Jeffery Martin introduces free version of his "enlightenment" course

#1
Jeffery Martin (Skeptiko 267) has just released a free version of his fee-based online course, the Finders Course, at

http://www.finderscourse.com/fc.one.html

His science-based experimental online course has been run four times and the fifth run is ongoing now (FC5). I'm participating in that (Dmitch participated in FC4). Jeffery is currently gearing up to run another iteration of this fee-based course, FC6, to begin in July.

His reported results from the first four courses have been nothing short of spectacular in terms of bringing a large percentage of participants into an ongoing mind state he calls ONE (for ongoing non-symbolic experience*). As far as I'm aware, his success rate (over 50%) in that time frame (a few months) is a couple of orders of magnitude beyond anything reliably reported in the modern era; initiations such as the Eleusis Mysteries of ancient Greece may have enjoyed such success but they were reserved for the cultural elite and may have been rather harrowing.

It is currently unknown (as far as I've heard) if the free course will have the same success rate as his fee-based courses - research suggests that free courses do not motivate participants as well as pay courses can. Still, this course may well be the best chance for anyone who is not wedded to a particular religion or spiritual framework, or anyone who is so wedded but can maintain an open mind, to achieve PNSE in a few months at essentially no cost other than a significant amount of effort. Based on my experience to date and views expressed by many people in ONE or PNSE, those mind states are unbelievably precious; the commonly expressed view is that these people would not go back to their earlier states for any amount of money.

At this point I have not examined the contents of the free course. My experience in FC5 and what I've heard from others is that the changes experienced at various times in unexpected ways can cause it to be a rather rough ride emotionally, sometimes confusing. If I were going to do the free course, I'd consider getting some like-minded friends or a partner involved. I would also consider soliciting emotional support from non-participating friends and family. Those are just my thoughts.

I believe this should be approached as a serious undertaking. Examine the potential risks and benefits for yourself. I have no affiliation with Jeffery or his courses other than I'm paying to take FC5. Nothing I say here or elsewhere should be considered advice, only opinion.

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*Footnote - Jeffery says the term non-symbolic experience was chosen, not because it is terribly meaningful, but because it did not have any baggage, unlike the traditional terms which tend to vary by spiritual tradition or lack thereof. This allowed him to interview thousands of people claiming these mind states, with a wide variety of backgrounds, without offending sometimes dogmatic beliefs.

Jeffery breaks ONE into a spectrum of mind states that include most of the enlightenment or mystical or whatever states that have been reported across all cultures for thousands of years. His various research reports can be found at:

http://nonsymbolic.org/

By his definition, if you remain in ONE for a year (data suggest that seven months will do it) it is likely to be a permanent transformation, which he calls PNSE (Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience).
 
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#2
*Footnote - Jeffery says the term non-symbolic experience was chosen, not because it is terribly meaningful, but because it did not have any baggage, unlike the traditional terms which tend to vary by spiritual tradition or lack thereof. This allowed him to interview thousands of people claiming these mind states, with a wide variety of backgrounds, without offending sometimes dogmatic beliefs.

Here is the definition of non-symbolic consciousness from an article by Dr. Martin:

http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf
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.​

The term non-symbolic refers to the direct knowing that occurs during realization when a person "perceives things as they really are", i.e. that self is an illusion and that a person is really all beings and all things. Dr. Martin's original research subjects, if they were as advanced as we are led to believe, would have understood realization and would have agreed this was a good term to describe the experience.

However, far as I can tell, PNSE is measured by psychological tests that measure well-being. I am not clear if PNSE locations correlate with realization experiences. If Dr. Martin says the term is "not terribly meaningful" then there is probably no correlation. In that case, when Dr. Martin says his system is better than other traditions that do produce realization experiences, he is comparing apples to oranges.
 
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#3
Here is the definition of non-symbolic consciousness from an article by Dr. Martin:
My comment " ... not that it's terribly meaningful ..." (my words, not Jeffery's) is based on remarks in one of Jeffery's videos where he asks the audience not to try to read too much into the term. As I understand the story, they didn't select the term because it was just right for describing the experience; they searched for a term that did not already have any baggage and ended up with this one that had only appeared in the literature once as far as they could find.

Perhaps we can all agree our language is pretty much unsuited to discussing these things accurately and any name for these experiences is just going to be a handle for our convenience. Jeffery wanted a handle that would not antagonize zealots from any tradition, and selected this one. Perhaps he was not completely successful.
 
#4
Here is the definition of non-symbolic consciousness from an article by Dr. Martin:

http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf
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.​

The term non-symbolic refers to the direct knowing that occurs during realization when a person "perceives things as they really are", i.e. that self is an illusion and that a person is really all beings and all things. Dr. Martin's original research subjects, if they were as advanced as we are led to believe, would have understood realization and would have agreed this was a good term to describe the experience.

However, far as I can tell, PNSE is measured by psychological tests that measure well-being. I am not clear if PNSE locations correlate with realization experiences. If Dr. Martin says the term is "not terribly meaningful" then there is probably no correlation. In that case, when Dr. Martin says his system is better than other traditions that do produce realization experiences, he is comparing apples to oranges.

Breath! You are Alive by Thich Nhat Hanh:
Impermanence also means "signlesness." The reality of all that exists is beyond every concept and linguistic expression. We cannot go directly to their essential and true nature, because we are accustomed to grasping phenomena through the intermediaries of perception and thought. The categories of perception and thought are "signs."

The example of wave and water is often given to help us understand the "signless" nature of all that exists. A wave can be high or low, can arise or disappear, but the essence of the wave - water- is neither hight nor low, neither arising nor disappearing. All signs - high, low, arising, disappearing - cannot touch the essence of water. We cry and laugh according to the sign because we have not yet seen the essence. The essence (svabhava) is the very nature of everything that is and of the reality of ourselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn40/sn40.009.wlsh.html
Animitto Sutta: The Signless

"Then, friends, paying no attention to any distinguishing signs, I entered on and dwelt in that concentration of the heart which is without signs. But as I dwelt thus,[4] the consciousness-conforming-to-signs arose.[5]

"And then, friends, the Blessed One came to me by his powers[6] and said: 'Moggallaana, Moggallaana, Brahman,[7] do not slacken off in the signless concentration, make your mind steady, make the mind one-pointed, concentrate your mind in the signless concentration!'

"And after that, friends, paying no attention to any distinguishing signs, I entered on and dwelt in the signless concentration of the heart.
http://realitysandwich.com/229496/d...jeffrey-a-martin-explains-the-finders-course/
Dr. Jeffery A. Martin: ... On any given day, I’m talking to many people who experience what we call Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience. This state is publicly known by terms like “enlightenment,” “non-duality,” “persistent mystical states,” “unitive states,” such as “union with God,” or with the Divine or with nature,” or “transcendental consciousness.” Things like that. Our term for it is Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience, which we often shorten to PNSE.
I don't see how you can identify an experience of the signless nature of ultimate reality by measuring of "sense of self, cognition, emotion, memory and perception". I think PNSE measures the effects of meditation but not necessarily the experience you have because of that meditation.
"I don't see how you can identify an experience of the signless nature of ultimate reality by measuring of "sense of self, cognition, emotion, memory and perception". I think PNSE measures the effects of meditation but not necessarily the experience you have because of that meditation."
 
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