Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 3, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
I just wish there was a way to keep facebook from mixing deceptive ads into my newsfeed, that's designed to look like news. What would be really amazing

I got hacked twice in Facebook, before I left the site. Supposedly I was going to give away free Ipods.

Jan's comments about the position of the spine are very interesting. I recall the same instructions - to keep a straight back - years ago when I indulged. And certainly the consciousness separation experience seems to be associated with reaxation and reclining.

I wish John would speak to this issue and describe some of the techniques for attaining his state of emptyness. Saying that we get started doing any sort of meditation is helpful, but Jan has pointed out a technical aspect of consequence.
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Jun 3, 2013 - 01:48pm PT
The number one reason people hate America: the number one reason is because of our religion. Americans worship money, we worship money. Separate God from school, separate God from work, separate God from government, but on your money it says in God we trust. All my life I've been looking for God, and He's right in my pocket. Americans worship money, and we all go to the same church, the church of ATM. Everywhere you look there's a new branch popping up … remind you about how much money you got and how much money you don't got. And if you got less than twenty dollars, the machine won't even talk to you. The machine is like, "You better go see a teller." You ever go to a teller and try to take out eight dollars and fifty cents? Oh, it's disgusting … oh man, you gotta wait on that long ass line, people doing real transactions in front of you, you get on to the f*#king front, you fill out your form, eight fifty. The f*#king teller looks at it, she look at you, she looks at the check, she don't even take the money out of the drawer, she take it out of her pocket, "Here you go, get outta here." And here's something, man. Drugs are illegal, but ATM machines are open twenty-four hours a day. Twenty-four hours a day. For who? Who the f*#k is it open for? Have you ever taken out three hundred dollars at four o'clock in the morning for something positive? Sh#t, when you press that machine at four o'clock in the morning, I think a psychiatrist should pop up on the screen and go, "Come on, man, save your money, man. Don't buy drugs, buy some rims. They spinning, nigga, they spinning, they spinning, nigga, they spinning." Americans worship money. Sh#t, you know why banks are closed on Sunday? 'Cause if they wasn't, church would be empty.
Chris Rock
Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Jun 3, 2013 - 02:08pm PT
The young seem to be developing shorter attention spans, which bodes ill for the sciences. Of course the really smart kids who have an interest will always do well. Instant and constant communication is a sword having two edges
What are your thoughts on the Flynn effect?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 3, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
When I was in grad school we did a bunch of research about meditative brain states as measured by EEGs, qEEGs, and a couple other gadgets. I'd have to go back to my notes if I still have them but the difference between various types of meditation is huge - each methos produces different brains states.

The biggest single differenece was between eyes open (traditinal Zen, and the very least popular method) and all the others, which are mostly eyes closed. The eyes-closed mode produces far more Alpha waves which are indicitive of relaxed and even dreamy states. Eyes open, when mesured on folks with ten or more years of practice, produced brain patterns with such a grouping of slow Delta and Theta waves (often associated with unconscious processes) that if a non-meditator was induced into this state they likely would suffer seizures, seizure syndrome being most typically seen with these EEG patterns. Anyway, Zen remakins the lest dreamy and by far the least popular and least "fun" of all the meditation techniques, and as Jan mentioned, probably the most amorphous and difficult to manage.

The emphasis is on keeping your spine straight so your head and shoulders are in balance over your lower body. You can do this in a chair or on a mat. Head relaxed, eyes soft focused on a point maybe ten feet in front of you, breathing relaxed, neither shallow or deep. This has been found to be efective in maintaining a sharp mind and allows your psysiology to settle which greatly helps the discursive mind to settle in turn. Because we are doing something that is entirely unnatural in a sense, which is momentarily stepping out of our roles as thinkers, we need any help we can get, and maintaining good posture and a soft open eyes focus has proven to be helpful.

It usually takes me about twenty minutes for my body and energy to really settle and for the practice to really catch fire. As mentioned, is is not a matter of inducing your mind into this or that state as slowly detaching from the things that generally steal all of your minds attention. Somewhere in there you are likely to get a glimpse of the mind's vast vacancy, so vast that all things can fit inside with no resistance. Here is where you first start getting an idea about who you are above your conditioning, because probably for the first time you are simply being with your experience as opposed to trying to evaluate it. Why?

Imagine being around a girlfriend if you were simply evaluating her the entire time. What you would know is not the girl, but your evaluations. This works the process the other way round - the counterintuitive way. Be there for a good long time, and THEN evaluate. But it all vectors off first getting to zero and hanging there for as long as you can tolerate, or before your mind unconsciously snags your attention and you wake up in Hawaii (in you rmind) or arguing with someone who is not there.

The seemingly simply task of just remaining present with your experience witout thinking about it turns out to be the hardest thing you'll ever try IME.

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 3, 2013 - 05:37pm PT
Thank you, john.

. . . that if a non-meditator was induced into this state they likely would suffer seizures, seizure syndrome being most typically seen with these EEG patterns.


Years ago I heard of something called "meditation sickness" or a similar title. Is this what it is?

cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Jun 3, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
aka Enlightenment Edema; aka the Bodhisattva Bends.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 3, 2013 - 08:12pm PT
I don't think so. The point was that it took people ten or more years of training for the brain to handle idling down to those low wave states. Early neurofeed back realized you could often "entrain" or nudge the brain into states by way reward-oriented feedback (usualy a sound when the targeted range was hit) and this was causing some untoward effects because folks were going where their brains were not yet trained to tollerate.

Of the people who were tested who had been practicing for many decades, there was a marked decrease in amplitude across the whole EEG spectrum, from Delta all the way up to Theta, which gave some people the idea that the brain was almost shutting down till they understod that a lot of the electrical activity in the brain - or at least that reecorded by an EEG - is white noise and that when other measurement were taken, especially coherence across all lobes of the cortex (via qEEG, measuring 32 sites at once), the brain was simply operating much more efficiently.

Then there were the standard arguments with one camp saing that the brain wave activity created the states and conversely, that meditation created the particular brain wave pattern. I say they're two aspects of the same process of getting clear. But I'm with Jan is believing that this is all hooked up somehow with energy, which in us humans is basically managed through the spine. Our awareness in this regards is like a spot light or fire hose and whatever we train it on is going to absorbe a lot of energy.

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 3, 2013 - 08:24pm PT
What are your thoughts on the Flynn Effect?

From the wiki article: "Some studies have found a reverse Flynn effect with declining scores for those with high IQ"

Otherwise, I have no thoughts on it. Interpretations and speculations seem to be all over the place. As are test results. I would guess scores will fall a bit due to shortened attention spans in the last few years, but I may be entirely wrong. I try to imagine students in math classes these days having the ability to focus on a problem beyond a short time.



Edit: Good thoughts, John
MH2

climber
Jun 3, 2013 - 11:59pm PT

The emphasis is on keeping your spine straight so your head and shoulders are in balance over your lower body. You can do this in a chair or on a mat. Head relaxed, eyes soft focused on a point maybe ten feet in front of you, breathing relaxed, neither shallow or deep.

It usually takes me about twenty minutes for my body and energy to really settle and for the practice to really catch fire.


Plain and direct. Perfect. Thank you.


Let me make it clear, if it isn't already, that I do not argue against JL and his meditation practice but I do find fault with the case he makes for it in this thread. There should be no need to refer to math, infinitude, quantum physics, any physics at all, or neuroscience:

till they understod that a lot of the electrical activity in the brain - or at least that reecorded by an EEG - is white noise

White noise shows equal activity across any given band of frequencies while EEG does not (you had better hope!). Humor points though for calling a lot of the electrical activity in the brain white noise.

Why does JL bring in all these references to objective stuff when he isn't sure of his ground? It makes one wonder about the other statements he makes. Perhaps it is Rinzai to shoot yourself in the foot? Repeatedly?





Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:49am PT
White noise shows equal activity across any given band of frequencies while EEG does not (you had better hope!). Humor points though for calling a lot of the electrical activity in the brain white noise.

Why does JL bring in all these references to objective stuff when he isn't sure of his ground? It makes one wonder about the other statements he makes. Perhaps it is Rinzai to shoot yourself in the foot? Repeatedly?
---


I'm calling total bullshit on this last statement and per EEG/neurofeedback work and I'll challenge you on virtually any facet of it anytime you want. I was involved in that work for 20 years.

FYI, "white noise" here is a common NF term referencing exscessive spiking in the signal other than that caused by artifact (eyes blinking) and so forth. Here, the brain is literally out of phase with itself and is performing the mentel equivalant backfiring. As you might or might not know, many so-called psychiatric conditions have an EEG footprint of synchronous large amplitude spike-wave discharges. Eliminate and reduce these spikes (brain plasicity allows this) and many of the symptoms often vanish.

Said spikes are your "white noise," that being needless and counterproductive electrical activity that needs to get tuned out. But it's never so easy as all that (one size does NOT fit all), which is one reason why psychopharm is so spotty, often toxic and often only addresses symptoms.

Your mistake here is that you're unsure of your ground and tryng to bounce it back on me. That's just silly, disingenuous and plain daft. As though the objective is priviledged ground. Please . . .

JL
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 4, 2013 - 01:22am PT
I was just picturing Ed in the Lotus position trying to black out the white noise. Jus Play'in !

Ed ur posts are the Best! (for an atheist that is..) Keep up the good work!

Much appreciated from my end!! I've learned alot in the last year, especially about being argumentive and not combative.
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jun 4, 2013 - 02:26am PT
The new research, published today in the British journal Nature, indicates that brain regions responsible for sexuality may not be dictated solely by genetics, as some researchers have suggested, but also may be strongly shaped by what an individual does.

Indeed, for some parts of the brain involved in sexual responses, experience can make all the difference, the study determined.

By itself, the finding is a remarkable observation in the neurobiology of behavior, brain experts said. But added to the volatile debate over the biological origins of homosexuality and sexual orientation, it takes on a charged social and political dimension as well.

"It adds fuel to the fire," said UCLA neurobiologist Roger A. Gorski, who studies sexual differences in the human brain. The study "has specifically looked at sexual behavior and shown there is an effect" on the brain.

In an experiment with laboratory animals, Berkeley psychology professor Marc Breedlove discovered that the brain cells controlling movement in male rats could be changed by altering their sexual behavior.

He compared animals that were sexually active with those that were not. He focused on a bundle of nerve cells at the base of the spinal cord, called the SNB complex, that is active during copulation by controlling the penis.

To eliminate the effects of differing hormone levels on their behavior, the male rats were castrated and then were implanted with testosterone capsules to keep them interested in sex. One group was put in a cage with female rats given hormones to be continually receptive, while a control group was kept with unreceptive females.

Measured at the end of a four-week period, the nerve cells of the sexually active male rats were much smaller--and therefore perhaps more sensitive and responsive, Breedlove suggested--than the control group that did not engage in sex.

"These findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case--that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it," Breedlove said.

"It is possible that differences in sexual behavior cause, rather than are caused by, differences in brain structure."

Marian Diamond, an authority at UC Berkeley on how learning affects the brain, and other neuroscientists said that Breedlove's work reflects a growing scientific appreciation for how readily the adult brain can alter its cells and neural circuits in response to changes in the world around it.

"When we learn or when we acquire new abilities, those abilities are encoded in changes in neural structure," said William T. Greenough, an authority at the University of Illinois on the neurobiology of learning. "It is well known that practice makes perfect in terms of sexual stamina in humans."



(Source: Campus Reform)
Under the student health care plan at the University of California (UC) – Berkeley, students can receive coverage of up to $75,000 for sex-change operations and other related therapy, documents obtained on Monday by Campus Reform reportedly indicate.

According to the “2012-13 UC Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan Benefits Booklet,”the publicly funded university will provide up to 90 percent of the controversial procedure, which comes out to about $75,000.

Also covered under UC Berkeley’s health care plan are students who would like to have “hormone therapy” and “gender confirmation (reassignment) surgery.” Better yet, the university will also pay for some “certain travel costs” associated with a sex-change operation because there are only a “limited number of providers” near the school.

The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform has more details:

The costs for a sex change operation alone, without additional travel costs, can exceed $50,000. Many private health care providers do not pay for these operations due to their cost and questionable health benefits.

The documents also reveal that the university health plan will cover up to 90-percent of costs [for] abortions.

Despite multiple inquiries the UC’s administration did not reveal the number of sex-change operations or abortions provided under the plan or when the plan was amended to include these controversial operations.

When students are accepted into the university, they are automatically enrolled in its student health care plan and must apply for a “waiver” to be exempt from buying into it.

Art depicting life, or life depicting art??

Politics says, let a man make up his own mind and his conscious will follow.
God says, let man make up his mind by what his conscious says.
Science says, let man make up his mind by what his pocketbook says.

Who's right?
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:10pm PT
If position matters when meditating then there is no separation of mind from the body, duh...DMT

Were you expecting some kind of separation? I don't exactly know how to say this properly, but at one level, it's all just phenomena, and all phenomena are equal. Body, mind, consciousness, tables, our so-called lives, memories, etc. are phenomena. They all manifest, but their substantiality is problematical. Looking for their substantiality, you never seem to get anywhere final.

I work with infinities constantly in mathematics [Jogill].


We all work with infinities every single day, but most of us don't see them as such. There's not a thing that isn't infinite in more ways than we can say. It's really easy to see. I'd say you work with mathematical abstractions, John. (I'd like to see anyone work with an infinity--directly--and know it.)


The back-and-forth about states is familiar in spiritual discussions. "I'm doing this work, so I should get somewhere" (a state of mind?). I mean if there is no where to get to, if there are no boons to acquire, then what's the point?

States are (again) phenomena, there is no where anyone gets to, and there is really no work to get done. You're already there. Get yourself into the bleachers, and find a comfortable seat.

People think that any spiritual realization should be announced and verified by trumpets, bliss, visions, and keys to some doorway. That's a mythical view (which is ok, but limited just like any other view is). They seem to indicate what is important to people.

"Then why do any of it?" No reason at all appears to be the best reason, but reason is another incomplete and narrow view. You get involved because you can't help yourself; the universe forces you. You are consciousness becoming aware of consciousness. So is everyone else. Every being is in the same boat. How you go about your awakening is your business. Spiritualism is simply code for: "Wake the f*ck up!" Abrir los ojos!

For this audience, one might start to question or examine concepts and semantics. You know more than you can say, and everything you truly know did not come from concepts. Concepts came from what you truly know--experience. That simple stick-man drawing of Mommy up on the refrigerator that your daughter drew came from her experience. All concepts must. Look to the source. What's at the base of everything? Start watching that closely.

Expecting some kind of enacted myth to spring up, or some final concept to explain all the loose ends are really indications of what is dear to you. If Truth is what is really important to you over Everything Else, then you'll find your way to it. But be ready to jettison all that cargo that you thought was valuable and worth holding on to. It's going to be a violent ride, ladies and gentlemen, and most of us aren't going to make it.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" --- John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
It's going to be a violent ride, ladies and gentlemen, and most of us aren't going to make it.


That is I believe the single most underappreciated part of this whole thread. Just look at the violent unheaval we saw when I suggested that people even briefly separte from their evaluating minds. It was like I was suggesting castration, or somethng worse.

Fact is, to chage at all involves psychological speed wobbles big time. Last night at the sangha we did a group guided meditation on our body becoming a corpse and eventually dust, since this is exactly what happens - no exceptions. This is a traditional exercise meant to ferrit out and embrace our preverbal fear of death. Some of these speed wobbles are intentionally induced.

The idea that a modern meditation practice is a passive joy ride is so only if you are basically doing relaxation exercises at home. Join a group and they're likely going to be digging into rocky terrain every time out.

That's why I call it "Subjective Adventures." It's like free-soling around your own mind and heart.

Or you can think about it . . .

JL
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:35pm PT
I was wondering about the white noise in the brain too, thought it might be yet another effect of the big bang theory.

I have no idea about how meditators can alter their brainwaves or how the different brain frequencies relate to anything. But, after checking with googlepedia, it looks very interesting:

Neural oscillation is rhythmic or repetitive neural activity in the central nervous system. Neural tissue can generate oscillatory activity in many ways, driven either by mechanisms localized within individual neurons or by interactions between neurons. In individual neurons, oscillations can appear either as oscillations in membrane potential or as rhythmic patterns of action potentials, which then produce oscillatory activation of post-synaptic neurons. At the level of neural ensembles, synchronized activity of large numbers of neurons can give rise to macroscopic oscillations, which can be observed in the electroencephalogram (EEG). Oscillatory activity in groups of neurons generally arises from feedback connections between the neurons that result in the synchronization of their firing patterns. The interaction between neurons can give rise to oscillations at a different frequency than the firing frequency of individual neurons. A well-known example of macroscopic neural oscillations is alpha activity.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jun 4, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
Back when I had alpine climbing aspirations I got in with a psychologist who was working with a friend on the Canadian Olympic team. One thing we did was a quick 'meditation', if you will, whereby we could rapidly warm up our fingers and toes. It only took a minute or so and I could do it just standing on the side of a mountain. I don't know what 'wave state' I was going into but it was very effective. My hypothesis is we were tapping into relaxing the autonomic nerves that control blood vessel dilation and contraction. It was certainly more prosaic than meditating for enlightenment but having functioning toes and fingers is very nice, especially when your life depends on it.
MH2

climber
Jun 4, 2013 - 02:21pm PT
FYI, "white noise" here is a common NF term referencing exscessive spiking in the signal other than that caused by artifact (eyes blinking) and so forth. Here, the brain is literally out of phase with itself and is performing the mentel equivalant backfiring. As you might or might not know, many so-called psychiatric conditions have an EEG footprint of synchronous large amplitude spike-wave discharges. Eliminate and reduce these spikes (brain plasicity allows this) and many of the symptoms often vanish.

Said spikes are your "white noise," that being needless and counterproductive electrical activity that needs to get tuned out.


It isn't that hard to check, JL.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_noise

In signal processing, white noise is a random signal with a flat (constant) power spectral density. In other words, a signal that contains equal power within any frequency band with a fixed width.


Your "synchronous large amplitude spike-wave discharges" are not white noise. Your tendency to misunderstand or misuse some terms and ideas undercuts your believability in other areas.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 4, 2013 - 02:45pm PT
Your "synchronous large amplitude spike-wave discharges" are not white noise. Your tendency to misunderstand or misuse some terms and ideas undercuts your believability in other areas.


You know, or should know, that my use of the word "white noise" was not the first example you cut and pasted from Wikipedia, but the second: "The term (White Noise) is also used for a discrete signal whose samples are regarded as a sequence of serially uncorrelated random variables."

The thing to understand - and I trust you do want to understand - is that the synchronous large amplitude spike-wave discharges are in my example, randomly distributed and undercut the more stable wave states associated with smooth and coherent cognitive processing. In this way, the "white noise" is like random static you hear with poor radio reception. Once you use a "squash protocol" common in neurofeedback, and flatten out those spikes, you literally dial or tune in the brain.

It's you who are trying to undercut me at every stage, nitpicking terms instead of making any attempt to see the bigger picture. Why not leave off on this and try and contribute something useful to the conversation, instead of pot shotting from the peanut gallery? It's safer there, I agreee, but this kind of counterpunching, masquerading as truth seeking, is in fact passive aggressive and adds little to coversation but bile and discord.

JL
jogill

climber
Colorado
Jun 4, 2013 - 03:00pm PT
Fact is, to change at all involves psychological speed wobbles big time

That's probably true. But what if one is quite satisfied with their lives, content with the illusion of "self?" Why then take these difficult steps to attain the infinity of emptyness? I am not at all convinced that that experience demonstrates our "true selves" - but it may trigger a sensation, a feeling, of existential profoundness that has a neurological basis similar but greatly enhanced to the occasional feeling I have in dream-like states where I am ecstatic that I have solved a particularly thorny nemesis of a problem . . . only to awaken and discover upon reflection and analysis that my "solution" was BS.

However, I am not criticizing your meditative efforts, only pointing out the obvious: some of us are content with our rational world. And, yes, not everything can be treated mathematically.

And, yes, Mike, my infinities are abstractions. When I translate them to the computer, they are gone, for , to a computer, all decimal expansions terminate.
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