Mod+ 267. DR. JEFFERY MARTIN, CAN ENLIGHTENMENT BE TAUGHT?

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    I'm trying to be other than "my way or the highway"-esque in our discourse but what comes back is always different to what I stated.

    - As I experience it, there are no absolutes.
    - I do not "prefer" they are terms describing different things. For example - few people would posit that having an OBE automatically makes one "enlightened" but it is an expansion of awareness
    - I do not dislike PNSE, I just don't see it as having anymore of a default connection do with "truth" and/or enlightenment than anything else.
    - Are there any limitations? I have no idea. I do think there are in terms of humans as they are being able to handle info/actions without overwhelm. But even the most expanded of us that I know of is still far from accomplishing to that level.
    - No, infinite does not mean absolute. Infinite is a variable quantity. A term meaning the absence of limits. You're "playing games" of semantics and intellect.
     
  2. From the transcript...
    The Holy Spirit is not a useful concept if you are a materialist. But I think it would be helpful if Dr Martin would publish more of his research to back up statements like these. I don't know exactly what his research subjects said to him, but the Carmelite nuns may use the term Holy Spirit for what Hindu's call Brahman, Lester Levenson called Beingness, Himalayan Yogis call the Absolute, Spiritualists call Infinite Spirit, and others call God. But it is easy to see through the different cultural terminology that they are all talking about the same experience/phenomenon.

    It seems to me Dr Martin is trying to take the spiritual aspect out of the equation. This is what happens when "Science" gets involved. Scientists changed mesmerism which has a variety fo paranormal aspects to it and turned it into hypnotism which was acceptable to materialist scientists.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  3. One interesting aspect of the PNSE locations is that they separate measurement from path. Some traditions will define a set of stages or states you go through and practices to do as you go through them. In that case measuring progress and path are linked. But the PNSE criteria doesn't address path. If you are looking for commonalities across different traditions with different paths that would be an advantage. On the other hand if you are interested in the process of how you get to the different locations, it might cause you to miss things. Dr. Martin seems to have developed his own path where he has a way of assigning the right technique at the right time to each student. It would be interesting to compare his path to those of other traditions.
     
  4. What I am finding hardest to understand about the finders course is how Dr Martin measures PNSE. In his original research I believe he only interviewed those who were recognized by their peers as having some high level of attainment. These individual then were found by his research to fall into the four locations.

    Then he started giving a class and found that many of his students attained in a very short time the same level or levels that some of his original research subjects, recognized for their attainments, were at. Dr Martin explains this as the result of his findings on how to assign the right technique at the right time to each student.

    This seems to me to be very surprising.

    Wouldn't many people not taking the course, just by chance, find the right technique at the right time and get rapid results? But very few people get such rapid results.

    Much of my criticism in this thread is based on my belief in another explanation of the rapid results of the course: that PNSE 1 is not really that hard to attain outside the finders course.

    How many of Dr Martin's original research subjects were at each location? In particular how many were at location 1?
    He doesn't say: http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf

    I wonder if he is really using the same method / criterion for assessing PNSE 1 to assess his students as he did with his original research subjects? Does he interview them the same way? If he is using a different method, what would his results look like if he used that method on his original research subjects?

    Maybe his original research subjects at location 1 were at the high end of location 1 and his students are at the low end of location 1? Or, is it possible that knowing about the four locations caused his students to report their experiences in those terms and made it more likely that they would interpret their experiences as within the PNSE continuum - this is where a blind research protocol would really help. He might get different results depending on whether or not he tells his students what the criterion for success is.

    There are many subtle effects of meditation. Often when one reaches a higher state one can recognize the roots (subtle feelings) of the experience in a lower state. If you have a lot of knowledge about what to expect in the higher states (from studying the PNSE locations) you might recognize those roots for what they are and rate yourself at a higher state than you otherwise would.

    If the students are prompted in any way to report their experiences as within the PNSE spectrum then the reported results for the course are not reliable. There is a huge difference between asking a student, "Do you feel an expanded sense of self yet???? "Uh, I think so, maybe?" "Good enough you pass." and asking, "What are you feeling today?", "Well I feel a connectedness to all things".

    From the link above
    One thing that might help clear up the matter is to know what the self-reported claims of his subjects were. Maybe it is a mistake to assume they were all at a high level of attainment. It would also be interesting to know how long it took them to attain the different PNSE locations they experienced. Is reaching PNSE 1 in a short time really unusual outside of the finder's course?
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
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  5. john.sundog

    john.sundog New

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    Just a thought - have you tried to obtain a copy of his Ph.D. dissertation?
     
  6. john.sundog

    john.sundog New

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    Thanks very much for the informative post, Dmitch, and your kind words. I'm considering doing one of Jeffery's offerings but everything is in a state of flux as far as I can see; with the research program winding down it's not clear what future courses will entail or if they will even exist. Have you heard anything about this?
     
  7. I posted a link to it above.

    It doesn't say much that is relevant to the Finder's Course. It was about correlations between enlightenment and other personality traits.

    He also has a research summary on his web site related to his later work that led to the PNSE locations (which I linked to above also for anyone who is interested.).
     
  8. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    John, by all means look around. Take some time and explore. Peter Fenner is also a recognized experiencer and someone who offers a similar package but a more realistic 10 months of work. Probably a slower pace and a few quid more. http://www.nondualtraining.com

    Jim does hone in on a legit issue of bias with locations as far as Finders Course. Advertising something that is beyond easy standardization.
    It's completely possible some individuals experienced a rare extraordinary life changing event in a previous course. That is collapse of the conditioned mind.
    Tony Perkins claims it can happen to anyone, because everyone is wholeness already.
    Dr. Jeff claims it's happening more than we think. I wouldn't know about that.
    It does strike me that we exist as conditioned beings because we basically want to and deeply fear something else. How does that desire/fear dissolve completely?

    I don't believe many people taking the course (60) are thinking about locations. The measures we take don't address that directly, how could they. Rather they measure one's sense of well being and happiness.
    I am absolutely grateful to be doing the course. The structured meditation with some of the techniques is a tremendous unfolding activity. I don't care where it leads. It's already an acting force.
     
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  9. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Maybe I've been a bit too ambitious in my attempt to debate you, but it seemed that your first post on this subject was contrarian, so I thought I would attempt to draw you out and understand why you think all of this talk about enlightenment is silly. Even if it is silly, I think it is still a lot of fun!
     
  10. Right, and what kind of person tries to sell you something that is already yours?
    You go to the eye doctor, "Doctor, I need a new pair of glasses, I lost my old pair." ... "Okay that's normally $200, but today we're having a special "FInder's Sale", only $129.95, and I can get you your glasses faster than anyone else." ... cha-ching .. the cash register rings in the payment ... and the "doctor" reaches up to your forehead where you forgot your glasses were tilted up on, and hands them to you.

    Another reason I have an unfavorable opinion of the finder's course is the mystery involved in what the techniques are. It is a well known marketing trick used in direct mail and magazine ads that if there is a mystery involved in the product, you get a better response than if you explain everything. When people know how something works, they are less likely to feel it is extraordinary or special. When I look at the finder's course, I see a psychologist using every trick in the book to get you to pay the money. And that makes me suspicious. When I went on retreats at the Zen center, I knew exactly what to expect because I had read in books what happens at Zen retreats.

    In some of the other threads on the forums here we've discused the fact that most published research findings are false, in light of that, what faith should one put in unpublised, unreplicated, results of experiments done without control groups or blind protocols, and where the results are based on self reporting by experimental subjects who have a personal interest in the success of the experiment? Plus the claim that the Finders Course works faster than other methods is unsupported by experiments of any kind.

    Despite Dr Martin's criticism of religious methods (which as I wrote above don't agree with my experiences), I have a lot more trust in the religious organizations because they are a lot more open about their methods. You don't have to have take their claims on "faith" you can find out exactly how it works before you try it.

    I don't spend money on "mystery solutions" based on promises and testimonials. I spend money when my research on the product tells me what it is, how it works, that it is worth the price, and is something I need or want. I wouldn't trust a car dealer who said I had to pay first before I could look under the hood.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
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  11. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    This thing that were all talking about. Is it even a spiritual (as commonly defined) process or an energetic one? It does not appear to be exclusive to religious people or to people who embrace what we call spiritual values. The phenomenon itself often does not imbue the individual with spiritual qualities of love, compassion.
     
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  12. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    There was a term I came across years ago, that of "spiritual athleticism", which according to the author who coined that term, was not in itself of any particular value, and might even be detrimental. I'm not sure whether that applies here - I'm not making an evaluation, merely raising the possibility.
     
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  13. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    More like, Can Enlightenment be Bought? I decided a while ago that I wasn't going to become part of the spiritual marketplace, either as a buyer, or, if I fell and hit my head and reached a permanent state of "enlightenment" (whatever that is) as a teacher. Today we expect to be able to "buy" whatever is required, even if it is some esoteric "secret" method to attain a state of greater consciousness. I hate to break it to you, but money isn't required, except for the teacher who wants to make money. Meditation isn't required either. Nothing is required. There isn't even anything to attain. Quite the opposite it seems. I'm perfectly in favor of people "making a living", but making a living selling the idea of "spiritual transformation" is ludicrous. There is no thing to sell. They are selling an idea or a dream. I guarantee you there is nothing new in this "method".
     
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  14. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    It seems to me that this argument over whether to pay money for training/tools/instruction on how to achieve PNSE or enlightenment or whatever is akin to the arguments over whether or not to DIY a home remodel. Perhaps most people on this forum who do not think one should pay are more of the DIY type. And why not? We can watch youtube videos and find websites on how to remodel our homes, so why should we pay contractors these days, unless we're lazy or too busy? Similarly, I can probably find everything I need to know about enlightenment on the web. But some people just aren't into DIY and they'll be happy to pay some money to have everything brought to them in a neat little package and they will probably still benefit from it though perhaps maybe not gain the depth of experience and understanding as the DIYer.

    I'm more sympathetic to someone being open and honest about their capitalistic business model and charging a set fee up front than I am to other methods of financial compensation for spiritual training such as the tithe. $1500 could easily be 2 or 3 months tithe and I seriously doubt 2-3 months in a typical church would get anyone the level of training that the finders course would... that said, I haven't taken the finders course... just basing that on what others have said about it here and Dr. Martin's papers.

    If people experience a change in their perspective that they find positive, isn't that an attainment? And if people find this attainment worth the money, then what is wrong with that? How is this any different than paying a comedian for a couple of hours of recycled jokes or paying an author for a book full or recycled ideas?

    Personally, I'm more of the DIY type and I certainly wouldn't pay $1500 for the finders course, but I don't have a problem with it either.
     
  15. When you learn the phenomenon under religious traditions it involves love and compassion. The religious traditions also have a component that includes morality, some of them recognizing, for practical purposes, you can't keep your mind calm and meditate effectively if you live wild/unethical life style. The religious traditions also recognize the afterlife.

    PNSE 3 includes
    - Only single positive emotion remains
    - Feels like a combination of universal compassion, love, joy, …
    - Higher well-being than location 2​

    Dr Martin has indicated in, his PhD thesis and in his videos discussing other investigator's research that PNSE seems to be independent of other personality traits that might pertain to morality. And Dr Martin seems to be teaching how to achieve PNSE because it increases well being, and not because of any interest in spirituality. I don't think that Dr. Martin is interested in the spiritual aspect of it, he doesn't give it much notice, I don't think he wants to challenge materialism. And I don't mean that as a criticism. Increasing well being is an admirable objective. Challenging materialism is academic, scientific, suicide.

    However the religious traditions teach how to understand the true nature of the self which is spiritual. And the natural end point of what Dr Martin is teaching in the Finder's Course is spiritual. Dr Martin uses the term "non-symbolic experience", but he doesn't say much about what it is an experience of. The natural culmination of the meditation practices he studied in his research that led to the Finder's Course is the, "non-symbolic", direct, experiential, realization that materialism is false, that idealism is true, that all there is is mind, and that each of us is all of us.

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html
    According to Wikipedia:
    "In Hinduism, Brahman is "the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world", which "cannot be exactly defined". It has been described in Sanskrit as Sat-cit-ananda and as the highest reality... According to Advaita, a liberated human being ... has realised Brahman as his or her own true self."
    J. J. van Der Leeuw, an advanced meditator, wrote in The Conquest of Illusion:
    "In that experience [of the Absolute] we are no longer the separate self, we are no longer what we call 'we' in our daily life. Not only are we our entire being, past and future, in that sublime experience of eternity, but we are the reality of all that is, was, or shall be, we are That."
    Linda Stewart wrote about her near-death experience:
    The metaphor represented by the image I saw and perceived was absolutely clear and I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that WE ARE ALL ONE. I comprehended that our oneness is interconnected by love and is an available, much higher level and means of communication than we normally use but to which we have access. This love is available to anyone who is willing to do the hard spiritual work that will allow us to open our hearts and minds and eyes to Spirit. I remembered the love I had felt in the presence of God and experienced a total sense of love for all existence as an interconnected oneness and a manifestation of God.
    The spirit of Charles Marshall communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint said:
    It is the development and it is the tremendous realisation that one must have eventually of how we are all linked and bound together and how actually the very fundamental thing that flows through us all, is the very essence which is of God. And so we gradually evolve more and more to God or become like him.

    I do not refer to shape or form, I refer now to the infinite spirit which is the very life blood you might say of all humanity; where we lose in each other ourselves and discover that we are all in a oneness and in accord. And when we have this oneness and accord we reach a stage of spiritual development where we can be considered to be living in a form if you like of paradise because we are conscious of everything around and about us as being not only "us" but "all".
    Lester Levenson who developed psychological techniques that led to his realization wrote:
    "This peace was eternal and forever, and it was the essence of every living thing. There was only one Beingness and everything was It; every person was It, but they were without awareness of the fact, blinded by the uncorrected past they hold on to."

    He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
    ...
    "It was obvious to me that I wasn't that body and mind as I had thought I was. I just saw it—that's all. It's simple when you see it.

    So I let go of identifying with that body. And when I did, I saw that my Beingness was all Beingness, that Beingness is like one grand ocean. It's not chopped up into parts called "drops of bodies." It's all one ocean.

    That caused me to identity with every being, every person, and even every atom in this universe. And that's an experience so tremendous, it's indescribable. First you see that the universe is in you, then you see the universe as you. Then you know the Oneness of this universe. Then you are finished forever with separation and all the hellishness that's caused only by separation."
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2015
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  16. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    I think we are basically talking about two different things. In my opinion people like to do "spiritual" things or make "spiritual attainments" and these learned behaviors may actually make them happier, or may in fact make them a more "mature" human being. That's cool. This is all very "spiritual". Still, there is no reason to pay money to reach a greater level of human "maturity." But as you say, some folks like something handed to them on a silver platter and gently plied into their open mouths on a fork. More than likely though, someone who is so "desperate" for "enlightenment" that they will pay money for a teacher to enlighten them in 120 days or less, probably has larger issues. Maybe those issues can be dealt with in the course of the training and maybe they can't. Anyway, that is still all spirituality, all the human maturity business.

    All that has very little to do with the true nature of reality. Ideas like PNSE or "enlightenment" have no place there. They are as meaningful as a pile of shit. They are a hinderance. Words, ideas, concepts, beliefs--all utterly meaningless. Spirituality is cool and dandy. But it's a fools errand to confuse it with the ultimate nature of reality itself. My problem is that I think lots of people think they are getting the one, when what they are getting is the other.
     
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  17. My concerns are:

    That the course is not advertised fairly:
    • The claims for the course are based on unpublished, unreplicated research that didn't use experimental controls, or blind protocols and is based on self-reporting by experimental subjects that have a personal interest in the success of the experiments.
    • Some of the claims for the course are based on the number of students that completed the course without mentioning the drop-out rate.
    • The course web site implies the course is superior to other practices and traditions, but the relative effectiveness of the course has not been tested.
    • Dr Martin also makes statements derogating the religious traditions he studied which do not match what I experienced at the Zen Center I used to go to.
    • Only Dr. Martin knows how PNSE is measured in practice. The criterion seem to be vague, subjective, and use relative terms rather than quantative terms that can be objectively measured and compared.
    • The information about the course is vague so a potential student cannot make a properly informed decision. (You would not pay a contractor to install flooring until you agreed on whether it was going to be wood, tile, or carpet and you had approved the materials yourself.)
    • The course may require a large daily time commitment after it ends to maintain PNSE and that is not explained clearly on the course web site.
    There is also a question of whether it is ethical to ask research subjects pay for the privilege of participating in research, and persuading them to do so with slick advertising techniques. Most research institutions have a policy on the ethical treatment of humans in research. I'm not sure if paying to participate would be found in any of them.

    And there is the issue of safety. Dr Martin recognizes that intensive practices sometimes result in psychological difficulties and he says he takes measures in the course to prevent them. But the problems his methods can deal with are due to pre-existing psychological issues arising during meditation. There are also types of problems caused by intensive practice that seem to be caused by using the brain differently and getting stuck in that mode. I don't think the psychological work that is involved in the Finder's course can prevent that.
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...artin-on-enlightenment.1596/page-3#post-51627
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...artin-on-enlightenment.1596/page-3#post-51646

    Also, Dr. Martin asked his original "enlightened" research subjects to help him and they did so freely giving their time presumably because they wanted to help humanity. They might be "surprised" that the results of that research are being kept secret and only divulged to those willing to pay the high tuition of the Finder's Course.

    Regarding the DIY analogy, consider this analogy: I don't buy computer products from Apple because their policy of keeping control over their products limits what third parties, hardware and software vendors, can do. Closed systems are detrimental to the consumer, it limits their choices and keeps prices high. I don't believe that is the "right" way to do business or make a profit. I don't consider Apple evil, I just don't want to support that business model. I feel a responsibility not to support it because it seems to me that non-support is for the good of society, if everyone acted the way I do, Apple would have to open its systems and consumers would have more choices and lower prices. Because of this, I use a tablet computer that uses the Android operating system. It cost a lot less than an I-pad, but it is slower and has less memory, but it suits my budget and I am satisfied with it.

    Similarly I avoid spiritual organizations that keep their systems secret and only divulge them to those who are willing to pay the price. I don't believe that is the "right" way to share spiritual knowledge, and I don't want to be among the enablers who support such organizations. God doesn't charge, he is equally available to the poor as well as the rich. If no one would pay the tuition without understanding the system first, Dr Martin would have to make public the full information about the system and more people could benefit from the information his original research subjects gave freely.

    So, even if Dr. Martin's course is a superior method, I would still not be interested in taking the course. I would stick with my way of practicing that has worked well enough for me and yielded many different types of mystical and spiritual experiences as well as improved well-being.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2015
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  18. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    You raise some valid concerns and this type of "spiritual salesmanship" is something I prefer to stay away from at least until the thing being sold becomes pervasive enough that there are plenty of independent customer reviews to make a more informed purchase decision. I agree that I wouldn't pay a contractor for the remodel until we agreed on what materials were being used. I also wouldn't pay a contractor that had no experience or reputation. As to whether or not his methods of spiritual salesmanship are ethical, I am still going to reserve judgment and I still think the marketplace is sometimes as good a place as any to spread ideas - even ideas of a spiritual nature.
     
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  19. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I would agree that there is no quick fix for a person to realize their full potential. Achieving PNSE in 120 days or less I think is possible and I agree that these are two different things.

    I disagree that these ideas about PNSE or enlightenment are meaningless. Meaning comes from a story. The story we tell ourselves about our reality is what creates meaning. Enlightenment can be a meaningful location and context in our story. If all reality can be thought of as a story, then reality is meaningful. We all want the story we tell ourselves about reality to be as close as possible to the real true story about reality, and I think there is a spectrum of truthfulness on which our story lies. Can we ever make our story align perfectly with the real true story? I would agree that we cannot because words can never take us all the way there. But I think words created this story and words can finish it. Words took us away from the truth and when they bring us back they have exhausted their purpose so they disappear.
     
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  20. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    They have meaning within the context of the reality that is manifest. That's cool.
     
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