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Apr 29, 2023Liked by Max Goodbird

I feel like using the term "emergent phenomena" kinda obscures the point. Many phenomena are technically "emergent", and calling them emergent doesn't help.

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TBH I'm not a huge fan of the term either--I don't think mystical experiences are emergent in the systems-theory sense.

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Apr 28, 2023Liked by Max Goodbird

Thank you for this post.

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This sounds cool, but also like...you can't be afraid of this stuff, and study it safely. Calling out the risks of meditation is like calling out the risks of walking down stairs.

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Apr 28, 2023·edited Apr 28, 2023Author

I struggle with this as well, especially wrt psychedelics.

On the one hand, giving someone an hour lecture about "challenging trips" right before they dose is going to make it much more likely that they have a challenging trip. On the other hand, if they do have a challenging trip, they'll have the tools to navigate that.

Given that I've had some rough experiences myself (to say the least), I lean heavily towards education. I really wish someone had sat me down and explained the dynamics of psychosis or meditation sickness before I started--it would have saved me a lot of grief.

But I hear you--it can also create problems out of thin air. No good answers here.

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I think the "No good answers here" is the correct place to land, and something that's really important to keep front and center in mind at all times. Academia tends to favor beaurocracy and those are NOT the correct way to handle nuances like this stuff requires. It worries me to see a beaurocracy like this start to emerge...even if the goal is extremely important (and I think it is) I think we need a NEW paradigm. We can't try to shoe-horn it into the old models.

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I'm kinda skeptical of scientificizing the spiritual. Sounds like trying to come up with a grand unified theory of art, and deciding that if you are not acting according to that theory, it is not art. I'm not sure if Ingram thinks his maps are the only way, or he recognizes that they are only one path or take on all this stuff, and not at all an absolute truth. Nevertheless, I might be interested in participating in this. I do want to get many people who claim enlightenment on antipsychotics to see if it makes enlightenment go away. I think Ingram in particular will retain his enlightenment, but not so sure about others.

And hell, I do claim enlightenment, so it might be worthwhile to see what shows in an EEG for me. I hope nothing shows up, as I yearn for the end of the scientific worldview (which is not the same as the end of science): give up on trying to pin down enlightenment!

Actually, you have said you don't believe there is enlightenment, so it's interesting you take Ingram seriously, since it seems you believe he's heavily deluded?

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My problem with "enlightenment" is more with the word itself than with any particular state it might point to. I think the word has outlived its usefulness. Hoping to dig into this in a future article, but I don't think I'd say I "don't believe in enlightenment".

I'd be very curious to hear what you mean when you say you're enlightened.

Daniel makes very particular claims about what he has and hasn't experienced. He might gloss those experiences into a single word like "arahant" but he's very clear about what that does and doesn't mean, which I appreciate.

As to the science: the EPRC is very much descriptivist rather than prescriptivist. You can describe the science of art (e.g. color theory, shape, perspective) without constraining artists. In the same way, you can describe mystical experience without constraining the mystic. Would highly recommend the first chapter of Varieties of Religious Experience on this point.

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Apr 30, 2023·edited Apr 30, 2023Liked by Max Goodbird

When I claim enlightenment, it's basically this thing where emotions don't really get to me anymore, unless I want them to. Sure, the old traumas and neuroses arise, but they just go away. Also comes with a keen awareness of fluctuations in my mind, bursts of striving or fear, or trying to make things fit, which gives me the ability to not be taken in by this.

Some, probably Ingram himself, would say this is not enlightenment, but as I said in Enlightenment Is Obvious (https://squarecircle.substack.com/p/enlightenment-is-obvious), I have a lot of support for my view. In Zen in particular, ordinary mind is said to be the way: some state where negative emotion never occurs would be highly un-ordinary and constructed, which is why it can be dismissed as not enlightened. I think Ingram says something like that about his enlightenment, that it involves cycling through various phases, including the Dark Night of the Soul.

I do think it would be interesting if enlightenment didn't suck up all the air in the room regarding weird things to do with one's mind. Initially, I didn't believe the state I was in was enlightenment, and was fully ready to give it some other name (the Gnosis, or The Neverending Party), but then I realized the import of that saying of killing the Buddha on the road, and of Huineng tearing the sutras.

I have to check out Varieties of Religious Experience, gonna be the next thing I read after I'm done with The Eye of the Heart.

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Apr 29, 2023Liked by Max Goodbird

One of the stated goals of the EPRC is to remain ontologically neutral, which means specifically and deliberately avoiding an ontology such as an absolute truth. Granted, if someone's belief is "no meditation or psychedelics can ever be harmful in any way", and they qualify that as a truth, then that has already been breached merely by making an attempt to provide health resources for meditative or psychedelic induced crises. Thus, it is not Literally all beliefs that the group is neutral towards. I'm not particularly inclined to lend an ear to folks that disbelieve in mental healthcare, but theoretically one could run into other fundamental assumptions that don't sit right with them I suppose.

I'm also curious how you mean by enlightenment, any thoughts to share?

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I wrote something trying to get people enlightened here: https://squarecircle.substack.com/p/enlightenment-is-obvious

I suppose it isn't quite obvious unless you have practiced. Kinda like E = mc2 you know? So simple, yet what on earth does it mean if you don't have the full context of physics to make sense of it?

But yet, it's nearer than near, and the realm of one's self is not far away, as the Ashtavakra Gita says:

https://realization.org/p/ashtavakra-gita/richards.ashtavakra-gita/richards.ashtavakra-gita.html

But damn, it really is the biggest, most obvious thing there is. The moon is shining right behind your eyes.

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Do you know why angels are depicted with wings? It’s not bc they’re flapping around but bc when you consider the divine you automatically raise your perspective. Enlightenment is the horizon line of a higher understanding. It’s the ability to see the big picture, to grasp concepts and truths unseen. To see the world as it truly is, not as we wish it to be. To see the trees and the forest. That’s why some ppl need drugs to experience it, they’re likely too dishonest with themselves to do it organically (or so I theorize). The hardest person to forgive is often ourselves.

Science is the study of Gods creation, the evidence of his existence is quite literally right in front of our faces every single day. I do find it funny that what is so obviously the Holy Spirit described in detail in the scriptures is now being studied so meticulously. 😂

Random thought sorry if this is from left field

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Thank you for sharing! I had to think about this for awhile.

It's evident you have a profound grasp of anatman. I've never considered that anatman may encompass the wholeness of enlightenment, so it was good to ponder. I surmise, "if everyone let go as one, then all chains would be cast off" and in that way, I can see enlightenment in nonself, and I can see peace and tranquility. I am still stuck a bit two particular ways though: the first is that I struggle to envision how one could teach simply by grasping nonself and without deeper study. Thus to me turning away from study feels like the pratyekabuddha, and turning towards study is an engagement of self. It's clear from this framing that this is a false dichotomy-- in fact not even remotely CLOSE to being dichotomous. And yet. There is that second part I am stuck on which then circles back to the first.

Bear with me here, as this is a bit vulnerable, and my words are very unpracticed: I think a lot about 明鏡止水, which is to say another metaphor for anatman & enlightenment: looking through clear water with little dust in my eyes and letting no conflict spread ripples in my cognition, and thus seeing the moon clearly and being unstirred by suffering. But there's something strange that happens. That self that is me that exists only in what I see and what I sense and what I cognize, when I peer between those instances, there is something churning, a current moving far more water than ever could be by a fight with a friend or discrimination at work or even deep grief. And I have only the vaguest clues what this is. What do I even do with this?

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I still read you know. It's just enjoyable, and I learn things. But the paradox of enlightenment is that it's already there. If you think you need some study or practice to grasp it, you are missing the point. And yet, rare is the man who does not need both of those to get it. I was certainly not one of those lucky few.

This 'something churning' is one of the contents of mind, and not the beginninglessly enlightened mind itself. Enlightenment is no feeling. There might be something to learn out of this 'something churning'. There may not be. In Dzogchen, they talk of mental constructs self-liberating. They arise, dance around, then go away. This sensation can be just let be. Notice it, and notice also your desire for this thing to mean something, and also whatever discomfort you feel with any of these previous notions.

Then let it all drop. There is a reason Chogyam Trungpa said enlightenment is the ultimate and final disappointment.

Alternatively, the churning may be the inherent suffering of samsara. I never experienced such a thing myself, nor do I seek to: but it may be your lot to see how desire and suffering may in fact be the same thing. The orthodox Buddhist approach to handle that is to become a monk, but Dzogchen and Zen are about embracing your natural state as is and understanding it is perfect. Which is the red pill and which the blue pill? Ah, but there is no conflict: whether you still the waters, allowing the moon to reflect clearly, or just turn your head to look at the moon directly, either way, you see the moon shining brightly.

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Finally! An arena within which I can openly reveal that I like Graham Hancock & value his efforts & contribution to the scene - among others, whom I still probably dare not openly extol!

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