🧘⚠️ Catastrophic effects of meditation: a compelling, terrifying first-person account, with reflective analysis.

h/t @eigenhector, @paulbaumgart danlawton.substack.com/p/when-buddhis…
Meditation and science are two of the things I value most. It’s hard to know when too much “this can be extremely bad” publicity becomes counter-productive. Both can be extremely good.
It’s seems we’re close to the point where every reasonably clueful lay person understands science is in trouble. Then tweeting more of that will be counter-productive.

We’re still a long way from every reasonably clueful lay person understanding that meditation can kill you.
🧘⚠️ Meditation safety: I wrote a blog post about this a few months ago, with links to helpful resources. Yesterday’s thread hit a nerve, it seems; there’s more here:

Replies to yesterday’s thread were mainly “yes, I (or people I know) have had really bad experiences,” or (from meditation teachers) “this guy was already fucked up, so it doesn’t count.”

Denial pattern has recently shifted from “never happens” to “rare and their fault.”
Common failure modes for meditation teachers, and maybe especially for psychotherapists who also recommend or teach meditation. From: brown.edu/research/labs/…
🛑 My strictly amateur personal advice: adverse effects of meditation are common. Most are minor. The rewards usually outweigh the risks.

Realizing bad effects can come up, and recognizing them AS bad when they do, helps.

Most bad stuff stops if you STOP MEDITATING for a while.
This just seems like common sense, but the mystical woo that still billows around “meditation” can lead people to dropping common sense and treating it as if it were totally alien to ordinary life, and not something you could or should reason about in a normal way.
A final non-common-sense observation that may be controversial (and I am not sure of it myself).

“Meditation” includes diverse methods with diverse goals. However, a single approach dominates in America now…
The original aim of this approach was to cause something that sounds much like depressive psychosis. It’s not surprising if it sometimes still does. It’s interesting that it can also be beneficial in small doses!

Vince raises an important point here! Only you can be fully responsible for your mental health. It’s tempting to turn it over to someone else, to avoid blame. That doesn’t work. (In the worst case it leads to dysfunctional cults.)

Use common sense…

Western Buddhism developed a dysfunctional culture of entitledness among students, who expected meditation teachers to embody perfection and to provide unlimited support for free.

This seems to be changing, fortunately.

So, if you have a tendency toward depression or dissociation (spaciness), you might investigate alternative approaches, which aim toward joyful involvement with concrete reality instead. vividness.live/tantra-base

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More from @Meaningness

25 Jun
I'm never quite cynical *enough*. The only part of the report I didn't anticipate was their putting machine learning in there. In retrospect: of course they did, how could they have passed up that opportunity?
The UFO report certainly tried to be as vague as possible, in order to allow people to continue believing what they like.

My reading was “Yeah, we haven’t got anything, but if you give us LOTS more money, it’s imaginable that we’ll find something.”

Read 4 tweets
11 Jun
🚂 Steam locomotive under construction. Brand new, not a restoration! Nevada Railroad Museum, Carson City. A must for engineering geeks in the region Image
🚂 This one is a restoration and it’s stunning ImageImage
🚂 A Victorian tech giant: Baldwin was the world’s biggest maker of steam locomotives. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_L… Image
Read 7 tweets
22 May
🎙࿇ @joffe_p on tantric Buddhist sex (“karmamudra”). He and his teacher Dr Nida Chenagtsang have been the first to teach this openly, after centuries of Tibetans making a big fuss about how secret it is, for dumb political reasons. Hooray!

@joffe_p ࿇ Tantric sex is one approach to tantric energy practice (“tsa lung”). For dumb political reasons, the Tibetan mainstream narrowed tsa lung to a single system, the Six Yogas, rigidly applied. The Six Yogas are good mostly only for teenage boys.
@joffe_p ࿇ A much broader range of energy practices survived on the margins of Tibet, where the oppressive monastic hegemony of Lhasa barely reached.

Historical research within Tibetan texts turns up many more, and there are similar practices in Shaivism, Taoism, and elsewhere.
Read 7 tweets
20 May
My pinned tweet is about that. You can read the comic essay it links as a deadly serious exploration of the deep structure of wicked problems:
.@vgr’s essay ends with what I’ve called “wizardry.” When you understand the inseparability of pattern and nebulosity, you can weave the flow of energy around and beneath islands of interpretability. Your effective action will appear incomprehensible. breakingsmart.substack.com/p/good-people-… Image
@vgr I’ve made this point in the context of Buddhist ethics… vividness.live/emptiness-form… Image
Read 6 tweets
20 May
If you have the capacity for it, you should be less moral. Not more immoral, not more self-interested, but less confined by fixed ideas of goodness.

Essay from @vgr resonates with my writing on ethics, although in somewhat different conceptual framework.

@vgr Morality suffices to navigate well-defined ethical domains. It fails, and may be worse than useless, when facing “wicked problems”—nebulous ones, in my terminology.

“Being a good person” is the essence of the culture war. Y’all should stop that. It’s profoundly destructive.
@vgr Strong analogy: both ethics and technical rationality fail in the face of nebulosity.

In both cases, one should *not* revert to immorality or irrationality. metarationality.com/nebulosity
Read 8 tweets
15 May
Going through the gigantic _Meaningness_ draft and removing numerous sections that are currently just notes and which, realistically, I will never get time to write.
Most are “archaeology of meaningness,” i.e. histories of where current popular bad attitudes came from.

These are illuminating, but it takes an enormous amount of research to do a good job, and SUPPOSEDLY there are academics whose actual responsibility this is.
Quantum woo is dire stuff, but it’s partly the fault of the original quantum physicists, who were infested with German Romantic Idealism and Hindu monism:
Read 4 tweets

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