Buddhist Meditation as Sensory Deprivation, Hypnogogia, Prisoner’s Cinema, System Reboot, or Psychedelic…

img_0545…something, or other, maybe even the surcease of language, which is what you really want, and need, and find so hard to find, that preliterate programmer’s set-up state before the operating system made your life so easy and your choices so few, and so hard to do without now that you have it, a marriage of convenience but no more spontaneity, and mostly no more emptiness, so worth a stab at forced removal, or at least closure, or at least hibernate the machine with silence, for maybe an hour a day, the more the better…

…up to a certain point, if you can afford it, since any computer works better after re-booting, especially your own brain, still full of ad jingles from childhood, every marketer’s dream, a little dab of Brylcreem and Bluebonnet on it, language reduced to its mnemonic function long after we have better alternatives, the reason I love free verse, since anything stuck in there is inherently constipatory, whether puns or rhymes or feel-good aphorisms, so easy to swallow, but so hard to digest. So the last resort is the most dangerous…

If you’ve ever done any psychedelic, i.e. ‘hallucenogenic’, substances, then you are a proud initiate into the secret order of the oracle. Use any knowledge gained there wisely, but don’t get any false sense of security. It’s only a chemical. And whether we’re talking psilocybin, mescaline, ayahuasca, or lysergic acid diethylamide, it’s all the same for our purposes, since there seems to be cross-tolerance across the board, so that would seem to indicate that the experience is similar…

Anyway, if you’ve tried it, then by now, you’ve probably realized that the cliché of flashing lights and swirling colors and fantasmic demons on the psychological prowl is not so accurate, unless you’re especially prone to that, or using it as a party drug, or over-imbibing, which I don’t recommend. Rather, the psychedelic experience is more like an intense personal in-depth examination of yourself—or lack thereof. The insights can be incredible, but like any dangerous substance or activity, it only works for the long-term if you know when to get out…

But did you know that meditation, particularly Buddhist meditation, is similar in its implicit personal introspection? It is, and while that may not be the same intense chemical experience that the psychedelic substances give, it is certainly much safer in the short run, and much more worthwhile in the long run. So instead of getting lost in your own eyes while staring in the mirror, it’s more like eyes closed silent observing breathing breathing wandering wandering memory memory breathing breathing…

Breath is the primary object of observation in most forms of meditation, frequently in combination with visualizations of certain other body parts, such as the nose or the proverbial navel. Hey, don’t laugh! It works! And with the meditation, as opposed to the psychedelic substances, you don’t have to worry about overdoing it, just the opposite, in fact, the more the better! True ‘meditation masters’ can meditate for hours at the time, and never even flinch a muscle, much less shift position, this all in classic lotus posture, of course…

But Buddhism goes far beyond the most obvious introspections in its self-examination, though, and extrapolates that experience into an entire paradigm of self-absorption, ironically in the service of foregoing the same sad self! It makes sense if you stop to think about it, that the only way to prove and manifest the non-existence of self is to break it down into its component processes, the illusory ‘self’ itself (!) deliberately lost in the process…

It would be interesting to see any clinical results of Buddhist meditation, compared to other types, if that information is available, vis a vis heart breath and any other body-function rates stress-related. I’m betting the true Buddhist stuff would score higher than the secular counterpart, but that may just be my bias. Another apt analogy is superficially almost the exact opposite: meditation as a form of sensory deprivation, which it is, of course, though the results might be much different…

Though readily available in the form of float tanks, results of this ‘therapy’ are inconclusive, with as many negative experiences as positive, though I suspect an experienced meditator might easily forego some of the problems rookies have. Similar to this is the near-sleep state of hypnogogia, in which an altered state of consciousness can be experienced. But the icing on the cake is ‘prisoner’s cinema’, in which prolonged exposure to dark surroundings can produce hallucinations of colors and patterns, essentially the brain producing by itself the very sensations that it has been denied by circumstance…

But the real stuff of Buddhism is all about avoiding suffering, craving, and greed lust envy. The combined curative capabilities of meditation plus Buddhist renunciation is a powerful paradigm for the modern world, one that just might allow us to have the future that no one is too sure about right now. Only demand of it that it be better than the alternative, if not more, and we just might have a chance…