Monday, May 21, 2018

Benefits of Meditation and Lapses in My Memory- An Update

Benefits of Meditation and Lapses in My Memory- An Update
I have reproduced a piece I have written 4 years ago,
reason being that I forgot all my bank cards PIN numbers for a brief period recently.
I used A's Pin Number to B's Pin number and after three attempts bank inactivated all my cards.
Mind you, I luckily had an account in a different Bank and survived until my new card arrived.
All this due to enjoying my retirement and paucity of use of the daily routines.
So I immediately, joined my account with a family member.
The other thing that one forgets is the passwords for email accounts.
I have addressed that scenario in length elsewhere.
Just like forgetting PIN numbers and passwords if one abruptly stops
Practicing Meditation, what ever the benefits accrued will dissipate in no time.
That is why I recommend (and practice MM) Moment and Frequent Meditation (mental) exercises.
Having said that I have not found a solution for lapses in my memory.
I still do not carry a Memory Note with me.
Now my NEW method is counting the the lapses of my memory on daily routines.
How many lapses a day?
That seems to keep my memory fine tuned.
I sometime forget to fill the bowl with water for my dog.
He is totally blind and when this happens he seems to go in circles round the house to bring attention to its needs.
He reminds me of the routine and the lapse in my memory.
My dog has a fantastic memory (in our age he is nearing 100 years) and still behaves like a 7 year old kid and won't do anything to annoy me.
That is the difference of a pet and a human soul. 
Humans when old becomes very grumpy for no reason.
There is lot to learn from a dog.
This is part of the introduction to my Book on Meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many claims of benefit of meditation often poorly substantiated. Some of these benefit can be obtained without resort to meditation but simple change in life style.
Suppose a meditator changes his food habits drastically say to a vegetarian diet and practice meditation as a routine and finds that his blood cholesterol is lowered significantly, and then if he or she attributes it to the practice of meditation, there is a big flow in that argument.
One is not sure whether the change in diet did effect the blood cholesterol level or the practice of meditation or both did have independent or summation effect on the level of blood cholesterol. Unless one take a random sample and assess the partial correlation, then only one can attribute combination or independent effects on a particular quantity tested.
Qualitative changes cannot be tested since one cannot quantify the results. In actual fact the effect of meditation is often qualitative and very individualistic and one cannot feel the same effect a different mediator would have felt at the time of his or her meditative stance or instance/s.
This is very true as far as the Jhana States are concerned.
With that reservation in mind one can describe the many unmeasurable benefits attributed to meditation in Buddhist literature.

Metta Meditation

In Buddhist literature it is claimed that one who practises Metta Meditation falls to sleep easily and get up in the morning peacefully.

It is wished in the last three lines of the Sutta.
By reciting Karaniya Metta Sutta one should feel physically and psychologically better, one is made free of illness and one attains the highest goal or victory.
That is of course the Nibbana.
They may be just wishful thinking or one may actually feels better physically and psychologically.
It is also claimed that the natural immunity to cancer and infections are increased by practicing Metta Meditation.
This is something Venerable Ajhan Brahma Wanso preaches in most of his teaching.

Present Moment Meditation

This is something that is worth discussing here.
It has direct relationship to day to day activities.
I believe it has significant contribution to the efficiency of one’s trained skill, simply due to the intense concentration one may apply in his or her work skill at hand (without any distraction).
It is simply the focused attention to the task at hand.
If one is focused on any work, the efficiency goes up by leaps and bounds.
This is very well shown in management training.
When focused attention is combined with attitude to work and other measurable increase in environmental components the work output and the efficiency levels improve.
This is something shop or floor manager can use in day to day basis.
It is called a Quality Drill.
It does not matter how one qualifies the content or the output but the efficiency of the skill concerned improve by both repeated practice and focused attention to the moment of the activity.

Samatha Meditation

There is no specific measurable benefits of Samatha Bhavana or meditation except the attainment of the four goals or paths of entry to Nibbana,
Buddhist spiritual goal is stream entry through development of Jhanas four in this life and 8 in celestial life.
Smatha probably is better for those who are less intelligent (One who is not able to master the finer scientific points in Dhamma).

Vipassana Meditation

This the highest goal of Buddhist meditative practice.
It is claimed that all states of Jhana can be attained by Vipassana Bhavana or Meditation. I may be wrong in this assertion but that is what is spread among the lay persons without full knowledge or the understanding of mediation.
But when I looked at the terminology, it is said that Vipassana Bhavana would not contribute to absorption states.
This (Vipassana) is called the gaining in insight by direct contemplation and vision.
Only in Samatha Bhavana one attains the Jhana absorption levels up to four.
Only when an aspirant has gained the higher Jhana level that one could develop the five kinds of supernatural powers (Abhiñña) the divine eye, divine ear, recall of past births, thought-reading and various psychic powers i.e. walk on water.
The attainment of the supernatural powers is not the real goal of Buddhism.
The attainment of these powers may actually be a distraction or hindrance to a true aspirant or a pathfinder of Buddhist path of glory.
The ability to absorb into Jhana states should not be the goal of Buddhist meditation.
The Jhana states have no hindrance and the Jhana/s could be the way forward of stream entry.
The practice of meditation may bring many benefits and they are difficult to quantify or qualify except perhaps the benefit of present moment of meditation or focus which should be practiced without a label of a particular religion.
It is when one has labels and targets or goals of attainment, the practice of meditation becomes a commercial enterprise of undesirable consequences, ignoring the correct but simple way of development of the mental culture.
I am one who believes that mediation has value in all wakeful hours of the day.
The only exception is when one is asleep and when one dreams.
I am one who talks about dreams and write about dreams and their physiological value is unparalleled only by the practice of meditation in the wakeful state.
The meditation practice is the awareness of the wondering mind and its taming.
That is the Buddhist way.
The goal is not achieving of miracle powers, even though they may or may not come as a byproduct.
Sleeping (and dreaming) is the practice of letting the mind go into an unobtrusive and unhindered state in which the mind is unaware of the physiological inputs that operate in random manner with aberrations of awareness (of the totality) but with interludes of dreaming cycles.
On the other hand meditation is to “let go the attachments” one has with all the mental faculties both sensual and mind centered.

Goals of Buddhist Meditation

The goal is the spiritual attainment (Jhana states can be a byproduct) and stream entry by progressive cultivation of meditation basically by four common methods (there are many more).

1. Metta Meditation.

2. Samatha Meditation with Kasina or various Kamatahans.

3. Vipassana Meditation.

4. Moment Meditation (my simple creative method of short durations of multiple attempts).
This is adequately dealt by Venerable Ajhan Brahma Wanso, in the book "Happiness Through Meditation". It is also published as “Meditation, Bliss and Beyond”.
It is the best book currently available on Meditation in general and my intention here is to make it more of global nature and take the religious tag at the moment of its use.

Memory and Meditation

I want to share a drill I practice on day to day basis.
This is especially because, I am beginning to lose my memory and there are short lapses infrequent though, but enough to raise alarm bells on my part lately.
Once I forgot all my password for bank cards briefly.
This was during our long industrial action when I had a laid back approach to life in general and sleep in particular.
I was not having an adequate sleep (totally engrossed in Linux downloads and testing the isos) at night.
This coincided with forgetting of passwords for half a dozen emails and Linux forum passwords.
This shook my inner senses and I now have a ready made retrieval method based on memory drill.
The combination of Metta Meditation and Moment Meditation have worked wonders for me since then.
I now even have a simple protocol to remember 16 number Visa Card.
The memory loss was partly due to gray matter losing its material and the neural networks not recharging to peak levels, probably due to old age (this handicap is seriously encroaching my body parts, if not the brain).
Metta meditation makes one sleeps well not in one go but in two short spells (Night is the shortest spell when I do most of my work to avoid mosquito menace. The mosquitoes make me aware of my lack of Metta Meditation).
Our dog is the target animal for Metta.
Mosquitoes was the antidote to Metta.
Then in the morning I have a brief 5 minutes of Moment Meditation practice at the end of it, I have a mental list of 10 things or map out the tasks to do for the day.
If the list go up to 20, I do it in two spells like my sleep.
A morning list and an evening list.
That has worked well for the last one year and I still do not carry a piece of paper with all the tasks.
If I have to carry a piece of paper to to remind me the day to day work, I think I should say Good Bye and take first steps for the next round of birth.
That is on top of my wish list.
Since, I have not yet achieved stream entry, in spite of my mediation efforts, that will eventually happen (the demise not the stream entry) and is the only viable option left for me.
There is a simple addition to that wish list.

No electronic aids or tinkle to alert me of the wish list or missing tasks.

I do not use a cell phone by default.

I do not want a gadget to master my brain.

I rather "Master My Brain" instead without a phone alert or a piece of paper.
I wonder, how long I can practice it?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pathways to Liberation

Pathways to Liberation
This is a brief summary on the pathway to liberation of all bonds. 
Mind you English is deficient in vocabulary and Pali terminology is highlighted, here.
One need to try the four abodes as a preparation.

1. Metta (Compassion)
2. Karuna (Loving Kindness)
3. Mudhitha (Sympathetic Joy)
4. Upekkha (Equanimity)

The oppostes are
1. Loba (Greed)
2. Dosha (Hate)
3. Moha (Delusion)
4. Raga (Bondage)
One can approach this with five levels of transcendence.

1. Saddha or Faith
This the entry point and the faith in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and High Moral Conduct (Sila) are essential for stream entry to the path of liberation.

2. Viriya or Energy
Abandoning of unwholesome deeds (both born and unborn) and acquiring wholesome (both born and unborn)

3. Sati or the Mindfullness
This is actually the Satara Satipattana Meditation.
Kayanupassana (Body)
Dhammanupassana (Dhamma)

4. Samadhi or the Concentration
In other words the attainment of four Jhana absorptions.
In Jhana Absorptions, there is complete but temporary detachment from all five sensual spheres and of five hindrances or the Nivarana.

They are
1. Kamacchanda (Loba)
2. Vyapada(Dosa)
3. Tina Middha (sloth and torpor)
4. Uddhakka-kukkussa(restlessness)
5. Vicikiccha (doubt)

In first Jhana State one attains
1. Vittakka (thought conception and attention)
2. Vichara (inner speech or discursive thinking)
3. Piti (rapture)
4. Sukha (joy)
5. Ekaggata (one pointedness)

2nd Jhana State
Vittaka, Vichara are absent.
1. Piti
2. Sukha
3. Samadhi are accompaniments.

3nd Jhana State
1. Sukha
2. Samadhi

4th Jhana State
1. Equanimity
2. Samadhi

5. Pangna or Wisdom
This is the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, the suffering, the origin of suffering, the path for cessation (Nirodaya) of suffering and the cessation of suffering. This is the more difficult and the intellectual pursuit of Vipassana Meditation.

The Samatha Meditation is the more practical and easy way of meditation. There are about 40 objects for Samatha Bhavana (Vissudhi Magga has over 1000 objects) and one should select one which suits the personalty.

These is where a Master who is adept at Meditation could be helpful.

In Samatha Meditation one may dwell in Jhana absorptive states with morbid attachment to them due to their pleasing and pleasant nature. 
It could be a hindrance to the upward progress.

These states should be considered as accompaniment of meditative mental states and one should brush aside the morbid attachment.

There are no Jhana states for the Vipassana Meditation but one who progresses through Samatha Meditation could gain the Vipassana goals as a byproduct in later stages.

These Jhana absorptions are four in number that can be attained in meditative states.
The Jhanas of 1st to 4th states are born in Rupavacara lokas (worlds) when they leave this world after death.

In that sense, Jhana States are meritorious but they can be consumed in toto and the subjects be born again in lower states.
Only after one attains the Nibbana that one does not born in either Rupavacara or Arupavacara worlds.

All the states are temporary, impermanent and subject to change depending on the extent of the bearers Kamma Stream.
The Jhanas from 5th to 8th are states experienced by celestial beings in the Arupavacara states.

Jhana States and the Types Celestial Beings
Beings of Rupavacara or Material Spheres are

1. Jhana of 1st absorption
Brahma-kayika deva including Mahabrama

2.Jhana of 2nd absorption
Paritabha, Appamanabha, Abhassara devas

3. Jhana of 3rd absorption
Pariita subha, Appamana subha, Subha kippa devas

4.Jhana of 4th absorption
Vehaphala, Asanna satta, Sudhavasa (anagamis) devas
Beings of Arupavacara or Immaterial Spheres are

5. Born with 5th Jhana State
Devas of Akasanancayatanupaga
(of Infinity of Space)

6. Born with 6th Jhana State
Devas of Vinnapancayatanupaga
(of infinity of Consciousness)

7. 7th Jhana State
(of Nothingness)

8. 8th Jhana State
Devas of Nevasanna-nasansnnayatanupaga
(Neither perception nor non-perception)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mind is Mind Boggling Stuff

Stream of Consciousness is mind boggling?

This piece is a Hypothesis not a Concept to arouse investigation of the mind and its underlying force.

Some of the things proposed are outrageous but one should not throw away the basic tenet of the hypothesis due to inconsistencies.
I do not want to use the word consciousness and specially the subconscious mind with only two layers of mind (essentially matter or brain bound).
I prefer the eminent philosopher James William’s theme, the stream of consciousness as a near enough hypothesis.
The most outlandish statement to begin with is that the stream of mind (consciousness as stated in modern western terminology) does not necessarily need a brain or matter for its existence.

It can exist without the matter principle.

Even though, in Indian and Buddhist cosmology there are many domains of existence of beings, I would like to narrow it to three levels for the purpose of simplification but would dare say, the potential and the sphere of the stream of mind is so limited.

In actual fact, it is very difficult to comprehend.

The three levels for discussion are;
1. Mind without matter principle, essentially an energy form with unlimited extensibility.

2. Mind with matter principle invariably bound to the matter in the form of neural system extending to the level of many “brain forms” (human brain is not supposed to be the ultimate and the highest).

3. The third is the transitional or subtle form, there is neither matter nor no matter but interaction of the stream of mind in many forms.

Why this subdivision?

It is all, to explain, the behavior of the mind of gifted individuals, mediums, those cultivated by meditation, those who posses ability to remember past lives, telepathy, hypnotic transgression and such experiences like tunnel vision in near death syndrome.

In the way, we look at in modern science, many of the above cannot be explained or disputed by mere conjecture or by preposition or hypothesis.

I won’t go into many details but start with few examples.

Take the case of amoeba.
It is the simplest of living forms but it has an enormous amount of DNA material for its simple survival. The genetic pool is enormous for its simplicity. It does not have a brain or brain material to think and to do purposeful workout.
But seemingly handicapped, as it may sound, it does all what is necessary for living, reproduction and survival.
There is a purpose for survival and “the purposeful activity is not too different from a higher order animal with a primitive brain”.

The will for existence and purposeful collection of genetic material for future evolution into a higher form of being, yet without a brain.

I call this form of existence, “the brainy mechanism of sustenance” what a single cell accomplishes on its own.

The single cell is the brain for its own existence.

When we take multiples of these cells when organized purposely as brains in different species including aliens that may exist in other worlds, the potential of the brain systems and stream of mind is enormous.
So one should not get surprised for somebody having telepathic ability or to communicate with the dead or subsequent lives or departed dear ones (assuming rebirth as distinct possibility) with paranormal ability.
Simple disputing of paranormal ability is not the way about it.
There were many in our history and often disputed (deliberately by vested interests).
Ana Blasticova is a case in point.

We have not developed sufficiently sensitive instruments to detect these “energy forms” and EEG is not the “be all and end all instrument of detection”.

My personal view is we need a finely tuned ‘another higher brain’ to monitor these activities.

Not all of us have these abilities inbuilt.

It is the duty of the psychologists and psychiatrists to invest in these areas of training, instead of denial and disputation.

One way of developing this power is through meditation but only a few of us can sustain it to such a higher levels.

My own conviction is that the practice of meditation has many other benefits apart from achieving goals mentioned above and one should use it for one’s own higher transition rather than using it as a diagnostic tool.

But I won’t condone anyone who is pursuing scientific and diagnostic pathways.

Now let me dish out some outlandish views.

The mind on its own without a material base.

Can it exist on its own?

Where does its energy come from without a biological base?

If the cell can survive without a brain (amoeba) why not a mind without a brain?

In the material world there are so many energy forms including cosmic radiation.

In that spectrum not having an energy form called stream of mind (James William’s own description of the mind as a stream) is unacceptable to an inquiring mind.

If the medical world (I do not divide the mind only two states) could formulate something called subconscious mind for centuries, above hypothesis is an antithesis.

In the eastern cosmology, beings with subtle bodies with spiritually developed minds are tenable.

It is often said people who had attained different level of absorptions through meditation are born in these worlds and live a long life.
It is also said these beings can travel vast distances from their mother planets and visit alternative universes.

In literal terms they are the Devas or Gods.

Extension of that theory is what I am proposing not the alteration of the eastern cosmology.

If that scenario is possible, that mind stream would penetrate atomic, subatomic and quantum levels of uncertainty and comprehend everything the modern science delve in.

So what?

That mind should theoretically (mind’s behavior is attachment to entities or ideas) be able to merge with subtle material and change (shape change described in alien films) its form at will or wish.

I think my hypothesis is going well beyond this world to other dimensions.

Is it 7, 10 or 13 or string theory of mathematics?

The possibility of the stream of mind is incomprehensible and vast.

Binding it to a dogma, idea, religion, culture, politics, race or science is very narrow.

Try to discover your own mind potential but remain within the limits, lest you get virtually mad.

Come to think about it, this world is full of mad guys/girls especially in the political field.

Mind and its Repertoire
Mind is a powerful entity with boundless energy within.
It is very difficult to explain its repertoire.
Below is a few descriptions extracted from Dhamma Pada.
Before that, I will try to describe in Simple English how I describe the “Entity called Mind”.
Mind is Universal Entity in certain forms of life.
We believe it is related to the existence of the brain but if I ask the question myself, “Can I locate or pinpoint it for somebody to scientifically investigate it?”, I run short of methodology to project my mind out.
It seems to be intrinsically bound to every cell in my body not heart or brain.
I do not like the word conscious and unconscious since mind is never at rest even in one’s deep sleep.
It is a living but changing entity and part and parcel of life of beings.
So I prefer the word “Awareness” of itself and its surrounding irrespective of its proximity (far or near) in space dimension.
I can visit moon in a fraction of a second (faster than speed of light) while smoking my cigar and exhaling rounds and rounds of smoke circles.
Like the smoke circles from a cigar appear and disappear, my thought moments can appear and disappear with tremendous rapidity and next moment my mind is in mars or outside the boundaries of the known universe.
That is the beauty of the mind.
Next thing I want to do is to address the “Level of Awareness”.
The base level is Awake State.
A lower level is Dream State.
Third level is “Knocked Out State”, hit on the head by a club or live electricity shock or ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) or Medical Drugs with anesthetic properties or psychedelics.
Now the bombshell.
Just as we can have substandard levels of mind to normal awake state, I want to propose that there are seven or more levels of super-standard states of mind (for the purpose of my argument- it may be much more than seven, never less).
For a person of Western upbringing brought up with God Concept, God is another “Spiritual Level”of Awareness much more than our base level.
Now the second bombshell.
There are life forms outside our domain, for the want of a better term I use, Alien Beings have Awareness Levels (going up to seven or more) far more superior to ours.
The caveat here is some of these beings are very inquisitive especially the level I (one) and II (two) civilizations that may or may not visit us from time to time for formal investigations.
The question is can we reach them?
I tend to believe that we can.
We can increase our level of awareness with Mind Training.
That Mind Training is Meditation.
It is within our brain (for want of better term) potential.
All this preamble is to find an answer to the question of “Mediums” and “Channels” or the Ancient Wisdom Masters (of Red Indians, of Aborigines and Indian Sages).
Christianity has suppressed these phenomena by their world domination by “Mighty Economic Power” (both UK and USA).
Good example is Madam Helena Blavatsky and the attack on her by the Western authors (Theosophy) of profundity.
The domain of Christianity is in its wane, so it time to address other states of mind including the “Aliens who would visit us” when we are ready.
For the sake of my argument, “Mediums” and “Channels” are altered states of mind of awareness of the bearer.
They are usually females who are amenable to such states of “fantasy”.
They should not be addressed as fakes (large majority are fakes for the purpose of publicity).
I should wind up this with few verses from Dhamma Pada.
I do not like the English words, Ego, I, Soul and Spirituality.
To drop those entities from our minds’ vocabulary one has to attain a certain level of of meditative instances or Jhanas.

Mano Puggamgamaa Dhamma
Mano Setta Manomaya
Manasa che Passannena
Basthi va Karothi va
Tatho Nam Sukka Manchethi
Chayava Anupayini

Mind precedes all mental states
Mind is the chief chef,
They are all mind-wrought (fashioned)
If with pure (perfect) mind one speaks or acts happiness follows like never departing shadow of oneself.

Durangaman ekamchram
Asariram guhasayam
Ye sittam sangnamesanti
Mokkanthi Marabandhana

Dwelling in the cave
Without form
The Mind wonders far
And moves alone.
Those who subdue this mind
Are liberated from the bond of Mara

(The meaning of Mara here is somewhat equivalent to death in every being but in philosophical terms means much more of the unsatisfactory nature of all living phenomena including mental formations).
I am not a Pali scholar and Pali scholars (neither in English) are hard to come by and my humble attempt is to bring simple English connotation into lifeforms.
Any errors of commission and omission are all mine.
Please note that I do not academically or literally follow every bit of mystic phenomena but want the readers to be open minded.
I have had first hand encounters with similar ability but never tried to stop them or encourage them (kept my comfortable scientific dissociation) or assess them scientifically.
Reincarnation means the same thing as re-embodiment and rebirth. It is the human soul returning to the worlds of many forms again and again, taking up residence each time in a new physical body in order to continue the soul’s progressive/regressive journey of inner evolution/ devolution, advancement/depreciation, development/decay and many ways of unfolding.
Death is not the end and birth is not the beginning.
The soul reincarnates due to three main reasons
(1) It still has lessons to learn,
(2) It still has “karmic debts” which it needs to work off in order to balance its sheets of Karma,
(3) It has not yet fully realized its own divine nature or its absolute oneness with the higher self (Divine) and has not yet re-become into higher order of consciousness which is truly and really possible with sustained effort (by sustained and right Meditation).
Reincarnation is a Law in Nature.
It is not true that “only some souls reincarnate” or that “reincarnation is the exception rather than the rule,” as some have claimed.
It is an ongoing cyclic process and necessity for each soul go through relentlessly.
There are three possibilities regarding what happens to us when we die.
View One
There is the view of the atheists and materialists, who say that we are nothing more than a lump of soulless purposeless matter and that we simply cease to be, when the physical body dies.
View Two
Then there is the “one life only” view held by some religions, who maintain that the soul only lives once on Earth and that after the body dies the soul either goes to Heaven for all eternity or burns in Hell for all eternity.
The religions which teach this concept usually insist that they are the only right religion and that only the people belonging to that particular religion will go to Heaven and the rest to Hell.
View Three
The third possibility is that of an ongoing process of reincarnation. 25-30% of people in the West today say that they believe in reincarnation and it has been a standard belief in much of the East for thousands of years, having its origin in Hinduism, which is the world’s oldest religion.
It is also a central feature of Buddhism and other Indic religions.
If one does not fall to any of the above three, he or she could become open other dimensions and say I do not know what is going on.
Mind boggling question
Mind is
To reach
A distant goal
And Fleeing
Why not call
It a mystery?
Which it is
Instead of the
Ill conceived
Ill understood
All abiding
All encompassing
Term called consciousness
Which truly
Is a misnomer par excellence