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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  35 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.

        • john doe
          January 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm

          Hi Bill,

          Thank you for this fascinating presentation and your thoughts. They are clear, logical, and definitely make a lot of sense for the most part. One of the things I have observed quite frequently is people who claim to have reached high states of conscious-ness, then saying things that are completely in touch with reality. Clearly critical thinking is missing – which goes to show meditation (as you define it) is not the be-all, end-all.

          I still have some lingering questions and thoughts though, if you have a few minutes to read and perhaps answer. I should warn you that I am a complete layman at meditation, although I have read a lot about it. My main intention here is to have a clearer understanding about what you said – trying very hard to ask questions without bias :) In my view, there are systems (such as they 4th way of Gurdijeff) that incorporate the best of these approaches so when I use the word meditation, I mean it in the broadest sense (as a way of life).

          1) From what you say the takeaway seems to be that mystical states are a dead end, and cultivating greater awareness of our external and internal reality is something beneficial, and probably the primary benefit of meditation. You also said that this was achieved in most cases in a very short time and is better done with the trivium method. While I agree with this assessment (different strokes for different folks, I suppose), I also wonder if the goal of a ‘true’ system of meditation (perhaps in ancient times…?) was the cultivation of some super-human state of awareness which you did not progress to (yet), rather than the mystical states which can be self-deluding ? What if the enlightenment stage where you realized what was common sense (and thus according to you, not worthy of years of study) was not the distinction you sought, but just an incomplete insight – to use your own vocabulary? Plainly speaking – do you think you have the whole banana?

          2) Your description of the interconnectedness state is fascinating – the awareness that we are all ‘one’. Would it be possible to ‘do’ anything with this state? By this I mean the third pillar of taking action to ‘change the world’ so to speak. I realize you said the awareness that we are one and thus god is an illusion, but say for instance we don’t fall into it and use critical thinking – can we do something with this knowledge to change the world or ourselves? And if we could, should we?

          3) A lot of what you say seem to focus on the physical ‘reality’. Now I’ve read many texts (some even scientific!), that postulate the existence of other realities like our own that can be accessed, if we know how. It has also been said that these ‘realms’ are accessible as our awareness grows, thus bringing human beings to understand the larger concept than what we can perceive with our physical senses. But you don’t seem to focus too much on this. May I ask why?

          4) Now the most important question. If this this whole meditation stuff is not worth it, then what is the purpose of it, in the grand scheme of things? Why have all the mystical and esoteric orders (gnosis, vedanta, sufism, tao, buddhism, the 4th way etc.) advocated a focus on greater awareness, within and without in our daily lives? Granted this can be achieved in a number of ways, but they all essentially say the same thing at their core if you strip out the nonsense. Are they all out the dupe us, in some sort of a grand and ultimate deception? What is the objective?

          Looking forward to your answers with great anticipation!
          John.

          • Bill Joslin
            February 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

            Hi Bill,
            Thank you for this fascinating presentation and your thoughts. They are clear, logical, and definitely make a lot of sense for the most part. One of the things I have observed quite frequently is people who claim to have reached high states of conscious-ness, then saying things that are completely in touch with reality. Clearly critical thinking is missing – which goes to show meditation (as you define it) is not the be-all, end-all.

            I still have some lingering questions and thoughts though, if you have a few minutes to read and perhaps answer. I should warn you that I am a complete layman at meditation, although I have read a lot about it. My main intention here is to have a clearer understanding about what you said – trying very hard to ask questions without bias In my view, there are systems (such as they 4th way of Gurdijeff) that incorporate the best of these approaches so when I use the word meditation, I mean it in the broadest sense (as a way of life).

            1) From what you say the takeaway seems to be that mystical states are a dead end, and cultivating greater awareness of our external and internal reality is something beneficial, and probably the primary benefit of meditation. You also said that this was achieved in most cases in a very short time and is better done with the trivium method. While I agree with this assessment (different strokes for different folks, I suppose), I also wonder if the goal of a ‘true’ system of meditation (perhaps in ancient times…?) was the cultivation of some super-human state of awareness which you did not progress to (yet), rather than the mystical states which can be self-deluding ? What if the enlightenment stage where you realized what was common sense (and thus according to you, not worthy of years of study) was not the distinction you sought, but just an incomplete insight – to use your own vocabulary? Plainly speaking – do you think you have the whole banana?

            ———————————————————————————————————————-
            As to the primary benefits of meditation:
            What formal meditation provides is developing awareness of the nuances in mental activity and somatic fluctuations. As to mental activities – the connotation for most is “thinking” is the voice we talk to in our head, however there are more subtle, fleeting activities which underline this voice – the key to these subtleties in body language, it is somatic. Think of the difference between normal discursive thought and “mood”, then the difference between “moods” and having an attitude. Meditation can open up awareness to how a pervasive attitude will set a mood which then dictates the context of thinking. To graps and gain some control over mood and attitude isn’t done from thinking as most people “think”. It is somatic – found in the body, similar to body language (and is body language), tone of voice etc. Meditation can start to develop real time awareness of shifts and fluctuations at this somatic level, then in time the relationship between this to thought rises, then eventually how this also effects what we identify in perception. Perception never fails only our identification of what we are perceiving. Gaining awareness of the somatic level allows us t be aware of when we are intentionally distorting information. This somatic item is how practices like Tai Chi, Qi Gung, Spontaneous movement, shaking etc can have an effect on awareness.

            I say this is only in the initial phases because initially before one can “progress” to more advanced or more intense meditation one needs some control on concentration. From this point forward meditation is the active dis-integration of consciousness. This creates instability in awareness which the practitioner, as a matter of survival in some cases, needs to manage. The benefit, insights, wisdom the person gains from meditation is in the management of this instability (re-integrate consciousness), not from the practice, but in spite of it.

            Consciousness is the integration of inputs, information into a coherent whole. So meditation cannot lay claim to these benefits as it is working directly in opposition to integration.

            Think of it this way. The core, axiomatic, root of our free will is over our mind. We can focus our attention on an object (pay attention), unfocus our attention (drift around half aware or the object) or we can avoid it all together (ignore it, evade it). Through focus we integrate the data from the object. With half attention the information is integrated randomly and arbitrarily (incorrectly, mistakenly). Through suppressing attention, disassociating it from any identity or knowledge – we are dis-integrating information. If you have mis-integrated awareness then dis-integrating can create a clear space to then integrate properly. Integration cannot be done completely without critical thinking – as this is the last phase it.

            In my experience with the highest levels of meditation, most schools will not teach in the west, this dis-integration is very intense. After just a few weeks one’s awareness changes drastically. At this level there are adjunct practices which are not considered meditation but rather a means to manage and dissipate the “excess accumulation of energy”. These adjunct practices across all disciplines are the same. Keep a portion of your attention very lightly on the periphery of your awareness and when tension rises or thought pulls you too much out of attention, then simply relax. “Surrender” is commonly used. When I say periphery of awareness I mean this. When you focus on the screen in front of you, be aware of what is in the periphery of you field of view without changing the focus of your eyes, keep your body position in your attention. When body tension rises, relax. When you focus to forcefully and find your no longer aware of the periphery, relax to bring it back in….

            ALL of the benefits I have gained have been from these adjunct practices and NONE from the actual meditations. These adjunct practices can be described differently and simply as this – Pay Attention. This is the proper practice and it is not meditation it is simply not drifting around (mis-integrating).

            Consciousness is an integrated whole, not a composite. This whole is not a mind-body, internal-external dichotomy. If one pursues dis-integration it affects everything, actions, self-concept, relationship, judgement, decisions, and actions and so on.

            As to whether I missed the point or went down some wrong path… for allot of years I considered this. Then I started looking more objectively at the people who apparently had gone down the right path. There were way too many contradictions between their teachings, behaviour and presented way of being (persona). The further down the path they went the more contradictions became apparent. As these contradictions rose further ideas where laid over top of their framework to compensate – crazy wisdom, coyote teaching etc. As students are faced with these contradictions they find ways to reconcile “my beloved teacher” with “what an ass” and make excuses for the behaviour, however if a student behaves just as the teacher does then they are told “you’ve missed the boat”. At the end of the day it just doesn’t add up.

            So to me it isn’t a matter of me having the whole banana, I know I don’t – it is a matter of these mystery schools not having any banana in the first place.

            The whole premise behind mysticism is that the mind, internal activity, take precedence over sensory perception. Essentially consciousness creates the material world. The world is not independent from our consciousness. Primacy of consciousness… consider one thing – consciousness is consciousness of SOMETHING. Existence exists, consciousness exist. Reversing the order is invalid.
            ———————————————————————————————————————-

            2) Your description of the interconnectedness state is fascinating – the awareness that we are all ‘one’. Would it be possible to ‘do’ anything with this state? By this I mean the third pillar of taking action to ‘change the world’ so to speak. I realize you said the awareness that we are one and thus god is an illusion, but say for instance we don’t fall into it and use critical thinking – can we do something with this knowledge to change the world or ourselves? And if we could, should we?
            ———————————————————————————–

            I found it a precarious place as any action in itself demands we move back into an association with the world somehow. As you move into the actions, even just the action of speaking then the state begins to diminish and so be it. Remember this is not the identification of a connection between all, it is the beginning of the recognition in sensory perception of one volitional awareness. It is you and only you. Think of it this way. Looking through a glass window and making the distinction between the glass and everything you see beyond it. Everything you see is through the glass…. the feeling of being connected to all things is the emergence of the one common denominator in every and all experience you’ve ever had – you. It is the direct experience of your own volitional awareness, not the recognition of a connection through all things in reality.

            ————————————————————————————

            3) A lot of what you say seem to focus on the physical ‘reality’. Now I’ve read many texts (some even scientific!), that postulate the existence of other realities like our own that can be accessed, if we know how. It has also been said that these ‘realms’ are accessible as our awareness grows, thus bringing human beings to understand the larger concept than what we can perceive with our physical senses. But you don’t seem to focus too much on this. May I ask why?
            ——————————————————————————————–

            Without the primacy of existence how do we ever know how to access these worlds, how do we know anything at all. The contradiction in these ideas is they approach these inner worlds as if they are not only an external world but more real by the same standard that we consider this world to be real (by its material standard). These realms are simply realms of the mind when disconnected from the senses; it is the mind rambling around within itself. When I questioned the validity of these claims, not so much the concept itself but as it applied to my own practices, then it became clear. What we are observing is the nature of mind itself. Not my mind, or lower mind, or the mind of me – just mind – any mind… the nature of human awareness. This is not a disqualifying statement. It s not to say this is not worthwhile, or these “realms” are worthless. It is about seeing them for what they are – activities with in the mind. Now this isn’t something to be thrown out, but at the same time this isn’t something to be related to in the same way we relate to the “physical reality”. It is about identifying it for what it is. To state these experiences whether on LSD or meditation is some gateway into another world is to measure that apparent world by the standards of this world – then to elevated it above or more important than this world. This is mis-integration. By not embracing these based on arbitrary conclusions but by embracing them for what they are is where the real gold is – it’s just not as interesting as “chemical gateways” etc. It is nonsense, not in a pejorative way, but by definition – disregard for sensory data – non-sense. And this is the cruxt of spirituality, a disregard for this world, for this self, for this experience. This is the motivation behind these practices – to disintegrate a world which one has distain/discomfort/anxiety (whatever) for….

            As for science supporting these ideas take a look at Harriman… Jan has an interview with him… philosophy of science… This changed in the late 19-early 20th century to adopt, essentially, a primacy of consciousness philosophy. This doesn’t call into question the accuracy of the math, or the evidence but rather our explanation or what the math and evidence is telling us (integration of that information).

            IMO we are in the very first days of a transition into a new Dark Age because of this one fact.

            ——————————————————————————————–

            4) Now the most important question. If this this whole meditation stuff is not worth it, then what is the purpose of it, in the grand scheme of things? Why have all the mystical and esoteric orders (gnosis, vedanta, sufism, tao, buddhism, the 4th way etc.) advocated a focus on greater awareness, within and without in our daily lives? Granted this can be achieved in a number of ways, but they all essentially say the same thing at their core if you strip out the nonsense. Are they all out the dupe us, in some sort of a grand and ultimate deception? What is the objective?

            ————————————————————————————-

            IMO Mankind is evolving through social means rather than biological means. When enough people get together into a large population we run into problems. We don’t all get along; we don’t all share the same goals etc. For mankind to evolve on this path, survival through co-operative action, something had to come together which address these issues or we simply wouldn’t have developed larger communities (which then lead to further advances etc). Mystical belief filled some of the gaps – some psychological – some logistical –some social etc. For me I see this a a very early form of epistemology. A very crude one which has one very strong point – empiricism. You can take up a practice and have palpable, strong experiences – a framework which allows for some predictability of outcomes etc. You can prove to yourself the validity of the framework behind meditation by creating these experiences through the practices. The problem is the foundations of these frameworks are arbitrarily constructed, based on assumptions and arbitrary definitions. They are a bronze age way of looking at the world.

            This to me is a relic of the past – which eventually became a way to control the masses (from practitioners to eventually worshipers) – and what we have today is a residual of it still present and still operating on people in the same way. If we start to ask the right questions about this (not things like what are the benefits of meditation” but rather “what are the real effects”, “how does this effect differ from say daydreaming, positive self-talk, fantasy” etc) then we could open up to allot of benefit – but it would not be meditation anymore – it would be something else.

            It has survived, not because the supernatural is real in the way that mystics state, but rather because it is effective in creating an experience – question is just what is this experience. For me I have figured this out with certainty. Not because of sour grapes, or flawed practice, but because of diligent effort with a sincere desire to know. My intention isn’t for you to accept what I say, nor is it to say “here’s the path, find out for yourself” it is do demonstrate that when the right questions are asked with the right approach (and sincerity) then you can find real answers… not borrowed insights, or rented knowledge, but real answers with real certainty – the kind of answers which spirituality claims to give through direct experience.
            ————————————————————————————-

            Looking forward to your answers with great anticipation!
            John.

  12. George Nada
    April 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I know I’m late to this discussion — but anyhow…

    “It is nonsense, not in a pejorative way, but by definition – disregard for sensory data – non-sense. And this is the cruxt of spirituality, a disregard for this world, for this self, for this experience. ”

    “For mankind to evolve on this path, survival through co-operative action, something had to come together which address these issues or we simply wouldn’t have developed larger communities (which then lead to further advances etc). Mystical belief filled some of the gaps – some psychological – some logistical –some social etc. For me I see this a a very early form of epistemology. A very crude one which has one very strong point – empiricism.”

    ********************************
    Great read and presentation.

    You personal experience with meditation and consciousness is very Philosophical — both in the classical tradition (Plato, Aristotle) and modern (Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, British empiricism etc.). The mind/body interaction; a priori, a posteriori — searching for an epistemological whole — for truth and moral action. Much like Descartes you arrived at your conclusions through internal meditation and rational re-examination of your own thoughts and interaction with the world of the senses.

    I share many of your conclusions, and I find it interesting that you have developed your own vocabulary for many of the on-going terms that we readers of philosophy also have a vocabulary for. Its very inventive and perhaps Aristotelian: The world exists and can be correctly examined. In Ayn Rand’s terms, A = A.

    The fascinating concurrent thesis, however, is that one’s world view, perception and consciousness can be programmed (which dovetails nicely with Jan’s work).

    One can learn to be Masterfully critical — i.e autonomous– a free thinker in the truest sense of the trivium and quadrivium. Or one can be governmentally programmed — schooled and indoctrinated (or as you point out –meditatively indoctrinated) to create a non-critical Slave consciousness. Government literally meaning: Govern (control) ment (mind) = mind-control.

    The master/slave dialectic (Hegelian):

    Pompey Magnus wistfully says to his slave how nice it must be to be a slave and not deal with ruling decisions & disasters — as he is about to be defeated by Caesar (fiction: The HBO Rome series).

    In Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals he expands on the Hegelian dialectic: The Master Morality sees the world as it is — good means good to the senses — real power and real world beauty. “I’m stronger, smarter and better looking.” Slave morality reacts to its inferior good/strength/beauty and creates an inner (Stoic) consciousness — good becomes a product of imagination or intention (thoughts), not real achievement, power or beauty– “beauty is only skin deep”, “he meant well”…one is moral only if one does good for goodness sake alone, without reward or threat of punishment (Kant’s categorical imperative).

    Hegel’s master/slave dialectic is for me similar to Hobbes State of Nature with his Death Struggle, but it is also an allegory for consciousness. As Sartre points out, we exist as both “In-itself” and “for-itself” consciousness. The master and slave define each other. The relationship creates self consciousness. The “Slave” can achieve self consciousness through work in the physical world, that is, by working with his hands in the physical world — he identifies himself with his creation. The “Master” lacks this creation and is dependent on the “slave.” He has nothing in the physical world to identify as his own, only his power over the “Slave” which is fleeting. For example, a bust of Caesar still exists today and can be seen and touched in a museum — it was the work of a real living craftsman, plebeian or “slave.” The “slave’s” physical creation has out-lasted Caesar the man “master.”

    You are spot on, in my opinion, with your political critique of eastern mysticism. It is literally non-sense —a life denying view of the world. The Brahman’s stoical failure — his mystical life-denying withdrawal — only results in more suffering. However, I think there may be more to the story between the Hindi caste system (color (skin)/ Iran/land of Aryan), Brahmins and Siddhartha’s questioning of these castes and systems. For in his quest to overcome the Four Sufferings of Birth, Old-Age, Sickness & Death, the Buddha eventually joins the social world again. In my view, the Buddhas insight was in teaching a method for dealing with suffering. In the end he joins the world again –and tells others that there is wisdom in being a Bodhisattva — that it is part of the noble path. In other words, suffering can be dealt with, but we should also help others to systematically reduce suffering by using our rational critical faculties. (Schopenhauer’s comments on the Buddha are interesting, I’ll also mention Christian Lindner’s JesusisBuddha.com).

    I think the Abrahman (Abraham) is an archetypal Brahman. It’s an eastern stoic slave-morality that came from the east and spread along the spice trail to the mythical land of Canaan. It spread naturally as a resistance to being ruled over. It was the dialectical Slave morality response to the Master morality of Divine Right…might makes right… of Monarchy/Archons/Rulers. The Judaic chosen-ness world view, with its special covenant with the jealous Yahweh creator is just one slave -morality among many early religions — but what an impact is still has today! (Much of which is abhorrent). It was an inward reality-creation to deal with its slave reality and lack of true power. There was no historical Temple of Solomon. No historical King David. But clearly its world view and the Noahide laws are a mind control power regime (Focault), and define much of western civilization. Nietzsche thought this quite an accomplishment!

    Gnostic approaches to Rulers (Archons) theorize that there must be a spark of gnosis within each person—one that wants to be free from archonic rule. This in my view is the spark of natural rights — myself as my property — not to be infringed upon. The slave-morality could be seen as the basis of natural rights and of our modern morality and human complexity. It creates an artificial mythical world — it claims power and mythical resistance, true or not. By first creating a resistance Religion it threatens an Empire, but as we know, it eventually gets co-opted by the Empire Ruler (Archon) himself —Emperor Constantine.

    But the slave morality persists —it goes underground. It hides in things like scrolls and texts. It resists universal (catholic) thinking and Inquisitions. It creates secret societies with hidden knowledge. It combats the physical plunder of the over-man (Übermensch). It resists Rulers for centuries and mythically adapts. In the end, the Slave-morality takes over the physical Master (Nietzsche’s will to power). It becomes Master over the physical tyranny of the strongman. How about a sling with a stone to kill that big-ol Goliath? Or a gun to settle the dispute instead of the fist? The slave-morality imagines, thinks about eventual conquest – freedom. But the freedom is fleeting, the servant becomes master. Batman: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

    This stoic inward Mastery survived the medieval dark ages to find Aristotle yet again in Augustine. By resistance to early dogma, the heretics used the inward stoic yet again. Modern concepts such as a subconscious mind, the importance of correct thinking and the written/printed word led to Mastery over the effectiveness of written/media mental controls — much more effective than physical enslavement. Mind control techniques — i.e. Edward Bernays and Mad-Men marketing — are the logically preferred tools of the modern age. We appear to be transforming resisting — awakening —yet again. Will people go beyond good and evil? Side-step the master/slave dialectic?

    Our modern world of State control is the modern will to power. Rule over your mind, your thoughts and over all of your information. If its free — you are the product…as someone said. Best put by Friedrich Bastiat— “The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks to live at the expense of everybody else.” Or as Pogo said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    Nietzsche would say that makes us human– all too human.

    • Bill Joslin
      April 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

      *****************************************
      Best put by Friedrich Bastiat— “The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks to live at the expense of everybody else.”
      Or as Pogo said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
      ******************************************

      This is good – Thanks for the input.

      On ethics and morality… both of which are conceptual principles which should have a footing in percepts to be considered sound (IMO).

      The percept of “man survives through his volitional faculty of reason” – the essential argument for critical thinking and rational action, and leads to Randian morality- is IMO only half of the truth. Now I don’t disagree with this point. I also don’t think of this as a logical, conceptual “creation” of a new ethic but rather the recognition of what is a very real observation. Try as you might, any and all actions can eventually be reduced to self-interest. Best to accept this for what it is – a necessity for survival… but as I said it is only one side of the percept.

      The other side is that “man is a social animal”. We have survived through combined, cooperative, collaborative efforts in groupings, not as solitary animals. This, social life – cooperative hunting, IMO is the primary circumstance for reason to develop… and reason is necessary for survival. These two halves are immutable.

      This dichotomy is the core conflict underpinning human morality. If solitary beings (cougars and tigers in the forest) morality and ethics would never be a struggle – in fact it would be irrelevant. That which supports my survival is best. As cooperative hunters (wolf packs etc) considering the consequences of my individual action upon the group becomes imperative. If I fall out of grace with the group, my survival is threatened…

      What if my interests conflict with others? …there’s the rub. This is were ethics and morality becomes essential. This is what underpins ethics and morality as a percept, a metaphysical conflict. We are constantly dealing with self-interest versus the impact of group interest.

      At this point, ordering is important. Which one of these two are essential and which one is derivative? Without the individual there can be no group. Without the group there is still the individual. The individual is essential. If the individual is placed as a secondary concern compared with the group concern then the group is doomed. You can not sacrifice the integrity of a building’s foundation for the “good” of the higher floors – the building will fall down.

      When I think about the master/slave morality, from which some very nasty ideas have sprung, I see the above as being ignored. As far as I can see the master/slave dichotomy is roughly this. The master claims his view on “goodness” as “goodness” – he is judge and jury of what is right. He defines the terms, then demands compliance. He can do so because of might. His might is dependent on the compliance of the slave. The slave, who is not dependent upon the master for survival(but has no might), defines his morality against the imposition of the master. The slave’s morality is dependent upon the master’s. This is the dichotomy of “dominance vs. avoiding dominance”. Each relies upon the other for it’s existence.

      Acknowledging these facts: an individual “acts” off of his own faculty of volition, a group has no essential volitional capacity (only the aggregate of individual volition); it becomes apparent that preservation of the individual is the only “morality” which preserves the survival of both the individual and the group…. “mitts off” the individual is the only ethical foundation…. “what you think and do is none of my business, unless you make it my business by interfering in what I think and do”… is the only statement of ethics which has any footing in reality.

      I don’t see this as derivative of slave mentality as it does not derive from the master’s morals but rather derives from facts of reality.

      Why this doesn’t take hold in society for very long is it demands individuals to be responsible and accountable for themselves as a primary… and the only responsibility of the group is “to ensure mitts off”. Most are not willing to do this.

      On small levels – like say, having your street cleared of snow in the winter, it is a matter of convenience. On large levels like being responsible to protect your life (and the life of your family) from criminals (to kill) – it is a matter of courage and fortitude… we sell off the foundation of who we are (our volitional capacity) to the group out of laziness and fear.

      In complex systems, power converges, wealth converges, influence converges. This too is a fact of nature… if you acquire wealth, you increase your chances of acquiring more wealth in the future. If you gain public influence, you increase the likely hood of gaining influence in the future… for instance – if you gain youtube viewers who like your opinions, you increase the chance the video will be shared with others of similar opinions… popularity converges…

      Elites are inevitable if we do not: 1) understand the properties of this convergence 2) do not have principles which account for convergence 3) live by principles. We allow the convergence of power because we outsource responsibility for large portions of our lives. We create the elite, not because the slaves become the rulers, but because we give up ownership of our lives out of convenience and fear.

      If we look at the last century or so of “elite” activities, some, as I know Jan does, see the intention behind their actions geared toward making the populace unproductive (destroy the protestant work ethic). I disagree and feel it is much worse. After all, being productive is a slave mentality; and the elites prosper from our productivity. They don’t want us too unproductive after all… :-). I see their efforts being geared toward the destruction of the individual (which is the foundation of the protestant work ethic and a defining difference between Catholicism and Protestantism).

      …but what is the individual… my body and my mind is observable enough; I am this body – I am this mind which makes the statement “I am my body”. What is less obvious are the temporal definitions of self. I am also my history (it is not the totality of “self” but informs through continuity who I am). I am, today, the consequences of my past actions. The output of my actions (my labor) is part of who I am – the impact I have had on the world is part of who I am etc…. The past may be gone – you may even say it does not exist – however the traces of that past do exist right now. This is unavoidable.

      In this moment, in the present, I am my body, my mind – I am a volitional being – I am the ability to think and act through my body & mind directed by my volitional awareness (what others call the soul). This is the percept of self-ownership. Not something bestowed upon us by a god – this is what makes self-ownership self evident. Self ownership and freedom is the fact of reality of my volitional being.

      The future is my life – without a future I cease to exist.

      Elites, by propagating ideas like social constructs; state that you are not your past [you are not responsible] – your past is only what has happened to you, but is not who you are; who you are today (your gender, you race, your identity) is a product of social interaction (see the contradiction with the above – you are not your past, you are the product of social interactions of the past) – there is no free-will [you are not responsible], only an expression of socio-economic influence from the culture you are raised in [you are not responsible]… your identity, which you have had no part in constructing [you are not responsible], is largely unchangeable. Your future, therefore, is set in stone… so give up, give in, comply – you have no control – resistance is futile….- you are not responsible – you are not responsible – you are not responsible….

      We are not being robbed of our time or our productivity, we are being coerced through fraud to give up our souls – to deny the volition of our minds – to relinquish the self. If you are not responsible for your life then who is? If you are not responsible for your life then who owns you?

  13. George Nada
    April 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    “The other side is that “man is a social animal”. We have survived through combined, cooperative, collaborative efforts in groupings, not as solitary animals. This, social life – cooperative hunting, IMO is the primary circumstance for reason to develop… and reason is necessary for survival. These two halves are immutable.”

    *******************************

    Thanks for the response. I was thinking out load in my post — just a few of the philosophical correlations that occurred to me, and thought I would share.

    Your ideas above – seem similar to the State of Nature ideas expressed from Hobbes – through Hume:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_nature#Thomas_Hobbes

    It appears we both hope to see the same end game – namely self responsibility and liberty. With liberty comes responsibility. Just that simple. But it’s probably true that people don’t really want freedom from the intrusive nanny-state tyranny. Here, I find Bastiat quite helpful for his intellectual company if nothing else— as his humor and wit still translate through the centuries and his expertise in showing man’s predisposition to plunder is unparallelled, in my opinion.

    I find it interesting that both libertarian anarcho-capitalists and social contract re-distributists (like John Rawls) both use the idea of a “state of nature.” I struggled through Rawls’ theory of Justice as a mandatory reading (indoctrination?) for an advanced philosophy pro-seminar my senior year in College. When I read Rand, years later, I found her critique of Rawls revelatory –as if she were speaking to my 21 yr old mind, whispering “don’t believe this intellectual claptrap.” Rand’s objectivism, however, has deserved the criticism its received from the philosophical academe (my opinion) — but I see no need to reconcile her to the western philosophical tradition — I accept her brilliant but sometimes difficult work as it is. I find her dispute with Rothbard quite curious and chalk that up to ego, or just personal dislike.

    “This dichotomy is the core conflict underpinning human morality. If solitary beings (cougars and tigers in the forest) morality and ethics would never be a struggle – in fact it would be irrelevant.”

    This reminds me of Hobbes, but the link above goes into that. Namely we have ethics and laws because we collaborate as groups. I agree with that. Personal liberty is paramount for any legitimate social order. I’ve concluded we do not have anything close to that in our world today.

    “it becomes apparent that preservation of the individual is the only “morality” which preserves the survival of both the individual and the group…. “mitts off” the individual is the only ethical foundation…”

    I agree only only I might add the term “legitimate” in front of “morality” – as we clearly live in a world which claims that legal plunder, foreign wars and nanny-state laws are indeed moral and “fair.”

    Philosophically, I ultimately have no particular obsession with the master/slave dialectic — nor defending it (your work brought it to my mind, for some reason). Hegel alone is difficult enough for professional philosophers to explain. I do enjoy Nietzsche — particularly his critique of Kant with his synthetic a priori and the categorical imperative, namely, that it boils down to Lipstick on Plato’s Pig (i.e.theory of forms). You sound closer to a logical positivist — but that is just a label as well. I find personal liberty a more important subject, as it is my life, not just pondering ontological or epistemological distinctions— that’s why I ran into your ideas via Jan.

    “we sell off the foundation of who we are (our volitional capacity) to the group out of laziness and fear.”

    To me, its not a sell-off as much as a theft. I believe that this is what the the plundering ruling class have always done. They promise to plunder your neighbor because it will be something you want. Case in point: My neighbors and I are on the hook for paying for the new Atlanta Braves stadium — the owner is a billionaire. Kids came to the county meetings in baseball uniforms — “what you don’t like baseball” –“it will create jobs, stimulate the economy ” —Keynesian blah blah arrg ..… In short, six lowly commissioners of our county obligated more than 800,000 residents for more than of 200million dollars for this billionaire’s crony scheme — why? — qui bono? — who does it benefit? Not very hard to figure out. People ARE in a soma coma. These cronies are experts in OPM (other peoples money). Its the oldest (and preferred) game in town, for people that avoid honest work. That is why they are billionaires. They build and profit through legal plunder – canals, railroads, highways — hand out contracts etc; they will claim that Trusts need to be “busted,”; new laws that simply make the resulting “busted” companies even more profitable for their new incarnations; they will give away NINJA (No Income Job or Asset) mortgage loans (taking their fees of course) and then blame the people for taking them, while making the taxpayer hold the bag. Privatized reward, subsidized failure. And all of the white-noise of the left/right paradigm is meant to obfuscate the public from this simple plundering money class and their social Ponzi schemes. Bread and circuses.

    “We create the elite, not because the slaves become the rulers, but because we give up ownership of our lives out of convenience and fear.”

    I disagree again on the we create thing. I think we could agree that the “Elite” do quite a bit to foster the fear and convenience — through their ubiquitous propaganda and social media matrix — its both the fear of Orwell’s Animal Farm combined with Huxley’s Soma of The Brave New World. Blaming this on the victim sounds a bit like “You should have escaped from me earlier, now it’s too late—because now, nobody will believe that you didn’t want what I have done.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_bind

    “I see their efforts being geared toward the destruction of the individual this is what makes self-ownership self evident. Self ownership and freedom is the fact of reality of my volitional being.”

    Agreed.

    “we are being coerced through fraud to give up our souls – to deny the volition of our minds – to relinquish the self. If you are not responsible for your life then who is? If you are not responsible for your life then who owns you?”

    Now that sounds Gnostic — which I have a sympathetic ear for. Both excellent questions:) I’m not only responsible for myself but apparently also for the mistakes and schemas of the plundering double bind psychos running this show. Got to say the title of the Demiurge seems to fit here, or Samael “the blind god” or maybe Somael “god of the Soma-coma.”

    Best,

    George

    • Bill Joslin
      April 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      I’ve only recently (since the presentation with Jan) begun to dig into philosophy. It is overwhelming to consider the amount of reading which sits in front of me.

      Re: my statements which blame the victim. This is less finger pointing and more about complex systems, emergent order.

      …some foundation (definitions). As far as I can see, complex systems (swarming birds and schools of fish) have complex, seemingly designed patterns emerging out of chaotic interactions (bottom-up control). These chaotic interactions are not controlled, planned etc (top-down control), but rather follow a few simple premises which operate at each node – with each individual – not across the whole population.

      (The presentation can be seen as a description of the bottom-up nature of mind and the necessity for a balance in proportion and timing with the top-down nature (critical thinking – conceptual thinking).)

      For instance a fish in a school will follow a couple very simple rules. 1) stay as close as possible to everyone else 2) don’t bump into anyone 3) when danger is present get away from everyone [4 when danger leaves default back to 1]. Each individual, at every moment, is following these basic rules and as a result is constantly adjusting to all others following of the same rule…. simple equations -> complex outputs due to this constant iterative interaction.

      As individuals, by following simple premises of ease and security, we create the environment where power, wealth etc can converge. In any complex system certain qualities will always converge, others will always disperse – side constraints prevent (these simple properties mentioned above) keep the convergence and dispersion from exploding or imploding the system….

      It seems to me, in human groupings, power will always converge, an elite will always coagulate… I think the absence of some other simple premises are missing… specifically personal liberty and personal responsibility. Once the power starts to converge, then we see deliberate attempts to encourage the convergent emerge to preserve those in power (where the theft begins)….

      I find the Age of Enlightenment fascinating for this reason – it was insight into complex systems and attempts to build side-constraints into society to prevent collapse…. not the first time this happened – Tao Te Ching if looked as a political read (during the rise of a tyrant) has the same insight and solutions (small government, let people interact freely etc). Seems anytime logic and philosophy (particularly Aristotle) is embraced by the populace then liberty rises (to be followed by tyranny)

      As to logical positivist – if I understand correctly they reject higher order conceptualization because there is no precepts or empirical evidence for them. I don’t agree with this, but I do believe higher order concepts must be reducible to concretes….

      ….you’ve added to my reading list. Thanks for the input.

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