The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought

The Illuminated Heart
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I know a few people who claim to have eliminated all emotions and yet externally seem to be totally emotional, including demonstrating what looks exactly like emotions that would often be considered bad by the standard ideals. That they claim to be unable to perceive this seems more like denial than realization to me. Is it possible, as is sometimes argued, that people will for all the world appear to have emotions externally and yet not have any internally? Note that having the outward appearance of emotions can serve useful social communication functions, and this outward appearance may still be habitually triggered, even if the internal experience is emotion-free.

In that case your model is very different from mine, in that mine says that you can get enlightened without getting any particular control of your emotions, and continue to have exactly the same ones as always. Well, so what? I assume it without enlightenment. Yes, I do not know for sure. But do enlightened know?

Jock McKeen

And as far as I can tell, no enlightened have ever escaped, be it deluded or not, this reality except presumably in death. If you did, you could e. In my experience no, not at all. It may well be that the I-Thou distinction dissolves also. Read comic books. I like comic book nerds more than enlightened people anyway. Interesting to contrast this description of consciousness to that in Consciousness and the Brain.

But of course nowadays they have MRIs and so forth too. Anyone know if this is similar to existential dread what sartre called nausea? This is basically the main problem in my life and makes meditation difficult for me, as it seems to exacerbate it. It can only hint at them in the hope that those who have experienced the states will recognise the referent. Apparently, not even that is working all that well most of the time. Ingram discusses that quite explicitly. In my anecdotal experience, any goal during meditation, including focusing on the breath can become an object of neuroticism.

Most modern instructions relating to meditation seem to fall in to this trap of goal-oriented thinking. If the goal of meditation is to be all-accepting of our current moment, then surely practicing to change our present moment is antithetical to it. I also find this apparent dichotomy between attention and awareness unconvincing. I am much more inclined to believe that our attentional spotligiht flickers across multiple sensory modes extremely quickly. And that this gives the appearance of a peripheral awareness. What he calls peripheral awareness just sounds like the collection of sensory input that has low saliency, and therefore spends less time in the attentional spotlight.

There is a seeming paradox in Buddhist practice that I think is resolved by understanding their distinction between relative and absolute reality. The eight-fold path in Buddhism is the boat we build to get across the river to enlightenment. But in the daily life we inhabit, we do need to abide by certain practices and priorities in order to get across the river. These practices and priorities — it is argued — create the most favorable conditions for getting free of suffering. Attention is my default. Awareness is a mental mode I have to deliberately turn on. It is the difference between looking at a chair, and looking at a room containing a chair which you are nominally focusing your eyes on.

I can effectively only maintain one or the other at any given time; either I have mental tunnel vision focusing on one thing, or I have no focus whatsoever because my mental tunnel vision is pointed at awareness itself. There are two ways you could fix that. Either prove that your thesis was in large part plagiarism, or get someone to accuse you of having committed sexual misconduct back before you got that degree. You have to set up your own medical practice just to start meditating properly?

Two points from someone who has been meditating long enough to experience some of the changes that are often discussed:. I had no problem with focusing on a thing, like I was looking at it, but still knowing other things, as though I were hearing or feeling them. I intuitively got that it was part of the process. Probably most meditators are like this. I think that in a lot of endeavors, including meditation, there are maybe things you need to know and get right, and most people will automatically or intuitively get 90 of them right.

Communication problems happen when the ten things that people get wrong are variable. If you have never run into anyone whose mind works that way, you do not even know it was possible to miss it or get it wrong. I am just as lazy as I was before I started meditating.

The only difference is that my laziness no longer bothers me. Instead of getting angry at myself for being lazy and thinking it makes me a bad person, I just accept it as an inevitable fact of life and find strategies to work around it. In contrast, it took me quite a lot of meditation according to the TMI instructions to get an intuitive feel for the distinction between attention and awareness. Yup, exactly! For the understanding of this it must be known that, for a soul to attain to the state of perfection, it has ordinarily first to pass through two principal kinds of night, which spiritual persons call purgations or purifications of the soul; and here we call them nights, for in both of them the soul journeys, as it were, by night, in darkness.

The first night or purgation is of the sensual part of the soul …And the second is of the spiritual part…. And this first night pertains to beginners, occurring at the time when God begins to bring them into the state of contemplation; in this night the spirit likewise has a part, as we shall say in due course. And the second night, or purification, pertains to those who are already proficient, occurring at the time when God desires to bring them to the state of union with God.

And this latter night is a more obscure and dark and terrible purgation, as we shall say afterwards. Again, yup! This is the Second Night that St John speaks of, and once again yes, you do need the guidance of a competent spiritual director to steer you along the path. There are other souls who labour and weary themselves to a piteous extent, and yet go backward, seeking profit in that which is not profitable, but is rather a hindrance; and there are still others who, by remaining at rest and in quietness, continue to make great progress.

There are others who are hindered and disturbed and make no progress, because of the very consolations and favours that God is granting them in order that they may make progress. And there are many other things on this road that befall those who follow it, both joys and afflictions and hopes and griefs: some proceeding from the spirit of perfection and others from imperfection.

Of all these, with the Divine favour, we shall endeavour to say something, so that each soul who reads this may be able to see something of the road that he ought to follow, if he aspire to attain to the summit of this Mount. If he who is giving the Exercises sees that he who is receiving them is going on in consolation and with much fervor, he ought to warn him not to make any inconsiderate and hasty promise or vow: and the more light of character he knows him to be, the more he ought to warn and admonish him.

For, though one may justly influence another to embrace the religious life, in which he is understood to make vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, and, although a good work done under vow is more meritorious than one done without it, one should carefully consider the circumstances and personal qualities of the individual and how much help or hindrance he is likely to find in fulfilling the thing he would want to promise.

These labels need to be earned from the people who already have earned the label, who teach and examine it. Which sounds weird if you think about it who was the first Dr. It models people as little ecosystems of goal-directed processes that bargain with each other in a way that seems compatible with TMI. I was happy to see this review and would love to see a review of Breakdown of Will. I also think that it complements TMI practice nicely.

Suppose that a part of your mind is really angry at someone, and telling a story which might not be true about how that person is a horrible person with no redeeming qualities. Internal Family Systems says that there are three modes in which you might react to that part:. First, you may be entirely blended with it for those familiar, this corresponds to what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy calls cognitive fusion.

This means that you are experiencing everything in terms of the story that it is telling, and have forgotten that this is an emotional reaction. Or you might be partially blended with it. In this case, you realize that you are experiencing an emotional reaction, and that your thoughts and feelings might not be entirely justified, but you still feel them and might not be able to stop yourself from behaving according to them anyway. In this mode, you do not feel threatened or overwhelmed by them, and you can maintain a state of open curiosity towards whether or not they are actually true.

Once I learned the techniques for getting into Self, I got the ability to sort of… just hang out with the emotion, neither believing it to be absolutely true nor needing to show it to be false. And then if I e. I do the thing, the parts with this belief get to hang around and observe what happens, notice that nobody seems upset at me, and then they are somewhat less likely to bring up similar concerns in the future.

The concern may or may not be justified, so the correct thing to do is to consider its possibility, but not necessarily give it too much weight. The book has a few different techniques that you can use for getting into Self. One that I often use is to try to get a sense of where in my body the emotional sensations are coming from, and then let my mind create a visualization based on those.

Gradually it started generating a pleasant warmth, and then the visualization transformed into a happy napping cartoon fox, curled up inside a fireball that it was using as its blanket. And then I was no longer feeling lonely. That said, sometimes a part is not content to just raise a tentative possibility; sometimes it feels like something is an emergency, so you must act right away. Obviously, sometimes you really are in an emergency, so this is justified!

In that case, you need to do the full process described in the book, where you basically get in proper contact with the part in question and address its concerns. The book goes into a lot more detail. Thanks for the detailed description. Looking at my life I can see some events that may be critical, but I have the feeling that I learned to not even allow emotions to bubble up.

Hence, I am asking if this technique works if you do not have an emotional reaction? Not sure. But it might be challenging to get into contact with it in the first place, since you need some hint of the submind to get into touch with it first. Even if, naturally, at a MUCH smaller level of granularity than we could ever directly observe or notice in consciousness. Is there an equivalent of asking a supposedly top level scientologist to levitate? Or even more enlightened decisions? The first half of the book is dedicated to examining the question of whether science has proved that meditation or Buddhism makes people happier.

You could try sitting in the street, covering yourself in petrol, and burning yourself to death. I understand that this is in some sense a non-central example. This is an interesting question I find myself wanting to try to answer, David Friedman. The benefits of meditation are largely subjective, though there is more research all the time about effects on the brain insofar was we trust fMRI studies , as well as some other outward markers like blood pressure, quality of sleep and so on. The goal of meditation, if there can be said to be a goal, is abiding awareness of the four noble truths.

Our minds are built for chronic dissatisfaction. We can get free of our chronic dissatisfaction by learning to let go of our habitual craving. There is a path for this letting go process. Enlightenment in a general sense is freedom from this cycle of craving and dissatisfaction.

But it also includes sustaining the elements of the 8-fold path as well as, some would say, dedicating oneself to helping others reach enlightenment. And in that sense, it has very little to do with things that can be externally tested or performed. When people talk about all these other goals for meditation, I am always a bit puzzled, because from my perspective meditation is one part of a road that is all about reducing suffering, period.

Producing weird psychological effects is pretty easy — but is it useful? More importantly, is it useful enough to be worth the effort? Or beyond that — is it useful in any ultimate way, or just yet another tool or hobby? Presumably that teacher is being paid, and whoever wrote the guide would be such a teacher. Most cities have meditation classes and groups, often for free or nominal donation.

Some retreats and programs do cost money, but most are not paying teachers a lot, and certainly not more than any other kind of teaching yoga, etc. This says to me that a large number of people are turned away from meditation as a result of not having good instruction and have developed faulty ideas about what it is, how to do it, and what the early road looks like. Imagine if there was something you could do an hour a day for a year or two, which would win you infinite willpower and a release from all suffering, with less side effects than the average SSRI?

Then again, maybe the optimal amount is 10 minutes per day to somewhat increase willpower and mood. That seems more plausible to me. You can stop thinking and just rest your brain. The drives that lead somebody to practice guitar for several hours a day are often not healthy ones in a holistic sense. The very act of practicing guitar for several hours a day may itself be viewed as unhealthy. When the mind becomes integrated and coherent, it ceases to feel any need to practice guitar with that kind of obsessiveness, and virtually guarantees that the integrated individual never becomes a guitar legend.

I might value a practice that increases my odds of doing this. But now we have a disagreement in preferences between my current and possible future self. How do we evaluate this? Or society recognizes that as the right one, or something like that. Unification of mind helps them better see the consequences of their different actions, so they end up disagreeing less; and if some submind notices that it was e.

If conditioning reprograms a neural circuit, did it get a new preference or did it learn to better fulfill its existing preference? Though I bet they also exercise every day. And this could just be that they are type A people who read that people should meditate every day, and being type A people they do it.

They are usually doing something like mindfulness or Transcendental mantra meditation. Do you have any particular reason for your suspicion that drugs are involved? Just a side-thought. Both the main Theravada and the Mahayana streams derived, along different lines of development, from older parent forms of Buddhism, now long gone. Look at the old texts about the old teachers, including Buddha himself — they all talk of people being enlightened pretty quickly, sometimes from something a teacher said, sometimes in the course of their life after meeting the teachings.

On the other hand, it could be claimed that the modern Western get-enlightened-quick teachers dumb down something which is complex and hard in order to sell it in an oversaturated spirituality market to buyers have low commitment and jump from one fad to the next.

Compare the Buddhist notion of enlightenment with the Christian notion of sainthood: Most Christians, including most priests, are not expected to become saints, just like most Buddhists, including most monks, are not expected to become arhats or bodhisattvas, saints are supposed to be paragons of virtue although in practice various historical saints were controversial figures, just like various historical revered Buddhists, sainthood was more easily achieved in the early days of Christianity than in the present e.

Buddhism, as it is practiced traditionally, was never a technology for achieving enlightenment, much like Christianity was never a technology for achieving sainthood. But even with the right teaching and application, most people never become groundbreaking scientists, billionaires, musical geniuses, or top-class athletes.

Not in a few years, not in a lifetime. If you redefine enlightenment as something that anyone can get, then you are referring to something much different that the traditional Buddhists refer to. Anyone can get in principle , then. Obviously human beings vary. Agree very much with some of what you said here, but I think that, as I suggested, the evidence is the other way — neither Buddha himself nor most of the main figures in Buddhism seemed to think of it as some great unclimbable mountain in the vast distance.

Maybe they were 6th century BCE hucksters?

The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought

Becoming a fully-awakened Buddha is a whole different nut than being an arahat. The global workspace theory sounds very much like Internal Family Systems which claims roots in Buddhist psychology. These approaches are techniques held together by metaphors, not scientific theories. And because of that, I think a lot of the stories rhyme with each other in the way you are noticing. Side note: the guys who I believe coined the term mindfulness-based cognitive therapy MBCT and got big research grants to investigate its efficacy for various disorders wrote at length about how they decided they finally had to try meditating themselves since they were instructing their research subjects to do it and they discovered in the process that… meditation is hard.

This is the cutting edge of psychotherapy technique innovation. Diabetic patients are given insulin based on a consensus theory in biology about how blood sugar works in the body. Neuroscience is now being harnessed in the effort to provide scientific validation well beyond what science actually shows.

The rest are talk therapies, no? While EMDR is supposed to be a physical manipulation of the mind vaguely like psychedelics, perhaps? The talking is part of the processing. So I tend to see all these techniques as pretty much in the same terrain. Even the use of metaphor in purely talk therapy can produce physiological effects in the same way a guided visualization might.

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You can google studies for EMDR and other techniques for trauma processing say — last I checked, on average EMDR was not more effective than other ways of trauma processing that were more conversational. And then on top of that, the protocol is done in a semi-guided visualization and maybe some would say semi-trance state which is another kind of slightly altered consciousness.

But sometimes people have trouble with guided visualizations because the self-editor or inner critic or whatever keeps stepping in and commenting or distracting from the visualization. So the bilateral stimulation may just make it harder for the editor to interfere and that allows the person to be more immersed in the visualization. I think Francine Shapiro developed this method after going for a walk in the woods one day and seeing how moving her eyes around changed how she felt about something she was thinking about.

No, really. Unless counting Vajrayana as part of Mahayana, Mahayana has always been about householders being highly capable of spiritual progress. The reductio of this trend would probably be Pure Land Buddhism, where all one has to do is call on the name of your savior Boddhisattva to be reincarnated in a Pure Heaven, superior to the Heavens of the devas, where everyone is a monk and immorality and distractions are absent. Vinay Gupta, not Vijay. Fun fact: Vinay was a fellow student on the University of Edinburgh CS course I did, and we worked at the same startup briefly in the mids.

There is already a person like this. He is indeed, a lot better than both Ingram and Culadasa. You would want to try out this site: dhammatalks. If you have time only for one book, I would recommend The Wings to Awakening pdf. Toward the end of his life he stated several times that as long as the teachings in this list were remembered and put into practice, his message would endure. Sincere people who fail to get awakening do not have the correct instruction, just like a math student trying to learn math from a book that is full of errors, with a math teacher who is not very good at math.

Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought

And the phenomena of dharma books which are full of errors and dharma teachers who are not good at dharma is very very old. The true dhamma has disappeared. I think the writers you review are rarely as engaging or entertaining as you. It seems kind of vacuous to me.

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Alternative hypothesis, people who say that they reached enlightenment within a few months or years are the reincarnation of someone who was only a few months or years from enlightenment in their past lives. Culadasa is exceptional, and for others it will take longer, even if they follow the same technique. Maybe not, considering his Tibetan influences.

Are there any peer-reviewed, replicated studies that support the following? A good fun time without using alcohol or other drugs, and thus with fewer side-effects this may sound trivial, but I would consider it a valuable property of meditation 2. A general and persistent sense of increased well-being if true, can this be used to relieve symptoms of depression? Increased perceptual acuity in terms of being able to notice more things, not hearing ultrasound or seeing infrared 4.

Increased mental acuity e. Minor mental super-powers e. Physical super-powers feel no pain, smash bricks with your pinkie, fly by will alone. I believe there is some research on mental acuity, memory, creative problem-solving, etc but not persistent IQ changes. There is research that for some chronic pain sufferers, meditation can reduce levels of pain significantly.

The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought

The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought [Jock McKeen, Bennet Wong] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Bennet Wong MD, FRCP(c), DLitt received his psychiatric The Illuminated Heart: Perspectives on East-West Psychology and Thought - Kindle edition by Bennet Wong, Jock McKeen. Download it once and.

Also that it can lower blood pressure, help with IBS-type symptoms, and reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. I think this would make meditation worthwhile assuming the absence of significant negative side effects , but the next question is: how effective is mediation compared to other remedies such as medicine or perhaps even prayer? Come to think of it, how effective is meditation especially at lowering blood pressure compared to simply sitting still?

This is also the case for the people I know who are long-time practitioners. So the point of meditation is the alleviation of suffering. Some of the measurable benefits of getting over a heroin addiction may include fewer run-ins with the law, less constipation, and return to a more normal weight.

Those all seem good. But of course the main point about getting over a heroin addiction is that your life is no longer in the grips of this incredible self-destructive monster riding on your back all the time. Yoga might be a more neutral example. Some people do yoga just to get a workout or to prevent back problems, in the same way they might lift weights or get on the elliptical. But if you read from the great Masters and great teachers as you will see that they place a very high value on it. If so, is there any evidence of this?

I think the answer is important. If meditation provably, demonstrably reduces suffering better than all or merely most alternative approaches, then it should be a big deal and perhaps even taught at schools. My sense is the variety of human experience will make any kind of general answer to this question not helpful for individuals. Some people will hate meditation no matter how helpful it might be for them.

Some people would rather die than live with the side effects of anti-depressants. Some people will not exercise even if they have their own lived experience that it helps all kinds of things. And all of these practices are aimed at somewhat different, though sometimes overlapping, issues. Evidence would tell us that meditation is a good choice among others.

A person has to find their own way as best they can and has to test out for themselves what works for them. This is a very strange answer. Contrast meditation with pain medicine. Every person reacts to medicine in a unique way. E4, E5. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. Languages Add links. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Jock McKeen, M.

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Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview In this book, Jock McKeen and Bennet Wong distill a lifetime's investigation of the theory and practice of Western psychology and classical Chinese philosophy and medicine.

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