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Science and introspection are equally valid methods of discovering reality; in fact they are complimentary


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Initial post: Oct 27, 2012 6:25:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 27, 2012 6:27:35 PM PDT
From Brian Greene's book "The Fabric of the Cosmos": ...the men and women of science...have peeled back layer after layer of the cosmic onion, enigma by enigma, and revealed a universe that is at once surprising, unfamiliar, exciting, elegant, and thoroughly unlike what anyone ever expected" (p5)

The science of studying the "external world" is one method of discovering "reality": of coming closer and closer to the truth of what is. But there is this tendency among materialists that this form of science is the ONLY way to reality, and that, Amazon forum posters, is a profoundly biased assumption, IMO. Through about 5 years of meditation and introspection, I have turned the inner eye upon my internal experiences. At times, my entire world has flipped upside down in the light of intensive and continuous concentration and mindfulness. Before embarking on this journey, I was accustomed to being absorbed in the objects of awareness. After some practice, I learned to see objects of awareness as just that and abide with the open and flowing awareness at the core of my Being. Mumbo Jumbo? Maybe... But it's my reality. Have at it. Tear me up. Or maybe share a similar experience. But from this perspective these 2 disciplines (science and meditation) are NOT contradictory but actually flip sides of the same coin: opening oneself to the possibility that reality may be different from what one thought and investigating whatever is. Merely one deals with the external and one deals with the internal. Science is confirmed beyond reasonable doubt but meditation makes no "claims" to believe: an authentic teacher will share their experience not to convert or control you but assist you in your own search for reality. Let me ask you: are "You" real? Have you really asked who or what you are, and considered what evidence you have for your existence? Have you subjected that reasoning to the same critical analysis which science utilizes in its discipline? Have you rigorously studied the raw sensations, experiences, and concepts that bolster the "I" with the passion of a scientist? Have you developed a tranquil and focused mind to let your self still, and understand your self? If not, and you label any potential meditative or introspective insight as fantastical thinking, are you any different from the creationists who turn a blind eye to modern science?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 6:37:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 27, 2012 6:51:11 PM PDT
jpl says:
Raw, I meditate on the days when I don't drink. I'm concentrating at this point, that is, not pursuing mindfulness. However, after my time in concentration, I spend a few minutes just relaxing my mind and going into mindfulness. It's so easy to see the thoughts flowing by when the mind is stilled.

What the Buddha said is true: consciousness cannot be grasped and is impermanent, and just as there is no self--only a false ego--there will never be an end to humankind's scientific search. I love knowledge, regardless of the miniscule amount I may ever possess.

I am amazed at the fact of my existence. Out of a possible infinity, here I am, yet I am not an enduring self. All things change, including the cosmos. I think the cosmos has always been, and is an endless cycle.

But just as the self cannot be grasped, neither can the cosmos. However, like meditation, I think scientific pusuit is beneficial, fascinating, and awe-inspiring.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 7:22:26 PM PDT
Enjoying your response, thank you. Your post certainly resonates with me and I'm glad to see a like-minded individual here. The mindfulness has become less of a choice and more of just what is over here; apart from when stress drives me back into the duality, or those times I do drink, and the thoughts gain more sway over "me". Ego seems to have a gravitational pull of its own, however illusive it may be.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 7:31:18 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Butter, I've been meditating for over thirty years, and studying spiritual systems (including religion) since I was 12. Meditation caused me to give up negative habits, like drinking and smoking, eating certain foods, and paying way too much attention to my own, selfish "needs". It took years, it was a very gradual process, and obviously it's still going on.

Science is a very important part of our human search for knowledge, but it doesn't answer all the questions, in fact it doesn't even ask most of the important ones. I don't denigrate science at all, I think it's necessary, but it's not the only game in town, as you imply.

I've had so many spiritual experiences that I've learned to accept the experiences others have had, even when they sound implausible, mainly because I know my experiences would be laughed out of the room by any reductionist convention. Still, they're my reality and they inform my every waking moment, and probably my sleeping ones as well.

As far as Brian Greene goes, I've been reading his books and watching his television shows for years and have nothing but admiration for him and for all those who are attempting to help human beings pierce through the very thick veil of scientism, so that we can see a bit further and begin asking the pertinent questions.

Posted on Oct 27, 2012 7:45:09 PM PDT
Hi Nancy, thirty years is a relatively long time (from my perspective) to be engaged in meditation and practice! I brought a lot of doubt to the spiritual 'world'. It's taken a while for me to get a sense of footing and work with my own skepticism, self-criticism, and other baggage. The vibrations seem to be picking up really quick over here though, and I can't help but wonder if this is some kind of universal phenomenon going on.

Re Brian Greene, I really like his attitude regarding his own materialist belief and his viewpoint towards those of other sentiments. He is very open minded and honest, in that he believes what is most evident to him, and respects that others have different viewpoints.

Thanks for joining the thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 7:55:08 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Thanks for starting it, Butter. I hope we can continue on this relatively high level of interchange.

Interesting that you should say thirty years is a "long time", because I was a fairly late starter along those lines. I was raised a Methodist, converted to Catholicism when I was 19 - I suppose praying the Rosary every day was a form of meditation, come to think of it - then moved on at the age of 35 to a focus on the Eastern systems, and finally got into meditation in my late 50's. I guess it wasn't wasted time, since I've always done things in a kind of incremental way, like the tortoise instead of the hare.

At any rate, it's been a really productive life, I've learned so very, very much, and haven't stopped yet.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 9:28:51 PM PDT
Re OP: Sorry, but this is nonsense. It is well known that no deductive conclusions can be drawn from any set of premises which are not embedded in those premises. Correspondingly, nothing can be learned about the real world by introspection alone. One premise which produces a vast amount of good conclusions is "The world works according to rules to which the rules of logic apply." This postulate is, of course, completely unprovable -- but, without it, we cannot apply logic to ANYTHING in the real world. Hence, it must be considered essential.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 2:31:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2012 2:32:38 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 6:29:25 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
"Sorry, but this is nonsense. It is well known that no deductive conclusions can be drawn from any set of premises which are not embedded in those premises. Correspondingly, nothing can be learned about the real world by introspection alone."

I think another way of stating what the OP is about which responds to this criticism is as follows:

There are two ways to give the logical machinery of our minds something to chew on. One is empirical stuff--naturalistic observations and laboratory experiments of the sort used by chemistry, astronomy, and biology--and the other is phenomenological stuff, firsthand conscious experience. Many people see the empirical route as the ONLY route capable of producing real knowledge. It is not. Meditative disciplines attempt to provide a methodologically rigorous way of producing a sort of phenomenological "data" which may then be elaborated into broader statements of knowledge, just as experimental data may be elaborated into broader statements of theory.

Empirical science can tell us nothing about what moral values are preferable, what courses of action lead to lasting satisfaction and effective action, or what sources of meaning are best used to give our lives significance. Phenomenological "science," if I can put it that way, can tell us nothing about what exists in nature or how different bits of nature relate to one another.
Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology
http://preview.tinyurl.com/9gweyjz

Empirical science gives us repeatable, amassable facts which allow us to predict and to master nature. Phenomenological "science" gives us knowledge which cannot be directly repeated or straightforwardly expressed, knowledge in which we are intrinsically bound up, knowledge which cannot allow us to master anything whatsoever. Without this knowledge, however, questions about what makes for a satisfying, effective, meaningful, and moral life are utterly unanswerable.

Here is an example of phenomenologically grounded knowledge from Thomas Merton. Notice the lack of uniform, scientific vocabulary, the use of imprecise and even figurative language, and the concern with ultimate value:

"We do not live merely in order to vegetate through our days until we die. Nor do we live merely in order to take part in the routines of work and amusement that go on around us. We are not just machines that have to be cared for and driven carefully until they run down. . . . We do not become fully human until we give ourselves to each other in love" (p. 27).

And: "Genuine love is a personal revolution. Love takes your ideas, your desires, and your actions and welds them together in one experience and one living reality which is a new YOU. You may prefer to keep this from happening. You may keep your thoughts, desires, and acts in separate compartments if you want: but then you will be an artificial and divided person, with three little filing cabinets: one of ideas, one of decisions, and one of actions and experiences" (p. 28).

Love and Living

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 9:16:49 AM PDT
Astrocat says:
Clarissa, of course it does. Lots of people jump into things without thinking, gaining experience, often making mistakes, but learning from those mistakes. Not everyone does it the slow and easy way.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 9:41:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2012 9:43:02 AM PDT
Jeff Marzano says:
RawCocoButter says:

[Through about 5 years of meditation and introspection, I have turned the inner eye upon my internal experiences.]

The closest thing I can think of to what you are talking about would be ancient Egypt and the subject of initiation rites. It seems that the initiation process also happened in other places such as Teotihuacán in Mexico, "The Place Where Men Become Gods".

The initiation process was designed to allow people to reach high levels of spiritual enlightenment. Some of the subjects the initiates learned about were astronomy and astrology, mythology, alchemy, magic, sacred geometry, and the nature of their own existence including spirituality.

The initiates were sworn to secrecy about what they learned since that type of knowledge becomes very dangerous in the wrong hands. It involves secrets and mysteries about nature, the human body, and the universe.

The initiation process apparently took the process of self introspection to another level. In some cases the initiates would experience things with their spiritual body as the physical body laid in a comatose like state inside the pyramids.

During those experiences it sounds like the initiation candidates sort of merged with the energies inside of the pyramids. If someone who was not prepared correctly tried to experience this they would have died a slow, agonizing death.

There was no separation between religion and science in those ancient cultures, at least not with the priests and pharaohs. The pyramids were machines that were able to capture energy from various forces of nature including the Earth, underground rivers, the stars, and the ether.

Science today is only slowly beginning to rediscover some of the secret knowledge that existed back then. The Egyptian priests used devices called energy rods which generated light and sound to stimulate the human body's ability to regenerate itself. They could for example cause the body to regenerate an arm that had been lost in warfare. Those arcane healing arts were practiced in the utmost secrecy.

Regeneration is the new frontier in medicine today. Doctors today are using stem cells and pig tissue to accomplish what the Egyptian priests of old did using light and sound which are vibrations.

I think that's what the myth about Osiris means. In the story the evil Set kills and dismembers his brother Osiris and the body parts are scattered all over the world. Osiris' body represents the great knowledge that once existed in the ancient past but which has been lost to us today for all but a very select few.

Jeff Marzano

Initiation in the Great Pyramid (Astara's library of mystical classics)

The Philosopher's Stone: Alchemy and the Secret Research for Exotic Matter

Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy

Edgar Cayce on Vibrations: Spirit in Motion

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 12:36:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2012 12:39:40 PM PDT
mark says:
RCB,

I like Brian Green. "Popularized science" authors help me grasp the technical science authors.

I like introspection. I use it as entertainment, whenever I'm thinking without the intention of actually learning anything. Twiddling my cognitive thumbs, as it were.

There is a certain inimitable peace extractable from sufficient knowledge, where the only deductions necessary are the ones I like.

I think reason needs exposure to restraint of its proper application, as much as science needs exposure to the restraint of its method. There is no other way to differentiate between the fancy of irrational mental meandering which may lead to sufficient knowledge, and substantial rational introspection, which must lead to it.

Am I "real"? I cannot know with certainty. For absolute knowledge of a thing, or an idea, there must be absolutely necessary conditions for that thing, or idea, such that no other knowledge is required to prove, in this case, "real-ness". No matter how many conditions I determine to be un-necessary, and therefore removeable from my cognition, in order to get to one that I cannot remove, all of those describing what it means for me to be "real", and thus have absolute knowledge of it, I can never remove them all without the experience of what they are. It is possible for there to be an absolutely necessary condition for me being real that I do not, and never will, have experience.

But that is all really, really dumb. It makes no sense, and serves no purpose, to even allow that I am not real. So let's just assume I am.

Peace.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 12:44:36 PM PDT
MMX says:
RCB: "After some practice, I learned to see objects of awareness as just that and abide with the open and flowing awareness at the core of my Being. Mumbo Jumbo? Maybe... But it's my reality. Have at it. Tear me up. Or maybe share a similar experience. But from this perspective these 2 disciplines (science and meditation) are NOT contradictory but actually flip sides of the same coin: opening oneself to the possibility that reality may be different from what one thought and investigating whatever is."

MMX: This isn't quite accurate. (1) If you vaguely state that "Both experiences are ways of opening your mind, to allow yourself to see that perceived reality doesn't necessarily match with actual reality..." - then you are technically correct. (2) But if you state, more concretely, that "Both experiences use equally-reasonable, and equally-independently-verifiable, methods of perceiving reality more accurately..." - then you're not correct at all.

And if you're trying to use the FIRST statement as a way to prove the SECOND, then you're being sneaky. :D

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 6:27:20 PM PDT
"Through about 5 years of meditation and introspection, I have turned the inner eye upon my internal experiences."

Two different people, via their application of "introspection", reach different conclusions as to some aspect of reality.

What procedure would we use to determine which of those conclusions, if either, was correct?

How reliable or accurate is this procedure? What mechanisms for self-correction does it include?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 8:00:25 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Michael, they're both correct, each one is correct for the individual. There isn't any one-size-fits-all, this is all a work in progress, this whole thing, all they way to the end of the universe. That's why we keep expanding, speeding up, moving forward. This is not a static situation, not one of "perfection" in any sense, but one of continual growth and change, exploration and new understandings.

You might want to know the "correct" insight, but I'm delighted to know that there are billions of insights, each of them a facet of a gigantic "truth" that will never be completely known, and that may not be the same from one moment to the next.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 8:09:19 PM PDT
"Michael, they're both correct, each one is correct for the individual."

If two people make claims concerning the nature of reality, and those claims contradict one another, then how can both be correct?

If both are correct, then what exactly does *correct* mean in this context?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 8:13:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2012 8:14:04 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Michael, go back to the "diamond" with a billion facets (probably lots more than that, really). Reality is not something that we can take a photograph of and say, "oh, that's it". We're experiencing Life/Reality, every moment of every day, and it's so varied, so fabulously diverse that no one person could ever wrap it up in any one concept.

And, you were the one who used the term "correct". I wouldn't use it except in the case of 2+2=4 - correct! And that's only in this solar system.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 8:19:47 PM PDT
When I jump off a building... the only facet I'm concerned with is that which involves me colliding with the pavement.

When you cross the street, do you ignore the oncoming cars, secure in the knowledge that if you believe they don't exist, they can't hurt you?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 8:55:03 PM PDT
Ataraxia says:
Could some insights ever just be plain wrong?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 9:43:36 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Michael, I think we're talking about two entirely different things here.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 9:43:52 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Ataraxia, what kinds of insights, for example?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 9:58:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 28, 2012 10:00:32 PM PDT
Ataraxia says:
Don't get me wrong. I admire your attempt to see some good in all points of view and foster tolerance between them. I think that's wonderful. But there are times to condemn and be intolerant of certain insights. Like what? Well, things like this:

"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts."
-Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America. 1861

Or, more recent example, garbage like this:

" All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. (Amen) And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. Because that's what the Bible says.

And what I've come to learn is that it's the manufacturer's handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that's the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I'll continue to do that."
-Senator Paul Broun (R), serving on the US senate science committee, 2012

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 11:16:28 PM PDT
Conley Thorn says:
RAW∙C∙B: Have you rigorously studied the raw sensations, experiences, and concepts that bolster the "I" with the passion of a scientist? Have you developed a tranquil and focused mind to let your self still, and understand your self? If not, and you label any potential meditative or introspective insight as fantastical thinking, are you any different from the creationists who turn a blind eye to modern science?

THORN: I considered answering "Yes" to that "I" question, but then realized that your approach to and definition of "study" probably varies from mine.

No, I would not label just any (every) "potential meditative or introspective insight as fantastical thinking...." However, though "Know thyself" is a principle I have always considered imperative for valid perception and insight, I am very unsure of just how capable most people are of honest introspection. Conditioned emotional inhibitions and superstitious fear are impossible for many to overcome.

As to meditation, it has undeniable benefit for mental, emotional and physical well-being. Being generally a happy, healthy, untroubled soul, I'm not cozzened by it's advertised additional endowments, and I am not inclined to lose time to such.

If you, as are some others elsewhere in this forum, are hinting that a truer and happier reality are to be discovered through meditation, then I counter your claim thusly: I trust the solidity of this common, mundane, largely accepted one. I deplore it's harsher features, but I must accept the entirety of it as the one reality. I will not enter a tiger's cage and pat that illusion lovlingly on a shoulder. And I challenge any loop-headed meditationist who's convinced he/she has found the truer "reality" to prove it by doing so.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 11:20:31 PM PDT
Conley Thorn says:
Very good, jpl. Just go easy on the Jack & Ginger. It can be as beneficial as the meditation, depending on your particular needs. Both can be overdone.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012 11:24:11 PM PDT
Astrocat says:
Ataraxia, I'm not trying to see good in all points of view, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that there are many ways of seeing or experiencing and we can learn from all of them. Some of those ways are destructive, and some are not. Pretty much the best we can do is create hypotheses and then test them out.

What I'm saying is that all the myriad facets of the "truth" are worth pursuing. Some will have to be discarded because they're not useful at this time and in this place, they don't work for this culture or that system of thought. But they're all parts of our human experience. What's right for me may be terribly wrong for you, that's what we're here to find. out.
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