More data points on the range of what can happen as a result of meditation.
More data points on the range of what can happen as a result of meditation.
So this article came out in Vice on November 14th, 2018: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/vbaedd/meditation-is-a-powerful-mental-tool-and-for-some-it-goes-terribly-wrong, and it mentions that a practitioner picked up TMI and then MCTB in the first example of being a book that inspired the meditation in someone that went horribly wrong.
While I am delighted they are talking about the Dark Night in more real-world terms than what it typically gets, I must admit I felt more than a bit slighted, and noted numerous bits of irony that I found irksome.
Irony #1: being mentioned in the same sentence as The Mind Illuminated, which, while a great textbook on meditation fundamentals, is also frankly and irresponsibly dismissive IMHO of the Dark Night stages, giving them only cursory treatment, claiming to be able to often bypass them by just adding in some more samatha with the vipassana, a claim that doesn’t even often work out in students working with the man himself, as I noted during my month co-teaching with Culadasa at his own meditation center Dharma Treasure this September.
Irony #2: Speaking of which, not any mention is made of the fact that I go farther out of my way in MCTB2 to mention the Dark Night stages in excruciating detail and provide more warnings and helpful and normalizing tech for dealing with them than any book I know of on meditation, and yet I seem to being lumped into the camp of those who don’t mention them, which is doubly ironic, as mentioning the Dark Night has earned me no end of flack from numerous major “don’t talk about it” types ever since I started online in dharma communities in 1997.
Irony #3: the fact that no mention is made of the fact that I have run and paid for a free online community of over 6,000 people for over a decade that is largely populated by people who have run into these difficult stages.
Irony #4: that Shinzen is quoted as mentioning the Dark Night stages, when he is one of the ones who is moderately dismissive of how frequently and sometimes how intensely they occur, as evidenced by his recent podcast with Michael Taft on Deconstructing yourself. (Just so I am clear, I am generally a big fan of Shinzen, but diverge from him radically on this particular point, but at least he will talk about it.)
Irony #5: the fact that I spend numerous hours every single week answering emails and skype calls and the like for free largely helping to handle people who have run into the Dark Night stages and are struggling with them.
Irony #6: I have also influenced and promoted scientific articles that mention the Dark Night stages, including the work of Drs Willoughby Britton and Jared Lindahl, as well as through my editing work for a meditation journal, and the influence I had on Duncan’s article about the Dark Night stages that went out in the journal that goes to every mental health practitioner in the UK.
Irony #7: that I have been on numerous podcasts and even interviewed by the BBC and other mainstream media sources regarding the Dark Night stages for my work in trying to bring awareness to them.
Anyway, thanks for listening to my somewhat self-indulgent rant about a pretty ironically distorted article from my point of view, that again at least is talking about these crucial topics.
With thank to the great Shel Silverstein.
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Could not get the fascists out.
She’d watch late night talk shows
And laugh at their jokes,
Communing with similar
She’d vote in elections,
On tampered machines,
Gave money to Bernie,
The Reds, and the Greens.
She rallied in marches,
She sang protest songs,
She gave up her time,
Her dreams, and her bongs.
She organized sit-ins,
She ended up jailed.
She tried all she could,
But her efforts all failed.
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,
Could not get the fascists out.
The Dems had been paid for,
The courts had been stacked,
The House and the Senate
With crooks had been packed,
Taking corporate money,
For corporate greed,
They ignored the warnings,
They watered the seeds,
They ignored the masses,
They let them all bleed,
With real wages falling,
And living declining,
They sold National Parks,
For drilling and mining.
They bought more elections,
They fanned hatred’s flames,
They convinced the masses
Someone else was to blame.
They dined with the makers
Of weapons of war.
They lined all their pockets,
Then came back for more.
They colluded with mobsters,
Then laundered the money.
They laughed at poor Sarah,
They thought she was funny.
She cried, “Revolution!”
But it was too late,
There were fascists from Moscow
To the Golden Gate.
They’d all drank the Kool-Aid.
They’d all bought the lines.
They drilled at their drilling,
They worked in the mines.
They made all the weapons,
They fought for their masters,
They bought all the products
That fattened those bastards.
They checked on her records,
Which filled them with hate,
And then poor Sarah
Met a terrible fate,
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late,
But Children, remember Sarah Stout,
And always get the fascists out.
Dr. Mario E. Martinez is a clinical neuropsychologist has BURST training which is similar to the sprinting I did to reset my nervous system.
Dr. Richard Brown (Harvard psychiatrist)- the healing power of breath has very SAFE and effective breathing meditations for trauma....they are readily available on vimeo and youtube.....a wonderful alternative to vipassna meditation for the nervous system impaired individual.....
For anyone with severe psychological illnesses such as bipolar, psychosis (which I don't have) this guy seems very honest, kind, informed and successful....he has some downloadable meditations that are terrific.... he is very responsive to emails and helped me with gut issues......
-- the first thing to do with anyone with trauma is not to psychoanalyz or attempt vipassna meditations BUT to reset, support the nervous symstem.....the nervous system is the mechanism that makes trauma irretractable.....so the nervous system needs to be addressed ....first and foremost ...not the mind and not ths spirit.....this of course is my opinion and what has worked for me......I wish I new this 30 years ago!!
The Dual, the Dagger, and the Butterfingered Princess
By Daniel M. Ingram, written for 7th Grade English class
That day luck was against him,
For, although his plan was good,
The guards had seen him leaving from
The window where the princess stood.
The alarms of the castle sounded,
And the man knew he was caught.
He then removed his rapier,
And, with the guards, the man he fought.
The King, a master swordsman,
Whose daughter the man had "seen",
Called off the guards and replaced them there
Upon the spot where they had been.
"This man is mine!" the King he yelled,
But the man just stood there still,
For he knew that there was no way
He could match the King's great fighting skill.
The King advanced to claim his price,
And steel struck steel, and the sparks they flew,
And a feeling of doom did grip the man,
For his fate he just now knew.
The Princess watched in silence,
And she knew what she must do,
So she threw a dagger through the air,
And through the air that dagger flew.
But it's flight possessed a wobble,
And it veered from its true course,
And, since it didn't hit the King,
It hit the man, of course.
The man he yelled aloud and died,
And gasping out last earthly breath,
Asked, "Who would think a Princess
Would give her lover his own death?"
The King yelled, "Thank you, Princess!"
But she knew what she must do,
So she took a second dagger
And she rammed her own heart through.
The Magickal, Shamanic, Imperial, Ethical, and Tantric Implications of Pokémon Go
Pokémon GO involves millions of people suddenly running around trying to capture, possess, train, evolve, and then send into combat some 700 various types of mythical, digital creatures who possess various Magickal and personality attributes, and have various elemental associations. The parallel with various Magickal traditions and Western Magickal practitioners, who may be working with bound servitors, sandestins, daemons, or other entities, by capturing them, cultivating relationships with them, training them, evolving them, and then sending them out to perform various tasks, including combat, is obvious. The Animist implications, those of believing in, perceiving, and interacting with various spirit entities, are also obvious. So, we have a huge number of people suddenly exploring their neighborhoods and worlds and having the cyber equivalents of the experiences of these more traditional practitioners. They are, basically by default, adopting their paradigms in some way, though many will think of those paradigms as purely play and nothing more "real" than that.
However, just as children learn various interactive and paradigmatic patterns through play, so do adults. Numerous psychological studies show that you can profoundly influence the behavior, emotions, interactions, subjective world views, and even walking patterns, heart rate, biology, and other factors through very simple psychological manipulations. It struck me that the paradigms that people were learning when it comes to dealing with non-human creatures, spirit beings, and mythical entities is squarely grounded in the colonial paradigms of Europe, as well as previous civilizations and cultures that involved regional warlords and conquest. By gathering slave-warriors to be sent into combat, we find resonances that go deep into human history. Unfortunately, these paradigms, from spiritual and ethical perspectives, are clearly suboptimal at best and straight up black Magick at worst. They basically scream patriarchy, imperial dominance, hegemony, and slavery; in short, some of the worst shadow sides of our contemporary world reanimating dark aspects of the ancient world.
I myself have barely played video games since I was about 15 years old. This may skew my viewpoint on this contemporary phenomenon. Plenty of my peers, who consider themselves totally moral, good, skillful, excellent people, routinely play games in which they kill more virtual beings per second than any person in real life could with an automatic weapon, and yet, in the rest of their lives, they feel this is left behind and has no lasting or malignant influence on their loving, kind, peaceful relationships to themselves, their families, their communities, and the world. In short, they would likely believe, perhaps rightly, that I am totally overthinking this and running amok in the worst politically correct way possible.
That said, I had a dream. In the dream, there were Pokémon showing up. They were very bright, with cartoon-like coloring, pixels, and seemed superimposed on my vivid dreamscape in very much the way that Pokemon would be if you were looking through a smartphone at them. A disembodied female announcer voice with a posh British accent calmly described the individual positive spiritual qualities of the various Pokemon. I attempted to roll a Pokeball to capture one, but, not only did it not work, there was an instant sense of moral revulsion, like this was some reflexive action that was totally wrong, inappropriate, and karmically unskillful. I awoke suddenly from the dream filled with the following ideas:
* That Pokémon, having a vast range of personalities, spiritual, elemental, and Magickal qualities, basically represented a ready-made tantric palate for our time.
* That, as tantric entities, Pokémon should be related to skillfully, ethically, properly, respectfully, as one would with a tantric deity, dakini, bodhisattva, or Buddha.
* That this form of interaction would likely be vastly more karmically skillful on this side and much more appreciated on that side than the capture, collect, train, and forced fighting that would be typical in the treatment of Pokémon.
* That, by radically transforming the relationship to the Pokémon, this would build and reinforce this set of interaction patterns within myself and other similarly-minded practitioners with all entities, in particular dream and spiritual entities, but also living entities such as those people, animals, and plants that we interact with daily.
* Further, as this sort of skillfully cultivated relationship of respect with the various Pokémon would form Magickal links, or relationships, and, as these links are now distributed widely in the population, one wishing to try to perform skillful Magick could use these links to then spread the various positive Pokémon qualities to the population of Pokémon GO players and their general environs by choosing the correct Pokemon whose resonance and traits are appropriate to the spell in question, imploring, revering, and cultivating a positive relationship with that Pokemon, and then sending out that energy and intent to the linked millions.
* One could even use the Pokémon for higher insight purposes, seeing our true nature in their true nature, attaining awakening, and then adopting their positive qualities in ourselves, as well as even arising as the highest evolution of the various Pokemon to interact with the world from that place.
In short, I propose a new branch of cyber-shamanic, Magickal practice as a counterbalancing force to the slavery-based, essentially colonialist/imperialist, violent, greedy, black-Magick paradigm currently being spread by Pokémon GO.
Had a great time at the Dharma Teacher's Gathering at Omega Institute, where I got to hear numerous presentations and discussions on a range of topics, one of which was ecology, climate change, and the growing threat to life on earth. May we avoid destroying the eco system and preserve the life and health of the planet as best we can.
The Movie Planetary
Oscar has translated chapters 9-11 of MCTB in Spanish and they are now posted. Thanks for his good work!
I am really happy that Oscar Franco is working to complete the fine work that Andre Coco Lopez began with translating MCTB into Spanish. Many thanks to them both.
It can be found here. I will add sections as they become available.
Kenneth Folk, Vince Horn, and myself will be hosting a Buddhist Geeks Pragmatic Dharma Unconference Afterparty on Aug 19th from 10am to midnight at the Boulder Center for Conscious Community.
It will be a time for people to hang out, talk about practice, and basically do whatever we want. It may end up having some structure to it at points, depending on the needs of the crowd. We will figure that out when we get there.
Apparently there is another Daniel Ingram who creates music for My Little Pony. I get a few inquiries a year about this, and the answer is that I am not that same Daniel Ingram. I wish that other Daniel well and hope you find a way to contact him. Best wishes,
The Other Daniel Ingram
I have just had a remarkable weekend in Barre, MA at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies at the Contemplative Development Mapping Project weekend. The density of people who were simultaneously deep, accomplished meditation practitioners and also serious scholars with sharp scientific minds was remarkable, perhaps unheard of, and certainly was like no other gathering I have been to in my life.
What was even more amazing was the wide variety of traditions represented, including Christian Mystics, Greek Orthodox, Dzogchen, Sufism, Zen, Theravada, and people with other influences sharing practices, terminologies, maps, stories, and their rich fund of knowledge in general in a way that you almost never see with that degree of openness, ease and honesty.
It gives me hope for this world, as that fusion of abilities, talents, and interests promises to do things such as being the meditative technologies that have been so helpful to me and my friends into the world of colleges, high schools, the corporate world, medicine, and the like in ways that are unprecedented and hopefully do it as safely and sanely as possible. When the stages of insight are taught in high-school biology classes as just another accepted part of human development and physiology, we will really have gotten somewhere.
Beyond that, the conversations I got to have with some truly remarkable, thoughtful, deep meditators were of the rarest variety, and it is hard to explain how much fun that was. More and longer gatherings like this need to occur.
I was playing this game with some friends and family and really enjoyed hearing everyone discuss their answers to these questions and their reasoning behind them. Perhaps you will enjoy them also.
The basic rule is that a person must choose one of the options and explain why they chose that one. Here they are, in no particular order:
You can either:
Hey, if you saw this article in the Opinionator in the NYT, this post is for you.
First: Jeff is a heck of a brave guy to come down here and brave the sweaty wilds of his mind and Alabama in the summertime, away from the comfort of his polar bears and igloos in the Frozen North. ;)
Second: Thanks to him for his writing about his experiences. I must say, his crawling around on the floor like a spider on anabolic steroids was truly priceless, as were his very strong and heartfelt attempts at the high end of insight practice.
It was great getting to know him and watching him engage in the classic struggle to be ok and really directly clear, right here and right now. Sounds so easy until you try it, and then try it again hour after hour after hour, particularly in the company of one such as myself, and then you will likely see why not everyone is doing this, as it generally is strangely vexing, as he and so many others have found, and yet so rewarding in its way also, as he mentions.
I have no idea what to do with this sort of press at this point except to refer people elsewhere, as I am up to my balding pate in work, work, and work, and so have little time for any of it at the moment, but wish you a great journey into sensate clarity and wisdom, which is the most rewarding and interesting journey of them all. The resources and supports for this are nearly endless these days, with zillions of books, many great places to practice, a new proliferation of strong practitioners, remarkable online dharma communities, an opening of the previously closed culture surrounding high-end practice, etc.
In case you for some reason wanted to give this a try, there are many fine Houses of Insight, such as IMS, Spirit Rock, Tathagata, Bhavana Society, Shinzen Young, Kenneth Folk, Vince Horn, Goenka, etc. where you may give it a go.
Best of luck in your quest, and be sure to check out Jeff's very interesting book Head Trip, as it is a remarkable book by a remarkable man,
A recipe I created after a lot of research and borrowing from many, many sources. It is a hybrid designed to be very durable in water and provide extreme protection against the sun. It contains PABA, to which some people have allergic reactions. If you are one of these, omit the PABA, but the protection won't be quite as good. It is so protective with the PABA that a fish-pale medical resident (myself) was able to stay out for 4-5 hours in the hot Belize sun while mostly swimming with only minimal obvious tanning. Results may vary depending on how thick you put it on and how sun-susceptible you are, and I in no way warranty or guarantee this formula, as that is just one data point.
This not cheap to produce, as the ingredients are expensive, particularly good quality shea butter, nor is it particularly easy to actually make, as it requires a good-quality 1000ml beaker or something similar (could use a 1 qt saucepan), a good-quality liquid measuring device (such as a 150ml graduated cylinder), a good-quality thermometer, an appropriate stirring device (such as a metal whisk or Pyrex or similar rod), a scale for weighing powder in gram weights accurately, a good-quality fine-particle-blocking face-mask, and the care and skill required to work with hot liquids and fine powders safely. You will also need light-blocking storage jars (2oz-8oz sizes work well for this).
In a Pyrex or similarly heat-resistant 1000ml beaker or pot that is sitting in a stable water-bath over medium heat (preferably electric) at a temperature of somewhere just above the melting point of beeswax, which is about 145F/63C, so about 160F/71C, and using a quality thermometer to keep it there so that mixture will stay liquid while you work, but also making it no hotter than it needs to be (as it will increase the oxidization of the oils and also make it more dangerous to work with) and being very careful not to burn yourself, add to the beaker:
Nearly everything that went into mine was organic, but you can be less tweaky as your needs and budget allows. It has a somewhat nutty smell due to the sesame oil, but can easily take essential oils to scent it (but avoid those that are sun-sensitizing). You could substitute more jojoba oil for the sesame oil if you don't want it to smell like sesame.
Then, and here is the first tricky part, mix in a separate small container as best you can 1oz of lecithin with 30g PABA.This will make a sticky, orange mess. You might need to add just a bit of water, say a few ml but no more. Mix this mixture thoroughly into the oil mixture in the beaker, but avoid splashing or burning yourself. It will not be easy to get it to mix in well at this point. There will be time later when the mix is cooling and is stiffer to mix it in better.
Why PABA? This amount of PABA will make the final mix about 1/18th part PABA, giving an SPF slightly less than 15 in theory, and provides solid UVA protection, but not UVB protection. See here for more on UVA, UVB, and what blocks them and why.
Next, put on a good-quality fine-particle-blocking face-mask, and measure out 33g of Ultra-Micronized Titanium Dioxide (an annoyingly fine powder), available at various on-line suppliers (as is the PABA), making a final concentration of about 6%, which gets you to about SPF 12-19 in theory. Putting a plastic bag on the scale may help reduce scatter somewhat. Pour very slowly, as it tends to want to go everywhere. Then very carefully add the Titanium Dioxide to the oils in the 1000ml beaker and stir carefully and slowly so it doesn't make a huge powdery mess. It should be noted that recently (after I made this initial recipe) the safety of very fine nano-particles of Titanium Dioxide has been called into question. I refer you here for more on that. How safe is it? I can't find a clear answer. On the other hand, UV radiation is known to be quite harmful. You make your own risk-benefit analysis and proceed based on your own judgement and assume your own risk. There are other things you can put in the base for a similar effect, such as zinc oxide. I will leave the fine points of any such innovations to you.
Cut the heat to the water bath and stir the mixture frequently as it cools, which will take a while, being careful not to splash or burn yourself on the hot sunscreen. This will help distribute the Titanium Dioxide and distribute the PABA more finely, though it will still tend to be a bit clumpy, though this disappears when applied. Transfer the liquid to light-tight storage jars (blue or brown glass, ceramic, metal, etc.) when cool enough to handle but still able to be poured. This is a good time to swirl in a few drops of any appropriate skin-safe, non-sun-sensitizing essential oils you care to add. Seal the containers and store them in a cool place. I know from experience that if you freeze them this stuff lasts at least 8 years, as that is how old mine is and it is still just fine.
Realize that even extremely high-quality sun-screen like this may not completely protect you from the damaging effects of UV radiation, so use appropriate caution. I have no idea what the SPF of this mix is, but in comparison to commercial preparations I have used it has bested them all and I had the deep satisfaction of knowing exactly what was in it and that I made it, which made it all worth it.
This mix is definitely somewhat oily-feeling when applied and relatively thick. Again, it was designed to be a high-performance, high-durability, highly-skin-nourishing sunscreen, and in my personal testing it performs as I designed it. I hope you have similar results, and if you have any comments or modifications to it, let me know.
Enjoy and be safe,
Initially the Daniel Equation may appear a bit obtuse, but those familiar with calculus and trigonometry will notice a few curious aspects: