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

#21
Dr Martin, from the transcript:
In fact, lots of times you see a tremendous passion come over these people such to the extent that they are willing to be deceptive in their practices of you know, trying to pull people in and they are willing to say, oh you know, once you’re in harmony with the universe, you’ll just live forever. You know, you’ll never be ill and yet they get old and die. Or you’ll just be able to manifest–you just hold out your hand and whatever you want manifests…okay well, can you do that for me right now?
Lester Levenson:
http://www.stillnessspeaks.com/sitehtml/llevenson/keystoultimate.pdf
Lester: I say all she had to do was to let go and be herself. Then even if she locked herself in a chamber somewhere, the things would have come to her. You don't sit down and wait, you don't do anything. Just let go of the sense of doership. You just know that everything is perfect and then the slightest thought you have will quickly come into being. There's no limitation on God, the Self. Whatever you thought, would have to come into being if you let go, because you're invoking your infinite power, your Self. Nothing can stop it!
 
#22
I wonder if Jeffery's studies included personality profiles of the interviewees? I'm curious if certain personality types are more inclined to enter PNSE. I would guess introverts are more inclined to have this experience.

I like Alan Watts' take on dissolving into the oneness and then choosing to come back: if we are all the One Thing acting out a drama through different personalities, and we realize this is the case, we can assume our personalities like an actor putting on a mask without taking our personalities quite so seriously. Perhaps people who enter stage 4+ truly get the fact that they are the Oneness, but feel that to resume the assumption of an ego would be a deviation from the ultimate nature of the Truth they experience as Oneness. Perhaps so, but considering the assumption of an ego to be a mask that enables one to play a convincing and interesting role with gusto could allow such a person to come and go in stage 4+ at will. To put it another way: if we are characters in a matrix, we must have an identity to be able to operate in that matrix or environment. Assuming an identity collapses universal existence to a single point through which this real simulation can be experienced. If this whole simulation exists to enable various experiences of identity, then losing that identity could be counterproductive despite the bliss it provides - much like the "egg" or cheat codes that conquer the game, but at the same time dissolve the purpose of the game.

I think I would contend that ultimate enlightenment would be expressed not through a static location 1,2,3, or 4+ experience, but through the ability to choose a location at any time with frequent traverses throughout the full spectrum. One byproduct of PNSE seems to be an increase in dogmatism that comes from the reduction in self-doubt. This dogmatism about the truth of one's experience and lack of self-doubt seems to have a tendency to freeze certain aspects of that person's development. I think it is good for people residing at different locations to break out of this dogmatism and attempt to become dynamic through the locations - even resuming the mask of ego or personality from time to time. This could be likened to a gamer who knows the cheat codes, deliberately turning them off to enjoy a little multiplayer action with friends with the full knowledge that he's going to get whipped.
 
#23
great stuff... thx.

I wonder if Jeffery's studies included personality profiles of the interviewees?
definatly somehting he's looked at.

I like Alan Watts' take on dissolving into the oneness and then choosing to come back
agreed... choice... always choice :)

One byproduct of PNSE seems to be an increase in dogmatism that comes from the reduction in self-doubt.
:) ouch!

... even resuming the mask of ego or personality from time to time.
I get what you mean, but at another level the "mask" is part of the whole... so all this language stuff falls apart.
 
#24
This thread is the most amazing thing I've seen on Skeptiko so far. People going on about "enlightenment" as if A- it's some specific state and B - as if they'd know what that state is.

Wow! Just wow.
 
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#25
I wonder if Jeffery's studies included personality profiles of the interviewees? I'm curious if certain personality types are more inclined to enter PNSE. I would guess introverts are more inclined to have this experience.
His thesis was somewhat related to this. He found that PNSE was not related to ego development, but was related to score on a mysticism scale.

But even if there is a correlation between PNSE and personality type, it doesn't tell you anything about any possible causal relationships. PNSE might be facilitated by a certain personality type or it might cause a certain personality type.


http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/858328943.html?FMT=AI


Ego Development Stage Does Not Predict Persistent
Non-Symbolic Experience
by
Jeffery A. Martin
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the California Institute of Integral
Studies in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in Transformative Studies
California Institute of Integral Studies
San Francisco, CA
2010
...
Abstract
Non-symbolic experiences have been reported for millennia and generally
attributed to spiritual and religious contexts, although atheists and agnostics also
report them. Popular terms for them include: nondual awareness, enlightenment,
mystical experiences, peak experiences, transcendental experience, the peace that
passeth understanding, unity consciousness, union with God, and so forth. Most
are temporary, but some individuals report a persistent form of them. Some
scholars have argued that these experiences represent advanced stages of human
development and placed them atop existing levels in various domains of
developmental psychology such as cognitive or ego development. There is little
evidence for this view. Moreover, several problems with it are pointed out in the
present work.

The primary goal of this study is to test the above taxonomy by comparing
ego development and Mysticism Scale measurements from a diverse population
of individuals who report persistent non-symbolic experience. This investigation
first hypothesized that individuals who report persistent non-symbolic experience
would exhibit a range of psychological developmental levels, specifically tested
here as a composite, ego development, using the Washington University Sentence
Completion Test (WUSCT). Second, it hypothesized that individuals who report
persistent non-symbolic experience would score higher on Hood's Mysticism
Scale than those who do not report such experiences. Third, it hypothesized the
absence of a simple or linear relationship between scores on the WUSCT and
Mysticism Scale for those who report non-symbolic experience.


These hypotheses were examined in 36 adults (F=9, M=27) reporting
persistent non-symbolic experience. The first hypothesis was supported: ego
development stages ranged from 5 (Loevinger and Cook-Greuter's "Self Aware"
stage) to 10 (Cook-Greuter's "Unitive" stage). The second hypothesis was also
supported: average and median Mysticism Scale scores notably exceeded those
reported in studies of other populations.
The third hypothesis could not be
adequately tested because the Mysticism Scale score distribution was strongly
skewed upwards, making most statistical comparisons unworkable. Overall, this
study provides the first strong evidence that persistent non-symbolic experience
does not represent higher levels of ego development.

This video by Dr Martin discusses the question further.

The playlist containing that video has interesting background on PNSE
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPjd37sU1TTjuNgQmukfpJkPdwCb98O1F
 
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#26
:) ouch!

I get what you mean, but at another level the "mask" is part of the whole... so all this language stuff falls apart.
Jeffery said the bit about dogmatism, not me! :) He did also say that many people who thought their location was IT seemed to benefit from learning about the perspective of someone else in another location who thought their location was IT. So despite the dogmatism they did seem to be able to become open minded when presented with challenges to their experience of truth.

Alex, I agree that language "falls apart", but I think that it does so in the same way that the big bang "fell apart" - which is pretty cool I think! If unity is the ultimate truth, then nothing can really be separate. If nothing can really be separate, any distinctions or boundaries must be arbitrary and illusory. Language, with its definitions that arbitrarily parse fluid analog reality into a digital model of that unity reality must then be a deviation into deception. The same could be said for atoms: formed by the nothing, inspired into something apparently separate yet destined to eventually return to the nothing from which they came. So language - the symbolic modeling of reality as knowledge - must be the "fall" into the fantastically interesting dualistic deception, or to draw a term from Genesis: the knowledge of good and evil. Non-symbolic experience could then be viewed as consciousness pre/post-fall. Since all language is inherently deceptive - even this sentence - then language cannot describe truth. This is the liar's paradox at the heart of existence. But if this unity truth is the central point about which all things oscillate, perhaps language could be useful for drawing someone into a tighter and tighter orbit around this central point like a comet until at last one is consumed by the Truth? So language which first flings us far from center with our first word ("in the beginning was the word...") can then be used to draw us back again as our models of reality approach reality. Perhaps this is why sages and gurus and authors of proverbs and koans offer seemingly capricious and contradictory advice? They are not attempting to provide absolute truth through language but rather attempting to use language to get you unstuck from your pet symbols and pull you from one side of the truth to the other and back again, swooping a little closer with each pass.

So yes, the "mask" of self is part of the whole and real. If you're stuck on your self and can't seem to stop posting selfies on facebook or can't stop being depressed by some adverse circumstance, you may benefit from thinking of self as a mask. If you're stuck in the silent Oneness of location 4 and can't find the agency to love your kid or spouse, for their sake perhaps consider the mask of self to be as real as anything else?
 
#27
This thread is the most amazing thing I've seen on Skeptiko so far. People going on about "enlightenment" as if A- it's some specific state and B - as if they'd know what that state is.

Wow! Just wow.
PNSE seems to be a specific state of mind or consciousness. Do you disagree that PNSE describes enlightenment? Do you believe that enlightenment should not be confused with the state of mind that it creates in the enlightened individual? If enlightenment is something separate from the state of mind it creates, then what is it?
 
#28
PNSE seems to be a specific state of mind or consciousness. Do you disagree that PNSE describes enlightenment? Do you believe that enlightenment should not be confused with the state of mind that it creates in the enlightened individual? If enlightenment is something separate from the state of mind it creates, then what is it?
Oh gosh, this stuff sure is complicated. LOL
 
#29
The whole point of PNSE is that it is defined very specifically.

http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SCS2014.pptx

PNSE 1
- Expansion of sense of self, connection to divine
- Much less affected by ‘self’ thoughts
- Distance from but still have positive and negative emotions
- Deep peace but can be suppressed by triggered conditioning
- Effects from perceptual triggers fall off quickly
- Deep peace and beingness feels more real than anything previous
- Trust in ‘how things are’
- Personal history less relevant, memories less

PNSE 2
- ‘Self’ thoughts continue to fade
- Peace increasingly harder to suppress/conditioning fades
- Shift towards increasingly positive emotions, until only very positive emotions remain
- Intermediate levels of perceptual triggers increasingly fade
- More likely to feel that there is a correct decision or path to take when presented with choices
- Higher well-being than location one

PNSE 3
- Only single positive emotion remains
- Feels like a combination of universal compassion, love, joy, …
- Higher well-being than location 2

PNSE 4
- No sense of agency
- No emotions
- No ‘self’ thoughts
- Perceptual triggers at their bare minimum
- No sense of divine or universal consciousness
- life was simply unfolding and they were watching the process happen
- Memory deficits/scheduled appointments, etc.
- Highest well-being reported​


Whether you call any of the PNSE locations "enlightenment" is up to you. There are 21 definitions of "enlightenment" here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/dharma-wiki/-/wiki/Main/MCTB Models of the Stages of Enlightenment

UPDATE: the above link seems to be dead try this:
https://web.archive.org/web/2015032...in/MCTB+Models+of+the+Stages+of+Enlightenment
    1. Non-Duality Models: those models having to do with eliminating or seeing through the sense that there is a fundamentally separate or continuous center-point, agent, watcher, doer, perceiver, subject, observer or similar entity.
    2. Fundamental Perceptual Models: those that have to do with directly perceiving fundamental aspects of things as they are, including perceiving emptiness, luminosity, impermanence, suffering, and other essential aspects of sensations regardless of what those sensations are.
    3. Specific Perceptual Models: those that involve being able to perceive more and more, or all, of the specific sensations that make up experience with greater and greater clarity at most or all times, and usually involve perfected, continuous, panoramic mindfulness or concentration at extremely high speed.
    4. Emotional Models: those that have to do with perfecting or limiting the emotional range, usually involving eliminating things like desire, greed, hatred, confusion, delusion, and the like.
    5. Action Models: those that have to do with perfecting or limiting the things we can and can’t do in the ordinary sense, usually relating to always following some specific code of morality or performing altruistic actions, or that everything we say or do will be the exactly right thing to have done in that situation.
    6. Powers Models: those that have to do with gaining in abilities, either ordinary or extraordinary (psychic powers).
    7. Energetic Models: those that have to do with having all the energy (Chi, Qi, Prana, etc.) flowing through all the energy channels in the proper way, all the Chakras spinning in the proper direction, perfecting our aura, etc.
    8. Specific Knowledge Models: those that have to do with gaining conceptual knowledge of facts and details about the specifics of reality, as contrasted with the models that deal with perceiving fundamental aspects of reality.
    9. Psychological Models: those that have to do with becoming psychologically perfected or eliminating psychological issues and problems, i.e. having no “stuff” do deal with, no neuroses, no mental illnesses, perfect personalities, etc.
    10. Thought Models: those that have to do with either limiting what thoughts can be thought, enhancing what thoughts can be thought, or involve stopping the process of thinking entirely.
    11. God Models: those that involve perceiving or becoming one with God, or even becoming a God yourself.
    12. Physical Models: those that involve having or acquiring a perfected, hyper-healthy or excellent physical body, such as having long earlobes, beautiful eyes, a yoga-butt, or super-fast fists of steel.
    13. Radiance Models: those that involve having a presence that is remarkable in some way, such as being charismatic or radiating love, wisdom or even light.
    14. Karma Models: those that involve being free of the laws of reality or causes that make bad things happen to people, and thus living a blessed, protected, lucky, or disaster and illness-free life.
    15. Perpetual Bliss Models: those models that say that enlightenment involves a continuous state of happiness, bliss or joy, the corollary of this being a state that is perpetually free from suffering. Related to this are models that involve a perpetual state of jhanaic or meditative absorption.
    16. Immortality Models: those that involve living forever, usually in an amazing place (Heaven, Nirvana, Pure Land, etc.) or in an enhanced state of ability (Angels, Bodhisattvas, Sorcerers, etc.).
    17. Transcendence Models: those models that state that one will be free from or somehow above the travails of the world while yet being in the world, and thus live in a state of transcendence.
    18. Extinction Models: those that involve getting off the Wheel of Suffering, the round of rebirths, etc. and thus never being reborn again or even ceasing to be at the moment of enlightenment, that is, the great “Poof!” on the cushion, not to be confused with the more mundane atmospheric consequences of a legume-based diet, as anyone who as been on a vegetarian meditation retreat knows all too well.
    19. Love Models: those that involve us loving everyone and/or everyone loving us.
    20. Unitive Models: that you will become one with everything in some sense.
    21. Social Models: that you will somehow be accepted for what you may have attained, that you have attained something when people think you have, and variants on these themes.
My feeling is the only "natural definition" of enlightenment would be the following type of experience consistently described by ancient texts, meditators, non-meditators, near-death experiencers, and spirits communicating through mediums all coming from different religious and philosopical traditions:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/realizing-the-ultimate-resources.1961/

(based on a previous post here: http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...-klaus-donald-degracia.1635/page-2#post-58190)

Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman
"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-ānanda and as the highest reality... According to Advaita, a liberated human being ... has realised Brahman as his or her own true self."

An advanced meditator:
http://www.dondeg.com/metaphysics/Conquest_Of_Illusion.pdf
"In that experience [of Brahman] we are no longer the separate self, we are no longer what we call 'we' in our daily life. Not only are we our entire being, past and future, in that sublime experience of eternity, but we are the reality of all that is, was, or shall be, we are That."

A near-death experiencer:
http://www.near-death.com/stewart.html
The metaphor represented by the image I saw and perceived was absolutely clear and I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that WE ARE ALL ONE. I comprehended that our oneness is interconnected by love and is an available, much higher level and means of communication than we normally use but to which we have access. This love is available to anyone who is willing to do the hard spiritual work that will allow us to open our hearts and minds and eyes to Spirit. I remembered the love I had felt in the presence of God and experienced a total sense of love for all existence as an interconnected oneness and a manifestation of God.

A spirit communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint:
http://www.leslieflint.com/transcripts_marshall6p2.html
It is the development and it is the tremendous realisation that one must have eventually of how we are all linked and bound together and how actually the very fundamental thing that flows through us all, is the very essence which is of God. And so we gradually evolve more and more to God or become like him.

I do not refer to shape or form, I refer now to the infinite spirit which is the very life blood you might say of all humanity; where we lose in each other ourselves and discover that we are all in a oneness and in accord. And when we have this oneness and accord we reach a stage of spiritual development where we can be considered to be living in a form if you like of paradise because we are conscious of everything around and about us as being not only "us" but "all".​
...​
Also this:
Lester Levenson who developed psychological techniques that led to his realization:
http://www.releasetechnique.com/web...nique2014/downloads/lester-levenson-story.pdf
"This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to."

He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
...
"It was obvious to me that I wasn't that body and mind as I had thought I was. I just saw it—that's all. It's simple when you see it.

So I let go of identifying with that body. And when I did, I saw that my Beingness was all Beingness, that Beingness is like one grand ocean. It's not chopped up into parts called "drops of bodies." It's all one ocean.

That caused me to identity with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe. And that's an experience so tremendous, it's indescribable. First you see that the universe is in you, then you see the universe as you. Then you know the Oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that's caused only by separation."​

Qualifying someone at any PNSE location would not tell you if they fit this "natural" definition, or if they were awakened in the Buddhist sense. It might be that every fully awakened buddha would be measured to be in PNSE 4 but it wouldn't tell you that every person in PNSE 4 had the insight required to qualify as an awakened buddha.

But PNSE is not intended to measure these other states (spiritual insight). It is defined for the practical purpose of providing a working definition based on elements that are widely recognized in the field of psychology (sense of self, cognition, emotion, memory and perception) and can be used in replicable experiements.
 
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#30
Dr. Martin wrote:
http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf

The term non-symbolic was derived from Cook-Greuter’s (2000) research involving ego development and transcendence. While she generally favored the word postsymbolic, she used a term related to non-symbolic in a 2000 paper, in the following context:

Eastern psychologies have often pointed to the nonsymbolically mediated, or immediate ways of knowing as the only kind of knowing that can lead to enlightenment or true insight into human nature. In fact, they consider our addiction to language-mediated, discursive thought as a major hurdle in realizing the true or divine Self, or union with the Ground. (Cook-Greuter, p. 230)​
...
As I sought to increasingly identify the most consistent PNSE elements that were being reported by participants, the research became primarily focused on changes in: sense of self, cognition, emotion, memory and perception. These elements were used in an effort to get below individual beliefs, cultural differences, and so forth. It proved to be a highly effective strategy that produced clear and consistent answers.
 
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#31
Most of PNSE1 and 2 can be produced by meditating for a few hours. (The amount of meditation needed to maintain that state would depend on the experiencer and the lifestyle of the experiencer.) Many religious people develop a sense of connection to the divine without meditating. Considering the subjective nature of measuring the states and its susceptibility to perceptual bias, it seems to me that PNSE 1 is not a very high bar to set, which is why I think the claims for the course are reasonable, but also over hyped and that the course is over priced.

One justification of the high price might be that since the course requires a large commitment of time every day, Dr Martin needs some way to weed out students who might lack that commitment, charging a high tuition could help accomplish that. It would suit his purposes but in my opinion is unfair to the research subjects. The course might cost a lot to run, but like a gold plated shovel which costs a lot to produce, it might not be required for most practical purposes. The average gardener knows he doesn't need a gold plated shovel, I am concerned that the students in the finders course don't know they are paying a lot for something they shouldn't have to pay a lot for.

Another potential problem with the course, I think, is that students might pay the money thinking they are getting a chance at deep spiritual insight (enlightenment or awakening), but in reality, if they get anything, it is more akin to valium than spiritual insight.
 
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#32
But PNSE is not intended to measure these other states (spiritual insight). It is defined for the practical purpose of providing a working definition based on elements that are widely recognized in the field of psychology (sense of self, cognition, emotion, memory and perception) and can be used in replicable experiements.
I think part of the problem is enormous whole left by the lack of research in this area. that's why I give Martin a lot more credit... we gotta start somewhere.

but I get your other point too... just because there's the lack of research doesn't mean we have to buy into the theories of the first guy who comes along with the location 1-4 thing. kinda reminds me of the Monroe stuff... there some absolutely great stuff there, but I don't swallow it whole.
 
#33
PNSE seems to be a specific state of mind or consciousness. Do you disagree that PNSE describes enlightenment? Do you believe that enlightenment should not be confused with the state of mind that it creates in the enlightened individual? If enlightenment is something separate from the state of mind it creates, then what is it?
IMO This illustrates the delusions that can occur when materialist methods are applied to non-physical exploration. There's a lot of words and seeming specifics assigned to some supposed state labeled "PNSE." so those who have an over-reliance on intellect start to think that it conveys an actuality. It doesn't.

- PNSE is not a specific state. It is as generalized as "being happy" is.
- PNSE doesn't describe enlightenment. It describes some people's intellectual assessment of what they think enlightenment is.
- Whatever enlightenment is, it has little to do with mind. I'd venture further and muse that a liking for the approach and descriptions in PNSE shows that one is aligned primarily with intellect and that pursuing it is a road that leads only to more of the alignment.

What is it? That's the question. Being able to identify what isn't something means that one knows exactly what is that something. It is not coincidence that most traditions approach methods of movement in the direction of possible enlightenment in an oblique way.

"The way that can be named is not the way" has more than one message.
 
#34
Most of PNSE1 and 2 can be produced by meditating for a few hours. (The amount of meditation needed to maintain that state would depend on the experiencer and the lifestyle of the experiencer.) Many religious people develop a sense of connection to the divine without meditating. Considering the subjective nature of measuring the states and its susceptibility to perceptual bias, it seems to me that PNSE 1 is not a very high bar to set, which is why I think the claims for the course are reasonable, but also over hyped and that the course is over priced.

One justification of the high price might be that since the course requires a large commitment of time every day, Dr Martin needs some way to weed out students who might lack that commitment, charging a high tuition could help accomplish that. It would suit his purposes but in my opinion is unfair to the research subjects. The course might cost a lot to run, but like a gold plated shovel which costs a lot to produce, it might not be required for most practical purposes. The average gardener knows he doesn't need a gold plated shovel, I am concerned that the students in the finders course don't know they are paying a lot for something they shouldn't have to pay a lot for.

Another potential problem with the course, I think, is that students might pay the money thinking they are getting a chance at deep spiritual insight (enlightenment or awakening), but in reality, if they get anything, it is more akin to valium than spiritual insight.
Jim, I've been able to download a college degree's worth of info from your forum contributions. I occasionally peruse your blog. Many of your comments are spot on.
I don't think it's true that "Most of PNSE 1 and 2 can be produced by meditating for a few hours". It's possible the opposite is true depending on the personality profile of the meditator. Experiencing any location may not even be desired by most people. Be careful about transference of experience.
This forum is a good example of the few people interested in culturally defined fringe topics, especially anything resembling dissolution of the self.
Culturally based biased beliefs are powerful and prevalent. Many people enjoy their lot in life and are content to enjoy their good fortune. People who are devote Christians, Muslims, even atheists are generally suspicious of unfamiliar terms and ideas. Altered states of being may induce fear of an unstable mental state or worst demonic possession (you know about all the evil spirits lurking about).
A close friend who tried meditation for a few weeks decided it wasn't for them. There was anxiety over trying to quiet their thoughts. After all that's who they are and they argued a person can improve through the right beliefs and practice. There is the philosophy that 'self realization' is the self becoming more and more expansive through life lessons or lifetimes of lessons. Its mostly what one reads when people write about the wonderfulness of what the NDE teaches. The prevalent reaction to stories of heaven, departed loved ones, reincarnation, mediumship, spirit guides and angels all lend themselves to glorification of the self as evolving into a higher, more evolved spiritual being with a deepened emotional capacity and intact sense of a separate identity. The idea of collapse of ego is anathema to survival after death, as most people understand it.
 
#35
I think part of the problem is enormous whole left by the lack of research in this area. that's why I give Martin a lot more credit... we gotta start somewhere.

but I get your other point too... just because there's the lack of research doesn't mean we have to buy into the theories of the first guy who comes along with the location 1-4 thing. kinda reminds me of the Monroe stuff... there some absolutely great stuff there, but I don't swallow it whole.
I watched the videos in the PNSE playlist I linked to above and Dr Martin discusses other research done on the subject. So there is some other research out there. Dr. Martin is not "starting" the field.

I think PSNE has some good characteristics for use in research. Dr Martin has a clear definition for PNSE levels, and he owns that definition. And it consists of definite things to measure that are understood by psychologists. Psychological research is his area of expertise so I don't mean to criticize that. When I wrote PNSE is not measuring spiritual insight, I didn't mean it as a criticism of the research methodology. I meant it is a problem if people taking the course think they are buying spiritual insight.

But I think there is a problem of how to get objective measurements of the parameters in the PNSE locations. I think you have to use blind protocols with control groups, and replication would be good too. These are things Dr Martin mentions in his own videos. I am not trained in experimental psychology so I don't know if it is possible to measure PNSE with a more rigorous protocol. If not then maybe Dr Martin should use a different measure, something that can be measured more objectively and rigorously. I understand it costs money to run experiments. But it is one thing to publish scientific papers where your readers, other scientists, know how the experimental protocols influence the meaning of the statistics, and it is another thing to use those statistics to sell something to the lay public who might know nothing of the experimenter effect, etc.

I am particularly suspicious of this type of data that is based on students rating the results of a class. I once worked for a company that gave courses. They even made videos of students praising the course. But I know it is very easy to manipulate people into saying what you want them to say. I don't have any reasons to suspect that Dr Martin does this, I am just saying that in general I don't trust those types of results or testimonials.

Also, I asked an advanced meditator what he thought about the four locations, and he thought that they didn't really match up with his experiences - that people don't progress in all facets at the same rate, and that some of the measures in PNSE were not relevant.

Another problem I see with the definition of PNSE is that I don't understand how it is quantified. How do you separate location 1 from 2? If it's a continuum then there are PNSE locations 0, .25, .5 .75 and 1.0. How do you know who is experiencing PNSE and who isn't quite there yet? If you want the statistics to put the course in the best light you might be tempted to ... to... let's say ... round up to the nearest integer from 0.5 and above. And, do you have to meet all the criterion to fall into a location or are you certified if you have 3 or four out of five? All these things relate to how you measure if someone is experiencing PNSE 1 which is how you would measure the success of the course which relates to whether it is worth the money. I have too many questions to feel that one can make a sound judgement about that.
 
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#36
The prevalent reaction to stories of heaven, departed loved ones, reincarnation, mediumship, spirit guides and angels all lend themselves to glorification of the self as evolving into a higher, more evolved spiritual being with a deepened emotional capacity and intact sense of a separate identity. The idea of collapse of ego is anathema to survival after death, as most people understand it.
Though I understand what you're getting at here, I think we have to distinguish between theoretical ideas about these matters, and their actual occurrence. For example I have come to recognise the reality of reincarnation, but it was not through anything I would call "glorification of the self". The understanding came about for me after letting go of self. That may sound contradictory, but I find these things are extremely hard to explain in words. Words are an obstacle as much as an aid.
 
#37
Jim, I've been able to download a college degree's worth of info from your forum contributions. I occasionally peruse your blog. Many of your comments are spot on.
I don't think it's true that "Most of PNSE 1 and 2 can be produced by meditating for a few hours". It's possible the opposite is true depending on the personality profile of the meditator.
How do you determine where someone falls on the PNSE scale? Do they rate themselves? Do they fill out a questionaire? Does someone trained in PNSE assment interview them? Do they have to have to meet all the criterion or will meeting 6 out of 8 criterion qualify them? Is each criterion judged yes or no or are they quantified?

PNSE 1
  1. - Expansion of sense of self, connection to divine
  2. - Much less affected by ‘self’ thoughts
  3. - Distance from but still have positive and negative emotions
  4. - Deep peace but can be suppressed by triggered conditioning
  5. - Effects from perceptual triggers fall off quickly
  6. - Deep peace and beingness feels more real than anything previous
  7. - Trust in ‘how things are’
  8. - Personal history less relevant, memories less
How do you assess "much less", "distance from", "deep", "less relevant"? It seems to me there is a lot of room to wiggle whatever result you want into that.

I think if the average person would meditate for a few hours he would experience 2,3,4,6,8. People who are religious may feel a connection to the divine without needing to meditate. Some people feel a trust in how things are without having to meditate. If you take a class that discusses an expanding sense of self and trust in how things are, you might start to feel an expanded sense of self and trust in how things are without meditating. My point is that I don't trust the success rate of the course. It could be too easy to satisfy PNSE 1. The course could easily deliver what it claims but that could be a trivial accomplishment.
 
#38
IMO This illustrates the delusions that can occur when materialist methods are applied to non-physical exploration. There's a lot of words and seeming specifics assigned to some supposed state labeled "PNSE." so those who have an over-reliance on intellect start to think that it conveys an actuality. It doesn't.
There seems to be consensus here that language is incapable of describing ultimate truth. However, would you agree with me that language can be used to defeat language? Language can pull someone into a tighter orbit around the central point of ultimate truth?

If PNSE is the description of one's experience when one realizes at-one-ment, then language could still be useful for creating a taxonomy and study of these types of experiences while still failing to explain the ultimate nature of at-one-ment or enlightenment which is really the ultimate nature of truth.

- Whatever enlightenment is, it has little to do with mind. I'd venture further and muse that a liking for the approach and descriptions in PNSE shows that one is aligned primarily with intellect and that pursuing it is a road that leads only to more of the alignment.
What is mind? It sounds like your are considering mind and intellect here to be synonymous. Perhaps all of this intellectual talk is nothing but speaking in tongues? A kind of babbling on to pacify the logical left brain so that the holistic right brain can have free reign to see things as they are? If this is the case, I would argue even this helps us approach the ultimate truth a little closer, so I wouldn't knock our intellectual speaking in tongues. :)

What is it? That's the question. Being able to identify what isn't something means that one knows exactly what is that something. It is not coincidence that most traditions approach methods of movement in the direction of possible enlightenment in an oblique way.
You have made several statements about what enlightenment is not, so then according to this, you must know exactly what it is? If you do know what it is, in what form do you possess this knowledge? You have said that language - a symbolic representation of reality - cannot describe enlightenment. Therefore, you must possess this knowledge in the form of some sort of non-symbolic experience? :)
 
#39
There seems to be consensus here that language is incapable of describing ultimate truth. However, would you agree with me that language can be used to defeat language? Language can pull someone into a tighter orbit around the central point of ultimate truth?
No. I would not agree with either of those. Nor do I agree with concepts like the "central point of ultimate truth." I think it's just another religion.

However let's be clear - though I view framing these methods as a search for enlightenment or "ultimate truth" to be at best (no offense meant ) silly - that doesn't mean I think the methods themselves have no benefit. They can be employed to help one expand their awareness and that's something I support. However, the conceptualizing of that as enlightenment, truth, etc are rooted in a belief in, and desire for, absolutes and correctness. Expansion will happen despite, not because of, that belief and desire.
 
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#40
No. I would not agree with either of those. Nor do I agree with concepts like the "central point of ultimate truth." I think it's just another religion.

However let's be clear - though I view framing these methods as a search for enlightenment or "ultimate truth" to be at best (no offense meant ) silly - that doesn't mean I think the methods themselves have no benefit. They can be employed to help one expand their awareness and that's something I support. However, the conceptualizing it as enlightenment, truth, etc are rooted in a belief in, and desire for, absolutes and correctness. Expansion will happen despite, not because of, that belief and desire.
Okay, I apologize for misunderstanding your position. So you do think that language can be useful in a practical sense, but do not accept any concept involving absolutes? And you prefer the term "expansion of awareness" over "enlightenment" or other loaded historically religious terms. Since PNSE is also not a loaded historically religious term, what do you dislike about it? Your preferred term implies positive movement along the dimension of awareness and you support this expansion. Are there any limitations to the movement in the expansive direction? If so, what imposes the limitation and wouldn't this limit create an absolute maximum? If not, then expansion could increase to infinite. Wouldn't infinite awareness be a kind of absolute awareness?
 
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