a better understanding of those I worked with.

    You spoke of the professionals who become new agers and leave their husbands/wives etc. I wonder if they have some weak mental predisposition or if it is the result of society nurturing a weak mind so as to have no grounding or ability to deal with situations without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Putting the “why” before the “what”. I may be wrong but Why seems like an emotional question, I think of someone weak shouting “WHY” rather like the old Nam poster of the soldier.
    “What”, on the other hand is direct perhaps even aggressive “WHAT the **** happened” .

    Enlightenment, I feel, is perhaps another word for taking responsibility and growing up a bit, but we don’t say kid’s are enlightened when they go through puberty or such like. This word is used like a nursery rhyme to entertain those who believe they are on a “spiritual” path. Eating drinking shitting and yup choppin wood, if you can’t find enlightenment in that then you are not looking.

    If you experience the death of a loved one then a mystical experience will be a piece of cake. Life, death, marriage breakdown etc etc.. life is the spiritual life, and to understand and observe our emotional state as we get older is how to grow up, that is to say not just react to every stimuli like a baby wanting food.

    Just a few comments thanks for reading.

  9. Dee Dee
    August 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

    What a great podcast. I had to comment.
    “Energy is awareness” THANK YOU. As a movement teacher and practicing meditator of over 25 years, getting people out of their minds and into their bodies to experience energy as awareness has been probably the hardest thing for people i have worked with to grasp. Those who think they are healers and energy workers are always the most out of touch with their movement and connection to breath and body. It all goes on in their heads.
    Also understanding the world intellectually does not help when developing awareness of movement within the body.
    Tension of every day modern life etc can cause emotional reposes when released, if a teacher or system put’s something on this or leads it, or if the person feels they have to react a certain way to emotions nothing changes. On the other hand if the person just takes note of what has come up the possibility to drop that emotion or tension arises and there is the possibility to move on, to relax.
    Emotions can effect the heart which in turn effect the mind or shen as it is known in TCM. The mind can be easily confused and manipulated in this state. the media use this all the time.
    Having worked with profoundly mentally and physically disabled people I found that a soft or clear, emotional approach with no associated preconceptions made for a better understanding of those I worked with.

    You spoke of the professionals who become new agers and leave their husbands/wives etc. I wonder if they have some weak mental predisposition or if it is the result of society nurturing a weak mind so as to have no grounding or ability to deal with situations without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Putting the “why” before the “what”. I may be wrong but Why seems like an emotional question, I think of someone weak shouting “WHY” rather like the old Nam poster of the soldier.
    “What”, on the other hand is direct perhaps even aggressive “WHAT the **** happened” .

    Enlightenment, I feel, is perhaps another word for taking responsibility and growing up a bit, but we don’t say kid’s are enlightened when they go through puberty or such like. This word is used like a nursery rhyme to entertain those who believe they are on a “spiritual” path. Eating drinking shitting and yup choppin wood, if you can’t find enlightenment in that then you are not looking.

    If you experience the death of a loved one then a mystical experience will be a piece of cake. Life, death, marriage breakdown etc etc.. life is the spiritual life, and to understand and observe our emotional state as we get older is how to grow up, that is to say not just react to every stimuli like a baby wanting food.

    Just a few comments thanks for reading.

  10. kars van kouwen
    August 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Hi Bill, great show, I got a question:

    What differentiates Transcendental Meditation from other forms of Meditation?

    I got a friend in Spain, who is a TM teacher, but he could or would not explain it to me, only saying it was special, en sharing anecdotes of the supposed benefits.

    Thanks for your answer!

  11. Bill Joslin
    September 12, 2014 at 7:18 am

    I’ve been meaning to post an overview of some objections which I have come across in regards to this interview on meditation.
    Most objections were a matter of nonsense or personal values. In either case I don’t see any necessity in addressing these rebuttals.
    First, there is some confusion over the length of time I spent in the endeavour. So let me clarify. I studied meditation for 16 years in total, which ended about 9, almost ten years ago. I think some heard 16, 9 and did math from there (totaling 7).
    —————————————————–
    Also there is this idea that I had a bad experience with meditation and therefore I now have this stance. This is not the case. When I say that I see a loss of 10 years, this is in hindsight knowing what I know now. I didn’t have upsetting experiences or bad relationships for the most part. I did though over-look and make excuses for deplorable behaviour by teachers by a twisted rational which accompanied the practices. I’ve witnessed damages to relationships in others life as well as my own, an under the values espoused by the dogma even supported some of the action. I see these clearly now with regret, but by no means was this why I stop the practices. I left meditation because I was emerging in a role as a teacher. Out of respect for this role and a sense of responsibility for those under my care (influence?) I invested a long time going through everything I had learned and questioned it all. I set parameters for the answers – answers had to be observable not based in the interpretation of events but in the events themselves. Then I went down the list. What do I know? How do I know it? Is my understanding a natural conclusion from the experience or is it based on theories and relational I picked up from others (and books)? After these influences were eliminated I then went through all of the significant experiences and began to deconstruct them. The result (one half of it – application of it is not covered) is in the interview…. So the interview is not a result of sour grapes – it is the result of sincerely being accountable.
    ———————————–
    This review http://oeith.co.uk/tag/bill-joslin/ was thought out and well done (I was unable to post there). The two primary objections are these.
    1) If we change the conversation from using sight as a demonstration of consciousness to say smell, then my arguments fail. This is not the case as smell senses an attribute not the distinction of an object in its totality, so the use of smell will fail not the analysis. This is addressed in the slides which break out what each sense detects. Sight is the only direct sense which can independently distinguish an object from self and surroundings. This is why sight was used for the presentation.

    2) The other is a declaration that self emerges in the process of identification, or is the process of identification. I don’t disagree. What I have attempted to do is describe this process rather than pontificate without definition. The description I came up with seems very linear as it is a linear description, however the process is non-linear in that the output becomes part of, or influences the next cycle of the process. This is the nature of non-linear systems (output becomes input for the next iteration). And this process is not a single operation but many running in parallel simultaneously. I think for most my description is counter-intuitive for most because of this reason.

    Other remarks—————————–
    “Clearly meditation has benefits” –
    Yes, but in so far as it can be a tool to build greater awareness of the nuances of mind… subtly of somatic sensations as related to stimulus… and awareness of subtler and more nuanced activities in the mind (different types of thinking, different levels and grades of thought, distinction between mood, attitude, expressions of being etc).
    These gains occur very quickly in the beginning of picking up the practice. In my experience for myself and in guiding others these gains are seen within the first few weeks or months for most people… but please keep in mind the following – anything which we observe with a desire to know, we will inevitably begin to learn about. Anything we practices using will increase our proficiency. With this in mind any observation and interaction with of mind will lead to gains… I posit that mediation is not more effective than other types of mental “work”.
    ——————————————–
    “There is so much science which states the benefits of meditation”.
    Almost all studies I’ve come across are dubious as is most soft science studies.
    Let me give a typical example. If I want to do a study on the effects meditation has on depression, I need to be able to measure the change – there needs to be some measurable output which states if there was a benefit or not, and state a case that meditation was responsible for the change.
    Most of these studies rely on self-reporting from the subjects meaning they will fill out some sort of questionnaire at the end. The first problem is “benefit” in this context is difficult to objectively define, the second problem is self reporting is highly biased or ambiguous. “I feel better” to one person is very different than to the next. You can’t root out the difference in self reported stats or accurately decipher the cause.
    Due to self-reporting and ambiguous/hard to define “benefits”, the structure and design of the study itself can easily dictate, and create (not predict) a positive outcome.
    For example. If I already know that morning routines, better eating habits and social interaction all have a positive effect on depression; I can design a study where morning meditation will take place before breakfast in the hospital. I can provide bagels and coffee as a courtesy to the participants after the meditation session. These will be served say 5 minutes after the session is complete.
    Naturally a few things will take place. For those who participate regularly, morning routine will improve as there is a structure is exerted on their schedule. Socialization will increase for a few while they wait the free breakfast during the 5 minute interlude. Having food available may positively affect eating habits etc…. These extraneous factors are not taken into consideration when testing for benefit.
    Definitions can be too narrow or broad. A benefit can be anything a participant considers beneficial, a detriment can be limited to symptoms of extreme psychosis. Also if I am designing a study to measure the benefit of meditation, measurement of detriment may never be included (as it doesn’t fall in-line with the terms of reference for the study).
    http://minet.org/www.trancenet.net/research/index.shtml#german
    I have witness the construction of a study like this and do know that this goes on intentionally (has the result of the study is usually funding for a program to follow). When questioned I was told it wasn’t unethical as they knew meditation was beneficial – they just needed a study to support the claim. They went on further to tell me this was common practice in social sciences and a source of huge disenfranchisement which they later got over.
    Now there are hard sciences which measure effects and benefits as well, but you have to approach these carefully as well because terms of reference effect, in this case not the data, but the how the data is represented.
    I recently came across a hard science study of the effects of mindfulness meditation which stated that meditation was beneficial because it “pruned” grey matter and reduced the size of the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for stress responses (fight or flight) and therefore reduces the effect of stress on the participants. They had cooler heads in the face of stressful situations. What is ignored is that the amygdala is also responsible for empathy – suppressed activity or size of the amygdala is a prime factor in psychopaths.
    This raises a HUGE contradiction, a claim to compassion yet a practice which actively reduces the capacity for empathy on a biological level.
    —————————————–
    http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/11/meditations-positive-residual-effects/
    http://neurosculptinginstitute.com/taming-the-fear-response/
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/blame-the-amygdala/201308/dissecting-empathy
    ———————————————–
    “Buddhist Lama’s would disagree”
    I don’t care.
    ——————————
    “Damage only happens with some esoteric practices or with prolonged meditative sessions”
    My assertion is the definition of damage is too narrow. And that there are lesser degrees of damage which go unnoticed as a result.
    Most benefits, for instance the ability to disassociate from a situation to better deal with it, are fine if applied with scale and scope of the situation. To apply the same technique the self is a bit like shooting gophers with a 12-gauge.
    Statements like this are irresponsible and blatantly false:
    “Meditation is in general safer than just sitting and watching television for half an hour twice a day”
    None of these benefits equate in significance to the claims that meditative practices espouse – direct experience of reality – breaking through the illusions of reality – enlightenment – siddhas (special abilities)-freeing humanity from suffering. This is the main point which isn’t addressed by apologists. The claims of mediation are a lie (or based in ignorance), however reasonable people continue on because of benefits they find, each step of the way wearing down their ability to assess reality critically.
    Critical thinking provides these things more effectively and is far superior (special abilities – Trivium applied as scientific method has provided these abilities through technology.)
    I would posit that there are techniques which do not make these claims which provide equal or better benefits without a dangerous shadow… such as applying Trivium to emotions, feelings (somatic experience), personal physical expression (our own body language) etc or techniques which do not elevate the practices to mystical proportions… proportions beyond reproach… the emperor has no clothes.
    http://minet.org/www.trancenet.net/research/1999thiese.shtml
    ———————————-
    My intentions of the presentation is to raise awareness around how these practices, with the cultures and sub-cultures around them, lead us to ask the wrong questions, look for answers in the wrong places. If you are to gain in any practice of the mind, critical thought must be applied. We must ask the right questions and apply the intellect properly etc.

    We must ask ourselves this question.
    How has a culture based on meditation, with the prime tenant being the reduction or elimination of human suffering scored historically in reducing human suffering?
    Think of hunger, or personal rights – Has Buddhism found ways to feed the starving – did starvation reduce noticeably after the Buddha became enlightened. NO.
    In fact the amount of Buddhist humanitarian organizations are slightly underrepresented compared to the population of Buddhist in the world.
    (Buddhist as a percentage of world population = 6.7% representing 4.4% of humanitarian NGO’s[14 total])
    (For comparison: Christians as a percentage of world population = 33% representing 58% of humanitarian NGO’s [187 total])
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations
    http://sites.tufts.edu/jha/archives/847
    http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/bud_statwrld.htm

    However, the human condition has greatly increased over the last few centuries, for many, as a direct result of Critical Thought being integrated with measurable observation (when grammar and logic where merged into the scientific method).
    You may find meditation has benefits – I did too – but when looked at critically these benefits pale in comparison to the claims attached to the practice. It is not a fix-all, all-positive, no-downside remedy for humans, human suffering or a solution to world peace… But clear reasoning (Trivium – scientific method-medicine etc) is proving that it just might be!

    • Jonas Slip
      November 2, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for a very interesting and unusual take on meditation and enlightenment, I have never come across it before.

      A few questions that came up for me were:

      1. If we assume that you are correct, and meditation along with enlightenment basically is a sort of a mind trick and not ontologically true (we are not one with everything and so on), how come no one has ever understood this until now? Is it because of the context that these experiences are presented in, with spiritual traditions with masters and what you call double binds? It seems to me that at least someone, somewhere, should have been able to call the bluff. Do you know if there are other people that have suggested the same thing as you?

      2. Your own take on the end game still sounds somewhat like what a lot of sages have said throughout history. There’s really nothing to do, nothing to attain, you have it all, and so forth. Bodhidharma famously answered the question “what is the most important principle of buddhism?” with “vast emptiness, nothing sacred”, and “who are you?” with “I don’t know”. Could you elaborate on how that is different from how you view enlightenment?

      3. Have you read Sam Harris’s book Waking Up? If so, would you mind giving a comment on it and how you see it relating to your perspective?

      4. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned the experience of believing you “know” strangers that you really don’t know. I felt this strongly on the very first meditation course I ever went to about a decade ago. On the second day I looked at all of the other people in the course and it felt like they were old friends. This really surprised me and I have never got an explanation for it before. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that when I increase my meditation, I also tend to get so-called deja vu’s more frequently. Have you heard of this and do you have any explanation for it?

      • Bill Joslin
        November 7, 2014 at 11:57 am

        1. If we assume that you are correct… that at least someone, somewhere, should have been able to call the bluff. Do you know if there are other people that have suggested the same thing as you?

        In My experience and evident by some commenters for this presentation elsewhere on the net, others do come to this conclusion and it is quite common. However I believe they come to it quite early on (somewhere around 2 years in practice). I think for those people their conclusions never leave the realm of personal opinion and don’t feel they have any credibility to make the assertion. I think it also leaves them in the position to not develop deeper explanations as they are not in a role to present them. For myself, this spun-out-of the role to teach which demanded deeper inquiry and more developed explanations.

        —————————————————–
        2. Your own take on the end game still sounds somewhat like what a lot of sages have said throughout history. There’s really nothing to do, nothing to attain, you have it all, and so forth. Bodhidharma famously answered the question “what is the most important principle of buddhism?” with “vast emptiness, nothing sacred”, and “who are you?” with “I don’t know”. Could you elaborate on how that is different from how you view enlightenment?

        My assertion is not really “do nothing, nothing to attain” and/or “no self” it is that the outcome of meditation without erroneous, hasty conclusions results in the direct experience of one own autonomy and sovereignty. The result is recognizing the source of one’s self determination and how it is closely coupled with consequence (action/consequence)(freedom/responsibility). This, to me is not an enlightened state. It is commonsense. We know that actions results in consequence. Coming to a deeper experience of this may afford us clearer and more detail understanding, which has benefit, but it is by no means a mystery, beyond ordinary experience, beyond “space and time”, beyond words (must be experienced to be understood) etc. Enlightenment is an illusion – it is a lie.

        Regarding the “nothing to attain” train of thought: my assertion is the dynamic toward greater awareness is always at play. It is ongoing and ever present, inherent to consciousness, thus the deeper clarity on self-autonomy would naturally occur if left alone. In essence the mind is always driving toward this distinction therefore there is nothing “to do” (in a taoist sense).

        The flip side is this natural process can be subverted and thwarted in a number of way. I didn’t state in the presentation but would assert that most influences in our society do just that. For example: Navel gazing and emotional analysis is a means of applying a conscious bias upon the senses and pre-conscious processes. If this bias is not present the experience is allow to continue unhindered, the experience then transmutes into information in consciousness and the tensions of those experience would release/subside. By applying a bias on the senses, any sensation/emotion is then qualified before it rises into awareness so the information is distorted in consciousness, freezing the tensions in the pre-conscious process as “a way of being” (intentionally held awareness). The tension remains, the information is never understood. We are then left with the tension held as “a sense of self” and the conclusion which thwarted the process as part of a world definition which must be asserted (or upheld).

        Another example is the religious thoughts that humans are fundamentally flawed and therefore need to be fixed, saved, liberated etc. One which is now clothed in the field of psychology.

        In this context a clearer experience of our autonomy is not something to be achieved, but rather allowed. To allow it we need to understand how it is subverted. To understand how it is subverted we need to understand its dynamics. This is the whole point of the presentation. Critical thinking must accompany practices of awareness. If we don’t apply rigor to the senses then any thinking applied to sensory data is potentially flawed (because the sensory data is filtered through a bias).

        ——————————————————–
        3. Have you read Sam Harris’s book Waking Up? If so, would you mind giving a comment on it and how you see it relating to your perspective?

        I’m familiar with Sam Harris’s atheist debates but not his books, so I am unable to comment.

        ————————————————————–
        4. I thought it was interesting that you mentioned the experience of believing you “know” strangers that you really don’t know. I felt this strongly on the very first meditation course I ever went to about a decade ago. On the second day I looked at all of the other people in the course and it felt like they were old friends. This really surprised me and I have never got an explanation for it before. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that when I increase my meditation, I also tend to get so-called déjà vu’s more frequently. Have you heard of this and do you have any explanation for it?

        One explanation for déjà vu is information from one eye is processes slightly after the other eye. When the second signal is received it is felt as a memory of the first signal.

        I too have noticed this dynamic and have used it often. I call it a “hiccup”. Occasionally I will come across an event which, for a minute or so, will feel like I’m remembering a moment, when I remembered the moment which I’m currently experiencing (like a double déjà vu).

        I find at these points it’s important to acknowledge that something important is happening, allow it to pass without analysis and to make note of the somatic sensation of the experience (tensions in the body or face).

        When the moment passes or when I have a moment to myself, I will call up the somatic sensations again and allow it to be. Very “fleeting” thoughts or memories will rise (usually very mundane stuff which we don’t pay attention to and seem utterly trivial) which slightly changes the somatic feeling. Then stick with the new somatic sensations (very lightly). Then again a fleeting thought or memory will rise and the feeling will change again and so on until a thought or memory will rise which dissipates the feeling altogether. This usually comes with a deeper understanding or realization, but not always.

        I find the understanding which rises will be sort of a half-known distinction which was present in the initial experience and somewhere there was a delay in processing leaving the feeling of déjà vu.

        This is less like “doing” something and more like “allowing” something without conclusions imposed upon it.

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