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Scientific Value of Mental Quiet
Posted: 29 December 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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“If you can sweep away all entanglements and wash away accumulated obsessions, so as to be clean and naked, bare and free, with nothing at all, then in that empty valley there will naturally be something indefinable with essential vitality, a nonpsychological spirit that is responsive, effective, and wise.”  - Liu I-ming (1737-?) translated by Thomas Cleary in his book, ‘AWAKENING TO THE TAO.’

“Just experiment with it and you will see for yourself that you have the flash of understanding, that extraordinary rapidity of insight, when the mind is very still, when thought is absent, when the mind is not burdened with its own noise.” - Krishnamurti (1896-1986)

“Experiments in Consciousness” - Sam Harris, chapter 7, The End of Faith

Science article on the consequences of the over-active, cluttered mind:

http://www.news.com/Why-cant-you-pay-attention-anymore/2008-1022_3-5637632.html?tag=st.num

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 29 December 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Separate the wheat from the chaff (just change the labels to “sages” and “citizens”).

[ Edited: 29 December 2007 12:39 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 29 December 2007 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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unsmoked - 29 December 2007 05:12 PM

Science article on the consequences of the over-active, cluttered mind:

http://www.news.com/Why-cant-you-pay-attention-anymore/2008-1022_3-5637632.html?tag=st.num

You know, unsmoked, scientific training is the most dependable means of preventing one’s mind from becoming cluttered with unsubstantiated crap, and it is what I apply to a great deal of the clutter that people toss up here at this forum like so much undigestible food for thought.

The ability to decide whether or not something is nonsense should not be underestimated. Sure, one may lose the needle by burning the haystack, but the ashes have a much lower volume. The original volume of the haystack, after all, is the principal barrier to finding something in it with as small a volume as a chrome-plated darning needle.

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Posted: 29 December 2007 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Salt Creek - 29 December 2007 05:34 PM

The original volume of the haystack, after all, is the principal barrier to finding something in it with as small a volume as a chrome-plated darning needle.

Salt, I’m sure you’ve read enough Zen anecdotes to know that the fire has to get hot enough to reduce even the needle to ashes.  Quiet means quiet, not the sound of a pin dropping.

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“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 29 December 2007 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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unsmoked - 29 December 2007 06:21 PM

Salt, I’m sure you’ve read enough Zen anecdotes to know that the fire has to get hot enough to reduce even the needle to ashes.

Not to pursue the pun too far, but, in that event, what’s the point?

If the point was “quiet”, how come there are so many, uh, anecdotes?

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Posted: 29 December 2007 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Salt Creek - 29 December 2007 06:31 PM
unsmoked - 29 December 2007 06:21 PM

Salt, I’m sure you’ve read enough Zen anecdotes to know that the fire has to get hot enough to reduce even the needle to ashes.

Not to pursue the pun too far, but, in that event, what’s the point?

If the point was “quiet”, how come there are so many, uh, anecdotes?

Already too far.

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 29 December 2007 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Back in 1968 I was an enthusiastic young grad student attending my first scientific conference.  It was a 4 day conference and for the first 2 1/2 days I attended every lecture and presentation I could.  Midway through the 3rd day, my head was so full of ideas and thoughts and mental chatter that I couldn’t even concentrate for a minute.  I recalled a recomendation that my grandmother had made to me about sitting down and quiting the mind.  So I sat in a comfortable chair, closed my eyes, and just let things go.  Visually, my head seemed a space filled with chains of light zipping about in all directions.  As I relaxed more these streams of lights got fewer and finally the last one moved off and vanished leaving nothing but emptiness.  Feeling great, I opened my eyes and thought “what a restful five minutes.”  Looking at my watch, it turned out to have been more lie 45.  My mind was empty, the relevent information from the talks I had attended was sorted and filed in appropriate places, and the rest had been eliminated.

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Posted: 30 December 2007 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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burt - 30 December 2007 04:11 AM

Back in 1968 I was an enthusiastic young grad student attending my first scientific conference.  It was a 4 day conference and for the first 2 1/2 days I attended every lecture and presentation I could.  Midway through the 3rd day, my head was so full of ideas and thoughts and mental chatter that I couldn’t even concentrate for a minute.  I recalled a recomendation that my grandmother had made to me about sitting down and quiting the mind.  So I sat in a comfortable chair, closed my eyes, and just let things go.  Visually, my head seemed a space filled with chains of light zipping about in all directions.  As I relaxed more these streams of lights got fewer and finally the last one moved off and vanished leaving nothing but emptiness.  Feeling great, I opened my eyes and thought “what a restful five minutes.”  Looking at my watch, it turned out to have been more lie 45.  My mind was empty, the relevent information from the talks I had attended was sorted and filed in appropriate places, and the rest had been eliminated.

Bingo.  Thoreau wrote, “Sometimes I feel that I could stand to the side and watch it all go by like a torrent.”  Speaking of his daily walks in the countryside around Concord he said that he never took the thoughts/cares of the day with him.  His attention was on the fields and woods, the sights and sounds of the moment.

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 30 December 2007 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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double post

[ Edited: 30 December 2007 12:00 PM by unsmoked]
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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 30 December 2007 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Salt Creek - 29 December 2007 06:31 PM
unsmoked - 29 December 2007 06:21 PM

Salt, I’m sure you’ve read enough Zen anecdotes to know that the fire has to get hot enough to reduce even the needle to ashes.

Not to pursue the pun too far, but, in that event, what’s the point?

If the point was “quiet”, how come there are so many, uh, anecdotes?

“Like any skill that requires refinements in perception or cognition, the task of recognizing consciousness prior to the subject/object dichotomy can be facilitated by an expert.  But it is, at least in principle, an experience that is available to anyone.”

“It is often said that a person cannot learn these things from reading a book (such as Zen anecdotes).  In the general case, this is undoubtedly true.  I would add that one is by no means guaranteed to recognize the intrinsic nonduality of consciousness simply by having an eminent meditation master point it out.  The conditions have to be just right: the teacher has to be really delivering the goods, leaving no conceptual doubt as to what is to be recognized; and the student has to be endowed with sufficient concentration of mind to follow his instructions and notice what there is to notice.  In this sense, meditation is undoubtedly an acquired skill.” 

“It is on this front that the practice of meditation reveals itself to be both intellectually serious and indispensible.  There is something to realize about the nature of consciousness, and its realization does not entail thinking new thoughts.” - Sam Harris writing in ‘THE END OF FAITH’ - page 218 in paperback, including note #18 on page 298.

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“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 30 December 2007 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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unsmoked - 30 December 2007 05:22 PM

“Like any skill that requires refinements in perception or cognition, the task of recognizing consciousness prior to the subject/object dichotomy can be facilitated by an expert.  But it is, at least in principle, an experience that is available to anyone.”

Yes, but now you are going well beyond the denotation of “scientific” that you put in the title of this thread. One naturally wonders why you want the imprimatur of “science” on your mental quest, if it is only in principle (in principle, mind you) an experience that is available to anyone.

“Facilitated by an expert” my ass. On what basis would you accept the experience when not facilitated by an “expert”?

A scientific experience is available to anyone, no holds barred, so quit jacking off to this idea, already.

Burt, this means that you have to come up with something besides your subjective testimony that sitting quietly helped you put “everything in order that at first was jumbled”. I mean, that says precisely nothing, because you never get it in order as the data are coming in. Cognition ought to differ from experience, or else why have separate words for it? For some people, sitting quietly works. For some others, a round table discussion or a symposium helps. Don’t commit yourself to the head fake, or that guy will be off into the secondary, and you will have to depend on the deep backs.

And even now, nobody’s answered my question about why there are so many anecdotes. It’s almost like you’re trying to hide from them, now.

Keep telling anecdotes, then. Perhaps no one will notice the deafening lack of silence.

[ Edited: 30 December 2007 12:41 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 30 December 2007 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Salt Creek - 30 December 2007 05:32 PM

And even now, nobody’s answered my question about why there are so many anecdotes. It’s almost like you’re trying to hide from them, now.

Keep telling anecdotes, then. Perhaps no one will notice the deafening lack of silence.

“Talking about Zen all the time is like looking for fish tracks in a dry riverbed.” - Zen master Wuzu

“What do you go to a “Zen center” for?  You should make a living on your own, and not listen to what others say.” - Zen master Foyan.

“The various teachings and techniques of buddhas and Zen masters are only set forth so that you will individually step back into yourself, understand your own original mind and see your own original nature, so that you reach a state of great rest, peace, and happiness.” - Zen master Yuansou

Anecdotes from ‘ZEN ESSENCE - The Science of Freedom’ translated and edited by Thomas Cleary

Salt, apparently you have no use for Zen anecdotes, and see no real ‘science’ in meditation.  However, I hope your responses, the great puns and wit continue full bore.  If you think that meditation COULD be a field for scientific investigation, I’d like to read what you have to say about it.

In the past, I had one genuine Zen teacher.  He thought that my Zen books would make good toilet paper - ie ‘nothing’ brings a person to quiet.

“The venerable Yanyang asked Zhaozhou, “When one doesn’t bring a single thing, then what?”  Zhaozhou said, “Put it down.”  Yanyang asked, “If I don’t bring a single thing, what should I put down?”  Zhaozhou said, “I see you cannot put it down.”

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 10 January 2008 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Salt Creek - 29 December 2007 05:34 PM

The ability to decide whether or not something is nonsense should not be underestimated. Sure, one may lose the needle by burning the haystack, but the ashes have a much lower volume. The original volume of the haystack, after all, is the principal barrier to finding something in it with as small a volume as a chrome-plated darning needle.

You can save the hay and find the needle by shining light and looking for its reflection.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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To the ones in here whom have done their own tests and observations on mental quiet (Clear mind) through meditation ...

I understand that these techniques are to help us find that inner I .. which helps bring the understanding of our role between ourselves, nature and the world around us ... But what are the actual effects of mental clarity?

I assume peace of mind or more of it? Does it go further then that? does it need to go further then that? .. is their a greater intelligance inward/outword from this? ... Can you judge situations or people better? does the mind in a clear state allow you to access external things that you want through clear projections?

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Posted: 10 January 2008 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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181200 - 10 January 2008 04:37 PM

I understand that these techniques are to help us find that inner I .. which helps bring the understanding of our role between ourselves, nature and the world around us ... But what are the actual effects of mental clarity?

I assume peace of mind or more of it? Does it go further then that? does it need to go further then that? .. is their a greater intelligance inward/outword from this? ... Can you judge situations or people better? does the mind in a clear state allow you to access external things that you want through clear projections?

And here comes the mysticism. Mental quite can be a great technique to utilize perfectly rationally during meditation. It does not however result in anything more profound than just what it says, mental quiet for a little while. There is no inner I that you suddenly find, there is certainly no truth to be gained about the outside universe trough this practice. This is the common problem with Buddhism and related mysticism. Meditation is good, its useful, but somehow its assumed that just by meditating we will automatically pick great discoveries out of the ether. Thats not gonna happen.
The only thing you will learn anything about nature trough meditation, is by being a scientist and just using meditation to help organize your thoughts.

There are many experimental mind techniques that may seem mystical causing people to draw conclusions, or causing rational people to reject it unnecessarily. But all it is are techniques that may or not be useful emotionally and rationally. Thats all. Lucid dreaming is another fascinating tool. Also perfectly rational, a lot harder to learn but it definitely got great personal use.

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Posted: 10 January 2008 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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It continually fascinates me how much “noise” gets made about “quiet”. This is paradoxical. If quiet was beneficial, its devotees would be quieter, I think.

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