Well, I’ve been wanting to have this have this type of conversation with you all for some time, so I appreciate it.
On the subject of “meditationing” and brain chemistry, I reiterate, “so what”? . Does a musician or her audience ultimately care about the notes written on a page? No, they care about the music. Not a perfect analogy, but you get my drift. While one is corporal, the brain is always doing chemistry like crazy and I would add that the neuroscience of meditation is in it’s extreme infantile stages, and, can and do neuroscientists ever deduce the entirety of neurochemistry at any one time during any “single process”? Also, what about other simultaneous chemistry of other organs, say, hormones of the adrenal glands? (Well, this, as an aside, points to the general weakness of modern medical analysis as it is, for lack of a better term, “un-holistic”, and therefore it usually requires a bevy of docs to “treat” a patient and it can, and frequently does, get ugly–just ask anybody, especially senior citizens. And that is, in part, why yours truly dropped out of med school back in the day–well, yours truly likes to think he is rational and has ethics and is not greedy.
The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. Voltaire
But I stray… I really have little interest in brain chemistry regarding any activity of life. Do I care about it while playing basketball or writing a satirical piece such as this, or playing drums? No. To the extent that they can possibly help people who they claim have ” bad chemistry” by intervening with “good chemistry”, I’m ok with it, but I usually run the other way when I see a doctor–almost as fast as when I see a clergyman.
More interesting to me, however, are the various empirical reports of actual practitioners of meditation, especially the so-called “self realized” ones. In particular, one Eknath Easwaran(R.I.P.), was my all time favorite “guru”, who categorically said that we are not our thoughts or our bodies, but are, in fact, “spirit” inhabiting said bodies and minds and this is an area that Sam Harris has raised to question as well. But if one applies logic and observation and dismisses God(s), then one must also dismiss alleged spirits and souls–so, this is a logical hang up point for me. Easwaran, like all of them, has problems with relying on and quoting other various “saints” regarding God, whose wild meanderings are also frequently logically fallacious. Even Lao Tsu referred to the “Divine Mother” as the “Original Creator”, who “created the Tao”, etc. But even the concept of the “Tao” has problems with it, as exemplified by contradictions between, say, Chinese and Japanese Taoism(s): one claims, for e.g., a hill is yin, while the other says it is “yang”, etc., and in the final “balance”–as with brain chemistry, who really cares? One can never completely access the “yin and yang” of one’s entire environment at any one time anyway–it’s delusional to think one can.
And then, among Hindus and Buddhists, there’s the whole “third eye” imbroglio. One time I was chatting with a New Delhi gal online who informed me that she had developed a “third eye”. I asked her if she had seen an ophthalmologist about it…
Of course, there is the millennia long heated controversy as to whether or not the Hindu/Buddhist God is impersonal or personal(like Dead Jesus), and the reporting from the “experts” varies quite a bit with no real conclusive answers either way. Traditionally, the Hindus/Buddhists make reference to an impersonal “Void”–a really happy “Void”, but a “Void” nonetheless. But more recently, Christian influenced “gurus” query as to a “personal” God, that you can talk to, reads and “judges” your thoughts on a point system, can possibly intervene if you ask Him nicely enough through prayer, etc…
But none of the so-called “Enlightened Beings” or “saints” seem to gain any verifiable, supernatural powers in the deal, no matter how many fables you hear about it, so the “Nirvana” of which they speak appears to bear no resemblance to the God who possesses supernatural powers you confront in the three main world monotheisms.
So, what one is left with, is the fact that one wonders if there is anything at all further profound to experience in life. One has a curiosity, and, more importantly, a sense of yearning, of discovery. Others, through the ages, have claimed, empirically, that through meditation, one CAN actually experience this profound thing or state or transformation of mind and being–and this is why I meditate.
Besides, it’s harmless.