How reliable is Meditation?

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How reliable is Meditation?

Postby AJungianIdeal » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:46 am

I was reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on the Buddha and this paragraph caught my attention

"It is no doubt quite difficult to believe that karma and rebirth exist in the form that the Buddha claims. It is said that their existence can be confirmed by those who have developed the power of retrocognition through advanced yogic technique. But this is of little help to those not already convinced that meditation is a reliable means of knowledge. What can be said with some assurance is that karma and rebirth are not inconsistent with non-self. Rebirth without transmigration is logically possible."

I have been quite concerned with death and have been obsessing over it for quite a while. I would love to be able to believe in rebirth, in some sort of continutation for those taken before their time in accidents or violence, but right now it feels just like wishful thinking.

I was also listening to a talk by Ajahn Brahm on superstition where he basically states that "believing in rebirth before one has experienced it in meditation is just another form of superstition"

Is meditation reliable?
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Motova » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:20 am

You have to do it for yourself.

Besides, if there is no reincarnation and no purpose to life, then why do you care if you waste your time with some silly superstition? You're screwed anyway. :rolling:

Also you can google reincarnation proof, and you will find some interesting youtube videos.

I was fortunate enough to go through weird experiences my entire life, allowing me to conclude there was definitely something to all of that "silly superstition".

Good luck,

:namaste:
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:45 am

Who could believe in something like an atom? That contradicts everything we know about the five elements, and I'm supposed to trust this specialized equipment I've never heard of?
Who could believe in something like germs? That contradicts everything we know about humors, and I'm supposed to trust this specialized equipment I've never heard of?
And so on.

The difference here is that something like reincarnation stands in direct opposition to societal norms and views about the world and our place in it.
Here, not only do we have the usual difficulty of learning something new, but a desire to justify the way we live and interact with others.
Similar things have happened towards things like germ theory or the current model of the solar system.
Imagine how much stronger the aversion is when we question the core of our being: that there really is a "me" with my personality that never existed before, and for some, might just get to exist forever after death.
A lot of scientific views or approaches to things like reincarnation start with many such assumptions that, because they are never questioned, are never taken into account. And so the question is begged from the get-go.

There is a lot of confusion obscuring our view of things.
Speculating about the insights of advanced yogic techniques that others practice is so many layers of abstraction I scarcely can see a use for it, except to discourage those trying to go against the grain and investigate deeply inculcated assumptions about the world.
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby han » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:53 am

Is meditation reliable?

In what way? If you are talking about transcendence, it is more reliable than you might ever know.

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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:58 am

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.060.than.html
I just posted this on another thread. It's the "Safe Bet Sutta", where Shakyamuni tells people that they might as well live their lives as if there will be a 'next life' just as a safe bet.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:16 am

It's kind of like asking if Hollywood celebrities are reliable. My response would be, "which one"? :


Which meditation technique?

And whose mind is doing the meditating?

If, for instance you asked if George W Bush meditating on Guru Yoga with Miley Cyrus as the Guru was reliable: as in, per your question, would it produce recollection of his previous lives-- I woud say-, probably no! It would likely produce something else entirely :tongue:
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Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:29 am

My point is, --there's a vast array of meditation techniques.. it's a really general term.. people are creating new ones every day. Some can just make you feel relaxed, and some can even make you crazy. The Buddha dharma has thousands of years of history of beings achieving exalted states of realization, -including memory of past lives- so it's methods have been proven, and continue to be. Just like scientific method, --you can trust a written report on experimental results-- or if you don't trust that you have to replicate the experiment. So in your case, you would need to practice an authentic meditation technique from a true Dharma lineage, with the proper personal instruction from a qualified (realized) guide.. and practice it diligently.

In my understanding, there are some very specific meditations to awaken the alaya (storehouse consciousness) if your goal is to recollect prior lives. I heard Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talk about this once, so you could follow up with him if you could make the connection. I am sure many other qualified Lamas would know too.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby AJungianIdeal » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:47 am

But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Motova » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:06 am

AJungianIdeal wrote:But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.


It would probably be vivid, familiar, emotional, and give you insights into your present habits and condition.
I have never experienced memories from a past life, that I know of. But from my experience with this sort of weird stuff is that the experience simply hits you and it's really hard to invent it randomly with your imagination.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:13 am

AJungianIdeal wrote:But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.

I personally do not expect to get to the point where I would remember previous lives while in this body. That's an extremely advanced stage from what I've been led to believe.

Best to keep it as a working hypothesis until then. What that specifically does is render your own perspectives on your life as limited. You can't see your own karma, so all of your opinions, assessments, criticisms, preconditions, etc. are all moot. Whatever the karmic soup is that you've made for yourself you can't see, so there is less of "my agenda" to your practice. That in and of itself is a big step forward.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Adamantine » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:41 am

AJungianIdeal wrote:But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.


Well, from a Buddhist point of view we are already "fooling ourselves": the entire gamut of our experience is illusory in nature, non of it is appearing to us as it really is. Waking experience is not inherently more substantial than dreaming, for instance... other than the illusion of continuity that threads through. However, sometimes dreams arise consecutively with continuity as well.

Memory is the apparent link that gives us this sense of continuity. And yet, our memory is totally elusive. How many arguments arise with loved ones simply because of conviction in contradictory memories of the same circumstance? I know that for me it has been countless. So, if we invest too much importance on the seeming substantiality of our conventional waking awareness, our current "life", we are kidding ourselves. We are unwittingly inventing and falsifying things right now, from moment to moment, and that's what binds us more deeply into the net of suffering called samsara. Of course, from our conventional and deluded minds.. we could not have clarity about past lives because we don't have any about this life either. That is why it is a very high level of realization that is able to achieve clear recall of prior lives. This is why it is not generally a goal, liberation is the goal (a much higher aim), and the recollection of prior lives is a a side effect. The motivation for both or either should always be to benefit others, --all beings really-- because selfish or constricted motivation will never lead to any clear realization anyway. So if the premise is to experiment in some meditation techniques to see if you can achieve some past life recall to satisfy your own curiosity arising from hope or fear-- you will not get very far anyway.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:20 am

AJungianIdeal wrote:I have been quite concerned with death and have been obsessing over it for quite a while. I would love to be able to believe in rebirth, in some sort of continutation for those taken before their time in accidents or violence, but right now it feels just like wishful thinking.
Rebirth is not really the solution to your fear of death. The "deathlessness" described by Buddhism is the liberation from the constant cycle of birth, death rebirth and suffering. That is the end of rebirth. Complete cessation of self-centred existence. Rebirth (if it is not rebirth into a Pure Land or the intentional rebirth of a Bodhisattva) is just a continuation of suffering. Not much there to be happy about.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby han » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:25 am

Adamantine makes an excellent point - I was talking about Buddhist meditation myself
Buddhism does have a particular context and way of teaching
For eg the Buddha said I teach dukkha and the path leading to the cessation of dukkha

Past lives and other things are mere distractions IMHO and for a new practitioner can merely evoke a source of attachment and distraction in the world we might call samsara. Be mindful of this

Namaste
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby lobster » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:54 pm

Is meditation reliable?


More than reliable. Guaranteed.
We have a long list of experienced practitioners. They detail the method. The sign posts and the outcomes.
Each can or have joined that confirmation route.

:woohoo:
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Simon E. » Fri Jan 03, 2014 3:06 pm

[quote="AJungianIdeal"]I was reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on the Buddha and this paragraph caught my attention

"It is no doubt quite difficult to believe that karma and rebirth exist in the form that the Buddha claims. It is said that their existence can be confirmed by those who have developed the power of retrocognition through advanced yogic technique. But this is of little help to those not already convinced that meditation is a reliable means of knowledge. What can be said with some assurance is that karma and rebirth are not inconsistent with non-self. Rebirth without transmigration is logically possible."

I have been quite concerned with death and have been obsessing over it for quite a while. I would love to be able to believe in rebirth, in some sort of continutation for those taken before their time in accidents or violence, but right now it feels just like wishful thinking.

I was also listening to a talk by Ajahn Brahm on superstition where he basically states that "believing in rebirth before one has experienced it in meditation is just another form of superstition"

Is meditation reliable?[/quote


define meditation ?
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby theanarchist » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:41 pm

AJungianIdeal wrote:
Is meditation reliable?



That depends. I guess if it is a meditation in a state of realization of emptiness nature of all phenomenon, then it is reliable. Before that is archieved, no, stuff experienced in meditation is not reliable, because it is tainted by Samsara.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Motova » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:43 pm

Read Ajahn Brahm's Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook.

It has a method for recounting past life memories, among other cool stuff. :twothumbsup:
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby smcj » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:43 pm

There is a perspective, I believe it is peculiar to the Vajrayana, that says if one does meditation practice correctly it must bear results. However when the results appear is subject to the level of karmic obscuration of the practitioner. So it could appear in the next life, which is why people seemingly have 'spontaneous' experiences, etc. Such happenings are the results of practice from previous lives finally coming to fruit. But the bottom line is that the practice will show results no matter what. Thus the meditation on death singles out the fact that your practice is the only thing that is not trivialized and negated by death. And it adds the advantage that there is no reason to criticize or feel frustrated with your practice if it is not showing results. Results will certainly come--just not yet!

But not everybody buys into that idea of course. It's very unpopular here in the West.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:26 pm

Adamantine wrote:It's kind of like asking if Hollywood celebrities are reliable. My response would be, "which one"? :


Which meditation technique?

And whose mind is doing the meditating?

If, for instance you asked if George W Bush meditating on Guru Yoga with Miley Cyrus as the Guru was reliable: as in, per your question, would it produce recollection of his previous lives-- I woud say-, probably no! It would likely produce something else entirely :tongue:


Man, I want to see a thangka of that.

But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.


If you approach this from the viewpoint of scientific materialism..you will never get a satisfactory answer. If you take that viewpoint, agnosticism about it is the only sensible position. Current scientific materialism pretty much shares with Buddhism the idea that "life" generally is an illusion (the term from people like Daniel Denett is "manifest image" I believe), but it believes that ultimate reality (which for materialism, is of course only material - no explanation at all for consciousness other than that it somehow arises from physical matter) is only had by inference based on physics and empirical evidence..essentially. This means, that ultimate reality of things from that viewpoint can never actually be experienced by you, only inferred. I.E. You cannot experience an atom for instance, there is no 'direct experience' of how things really are.

From a Buddhist standpoint this is a little crazy, because you are accepting the reality of a world you can never experience based on inference, but you refuse to accept the reality of something based on inference from your own experiences.

So, you have to ask yourself what constitutes a valid experience, if you decide it is indeed possible to experience something like a memory of a pasty life as-is..then you have your answer. if you take the materialist point of view though, you are always relying on "proofs" which amount to something other than direct experience.

Hope that makes some sense..i'm not saying don't be skeptical, i'm just saying you need to examine want actually constitutes "proof" of something in this context.

One thing I will say, the more you meditate, and the clearer you can see your mindstream, the more outlandish the proposition of things being "invented" by your mind seems, there are some deep, deep patterns there.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:34 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Adamantine wrote:It's kind of like asking if Hollywood celebrities are reliable. My response would be, "which one"? :


Which meditation technique?

And whose mind is doing the meditating?

If, for instance you asked if George W Bush meditating on Guru Yoga with Miley Cyrus as the Guru was reliable: as in, per your question, would it produce recollection of his previous lives-- I woud say-, probably no! It would likely produce something else entirely :tongue:


Man, I want to see a thangka of that.

But how do we know that we weren't "fooling ourselves" as it were? Reading the SecularBuddhistAssociations rejection of Rebirth, one of it's points is that we could potentially invent or falsify memories.


If you approach this from the viewpoint of scientific materialism..you will never get a satisfactory answer. If you take that viewpoint, agnosticism about it is the only sensible position. Current scientific materialism pretty much shares with Buddhism the idea that "life" generally is an illusion (the term from people like Daniel Denett is "manifest image" I believe), but it believes that ultimate reality (which for materialism, is of course only material - no explanation at all for consciousness other than that it somehow arises from physical matter) is only had by inference based on physics and empirical evidence..essentially. This means, that ultimate reality of things from that viewpoint can never actually be experienced by you, only inferred. I.E. You cannot experience an atom for instance, there is no 'direct experience' of how things really are.

From a Buddhist standpoint this is a little crazy, because you are accepting the reality of a world you can never experience based on inference, but you refuse to accept the reality of something based on inference from your own experiences.

So, you have to ask yourself what constitutes a valid experience, if you decide it is indeed possible to experience something like a memory of a pasty life as-is..then you have your answer. if you take the materialist point of view though, you are always relying on "proofs" which amount to something other than direct experience.

Hope that makes some sense..i'm not saying don't be skeptical, i'm just saying you need to examine want actually constitutes "proof" of something in this context.

One thing I will say, the more you meditate, and the clearer you can see your mindstream, the more outlandish the proposition of things being "invented" by your mind seems, there are some deep, deep patterns there.

:good:

That's what's always struck me. Since the mind is somehow a funny side effect of matter, it's therefore inferior to matter, so any experience arising from this false mind is also false. So we rely on abstractions about things somehow "outside" our immediate experience, which is not to be trusted. All the while using this awareness as a means to discount itself... and trying to remove experience from experience so it doesn't get contaminated by experience :juggling: How confusing.
Namu Amida Butsu
The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preferences;
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
- Sengcan (tr. Suzuki)
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