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February 18, 2013

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Owen: Here is your homework assignment. I want you to look into the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The date is important. Also keep in mind something Dr. Karel Warner said: "Pantanjali's system is unthinkable without Buddhism" (The Yogi and the Mystic, p. 27).
Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga_Sutras_of_Patanjali

So, is the accusation that your blog is "Vedantic" - by which I mean "consistent with the teachings of Vedanta", not necessarily affiliating with a Vedantic teacher or claiming membership in a Vedantic lineage or even self-identifying as a "Vedantist" or "Vedantic" by religious or philosophical preference - inaccurate?

Do I understand correctly that you contend the Buddha to have uncovered a meditative technique which led to an Enlightenment experience and an understanding of the Self and Reality (both absolute and relative) that would have been considered more or less consistent with Vedanta (and is that Advaita Vedanta, or a dualistic flavor or Vedanta?), but that "Buddhists" have, by and large, not repeated that experience, and so failed to grasp the conceptual understanding taught by the Buddha, resulting in Buddhism developing a largely nihilistic, "nothing is Real" conceptual model?

And if that understanding is mostly accurate, are the teachings of Vedanta a better source of information and guidance than erroneously-named "Buddhist" teachings? Would you point seeking students to the Vedas and the teachers/teachings of Vedanta as supplementary or even primary sources of information?

I am an earnest seeker, but I am finding it very hard to find teachings and teachers that are trustworthy. My own understanding of both Buddhism and Vedanta is that they are both affirmatively non-dualistic, meaning that they deny a duality of the Real, but simultaneously affirm the reality of the relative and the reality of the absolute by understanding the relative to exist as epiphenomena of the absolute's own Self-awareness. (The absolute, by virtue of being Awareness but also being the only thing that exists at the level of the absolute, must be aware of itSelf if it is aware at all - which it is by definition, so it must be Self-aware. As a metaphor, I tend to imagine the opening credita of the old Dr. Who tv series, which were fluidly dynamic manifestations of form produced by connecting a video camera to a television set - the camera, perceiving its own perceptions, created wholly new things to perceive. Perhaps that is not how it works, but that is the closest I am to grasping it, at this stage.)I provide this background to offer some insight into my own level of understanding at its current stage, and some context for my questions, above. I will happily accept any insight or advice you are willing to offer.

Sincerely,
Owen

Solon:

Putting the matter bluntly, the philosopher Colin McGinn believes that presently we are too stupid to see how consciousness and the brain really connect. He writes:

"So we are left with an introspection-based view of consciousness and a perception-based view of the brain, staring at each other across a yawning conceptual divide. These two faculties must be providing us with a partial and skewed picture of what they are directed toward, and hence fail to disclose the underlying unity of mind and brain. Cognitive closure results from the fact that this partialness is inherent in the two modes of apprehension. There is no way to modify or extend introspection and perception so that they can transcend their present limitations. That is like hoping that if we tinker with our sense of touch it will eventually give us perceptions of color. To put it baldly, it is part of the very essence of consciousness that it not be perceptible by the kinds of senses we have, but that means that it can never be integrated with an object--the brain-- whose essence is to be perceptible" (The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World).

There are many reasons to such spiritual myopia and general human stupidity. Perhaps this article might offer some answers:

Leading Geneticist: Human Intelligence is Slowly Declining

Would you be surprised to hear that the human race is slowly becoming dumber, and dumber? Despite our advancements over the last tens or even hundreds of years, some ‘experts’ believe that humans are losing cognitive capabilities and becoming more emotionally unstable. One Stanford University researcher and geneticist, Dr. Gerald Crabtree, believes that our intellectual decline as a race has much to do with adverse genetic mutations. But there is more to it than that.

According to Crabtree, our cognitive and emotional capabilities are fueled and determined by the combined effort of thousands of genes. If a mutation occurred in any of of these genes, which is quite likely, then intelligence or emotional stability can be negatively impacted.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues,” the geneticist began his article in the scientific journal Trends in Genetics.

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/leading-geneticist-human-intelligence-slowly-declining/#ixzz2LFZZy3HA

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