Aside

A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness

An extensive list of research and academics has issued a call for a more serious study of consciousness, including “fringe” aspects of psy research that are often dismissed by mainstream researchers.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00017/full

9 thoughts on “A call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness

    • It seems reasonable to infer from the suttas that after hundreds of hours of successful jhana practice, a meditator inclined to the development of psychic powers should be able to manifest at least some of those powers at will and with ease, much unlike the unpredictable and transient attacks of “typical” religious experience.

      I have in mind a few Theravadin and post-Theravadin scholar-monks who have expressed heterodox opinions about religious issues, showing that they are willing to go against the flow when experience reveals the likely truth of a situation to be at odds with tradition. Their published essays and talks suggest that they’re endowed with above-average honesty and maturity about the particulars of personal reality, which might instill some resistance to theophanous delusion.

      Judging by the content of their meditation instruction, these monks have spent hundreds of hours doing jhana successfully. It’s inconceivable to me that they would continue to defend the relative accuracy of the suttas as a guide to reality unless the practices described in the suttas really do lead to the promised results. What do you think?

    • Hi Matthew,

      I agree, although it’s a very hard argument to sustain. Unless you have personal experience living with someone for a long time, it is very hard to know what their actual experience is. Like so many things in the spiritual life, we just have to do our best. The early texts give some good guidelines for assessing the integrity of a teacher, and they’re probably a good place to start.

  1. But seriously, there’s something very compelling about this stuff. Ajahns Brahm and Sujato have commented about these phenomena in the realm of the Buddha’s integrated teachings on DO, kamma, rebirth, et al. Then, we find that some of these Dhammic models resonate with modern quantum physics. Then, we see cool stuff like this http://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation , where modern science examines rebirth and hypotheses about the physics of consciousness. I do have faith in what the Buddha taught, and my faith is evidence based. I also have a gut level belief that these hypotheses from Dr. Tucker are close to spot on. From the article:
    “It’s conceivable that in some way consciousness could be expressed in a new life,” Tucker says….Tucker says his hypothesis is based on more than just wishful thinking. “It’s much more than a hope,” he says. “Having direct positive evidence for a theory can have value, even if negative evidence against it is not possible.”

    • Thanks for that link, it’s an interesting read. I like the quote from Tucker’s reviewer, Michael Levin:

      “When you fish with a net with a certain size of holes, you will never catch any fish smaller than those holes,” Levin says. “What you find is limited by how you are searching for it. Our current methods and concepts have no way of dealing with these data.”

      And in breaking news, Ajahn Brahmali and I will be doing an interview with Dr Tucker for our upcoming course on Kamma and Rebirth in Early Buddhism!

    • We’ll be running the course, like the early Buddhism course of a couple of years ago, simultaneously at the BSWA in Perth and the Buddhist Library in Sydney. There will be an online component, but we don’t have details yet. We should have more details by November or so.

  2. Like may others, I’m sure, I’d welcome the chance to come to Perth to be a part of the Kamma and Rebirth course. I travel to my “home wat” in Thailand as much as I can, and it would be great to make the journey starting in WA. The Dr. Tucker interview will be a must see. Thank you and Ven. Brahmali for choosing this topic…the two of you are really opening some exciting and interesting doors for the rest of us!

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