Monday, June 25, 2018

Comments by mattcolborn

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  • Hi — Thanks for this. I have a copy of Alan Wallace’s book, I’ll look this up. (It’s a very useful guide).

    RE: Saccharine versions of meditation. I think that practises that suggest you need to empty your mind and just think happy thoughts derive more from things like Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science movement than the buddhist traditions with which I’m (relatively) familiar. Barbara Ehrenreich provides some caustic critiques of these approaches in her book ‘Bright sided.’ I’m afraid that such mindlessly positive approaches do not work for me either!

  • As an experiencer of depression and a meditator, none of the above effects surprises me (although I’d note the cultural bias in lumping paranormal experiences and beliefs in with negative delusional states).

    Meditation can be a very powerful tool so it’s not surprising that negative experiences occur as well as positive. My sense from reading buddhist sources is that having the ego dissolve or seem to dissociate can indeed be frightening and disorientating.

    I think that one big reason why mental health and other medical practitioners downplay or ignore negative effects is that they underestimate the power of these techniques, and see it in shallow terms as a stress reliever. (One reason for this problem is a blanket refusal to take the traditional sources, and alternative, transpersonal models of consciousness seriously.)

    However, a cursory glance at the traditional sources make it clear that the goal is a profound transformation of one’s consciousness and the induction of very different states of consciousness. This means that it’s important to attend to what those sources have to say.