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Bloggingheads
11-23-2009, 07:30 PM

bjkeefe
11-23-2009, 07:51 PM
... is here (http://apollo.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24070).

SkepticDoc
11-23-2009, 08:04 PM
Some of my Buddhist links:

Western Philosophy "Integration"
(click on Buddhism to get to the four noble truths)

http://www.thebigview.com/contents.html

Speaking of Faith

http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2009/ricard/
http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2009/thichnhathanh/

Medical

http://www.umassmed.edu/content.aspx?id=41252
http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/mbsr/locate_action.cfm
http://www.uvamindfulnesscenter.org/home.html
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/113735.php
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/302/12/1284
http://www.rachelremen.com/
http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/meditation/medit.pdf
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/113735.php
http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab004998.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17544212?dopt=Abstract
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18540734?dopt=Abstract
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Meditation/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19422285?dopt=AbstractPlus
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19432513?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.%20Pubmed.Pubmed_Resul tsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.P%20ubmed_Discovery_ RA&linkpos=1&log$=relatedreviews&l%20ogdbfrom=pubmed
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19706568?dopt=AbstractPlus
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/mind-body/mindbody.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19123875?dopt=AbstractPlus
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19123876?dopt=AbstractPlus
http://www.umassmed.edu/Content.aspx?id=41254
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/20/can-meditation-curb-heart-attacks/
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/health/15chen.html?_r=1&hpw
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/for-doctor-burnout-meditation-and-mindfulness/
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7654964#7650123

Science, Universities

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4770779
http://marc.ucla.edu/
http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22&oTopID=22
http://www.albany.edu/~me888931/home.html
http://www.bethanykok.com/

TED lectures

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/matthieu_ricard_on_the_habits_of_happiness.html
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/bob_thurman_says_we_can_be_buddhas.html
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/wade_davis_on_the_worldwide_web_of_belief_and_ritu al.html

Buddhism
http://www.buddhanet.net/
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4979052
http://www.glennwallis.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/BDH_Fall08_Miracles.21171305.pdf
http://www.spiritrock.org/display.asp?catid=3&pageid=13
http://www.unc.edu/peplab/publications/BLFopenhearts.pdf
http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/index-english.html
http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/
http://www.sgi-usa.org/
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?
http://home.att.net/~meditation/MeditationHandbook.html
http://how-to-meditate.org/
http://www.tenzenseconds.com/welcome.html
http://www.ayurveda-berkeley.com/tibetan_medicine_doctor_lobsang_rapgay_teacher_bac kground.htm
http://www.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk/index.htm
http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/
http://www.audiodharma.org/timer/timer.html
https://ssl.wowpages.com/onsiterecording/item_search.php?conference=137
http://www.mindfulnessdc.org/mindfulclock.html
http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/the-doctor-is-within/
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/lotus/index.htm
http://www.tipitaka.org/
http://www.suttareadings.net/audio/index.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/index.html
http://sites.google.com/site/marcellospinella/Home/mindfulness-resources
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma10/bbodhi10.html
http://www.vipassana.com/resources/bodhi/index.php
http://www.vipassana.com/index.php
http://www.baus.org/baus/index.html
http://www.bdcublessings.net.au/chanting.html
http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/resources/theravada_chants.html
http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/
http://www.snowlionpub.com/pages/centers.php%20
http://www.ysdharma.org/
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-06-07-meditate_N.htm
http://happydays.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/self-meditating/
http://www.wildmind.org/
http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/
http://www.bluedomers.com/
http://www.qalias.com/view_profile/Nikko/Hansen/853/0/
http://www.geocities.com/chris_holte/Buddhism/index.html
http://reluctant-messenger.com/buddha.htm
http://www.audiodharma.org/talks-guidedmeditation.html
http://www.dalailama.com/
http://humaninsightsgroup.org/FoodForThought/FFT-20b.html
http://themiddleway.net/2006/12/28/free-mp3-meditation-chimestimer/
http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~schmitzr/bgz.htm
http://www.dharmaweb.org/index.php/Buddhist_Perspective_on_Time_and_Space
http://www.dharma.org/ij/archives/2002b/bhikkhu_bodhi.htm
http://www.dharma.org/index.html
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html
http://www.urbandharma.org/pdf/mindfulness_in_plain_english.pdf
http://www.mindfulness.com/
http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2990
http://www.bestinmh.org.uk/answers/pdf/BestInMHAnswer82.pdf
http://ftworthbuddhas.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/gongyo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arahant_(Buddhism)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Buddhism
http://www.garrisoninstitute.org/home.php
http://www.cnvc.org/
http://www.deerparkmonastery.org/community/deer-park-news/press-releases/recently-updated-five-mindfulness-trainings

For Skeptics:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/31/dalai-lama-osel-hita-torres

Ocean
11-23-2009, 09:04 PM
Do you have any more links so that I can check them all before watching this diavlog?


;)

Ocean
11-23-2009, 09:33 PM
OK. I changed my mind and decided to watch this diavlog before checking the links.

Great job! Congrats to both!

But, once again, :( too short. The diavloggers introduced a number of related topics, each of which would easily fill a full hour. Perhaps there will be a follow up.

We should call this project "Apollo Headlines."

Alworth
11-23-2009, 09:39 PM
We said we'd link to the four noble truths--and probably they're in SkepticDoc's list!

A comment or two on this diavlog. As Apollo-ites, we were aiming for a 20-minute cap, which makes treating the subject of Buddhism a mite tough. We tried to keep it to the question of mindfulness, but ...

I am gorgeous. Too bad they use this filter.

I had hoped not to talk too much, and until just seeing it now, thought I had accomplished that. But I see I rattled on a lot longer than I thought. Sorry!

Ocean
11-23-2009, 09:45 PM
We said we'd link to the four noble truths--and probably they're in SkepticDoc's list!

A comment or two on this diavlog. As Apollo-ites, we were aiming for a 20-minute cap, which makes treating the subject of Buddhism a mite tough. We tried to keep it to the question of mindfulness, but ...

I expressed the same in my other post.

I am gorgeous. Too bad they use this filter.

Don't worry about the filter. Anybody can tell you're gorgeous. :)

I had hoped not to talk too much, and until just seeing it now, thought I had accomplished that. But I see I rattled on a lot longer than I thought. Sorry!

Meh. You're just fishing for more compliments.

Alworth
11-23-2009, 09:55 PM
Not biting?

Whatfur
11-23-2009, 10:29 PM
Interesting...

A couple things...the bird, the submarine, or the bird piloting the submarine needs to be in another room next time.

I am not sure if you two started with much of an outline but there was a little lack of choreography that caused...well...a little suffering at times. Once you got wound up and things started to flow a little better it seemed like you were running out of time. I have an interest in "mindfulness" that started with a Buddist connection so I WAS sitting on the edge of my seat trying to absorb your offering.

*side note....The masking has to go.

A Fur Story...and speaking of choreography...

The first time I was sent to China I had the good fortune of working for a company out of Singapore that outsourced to America to purchase someone with my skill set. Working with Singaporeans in China has its advantages as most not only speak fluent Mandarin and English (so I had built in interpreters) but they also were almost more wary of what we were eating than I was. ;o)

I was there for a couple months but on the first Friday evening the upper mgmt of the plant where I was working took the 3 Singaporeans and I to a 5 star hotel that had an amazing eatery that rivaled any place I had ever dined at (complete with food I recognized ;o) ). After dinner it was decided we would walk through a large park across the street that was loaded with people, and hucksters selling things (kites, trinkets etc.) and beggers. Music was being piped in and hundreds were doing that choreographed/martial artsy dance they do.

Now the town I was in (Fuzhou) is not a big tourist destination and actually I only saw 4 other white people in 2 months time. Now I am a bit over 6 ft tall and 220 lbs. (of twisted steel and sex appeal), a trimmed but full beard, and at the time hair to the middle of my back. Needless to say, I stood out a little and there were times when the beggers would see me blocks away and liturally come running. One of the only bits of advice anyone ever gave me before the trip was to say no to the beggers...which was difficult at times. Well... as we walked through this park I was approached by beggers a number of times and my Chinese hosts would quickly get in-between and scold whomever it was doing the begging and all would reluctantly and somewhat angrily go away. I felt bad for both the host, as he seemed embarrassed to have to do it, and for the beggers also...although most there were able bodied.

Near the end of the walk and as we once again were passing by the large group of choreographed dancers, an older woman (60+) snuck in behind our group and pulled on my shirt. I turned around and she smiled showing all of her 4 teeth, said something and held out her hand. Again my Chinese host turned and started yelling at the woman...who started yelling right back. After about 20 seconds of back and forth between the two, as we tried to continue to walk and she continued to follow and yell at him and smile at me, I stopped. Put my hand up in the universal "stop-sign", turned to the woman and asked her if she danced. She did not understand. I asked one of the Singaporeans to ask her if she would dance with me. He did. She looked puzzled. I held out my hand and she slowly grabbed it...and then my other and I proceeded to dance/led her (stiffly)around making use of some of the steps my wife has forced me to learn. You should have seen her smile and the crowd around us point and laugh at the hugh white dog-faced monster dancing with the little old lady. Thankfully, the music stopped after about a minute. I let go of her, bowed to her like Obama did recently in Japan while at the same time I grabbed a couple loose bills from my pocket. I reached out my empty hand again and this time she grabbed it without hesitation. I cupped it with my other shaking hers and discretely pressing the bills in her palm I said thank you, XieXie (shayshay), thank you. She nodded, almost stunned and we all proceeded to walk out of the park.

Ok the point, one of the Singaporeans was a "True" Buddhist and the next day he could not get over what transpired the day before and told me that I was a "natural". Now, I then discovered that Buddhists can be quite "evangelical" as every evening I would go out on the sidewalk to people watch (and be watched) and smoke a cigar. My Singaporean co-worker/friend made it a habit to join me and tell me stories of Nichiren (The true Buddha). The whole trip was a rather surreal experience, but those evenings on a bench near downtown Fuzhou smiling at the gawkers and listening to fanciful stories (or fantasy full stories) were amazing.

In any case, it might be interesting if this topic is broached again to explain where all these Buddha's came from and why and how and the differences and the simularities.

SkepticDoc..I too am an agnostic and I apologize for the suffering I have caused you. There may be a path to cessation. ;o)

look
11-23-2009, 10:35 PM
tl;dr

Whatfur
11-23-2009, 10:40 PM
tl;dr

Sorry?

Baltimoron
11-23-2009, 11:04 PM
I guess the bhTV staff just wants bloggers effectively to disseminate these Apollo diavlogs!

look
11-23-2009, 11:21 PM
Sorry?Too long didn't read...j/k

look
11-23-2009, 11:23 PM
I guess the bhTV staff just wants bloggers effectively to disseminate these Apollo diavlogs!Sorry?

Baltimoron
11-23-2009, 11:33 PM
Do you have links to any well-constructed studies that show meditation is beneficial? I'm skeptical meditation is a useful cure or helps doctors any more than improving the delivery of health care would provide. The NYT article looks like the record of a dodge: we can't really do much to improve services in our hospital, but we can make our doctors beleive they like their job more.

As my non-practicing Buddhist wife says: it's all fine and dandy until money's involved!

Baltimoron
11-23-2009, 11:36 PM
There's no link to Apollo diavlogs on the bhTV diavlogs pages, individual or main, and the forum link is busted. I guess Apollo is just a way to distract commenters and massage our egos.

Alworth
11-23-2009, 11:45 PM
Baltimoron, there's a group called the Mind and Life Institute that has done scientific studies into the effects of meditation. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at UW-Madison has led a number of studies there. (One example (http://www.mindandlife.org/collaboration.html).) For a fuller treatment, I'd recommend Daniel Goleman's "Destructive Emotions," which surveys a number of different studies. The link to the Mind and Life Center, which is connected to Davidson's work, is next to our heads in the diavlog.

Baltimoron
11-24-2009, 12:18 AM
Thanks!

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 12:42 AM
I organized the URLs, to make the list more manageable...

Wonderment
11-24-2009, 01:12 AM
Nice job, guys!

The most interesting part for me was SkepticDoc's observation about the difficulty of measuring suffering (as opposed to pain) in his patients. Doctors now routinely ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 with written examples of how the pain manifests that correspond to the numbers. But the quantification of subjective suffering does seem out of reach of science.

I would have liked to learn more from Alworth about Buddhist counseling for the sick and dying. (How does a Buddhist hospice differ from a Christian one?)

I also found it interesting that SD used the Christian Serenity Prayer as a point of departure. The Serenity Prayer is most widely known as the ritual opening and closing of 12-step programs like AA.

Such programs, as I've mentioned before to Ocean, seem very Buddhistic to me, especially in their emphasis on detachment.

AA, the mother of all 12-step programs, began among Christians influenced by the Oxford Group (of reborn sinners) but soon morphed into a more universal spiritual program that many atheists and agnostics also rely on, Higher Power rhetoric notwithstanding.

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 06:14 AM
ahhhh you may be right. I think there IS a little thought into making sure in some subtle ways that Apollo actually never quite gets into space....maybe so as to not somehow disturb the professional astronutts. (Now a couple have been pretty good...but in general they have nothing to fear...ouch)

...now I have seen some pretty visible bugs exist on large systems for an unseemly amount of time but making the "View Diavlog" work almost seems easier than...say...disabling it. ;o)

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 06:30 AM
I am not aware of any Buddhist Hospice programs, Hospice care "should" be free of any dogma, except for the commitment to provide comfort in the last days of awareness.

This JAMA link may help (http://www.uvamindfulnesscenter.org/docs/MBSR%20Article%20-%20Mindful%20Practice%20by%20Epstein.pdf) (OMG, one more link!)

We did not not cover our atheist foundations...

Last Sunday "60 Minutes" had a good piece on "the last days" and the expenses associated with them:

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/60_minutes/video/?pid=X7tIIRhXVy73Ni6xMRpAxVTtr2dtc_1C&play=true&vs=Default

There are additional extras:

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/60_minutes/video/?pid=2nga0_sl9kn5NkabDp_B9lXw6ACkbZ_K&play=true&vs=Clips

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/60_minutes/video/?pid=_yFTCcnxmQjiCsgthxwaeOL7g97LM_Jl&play=true&vs=Clips

From CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/11/23/Smith.daughter/index.html

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 06:49 AM
Nice job, guys!

The most interesting part for me was SkepticDoc's observation about the difficulty of measuring suffering (as opposed to pain) in his patients. Doctors now routinely ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10 with written examples of how the pain manifests that correspond to the numbers. But the quantification of subjective suffering does seem out of reach of science.
...
.

Having heard doctors/nurses ask the question you refer to above a number of times, I have always found it useless and laughable. The person in pain in seldom able to apply their pain to any real scale and I have always felt the asker was seldom able to relate the answer to anything but their own reality anyway.

Plus, pain is such and individual thing...one evening, a number of years ago, needing wood for our woodstove/fireplace, and having already hauled some from the woodpile in a sled parked a couple meters from the side door I walked outside barefoot in the snow and proceeded to stack split logs on my shoulder. As I walked back into the house, a log from my stack slipped off my shoulder and fell...angling perfectly to smack my big toe. I set down (dropped) the rest of my load where I was and began jumping up and down spewing substandard colloquialisms. At one point I glanced at my wife and noticed what seemed to be a little smile on her face. I cried, "What the hell are you smiling at". Her smile disappeared and she apologetically said, "I'm sorry, but or as long as I've known you, I have never seen you react to pain". It hit me that she was right...as my reaction to smacking my head on the corner of something or hitting my fingers with a hammmer or or... is generally a shaking of my head and silently calling myself something derogatory.

Similar but different, I remember a woman at work reacting to a paper cut as if her arm had been wrenched off in some mechanical mishap...liturally dropping to the carpet and rolling back and forth screaming. I was incredulous...and if she would have looked up she probably would have said "What the hell are you smiling at"

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 07:03 AM
I am not aware of any Buddhist Hospice programs, Hospice care "should" be free of any dogma, except for the commitment to provide comfort in the last days of awareness.

....

I disagree and find it amazing that as a physician and someone who wants to dabble with easing the physical with the mental that you would deny a patient the possible extra solace they might find with their God.

Yes, it should be free of dogma for those who wish for it to be free of dogma.


p.s. seeing something on 60 minutes does not make it true.

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 07:13 AM
Do you have links to any well-constructed studies that show meditation is beneficial? I'm skeptical meditation is a useful cure or helps doctors any more than improving the delivery of health care would provide. The NYT article looks like the record of a dodge: we can't really do much to improve services in our hospital, but we can make our doctors beleive they like their job more.

As my non-practicing Buddhist wife says: it's all fine and dandy until money's involved!

Similar, there was a number of people heavily into bio-feedback 30 odd years ago...even where I remember reading a story of someone supposedly curing their cancer by attacking it with meditation and carrot juice. I think most all of it has been debunked.

A stress reducer, pain deflecter...sure.

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 07:22 AM
I try to ignore your posts, but this one merits clarification.

Some patients want religious comfort and others don't, Hospice has to adapt to the individual patient's needs.

Some will want an evangelical preacher exorcising, others will want silence.

If you really care, look up Hal Bidlack's (a theist with the JREF) video on the last days of his atheist wife.

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 07:34 AM
I try to ignore your posts, but this one merits clarification.

Some patients want religious comfort and others don't, Hospice has to adapt to the individual patient's needs.

Some will want an evangelical preacher exorcising, others will want silence.

If you really care, look up Hal Bidlack's (a theist with the JREF) video on the last days of his atheist wife.

You ignore my posts!?! Noooooooo! ;o) I gave you 21 minutes of listening here ...you at least need to read my posts... here. Maybe ignoring the origin of your suffering lets you also ignore the other 3 truths. There might me a new religion in there somewhere.

In any case, by the above it sounds like we really ARE of like mind on this subject...the post I responded to seemed to state something a bit different.

...Oh and sure everyone else gets dozens of links and I am told to go look it up. ;o)

Ocean
11-24-2009, 07:36 AM
The experience of pain is subjective and therefore, difficult to measure. In research there are techniques that at least attempt to make its measurement somewhat more standardized. Here (http://painresearch.stanford.edu/patientinfo.html) is a link to the methods that are used. I was somewhat familiar with the cold pressor test.

Francoamerican
11-24-2009, 09:46 AM
Sceptics and mystics usually have nothing to say to one another...but both of you did! Thanks.

I was wondering if one of you could recommend a book on Buddhist ideas of the mind, a subject you broached near the end. Something historical and philosophical, i.e. not an apology pro domo.

Alworth
11-24-2009, 11:18 AM
On books about the mind, I would recommend B. Alan Wallace. He has worked with Davidson and is currently engaged in a scientific study about shamata meditation and it's effect on the mind. But his background is Buddhism and he was a monk for a number of years. He's one of the best interpreters of Buddhism for a Western audience. Just Google him or go to Amazon.

look
11-24-2009, 11:26 AM
Surely that was an over-sight, but it was a pain. Uh...an over-sight that hasn't been fixed yet...

I still think it's fun. It's a way for the average person to 'play diavlog.' It's a way to challenge yourself, expand your experience, receive feed-back, make the community more integrated, whatever that means, etc.

AemJeff
11-24-2009, 12:24 PM
I want you guys (Doc and Alworth) to know that I had a reasonably good knowledge of Hindu cosmology at one time. (Thirty years have passed since I've really given it much thought, I'll admit.) I also have the same sort of slightly shallow and pretentious knowledge of Buddhism that any curious and youthful reader of Hermann Hesse's novels would be likely to have. One thing that impresses me is the relative lack of a priori assertions about the nature of the world seemingly embodied by what I know of Buddhist belief. I think Buddhism at least has chance to qualify as a formal set of "spiritual" beliefs that is also compatible with scientific humility before the world.

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 12:28 PM
I cannot recommend any books, I personally doubt that any one book has an answer for either side.

I will suggest reading about Leibniz:

http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/leibuo.pdf

There was a diavlog: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/21417

This Yale Online course is excellent, the reading list is a good resource:

http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy

Ultimately, it is a matter of "faith" and "hope" for something else, you have it or you don't.

Even Diamond raised the question in one of his lectures (YouTube of course!): why is there anything at all?

For Francophiles:

http://forumethix-ch.blogspot.com/

(I cheat, I love Google translation!)

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 01:00 PM
Would you like to comment about the concept of "kalpa"?

I was struck with awe the first time that I heard about it, what a difference from other cultures that believe that the Universe is only 6,000 years old!

How can we explain the difference in perception of time-space between different cultures?

AemJeff
11-24-2009, 01:12 PM
Would you like to comment about the concept of "kalpa"?

I was struck with awe the first time that I heard about it, what a difference from other cultures that believe that the Universe is only 6,000 years old!

How can we explain the difference in perception of time-space between different cultures?

I can't meaningfully, but I recommend to you the Arthur C. Clarke story The Nine Billion Names of God (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&ved=0CAkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Flucis.net%2Fstuff%2Fclarke%2F9bil lion_clarke.html&ei=tCEMS5y5D4fUlAfUsdGgBA&usg=AFQjCNFfpWZADaePpN5eclkL8BAfcTzT5Q&sig2=I30pL7aEfj4vIMaFsiEpCA). (Full text at the link.)

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 01:17 PM
I know... the stars were dimming...

AemJeff
11-24-2009, 01:24 PM
...

Doc! Never give out the punchline!

Francoamerican
11-24-2009, 02:11 PM
I cannot recommend any books, I personally doubt that any one book has an answer for either side.

I will suggest reading about Leibniz:

http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/leibuo.pdf

There was a diavlog: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/21417

This Yale Online course is excellent, the reading list is a good resource:

http://oyc.yale.edu/philosophy

Ultimately, it is a matter of "faith" and "hope" for something else, you have it or you don't.

Even Diamond raised the question in one of his lectures (YouTube of course!): why is there anything at all?

For Francophiles:

http://forumethix-ch.blogspot.com/

(I cheat, I love Google translation!)

Thanks. Leibniz, or a summary of his ideas, is read by every philosophy student in France. I am not sure I see his relevance here. Indeed I think the line that runs from Descartes--Spinoza-Leibniz-Kant is a deadend when it comes to the mind/body problem.

Dennett, I think, is wrong about everything.

Francoamerican
11-24-2009, 02:12 PM
On books about the mind, I would recommend B. Alan Wallace. He has worked with Davidson and is currently engaged in a scientific study about shamata meditation and it's effect on the mind. But his background is Buddhism and he was a monk for a number of years. He's one of the best interpreters of Buddhism for a Western audience. Just Google him or go to Amazon.

Thanks Alsworth. I'll look that up.

handle
11-24-2009, 02:46 PM
Too long didn't read...j/k

it;af....I tried and failed. The Black Knight's new strategy of punishing the reader with an agonizing yawnfest just might prove effective at abating those who would counter his bullshit. Well played Sir Knight!

Ever consider using a ghost writer? They are at least good for editing out pointless verbiage and anecdotes. And might even help tone down your delusion of self importance.

But all criticism aside, I must reiterate my admiration. A couple more like that, and you can finally declare victory in earnest.

Wonderment
11-24-2009, 03:34 PM
The experience of pain is subjective and therefore, difficult to measure. In research there are techniques that at least attempt to make its measurement somewhat more standardized. Here is a link to the methods that are used. I was somewhat familiar with the cold pressor test.

Interesting, but the psychology of suffering (as opposed to pain) seems like a whole different ballgame to me.

How do people cope with suffering, if induced by physical pain or not? Is there a physical component to all psychological suffering? Can any physician really diagnose the interplay of past, present and future suffering in a traumatized patient? How much does an assault victim suffer, for example?

Who is best equipped to help a person who is suffering? Family? Friend? Shaman? Priest? Meditation expert? Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Whole village? Self-help? Support group of fellow-sufferers?

Ocean
11-24-2009, 06:16 PM
Interesting, but the psychology of suffering (as opposed to pain) seems like a whole different ballgame to me.

My comment tried to address the problem of the subjectivity of pain. Although not really objective, the tests used to measure pain are somewhat more accurate than report alone because at least there is a measure of the painful stimuli.

When you talk about 'suffering' you are talking about the subjective aspects of pain, whether physical or psychological, right?

How do people cope with suffering, if induced by physical pain or not?

Coping mechanisms are for the most part learned and there are many. It's too vague a question. I can't answer.

Is there a physical component to all psychological suffering?

Are you asking whether psychological suffering leads to physical symptoms?

Can any physician really diagnose the interplay of past, present and future suffering in a traumatized patient? How much does an assault victim suffer, for example?

There's great variability in the psychological response to assault. It depends on many different aspects about the assault and the assaulted, as well as what happens afterwords.

Who is best equipped to help a person who is suffering? Family? Friend? Shaman? Priest? Meditation expert? Psychologist? Psychiatrist? Whole village? Self-help? Support group of fellow-sufferers?

There's no solution that would apply to everyone.

Wonderment
11-24-2009, 07:07 PM
When you talk about 'suffering' you are talking about the subjective aspects of pain, whether physical or psychological, right?

Yes, which I'm suggesting is not subject to quantification. I didn't really expect you to answer each question; I'm just raising them for philosophical reflection.

I think it's good that physical and mental health practitioners be aware of the difficulties involved in measuring suffering as opposed to mere pain, but perhaps human instincts and a general capacity for empathy are just as good as any training might be.

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 07:22 PM
Pain and Suffering, sometimes indistinguishable from each other or the cause of the other.

Theoretical example:

If I burn my hand, I can block the nerves to the arm with an axillary nerve block that will block the pain, but I can still be suffering because I am not able to use my hand. When the anesthetic wears off I can have both and my suffering will be greater because now I also have physical pain. Pain can almost always be controlled with chemicals, sometimes we have to compromise consciousness or awareness, General Anesthesia for example.

Suffering is in the "Psyche", its control is less amenable to chemico-physical processes, "mind exercises" may be more effective...

Ocean
11-24-2009, 07:26 PM
Yes, which I'm suggesting is not subject to quantification. I didn't really expect you to answer each question; I'm just raising them for philosophical reflection.

I think it's good that physical and mental health practitioners be aware of the difficulties involved in measuring suffering as opposed to mere pain, but perhaps human instincts and a general capacity for empathy are just as good as any training might be.

I sort of figured your were posing some general questions. I think that I was still wearing the psychiatrist's hat when I answered this. I took it too seriously and tried to give you somewhat concise answers.

There is no real separation between suffering and pain. Physical pain, psychological pain are the stuff of suffering. Brain pathways are shared by both. If you want to speculate from a phylogenetic perspective, probably physical pain developed first. Psychological pain requires some degree of consciousness.

As to the 'healing' aspects, I agree that training isn't always necessary. However, if I think about the many people that I see daily who haven't had the fortune of finding someone in their family or circle of friends that could offer relief, I must say that in many cases, professional help is needed.

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 07:33 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/24/earlyshow/main5759782.shtml?tag=cbsContent;cbsCarousel

This case illustrates our physical limitations in evaluating the "mind", before the availability of PET scans, EEGS or fMRI, this person would have been diagnosed as comatose and in some countries even euthanized.

What else could be going on around us that we are just not able to perceive?

We can also be mislead by technology, and see patterns where none exist:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/fmrisalmon/

Ocean
11-24-2009, 08:04 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/24/earlyshow/main5759782.shtml?tag=cbsContent;cbsCarousel

This case illustrates our physical limitations in evaluating the "mind", before the availability of PET scans, EEGS or fMRI, this person would have been diagnosed as comatose and in some countries even euthanized.

How prevalent do you think cases like that are? It sounds like a very rare occurrence.

Wonderment
11-24-2009, 08:27 PM
As to the 'healing' aspects, I agree that training isn't always necessary. However, if I think about the many people that I see daily who haven't had the fortune of finding someone in their family or circle of friends that could offer relief, I must say that in many cases, professional help is needed.

Absolutely.

By the way, do you think there is any cultural significance to the fact that the 3 members of Se acabó la rabia are especially active in the Sufrimiento discussion? Quizás sea coincidencia. :) Oops, I mean, :(

Wonderment
11-24-2009, 08:33 PM
How prevalent do you think cases like that are? It sounds like a very rare occurrence.

Also sounds like something the SkepticDoc would be skeptical of:

A leading bioethicist, however, expressed skepticism that the man was truly communicating on his own.

Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press he is skeptical of Houben's ability to communicate after seeing video of his hand being moved along the keyboard.

"That's called 'facilitated communication,"' Caplan said. "That is ouija board stuff. It's been discredited time and time again. When people look at it, it's usually the person doing the pointing who's doing the messages, not the person they claim they are helping."

Starwatcher162536
11-24-2009, 08:33 PM
Just FYI, it really hasn't been widely accepted that that guy is actually conscience. Apparently this Laureys' guy methods for proving conscienceness is somewhat controversial among experts.

Not to mention ,watch this video, (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/24/coma.man.belgium/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn) my bullshit meter was going through the roof when I saw that video and how he was supposedly communicating with us.

Ocean
11-24-2009, 08:48 PM
By the way, do you think there is any cultural significance to the fact that the 3 members of Se acabó la rabia are especially active in the Sufrimiento discussion? Quizás sea coincidencia. :) Oops, I mean, :(

"Se acabó la rabia" alias "Se acabó el sufrimiento¨. :)

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 09:07 PM
Just FYI, it really hasn't been widely accepted that that guy is actually conscience. Apparently this Laureys' guy methods for proving conscienceness is somewhat controversial among experts.

Not to mention ,watch this video, (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/24/coma.man.belgium/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn) my bullshit meter was going through the roof when I saw that video and how he was supposedly communicating with us.

Oops, I did not see that! :(

An easy way of testing that setup would be to cover the eyes and ears of the therapist, or to setup some strings/rubber bands to support the hand without the intervention of another person...

Starwatcher162536
11-24-2009, 09:18 PM
How is it clinically determined that someone is in a vegetative state?

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 09:26 PM
Sample Advance Directives Form (http://www.aafp.org/afp/990201ap/617.html)


Persistent vegetative state--When a person is unconscious with no hope of regaining consciousness even with medical treatment. The body may move and the eyes may be open, but as far as anyone can tell, the person can't think or respond.

Too much room for interpretation in this case?

SkepticDoc
11-24-2009, 09:57 PM
From the "Internets"

Predicting Recovery from Post-Traumatic Vegetative State

Caring for patients in a persistent vegetative state is one of the most demanding duties faced by families and health care professionals. An estimated 10,000 to 25,000 adult patients are in a persistent vegetative state in the United States; medical care for these patients may cost up to $7 billion annually. Predicting which patients with severe brain damage will progress to a persistent vegetative state is extremely important, as crucial decisions about life support, resuscitation, tube feeding and other issues have to be faced. Unfortunately, vegetative states may be misdiagnosed in up to 43 percent of patients, and one half of patients in post-traumatic vegetative states may recover within one year. Neurodiagnostic tests such as evoked potentials, electroencephalograms and computed tomographic (CT) scanning have failed to predict the probability of recovery. Kampfl and colleagues studied the ability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict recovery from a post-traumatic vegetative state.

The study included 80 patients who were admitted to a trauma and rehabilitation center as a result of closed head injury between 1988 and 1996. The patients were in a subacute vegetative state that continued for at least six to eight weeks following the injury. Full clinical assessment with MRI was performed six to eight weeks after the injury. Clinical assessment, including documentation of the patient's score on the Glasgow Coma Scale, was repeated at two, three, six, nine and 12 months following the injury. International diagnostic criteria were used to define vegetative state; persistent vegetative state was defined as a vegetative state that had endured for at least 12 months following injury. MRIs were interpreted by three independent neuroradiologists who were unaware of the clinical findings or medical histories of the patients.

The most common cause of head injury was motor vehicle accident. Patients who remained in a persistent vegetative state did not differ from those who recovered in terms of age, sex or initial score on the Glasgow Coma Scale. The two groups were also comparable in terms of medical complications or surgical intervention for evacuation of subdural or epidural hematoma. Of the 38 patients who recovered, 24 patients showed signs of recovery within three months, and 36 patients showed signs of recovery within six months of the injury. One half of those who recovered from vegetative states had a moderate disability. In general, better outcomes were associated with earlier signs of recovery.

Patients who developed a persistent vegetative state had a significantly higher frequency of MRI-detected lesions in the corpus callosum and corona radiata. Corpus callosum injury was documented in 98 percent of patients who developed a persistent vegetative state, compared with only 24 percent of those who recovered. Differences in injury to the corona radiata were less dramatic (57 percent in patients with persistent vegetative state, compared with 26 percent of those who recovered) but were still statistically significant. Patients in a persistent vegetative state also had significantly more injuries to the dorsolateral upper brain stem than patients who recovered.

The authors conclude that obtaining cerebral MRI on patients with closed head injury within eight weeks of the injury can predict outcome. They developed a model that correctly predicted outcome at one year in over 87 percent of cases. The most significant lesions determining outcome appeared to be those of the corpus callosum, followed by lesions on the dorsolateral brainstem. This finding is in contrast to studies that have documented the inability of various neurodiagnostic tests and CT scanning to predict outcome in these cases.

ANNE D. WALLING, M.D.

Kampfl A, et al. Prediction of recovery from post-traumatic vegetative state with cerebral magnetic-resonance imaging. Lancet June 13, 1998;351:1763-7.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Assisting a family that is trying to cope with the aftermath of severe trauma is a demanding part of family practice. Although each case is unique, studies like this help to stabilize an overwhelming situation and provide some reasonably scientific data on which families can base decisions. Hope must never be lost, but pragmatic actions have to be taken concerning such issues as long-term placement, the use of ventilation, gastrostomy feeding and level of intervention in treating medical complications. Families may receive conflicting advice and prognoses from multiple specialists, and the primary care physician can be a powerful advocate and counselor. Family physicians need to be able to provide reliable probabilities and "quantitative" information, as well as counseling and support, in the care of these patients and their families.

A.D.W.

Can a dead salmon feel?

Whatfur
11-24-2009, 10:18 PM
"Se acabó la rabia" alias "Se acabó el sufrimiento¨. :)

Mr. Alworth can jump in an correct me but...
I am inclined to reel the club members back in a little bit...although your discussion is interesting if not too subjective to really come to any conclusions (which you have pretty much ascertained yourselves ;o) ) You have extrapolated "suffering" to extremes that really only exist in the margins of what I think Buddhist suffering is referring to. I see it more as the sufferings of the everyday, the everyman(woman). Its about dealing with the simple anxieties of life.

Wonderment
11-25-2009, 01:12 AM
You have extrapolated "suffering" to extremes that really only exist in the margins of what I think Buddhist suffering is referring to. I see it more as the sufferings of the everyday, the everyman(woman). Its about dealing with the simple anxieties of life.

Well, that too. But there are some people who have nervous collapses over a visit to the dentist and others who can jump into the middle of a war zone with only mild anxiety. Anxiety is also hard to assess, both in the moment and over time. You may have mild symptoms (heart rate, perspiration, etc.) but feel suicidal for months. You may have extreme symptoms and be over it five minutes later.

Baltimoron
11-25-2009, 02:03 AM
Is this anything more than the placebo effect or confirmation bias?

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 05:36 AM
Other cases, less dramatic:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4515711.stm

Herbert's follow-up (http://www.firerescue1.com/lodd-line-of-duty-deaths/16965-firefighter-who-spoke-after-decade-in-coma-dies/)

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 06:09 AM
"Se acabó la rabia" alias "Se acabó el sufrimiento¨. :)

Maybe we were all "marranos" in the past. I would like to believe that ethical concerns and desire for "Universal Justice" is what has brought us "together".

We have not even mentioned reincarnation yet!

Whatfur
11-25-2009, 08:45 AM
Well, that too. But there are some people who have nervous collapses over a visit to the dentist and others who can jump into the middle of a war zone with only mild anxiety. Anxiety is also hard to assess, both in the moment and over time. You may have mild symptoms (heart rate, perspiration, etc.) but feel suicidal for months. You may have extreme symptoms and be over it five minutes later.

Again though you deal in the extreme. Thats fine...I might personally be more interested in how the other 99% could by helped or eased.

Whatfur
11-25-2009, 08:57 AM
it;af....I tried and failed. ....

handle...find a quiet place...sit erect on the edge of a chair...examine your breath...(you might want to chew a Certs first)...pretend Fur does not exist...pretend BHtv does not exist...pretend that is not the same thing...pretend people don't find it strange that you only exist to follow Fur around...pretend you have something to offer...now hold your breath...hold...hold...keep holding...bye handle this is the last response you will ever get from me...peace friend

bjkeefe
11-25-2009, 09:20 AM
...bye handle this is the last response you will ever get from me...

Noted for the record.

handle
11-25-2009, 03:35 PM
It's obvious he fancies himself a writer, so I suspected my negative (not undeserved, mind you) review would push him right over the edge.
I am now free to refute his posts without having to suffer his inane defensiveness, and persecution complex. Merry Christmas to me!

I only hope he doesn't take it out on his family over the holidays.

And speaking of Christmas, is the Fox news "liberal war on Christmas" on again this year? Or has it been eclipsed by the Black Knight's "war on the American dream"?

handle
11-25-2009, 04:27 PM
you have something to offer...now hold your breath...hold...hold...keep holding...bye handle this is the last response you will ever get from me...peace friend

How many ways do I have to put this: the sum total of what you and I bring to this site is less than non-zero.
The difference between us is my keen sense of the obvious.

I understand you needing to save your energy to battle the fierce Sir Keef.
Don't look now, but your arm's off!

Godspeed, Sir Knight!

Ocean
11-25-2009, 06:06 PM
Maybe we were all "marranos" in the past. I would like to believe that ethical concerns and desire for "Universal Justice" is what has brought us "together".

Peace and harmony sound better to me...

We have not even mentioned reincarnation yet!

Not going there.

Ocean
11-25-2009, 06:09 PM
Again though you deal in the extreme. Thats fine...I might personally be more interested in how the other 99% could by helped or eased.

A significant amount of our everyday suffering is unnecessary and self-inflicted.

Wonderment
11-25-2009, 06:41 PM
A significant amount of our everyday suffering is unnecessary and self-inflicted

I would say that I wish you had told me that 50 years ago, but regrets and resentments are part of the everyday suffering I now know is unnecessary and self-inflicted.

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 06:48 PM
I would say that I wish you had told me that 50 years ago, but regrets and resentments are part of the everyday suffering I now know is unnecessary and self-inflicted.

Now you'll be better prepared for the "next" round...

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 07:27 PM
Peace and harmony sound better to me...



Not going there.

Why not talk about reincarnation?

In my searches and study, I came across the concept of Arahant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arahant_%28Buddhism%29) once you reach full enlightenment, you don't come "back" for a next round. So maybe Existentialism is part of the Buddhist at a higher level, it accepts that at some point "this is it", there is nothing else...

Even the Dalai Lama can get it wrong (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/31/dalai-lama-osel-hita-torres) , or is it an issues of "free will"?

These were the introductory lectures that started me on the path... (http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma10/bbodhi10.html)

Ocean
11-25-2009, 07:50 PM
Why not talk about reincarnation?

In my searches and study, I came across the concept of Arahant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arahant_%28Buddhism%29) once you reach full enlightenment, you don't come "back" for a next round. So maybe Existentialism is part of the Buddhist at a higher level, it accepts that at some point "this is it", there is nothing else...

Whether there is a next round or not, I think you are better off doing what you think is the right thing to do for this round, wouldn't you agree?

Wonderment
11-25-2009, 07:56 PM
Now you'll be better prepared for the "next" round...

I'm disinclined to think there is a next round for "me."

But there is a next round for someone who will have a self just like mine and who can benefit from our heretofore accumulated wisdom.

In some sense, I view future human consciousness (after my death) as someone who might as well be "me."

Sentience in general will be around for a while. I find that somewhat comforting.

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 08:07 PM
I agree 100%

I am weak, and sometimes take a little "Pascal wager"...

I sometimes find comfort that there may be another chance to "get it right" if I make the wrong decision or "Lady Fortuna" hands me a bad situation.

SkepticDoc
11-25-2009, 08:18 PM
Another 100% agreement!

What if there is truly a multiverse, and the reincarnations are in other Universes too far away for us to be aware of each other and our other selves?

The Physical laws and Ethics are probably the same everywhere and the consequences of our decisions determine the "future" (Karma in one sentence?)...

Ocean
11-25-2009, 08:27 PM
Another 100% agreement!

What if there is truly a multiverse, and the reincarnations are in other Universes too far away for us to be aware of each other and our other selves?

The Physical laws and Ethics are probably the same everywhere and the consequences of our decisions determine the "future" (Karma in one sentence?)...

Now, listen to me. First, sit at the edge of your chair, ...


:)

Whatfur
11-25-2009, 09:23 PM
Now, listen to me. First, sit at the edge of your chair, ...


:)


LOL!

spandrel
11-25-2009, 09:38 PM
Do you have links to any well-constructed studies that show meditation is beneficial? I'm skeptical meditation is a useful cure or helps doctors any more than improving the delivery of health care would provide. The NYT article looks like the record of a dodge: we can't really do much to improve services in our hospital, but we can make our doctors beleive they like their job more.

As my non-practicing Buddhist wife says: it's all fine and dandy until money's involved!

As soon as I started listening I was reminded of an article I had read in Scientific American and I believe it is probably the same, or related, to the study Alworth mentions (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?p=139898#post139898). From a summary I found:

The unexpected result of this experiment was that the EEG of long-term meditators exhibited much more gamma-synchrony than that of naive meditators. Moreover, normally human brains produce only short bursts of gamma-synchrony. What was most remarkable about this study was that long-term meditators were able to produce sustained gamma-activity in a manner that had never previously been observed in any other human.

So we can definitely conclude that meditation is good for boosting your gamma-synchrony.

The summary was from this paper (http://www.pnas.org/content/101/46/16369.long)in case you want the details. At a minimum, it does certainly suggest long-term benefits for increasing one's attention and concentration.

spandrel
11-25-2009, 10:07 PM
Having heard doctors/nurses ask the question you refer to above a number of times, I have always found it useless and laughable. The person in pain in seldom able to apply their pain to any real scale and I have always felt the asker was seldom able to relate the answer to anything but their own reality anyway.

I know the feeling. I've had the scale put to me on three or four occasions and I recall the high level of frustration on the first occasion (the 'subject' can also play that little Pavlovian game to get the little pill), but I slowly became more comfortable coming up with a number on subsequent hospital visits (10 became my standard). Thinking about it though, I'm wondering what good an 'objective' measure would be anyhow. I'm sure it would be of great research interest but I doubt that it's even possible since by definition 'subjective experience' is not objectively measurable. And if my subjective experience did not somehow comport to the objective measure determined, my frustration level would only be that much greater. For something like pain, I'm really only trying to communicate my current state against my own standard.

Ocean
11-25-2009, 10:10 PM
Talking about the mind and consciousness. You may find this kind of study (http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge306.html) interesting. Those French scientists!

spandrel
11-25-2009, 10:29 PM
Thanks. Leibniz, or a summary of his ideas, is read by every philosophy student in France. I am not sure I see his relevance here. Indeed I think the line that runs from Descartes--Spinoza-Leibniz-Kant is a deadend when it comes to the mind/body problem.

I think I can see the relevance of Leibniz here. For him, the universe was characterized by plenitude, continuity, and linear gradation, where 'gradation' was psychological, not morphological. With his stated theory of monads, Leibniz's metaphysics was a form of panpsychism where the differentiating characteristic of a monad was the degree to which each mirrored the remaining universe (consciously). I know very little about Buddhism (other than having watched the Seinfeld "Serenity Now! Serenity Now!" episode several times), but I think Leibniz's metaphysics would seem to be congruent with at least part of its world-view.

spandrel
11-25-2009, 10:35 PM
Talking about the mind and consciousness. You may find this kind of study (http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge306.html) interesting. Those French scientists!

This actually does look quite interesting. Thank you for posting it.

claymisher
11-25-2009, 11:13 PM
I think I can see the relevance of Leibniz here. For him, the universe was characterized by plenitude, continuity, and linear gradation, where 'gradation' was psychological, not morphological. With his stated theory of monads, Leibniz's metaphysics was a form of panpsychism where the differentiating characteristic of a monad was the degree to which each mirrored the remaining universe (consciously). I know very little about Buddhism (other than having watched the Seinfeld "Serenity Now! Serenity Now!" episode several times), but I think Leibniz's metaphysics would seem to be congruent with at least part of its world-view.

And here I thought monads were just a Haskell feature.

spandrel
11-25-2009, 11:55 PM
I imagine the difficulty here (http://apollo.bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/24070?in=09:00&out=09:31) is not being "swept away." This part brought to mind Dostoevsky's underground man whose hyper-consciousness regarding his every movement seemed to illustrate the western archetype for a state of 'mindfulness' in its pathologically extreme and uncontrolled form.

spandrel
11-25-2009, 11:59 PM
And here I thought monads were just a Haskell feature.

Well, maybe monads.

Francoamerican
11-26-2009, 05:15 AM
I think I can see the relevance of Leibniz here. For him, the universe was characterized by plenitude, continuity, and linear gradation, where 'gradation' was psychological, not morphological. With his stated theory of monads, Leibniz's metaphysics was a form of panpsychism where the differentiating characteristic of a monad was the degree to which each mirrored the remaining universe (consciously). I know very little about Buddhism (other than having watched the Seinfeld "Serenity Now! Serenity Now!" episode several times), but I think Leibniz's metaphysics would seem to be congruent with at least part of its world-view.

Your summary is accurate, but aren't you forgetting God, the ultimate monad of all monads?

I know little about Buddhism either, except that it promises "deliverance" from suffering, defined as egoism. As far as I know, there is nothing like the idea of God in Buddhism.

bjkeefe
11-26-2009, 06:35 AM
And here I thought monads were just a Haskell feature.

Heh. I gotta learn that language some day.

In the meantime, how's this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monad_%28non-standard_analysis%29) for a euphonious sentence?

In non-standard analysis, a monad (also called halo) is the set of points infinitely close to a given point.

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 08:09 AM
I think the reference pertains to this:

Monad in Greek Philosophy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monad_%28Greek_philosophy%29)

Leibniz monads (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monadology)

Matthieu Ricard (http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/index.php/about/) mentioned Leibniz in his SOF conversation.

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 08:16 AM
Are Dreams another form of exercise for the Mind? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/dreams/)

Ocean
11-26-2009, 08:42 AM
Are Dreams another form of exercise for the Mind? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/dreams/)

How the heck am I going to find time to check all these links? Could you give a synopsis? Please, I'm a curious mind!

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 08:42 AM
Sam Harris article touching on meditation (http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2903&Itemid=247)

I cannot imagine of another "religious" publication giving a voice to a critic!

Another discussion about Sam Harris (http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/New/Debates/Gorenfeld_Harris.html)

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 08:49 AM
You can watch the program, it was very good...

Since you asked nicely...

The program covers some of the differences between REM and non-REM dreams, consolidation of learning in non-REM, handling fears and emotions in REM sleep?

Our good old friend, Freud is mentioned, Jung is not!

I am sure you can bring more insight into the topic!

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 08:54 AM
Michael Shermer's article on the comatose man (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-shermer/the-coma-man-hoax_b_371269.html)

From "Psychology Today" (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-skeptical-psychologist/200911/coma-dubious-science-and-false-hope)

Ocean
11-26-2009, 09:01 AM
You can watch the program, it was very good...

You've got to practice salesmanship skills!

Since you asked nicely...

I'm always nice... almost.

The program covers some of the differences between REM and non-REM dreams, consolidation of learning in non-REM, handling fears and emotions in REM sleep?

Good! That's a bait!

Our good old friend, Freud is mentioned, Jung is not!

Perhaps you could one day expand on your interest in Jung.

I am sure you can bring more insight into the topic!

I wouldn't go that far... :)

Ocean
11-26-2009, 09:04 AM
Sam Harris article touching on meditation (http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2903&Itemid=247)

I cannot imagine of another "religious" publication giving a voice to a critic!

Here is the introduction (haven't read it yet):

“Kill the Buddha,” says the old koan. “Kill Buddhism,” says Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, who argues that Buddhism’s philosophy, insight, and practices would benefit more people if they were not presented as a religion.

And I agree with that so far.

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 09:11 AM
Weren't Jung ideas an evolution of Freud's?

I only have a "pop culture" grasp of Psychoanalysis...

I enjoy reading some of Freud's work and his views on Religion and the end of his own life are worthy of study.

The question of God, Freud was a goat, but C.S. Lewis a lamb? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/)

Whatfur
11-26-2009, 09:29 AM
I only have a "pop culture" grasp of Psychoanalysis...



How would you describe your grasp of humor?

Ocean
11-26-2009, 10:10 AM
Weren't Jung ideas an evolution of Freud's?

No. I would say it's more accurate to state that Jung's ideas are a departure from Freud's. Jung was initially Freud's contemporary disciple and friend. But, at some point they departed from each other. Jung started to develop his own theories (archetypes, collective unconscious and the like). But, the main departure occurred around Jung's interest/ belief in mysticism and religion. Freud remained a skeptical and they had quite a number of disagreements.

I only have a "pop culture" grasp of Psychoanalysis...

You are not alone. That's true for the vast majority of people.

I enjoy reading some of Freud's work and his views on Religion and the end of his own life are worthy of study.

The question of God, Freud was a goat, but C.S. Lewis a lamb? (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/)


I will add these 'made up' discussions to my list. They seem interesting.

But, even before reading these, I must tell say that Freud's views on religion, although interesting, are very closely tied to his own framework. He only discusses religion as it relates to his views about human psychological function.

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 10:27 AM
No. I would say it's more accurate to state that Jung's ideas are a departure from Freud's. Jung was initially Freud's contemporary disciple and friend. But, at some point they departed from each other. Jung started to develop his own theories (archetypes, collective unconscious and the like). But, the main departure occurred around Jung's interest/ belief in mysticism and religion. Freud remained a skeptical and they had quite a number of disagreements.



You are not alone. That's true for the vast majority of people.




I will add these 'made up' discussions to my list. They seem interesting.

But, even before reading these, I must tell say that Freud's views on religion, although interesting, are very closely tied to his own framework. He only discusses religion as it relates to his views about human psychological function.

Lots of diavlog topics here, hint, hint...!

Hymn for Thanksgiving (http://gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com/2009/11/for-holiday-beethovens-hymn-of.html)

Wonderment
11-26-2009, 03:07 PM
And I agree with that so far.

How about this?

I believe that merely being a self-described “Buddhist” is to be complicit in the world’s violence and ignorance to an unacceptable degree.


Harris typically goes off the deep end in the second part of the article, where he misreads and mischaracterizes several violent conflicts, blaming them all on religion.

Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it has been at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims vs. Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. These are places where religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in recent decades.

I know a lot about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and quite a bit about the Northern Ireland conflict. To conclude that religion is the "explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in recent decades" is to completely misunderstand those conflicts, which were and remain largely secular and ethnic. Israelis, for example, -- and especially those in the IDF -- are often just as atheist as Harris.

I think it's even a stretch to blame Muslim terrorism on religion. They have religious political programs and they work up the courage to go on murder-suicide missions by turning to religious myths, but their prime motivation is a sense of being wronged by having their countries occupied and exploited. (Needless to say, I think they are moral morons and often deranged, but their problems cannot be reduced to "religion" as Harris tries to do).

Ocean
11-26-2009, 04:19 PM
I know a lot about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and quite a bit about the Northern Ireland conflict. To conclude that religion is the "explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in recent decades" is to completely misunderstand those conflicts, which were and remain largely secular and ethnic. Israelis, for example, -- and especially those in the IDF -- are often just as atheist as Harris.

I think it's even a stretch to blame Muslim terrorism on religion. They have religious political programs and they work up the courage to go on murder-suicide missions by turning to religious myths, but their prime motivation is a sense of being wronged by having their countries occupied and exploited. (Needless to say, I think they are moral morons and often deranged, but their problems cannot be reduced to "religion" as Harris tries to do).

I haven't read Harris. However, I have heard that kind of argument against religion many times. In certain contexts, it may be appropriate to remind people, that indeed, there have been many instances in history in which massacres have been conducted in the name of some religion.

On the other hand, it is also likely that in the absence of religion, similar killings would have been conducted in the name of something else. Humans seem to be built to protect their property, whatever they think they own. Land, power, money, women or God are all to be protected and die for. And sadly, if some of those in power, can convince others to die for them, it's even a more appealing endeavor.

Coming back to Buddhism, I would think that such attachment to property, for example, engenders much suffering.

spandrel
11-26-2009, 07:00 PM
How would you describe your grasp of humor?

I've assessed mine as very weak. My Haskell monad joke fell flat, drum roll and all.

Wonderment
11-26-2009, 07:37 PM
On the other hand, it is also likely that in the absence of religion, similar killings would have been conducted in the name of something else. Humans seem to be built to protect their property, whatever they think they own.

We have also managed to kill a few million in the name of abolishing property. We're very creative about our pretexts for homicide.

Coming back to Buddhism, I would think that such attachment to property, for example, engenders much suffering.


Can we think, pray or meditate ourselves out of our territorial attachments and our propensity to resolve conflicts by killing? Maybe.

I couldn't say, however, who -- the secular or the religious -- has a better track record at understanding and addressing the root causes of violence.

Ocean
11-26-2009, 08:01 PM
We have also managed to kill a few million in the name of abolishing property. We're very creative about our pretexts for homicide.

I don't think that the killing you are referring to was really, really about abolishing property. It was about redistribution of property.

Can we think, pray or meditate ourselves out of our territorial attachments and our propensity to resolve conflicts by killing? Maybe.

Yes, but at an individual level and with limitations. And we can try to teach younger generations to appreciate a different set of values.

I couldn't say, however, who -- the secular or the religious -- has a better track record at understanding and addressing the root causes of violence.

I don't know what you mean. My first thought is that the root causes of violence haven't been addressed by any group, at least at a global level. Of course I make exception of pacifist groups or international attempts to arbitrate conflicts (UN type). But I don't think that's what you are referring to.

I read Sam Harris' article. He emphasizes the detrimental aspects of religious dogma as a divisive agent. He favors the pursuit of a form of spiritual/ meditative practice devoid of religious content. I have no disagreement with any of that.

Wonderment
11-26-2009, 08:24 PM
My first thought is that the root causes of violence haven't been addressed by any group, at least at a global level. Of course I make exception of pacifist groups or international attempts to arbitrate conflicts (UN type). But I don't think that's what you are referring to.

I am thinking more about educating those future generations. Many of the people I most admire as peacemakers (Gandhi and MLK, for example) were deeply religious in traditional ways. I also, of course, admire secular humanist philosophers like Peter Singer. It's also true that many secular humanists and many religious fanatics lead lives of great violence. So it's a tough call for me when counseling young people, or when I raised my own children, to encourage religious or secular education.

It troubles me that the default position of secular society deprives children of a spiritual education. It also worries me that religious education is often indoctrination, rooted in superstition and dogma.

I read Sam Harris' article. He emphasizes the detrimental aspects of religious dogma as a divisive agent. He favors the pursuit of a form of spiritual/ meditative practice devoid of religious content. I have no disagreement with any of that.

I'm not sure I understand what a spiritual practice devoid of religious content would look like. Sounds good, but what is spirituality without culture and history? Deracinated, I'm afraid.

I was part of an educational community based on spirituality without dogma for almost 20 years, and the jury is still out for me. Ask reincarnated Wonderment in about 50 years; s/he will have more data to ponder by then.

Whatfur
11-26-2009, 08:44 PM
I've assessed mine as very weak. My Haskell monad joke fell flat, drum roll and all.

:)

Tough crowd. "Is this mic on?"

Ocean
11-26-2009, 08:55 PM
It troubles me that the default position of secular society deprives children of a spiritual education. It also worries me that religious education is often indoctrination, rooted in superstition and dogma.

If you leave the term "spiritual" aside for a moment, what aspects of education do you think are desirable but not present in secular education?

I'm not sure I understand what a spiritual practice devoid of religious content would look like. Sounds good, but what is spirituality without culture and history? Deracinated, I'm afraid.

I said spiritual practice because Sam Harris wrote that in his article. I would prefer to talk about meditation practices. I don't know what spirituality would imply in this context.

I was part of an educational community based on spirituality without dogma for almost 20 years, and the jury is still out for me. Ask reincarnated Wonderment in about 50 years; s/he will have more data to ponder by then.

There may not be a reincarnated Ocean to ask any questions...

What educational community was that?

Wonderment
11-26-2009, 09:38 PM
If you leave the term "spiritual" aside for a moment, what aspects of education do you think are desirable but not present in secular education?


Well, meditation would be one thing. I visited a school in India once where the students would all gather at sunset for 20-30 minutes of silent meditation.

Another component would be nonviolent communication training. Something like this. (http://www.cnvc.org/)

"Listening or council circles ([URL="http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-listeningcircles.html)are also good spiritual tools.

Wilderness training in which students would develop a deep reverence for nature would also be part of the curriculum.

Arts, music, dance, theater, foreign language, global and local environmental studies.... would be high priorities.

Community service and social justice projects should be required at every grade level.

I would de-emphasize competitive sports, replacing them with cooperative games and physical exercise.

I would teach ethics, philosophy, psychology and sex and relationships in high school.


There may not be a reincarnated Ocean to ask any questions...

I am considering coming back as a hummingbird or giraffe myself. I may have had enough of homo sapiens, and I'm iffy on mammals as well.

Ocean
11-26-2009, 09:53 PM
Well, meditation would be one thing. I visited a school in India once where the students would all gather at sunset for 20-30 minutes of silent meditation.

Another component would be nonviolent communication training. Something like this. (http://www.cnvc.org/)

"Listening or council circles ([URL="http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-listeningcircles.html)are also good spiritual tools.

Wilderness training in which students would develop a deep reverence for nature would also be part of the curriculum.

Arts, music, dance, theater, foreign language, global and local environmental studies.... would be high priorities.

Community service and social justice projects should be required at every grade level.

I would de-emphasize competitive sports, replacing them with cooperative games and physical exercise.

I would teach ethics, philosophy, psychology and sex and relationships in high school.



Needless to say that none of the above involve religion. Why would the above be called 'spiritual'?

I am considering coming back as a hummingbird or giraffe myself. I may have had enough of homo sapiens, and I'm iffy on mammals as well.

I thought your goal was to come back as a gray parrot.

I'll work on being sound, music or ocean waves... Or the reflection of light on drops of water...

I can get creative at times.

Whatfur
11-26-2009, 10:19 PM
...I'll work on being sound, music or ocean waves... Or the reflection of light on drops of water...

I can get creative at times.

Wow..I'll say.

Come to think of it, jump out of your chair, raise both arms quickly over your head, bring them back down, sit back down. Repeat a couple times. There! Ocean wave.

p.s. do it at ball games and others might join in.

Wonderment
11-26-2009, 10:33 PM
Needless to say that none of the above involve religion. Why would the above be called 'spiritual'?


In order to underscore the importance of emotions like awe, a sense of the sacred, holiness, reverence, goodness (moral virtue) and compassion.

I don't know what other vocabulary to use. I suppose one could just talk about openness, inclusivity, service, empathy, fun, love andexhilaration, but that doesn't quite seem to go deep enough. It seems to me that the sacred/holy element alludes to something more profound, perhaps ineffably so.

I think that valuing and experiencing the "religious" feelings would actually help eliminate rather than promote the more toxic elements of religion.

Ocean
11-26-2009, 10:43 PM
Wow..I'll say.

Come to think of it, jump out of your chair, raise both arms quickly over your head, bring them back down, sit back down. Repeat a couple times. There! Ocean wave.

p.s. do it at ball games and others might join in.

Sound, whatfur, s-o-u-n-d.

SkepticDoc
11-26-2009, 10:48 PM
The link may be broken, I found this: Listening Circles (http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-listeningcircles.html) , is this what you are referring to?

We should not lump essential Buddhism with other religions, the basis should be non-theistic, the practice is a different story...

I have to come back to the primordial question: why is there anything at all?

We don't think any less of Carl Zimmer when he writes about possibly sentient E. coli, because he talks about DNA and genes?

http://www.nothingnesstheory.com/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness/

BTW, Stanford has several excellent podcasts on several topics through iTunesU.

Is Religion a necessary evil, the opium to sedate the ignorant masses?

Whatfur
11-26-2009, 10:50 PM
Sound, whatfur, s-o-u-n-d.

Oops..I imagined another comma, but yeah feel free to cheer or make a wooshing sound as you wave.

Ocean
11-26-2009, 10:58 PM
In order to underscore the importance of emotions like awe, a sense of the sacred, holiness, reverence, goodness (moral virtue) and compassion.

I don't know what other vocabulary to use. I suppose one could just talk about openness, inclusivity, service, empathy, fun, love andexhilaration, but that doesn't quite seem to go deep enough. It seems to me that the sacred/holy element alludes to something more profound, perhaps ineffably so.

You can use the words that best describe the states of mind or principles that you mention above. The fact that some of the terms that best describe those states are associated with their use by religions, doesn't mean they can't be used in secular contexts.

I can experience awe when I encounter natural beauty or the magnificence of some works of art. Look at a starry night and dare not to be humbled by it! What does that have to do with any particular set of beliefs?

Why does compassion have to be linked to religious beliefs?

I think that valuing and experiencing the "religious" feelings would actually help eliminate rather than promote the more toxic elements of religion.

Again, keep the feelings that you think are positive and leave the word religion aside. I don't see a problem in separating those two constructs.

Ocean
11-26-2009, 11:48 PM
I have to come back to the primordial question: why is there anything at all?



From your link (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nothingness/):

Conservatives, coherentists and scientific gradualists all cast a suspicious eye on ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’.

claymisher
11-27-2009, 01:54 AM
I've assessed mine as very weak. My Haskell monad joke fell flat, drum roll and all.

I only know monads from haskell, and I've only dabbled in it, so I wasn't sure if you were talking about this (http://www.haskell.org/ghc/docs/6.10.2/html/libraries/base/Data-Maybe.html) or not.

SkepticDoc
11-27-2009, 06:22 AM
Are we just a jumbled collection of mass and energy particles that over billions of years organized randomly into what we are now?

I choose to hope there is something else, as you know, the levels of dopamine are highest before the reward is received!

Accepting the possibility that there is "something else" allows constructing the concepts of rewards and punishment here and in the thereafter to help control others that don't torture themselves with metaphysical questions...

Ocean
11-27-2009, 06:48 AM
Are we just a jumbled collection of mass and energy particles that over billions of years organized randomly into what we are now?

"Just"? Take away that word from your question and the meaning starts to change.

I choose to hope there is something else, as you know, the levels of dopamine are highest before the reward is received!

Perhaps you could start defining the 'something else'.

Accepting the possibility that there is "something else" allows constructing the concepts of rewards and punishment here and in the thereafter to help control others that don't torture themselves with metaphysical questions...

Yes. Depending on the circumstances, you could argue that some people, like children, may need an external reward system. Just make sure you are also helping them grow.

SkepticDoc
11-27-2009, 10:48 AM
OK! I will accept that I am "attached" to consciousness, there is so much I want to see and learn, I know my present lifespan is not enough to accomplish that.

I can always play this on my iPod (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDBRkX8wX3k)

I hope I can come back...

to correct my mistakes...
to see another sunrise/set in a Caribbean island...
to just smile...
to maybe see a Universe without war, crime, wanton destruction... ( I know this will take several "rounds"!)
to climb Everest...
to dive the Australian Big Reef...
to eliminate hunger...
to provide clean water and shelter for everybody...
to eliminate "Suffering"

spandrel
11-27-2009, 11:20 AM
I only know monads from haskell, and I've only dabbled in it, so I wasn't sure if you were talking about this (http://www.haskell.org/ghc/docs/6.10.2/html/libraries/base/Data-Maybe.html) or not.
Your knowledge of Haskell exceeds mine in any case. That is the reference so I can quite stomping my feet now.

handle
11-27-2009, 12:16 PM
How many ways do I have to put this: the sum total of what you and I bring to this site is less than non-zero.
The difference between us is my keen sense of the obvious.

I understand you needing to save your energy to battle the fierce Sir Keef.
Don't look now, but your arm's off!

Godspeed, Sir Knight!

Sorry, I must correct my math here. In my haste to deploy a Bob-ism, I made a glaring error... my point is correctly expressed as:

the sum total of what you and I bring to this site isn't non-zero.

SkepticDoc
11-28-2009, 12:44 AM
From an Academic Neurologist (http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2838)

Alworth
11-28-2009, 06:13 PM
Sorry I've been lax about joining the conversation.

You have extrapolated "suffering" to extremes that really only exist in the margins of what I think Buddhist suffering is referring to. I see it more as the sufferings of the everyday, the everyman(woman). Its about dealing with the simple anxieties of life.

Actually, the suffering is related to the sense of self. (I'm talking Buddhist party-line here, not general philosophy. Much of what has been written seems accurate in different contexts.) When we have a sense of our self as being endangered, we suffer. This may be physical danger, or the sense of ourself. So while pain and suffering are related, the Buddhist sense of suffering is slightly different. My sense is that one of the reasons we feel pain, though, is to warn ourselves of danger. Pain isn't pleasant because evolutionarily, that wouldn't be as useful. So, in that way, it's similar.

Alworth
11-28-2009, 06:23 PM
Would you like to comment about the concept of "kalpa"?

It means essentially aeon or epoch. In both Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, big numbers are used to expand one's sense of things. It is both a mystical and actual time length, although since it's a traditional concept, it deviates from science quite a bit. I believe both Hindus and Buddhists have people populating distant kalpas, back when it was Lucy's land.

You can forgive a religion some of these details, though...

SkepticDoc
11-28-2009, 06:33 PM
I was struck by the story of the boulder and the silk cloth:

From Wikipedia:

2. Imagine a gigantic rocky mountain at the beginning of kalpa, approximately 16 x 16 x 16 miles (dwarfing Mt. Everest). You take a small piece of silk and wipe the mountain once every 100 years. According to the Buddha, the mountain will be completely depleted even before the kalpa ends.

A "little" more than the 6,000 years some religious fundamentalists in America accept...

Whatfur
11-29-2009, 08:40 AM
I was struck by the story of the boulder and the silk cloth:

From Wikipedia:



A "little" more than the 6,000 years some religious fundamentalists in America accept...

Cool story. How many religious fundamentalists actually believe the 6000 year BS? Are you yourself not comparing a "mountain" to a molehill?

bjkeefe
11-29-2009, 09:59 AM
Cool story. How many religious fundamentalists actually believe the 6000 year BS?

A recent survey in the UK showed (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/4410927/Poll-reveals-public-doubts-over-Charles-Darwins-theory-of-evolution.html): "one in three believe that God created the world within the past 10,000 years."

From the full report itself (PDF (http://campaigndirector.moodia.com/Client/Theos/Files/RescuingDarwin.pdf), via (http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/51-of-uk-population-sceptical-of-evolution-theos-report/), via (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091111195814AA2C4X0)):

According to a recent, detailed quantitative research study commissioned by Theos and conducted by the polling company ComRes ... 32% say that Young Earth Creationism (“the idea that God created the world sometime in the last 10,000 years”) is either definitely or probably true ...

and closely related:

Since 1982, Gallup polls have been reporting the percentage of Americans who agree with the statement that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” From a figure of 42% in 1982, the percentages have oscillated between 43% and 47% ever since, with 44% recorded for 2008.

A different survey -- not fully randomized (http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/185212.html) -- conducted between "2000 and 2004 in a large introductory biology course at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota" -- found seven percent of incoming students agreed with the statement: "I believe that Earth is 6,000 to 10,000 years old."

Bobby G
11-29-2009, 12:18 PM
Yeah, but the Belgian fellow has an almost entirely functioning brain (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8375326.stm), so I think Caplan's skepticism is off-base:

"It was only in 2006 that a scan revealed Mr Houben's brain was in fact almost entirely functioning."

Bobby G
11-29-2009, 12:19 PM
How prevalent do you think cases like that are? It sounds like a very rare occurrence.

It depends on what you mean by "cases like that". Cases where someone has almost full brain functioning? Who knows? Cases where people are misdiagnosed as "vegetables"? Quite a few (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8375326.stm):

"Mr Houben's story was revealed in a paper written by Steven Laureys, a doctor at Liege University.

"In it, Mr Laureys said that in about 40% of cases in which people were classified as being in a vegetative state, closer inspection revealed signs of consciousness."

SkepticDoc
11-29-2009, 12:29 PM
Did you read Shermer and Novella's articles/blogs?

Ocean
11-29-2009, 12:33 PM
It depends on what you mean by "cases like that". Cases where someone has almost full brain functioning? Who knows? Cases where people are misdiagnosed as "vegetables"? Quite a few (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8375326.stm):

"Mr Houben's story was revealed in a paper written by Steven Laureys, a doctor at Liege University.

"In it, Mr Laureys said that in about 40% of cases in which people were classified as being in a vegetative state, closer inspection revealed signs of consciousness."

"Signs of consciousness" is too vague a statement. I guess it all depends on the reason why you would want to determine whether someone may have any degree of consciousness. Even if we accept that there is a significant number of people that appear to be in a vegetative state, but that in fact, with more advanced technologies, we can detect some degree of consciousness, we still would have to determine what that means, its implications.

It is an interesting topic, though. And I can see the ethical implications that it may carry.

Wonderment
11-29-2009, 03:02 PM
It is an interesting topic, though. And I can see the ethical implications that it may carry.

It is interesting from several vantage points, including the ethical issue for medical professionals who may acquiesce in "facilitated communicator" scams. Early detection of the scam seem to be very easy, and would spare family members a lot of pain in the long run when the scammer is exposed.

Of course, a misdiagnosis of "locked-in" syndrome would be awful, but apparently the misdiagnoses and the syndrome itself are very rare.

The diagnostic challenge seems to be (as SkepDoc's reference pointed out) the "gray area" between zero-consciousness coma and a little-bit-of-consciousness coma (some brain function, minimal responses to external stimuli, etc.).

Even if neurological science gets even better than it is already at knowing what's going on inside, in those borderline cases you'd still have to ask "Should I pull the plug if Mom still dreams, maybe recognizes some faces or a familiar touch, mumbles intelligible words sometimes, etc?" The easy answer to this one is educating people about advanced directives. But what about the people who say "Never pull the plug no matter what." Who decides then, and who pays the bills?

The other area of concern is the "miraculous recovery." A small handful of patients start to recover some function after extended comas (although signs of recovery, if recovery is at all likely, are almost always apparent early). The general recommendation seems to be more frequent reassessments (maybe every couple of years). Again, advanced directives help a lot.

Ocean
11-29-2009, 05:30 PM
I pretty much agree with all of the above. That's why I raised the question about the meaning of finding some degree of consciousness. Intermittent stupor without an ability to command any of the voluntary functions sounds more like extreme suffering rather than a condition that we would want to prolong.

Wonderment
11-29-2009, 07:28 PM
I pretty much agree with all of the above. That's why I raised the question about the meaning of finding some degree of consciousness. Intermittent stupor without an ability to command any of the voluntary functions sounds more like extreme suffering rather than a condition that we would want to prolong.

Here's the big ethical question, I think:

Suppose you have a 15-year-old child who is in a car accident. To keep the medical data simple, she's in a deep coma and the doctors say, "We can keep her comfortable, but it is unlikely that she will ever come out of it."

Naturally, you will say "How unlikely?" If the doc says, "Only one in 10 recover," of course you will do everything in your power to keep her on long-term life support, which costs -- let's say -- about $100,000/year. Probably you would at 1 in 100 too. But what about 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 10,000?

Personally, I would probably pull the plug at about 1 in 500 odds, but I'm just playing with my subjective sense of statistics here. Of course, you could leave it in the hands of some insurance company actuary who would give you the cost-benefit analysis (if we spend that $100,000 on malaria prevention, we'll save thousands of lives; plus we'll harvest her organs for transplants), but is that enough to resolve your ethical dilemma of taking your child off life support?

SkepticDoc
11-29-2009, 07:48 PM
The problem is that few people want to think about the hard decisions, even when they are infrequent.

This may shed some light on some of the issues:

http://www.propublica.org/feature/advisory-subcommittee-approves-ethics-guidance-rationing-ventilators-1123

The problems with Katrina were real, and nobody was prepared. the scare tactics of "Death Panels" have not helped the issues.

Tom Flynn wrote this article (http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=shb&page=death_panels), I don't know where he really stands.

Peter Singer's NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19healthcare-t.html?scp=9&sq=peter+singer&st=nyt)

Maybe the first step is to accept that we will all die, if we are lucky, we may have some control over the circumstances.

Ocean
11-29-2009, 08:48 PM
SkepticDoc had a good point about Death Panel's hysteria being an obstacle for this kind of discussion. But, I would hope that there will be a day, after health care is passed, when these topics stop being so politically charged and they can be discussed more rationally. There are all kinds of possibilities.

SkepticDoc
12-01-2009, 09:16 PM
Another link:

Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia (http://www.cbs.columbia.edu/)

The podcasts are worth exploring.

And:

http://www.urbandharma.org/kusala/dad.html

popcorn_karate
12-16-2009, 03:12 PM
I can experience awe when I encounter natural beauty or the magnificence of some works of art. Look at a starry night and dare not to be humbled by it! What does that have to do with any particular set of beliefs?

Why does compassion have to be linked to religious beliefs?


its not about belief, but connection, hence the "com" with the "passion". That sense of connection to everything seems like the essence of spirituality, if not dogma or "religion".

when you do feel that connection, what are you connecting with? are you connecting to atoms? or is there a sense of some greater whole?

SkepticDoc
12-16-2009, 04:53 PM
Happiness without meditation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jedd2FiZTqM&feature=PlayList&p=467ED599B52E893F&index=9)

Ocean
12-16-2009, 06:12 PM
Happiness without meditation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jedd2FiZTqM&feature=PlayList&p=467ED599B52E893F&index=9)

True. Laughter is infectious! Do you ever laugh until you abdominal muscles hurt?

Now, that last passenger with glasses that got on the train, is he one of our commenters?

Ocean
12-16-2009, 06:17 PM
its not about belief, but connection, hence the "com" with the "passion". That sense of connection to everything seems like the essence of spirituality, if not dogma or "religion".

when you do feel that connection, what are you connecting with? are you connecting to atoms? or is there a sense of some greater whole?

I consider that connection a state of mind that is elicited by certain situations, people, etc.

Perhaps you want to expand in what you mean by 'greater whole'.

popcorn_karate
12-16-2009, 07:15 PM
I consider that connection a state of mind that is elicited by certain situations, people, etc.

so the sense of connection is an illusion since you are not connecting with anything?

Perhaps you want to expand in what you mean by 'greater whole'.

nope. i just tried a few times (written and deleted before posting) and wasn't satisfied with my efforts. maybe another day.

Ocean
12-16-2009, 07:38 PM
so the sense of connection is an illusion since you are not connecting with anything?



nope. i just tried a few times (written and deleted before posting) and wasn't satisfied with my efforts. maybe another day.

Yes, if you are trying to articulate something that may be too abstract, it can be frustrating.

As to the first part, asking whether that sense of connection is an illusion, I don't have a straightforward answer. It all depends on what you mean by illusion.

It is understood that a newborn baby does not experience himself as separate from the influx of stimuli coming from his surroundings. His own body parts, physiological sensations, objects and people in his line of sight or range of hearing are all one chaotic flow. With time, through sensory integration and experience he will become aware of its own physical separateness. Later on, there will be a sense of psychological identity. So normal development goes from 'unity' to separateness. It seems that many Eastern practices may call for the abandonment of this sense of separateness by working backwards in that development. By abandoning all the constructs attached to the experience of individuality, I guess you could reach a state of dissolution of the ego (sense of self) and therefore a sense of unity (the early experience) or even emptiness.

But I don't even know that's what you are talking about. And truly, what do I know? I'm just speculating/guessing about a topic I know very little about.

Whatfur
12-16-2009, 09:54 PM
Happiness without meditation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jedd2FiZTqM&feature=PlayList&p=467ED599B52E893F&index=9)

My older brother and I used to do the same thing with yawns on buses. Laughter WOULD have been a better trick. Thanks for sharing.

Lyle
12-17-2009, 02:50 PM
Good story. Non-Chinese do stick out in China. People love to stare, sell you stuff, or just interact with you.

SkepticDoc
01-01-2010, 01:14 PM
We all worry about it, how to get it, how to spend it, how to save it...

I have not had a lot of exposure to requests for donations for Buddhist organizations (probably prohibited by the Sangha rules?), Baltimoron could you elaborate on your wife's comment?


As my non-practicing Buddhist wife says: it's all fine and dandy until money's involved!

After "surviving" the end-of-the-year requests for donations (ACLU, Wikipedia) and the regular requests for donations from almost every "organization" (JREF, CFI, the first secular groups that come to mind!), I ponder what is the best approach to balance the dilemma.

Do we follow Carnegie's example, make as much as possible even at the expense of the lives of workers (Homestead) and then give it away through foundations?

claymisher
01-01-2010, 02:03 PM
We all worry about it, how to get it, how to spend it, how to save it...

I have not had a lot of exposure to requests for donations for Buddhist organizations (probably prohibited by the Sangha rules?), Baltimoron could you elaborate on your wife's comment?



After "surviving" the end-of-the-year requests for donations (ACLU, Wikipedia) and the regular requests for donations from almost every "organization" (JREF, CFI, the first secular groups that come to mind!), I ponder what is the best approach to balance the dilemma.

Do we follow Carnegie's example, make as much as possible even at the expense of the lives of workers (Homestead) and then give it away through foundations?

A friend of mine donates to CARE because they never ask him for more money.

I use bill payer for everything and never open my mail. That system works pretty good until somebody sends you a check!

SkepticDoc
01-13-2010, 03:08 PM
Mindfulness Research Update 2008 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2679512/?tool=pubmed)

SkepticDoc
02-19-2010, 01:09 PM
update:

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1596

SkepticDoc
03-26-2010, 07:21 AM
Scholarly journal:

http://www.springer.com/psychology/journal/12671

SkepticDoc
04-07-2010, 07:55 AM
From http://www.iamhome.org/about.htm

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings Introduction
(from Interbeing by Thich Nhat Hanh)

1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others’ insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue.

4. The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

5. The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness.

6. The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Dealing with Anger
Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises and to recognize and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep in our consciousness. When anger comes up, we are determined not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply into our anger. We will learn to look with the eyes of compassion at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our anger.

7. The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possible to live happily in the here and now, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life. We will try not to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or craving, anger, or jealousy in the present. We will practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are inside and around us, and by nourishing seeds of joy, peace, love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in our consciousness.

8. The Eighth Mindfulness Training: Community and Communication
Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. We will learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community to break. We will make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

9. The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech
Aware that words can create suffering or happiness, we are committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence. We are determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. We will not spread news that we do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure. We will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten our safety.

10. The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting the Sangha
Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

11. The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood
Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. We will do our best to select a livelihood that helps realize our ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of global economic, political and social realities, we will behave responsibly as consumers and as citizens, not supporting companies that deprive others of their chance to live.

12. The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life
Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined to cultivate nonviolence, understanding, and compassion in our daily lives, to promote peace education, mindful mediation, and reconciliation within families, communities, nations, and in the world. We are determined not to kill and not to let others kill. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.

13. The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, we are committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. We will practice generosity by sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. We are determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. We will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

14. The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: Right Conduct
(For lay members): Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but will create more suffering, frustration, and isolation, we are determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love, and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, we must be aware of future suffering that may be caused. We know that to preserve the happiness of ourselves and others, we must respect the rights and commitments of ourselves and others. We will do everything in our power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. We will treat our bodies with respect and preserve our vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal. We will be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world, and will meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings.

(For monastic members): Aware that the aspiration of a monk or a nun can only be realized when he or she wholly leaves behind the bonds of worldly love, we are committed to practicing chastity and to helping others protect themselves. We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the practice of true understanding and compassion. We know that a sexual relationship will destroy our life as a monk or a nun, will prevent us from realizing our ideal of serving living beings, and will harm others. We are determined not to suppress or mistreat our body or to look upon our body as only an instrument, but to learn to handle our body with respect. We are determined to preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal

listener
04-07-2010, 02:57 PM
Thanks for this diavlog. (I only just now got to watching it.) It's too bad the conversation had to be so brief.

As a non-practicing non-Buddhist (is that possible?), it's all too easy for me in my daily life to lose sight of the valuable insights, wisdom and way of experiencing oneself in relation to the world that Buddhism has to offer. It was good to hear about and be reminded of that.

SkepticDoc
04-07-2010, 03:12 PM
Mindfulness transcends any religious belief, you don't have to be a Buddhist to practice.

Maybe we should have another conversation to cover these issues, in a lecture in London, the Dalai Lama stated something to the effect of:

don't change what you are, work to be the best that you can be

(I apologize, I am terrible at paraphrasing or recalling the exact words!)

SkepticDoc
04-08-2010, 06:30 PM
YouTube videos on Clinical applications of mindfulness:

http://www.youtube.com/user/FACESConferences#p/u/0/3L1iuXQuqes

FACES Conferences (http://facesconferences.com/)

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world."
--Dhammapada (tr. Byrom, 1993)

listener
04-09-2010, 05:05 AM
True. Laughter is infectious! Do you ever laugh until you abdominal muscles hurt?

Now, that last passenger with glasses that got on the train, is he one of our commenters?

I watched this today, it was delightful, I passed it on to some of my friends.

Ocean
04-09-2010, 07:23 AM
I watched this today, it was delightful, I passed it on to some of my friends.

You have now an alternative to your "trololololo..." guy!

listener
04-09-2010, 03:34 PM
You have now an alternative to your "trololololo..." guy!
:) True!

SkepticDoc
04-22-2010, 07:15 PM
If you are in a hurry:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chademeng-tan/just-one-breath-a-day_b_479060.html

More about Meng:

http://www.chademeng.com/