MRI and EEG of Jhana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Sylvester » Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:21 am

Not sure if this has been posted before, but here goes one hi-tech study of jhana, with one of Ayya Khema's disciples being probed -

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2013/653572/

4.1. Mechanisms of Action

Our data would reject four possible cortical mechanisms (expectations, rhythmic movement, visual memories, and auditory memories) by which the subject might have self-stimulated his own reward system during J2. Several other pathways are possible that our experiment did not test. First, it is known that reciprocal connections exist between the NAc and the medial OFC, so that it might be possible to activate a feedback loop between the two. Under normal conditions, the feedback loop would be quickly interrupted by shifting attention to everchanging input from visual, auditory, or somatic senses, but these cortical areas have been downregulated, and attention may be tightly focused on reinforcing the feedback loop. The loop might be realized by creating a series of very short tasks that can each be completed successfully, allowing a new goal to be achieved and reward attained with each new moment. The classic meditation instructions for breathing would constitute such a task, wherein the student is instructed: “When that in-breath finishes, you know that moment. You see in your mind that last moment of the in-breath. You then see the next moment as a pause between breaths, and then many more moments of pause until the out-breath begins… We are aware only of the beautiful breath, without effort and for a very long time.” ([9] p.16).

Other possible mechanisms of action could comprise subcortical activations that might have reward characteristics. For example, shifting control of breathing from the voluntary motor cortex to the involuntary medullary rhythmicity area in the brain stem might be perceived as relaxing, as well as giving rise to a common altered experience of “feeling like I am being breathed, not in control.” Also, rhythmic movements might be maintained below the level of cortical control, since spinal reflexes are now known to mediate rhythmic movements as complex as coordinating leg movements related to walking.

Our results also shed light on the magnitude of the activation of the dopamine reward system. Subjective reports from the subject indicated extremely high magnitude of reward, comparing J1 (which was not recorded due to head movement) to continuous multiple orgasms, J2 to “opening a birthday gift and getting exactly what you most wished for,” and J3 to postcoital bliss. Yet the objective activation of the reward system in J2 was not extreme. The apparent mismatch between extreme subjective reports and moderate objective activation can be explained by the signal-to-noise ratio of the circuits. When most other cortical activity is reduced, as in this subject, a much smaller reward signal can be detected and will be perceived as more intense than when cortical “noise” from other sources is high, as in normal awareness. Indeed, during normal awareness it takes drug-induced hyperstimulation of the dopamine pathways to generate such extreme subjective reports. If this signal-to-noise view is correct, then jhana’s reduced sense awareness is not incidental to achieving extreme pleasure but is a contributing condition.

Despite the moderate level of activation, caution is advisable with any voluntary stimulation of the reward systems. Drugs of abuse can generate short-term bliss but can quickly increase tolerance, requiring ever greater doses of the drug to create the same level of pleasure. They can also create withdrawal symptoms during abstinence [33]. In contrast to the drugs, jhana meditators report negative tolerance because they can achieve the same state more quickly with less effort over time, and no withdrawal symptoms have been reported when meditation is stopped. Nevertheless, Figure 3 shows that NAc activity dropped below normal resting consciousness in J5, which may be a sign of short-term tolerance and neurotransmitter depletion.

4.2. Implications

Our experiment is to our knowledge the first that compares brain states in five different meditations (AC and J2–J5), finding strong differences between AC meditation and jhana, and smaller but still significant differences between jhana states. These in turn differ from the Tibetan Buddhist compassion meditation reported by Lutz et al. [42] where EEG gamma frequencies were dominant and from the alpha dominance of Transcendental Meditation [48]. Taken together, the multiplicity of brain states suggests that there may be a vast array of ASCs available through meditation, depending on which brain regions are given awareness and which are inhibited from awareness [49]. If there are a large number of possible ASCs, it is likely that only some would have survival value. For example, the state of mystical union with all beings might be helpful in encouraging cooperation with all people in the tribe, so that evolution may have selected certain of these ASCs to be more easily learned and retained.

However, the same reasoning would suggest that the ability to self-stimulate the brain’s reward system would be dysfunctional in the struggle for survival and procreation because it could short-circuit the system that motivates survival actions. Organisms that are adept at self-stimulation would quickly die out if they fail to respond to environmental demands or to pass on their genes. This reasoning suggests caution in making autonomous self-stimulation more available, but we point out that the modern environment already allows unprecedented stimulation of the dopamine reward system with plentiful food and drugs of abuse. A meditation that stimulates the reward system without the harmful effects of obesity and environmental damage could be beneficial in the modern environment. On the other hand, a meditation that short-circuits the desire to get an education and work for long-term goals could become dysfunctional. Rather than simply stimulating the reward system in response to traditional goals of food and sex, it would be beneficial to regulate the system and focus it on long-term goals that are more adaptive.

This case study provides guidelines for larger studies on jhana meditation in several areas. First, it demonstrates that jhana is not so fragile that it can be destroyed by the presence of curious experimenters or by intrusive sounds of MRI scanners. Hence, it can be scientifically investigated. Second, the transition time to move from one jhana to another in a practiced subject is much shorter (between 5 and 20 seconds) than we expected, in line with other meditations that do not produce such extreme ASCs [42]. With short transition times, it might be feasible to use better randomized designs that alternate control states with meditations (however, the short transition times here may be due to the subject’s internal knowledge of readiness to transition, and he may not be able to transit “on demand”). Third, the experiment could be shortened if interest is focused only on the reward system because only J2 shows strong self-activation of the NAc. Fourth, the simple “resting” condition used here could be replaced with better controls that have been demonstrated to increase happiness, such as “remembering a happy event in your life” or visualizing a loved one.

More potential subjects will become available as more English-speaking students are being trained in jhana meditation [9, 50]. How these meditators achieve periods of extreme joy without common negative side effects could contribute to the scientific “pursuit of happiness” and could pave the way for novel paradigms for rehabilitation and recovery from nervous system injury.


I wonder if more absorbed jhanalabhis can be found? But then, who'll remain to tap fingers to signal transition to the next attainment?

A little caveat - Hindawi Publishing has its fair share of detractors of open-access publishers.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby beforewisdom » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:12 pm

:goodpost:
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby waterchan » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:06 am

Thanks Sylvester! I'm highly interested in this. Will read it more thoroughly later.

One thing that makes me raise an eyebrow: in the Methods section it is mentioned that the test subject signals by clicking a mouse every time he reaches the next jhana... I would think that it's not possible to remember to click a mouse while in jhana?
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby kmath » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:17 am

Great post Sylvester!

One minor question: the author mentions that the jhanas only lasted 5-20 seconds. To me, that sounds way too short to constitute a jhana, at least in the way that I think of one. Did this strike anyone else as odd?
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Sati1 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 5:02 am

kmath wrote:Great post Sylvester!

One minor question: the author mentions that the jhanas only lasted 5-20 seconds. To me, that sounds way too short to constitute a jhana, at least in the way that I think of one. Did this strike anyone else as odd?


I think they refer to the time to go from one jhana to the next, not the residence time in a given jhana.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:35 am

waterchan wrote:One thing that makes me raise an eyebrow: in the Methods section it is mentioned that the test subject signals by clicking a mouse every time he reaches the next jhana... I would think that it's not possible to remember to click a mouse while in jhana?



Well, it's certainly controversial, if judged against the very absorbed model presented explicitly in DN 9 and its Dharmagupta parallel DA 28. The Sarvastivadin version (Pṛṣthapālasūtra) has been found, but I cannot find any bootleg copies online, so we won't be able to tell if that also presents an absorbed model where thoughts and intentions are abrogated in a jhāna.

Hmm, won't it be nice to be able to ruminate and have positive thoughts in a jhāna? You could practically abhisaṅkharoti yourself into a perpetual motion machine type of jhānic existence...
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby waterchan » Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:13 pm

Thanks for the references, Sylvester. Unfortunately I'm not very well-read; I just don't understand how one would be able to voluntarily click a mouse if vitakka and vicara are absent in J2-J8.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:50 am

waterchan wrote:Thanks for the references, Sylvester. Unfortunately I'm not very well-read; I just don't understand how one would be able to voluntarily click a mouse if vitakka and vicara are absent in J2-J8.

hilarious :smile:
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Kalama » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:28 pm

robertk wrote:
waterchan wrote:Thanks for the references, Sylvester. Unfortunately I'm not very well-read; I just don't understand how one would be able to voluntarily click a mouse if vitakka and vicara are absent in J2-J8.

hilarious :smile:


Hi Robertk,

to let mental formation come to rest , does not mean that there is no potential of intention/volition , otherwise further Jhana proceedings would not be possible. But I share the suspicion of the MRI findings and suppose something like 'Jhana light' . It is rather odd to imagine that in an enviroment of rather heavy MRI machinery and observing staff the necessary serenity and consequent concentration for adanced Jhana states are reached. And I agree that a voluntary mouse click is not what one would expect to enable a change to Jhana 2 or even further. However we don't know for sure, do we?
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby lbrasington » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:06 am

It's not often the "rat" in a lab experiment gets to tell his side of the story. But then I guess I'm not the usual kind of "rat." I'm happy to see this thread discussing some of the very little we know scientifically about deep states of concentration. Below I'll see if I can address some of the questions raised above:

waterchan wrote:
> One thing that makes me raise an eyebrow: in the Methods section it is mentioned that the test subject signals by clicking a mouse every time he reaches the next jhana... I would think that it's not possible to remember to click a mouse while in jhana?

I actually had a button to click rather than an actual mouse. The device was very comfortable to rest my hand upon, with the button/switch under my left index finger (I'm left-handed). The signaling method was as follow:
2 clicks = I'm going to a deeper state
1 click = I have arrived in the next state
3 clicks = I'm going to a more shallow state

So I would start meditating by signaling 2 clicks. When I had arrived at Access Concentration -- defined as being fully with the object of meditation (the breath in this case), not getting distracted, and with only "wispy", background thought (if there were any thought) -- I would click once. Clicking would actually disturb being in Access Concentration but I could quickly regain it (and later the data from the first 20 seconds after the click would be ignored).

I would stay in Access Concentration for some period of time (depending on how well my meditation was going) and then "come out" and signal 2 clicks. I'd quickly regain Access Concentration, then begin my move into the 1st Jhana. Once the 1st Jhana was well established, I'd click once. This action (remembering to click and clicking) would again bring me out of the state, but I could quickly regain it (the the following 20 or so seconds of data would be ignored).

I would continue like this all the way up to J8. Then I would signal 3 clicks and move back down to J7, signaling again with 1 click once I had stabilized it.

So the method was not particularly disturbing and I practiced it several times a day for a month before starting these measurements for real (I was teaching a month long retreat before doing the measurements, so had a great environment in which to practice).

The other thing to realize is that there are quite a number of different opinions as to exactly what constitutes a jhana. I have a web page that discusses this at http://leighb.com/jhanantp.htm
I'm practicing the jhanas as found in the suttas - not the later and Much Deeper Visuddhimagga style jhanas. So it is possible to be in a jhanic state and remember to click the button as I moved up and down. Well, at least most of the time - I did occasionally forget - tho always managed to get in a single click at some point during a given jhana.


kmath wrote:
> One minor question: the author mentions that the jhanas only lasted 5-20 seconds. To me, that sounds way too short to constitute a jhana, at least in the way that I think of one. Did this strike anyone else as odd?

The data that was actually used was what seemed to be the "best" (i.e. most consistent) part of the several minutes I was in the various jhanas. I'm not sure how long those snippets were.


Sati1 wrote:
> I think they refer to the time to go from one jhana to the next, not the residence time in a given jhana.

Correct.


Sylvester wrote:
> Well, it's certainly controversial, if judged against the very absorbed model presented explicitly in DN 9 and its Dharmagupta parallel DA 28. The Sarvastivadin version (Pṛṣthapālasūtra) has been found, but I cannot find any bootleg copies online, so we won't be able to tell if that also presents an absorbed model where thoughts and intentions are abrogated in a jhāna.
>
> Hmm, won't it be nice to be able to ruminate and have positive thoughts in a jhāna? You could practically abhisaṅkharoti yourself into a perpetual motion machine type of jhānic existence...

Only the "higher extinction of consciousness" (i.e. the same as saññavedayitanirodha -- the "cessation of feeling and perception" which is often just called "nirodha") is a fully absorbed state in DN 9. And despite a number of scholar getting it wrong, saññavedayitanirodha is definitely not J8 (which is not mentioned in DN 9). I did not experience saññavedayitanirodha while doing these measurement - cuz I very seldom ever experience it, and certainly not under the less-than ideal circumstance of being measured while meditating.

Notice at verses 9-16 the phrase "At that time there is present a true but subtle perception of [the primary jhana factor]" occurs in the Pali for each of the first seven jhanas - that's not a state of full absorption. Notice also that one "proceeds from stage to stage" rather than the Visuddhimagga method of coming back to Access Concentration between each jhana. Doing so Requires being aware enough in each jhana to decide to move on (they are "controlled perceptions").


waterchan wrote:
> I just don't understand how one would be able to voluntarily click a mouse if vitakka and vicara are absent in J2-J8.

You have to remember that "vitakka and vicara" just mean thinking in the suttas. It's only really in the Abhidhamma where they get new meaning of "initial and sustained thinking/application." From the Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary:

"Looking at the combination vitakka+vicara in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, ... without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general."

So correct, there is no "thinking" in J2-J8, but there can certainly be intention to come out enough to click and then very easily return to the J-state.


Kalama wrote:
> to let mental formation come to rest , does not mean that there is no potential of intention/volition , otherwise further Jhana proceedings would not be possible.

Correct.


Kalama wrote:
> But I share the suspicion of the MRI findings and suppose something like 'Jhana light' . It is rather odd to imagine that in an enviroment of rather heavy MRI machinery and observing staff the necessary serenity and consequent concentration for adanced Jhana states are reached.

Yeah, these were far from my "best" jhanic experiences :-) It's a very much a less-than ideal environment, but I was able to gain the jhanic states, tho they were a bit wobbly. But, hey, it's what we could do - and it's better than no data at all.


Kalama wrote:
> And I agree that a voluntary mouse click is not what one would expect to enable a change to Jhana 2 or even further.

As I say above. It was more like: be in a jhana, come out, click twice, slip back in enough to start the transition, transition, stabilize the next jhana, come out, click once, slip back in.


Kalama wrote:
> However we don't know for sure, do we?

So now maybe we all do know at least a bit more....

Thanks for the discussion. I hope this has been helpful.

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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby robertk » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:17 pm

thanks very much for joining in Leigh . You are a very influential voice in the jhana discussions worlwide.
I really admire your openess on your website about different interpretations of jhana, your honesty is evident.

I take a very classical view (see my website abhidhamma.org/forums) so don't agree with you on several major points but would always welcome discussion.
of course my 'knowledge' is entirely theoretical so what I have to say is based on the ancient theravada, not on personal evidence.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:58 pm

Greetings,

robertk wrote:thanks very much for joining in Leigh

+1

:anjali:

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Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Sylvester » Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:51 am

Hello Leigh. I would second Robert's warm sentiments, and hope you would you be open to the questions I pose you.

lbrasington wrote:
Sylvester wrote:
> Well, it's certainly controversial, if judged against the very absorbed model presented explicitly in DN 9 and its Dharmagupta parallel DA 28. The Sarvastivadin version (Pṛṣthapālasūtra) has been found, but I cannot find any bootleg copies online, so we won't be able to tell if that also presents an absorbed model where thoughts and intentions are abrogated in a jhāna.
>
> Hmm, won't it be nice to be able to ruminate and have positive thoughts in a jhāna? You could practically abhisaṅkharoti yourself into a perpetual motion machine type of jhānic existence...


Only the "higher extinction of consciousness" (i.e. the same as saññavedayitanirodha -- the "cessation of feeling and perception" which is often just called "nirodha") is a fully absorbed state in DN 9. And despite a number of scholar getting it wrong, saññavedayitanirodha is definitely not J8 (which is not mentioned in DN 9). I did not experience saññavedayitanirodha while doing these measurement - cuz I very seldom ever experience it, and certainly not under the less-than ideal circumstance of being measured while meditating.

Notice at verses 9-16 the phrase "At that time there is present a true but subtle perception of [the primary jhana factor]" occurs in the Pali for each of the first seven jhanas - that's not a state of full absorption. Notice also that one "proceeds from stage to stage" rather than the Visuddhimagga method of coming back to Access Concentration between each jhana. Doing so Requires being aware enough in each jhana to decide to move on (they are "controlled perceptions").


Leaving aside my difficulty understanding how you suggest intention within an attainment is used to mount to a higher one (when DN 9 suggests that the opposite happens), I would like to raise several grammatical points with the sutta translation you rely on. Persumably, it comes from - http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Potthapada_Sutta, where the relevant passage reads -

Potthapada, from the moment when a monk has gained this controlled perception, he proceeds from stage to stage till he reaches the limit of perception. When he has reached the limit of perception it occurs to him: "Mental activity is worse for me, lack of mental activity is better. If I were to think and imagine these perceptions [that I have attained] would cease, and coarser perceptions would arise in me. Suppose I were not to think or imagine?" So he neither thinks nor imagines. And then, in him, just these perceptions arise, but other coarser perceptions do not arise. He attains cessation. And that Potthapada, is the way in which the cessation of perception is brought about by successive steps."


Assuming that there are no variant readings for the original, the corresponding passage in the Pāḷi is -

yato kho, poṭṭhapāda, bhikkhu idha sakasaññī hoti, so tato amutra tato amutra anupubbena saññaggaṃ phusati, tassa saññagge ṭhitassa evaṃ hoti – ‘‘cetayamānassa me pāpiyo, acetayamānassa me seyyo. Ahañceva kho pana ceteyyaṃ abhisaṅkhareyyaṃ, imā ca me saññā nirujjheyyuṃ, aññā ca oḷārikā saññā uppajjeyyuṃ; yaṃnūnāhaṃ na ceva ceteyyaṃ, na ca abhisaṅkhareyya’’nti. So na ceva ceteti, na cābhisaṅkharoti, tassa acetayato anabhisaṅkharoto tā ceva saññā nirujjhanti, aññā ca oḷārikā saññā na uppajjanti . So nirodhaṃ phusati. Evaṃ kho, poṭṭhapāda, anupubbābhisaññānirodha-sampajāna-samāpatti hotī’’’ti.


I see that sakasaññī has been translated as "controlled perception", but I don't think saññī can by any stretch be translated as a substantive (perception), when it is clearly a predicate (percipient). As for saka being translated as "controlled", can you suggest a few other instances where this reflexive idiom (oneself/one's) actually carries the sense of "controlled"?

I see also that yato has been rendered as "from the moment". One of the things to note about the first sentence is to recognise that it is a very standard relative clause with ya. If a temporal sense had been intended, the relative would have instead been yadā. On the other hand, yato is used to denote cause or place of origin. Can you think of any other places in the suttas where yato has been used for temporal effect?

I'm still looking for the verb "proceeds" in the text. There is only one verb in the main clause, namely phusati (touches). Given that the anupubba is in the instrumental, it appears to lend itself to a more natural reading of gradual/successive/in due course.

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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby culaavuso » Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:53 am

Sylvester wrote:
Potthapada, from the moment when a monk has gained this controlled perception, he proceeds from stage to stage till he reaches the limit of perception. When he has reached the limit of perception it occurs to him: "Mental activity is worse for me, lack of mental activity is better. If I were to think and imagine these perceptions [that I have attained] would cease, and coarser perceptions would arise in me. Suppose I were not to think or imagine?" So he neither thinks nor imagines. And then, in him, just these perceptions arise, but other coarser perceptions do not arise. He attains cessation. And that Potthapada, is the way in which the cessation of perception is brought about by successive steps."


Assuming that there are no variant readings for the original, the corresponding passage in the Pāḷi is -

yato kho, poṭṭhapāda, bhikkhu idha sakasaññī hoti, so tato amutra tato amutra anupubbena saññaggaṃ phusati, tassa saññagge ṭhitassa evaṃ hoti – ‘‘cetayamānassa me pāpiyo, acetayamānassa me seyyo. Ahañceva kho pana ceteyyaṃ abhisaṅkhareyyaṃ, imā ca me saññā nirujjheyyuṃ, aññā ca oḷārikā saññā uppajjeyyuṃ; yaṃnūnāhaṃ na ceva ceteyyaṃ, na ca abhisaṅkhareyya’’nti. So na ceva ceteti, na cābhisaṅkharoti, tassa acetayato anabhisaṅkharoto tā ceva saññā nirujjhanti, aññā ca oḷārikā saññā na uppajjanti . So nirodhaṃ phusati. Evaṃ kho, poṭṭhapāda, anupubbābhisaññānirodha-sampajāna-samāpatti hotī’’’ti.



Perhaps of interest here, an alternate translation from Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
DN9
DN9: Potthapada Sutta (Thanissaro Bhikkhu trans.) wrote:Now, when the monk is percipient of himself here, then from there to there, step by step, he touches the peak of perception. As he remains at the peak of perception, the thought occurs to him, 'Thinking is bad for me. Not thinking is better for me. If I were to think and will, this perception of mine would cease, and a grosser perception would appear. What if I were neither to think nor to will?' So he neither thinks nor wills, and as he is neither thinking nor willing, that perception ceases and another, grosser perception does not appear. He touches cessation. This, Potthapada, is how there is the alert step-by step attainment of the ultimate cessation of perception.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Modus.Ponens » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:34 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

robertk wrote:thanks very much for joining in Leigh

+1

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hello

+2

I've been listening to some of your dhamma talks. I really like them.

Thank you.

Be well. :)
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Anagarika » Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:45 pm

Leigh, I will add my note of gratitude and appreciation for your input here on DW. You have helped me greatly take Jhana practice out of its difficult "clamshell packaging," and you have a real gift of teaching with clarity and kindness.

At the time of testing, this subject was to our knowledge the only person in the US who had the requisite training in jhana who was willing to submit to the experimental protocol.

This is what we might call "authenticity!" A true ācariya.
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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby Kalama » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:27 pm

Hi Leigh,

thanks for your kind response . It was nice to read the warm wellcome you received .
You wrote: 'Yeah, these were far from my "best" jhanic experiences :-) It's a very much a less-than ideal environment, but I was able to gain the jhanic states, tho they were a bit wobbly. But, hey, it's what we could do - and it's better than no data at all.

D: you are right . I think it is quite useful to share theory and practise with scientists since consciousness lost its No-No image of academical interest, even if now the materialists/annihilists are still the majority. Consequently Buddhism seems to be less exotic to many in the West .

L:The other thing to realize is that there are quite a number of different opinions as to exactly what constitutes a jhana. I have a web page that discusses this at http://leighb.com/jhanantp.htm

D: noted as to be read ...
I wonder how far the similes of the 4 Jhanas of the standard texts are commented /interpreted

L:You have to remember that "vitakka and vicara" just mean thinking in the suttas. It's only really in the Abhidhamma where they get new meaning of "initial and sustained thinking/application." From the Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary:
"Looking at the combination vitakka+vicara in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, ... without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Sangha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general."

D: I am not clear about this . Agreed it is thinking in general but there is the aspect of arising thoughts (always those appearing 'very important' to consider .. which one may wellcome by 'Yes! and an immidiate ' bye,bye' ) and those which make a good round of associations either followed by discursive thinking or like day dreaming .....being absent for a while .

How would you describe the Buddha's recalling of sitting under the shadow of the Roseapple-tree , a memory which obviously cleared the way to his enlightenment?

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Re: MRI and EEG of Jhana

Postby waterchan » Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:44 pm

Thanks for describing your lab rat experience in detail and responding to my questions, Leigh! Although I still have my doubts and reservations, I greatly respect the fact that you were willing to submit to the scrutiny of a laboratory environment. I think one thing we can agree on is that rigorous scientific studies of jhana meditation are in severe shortage, and I hope we can see more scientific studies of jhana meditators in the future.
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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