Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dhyāna (Sanskrit ध्यान) or jhāna in Pāli refers to a stage of meditation, which is a subset of samādhi

The Science of Enlightenment is Paving the Way for the Enlightenment of Science
from ~C4Chaos by c4chaos
I just finished listening to Shinzen Young’s The Science of Enlightenment audio CDs.

Disc 7 - This CD is one of my favorites in this series. This is the part where Shinzen talks about his “three-layered cake” metaphor of consciousness and how different people traverse the spiritual path in an infinite number of vectors. This is a contemporary discourse on the Buddhist teaching of Trikaya (or three bodies)–nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya.

In this talk Shinzen criticizes the spiritual materialism which is rampant in New Age circles and religious faiths. A good portion of the discourse is on the dangers and pitfalls of the Intermediate Realm of Power–the layer of the subconscious, unconscious, and archetypes–where the weird stuff (ie, apparitions, psychic powers, demons, gods) arises.

Unlike other meditation teachers who avoid talking about their inner experiences, Shinzen openly shares his own visionary encounters. However, he makes no claims on the objective nature of his experiences. He’s humble enough to label his visionary experiences as “hallucinations” no matter how realistic and insightful they were from his subjective point of view. Shinzen also shares some interesting stories of paranormal phenomena he witnessed, but cautions the listeners on exploring the horizonal dimensions of the archetypes. He highly recommends to get enlightened first before mastering the Intermediate Realms of Power. [...]

Conclusion and Some Observations
Those who are familiar with Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychological Model will probably not find anything radically new on the Science of Enlightenment as far as broad integration is concerned. Wilber has been hashing out the integration of Western Science and Eastern contemplative disciplines for almost four decades now. However, I see Shinzen Young as one of those who are actually fleshing out the integration that Wilber has been calling for. He complements Wilber’s integration using his own style of integration. [...]

However, one thing I noticed about Shinzen’s style of teaching Vipassana is that he doesn’t put emphasis on the Jhanas (as originally thought in the Theravada tradition), possibly because he doesn’t want to dwell on them or that he has not specialized in them. However, I assume that Shinzen’s goal is to make Vipassana meditation more compatible with Western Science, so he prefers to focus on those teachings which could be easily translated into user-friendly scientific terms rather than teaching the jhanas as described in the original suttras of the Buddha. For those who are into more hardcore Theravada, I highly recommend checking out Daniel Ingram’s Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha.

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