Hi Sean,Originally Posted by PaxAnimi
By coincidence (or Karma for those who believe in such things), I was planning to speak about a related topic tonight. To make a long story short, we are not trying to induce any special state in our sitting. The special state we seek comes about by not seeking special states. Strange, huh?
Furthermore, the practice is about learning to sail a sailboat (the mind) for ourselves, not hiring a crew or relying on the auto-pilot or some other outside machine to do it. Our practice is to be incorporated into our lives, day by day. There are not very many short-cuts, especially not by a drug or machine that brings about some hypnotic state.
I have fooled with such devices in the past. I found the effect not much different than a couple of valium, nor of much more use to Zazen practice.
Our way is not about obtaining "deep trances," but about new ways of thinking and non-thinking.
I will stick with the 'old fashioned' way of doing things, and need nothing else.
PS- I actually am very interested in research on the brain and meditation. At some point in the future, there may be some shortcuts to inducing some of the Zazen experience through technology. It is just that there is a lot more to our practice. To use another analogy, injecting yourself with steriods is not a substitute for all the other training needed to make yourself a great athlete, and may be harmful to the person in the end.
I am not planning to use this instead of my practice, or even as an addition. I only hope to experiment and see the effects of such technology for myself. I've always been curious about such things and when I stumbled across this it tickled that curiosity. The part that interests me most is the visuals this could produce before actually falling asleep.
Bless you Sean, you are full of fun ideas! I'm sure there must be some research information out there for these things.
I find my mind all by itself is quite enough of a joy (and not so joy-filled) ride.
You may be on the path for inventing a whole new way to go, but it won't be zazen (maybe Sean'szen?)
Part of the great appeal for me of zazen--Dogen's zen-- was (and is) the sheer simplicity of it. All that is required is the doing of it. No batteries, no electricity required!
I tried one of those things about 25 years ago - a friend, who ran a center in New York that had an isolation tank, had one. It trances you out pretty quickly, but it's a harsh trance, in the sense that you can't let thoughts float across your mental horizon; you get so attracted by the lights (you keep your eyes closed, but they are bright enough that you see them through your eyelids) that you can't really think. They also have some effect on certain brain waves.
I, like Jundo, am interested in recent research on the brain and meditation, in part because of the meditation, but also because I have a neurological condition which has prodded me to learn more about the brain. While there may be, as Jundo says, "shortcuts" in the future, I agree that they don't get you to the end any faster; they just make the trip shorter. And what counts most, it seems, is the trip.
BTW, for those interested in the subject, there is a very interesting (though complex) book about meditation and the brain written by a neuroscientist who practices Zen, called Zen and the Brain:
http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Brain-Underst ... 0262511096
It's not an easy read, and there is a long section about the brain and which parts of the brain do what, which you could skip, but the author looks at what meditation does to the brain, how and why, though he never suggests that all this is _simply_ about brain chemicals. It did, however, clear up some things I hadn't quite understood.