2012.07.09 07:00 - Theme Session: looking at the methodologies of both spiritual and scientific investigations

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Eliza Madrigal. The comments are by Eliza Madrigal, who placed the greetings at the end of the session log, to highlight content.

    Eliza Madrigal: So shall we keep to theme session protocol today? first twenty to thirty minutes set aside for boxy and pema and then questions and open discussion after?
    Wol Euler nods.
    Bleu Oleander: :)
    Alfred Kelberry: do you agree with my topic proposal, pema?
    Pema Pera: fine!

    Pema Pera: And why don't you start, from whatever point you prefer
    Eliza Madrigal: great... so we can open questions at around 7:30.
    Alfred Kelberry: pema, i intend to mostly listen today :)
    Wol Euler: :(
    Bleu Oleander: :( too
    Wol Euler: I for one would welcome a bit of exposition from Boxy
    Santoshima Resident: :((
    Santoshima Resident: yes
    Wol Euler: since you are the one who started it :)
    Alfred Kelberry: read emails, woly :)
    Bleu Oleander thinks so nice to have Wol back :)

    Pema Pera: in my relatively long email, sorry about that length, I described how I originally got into an interest in contemplative traditions
    Pema Pera: and how for me there is a strong connection with the approach taken in science: open, peer-based, democratic

    Alfred Kelberry: these are 2 points that i proposed to discussed in this meeting: I propose to first understand methodology used by spiritual scholars in their research. And then look at scientific methods that you employ to study subject/object relationship at PaB.
    Pema Pera: fine!
    Alfred Kelberry: arguably, pema is the expert on both subjects
    Pema Pera: shall we start with the first point?
    Alfred Kelberry: yes, please

    Pema Pera: First of all, there is enormous diversity in "spiritual approaches"
    Pema Pera: would it be okay to use the term "contemplative" instead of spiritual?
    Pema Pera: that would narrow it down a little, at least
    Alfred Kelberry: sure. i am, however, along with chopra, used to "spiritual" :)
    Pema Pera: to describe people who use some form of meditation in their traditions
    Alfred Kelberry: hi, luci :)
    Eliza Madrigal: (Hi Luci, Storm I will give you notes so as not to interrupt the discussion :))
    Pema Pera: well, okay, we can use any term you like, as long as we are clear what we are talking about
    szavanna Resident: hi Luci :)
    Lucinda Lavender: hi thanks
    Bleu Oleander like being clear :)

    Pema Pera: now if we compare science and spirituality, to use that word, there is a similarity and a difference that immediately jumps out
    Alfred Kelberry: let's make them interchangeable for the purpose of this talk
    Pema Pera: the similarity is that in both cases the claim is that things are not at all what they look like, that there is a deeper/other structure in the nature of reality that can explain a lot of what is going on at face value
    Pema Pera: the difference is that in the case of science there is universal agreements: the equations of physics used to build cell phones are the same in China and India as in Europe and the US.
    Pema Pera: whereas there is bewildering variety in spiritual approaches, with almost no agreement on anything


    Pema Pera: and to make things worse: the terms used are different and often very deeply rooted in the particular civilizations that gave rise to the kind of spirituality in question. Much of my own study over the last 40+ years has gone into trying to get a sense of what the common elements are in spiritual/contemplative traditions
    Pema Pera: any answer I could possibly give you is connected with this challenge
    Pema Pera: so we may have to go quite slowly to arrive at meaningful conclusions.

    Pema Pera: to come back to Alfred's question " I propose to first understand methodology used by spiritual scholars in their research."
    Pema Pera: there are many possibly answers that could be given
    Pema Pera: so I see a few options
    Pema Pera: I could try to talk in general, what I see as the typical connecting aspect
    Pema Pera: the greatest common denominator, so to speak
    Pema Pera: or I could talk about the kind of contemplative approaches that I personally like best, and from which I drew my inspiration in starting PaB
    Pema Pera: do you have a preference?

    Alfred Kelberry: question: why do you think a unified framework hasn't formed for study of spiritual phenomena? there are a lot of scholars working in the filed with scientific background
    Pema Pera: four hundred years ago, no unified framework had been formed for science either: science is incredibly young as a cultural product!
    Alfred Kelberry: also, to quote chopra, he said that we have a methodology and we share results with each other - there must be some forum that allows for comparison and collective work
    Pema Pera: Only half a millenium ago there was a lot of pre-scientific knowledge, in terms of metallurgy and all kinds of technology, but no modern science as we know it
    Pema Pera: I don't know of any forum :)
    Alfred Kelberry: are there attempts to create such a unified framework?
    Pema Pera: slowly
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Aph I will give you a note of the session so far so as not to interrupt the discussion
    szavanna Resident: hi Aph :)
    Pema Pera: it will take a lot of time, can't be forced

    Alfred Kelberry: pema, maybe a better question: is there a will amongst spiritual scholars to do it?
    Pema Pera: or let's go back a thousand years: there were great technological contributions made in CHina, India, the Moslim empires
    Alfred Kelberry: lady aph :)
    Pema Pera: and it is an enormous surprise that science as we know it emerged out of all those separate approaches around 1600
    Aphrodite Macbain: smiles
    Pema Pera: and that whole process took a few centuries
    Pema Pera: from Copernicus to Newton was a couple centuries
    Pema Pera: to unify very diverse traditions, to really get at the bottom of what is comparable at their core is a very big challenge
    Pema Pera: and it may even seem hopeless
    Alfred Kelberry: yes, i understand your argument. is there the will to do it though?
    Pema Pera: I think it can be done, and there may be some other people, but my guess is that most people involved in specific traditions don't think it is feasible
    Pema Pera: they watch the difference and just don't see openings for comparison. They conclude: it's hard enough to learn one approach, what guarantee is there that trying to learn more than one and somehow combining them will work?

    Alfred Kelberry: ok, let's put it aside for a moment and get back to chopra's quote: "we share results" - what constitutes results and how do you share them given no unified framework exists?
    Pema Pera: as always, there is no point in waiting for the masses: progress will come from a few individuals here and there who will lead the way
    Pema Pera: Again, I can't speak for Chopra, and I don't know whom he is refering to
    Pema Pera: but it will be a matter of bootstrapping
    Alfred Kelberry: spiritual community, i imagine :)
    Pema Pera: without frameworks it is not so clear what results really are, and without clarity about results it is not so clear what frameworks can be defined
    Pema Pera: both have to be investigated together
    Pema Pera: everything in science is like that
    Pema Pera: if I may give an example:
    Pema Pera: even Newton's simple law of inertia is like that
    Pema Pera: force = mass times acceleration


    Pema Pera: there you can measure acceleration, by measuring changes in velocitie, using a clock and a measuring rod -- but you can't measure force or mass separately. Typically you define the mass of an object by the force it exerts, like in a gravitational field. So the first time you see this equation it may strike you as a circular argument
    Pema Pera: almost anything in science and elsewhere gets its clarity from the context
    Pema Pera: so a new context has to be created together with all the new concepts in it
    Pema Pera: that's why a breakthrough is so hard: all the half formed, half-baked ideas are slowly gelling together
    Pema Pera: so you can't expect suddenly to see a bunch of spiritual types getting together to offer you clarity about a whole new approach; it will take a century, I would guess

    Pema Pera: what I myself hope to accomplish is a bit more modest: not trying to integrate all of spirituality, but rather the kind of contemplative approach that I like most myself
    Pema Pera: which is what I used in starting PaB, for the background ideas

    Alfred Kelberry: so you argue that there's no context in spiritual research?
    Pema Pera: each tradition has a rather clearly defined context, though typically implicitly rather than explicitly
    Pema Pera: but no, there is no shared context for all of spirituality, as there wasn't for science five hundred years ago either
    Pema Pera: you see, there is a big difference with, say, music: it is much easier to get musicians from all over the world to talk together and share their craft
    Pema Pera: they definitely recognize that they are all involved in making music
    Alfred Kelberry: yes, we established that there's no unified framework. let's then pick a single random spiritual practice that you're familiar with and try to answer the same question of results and sharing among them.
    Pema Pera: and deeply transformative as good music may be, music doesn't imply an ontology
    Pema Pera: but both science and comtemplation imply that the reality of the world is really quite different from what it seems
    Pema Pera: yes, I'm happy to do so!
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Xirana, I will give you a note of the discussion so far
    Alfred Kelberry: xira cruz ;)
    szavanna Resident: hi Xiri :)
    Xirana Oximoxi: ty Eliza:!!!

    Pema Pera: something tells me that this conversation will continue over quite a few theme sessions, which is certainly fine with me
    Xirana Oximoxi: hello everyone!
    Wol Euler nods.
    Alfred Kelberry: pema, same here :)
    Pema Pera: shall we open the floor and next time start with one particular approach?
    Eliza Madrigal suspects that is fine with everyone
    Zen Arado: Hi Xiri
    Lucinda Lavender: nodding
    Xirana Oximoxi: hi Zen! :)
    Alfred Kelberry: i'd like to go on, frankly :) but yes, let's hear questions
    Mickorod Renard: just as a side issue that may be related, what happens in Noetic science?..is there a practice or framework in that ?
    Aphrodite Macbain: what is that?
    Mickorod Renard: I was hoping no one would ask
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Bleu Oleander: :)
    Pema Pera: I am not very familiar with that group, sorry.
    Aphrodite Macbain wonders why Boxy has a sub machine gun strapped to his back

    Eliza Madrigal: it is a way of framing an academic angle... have known one person who was going in this direction
    Eliza Madrigal: no•et•ic sci•ences: A multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experiences.
    Bruce Mowbray: Only to say that Aldous Huxley's "The Perennial Philosophy" presents a superb "context for all of contemplative spirituality": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Perennial_Philosophy
    Eliza Madrigal: (description of intention)

    The term noetic sciences was first coined in 1973 when the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) was founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who two years earlier became the sixth man to walk on the moon. Ironically, it was the trip back home that Mitchell recalls most, during which he felt a profound sense of universal connectedness—what he later described as a samadhi experience. In Mitchell’s own words, “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes. . . .The knowledge came to me directly.” (http://www.noetic.org/about/what-are-noetic-sciences/)

    Alfred Kelberry: aph, a strictly defensive unit :)
    Mickorod Renard: thanks eliza
    Pema Pera: :-)
    Aphrodite Macbain: hmmm
    Alfred Kelberry: :P
    Alfred Kelberry: are there questions on the topic?
    Wol Euler: there don't appear to be (yet) so why don't you two continue where you left off, for today?
    Bleu Oleander: :)
    Bruce Mowbray: yes, please continue...
    Pema Pera: okay!
    Aphrodite Macbain: Is there a particular hypothesis to this discussion? Can you say it in one sentence?


    Mickorod Renard: also I suppose,,is there a wish list for where it may develop?
    Alfred Kelberry: go on, pema :) re: a separate spiritual practice
    Aphrodite Macbain: nods
    Alfred Kelberry: aph, the first time someone asks this question on a meeting :)
    Pema Pera: if I were to pick one example, the most natural for me would be my own kind of explorations, what gave rise to what I called "play as Being"
    Pema Pera: one of the roots for me was Zen
    Aphrodite Macbain: :-) I have just been told that we are looking at the methodologies of both spiritual and scienticic investigations. Thanks
    Pema Pera: something I stumbled upon when I was 18 or so
    Alfred Kelberry: aph, as this discussion stemmed from my last week's topic on application of science at pab - i hope to find out if there is one and how it works
    Pema Pera: but it is very hard to talk meaningfully about zen
    Aphrodite Macbain: ok thanks - anothr subject for investigation
    Alfred Kelberry: aph, scientific methods are well known to most people. today we try to understand how spiritual method works.
    Raffila Millgrove: (Pema explained why there is no one methodolgy used by spiritual scholars, no agreement on context, no sharing/comparison and thinks it will take 100 yrs or more by only a few inviduals leading)
    Aphrodite Macbain: yes. I understand
    Alfred Kelberry: ok, sorry, pema. let me read up on what you wrote...

    Pema Pera: unlike most other contemplative approaches, zen types (or Ch'an in the original Chinese) don't like to use conceptual ideas, they are very pragmatic
    Aphrodite Macbain: thanks. sorry to interrupt.
    Pema Pera: no, Aph, it is helpful to remind us of our focus!
    Pema Pera: so I was looking for a way to say a bit more about the unsayable, re: Zen
    Aphrodite Macbain: :-)
    Pema Pera: during my twenties I went to a number of zen retreats

    Storm Nordwind: Pragmatic.... it seems to me that spirituality has for centuries been rather like cooking! Different cuisines may not try much to learn from others. As a diner or home cook, you shop around and try recipes and find which ones work for your palate. It's a pragmatic approach with little drive to see if there's much common framework at present.
    Pema Pera: and I got more and more of a sense of what there were doing
    Pema Pera: yes, Storm!

    Alfred Kelberry: pema, please hold for a minute :)
    Pema Pera: yes?
    Alfred Kelberry: i'm reading the backlog :)
    Pema Pera: oh, I thought you were cooking and had to run to the stove :)

    Myna Maven: (There's, of course, a difference between religion and spirituality or shall we say mystical experience, esoteric experience. Specific traditions will have an influence on views of these experiences but quite often traditions may have no vocabulary to deal with, shall we say...rogue experience.
    Pema Pera: yes, good point!
    Myna Maven: Much of the inspired/experiential side in religion has been long since lost for probably the majority who are left with not much more than the culural aspect of the tradition.
    Eliza Madrigal: indeed
    Aphrodite Macbain: spiritualities emerge from a culture and are not universal in nature, they are specific to the culture that produced them. But each has its methodologies within it.
    Myna Maven: And the cultural aspect is what keeps compaison from happening.
    Pema Pera: or rogue experiences will be shoehorned back into the tradition
    Myna Maven: Yes.

    Pema Pera: originally yes, Aph; the question is whether something can transcend all those cultures
    Aphrodite Macbain: and you think there is?
    Pema Pera: yes :)
    Aphrodite Macbain: ah. then that is the point. Thanks
    Aphrodite Macbain listens even more intently
    Alfred Kelberry: 5 minutes left. i think we should wrap up for today :)
    Pema Pera: fine!
    Aphrodite Macbain: :-(


    Pema Pera: when shall we continue -- one week from now?
    Storm Nordwind: Transcending cultures hasn't alway been desirable in science, for exclusivity can confer a military advantage. Do you think that sort of thing has been the case in spirituality in the past? And that now, with global communications, we may have the first opportunity to break that down?

    Bleu Oleander: is there a take home point that we can contemplate and build on for nest time?
    Eliza Madrigal smiles at nest time
    Alfred Kelberry: pema, fine by me
    Pema Pera: interesting point, Storm, it may be part of it
    Bleu Oleander: :) Eliza
    Myna Maven: Love the idea of next time. :)
    Aphrodite Macbain: can it be sooner ?
    Aphrodite Macbain: than a week?
    Pema Pera: may be hard . . . I'm traveling a lot
    Aphrodite Macbain: kk
    Wol Euler: so weekly on mondays, 7am
    Pema Pera: now in Berkeley
    Aphrodite Macbain: thank youo bothso much
    Eliza Madrigal: a week gives a chance to discuss in sessions
    Pema Pera: next week will be in Japan
    Myna Maven: Good with me.
    Wol Euler nods.

    Bruce Mowbray: Thank you, Pema and Alfred for an excellent introduction to this important inquiry.
    Pema Pera: yes, Eliza, good point!
    Alfred Kelberry: bleu, i myself try to learn first how spiritual scholars conduct their research
    Pema Pera: thank you Alfred, for nagging us with critical questions!
    Myna Maven: Looking forward to hearing about it, Alfred.
    szavanna Resident: ty Pema & Alfred :)
    Alfred Kelberry: bleu, no take away just yet :)
    Aphrodite Macbain: I will continue to strongly recommend the Quantum and the Lotus to read
    Eliza Madrigal: study of altruism, Aph?
    Aphrodite Macbain: they seem to have answered these questins
    Bruce Mowbray: Yes, Aph, I just downloaded that one into my Kindle. . .
    Aphrodite Macbain: no a study of science and spirituality'
    Bruce Mowbray: by two authors --


    Aphrodite Macbain: a scientist and a Buddhist
    Bruce Mowbray: one a scientist and the other a contemplative.
    Aphrodite Macbain: yes but thecontempative was once a physicist
    Alfred Kelberry: thank you, pema. it was very educational :)
    Bleu Oleander: tkx boxy
    Alfred Kelberry: enjoyed this one
    Pema Pera: me too!
    Bruce Mowbray: Thanks to everyone for being here and continuing Pabber exploration!
    Bleu Oleander: thanks Pema :)
    Alfred Kelberry: thank you all for coming. sorry if you expected a fist fight. you'll have to wait a bit longer :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Thank you everyone
    Zen Arado: thanks all
    Wol Euler: ty!
    Santoshima Resident: thank you ~ bye
    Bleu Oleander: thanks all :)
    Xirana Oximoxi: thanks to all!
    Lucinda Lavender: thank you so much all
    Aphrodite Macbain: I will digest this all over breakfast
    Zen Arado: byee
    Pema Pera: thank you all too!
    Mickorod Renard: thankyou
    Raffila Millgrove: thank you
    Wol Euler: see (some of) you at 1pm, after my nap
    Alfred Kelberry: nap well, woly :)
    Aphrodite Macbain: bye Wol
    Mickorod Renard: sleep well Wol
    Eliza Madrigal: rest well Wol
    Pema Pera: sleep well, Wol!
    Alfred Kelberry: safe travels, pema
    Myna Maven: Bye, everyone.
    Aphrodite Macbain: I see you are no longer a cloud Storm
    Xirana Oximoxi: bye bye Wol!!! see you soon and nice day to all! :-)
    Eliza Madrigal waves warmly
    Bleu Oleander: bye bye :)
    Pema Pera: bfn
    szavanna Resident: byebyeee Brucie see u soon °͜°
    Bruce Mowbray: bye bye, Sun!
    szavanna Resident: :))
    Bruce Mowbray: Keep warm!
    szavanna Resident: yes I just made fire
    szavanna Resident: °͜°
    szavanna Resident waves




    Eliza Madrigal: Wol! :D
    Wol Euler: hello eliza! <3
    Wol Euler: lovely to see you again
    Eliza Madrigal: so good to see you too.... looking forward to hearing adventures
    Wol Euler smiles.
    Eliza Madrigal: welcome back Wol :)
    Wol Euler: yay :)
    szavanna Resident: hi °͜°
    Wol Euler: hello szavanna
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Sza and Mick
    szavanna Resident: hi Woly and Mick and Liz
    Mickorod Renard: cant see who is here yet
    Wol Euler: ahhh that's a clue :)
    Eliza Madrigal: no one here but us chickens Mick
    Alfred Kelberry: woly! :)
    Alfred Kelberry: wee!
    Mickorod Renard: hiya Wol
    szavanna Resident: meep!
    Wol Euler: hello mick, boxy
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Boxy
    Mickorod Renard: yea alf
    Alfred Kelberry: mmm, woly girl is back :)
    Alfred Kelberry: hi :)
    szavanna Resident: hi boxy °͜°
    Alfred Kelberry: sunny sz :)
    Wol Euler: hello myna
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Myna :) Glad to see you made it
    Myna Maven: Hi, Wol. Hi Eliza. Hi all.
    szavanna Resident: hi Myna :)
    Eliza Madrigal: (myna hosted my first PaB session)
    Alfred Kelberry: oh, new style, woly - sneakers :)
    Wol Euler: well :)
    szavanna Resident: really :)
    Myna Maven: Hi Szavanna
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Bruce :)
    Bruce Mowbray: Good day, everyone, and welcome back, Wol!
    Mickorod Renard: Bruce, Myna Szav
    Wol Euler: thank you! nice to be here, bruce
    szavanna Resident: hi Bruce °͜°
    Myna Maven: Oh, seriously, Eliza, I can't believe you would remember that!
    Eliza Madrigal smiles... of course I remember...
    Myna Maven: :)
    Alfred Kelberry: ok, if pema doesn't show up on time, we'll have to cancel the meeting :)
    Eliza Madrigal: also remember your eloquence in writing.. but sorry that may put you on the spot a bit for me to say
    Wol Euler points to the clock
    Eliza Madrigal: :)
    Wol Euler: hello bleu
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Bleu, San
    Bleu Oleander: hi all :)
    Mickorod Renard: hi Bleu
    Myna Maven: I'll be doing a lot of listening today.
    Eliza Madrigal: :) me too.... getting all my chattering out now
    Alfred Kelberry: myna, i hope you speak out as well :)
    Santoshima Resident: hello everyone
    Mickorod Renard: yea,,please dont let me talk
    Eliza Madrigal laughs
    Myna Maven: Ha!
    Alfred Kelberry: mick :)
    Mickorod Renard: :)
    Eliza Madrigal: aha, not off the hook Alfred...
    Eliza Madrigal: here is Pema :)
    Alfred Kelberry: just on time! :)
    Bleu Oleander: wb Wol :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Pema :)
    Wol Euler: thank you, fresh off the plane! haven't even had a nap yet
    Bleu Oleander: nice to see you back at the circle :)
    Bruce Mowbray: Hi, Pema.
    Alfred Kelberry: fresh woly :)
    Eliza Madrigal: one note... I have lowered the fountain so the ring will serve as pause indicator :)
    szavanna Resident: hi Pema - I am Sun °͜°
    Mickorod Renard: Hi Pema
    Bleu Oleander: hi Pema :)
    Wol Euler: not fresh at all, "used". very tired and dirty.
    Pema Pera: hi Sun/Szavanna and All !
    Alfred Kelberry: :)
    Alfred Kelberry: mr pema :)
    Myna Maven: Hello, Pema.
    Pema Pera: and he, Wol, so nice to see you back!!
    Wol Euler: hello pema! thank you, nice to be back
    Alfred Kelberry: onigokko
    Alfred Kelberry: :P
    Bleu Oleander: haha ... not fully attired for onigokko :)
    Eliza Madrigal: stop
    Bleu Oleander: hi Zen
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Zen
    Wol Euler: hello zen, san
    Bruce Mowbray: G'day, Zen.
    szavanna Resident: hi Zenji °͜°
    Pema Pera: hi Zen!
    Zen Arado: Hi all
    Alfred Kelberry: ^_^
    Myna Maven: Hi Zen.
    Santoshima Resident: hello Wol and Pema
    Bruce Mowbray: Good morning, Raffi!
    Santoshima Resident: & Raffi
    Wol Euler: hello raffi
    Zen Arado: Hi Raffi
    Mickorod Renard: hi raffi
    Pema Pera: hi Raffi!
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Raffila
    Bleu Oleander: hiya Raffi :)
    Myna Maven: Hello Raffi.
    szavanna Resident: hi Raffi :)
    Mickorod Renard: Zen

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