Miscellany


(2016 03 14)

Occasionally I post something to a discussion group on the internet that is not suitable for an individual blog post but I think I may want to refer in the future. This page is a collection of such minor postings. Posts are organized by subject.

Contents


Questions on begining meditation.

Reddit user funtomscandy asked several questions on beginning meditation. Here is how I answered:

  1. I am a beginner. Am I supposed to do it every day or can I do it just when I have time, when I feel like it etc?

    You can do it when ever you want. However if you do it every day and make a habit of it, you are more likely to keep it up when life gets turbulent.

  2. Am I supposed to do it always at the same time?

    You can do it whenever you want, but if you do it at the same time every day and make a habit of it, you are more likely to keep it up when life gets turbulent.

  3. Am I supposed to meditate the same amount of time every day, or can I just do so for 15 minutes once and 1 hour for the other day?

    You can do however much you want. But its better to decide how much you are going to do before you start and try to stick to that so you don't develop the habit of cutting the session short. It is even better to choose a good amount of time and try to do that every day again so you develop the habit and keep it up when life gets turbulent.

  4. For someone who is simply looking for a little peace of mind, how long am I supposed to meditate? How long is normal for you?

    It depends how turbulent your life is and how turbulent your mind is. If you just want to develop the habit and plan to gradually increase your times there is no minimum. If you want peace of mind you should try for 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day. If you want a noticeable result from the beginning you have to put in the time.

  5. Am I supposed to have clean air in the room, like open windows or do it in the balcony/garden etc?

    Normal indoor air is okay.

  6. I have always seen people doing some moves/exercises before or after meditating. Are those supposed to be done before or after? Do I have to do them?

    Most people don't do exercises before they start (as far as I know). It is not required. However it is a great idea to do yoga or tai-chi or something like that first if your mind is turbulent from a busy day, or drowsy from a nights sleep. If you prepare your mind that way first you will get more out of the meditation session. On meditation retreats, ie in monasteries, they often do chanting and/or bowing before meditation for that purpose. If the monks and nuns who live a secluded life need to prepare the mind for meditation, it is a little bit optimistic to think that a lay person living a stressful life would not need to do it.

    You can still get a lot out of meditation without preparing for it this way but you will get even more if you do prepare for it like that.

    Here are some yoga asanas that are supposed to be done before meditation according to the tradition of the web site. I'm just linking in case anyone is interested, I don't do them myself.

    http://tripurashakti.com/asana-chart/

    Also, some people do specific exercises to help with sitting on the floor that they do before meditation. I usually meditate siting in a chair so I don't do those either.

  7. It might sound stupid but, is exercising/running also a type of meditation?

    It can be. It depends on what you do with your mind. If your focus you mind on breathing or counting steps per breath, it can be meditation. If you let your mind wander it is not meditation. I have had some of very good meditation sessions walking.

  8. If one decides to both exercise and meditate, which one should be done first; exercise or meditation?

    It depends what your priorities are and the type of exercise. If you want to improve athletic performance through meditation, meditate first. Or if the exercise will prepare your mind for meditation (like running or lifting weights, individual sports) you might want to exercise first. If the exercise will make your mind turbulent (ie competitive team sport) you might want to meditate before to get a better meditation session, or possibly after to calm your mind.

  9. I remember reading something about how meditation corrects one's posture, is that true? If so, is it the meditation itself doing this (as for we keep our spine straight during meditation), or is it the exercises /stretches people do before/after meditation?

    I don't know about this. I do know that a lot of people get spine and knee injuries from trying to sit on the floor. I mostly sit in a chair when I meditate.

  10. I am a lazy person and I already have a lot to do in my daily life. If I meditate without a program, doing once and not doing for 3 days, without all the exercises etc, would it still be ok?

    There is no one who can answer that except yourself. In some ways the effects of meditation are cumulative and in some ways they are not. If you meditate once in a while you can still get the benefit from a session if you feel calm and relaxed afterward. If you meditate every day you will get more benefit. I suggest you find a meditation technique that is pleasant to do and makes you feel good afterward. That way you won't have to force yourself to do it, you will want to do it. Like this one:

    https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity

    I started meditating to help relax at a time when I was experiencing a lot of stress. Life gives me stress and meditation helps relieve it, so I want to meditate, I don't have to force myself. Meditation makes me feel better right away if I do enough (about 30 minutes). I like having a calm, quiet, peaceful mind and meditation quiets the mental chatter which is too often useless complaining about the present, worrying about the future, or rehashing problems in the past. So I don't like not meditating.

    But there are a lot of techniques so you have to find the one that does what you want if you want something different.

Also, have a look here, this is all the stuff no one told you about:
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_danger

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Thanissaro Bhikkhu on Breathing.

A Guided Meditation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Try to breathe as comfortably as possible. A very concrete way of learning how to provide for your own happiness in the immediate present — and at the same time, strengthening your alertness — is to let yourself breathe in a way that's comfortable. Experiment to see what kind of breathing feels best for the body right now. It might be long breathing, short breathing; in long, out short; or in short, out long. Heavy or light, fast or slow, shallow or deep. Once you find a rhythm that feels comfortable, stay with it for a while. Learn to savor the sensation of the breathing. Generally speaking, the smoother the texture of the breath, the better. Think of the breath, not simply as the air coming in and out of the lungs, but as the entire energy flow that courses through the body with each in-and-out breath. Be sensitive to the texture of that energy flow. You may find that the body changes after a while. One rhythm or texture may feel right for a while, and then something else will feel more comfortable. Learn how to listen and respond to what the body is telling you right now. What kind of breath energy does it need? How can you best provide for that need? If you feel tired, try to breathe in a way that energizes the body. If you feel tense, try to breathe in a way that's relaxing.

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Non-attachment.

If you know right from wrong and are trying to do right, feeling guilt over your mistakes doesn't really accomplish anything and there is no need for it. However, you might benefit from cultivating non-attachment. The way to become non-attached to external things is to become non-attached to internal emotions. That is how external things get to you, through your own emotions.

This might help:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2016/02/not-self.html

Notice that your guilt comes upon you without you trying to cause it, it comes unasked, you observe it, like it is outside you. It isn't really yours, you don't control it. In particular, it is hard to let go of. That is the illusion, because emotions are hard to let go of we think they are ours, but really, being hard to let go of means we don't control them so they really aren't ours. This is true of all the things we think of as self: thoughts, feelings, perceptions, impulses. The illusion of self is created by innumerable tiny illusions and usually we believe them all.

When you meditate you are not thinking about self while the mind is focused on the object of meditation. As you continue meditating, when the mind is quiet, you can see emotions as they arise and you can see how the idea of self arises with them. Whenever guilt arises and intrudes on your concentration, there is an "I" that feels guilty that arises and intrudes too. As you get experience watching this process, seeing how the idea of self is at the root of every unpleasant emotion, you naturally develop non-attachment as the illusion begins to lose its grip on your habitual thinking.

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Who are you?

Don't worry about getting angry. Worry about who is angry. The point of observing emotions is to realize you don't create them, you don't ask for them, they arise without your permission. They are not you. Most people think of themselves as their mind and body. But you don't have control over either of those things. The body gets, old, it gets sick, it dies, whether you want it to or not. Along with feelings, emotions, thoughts and impulses, you just observe them, you don't create them, they are all outside you. You are awareness (actually not even that, but take one step at a time) watching the universe unfold, tasting experience. Awareness (beingness actually) is the only constant unchanging thing you will ever know. When you practice observing the activity of the mind in meditation, and practice mindfulness (knowing, observing, what you are doing as you are doing it) in daily life, you are practicing being your true Self. If you think like Self long enough, it will eventually awaken within you. All these little illusions: thoughts, feelings, emotions, and impulses add up to one big illusion: self. You can identify with and believe the illusions or you can understand your true nature. You have the choice. You can make it right now without a lot of meditation or any mystical experience. If you want convincing, Meditation helps you to see the ephemeral nature of the mind by slowing it down so you can see what is really going on, so you can see things as they really are.

When you realize emotions, thoughts, impulses, etc are not you, you eliminate a lot of suffering because you no longer consider them real. It doesn't make you indifferent, when you are less concerned with yourself, you have more compassion for other people.

More here:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2016/02/not-self.html

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Mysticism and Buddhist teachings.

The Buddha spoke of past lives, paranormal powers and heavenly realms. However those subjects do not play any significant role in how he taught his students to practice his teaching. And the concept of rebirth expressed by the Buddha has to be understood, according to Walpola Rahula, in light of the statement by the Buddha that, "every moment you are born, decay and die."

The Buddha did not teach non-duality, he refused to say if there is an eternal self or soul, or if an enlightened person exists or not after death. And he said it is foolish to think the cosmos is the self.

Although The Buddha refused to say if an enlightened person exists or not after death, according to Thanissaro Bhikkhu, he did so because the state is indescribable in terms of existence or nonexistence. However the Buddha did indicate that the experience is, "the ultimate happiness, something truly worth knowing."

The Buddha's statement that it is foolish to think the cosmos is the self does not contradict the experience of oneness anymore than his teaching of not-self contradicts the ordinary individuality we experience in daily life. Oneness does not depend on the existence of an eternal self or soul.

The idea that Buddhist practices produce mystical experiences is the biggest source of confusion and a huge obstacle to people understanding it and therefore to making progress. Buddha taught how to let go of attachments and aversions to develop equanimity to the extreme of nibbana (nirvana) in which all suffering (dukkha) ceases to occur.

Shodo Harada Roshi is quoted at Man on Cloud Mountain Segment 4 at enlightenmentward.wordpress.com

Often enlightenment or kensho or satori is considered to be some kind of unusual experience or something external or some kind of special phenomenon. But it’s not like that. There may be some kind of sudden revelation or some kind of sudden perception, but its not something that is that unusual or that strange or foreign that we come upon or that comes upon us. What it is, is the ability to see without any interruption of the ego, without any filtering of the ego. And since we are all walking around seeing things through our ego filter almost all the time, to suddenly be able to see without that filter is a surprise. But it is nothing that we have ever not had.

They say that the mind of a baby is something that we can compare this to. A baby isn’t seeing things from an egoistic place. It is seeing directly and clear. It is the exact same kind of thing when we are seeing without the ego filter. We see that there is nothing to be analyzed in it. When you are seeing a flower you are not thinking that it is red or seeing a bird you are not thinking what its name is. You are just seeing directly. When we talk about enlightenment we are talking about that mind which is perceive at every moment without the obstruction of an egoistic filter. The experience of that mind and realizing where it is and realizing where it is coming from is what is called enlightenment or kensho or satori. It is not some kind of supernatural state of mind that we are able to enter or that comes upon us. It is not like some kind of altered state of consciousness to think that we are trying to do this practice for some kind of narrow experience for the individual. Thinking that we are going to come upon some big experience some day. This is a very low level understanding of what this enlightenment is.

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Zen practice.

Shodo Harada Roshi is quoted at Man on Cloud Mountain Segment 4 at enlightenmentward.wordpress.com

That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment, my thing to have to do. I have to do this for myself. That is what had been bothering me all along from the very beginning. Through that day on the mountain when I realized that there was no self to be bothered with it. I had been crushing myself and making myself miserable worrying about this problem of my enlightenment and realizing it for myself making my self come to a conclusion that was, in fact, found in the living of every single day. If I did nothing, if I didn’t even worry about my problems things always came to me. And those things that came to me in every single day, to accept those was my training and my way of expressing my enlightened mind. No matter what it was that came to me every day, the next thing that came, the next situation I found myself in, to live that totally as my training was what I had to do. Not to go isolate myself up on a mountain closed off from everyone, turning them all away and worrying about my own small state of mind. That wasn’t the point at all. But to go and be what every day brought to me that was my practice and my expression of my enlightenment. And ever since I realized that my whole life has been completely different. I know there is no problem for myself because there is no one there to feel that there is a problem. Just to take what every day brings and do that with my best, total, whole hearted effort as a person of practice. That was the way to live.

...

And then to live every moment without that egoistic filter on that inner eye, that is what has to be done, that is the real goal and that is the larger part of our training practice. Once we have recognized that new way of seeing, that new eye, an inner eye, once we have encountered that then we must nurture the ability to encounter every moment of our lives from that clear pure place. To live in that is the most important part of the practice. To be able to take that clear mind which is not covered by ego, to keep that going, to live in that place all the time that is what has to be done. Until we know what it is, we can’t keep it going. So that first understanding of where that clear place is, is often what people sometimes call enlightenment or kensho or satori. But to be able to come to every moment with that state of mind that is what’s most important.

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Ego

The quotes below show that many traditions identify the ego, the self, as the cause of suffering and as the obstacle that prevents us from realizing non-dual reality. However, it is possible to train the mind to give up egoistic thinking through meditation, releasing unpleasant emotions, and cultivating equanimity. Meditation quiets the mind so one can see with greater clarity what is happening within it. Meditation also produces a peaceful state of mind relative to which one notices the arising of unpleasant emotions. All unpleasant emotions have egoistic thinking at their root. If you like something or don't like something, or if you want something or don't want something, it is always "I" that likes or dislikes, that wants or doesn't want. By learning to let go of unpleasant emotions and returning to the pleasant state produced by meditation, the practitioner learns to give up egoistic thinking.

To reduce egoistic thinking:

  • Learn to recognize the egoistic thinking that causes unpleasant emotions such as anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, craving, worry, or aversion. Unpleasant emotions are the result of egoistic thinking because it is the "I" that likes, doesn't like, wants, and doesn't want. If there is no thought of self, there is no liking or disliking, if there is no liking or disliking, there is no wanting, not wanting, anger, hatred, envy, aversion, etc. You need to understand this by seeing the truth of it in your own mind.
  • Understand that reducing egoistic thinking is not some instantaneous magical process that happens during deep meditation or due to some earth shaking insight. It is something that occurs by repeated observation and the deliberate intention.
  • When you recognize egoistic thinking in your mind, remember that egoistic thinking is undesirable. It is the cause of suffering and blinds us to non-duality. It can help to remember the example of Shodo Harada Roshi when he realized the mistake he was making, going into the mountains practicing Zen for his own selfish motivations. That is the attitude that will reduce egoistic thinking - the sincere belief that egoistic thinking is ignorant, selfish, that it is mistaken. You should feel a strong determination, not to suppress egoistic thoughts, but to identify them, see them for what they are, and release them.
  • Meditate to produce a pleasant state of mind. This gives you a more peaceful, pleasant alternative to the unpleasant emotions that egoistic thinking produces.
  • Whenever you notice an unpleasant emotion disturbing your peace of mind:
    • Accept it in a relaxed, pleasant, friendly way.
    • Recognize it as egoistic thinking. You might say to yourself, "Oh, that's ego." and "Ego doesn't like ...." For example, "ego doesn't like to be wrong", "to be cheated", to be insulted, to lose, not having that, injustice, bad people, that person, being bored, sharing, being tired, hungry, thirsty, sick, too hot, cold, cooking, going to ..., that noise, that music, working, going to work, working so hard, being alone, being in a crowd, being hurt, rejected, having deadlines, time limits, time pressure, being rushed, waiting, etc. When you can relate an unpleasant emotions like anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, craving, worry or aversion to a simple situation of liking or disliking, it is easier to see how the ego is at the root of the problem.
    • Release the unpleasant emotion.
    • Notice if there is any tension in your body, try to fully relax.
    • Return to the peaceful state produced by meditation.
  • If you experience a very strong emotion that is hard to release, hard to let go of, hard to relax after, it can help to breathe deeply but in a relaxed way while meditating and try to focus on the pleasant feeling of relaxation produced by breathing that way and focus on the pleasant emotions produced by meditation. See if you can combine the pleasant feelings with the unpleasant feeling and overwhelm the unpleasant with the pleasant, in other words, dilute and dissolve the unpleasant emotion in the pleasant feelings.

Some schools of meditation say all the other schools are wrong, but still they have very similar practices and if you look at what they mean rather than obsess about the words they choose, it all comes down to getting rid of the ego and that ends suffering and allows you to see things as they really are. You can find this in the mystical schools of most major religions. It doesn't matter what you believe about it beforehand, because it is a distinct phenomenon that happens across cultures and time and if you can do it at all, you can't do it wrong or get different results.

Quotes about Ego

Man on Cloud Mountain Segment 5 of 7 Shodo Harada Roshi:

... when you get rid of that ego that’s all you see is one unified whole.
Man on Cloud Mountain Segment 4 of 7 Shodo Harada Roshi:
What it [enlightenment] is, is the ability to see without any interruption of the ego, without any filtering of the ego.
Be As You Are The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Edited by David Godman
... the Self is real, as it comprises everything, it does not give room for questions involving duality about its reality or unreality.

...

That bliss of the Self is always with you, and you will find it for yourself, if you would seek it earnestly. The cause of your misery is not in the life outside you, it is in you as the ego. ... All unhappiness is due to the ego; with it comes all your trouble. ... If you would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it, you would be free. ... To be the Self that you really are is the only means to realize the bliss that is ever yours.

Non-dual Consciousness and Practice (in Yoga Meditation, Vedanta, Tantra). Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati

0:13

all there is, is formless non-dual consciousness
Yoga Sutras; Avidya. Swami Ma Tripurashakti Bharati

1:10

All there is, is a non dual reality.

1:57

Due to the notion of avidya, instantaneously asmita, klesha number two, the finest individuation, seems to be added. A second now has been colored with I-ness and appears as self-existence. The appearing "me" has the instrument to discriminate, to know, to judge, and to decide, which is called buddhi. By using it, it carves up non-dual reality and forms words and concepts and therefore the apparent multiplicity is perceived.

Nakulapita Sutta: To Nakulapita translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

"When this was said, the Blessed One [The Buddha] said to me, 'So it is, householder. So it is. The body is afflicted, weak, & encumbered. For who, looking after this body, would claim even a moment of true health, except through sheer foolishness? So you should train yourself: "Even though I may be afflicted in body, my mind will be unafflicted." That is how you should train yourself.'

...

"And how is one afflicted in body but unafflicted in mind? There is the case where a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma — does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is not seized with the idea that 'I am form' or 'Form is mine.' As he is not seized with these ideas, his form changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

"He does not assume feeling to be the self...

"He does not assume perception to be the self...

"He does not assume fabrications to be the self...

"He does not assume consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in consciousness. He is not seized with the idea that 'I am consciousness' or 'Consciousness is mine.' As he is not seized with these ideas, his consciousness changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration.

Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Ahamkara is “I-am-ness,”: Ahamkara is the sense of "I-am-ness," the individual Ego, which feels itself to be a distinct, separate entity. It provides identity to our functioning, but Ahamkara also creates our feelings of separation, pain, and alienation as well.

...

Ahamkara takes on partners: This wave of "I-am-ness" called Ahamkara then aligns itself or forms partnerships with the data or impressions in Chitta (causing them to be colored, or klishta), and, in turn, with Manas, which then responds to the desires being sought by this "individuality." Meanwhile, Buddhi, the deep aspect, which knows, decides, and discriminates, remains clouded. Thus, it is said that purifying (or un-clouding) buddhi is a most important task in the path of meditation and Self-realization.

...

Learn to be friends: In many systems of psychological or spiritual growth, there is the suggestion that one must "kill the ego." In light of the two descriptions of ego above, and the process of purifying Buddhi, dealing with ego is done in a very different way. Rather than killing the ego, it is more like befriending the ego.

Ego needs to be trained: Remember, ego, as Ahamkara, is the "I-maker," which allows for our very existence as individuals. The problem, as described above, is that ego mistakenly takes on false identities. It is not that ego is somehow bad, and needs to be punished by a death sentence. Rather, it needs to be trained, along with the other of the four functions of mind, particularly Manas.

Letting go of the associations: If there is to be a death at all, it is more like the letting go of the associations that have been made between the memories stored in Chitta and the I-ness of Ahamkara. This association is the coloring process known as klishta, as distinct from the un-coloring process known as aklishta.

KEYS TO THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM Thoughts and Talks on Personal Transformation By Lester Levenson

The whole object on the path is to let go of the ego. What remains is your Self.

...

When you recognize the opposition of the ego, you can let go of it. After practice it is easy and after you let go of enough ego, you just naturally feel the peace and joy of your Self.

...

When there's no more ego, the only thing left is the infinite Being that you are.

...

Anytime we have trouble, anytime we have a problem, we're being the limited ego.

...

...

How to see the ego? Every time there is a reaction to anyone or anything that reaction is ego motivated. Look within for the ego motivation and when you see it, let go of it. Each time an ego motivation is seen, the ego is weakened. To see ego motivation is to feel it, not just see it intellectually.

Bernadette Roberts Interview Spiritualteachers.org

... the falling away of the ego-center, which leaves us looking into a dark hole, a void or empty space in ourselves. Without the veil of the ego-center, we do not recognize the divine; it is not as we thought it should be. Seeing the divine, eye to eye is a reality that shatters our expectations of light and bliss. From here on we must feel our way in the dark, and the special eye that allows us to see in the dark opens up at this time.

So here begins our journey to the true center, the bottom-most, innermost "point" in ourselves where our life and being runs into divine life and being - the point at which all existence comes together. This center can be compared to a coin: on the near side is our self, on the far side is the divine. One side is not the other side, yet we cannot separate the two sides. If we tried to do so, we would either end up with another side, or the whole coin would collapse, leaving no center at all - no self and no divine. We call this a state of oneness or union because the single center has two sides, without which there would be nothing to be one, united, or non-dual. Such, at least, is the experiential reality of the state of transforming union, the state of oneness.

...

The paradox of our passage is that we really do not know what self or consciousness is, so long as we are living it, or are it. The true nature of self can only be fully disclosed when it is gone, when there is no self.

...

... the ultimate fulfillment of consciousness, or self, is no-consciousness, or no-self. The path from oneness to no-oneness is an egoless one and is therefore devoid of ego-satisfaction. Despite the unchanging center of peace and joy, the events of life may not be peaceful or joyful at all. With no ego-gratification at the center and no divine joy on the surface, this part of the journey is not easy. Heroic acts of selflessness are required to come to the end of self

...

.... ego must fall away before the state of oneness can be realized.

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There is no contradiction between individuality and oneness.

Some people object to the belief in oneness because it seems to contradict our ordinary experience of individuality and it seems to imply that we would cease to exist in the afterlife. However, there is no contradiction between individuality and oneness. Oneness is not oblivion. We are already one and it doesn't seem to be a problem for most people. The confusion arises because it is impossible to understand something that is non-physical like consciousness by analogy to the physical things we know about. You have to experience it to understand it. In fact, when living people sometimes realize oneness, they usually like it much better than being separate.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html

Bernadette Roberts said:
So here begins our journey to the true center, the bottom-most, innermost "point" in ourselves where our life and being runs into divine life and being - the point at which all existence comes together. This center can be compared to a coin: on the near side is our self, on the far side is the divine. One side is not the other side, yet we cannot separate the two sides. If we tried to do so, we would either end up with another side, or the whole coin would collapse, leaving no center at all - no self and no divine. We call this a state of oneness or union because the single center has two sides, without which there would be nothing to be one, united, or non-dual. Such, at least, is the experiential reality of the state of transforming union, the state of oneness.

...

Lester Levenson ... wrote:

"This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to."

He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.

...

"It was obvious to me that I wasn't that body and mind as I had thought I was. I just saw it—that's all. It's simple when you see it.

So I let go of identifying with that body. And when I did, I saw that my Beingness was all Beingness, that Beingness is like one grand ocean. It's not chopped up into parts called "drops of bodies." It's all one ocean.

That caused me to identity with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe. And that's an experience so tremendous, it's indescribable. First you see that the universe is in you, then you see the universe as you. Then you know the Oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that's caused only by separation."

Linda Stewart wrote about her near-death experience:

The metaphor represented by the image I saw and perceived was absolutely clear and I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that WE ARE ALL ONE. I comprehended that our oneness is interconnected by love and is an available, much higher level and means of communication than we normally use but to which we have access. This love is available to anyone who is willing to do the hard spiritual work that will allow us to open our hearts and minds and eyes to Spirit. I remembered the love I had felt in the presence of God and experienced a total sense of love for all existence as an interconnected oneness and a manifestation of God.

...

[Leslie Flint is among the most reliable evidential mediums.]

The spirit of Charles Marshall communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint said:
It is the development and it is the tremendous realisation that one must have eventually of how we are all linked and bound together and how actually the very fundamental thing that flows through us all, is the very essence which is of God. And so we gradually evolve more and more to God or become like him.

I do not refer to shape or form, I refer now to the infinite spirit which is the very life blood you might say of all humanity; where we lose in each other ourselves and discover that we are all in a oneness and in accord. And when we have this oneness and accord we reach a stage of spiritual development where we can be considered to be living in a form if you like of paradise because we are conscious of everything around and about us as being not only "us" but "all".

https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/short_topics#short_topics_reincarnation
Silver Birch had this to say: http://www.angelfire.com/ok/SilverBirch/lights.html

"There are also what I call facets of the one diamond. This is the over-soul, the greater individuality, and the facets are aspects of it which incarnate into your world for experiences that will add lustre to the diamond when they return to it.

...

Also there are people who, although separate persons, are aspects of the one individuality. For instance, my medium, his wife and myself are parts of one individual. So you can have facets of the one guide. You can call these extensions if you like, but it comes to the same thing. Only an infinitesimal part of the whole individuality can be manifested in physical form on earth."

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The physical universe is like a simulation running in the mind of God.

The Physical World as a Virtual Reality by Brian Whitworth identifies many characteristics of the physical universe that seem to indicate the universe is a simulation. These characteristics include the big bang where space and time were created from nothing when the simulation was started. Quantum minima represent the smallest allowable values for computational purposes. The speed of light is limited because there is a maximum rate of processing. Non-local effects such as wave function collapse and entanglement can be explained if they are the result of calculations processed outside the simulation. Curvature of space by mass and time dilation from acceleration can be explained as processing load effects. The laws of conservation of mass, energy, charge, and spin result from the requirement of a stable simulation to conserve information. Simple mathematical natural laws, like gravity and electromagnetism, are a result of the algorithmic nature of the simulation. Quantum randomness can be simulated with a random number generator. All elementary particles are identical just as if they were defined by data structures in a computer program.
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0801/0801.0337.pdf

The youtube video Digital Physics Argument for God's Existence explains that the best explanation for the simulator is that it is a mind. Quantum phenomena show that a mind is required for matter to exist. But a mind does not require matter for its existence so only mind can exist outside the simulation. The mind in which our universe exists would be God by definition. The video also points out that like a computer simulation, quantum mechanics indicates that the parts of the universe that are observed are the only parts that are actually instantiated.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

The Simulation Hypothesis is another video on this subject:
https://vimeo.com/126833477

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Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports

The book Evidence for Psi: Thirteen Empirical Research Reports by Damien Broderick (Author, Editor) and Ben Goertzel (Editor) discusses some of the best research reports that provide evidence for paranormal phenomena. The reports discussed in the book are listed below with links to those that are available on-line:

  1. The Significance of Statistics in Mind-Matter Research JESSICA UTTS

  2. Physiological Activity That Seems to Anticipate Future Events JULIA A. MOSSBRIDGE

  3. Anomalous Anticipatory Skin Conductance Response to Acoustic Stimuli EDWIN C. MAY, TAMÁS PAULINYI and ZOLTÁN VASSY

  4. Revisiting the Ganzfeld ESP Debate: A Basic Review and Assessment BRYAN J. WILLIAMS

  5. Telepathy in Connection with Telephone Calls, Text Messages and E-Mails RUPERT SHELDRAKE

  6. Empirical Examinations of the Reported Abilities of a Psychic Claimant: A Review of Experiments and Explorations with Sean Harribance BRYAN J. WILLIAMS

  7. Assessing Psi Ability Via the Ball Selection Test: A Challenge for Psychometrics SUITBERT ERTEL

  8. Through Time and Space: The Evidence for Remote Viewing STEPHAN A. SCHWARTZ

  9. The PEAR Laboratory: Explorations and Observations YORK DOBYNS

  10. The Global Consciousness Project: Subtle Interconnections and Correlations in Random Data ROGER D. NELSON

  11. An Analysis of the Global Consciousness Project PETER A. BANCEL

  12. Psi and the Environment: Local Sidereal Time and Geomagnetic Effects S. JAMES P. SPOTTISWOODE

    I couldn't find this on-line, but the following might be of interest:


    APPARENT ASSOCIATION BETWEEN EFFECT SIZE IN FREE RESPONSE ANOMALOUS COGNITION EXPERIMENTS AND LOCAL SIDEREAL TIME S. James P. Spottiswoode.

    His other publications are here.

  13. Skeptical Responses to Psi Research TED GOERTZEL and BEN GOERTZEL

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Diet and Mood

The excerpts below are from articles written by Judith J. Wurtman, Ph.D. Dr. Wurtman is a scientist at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies how diet can affect a person's mood. She is coauthor of the book The Serotonin Power Diet. The excerpts below explain how to improve your mood by eating a carbohydrate rich snack. The snack will increase your serotonin levels and decrease your cortisol levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain and when levels of it are too low, depression can result. Serotonin also produces the feeling of fullness after a meal. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can cause feelings of anxiety. Dr. Wurtman recommends a snack having between 25 and 35 grams of carbohydrates, no more than 4 grams of protein, and no more than 3 grams of fat, three hours after a meal and at least twenty to forty minutes before the next meal. In the excerpts, high fiber carbohydrates are not recommended for the snack but are recommended for meals. She suggest graham crackers, pretzels, toast and jam, cheerios, oatmeal, or rice chex as the snack. Read the excerpts below for more details.

When I tried to implement the concepts in The Serotonin Power Diet, I didn't find the very high carbohydrate snacks to be helpful. Instead, if I felt the need to eat more than the meals I planned, I would eat something with a carbohydrate to protein ratio of two or three grams of carbohydrates for each gram of protein. I also tried to include in my meals carbohydrates that are digested rapidly such as sweet potatoes (that produce a feeling of fullness) and carbohydrates that are digested slowly such as brown rice (that help to maintain stable blood sugar levels).

The book also recommends eating oily fish because of the health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids. According to mayoclinic.org, omega-3 fatty acids can help improve mood. This is relevant here because reducing protein intake to increase serotonin levels can inadvertently lead to omega-3 fatty acid deficiency since many people obtain omega-3 fatty acids from sources of protein. Other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts and eggs.

The Serotonin Power Diet also recommends exercise. Oftentimes that is good advice. But not everyone's mood is improved by exercise. Look on the internet and you will see many people asking about why they feel worse after exercising. If something is caused by a nutritional deficiency, or a biochemical anomaly that simulates a deficiency (an inefficiency), exercising will increase metabolism making the problem worse. Going on a diet at the same time, reducing food intake, can be a recipe for a crisis.

Here is some additional information about nutrition that might also be helpful:

  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein in grams is your body weight in pounds multiplied by 0.36.

  • The RDA for carbohydrates is 45 to 65% of your daily caloric intake. For a 2000 calorie per day diet, that is between 900 and 1300 calories. A very rough estimate of the grams of carbohydrates recommended per pound of body weight per day for a fairly active person is 1.7 (calculated using the information here).

  • The ratio of RDA carbohydrates to RDA protein is roughly 4.7. Or 4.7 grams of carbohydrates per gram of protein. This would mean that each day a person should eat 4.7 times more grams of carbohydrates than they eat grams of protein. This is slightly less than the 6.25 for snacks Dr. Wurtman recommends but those snacks are intended to produce "a rapid improvement in mood or decrease in pre-meal appetite" to help dieters lose weight. If one eats a diet in line with the RDAs, one might expect to have healthy serotonin levels. But people vary in their metabolism so these generalizations might not apply to everyone.

    According to The Serotonin Power Diet, if you don't feel full after a meal, it may be caused by the protein in the meal interfering with the process by which the brain obtains tryptophan needed to produce serotonin. In that case, you may overeat which can lead to weight gain. The purpose of the pre-meal snack is to make sure the brain has enough tryptophan before you start eating so you don't overeat.

    The last stage of the diet described in The Serotonin Power Diet is designed for maximum weight loss and suggests eating four times a day. According to my calculations, based on a sample menu in the book, men should eat: breakfast having a carbohydrate to protein ratio (c/p) of 3 with 45g protein, lunch c/p 0.1 (lunch consists of only protein and vegetables), a snack c/p 11, and dinner c/p 1.8 having 44g protein. One would expect that breakfast would be an good time to renew serotonin levels so it seems probable that a c/p of 3 with 45g or less of protein would facilitate serotonin production in the brain. Similarly one would think that dinner would also be a good time to raise serotonin levels so it also seems likely that a c/p as low as 2 with 44g or less of protein would also facilitate serotonin production.

  • Protein and carbohydrate have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9 calories per gram.

  • Eating too much carbohydrates can cause diabetes and insulin resistance which often precedes diabetes. Some symptoms of insulin resistance are:
    • Insomnia
    • Nightmares
    • Night chills
    • Lethargy upon waking.
    • Muscle tension
    • Anxiety
    • Depression

Excerpts

Judith J. Wurtman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com

Judith J. Wurtman, Ph.D., co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain, has discovered the connection between carbohydrate craving, serotonin, and emotional well-being in her MIT clinical studies.

She received her PhD from George Washington University, is the founder of a Harvard University hospital weight-loss facility and counsels private weight management clients. She has written five books and more than 40 peer-reviewed articles for professional publications. She lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

Serotonin: What It is and Why It's Important for Weight Loss by Judith J. Wurtman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com

Eat the carbohydrate on an empty stomach to avoid interference from protein from a previous meal or snack. Wait about 3 hours after a meal containing protein.

The carbohydrate food such as graham crackers or pretzels should contain between 25-35 grams of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate can be sweet or starchy. High-fiber carbohydrates take a long time to digest and are not recommended for a rapid improvement in mood or decrease in pre-meal appetite. Eat them as part of the daily food plan instead for their nutritional value.

The protein content of the snack should not exceed 4 grams.

To avoid eating too many calories and slowing down digestion, avoid snacks containing more than 3 grams of fat.

Do not continue to eat after you have consumed the correct amount of food. It will take about 20-40 minutes for you to feel the effect. Eating more carbohydrates during the interval is unnecessary and may cause weight gain.


Chasing Away Insomnia With a Bowl of Oatmeal by Judith J. Wurtman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com

But you can get a decent night’s sleep, and leave the tarpaulin outside, if you eat very low-fat or fat-free carbohydrates like ¾ of a cup of plain Cheerios or Rice Chex, a small bowl of oatmeal, toast with strawberry jam (the sucrose supercedes the trace amount of fructose), or a graham cracker square. Don’t wait until the middle of the night before consuming the carbohydrate. Instead, eat a small, 120-calorie carbohydrate snack twice a day, before or several hours after you eat protein. This will help increase serotonin synthesis before you go to bed. If you have been on a low or no-carbohydrate diet for several weeks, it may take some time to restore your serotonin levels. So don’t worry if you still wake up during the night for a few more days. Eat another small snack. You will be back to sleep in about 20 minutes.

A Tablespoon of Sugar Makes the Stress go Down by Judith J. Wurtman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com

A recently published study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism by Tyron, M., Stanhope, K., Epel, E. et al reported that the consumption of a sugary beverage relieved the stress their female volunteers were feeling when faced with difficult mathematical problems. (I can relate to this.) Women consumed a beverage containing sugar or the non-nutritive sweetener aspartame three times a day for two weeks. Those given the sugary drinks had a significantly lower level of stress-associated cortisol than women drinking the artificially sweetened beverage.

Of course, you or their subjects do not have to eat sugar to feel better. Any non-fructose carbohydrate would have had the same effect. If they had eaten a bowl of rice or oatmeal three times a day their stress would also have lessened.

The amount of sugar needed to activate serotonin synthesis and reduce stress is about two tablespoons or about 25-30 grams. In calories, that’s about 100 to 120.

Drinking sugar-sweetened tea, or eating a bowl of oatmeal won’t fix an overflowing washing machine or change a dreaded medical diagnosis, but it will, at the very least, give us a respite from the stress these situations bring.


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