Vipassana

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by Michael, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Buddhist Meditation lowers violence in prison

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    Medicine for the mind, as one inmate put it.


    The great thing here is, it's actually changing the neural architecture in a way the (if a study could be funded) could probably be identified using an MRI. There's no appealing to authority quackery. It's just simple neural physiology. And TTYTT THIS is exactly what prison SHOULD be doing. Rehabilitating thought processes.

    My hat is off to the person who came up with this idea. Aside from some nutty Baptists who wanted to shut it down, because it's "against baby Jesus", it's really working to reform a significant segment of the prison population. Fantastic

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    As an aside, this is a great example of the manner in which we think being reinforced. In this case, because the meditation is based on good and positive mental health this is what we see. Now, in the same vein, other ways of thinking can do exactly the opposite. Certain rituals repeated throughout the day can, and do, have the effect of making people less mentally healthy, more reactive and more prone to violent thoughts or the use of violence as a solution to a problem.


    Anyway, this is great work,
    Michael
     
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  3. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    The only problem is that many of the inmates either won't do it or refuse to go along with doing it because they feel that they are being told what to do by the authorities , whom they despise.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    All rituals reduce violence in those who are prone to OCD behaviour. This is Psy 101 and one of the reasons why prisons have religious programs.

    [this thread reminds me of the ad on a certain vegetable oil - zero cholesterol! - it simply avoids mentioning that ALL vegetable oils are zero cholesterol!]

    But yeah, meditative exercises, like 5x prayers or daily mass, help in focus and stress reduction, two factors which are useful in treating aggression.

    I read an interesting article on the statistical correlation between school violence and taking prayer out of school. I'll see if I can find it - apparently prayer was removed from US schools in 1962 [citation anyone?] this is the same year when there was a spike in various indicators of social aggression and behavioural problems in school children.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Is that what the radical Muslims do? 5x prayers daily? Doesn't seem to help them at all does it?
     
  8. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    What measure of comparison are you using? What statistics?

    re:school prayers stopped in 1962 and indicators of behavioural problems, I found the site I was looking for:

    So, should prayer be re-introduced in schools?
     
  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I'm asking a question, that's all. If you say that 5x prayers daily reduces agression then why do radical Muslims , which we know exist but how many I can't tell you, seem to be at war with others around them sometimes even other Muslims?
     
  10. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You could help by telling me how you know that

    1. radical Muslims are more than radical non-Muslims
    2. radical Muslims pray
    3. there is greater violence in radical praying Muslims than in 3a. radical non-praying Muslims 3b. non-radical non-praying Muslims 3c. non-Muslims

    Or you simply expressing a "fact" unsupported by any evidence?
     
  11. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Ok I will use a well known Muslim as my example.

    Moqtada-al-sadr

    Some of his followers are alleged to be responsible for the assassination on 10 April 2003 of Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei. Judge Raed Juhi, who conducted the investigation after the incident, issued arrest warrants against Sadr and two dozen others, but Sadr's warrant was placed under seal by the Coalition Provisional Authority
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Let me give you an example of what evidence for an assertion looks like

    assertion: stopping prayer in schools seems to have made Americans stupid.

    evidence: SAT scores for the years after school prayer was stopped

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    useless nonsense: random example unrelated to the assertion

    If you are going to claim that prayer does not reduce violence in Muslims, you have to show evidence that prayer and reduced violence are not related - in Muslims
     
  13. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Meditation empties the mind, prayer fills it. That's the difference.
     
  14. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    That's not evidence, that's propaganda from a Christian homeschooling site!
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Both meditation and prayer focus the mind. There is no such thing as an empty mind. Its an illogical assertion.

    Actually, that is a valid correlation - the same as the OP. Its a fact that school prayer was stopped in 1962 and the SATs stats are public domain information. Are they related? Well no one has actually studied if there is a cause-effect relationship between prayer and SAT scores, but we have this:

    If those statistics are true, they are as valid as the OP.
     
  16. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Then you don't know what meditation is all about.
     
  17. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    No more than anyone else who does Pranayama or has completed the Art of Living courses. I have experimented with meditation for many years and it improves focus, that is true, but anyone who claims to have an empty mind is just repeating BS. If you want to test yourself, ask someone to wear heavy perfume, smoke 100 dhoop sticks or flip a lighter under your chin while you are meditating. Better still if you have an animal, get a bag of poop and meditate before it. Lets see how little real life distracts you and your empty mind. People can perform self hypnosis with meditation, but that is also due to improved focus.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
  18. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    So SAM I've given you a person who is known around the world as a "radical" Muslim and who does his 5X daily prayers yet he and his followers seem to be at war with others in the Muslim community as well as with American troops so where is his praying keeping him from being non aggressive as you have said it does? I can also say Osama Bin Laden as well for he too is at war with America as well and is a known radical Muslim. Seems no matter what religion anyone adheres to it doesn't always do as it says and is hypocritical at the least.
     
  19. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Improving focus might be a side effect, but it isn't the point. We can react without thinking. We have more than one center of control in our minds. While it's true that there is a stream of consciousness that our minds generate, it is not true that this stream is you, or even the primary mode of perception. The point of meditation is to break from this stream and free your mind. I can see how this would be beneficial to prisoners who might follow their impulses without question.
     
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I practice sort of a vipassana-style breathing meditation myself (not as regularly as I should) and have noted beneficial effects. It makes me aware of tensed up muscle groups that I didn't even know were tense, slows my heart rate and lowers my blood pressure. More subjectively, it dramatically calms me and puts me into a very clear and crystaline state of intense awareness. Of course, from the Buddhist point of view, that's just the very beginning.

    There's already a fairly abundant literature about the psychological and physiological benefits of meditation. There have been quite a few studies.

    These kind of results are easily replicable to a greater or lesser extent in just about anyone that undertakes the practice and don't depend on the meditator having any preexisting specifically Buddhist faith commitments at all. All they need is a determination to try.

    So I'm inclined to (sort-of) agree with S.A.M. as well as with Michael, in saying that other forms of meditation and contemplative practice would probably work too and produce similar results, at least at this initial phase. I expect that Buddhist samatha meditation might work as well as vipassana, as would the various Hindu yogic meditation techniques that resemble samatha. Orthodox Christian hesychasm might have similar results in its monks too.

    Muslim prayers probably do have some psycho-physical effect on those performing them, but I'd guess that they are too short, transitory and physically busy to really be comparable. The Muslim analogues to Buddhist meditation are more likely to be found among the Sufi practices. A Catholic saying a rosary has some meditational aspects as well.

    But I think that members of all of these religions would agree that the higher and more advanced aspects, and certainly the goals, of their respective practices aren't nearly so comparable, at least in the ways that they are traditionally understood and described in conceptual terms.

    (The proponents of the 'perennial philosophy' idea would argue that all religions ultimately have the same non-cognitive goal.)

    I agree very strongly with Michael that this is a great thing for prisons to be doing. But Cosmictraveler is right too, that many/most prisoners aren't going to be interested in seriously pursuing it. It's not a panacea.
     
  21. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    You're obviously a back bencher if that is what you think. The whole point of meditation is to focus. Any other benefits are secondary to this point - any insights gained are a result of achieving focus. You're simply confusing clearing the head with emptying the mind.

    I think its a question of degree. For example I don't know any Muslims who pray 24/7 and if I did I would think they need to get a life. However, it is quite common to see monks who meditate for long periods of time [some even going into sanyasa which is possibly a form of self induced coma which arises from extreme meditation]

    Samatha is, in my opinion, a prelude to Vipassana. Samatha meditation is about achieving a baseline status in the mind, it requires you to get familiar with your own individual patterns of breathing, involuntary motions, tactile awareness. Its like stage 1 of meditation. Vipassana is like stage 2 where you focus inward and try and separate out the strands, identifying the disturbances. You need to be able to achieve stage 1 to be effective at stage 2, which is why breathing exercises are so important. Some forms of pranayama achieve hyperventilation and can make you extremely lightheaded but leave you feeling refreshed. Some of the exercises are so fast paced that it is difficult to do anything but focus on the breathing.

    I disagree. One of the common features of any institutionalised group is that they will participate in stuff within institutions which they would never ever consider IRL. Its why so many atheists get religion inside a prison. Even a visit to the chapel is preferable to sitting in a cell.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
  22. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Focus is just a teaching tool, like in hypnosis when you have to stare at a watch . It's intended to distract the discriminating mind on something concrete until it can be transcended.
     
  23. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Well I disagree. I think meditation is a tool that helps to achieve focus. Focus itself means different things to different people. Some people use it to improve performance, others use it to destress, still others use it to improve mental strength. Success in meditation is measured by achieving the various levels of concentration, it is a form of training, which can be biologically measured.
     

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