See For Yourself
Practical Experiments to Try
So...is it better
to study what
other folks have said
about experiences they've had,
or to have your own experiences?
The main difference here is, the "laboratory" is inside your mind.
(That and also, these folks were really just trying to make Kool-Aid.)
article by LiveReal Agent "Dante"
"There are many people
who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys:
they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book
without having worked the sum out for themselves."
- Soren Kierkegaard
"Having the answer
You have to do the math."
- Jed McKenna
"We do not need theories
so much as the experience
that is the source of the theory."
- R. D. Laing
"Experience is the best teacher" as the saying goes.
If that's true, then why not try to deliberately create experiences that will teach us what we need to learn? Even "the good stuff"?
"Knowledge can be communicated
but not wisdom."
- Herman Hesse
In our search for something along the lines of "a scientific approach to the good life," we emphasize that the foundation of all "science" consists of "experiments that yield results."
Most scientific experiments are conducted in and on the "outside," physical world, with objective results that can then be studied and presented to others.
There are good ways to "look within,"
and there are bad ways to "look within."
But in realms we explore - spirituality, psychology, and relationships - most of the essential stuff doesn't really happen "out there" in the physical world; it happens in the space between our ears. It happens in our mind, or "heart," or even "soul." Some would say it's "subjective."
But that doesn't mean you can't run real experiments, and even be as rigorous, scientific and hardball as even the stuffiest, eye-rollingiest professors. (In fact, it's these realms where rigor and discrimination are all the more necessary.)
The best "results" are the ones that you experience directly. Even if you can't categorically "prove it" to Dr. Eyesquinty afterward...nobody can take what you've experienced yourself away from you, unless you let them.
So, in the spirit of wanting to learn from "the best teacher" there is (direct experience) instead of some hapless, last-minute-fill-in substitute teacher (aka, secondhand experience, aka "God told me to tell you"), we've decided to gather what we've found to be many of the best "experiments" here for you to run yourself, with hope that you'll see for yourself.
Here are a handful of the best "experiments" we've found so far.
"Don't listen to what they say.
- Chinese Proverb
"Experiments" by Douglas Harding
"Antidote" by Roy Masters
"Experience" by Ken Wilber
"Self-Inquiry" by Ramana Maharshi
"Self-Observation" by George Gurdjieff
"Spiritual Autolysis" by Jed McKinna
"The majority of people
are subjective toward themselves
and objective toward all others . . .
but the real task is, in fact,
to be objective toward oneself
and subjective toward all others."
- Soren Kierkegaard
"I do not seek
to follow in the footsteps
of the men of old.
I seek the things they sought."
"One of my shticks
is about why we need to do hard scientific research on religion. A study shows that if you ask people whether they believe in God, probably 95 percent of Americans will say they do. And there is nothing particularly great about their mental health. But if you ask them whether they have ever had any personal experience with God, only about 15 to 20 percent will say "yes." Those few have also been judged as more mentally healthy than the others."
- M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled
So, if we know what "meditation" is, and we know that it really works . . . now what?
Well, it's time to get to work.
Many of these exercises can be compared to going to a gym: you get out of it what you put into it.
So, if it takes work, or commitment, or dedication, or persistence - why bother? Well, because in most cases, it's worth doing.
Many martial arts are based around only a handful of simple principles basic moves. When these "basics" are practiced, thoroughly, properly, and persistently, they lead to one becoming a true martial artist, a blackbelt, a warrior. Such "experiments" or "exercises" as those referred above have been compared to the basic, fundamental moves practiced by the martial artist.
There are few real martial arts experts in the world, and there are very few real meditators. The majority of individuals hear about them, look them over for a few moments, then forget about them and move on.
Certain others, however, run into these exercises, see the possible value in them, practice them, and persist in their practice, day after day, eventually adopting them as a "way of life." It is these individuals who truly understand the value of them, and reap the benefits.
"Do not be too moral.
You may cheat yourself out of much life so.
Aim above morality.
Be not simply good,
be good for something . . .
Let nothing stand between you and the light . . .
When you travel to the Celestial City,
carry no letter of introduction.
When you know, ask to see God - none of his servants."
- Henry David Thoreau
- and if you want to keep going . . .
Where do you go for questions about meditation, or to find other people who are practicing it? Where can we find those folks who might have "seen" what meditation is supposed to show you?
Until we can find a better place, we'd suggest the LiveReal Discussion Board, or possibly perusing such places as Modern Spiritual Giants: A User's Guide. But be sure to keep those Giants in check with Dharma Combat.
- and talk to us. We're always searching, so any great experiments, clues, tips or hot leads, send them our way, and we'll do what we can to check them out. Until then, keep on experimenting, and discover great things...
in the Tao is easy;
to keep the Tao
- Chinese Proverb
"No pious practice is so perfect
that it may not be
an obstacle to spirituality."
- Meister Eckhart