How reliable is Meditation?

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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:06 pm

AJungianIdeal wrote: Is meditation reliable?


You wrote that way back then.
Now you are reading this right now.
How did you get from way back then
to right now?

If you can answer this question,
I think you will understand better about karma and rebirth.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
AJungianIdeal wrote: Is meditation reliable?

You wrote that way back then.
Now you are reading this right now.
How did you get from way back then
to right now?

If you can answer this question,
I think you will understand better about karma and rebirth.

Well put.
May all beings be happy
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby dude » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:20 am

AJungianIdeal wrote: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?


no
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:19 pm

Are you asking whether meditation is a reliable method for giving you a glimpse of past lives and/or some sort of tangible proof of karma and rebirth?
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AJungianIdeal wrote: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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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby AJungianIdeal » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:03 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Are you asking whether meditation is a reliable method for giving you a glimpse of past lives and/or some sort of tangible proof of karma and rebirth?
.
.
.
AJungianIdeal wrote: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?

The second. Past life recollection? I'm iffy about it; Ajahn Brahm claims to have a "method" but I partially left Christianity to hope to find a more "scientific" religion and I think that was a mistake in a sense. I don't want to rudely relegate Buddhism to a philosophy and start parsing it of stuff I find to be faith-based.

On another forum I frequent they had a Buddhism thread; how I was introduced to the religion. Most of them are around my age (or older, young 30's at most) and they typically gave a "progression" from doubters/materialists to accepting and I suppose I'm suspect.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:29 pm

AJungianIdeal wrote: The second. Past life recollection? I'm iffy about it;

I think that this doubt is based on the premise,very hard to get away from, of an intrinsically existent 'self' that hops out of one set of body parts and into another. Even for many Buddhists who accept, intellectually that nothing arises that can be called such a self (atman) they still (unknowingly) assert it, and this is almost always the stumbling block to really understanding concepts such as karma, rebirth, various realms and so forth.

So, if you think that having a consciousness that can leave one body and enter another is nonsense,
and you wonder how can Buddhism assert such nonsense,
the answer is that this isn't really what Buddhism teaches.

If, in the struggle to define what "life' actually is,
meaning, for example, what constitutes and individual person,
if we define it as that particular set of body and brain parts,
and from that, we say that a person's life begins with those parts coming together (moment of conception)
and ends when those parts stop replicating (cells) and begin to fall away (moment of death)
and we assert that cognition, which is experienced as a "self"
is purely the byproduct only of those parts
then that "self" cannot possibly reconstitute in or as some other being.

However, there are many problems with that series of assumptions,
including the very basic problem that none of the parts of the body or brain
actually witness, cognitively, their own existence.
There is no "self".
The brain is made of fat and water and amino acids and salt,
and has electricity running through it.
In various parts of the brain, certain activity corresponds to various cognitive mental states
but that brain activity itself is not those mental states.
For example, what is experienced as happiness may be a big dose of endorphins.
It may show up as some bright color on a computer screen during a brain scan.
But who---or what---experiences that chemical reaction as an emotional state,
as a thought, as a personal experience?
That is the question you have to ask (and answer)
if you are talking about "remembering past lives" because
this "experience" is the stuff that is supposedly going to be remembered.

It will take too long to go into everything here.
My understanding is this:
What reoccurs and is reconstructed as an experience of memory,
of something yesterday or 100 years ago,
are objects of awareness, arising in the ground of awareness
and that coming together of awareness and objects of awareness is experienced as
cognitive thought, sensory awareness, emotion, memory, and so forth,
and is not limited to the cognitive function of a particular person in a particular 'lifetime'.
The thinker and the thought are both objects of awareness.
and the fact that something happened
before this present set of body parts began to emerge
doesn't actually matter.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby Wayfarer » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:56 pm

I am not totally onboard with the above 'theory of no-self'. The question is one of agency. If a being commits some act then karma arises from that, and will unfold in due course. To all intents, this involves agents (or persons) even if in the final analysis, there are no 'self-existent beings' and nothing exists in its own right. The same 'emptiness of own-being' can be said of all manner of conventional realities - chairs, tables, stars, planets and so on - they are also lacking in 'own-being' - but in conventional terms, they still exist and undergo consequences of actions. Seeing into the emptiness of self means realizing it, I think. It is not really a theory about things or about people, apart from that, so I don't know if it lends itself to this kind of theorizing.

According to Stephen Collins Selfless Persons the 'anatta' method provides a certain pedagogical 'style' of teaching which especially enables Buddhism to demarcate it's distinctive approach from that of the Vedanta and other yogis and teachers. But he also notes that when the notion was developed by Buddhist scholasticism as a formal ontological doctrine, it 'leaves many questions un-answered', especially in regards to questions of agency. And I see a lot of dogmatic double-talk based on the idea 'there is no self' amongst Buddhists (pardon me for being blunt.) It is a very subtle issue.

I think that the right approach is one of 'withholding of judgement', which is really scepticism - not in the modern sense of 'doubting everything that science can't validate', but of suspending judgement. As Zen teachers put it, it means entering the 'don't know' mind. Self neither is, nor is not, but arises according to conditions - and here we are.

Anyway, if you wish to discuss further, let's find one of the many threads on 'no-self' and take it up there as it is a sure-fire de-railer. :smile:

@ajungianideal - I wouldn't get tangled up in all those concepts. The key point, especially with Zen, is 'just sit'. There is a minimal amount of liturgy and ritual - bows, chants, and so on. But it is the same if you learn Martial Arts and it is done in the same spirit. You're not being asked to believe specific things in a specific way, like in the Nicene Creed. If you don't accept re-birth, it doesn't matter. After all, the cycle of birth-and-death happens every day, every single moment, in some sense, with the constant arising and falling of feelings, hopes, aspirations and the rest. Don't get caught up in speculative views. The minimalist aspect of Buddhism is sitting meditation which in itself entails certain observations and precepts, as you will find if you do it.

:namaste:
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby reddust » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:46 am

:good: :namaste: Well said Jeeprs
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Re: How reliable is Meditation?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jan 05, 2014 4:17 pm

jeeprs wrote:I am not totally onboard with the above 'theory of no-self'. The question is one of agency. If a being commits some act then karma arises from that, and will unfold in due course. To all intents, this involves agents (or persons) even if in the final analysis, there are no 'self-existent beings' and nothing exists in its own right. The same 'emptiness of own-being' can be said of all manner of conventional realities - chairs, tables, stars, planets and so on - they are also lacking in 'own-being' - but in conventional terms, they still exist and undergo consequences of actions. Seeing into the emptiness of self means realizing it, I think. It is not really a theory about things or about people, apart from that, so I don't know if it lends itself to this kind of theorizing.

An "agent" (self) can not be defined in any specific way if is subject to conditions and changes (karma). So, a 'self' that experiences change is actually a contradictory notion.

What experiences karma is an uncountable collection of arising events (conditions) which only appear as some kind of self (and which the Buddha teaches to analyze in order to see that it is not so). They produce a constant stream of nearly identical events, which is why you think you are the exact same person you were a minute ago. But all the thoughts that occurred a minute ago are gone, and all the cells in your body have shifted around or have died and been replaced by new ones. The reason why karma 'unfolds' is because essentially the same uncountable causes are continuing to produce their corresponding results. But, as with evolutionary mutation, there are gradual changes. As some causes cease, so do the results of those causes.

If there were a permanent self at the core of all this,
a self that all this change was happening to
then it too would change.
If it changed, it couldn't be called permanent.
If it did not change, karma would have no bearing on it.

jeeprs wrote:Anyway, if you wish to discuss further, let's find one of the many threads on 'no-self' and take it up there as it is a sure-fire de-railer.

Yes, probably a good idea.
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Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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