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  • hardie karges 11:08 am on September 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Bhavana, Chan, dhyana, jhana, , , samatha, ,   

    Meditation and Mediation, Buddhism on the Half-Shell… 

    The best meditation requires no app. Only silence can solve the problems caused by language. Not that I don’t find ‘guided meditations’ interesting, I just don’t think that they are the best form of meditation.

    Not that there need be many forms of meditation in the first place, but that comes with the turf, the modern commercial turf, that just one more thing under the tree will get us through the next year with flying colors, the colors of Christmas and New Year in joy and celebration of what I am not sure, but it seems that abundance is the common theme, my cup running over and all that jazz, eternal life and all that rap.

    But is the ‘special insight’ of ‘vipassana’ really some sort of qualitative improvement over the ‘awareness of breathing’ in anapanasati? Is there really any difference between the ‘calm abiding’ of ‘samatha’ and the ‘concentration’ of ‘samadhi’?

    Self-described experts go on and on about the ‘four different kinds’ of meditation like bloggers slicing and dicing adverbs and artichokes for the special garnish to Sunday brunch, to be ladled over with the special sauce of ‘mindfulness.’

    Then there is the ‘mental development’ of bhavana holding lengthy sessions, while the ‘trance-like states’ of ‘dhyana’ and ‘jhana’ morph into entire schools of Chinese Chan and Japanese Zen, so that entire cultures can be exported overseas a millennium later, and Alan Watts can make a living without ever having to plant rice, much less harvest it.

    So I suppose that there is a difference between a ‘one-focus’ meditation and a ‘field-focus’ meditation, but I’m really not sure, if the underlying concentration is upon the breath, or if you’ve got a really quiet place, then worth noticing the heartbeat, which our ears normally block out as background noise.

    But there seems to be a more significant distinction between meditation ‘upon’ something and meditation for meditation’s own sake. And this is where guided meditation comes in, because it is certainly a meditation upon something, if it is meditation at all.

    And I’m not sure who started this, because I have practiced the art in formal and semi-formal settings in three SE Asian countries, all of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and I can assure you that there was no bloke holding forth at the time. But I do see this online with monks of the Tibetan school, and saw it myself with a Western ex-monk of the same school in Nepal. So which is better, guided or silent?

    That I can’t say, but when I discussed all this with research neurologists interested in measuring the effects of meditation on the brain, all they wanted to know was, “Were you able to stop the internal dialogue?” To which I giddily responded something like, “Yes.” To which they responded with a dubious, “Do you understand this concept?” “Of course. That’s all I remember of Don Juan’s ‘Tales of Yaqui Power.”

    Guided meditation won’t do that, so you still need silent meditation IMHO. But to be a good Buddhist, more important than the sutras, the precepts, and all the meditations are the simple acts of kindness and compassion, ‘metta karuna’…

     
  • hardie karges 12:11 pm on May 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , dhyana, ,   

    Because, that’s why: Buddhism, Descartes, Castaneda and the urge to merge in meditation… 

    Words can cut like knives or heal like bandages, so be careful what you think, and even more careful of what you say.

    The fact that we think in languages is the starting point for many a fine thesis and many a sleepless night, because in one sense Descartes was right when he said ‘cogito ergo sum,’ i.e. I think therefore I am.

    And if that is usually taken as a badge of pride for the West, and a flag of caution for the East, in fact I think it is neither. It is simply a status update for the human condition.

    Because we can debate endlessly over whether human beings are indeed the homo sapiens, wise men, that we claim, but we can certainly agree that they do think, whether or not they are some arrogant s-o-b’s to label themselves as ‘wise’, at the expense of all others, which at that point in history was largely limited to the white ‘race.’

    And so it is with thinking, which we assume as our birthright, and limited to us, and only us. But all animals think. They just don’t all do it with language.

    And that is why we meditate, many of us, whether you categorize it into one of the two original Buddhist classifications or one of the four now in vogue, complete with the obligatory ‘mindfulness,’ as guided by your local ‘dharma teacher,’ namaste.

    When really all you need to do is sit down and STFU, and don’t move a muscle, or scratch an itch, or swat a fly for at least a good quarter hour for starters, and quadruple that for peer professionalism, without moving a muscle, I repeat.

    Because I don’t know what’s going on in your head inside, but I know it’s directly related to what’s going on with your body outside, and this is easily measured by perturbations in the visual field.

    If you’re twitching, I think we can assume that you have yet to achieve any of the four dhyana states, or was it five? I lost count.

    Because all that really matters is to stop the internal dialogue, if only for a moment, and that’s almost the only thing I took away from Carlos Castaneda and his avatar Don Juan and all his tales of Ya(n)qui power in the deserts of our own mind-fields, as they leapt off cliffs with intent and little else.

    And that is what the brain researchers who wanted to scan my brain in and out of meditation alluded to, also, and asked if I understood what they’re talking about. Huh? Doesn’t everyone?

    Now I don’t know if they read Castaneda, but of course I understood. I just don’t know why Buddhists don’t say it that way, or at least not in so many words.

    Because that is why meditation exists, for me, to return to basics, proto-consciousness, or paleo-consciousness, if you will, i.e. thought without language, just like the old days, just like the animals do, before all the new frontiers, and all the limits of language.

    Curiously many Buddhists think that is an injunction to not think, but I don’t think that is correct. Once we have language, then the choice is ours what to do with it. Because the Buddha never said not to think. He said to think rightly, and quite rightly…

     
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