Whereas I have shit luck with lucid dreaming, but do "okay" with meditation. Which is to say: when I meditate consistently I at least feel happier/less stressed/like a better person. Even when I'm in a dream and I KNOW IT'S A DREAM, I can't do anything about it and end up in this weird psychological state of being simultaneously stressed out by my circumstances as well as apathetic towards them.
My problem is that I'm very aware of the placebo effect and not too good at evaluating subtle gradations in my stress level. I think even if meditation does make me a little less stressed, I'm unlikely to be certain enough it's a real effect to point to it as a "reward" and continue doing it.
Granted I think a lot of it comes not necessarily from the activity itself but from the knowledge that I am participating in said activity. "I did something I deem worthwhile therefore I feel productive about the time I spent on it." If I valued clipping my toenails as much as I valued meditation, spending twenty minutes clipping my toe nails might arguably have the same results as meditation.
Yeah, people keep using "dreaming while knowing you are dreaming" as a "definition" of lucid dreaming when clearly when they are actually use the term they are implying all sorts of other properties as well. I also have often had the former without any of the latter.
I hypothesize that the specific character of Buddhism has its origin, as an attempt to escape suffering in a world where reincarnation occurs, so even death provides no release. That was the world of Hinduism into which the Buddha was born.
In fact, now that I think about it, perhaps you could say that Buddhism is to Hinduism as Satanism is to Christianity - it shares the ontology, but rejects the value system, in favor of something that would overthrow the whole order of being. The Christian says, God is supreme and that is good; the Satanist says, God is supreme, but I shall oppose him. Similarly, the Hindu says, there is an endless cycle, and where you end up is a just judgment on how you previously lived. The Buddhist says, there is an endless cycle, but one should want no part of it, because the heavens and the hells originate together; therefore seek the complete extinction of desire, which may or may not be correlated with cessation of personal existence.
I am curious to know how one avoids getting magical powers.
I don't have the link, but if you start developing them you should try to dismiss them as unreal (not in the sense of magic being unreal, but in the sense that to Buddhists everything is sort of unreal), and meditate on how they are unsatisfactory and impermanent. If it gets really bad, you can eat heavy food, distract yourself, bring yourself to orgasm, and other things that ground you in the body or the material world.
I distrust the idea of abandoning desire as it seems like a convenient religious tool of social control, much like the usual rewards in the afterlife.
I dropped meditation last year when someone on less wrong described the stages towards enlightenment involving a period of heavy depression - I have enough of that on my own without having to court it, thank you very much.
More recently someone there described meditation in terms of attentional training and I'm giving it another whirl in that spirit, I'm taking a leaf out of Bruce Lee's playbook and using a constant increase routine, +1 minute every day, which seems to be working as I'm currently up to 34 minutes where I'd prevously lose patience 6 minutes into my daily 15.
Can't say anything about the meditation itself, but I'm finding the daily increase routine applies to a lot of things and seems to work well (Exercise, drawing practice, learning programming). Although obviously I'm going to start running into time problems soon. With exercise it's simply a matter of lowering reps & increasing difficulty but I'm not sure where to go with meditation once I'm doing 1 hour +, maybe find a waterfall to sit under while I'm doing it... :)
Meditation does give you all kinds of
interesting mental effects a lot before reaching enlightenment - I would know, only having meditated regularly for four months or so. I should blog about them more.
For instance, maybe a week ago I managed to put myself in a state, which lasted most of the day, where I could start feeling good by just closing my eyes. It felt like there were two vibrating "feel-good generators" under my eyes, which pulsated with a pleasant feeling - easily overwhelmed by other sensations if I was doing something else, but closing my eyes and focusing on the feeling made it a lot stronger.
I recognize how crazy that paragraph sounds, but it's true. The only unfortunate bit is that I haven't been able to get back to that state.
Also repeated meditation and trying to concentrate on the sensations in my face has made that area feel a lot more sensitive. As I type this, I can feel my face in a way that I never used to before. I'm not sure of what
exactly it is that I'm sensing, whether it's slight muscle tension or just noise, but it's there.
See also this
.Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
has nice concrete descriptions of the various Jhanas, as well as instructions on getting there. The author says that reaching Enlightenment took him about the same amount of effort as getting through medical school. I think Jasen Murray said something about managing it in six months.
"Meditation does give you all kinds of interesting mental effects a lot before reaching enlightenment - I would know, only having meditated regularly for four months or so. I should blog about them more."
You should. I think part of my problem is that there's a culture of not advertising meditation results in the same way people would advertise, say, success from the martial arts, so people like me never hear of these things.
"The author says that reaching Enlightenment took him about the same amount of effort as getting through medical school."
Oy vey. Is it too late to just go with the three uncountable eons?
it's great for anger management, and for people addicted to crisis mentality -- reporters, like me, for one. it's also great for the cognitive therapy negativity spiral common to clinical depression and may help drug and alcohol addicts. qua cog therapy meditation is unsurpassable in the reward department.
When I lived in a small town in Taiwan, I had a friend called Ayien or Crazy Anita. She was a devout Buddhist who prayed at the temple with the orange roof in the morning, and at the temple with the brown roof and the nuns in the evening. She was a strict vegetarian, and avoided eating garlic and onion. She was also always involved in several odd money-making schemes, like selling slimming soap, and so forth.
One day, she said to me, "I am going to go visit the Buddhist master with natural power, and I am going to ask him, 'When do I get my money!'
" She didn't really understand what I thought was so funny.http://www.tricycle.com/ancestors/keep-sweeping-a-chan-life-rural-tennessee?page=0,1Edited at 2012-07-05 08:29 am (UTC)