Mod+ 266. RICK ARCHER, CAN CONSCIOUSNESS CHANGE CULTURE?

According to Wikipedia:
"In Hinduism, Brahman is "the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world", which "cannot be exactly defined". It has been described in Sanskrit as Sat-cit-ananda and as the highest reality... According to Advaita, a liberated human being ... has realised Brahman as his or her own true self."

People who have had realizations of the ultimate reality, Brahman, experience themselves as the consciousness that creates all reality. They see themselves as all things and they see all beings are one. They see that ordinary reality is an illusion projected by the mind. They understand the Buddhist concept of emptiness: all is illusion, individual self is an illusion, material reality is an illusion, separate (other) beings are illusions. There is only Brahman. Even the unity of self and other is still illusion because there is no self, there is no other, there is only Brahman.

This realization cannot come to you as a thought or as a logical understanding. The analytical mind is no help here, in fact it is the problem. The realization is going to come to you as an experience when you stop using the mind, stop thinking about the world through the mind and stop thinking of yourself through the mind. The mind only projects illusion, the illusion of self, the illusion of things, the illusion of other separate beings. To attain realization, you have to turn your attention inward so far inward that you go inward to a point before all conceiving of or thinking of.

There are various ways to free yourself from the illusions projected by your own mind. One is through insight / mindfulness practices in which you observe how the mind produces illusions. Another is meditation where you still the mind by thinking of one thing, meditating with a single pointed, focused mind, until there are no other thoughts, then let go of that one thing. Another is working with a koan such as Who am I, What am I, or What is this?
It's really difficult to wrap the mind around this realization thing, intellectually speaking. Who is doing the realization?
 
Lester Levenson
http://www.stillnessspeaks.com/sitehtml/llevenson/keystoultimate.pdf
When I started my quest I thought “thinking” would give me the answers. I had a mind that was as active as any mind could be. But I was at the end of the line. I had had a second heart attack and they told me I was finished, that I had only a short time to live, and so I had to have the answers. And even though my mind was far more active than the great majority of minds, the intensity of the desire for the answers caused me to hold to one question at a time, obliterating all else. This concentration did it!

I started seeking with no knowledge of metaphysics, no knowledge of the way. In fact I was anti all religion and all metaphysics; I thought it was nonsense, for the weakminded, for people who believed in fairy tales.

But it was only because of the intensity of the desire to get the answers, I had to have the answers, that they began to come, and they came relatively quickly. Over a period of three month’s time I went from an extreme materialist to the opposite extreme: the material is nothingness and the spiritual is the All.

The wish to get the answer was so strong, that in spite of my mind being one of the noisiest of minds, the answers began to come. I automatically fell into things (I knew no words for them) like samadhi. I would concentrate on a question with such intensity that I would lose awareness of the world, lose awareness of this body, and then I would be aware of just a pure thought, the thought itself would be the only thing existing in this universe. That's absorption when the thinker and the thought become one. One loses consciousness of everything but that one thought. That's a very concentrated state of mind and the answer is always discovered right there.

I started with “What is happiness? What is life? What do I want? How do I get happiness?” I discovered that happiness depended upon my capacity to love. At first I thought it was in being loved. I reviewed my life and saw that I was very much loved by my family and friends and yet I was not happy. I saw that was not it. Continuing, I realized that it was my capacity to love that gave me happiness.

The next question was “What is intelligence?” I persisted until Ah! I saw it! There is only one intelligence in the universe and we all have a direct line to it.

Then I worked on responsibility and discovered that I was responsible for everything that happens or happened to me. Creation was something I created!

Finally, I held the question “What am I?” until the answer presented itself.

And this went on and in a matter of three month’s time I believe I saw the entire picture, went all the way, only because of the concentrated approach. I knew nothing about the subject; I knew nothing about the direction, the way, the path, but I wanted to know: “What am I? What is this world? What's my relationship to it?”

You discover that the whole world is nothing but you, that there never was anything but you all along, because there's only One and you are It! But that isn't the final state. You come out of it and there's still a certain amount of mind left. So you go back into the meditative quest until there is no more mind controlling you. When you've eliminated all the habits of thought, all the tendencies of mind, you are free; then you can use your mind and you are the master and director of it. It no longer determines you, you determine it.
 
The mind only projects illusion,
This is not necessarily a mystical statement. For example, a lot of negative emotions are not really necessary but the mind produces them anyway and it makes us unhappy and can poison the quality of our existence. For example if something annoys you, there is no law of physics that requires that you get annoyed. You might even recognize that being annoyed is unwanted but you still get annoyed. The mind produces this annoyance, it has no basis in physical reality, it is totally unnecessary, and it is unwanted. It is illusion. You might say that there is a biological explanation, but that is just an explanation of how the projector works. A projection is not something real. And the mind does this to us constantly, it produces opinions, attachments, aversions, worries, fears, ... all are illusions, but most of the time we swallow the bait and think they are real. Because they appear in our mind, we assume that they are our ideas and we accept them as part of our reality, we rarely question them.

Realization allows you to become free from these illusions.
 
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This is not necessarily a mystical statement. For example, a lot of negative emotions are not really necessary but the mind produces them anyway and it makes us unhappy and can poison the quality of our existence. For example if something annoys you, there is no law of physics that requires that you get annoyed. You might even recognize that being annoyed is unwanted but you still get annoyed. The mind produces this annoyance, it has no basis in physical reality, it is totally unnecessary, and it is unwanted. It is illusion. You might say that there is a biological explanation, but that is just an explanation of how the projector works. A projection is not something real. And the mind does this to us constantly, it produces opinions, attachments, aversions, worries, fears, ... all are illusions, but most of the time we swallow the bait and think they are real. Because they appear in our mind, we assume that they are our ideas and we accept them as part of our reality, we rarely question them.

Realization allows you to become free from these illusions.[/quote]

" A projection is not something real". What is not a projection? Why do we project ourselves and invest so heavily in these comments? Aren't they just so much fluff for puffing ourselves up?
 
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John Adams:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Adams
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.
 
Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

What do you think it would take for our culture to experience a shift in consciousness and become more "enlightened"?
You don't need enlightenment, or realization, or any kind of mystical experience.

I think it will require an increase in empathic thinking and a decrease in analytical thinking. Meditation is a good way to decrease analytical thinking. Certain forms of religion, spiritual teachings, and also certain forms of meditation could help increase empathic thinking.

Daily meditation is sufficient to shift consciousness:

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School explains that meditation quiets the "narrative network" in the brain that otherwise produces mental chatter about anxieties and depressed thoughts, and meditation also activates the "experiential network" that produces empathy and compassion. This says something interesting about the meditative state. In the meditative state there is an absence of analytical thinking and an absence of narrative thinking. (This reduction in narrative thinking, or mental chatter, seems like it might be what Jeffrey Martin calls "self thoughts" which his research shows become reduced in PNSE levels he describes.) There is also the implication that neuroplasticity will rewire these changes in thinking into the brain.

"Jon Kabat-Zinn: ... 'it’s much more an effective, wise and emotionally intelligent way to make use of one’s thoughts and emotions, but hold them in a much, much greater and more empathic, and in some sense, more compassionate and wise container'"

"So this one can actually attenuate and liberate you a little bit from the constant thinking ... a lot which is driven ... by anxiety and, "What’s wrong with me?" The story of me is often a depressing story. And a fear-based story. We’re like driving the car with the brake on ... And if we learn how to just kind of release it, everything will unfold with less strain, with less stress and with a greater sense of life unfolding rather than you’re driving through it to get to some great pot of gold at the end, which might just be your grave."


https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_var_how

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School ... says the benefits of suppressing the narrative network and stimulating the experiential network [in the brain] with meditation leads to wiser, more empathic and more compassionate thinking in an interview at: psychcentral.com:

One pathway is a mid-line pathway, very akin to what is called a default mode, that seems to be functioning when nothing else is supposed to be happening — like being or mind wandering, or something like that, which is what they call the narrative network for self. So like what you tell yourself about who you are, where you’re going, how things are going, how stressed you are, how great it’s going to be in the future, how horrible it was in the past, or vice-versa, how wonderful it was in the past, or how horrible it is in the present. So it is a narrative ongoing story of me. And that occupies a certain kind of brain territory.

They showed that people who are taking the MBSR program showed activity in a whole other, more lateral ventral pathway in the cerebral cortex, again in the prefrontal cortex, which was involved with what they called experiential focus. It’s like no more story, just this. Just this moment. Just this breath. Just this unfolding. And I want to emphasize that it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you are either disassociating or that you’re going to get really, really stupid practicing mindfulness because now you’re just in the present moment and you don’t know what’s really happening and you’ve now gone beyond thought. Not at all. I mean it’s much more an effective, wise and emotionally intelligent way to make use of one’s thoughts and emotions, but hold them in a much, much greater and more empathic, and in some sense, more compassionate and wise container, and that container embraces what I mean when I use the word mindful.
Jon Kabat-Zinn ... describes how meditation can quiet negative mental chatter in the transcript of a podcast on bigthink.com:

If you put people in a scanner and tell them to just do nothing; just rest in the scanner; don’t do anything at all, it turns out that there’s a region in the midline of the cerebral cortex that’s known as the default mode network that just lights up, that all of a sudden gets very, very active. I mean you’re told to do nothing and then your brain starts to use up energy a lot. ... And that’s called the default mode network because when you’re told to do nothing, you default to activity in this mode and when you inquire what’s going on there, a lot of it has to do with my wondering and just daydreaming. And a lot of that has to do with the self-referencing our favorite subject, which is me of course. So we generate narratives. ... it’s also called the narrative mode network or the narrative network. And it’s the story of me.

When you train people in MBSR, you find that another area of their cortex lights up more lateral after eight weeks of training in mindfulness. And that that area is associated with a region called the insula and that doesn’t have a linear, time-based narrative. It’s just the experiencing of the present moment in the body — breathing in, breathing out, awake, no narrative, no agenda. And the interesting thing — and this is the study — when they put people through eight weeks of MBSR, this narrative network decreases in activity and this experiential network increases in activity and they become uncoupled. So they’re no longer caught together in such a way. So this one can actually attenuate and liberate you a little bit from the constant thinking, thinking, thinking — a lot which is driven, of course, by anxiety and, "What’s wrong with me?" The story of me is often a depressing story. And a fear-based story. We’re like driving the car with the brake on, with the emergency brake on. And if we learn how to just kind of release it, everything will unfold with less strain, with less stress and with a greater sense of life unfolding rather than you’re driving through it to get to some great pot of gold at the end, which might just be your grave.
 
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Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

What do you think it would take for our culture to experience a shift in consciousness and become more "enlightened"?
I think it is worth pointing out that being enlightened in the Buddhist tradition doesn't mean you are a nice person it means you don't suffer.

The four noble truths are not the truths of being a nice person, they are the truths of suffering.
The eightfold path is not the path to becoming a nice person, it is the path to the end of suffering. (It is also important to understand is that a path is not a destination.)

As evidence to support this contention I refer to the many sex scandals involving "enlightened" teachers.

And I am also somewhat skeptical about what the end of suffering means. According to theory it means when you don't have attachments and aversions you don't suffer, but my experiences with people who are supposedly enlightened is that they still have attachments and aversions. Many say they have experienced a permanent change, so I won't dispute it is a real phenomenon, but what it is and what it is good for remains to be characterized in an objective manner (despite the work of some researchers).

I practice meditation and I think the world would be a better place if more people would meditate because certain techniques can make you calmer and increase compassion. But I don't think enlightenment is actually a useful concept for the ordinary person because of the reasons I have given above and because very few people who meditate ever experience enlightenment. Any culture shift will come from meditation not enlightenment. Calling such a culture shift "becoming more enlightened" will probably produce an unhelpful misunderstanding in most people and false expectations in people who meditate. I understand there are many definitions of enlightenment but in the context of meditation many people will assume it is referring to Buddhist awakening.

(Another misunderstanding about the type of enlightenment taught by Buddha is that it is a non-dual experience. It is not. I am not denying the significance of non-dual experiences, I just mean to clarify what Buddha taught about enlightenment.)
 
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I think it is worth pointing out that being enlightened in the Buddhist tradition doesn't mean you are a nice person it means you don't suffer.
Nice, I see I was the last one to comment 4 yrs ago, weird that I arrive 4 yrs later to add to your opinion. It just strikes me theres nothing in Buddhism that mentions being nice but isnt that playing with semantics?

Im hesitant to sound like I want to conflict with your comment here. I know you have a vast body of knowledge. Much more then I, however the extinction of suffering is realization. It cannot be attained or captured so to speak with any effort to strive for it. So what occurs in realization? Buddha never mentioned recognition of no self either. Without the artifice of the lmagined story, there is no one to suffer. The natural state is union, wholeness. Does being nice emerge from that. That would be an understatement.
 
Nice, I see I was the last one to comment 4 yrs ago, weird that I arrive 4 yrs later to add to your opinion. It just strikes me theres nothing in Buddhism that mentions being nice but isnt that playing with semantics?

Im hesitant to sound like I want to conflict with your comment here. I know you have a vast body of knowledge. Much more then I, however the extinction of suffering is realization. It cannot be attained or captured so to speak with any effort to strive for it. So what occurs in realization? Buddha never mentioned recognition of no self either. Without the artifice of the lmagined story, there is no one to suffer. The natural state is union, wholeness. Does being nice emerge from that. That would be an understatement.
You wrote "Without the artifice of the Imagined story, there is no one to suffer".
Yes, that is how enlightened people think.

In another line from my post you quoted I wrote:
"As evidence to support this contention I refer to the many sex scandals involving "enlightened" teachers. "

The victims of the scandals are not enlightened, they suffer. So I think your comments do a good job of supporting my contention. One reason enlightenment does not necessarily make you a nice person is because it can make you callous.

What really drove this point home for me was a discussion I had about many cases of mental illnesses and even a suicide that were produced by one well known meditation retreat center. I was dumbfounded when people who were supposedly enlightened didn't recognize that there was a problem that needed to be fixed.

In my own life, I have found that the suffering I have experienced has caused me to become more compassionate because I better understand the suffering of other people, what they are going through, without suffering I would be less compassionate than I am now.
 
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"As evidence to support this contention I refer to the many sex scandals involving "enlightened" teachers. "
Yeah Jim, I've been following the whole scandal thing. I'm a contributor and follower of Batgap. I've become friends with Rick and I outed one particular teacher he interviewed. He took that interview down. There's a zen based teacher I follow, Peter Cutler. Peter has been very sharp about what he considers 'enlightened'.

I think your familiar with Ken Wilber. Ken asserts there are levels of growth/maturity which infuses this transformation. Peter posits that the enlightened person can develop a spiritual ego. Its a sliding back into a state of having a narrative story again. Peters teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich is probably a shining example of a mature enlightened figure. Another figure Peter points out and I too consider him the greatest saint of the 20th century is Ramana Maharshi.

Otherwise we look around and almost all the self anointed teachers have some hint of scandal and thus deemed not totally ripe. From Krishnamurti to Mooji, Maharishi to Sai Baba. All were/are great saints and yet the flesh is still strong. Its not that they are phony, but not fully mature in Ken Wilber's definition. One of best examples of this unripeness is the way Zen masters in Japan were drawn into this Nationalistic fervor during WWII. So though we be too harsh on our fellow humans who are dedicated bodhisattvas. They are still human and we must be discriminating about our imperfectness.
 
They are still human and we must be discriminating about our imperfectness.
My opinion is that enlightenment is a scam. Buddhist awakening is a real phenomenon, many people describe the same thing, but it is not what the rest of us think it is. How did this misunderstanding arise and why is it perpetuated? Follow the money. Hollywood, book authors, podcasters, meditation teachers. etc ...

I was at a Zen retreat once and during an interview the Zen Master asked me a koan. I answered without really thinking, (it was my first and only interview), and the teacher told me my answer wasn't right. At the end of the retreat the Zen master apologized and told me I gave the right answer but a new student is not supposed to get that one right. So I have a dim view of enlightenment (pun intended). It doesn't mean what people think it means.

There is a saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." It could just as well be, "Before enlightenment, spiteful, neurotic, narcissistic, sociopathic, egotistical. After enlightenment, spiteful, neurotic, narcissistic, sociopathic, egotistical."

Regarding spiritual teachers who are creeps: My advice is that all spiritual teachers are human and should not be held up on a pedestal. People should not do anything with a spiritual teacher they would not do with any other person. It is unfortunate that people let themselves be fooled but it is also unfortunate that people don't realize that humans are humans even if they claim spiritual attainments. It ought to be part of the spiritual seeker culture to recognize that teachers are still humans and they should not be expected to be perfect and should not be trusted more than anyone else. My opinion is that a teacher who allows himself or herself to be presented as more than human is a faker and should be avoided. This should be on the inside cover of yoga magazine and other similar publications. It would help a lot of people but it might cut into the profits they make selling mystique.
Every person is human, fallable.

...

It is unfortunate that students believe unrealistic things about their teachers. Sometimes the teacher encourages this but sometimes it is the student's fault.

I would like to see an Association of Spiritual Searchers that advocates for students which could publish a Searcher's Guide and remind students that spiritual teachers are merely human and not to expect their teachers to be especially ethical or deserving of special privileges.
 
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At the end of the retreat the Zen master apologized and told me I gave the right answer but a new student is not supposed to get that one right.
Did he reply in front of everyone, or just privately to you? It could have been analogous to the maths/science teacher that asks a tricky question, and wants people to try, so he doesn't like getting the correct answer immediately.

David
 
Did he reply in front of everyone, or just privately to you? It could have been analogous to the maths/science teacher that asks a tricky question, and wants people to try, so he doesn't like getting the correct answer immediately.

David
The interviews are private, in a separate room, just the teacher and one student. It had nothing to do with teaching, just being a jerk, which was what the apology was for.

I already had a deep suspicion that koan study was a load of hogwash designed to teach the student not to depend on or idolize a teacher. I can't say I know that's true, but it certainly seemed to confirm my suspicion at the time.
 
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My opinion is that enlightenment is a scam. Buddhist awakening is a real phenomenon, many people describe the same thing, but it is not what the rest of us think it is. How did this misunderstanding arise and why is it perpetuated? Follow the money. Hollywood, book authors, podcasters, meditation teachers. etc ...

I was at a Zen retreat once and during an interview the Zen Master asked me a koan. I answered without really thinking, (it was my first and only interview), and the teacher told me my answer wasn't right. At the end of the retreat the Zen master apologized and told me I gave the right answer but a new student is not supposed to get that one right. So I have a dim view of enlightenment (pun intended). It doesn't mean what people think it means.

There is a saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." It could just as well be, "Before enlightenment, spiteful, neurotic, narcissistic, sociopathic, egotistical. After enlightenment, spiteful, neurotic, narcissistic, sociopathic, egotistical."
OK Lets opine that you've been at this so long your just sick of all the bullshit. No doubt it's the path to settling in to being authentic. It could be said every creature is enlightened except humans. They are exactly as natural as they are meant to be. They strive not to attain any otherness. Yes, they also live a brutish existence, but in that sense that Buddha refers, Do they suffer? I don't believe they reflect on their condition or lot in life. I think you know what I'm getting at. I just read an Adya quote " There is no end to suffering. Only an end to the one who suffers". Lets not use that E word. Its like God, atrocious!!! LOL
 
Are you trying to provoke a fight?
If my last comments were not useful. Please disregard. Have a wonderful day. I mean that.
You have both become so cryptic that I can't figure out what exactly the fight would be about. Fights disrupt threads, and are a nuisance.

For what it is worth, I try to avoid the G word - simply because everyone has a slightly different idea as to what it means.

David
 
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