Mod+ 267. DR. JEFFERY MARTIN, CAN ENLIGHTENMENT BE TAUGHT?

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. Regarding spiritual salesmanship, I don't know of any Buddhist group that sold a series of novels and then marketed courses to readers, or had a TV advertising expert design their web site. Teaching meditation is an honorable way to make a living, but when students are lured in to expensive classes with slick marketing techniques and the dropout rate is high, that raises questions. When statistics are quoted based on those who finished the course ... and when it is described as research, but there were no control groups or blind protocols and the results are based on self reporting by students who would have to admit they failed and wasted a lot of time and money if they say the program doesn't work ... and when implications are made about effectiveness of one method in relation to other traditions but no research has been done actually comparing different methods ... it is ... psychology ... it is ... salesmanship.

    Regarding who is doing the research, all those groups which Dr Martin studied have been developing their methods, some for thousands of years. Many teachers develop their own teaching methods based on their experiences and how they were taught. So there is a long history of refinement which continues to this day. Dr. Martin is starting with these refined techniques in his own research. The claims of benefits of Dr Martin's program are based on data, but the implication of the relative benefits of Dr. Martin's method compared to other traditions are not based on research and certainly not rigorous research including control groups and blind protocols.

    I think the research Dr. Martin is doing is interesting and I would like to read his research reports. When are they going to be published? His claims are not unreasonable given the amount of meditation in the course but when comparing the results of his class to other traditions, one should understand that what he considers success, PNSE 1, is far short of what most other traditions would call enlightenment or awakening. I used to go to the local Zen center because I wanted to meditate with a group. There was no salesmanship. They didn't keep any secrets. It only cost me the few dollars I put in the donation box. Most of the people who were served by the monks and nuns couldn't afford high prices. And they didn't claim it was a special secret that walking the path along with others made the journey easier.

    For those who feel the way I do here are some free resources you might find helpful while you are waiting for Dr Martin to publish his research:

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/buddharakkhita/wheel365.html#ch6

    http://swamij.com/
    http://integrateddaniel.info/book/


    Here is a free on-line course:
    https://www.udemy.com/what-is-yoga-as-meditation/

    More here:
    Instruction for Entering Jhana by Leigh Brasington
    http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm
    http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
    http://www.leighb.com/jhana2do.htm

    More here: http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/realizing-the-ultimate-resources.1961/
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
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  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

    What do you think about trying to strip away spiritual salesmanship? Does Dr. Martin's approach entail the very salesmanship he's nominally trying to counter? What do you think about courses like his, that entail having a fee?
     
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  4. From the transcript...
    Dr Martin ought to be specific and not lump all traditions and all teachings together in one pile. What I have found is that terms like "spaciousness" in Buddhism might not help you attain the state, but they are useful because they help you recognize it when you get there. This is why it is important to have a teacher who understands what he is teaching from his own experience. Interviewing a musician is not a good way to learn to play the piano or to become a piano teacher.

    From the transcript
    Again Dr Martin ought to be specific. It is unhelpful to smear many traditions and dismiss them based on charlatans who have nothing to do with many of them. I didn't have any problems like this when I used to go to the Zen center. They taught meditation, provided a community for people who shared an interest in it. And people who would meditate a lot would get good results.

    I don't understand why Dr Martin is so unfair to and dismissive of the people who gave him much of what he teaches in his course. I assume they gave freely of their time because they wanted to help other people. It is hard to understand why Dr Martin would repay them for their kindness by portraying them as charlatans. A cynic might suspect it is part of a strategy to capture market share from competing traditions. It also might make those who participated in Dr Martin's research reluctant to participate in future projects with other researchers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  5. From the transcript
    I found this document following links that started on Dr Martin's book page at Amazon.com, I assume it is written by Dr Martin.

    http://centerforintent.org/publications/
    http://www.centerforintent.org/CFSIResearchSummary.pdf

    How to get anything you want on the way to enlightenment....

    Center for the Study of Intent Project Research Summary
    ...
    What’s been learned
    •It seems possible to exert a profound affect on reality at the level of individual lives
    •This has gone by various names in the public sphere, such as: synchronicity, power of thought, Law of Attraction, etc.

    •Most of the public material that purports to teach this did not work when we conducted experiments with it using controlled test groups
    •When it does work, the same mechanism appears to be responsible
    A wide array of things seem possible when this can be harnessed, in our research we saw a range of effects including:
    –Changes in major and minor relationships,
    –Generating wealth,
    –Dream jobs dropping into people's laps,
    –Significant improvements in self-esteem,
    –Significant weightloss, major and minor health effects, and so forth.

    Two categories of techniques and associated impacts emerged
    •One relates to body/life related conditions
    •These were things similar to the placebo effect, they affected the person's body
    •They could also affect the person's quality of life
    –Getting luckier
    –Turn aroundsin work or family environments
    •Some could have been the result of changes in attitude
    •For others this seemed much less likely, for example people reported:
    –Huge changes in parents and siblings (mean ones turning unexpectedly and seemingly permanently nice, for example)
    –Coming in the day after using a technique and finding that the co-workers that had been driving them crazy for a long period of time were fired, in environments where it was unheard of for people to have their employment terminated

    Two categories of techniques and associated impacts emerged
    •The other category relates to things that didn't seem to be affected in any way by the person's social interactions, personal health choices, and so forth.
    Low end example:
    –Long and improbable strings of getting the best parking spots available at the same and multiple locations (this was an early exercise we tested)
    •High end example:
    –Having a 20 year old inheritance lawsuit arrive out of the blue that would net billions of dollars, with no prior knowledge of anyone in the family having any money at all (and in fact coming from a poor Appalachian background)

    ...
    I don't dispute these research findings, I just think they are odd in relation to what Dr Martin said in the podcast.

    Someone once asked how you can tell if something paranormal is going on in these situations. I replied from my own experiences...

    "... You know when you ask people why they broke rules to help you when you never asked them to, and they get glassy eyed and say , "I don't know" . Or when you experience synchronicities that cannot be explained by chance that help you toward you goal. Or you get intuitions to go somewhere you would not normally go, and when you get there, something important happens while you are there. Or people and organizations who are in your way have a habit of experiencing really bad luck...."​
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  6. In this video Dr Martin discusses how replicability and experimental controls are crucial in science. This is odd because of the lax protocols he uses in his own research and the strong claims he makes about the results of his research without the use of control groups, blind protocols, and without his results being replicated by other researchers.




    In the next video in the playlist, prePoF-6, Dr Martin says that until a result has been replicated, it is not proven science. He also discusses experimenter effects, biases, etc which are widespread in psychological science and mentions the need for blinds and randomized controls.

    Then in the next video, prePoF-7, Dr Martin touts his own program as the only research driven program on the subject.

    Later videos describe "research gems" which mostly turned out to be anecdotes and unreplicated results. Included was Bengstons healing method using image cycling presented as "real science" - but that method was not developed through controlled experiments to see what worked best, Bengston just made it up.

    Dr Martin is critical of lax protocols when it suits him, and he ignores lax protocols also when it suits him. To me this undermines his credibility and his objectivity.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  7. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    Is he enlightened? If so how do we know? And if he isn't then how does he know who is? In fact, what is enlightenment anyway?
     
  8. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Ideas, like cells, cluster together to form ideologies, or bodies, and these ideologies reproduce themselves in their hosts much like any living organism would. "Spiritual salesmanship" could be considered one form of reproduction or procreation which has a certain measure of success when applied in certain ways. Taken out of context or applied in distasteful or inappropriate ways, it can likewise acquire the tainted feelings of dirtiness, shamefulness, or materialistic absorption.

    I don't think it is entirely fair to judge harshly the various methods of ideological reproduction or "spiritual salesmanship" whether they be: engaging the gaming culture, churches appropriating modern marketing schemes, or high profile meditation instructors marketing themselves to corporate boards. Let the ideas proliferate freely by whatever means and the rain-forest that precipitates will provide new and interesting species of ideas to study. Being overly critical of the reproduction process seems a little puritanical.

    On the other hand, the righteous impulse to overturn the tables of the money changers could be appropriately expended in "temples" or other places of con-temple-ation. In other words, I think the act of spreading ideas is something separate from practicing those ideas and I agree that mixing the two together can cause interference and a conflict of motivations - nevertheless both practice and proliferation must take place or else the ideas and their associated practices will become extinct. Perhaps one reason PNSE has not spread throughout the world is that one of its effects is a marked decrease in spiritual libido. The ego as a survival mechanism is also a source of passionate evangelism.

    I really appreciated this interview. I had not heard the term "Persistent-Non-Symbolic-Experience" before, but I think it is a fantastic sterile term that eliminates the baggage and biases associated with the other historical terms used to describe this experience thereby making the topic more approachable for a wider variety of people.
     
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  9. john.sundog

    john.sundog New

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    That was a really fine interview, Alex, a fascinating and important conversation. Thank you (both) very much. I've had an interest in Jeffery's work for some time and have read and viewed whatever I could find. You filled in a lot of background I didn't know, which was very helpful.

    I see important parallels between the work of Jeffery Martin and Bill Bengston, although Jeffery is working at a bigger scale. Both are bringing rigorous science to bear on exceptionally important areas that are considered flaky or fringe by the mainstream but that could be of immense value to society if they come to broad-scale fruition. For me, this is the overwhelming issue on which to focus: this is blockbuster stuff that can, potentially at least, make terrific positive contributions to human culture.

    One big-picture take-home from Jeffery's work that cannot be over- emphasized is that his 15 week experimental program, for which he has been charging $1500, has a combined success rate well over 50% (going by memory) of bringing people into sustained (likely permanent) non-symbolic consciousness as he calls it (commonly called enlightenment). This is a goal many people struggle towards for decades, generally without success.

    To repeat, for $1500 a given participant has better than a 50% chance, based on results to date, of achieving a sustained enlightenment state.

    That's just not a rip-off.:)
     
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  10. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Agreed! I paid $4200 for Lasik... why not $1500 for a shot at a peaceful soul?
     
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  11. john.sundog,

    Does the 50% number take into consideration the drop out rate? PNSE 1 is an enlightenment state if you define it as one. Buddhists would not agree it is Buddhist awakening. Experiencing PNSE 1 is not suprising given the amount of meditation involved in the course.

    The characteristics (locations) of PNSE are listed here:
    http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SCS2014.pptx

    People who do not have $1500 in their budget for meditation classes should understand that they can get similar results from a $10 book on meditation information free on the internet, or find meditation classes in their local area that cost a lot less.

    You also have to consider how much you have to meditate every day to maintain PNSE after the classes are over. Do you know what the on going time involvement is? Are students informed of that number before they pay the money?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
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  12. http://finderscourse.com/
    Martin uses quotes from famous people to justify the benefits of meditation ... but those celebrities did not take his course. Other people can get the same benefits without taking the course.

    The same page shows the PNSE ONE class requires 1.5 to 3.5 hours a day committment.

    Dr Martin is a psychologist. He used to work in TV advertising. Do you doubt he is using this knowledge to persuade people to pay the $1500? I would think anyone who has ever been duped by slick advertising would be suspicious. I think most people can get the same results for a lot less money. I base this belief on my own experiences meditating and my experiences from when I used to go to the local Zen center where I met many people who did a lot of meditation. Dr. Martin's descriptions of advanced meditators he interviewed (see my posts above) do not match up with the people I met at the Zen center which adds to my suspicion of other things he is saying.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
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  13. john.sundog

    john.sundog New

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    I'm very sympathetic to people who just don't have the money - it's a substantial sum. Still, the majority of people in the developed world can afford it with some adjustment of priorities. On the other hand, your suggestion that you can get similar results with a $10 book on meditation is only true if you ignore the tremendous odds against it happening, vs the good odds in the case of the Finders Course, as Jeffery calls it. I've spent well over $1500 just on books about enlightenment and closely related topics without actually attaining enlightenment. By far, my story is the norm, not the exception.

    They say if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. However, there are exceptions to that truism. I've looked into Jeffery's story and credentials, the quality of the educational institutions involved, the stature of his thesis advisers and his network of well-known associates, and it all seems credible to me. The man is already wealthy, it seems, and he may or may not be out to make a killing on this - I don't know. But again, that's a secondary issue, IMO. The overwhelmingly important thing to me is, this looks like the real deal, a reliable and efficient key to enlightenment, and that's very nearly a pearl beyond price.
     
  14. Have you looked at the definition of PNSE 1?
    http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SCS2014.pptx

    There are tremendous odds against getting Buddhist awakening which is not on the PNSE spectrum. The odds of getting PNSE 1 are very good for anyone who is willing to meditate an hour or two a day every day.

    http://finderscourse.com/
    The PNSE ONE class requires 1.5 to 3.5 hours a day committment. Have you tried meditating two hours a day every day for a couple of months?

    You are right spending money on books on enlightenment doesn't help. You have to spend time. You have to spend time meditating.

    I am not saying his course doesn't work, I'm saying it's over priced and over hyped. I am suspicious because his critical characterizations of other traditions, their people and their techniques doesn't agree with my experiences at the Zen center. Dr Martin says his course is special because you work in groups and he has a way of picking the right technique for each student. However the purpose of the Zen center is to provide a place for people to practice as part of a group (and share meals and do community service), and the teachers give individual instructions - there isn't just one technique. The teachers there are Zen masters which takes decades to attain, they are awakened according to the buddhist definition. They have experienced the learning process, they know what they are teaching from their own experience, and they have a lot of experience teaching.

    It also undermines his credibility in my mind when Dr Martin criticizes other research for lax research protocols and lack of replication (see my post above), while he makes strong claims for his course which he supports by citing his unpublished research which lacks experimental control groups and blind protocols, and which has not been replicated by anyone else.

    Personal wealth does not guarantee "scientific" objectivity. When you have spent years on any project you become attached to it.

    Dr Martin has testimonial videos on his web site. I assume they are all positive. But I would like to know what the people who dropped out of the course thought of it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  15. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    Jeffery Martin is someone.
    No one becomes enlightened.
    Can someone be no one?
    That may be enlightenment.
     
  16. One of the things I think is really wrong about what Dr Martin is doing is that his research subjects cooperated with him because they thought they were helping humanity by participating in scientific research. But what happened is that Dr Martin is keeping the results of the research secret and charging a lot of money to people who want to know the results. If you spent hours talking to someone who represented himself as a scientist because you wanted to help humanity, and then the "scientist" didn't make the information freely available but started selling the information he got from you, you would probably not have a very high opinion of the "scientist" or a very high level of trust in him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I agree. Indeed, if he gave all the details in a book or on the internet, he could still sell reasonably priced courses.

    David
     
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  18. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    Hi John, I just read your resume. You've been around the block and no agenda. I'm in Finders course 4 right now. Week 7 coming up in this 15 week course. I think it may be silly to expect 'awakening' from any method. Maybe that'e the roadblock to awakening. I certainly understand what it is, but it may require extraordinary committment and of course nothing is guaranteed, Hmm double entendre? I've always felt Buddha stated the simple notion that desire is the manifested self. The barrier to happiness is one's tendency to look for it. The quandry is how does one come into a state of happiness if no effort is made. There may be an unfolding, thats Dr Martin's method. Dr Martin (in this interview) however reports about 70% of people who shifted or experienced the collapse of the narrative self did so spontaneously, sometimes after severe psychological or emotional stress. I actually found that true for well known teachers such as Jiddu and U.G. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle. The story of Buddha's liberation also appears to be an act of desperation. I'm sure many others discovered collapse of the self quite unexpectedly. Tony Parsons has this view.

    Presence is not something that can be bought or sold. This is simply understood. Its a natural state which is the very essence of consciousness. Yet, we tend to babble on in spite of our own understanding. I look at Jeffery as a sort of life coach, not dissimilar to a competitive sports coach (which I've also had and successfully benefitted). In spite of what is being written and his tendency for self promotion, yuk. I found the course itself has been transformative already in a deeply personal way. Its also very time consuming and rigorous if followed exactly. I suspect there may be a high drop out rate due to the large amount of time required. It makes perfect sense to me. If one comes to the course mentally crystalized. You probably will wind up dropping out. There are many things not revealed going in, but as one deepens into the course, everything become clear. It's integral to the outcome.
    There is rigorous monitoring by Dr. Martin himself. I think I've watched maybe between 12 and 15 hrs of video from Dr. Jeffery himself so far. He is nothing if not completely serious, loving and in tune with all potential experiences and aspects of the course work.
    There is email communication, videos, cognitive/behavioral techniques and meditation ( Lots and lots of meditation) All spoken about in his interview.
    One of the techniques is a 2xs a week group session with 6 people and likely a 'mentor' to direct the sessions. In my group, 1 dropped early and another appears to be losing interest. However another member has emphatically stated a family member became awakened and that state is ongoing under one of Dr, Martin's programs. The other 4 appear deeply affected so far.
    Success in the course is entirely dependent on one's focus and committment to follow through. I never researched Dr Martin throughly before the course except reading the interview and looking online a bit. So I came into it without a bias. I'm convinced Dr Jeffery Martin along with others such as Eckhart Tolle, Sperry Andrews are demystifying The true nature of consciousness and putting it in the present tense.
     
  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    well said.
     
  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed.
     

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