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Messages - Rationalist

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Other / Re: Time Spent Training
« on: December 18, 2015, 11:12:09 AM »
Also, when I used to do martial arts, I specifically trained when I was definitively not at my best; when I was tired/exhausted, hungry/thirsty, sick, had headaches, drunk, muscles sore, etc. Reason being that there's generally two scenarios when you get into a fight: you and the other person both agree to it, or you get jumped. People who are going to jump others don't wait for the others to be at their best, so I felt I needed to be able to fight even if I was in terrible condition. And that made a *world* of difference in my capability in every situation other than when I'm at my best (reinforcing what's there, rather than only pushing the limits further).

I'm not an expert on deliberate practice by any means, and much less on martial arts, but practicing martial arts when you're feeling less than great for the purpose of being able to defend yourself in any situation sounds very deliberate to me. Many armies around the world train like this. That said, I would think that keeping a little practice time when you're at your best would be useful to push those limits.

You can have fighting technique, but if you never spar full contact with another human being you will never learn to use it in a real way. You can practice forms for 20 years that are said to develop defense against multiple attackers, but if you do not have people randomly attack you you will never know how to react with calm awareness, proper alignment, and devastating technique. This doesn't mean to go out and pick a fight with a gang, but to put as much reality into your training as possible.

I agree. You get better at what you practice. So if you practice forms, you'll get better at forms (assuming you practice correctly). If you practice defending yourself against random attacks, then you'll (hopefully) get better at that.

I think this is where religion differs from magic; religion has one put faith into something and to depend on that something and if things do not go the way you intended, all is well because is just part of the plan, where practical magic makes us look at where we went wrong: did I not banish properly; was my mind not really in the moment; were my emotions wild; was I distracted? The more we practice a set of techniques the more we can discover which ones work for us in what situations and which ones we can discard.

Interesting way to look at it.

This is why I am a big supporter of the 10,000 technique philosophy. Even if it doesn't, train like your life depends on it, this way you will know the ways of eating bitter and feeling accomplished when you eat that proverbial hamburger with fries, a salad and six pack of your favorite beer with good friends...

I'm not sure I understand this :confused:

Other / Re: Time Spent Training
« on: December 01, 2015, 05:11:39 PM »
I hope you guys won't mind me resurrecting this ancient thread. It has recently been mentioned here, and I felt like adding a few things.

Firstly, as has been mentioned multiple times, quality is very important. There's a huge difference between doing and practicing. For example, there are many people who have thousands of hours of driving under their belt, but how many of them could actually go anywhere near the limit on a racing track? If you do a Google search for "deliberate practice", you'll find quite a few things about how to make practice matter.

Secondly, I think the specific skill being learned is also important. Take learning a language. Depending on what your native language is, there are languages which will be harder for you, and languages which will be comparatively easy.

And thirdly, it's important to realize that this 10k figure is for world-class performance. How many of us are trying to be world-class? There are multiple principles which suggest that interesting results can be achieved much sooner than this. One of them is the Pareto principle, which says that 80% of results come from 20% of effort. Of course, the numbers will vary widely in different situations, but there often is something to it. Also, there's the law of diminishing returns, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with.

In fact, there are people who hack skill learning, and have managed to acquire some skills very quickly (at a very basic level, of course, but that's kinda the point). For example, there's a guy called Josh Kaufman, who presented a TED talk about this topic, and also wrote a book about it. Here's the TED talk:

Then there are people who are hacking language learning, like Benny Lewis and Gabriel Wyner, and can already speak multiple languages quite well (although I'm not sure if Gabriel is truly a hacker, since his method is more about quality than quantity).

So really, it all depends on how good you want to be. And come to think of it, maybe the world needs someone to hack metaphysics, and get interesting results in a much shorter time than usual? Or perhaps is it something that can't be hacked, or, of it can, shouldn't be?

Spirituality / Re: Why seek enlightenment?
« on: November 10, 2015, 04:02:41 AM »
Thanks to everyone for your insightful answers. Based on this thread, as well as talking to some people, and a lot of my own thinking and journaling over several months, I have decided to give up on trying to reach enlightenment and instead try going after the many benefits of it directly. Especially the personality and character improvements. I suspect that a direct path to these things will be more efficient than simply letting it be a side-effect of trying to achieve a goal I don't care about.

It does not prove that one remains conscious after death in so much as it proves that consciousness is something independent from the physical body, in a "you are not your brain" sort of way. What happens at and after death is something different for most people.

Many of these NDE descriptions sound a lot like conscious OBE's. That said, I think it might a a little impolite to argue this with too much zeal when I'm the one asking the question :biggrin:

I think this bears defining of what you feel is actively making the world a better place. Peaceful protesting? Service to those less fortunate through volunteer work? Third world country volunteering? Missionary work? Donations to fundraisers that go to a good cause? Working mundane jobs to fund those donations? Working and being a good, contributing tax payer to the local government, who then sends that money into social programs and healthcare systems? Tithing to religious sects, so that they in turn can spread the word and fund missionary work?

Almost all of these things can be good, expect perhaps the last one. That would very much depend on the sect. Another big way to contribute to the world would be to carefully choose what one does for a living. So, for example, if one has the option to work for an evil, irresponsible company which exploits people, destroys the environment, or tries to sue everyone for stupid things, versus a good company which cares for the environment, contributes back to society, etc., then it would be better to work for the second company. Of course, many people do not have the luxury of choosing among a great variety of places to work at, and it gets a little complicated when the evil company offers a bigger paycheck, and the person in question has a family which depends on them. So, I wouldn't want to be a moralist and judge people for where they work (unless they are doing something really unethical), but if a person has that choice, I think it's good to consider it.

It also considers what you mean by spending hours--let's say you spend an hour a day in meditation; are you still capable of getting your work done within the day? Are you socializing with your family, contributing your part? Then an hour doesn't seem like a big deal, but adds up to quite a sum of hours at the end of the year. Or are you speaking extreme cases where people go for weeks on their own little spiritual journey? Either way, if that hour a day, or a concentrated amount of time gives you the inspiration and motivation you need to create good in the world in any significant way you're capable of, then it's well justified. If it gives you the compassion to give to those who are in need, if it gives the ability to answer questions from personal experience and contribute to another's growth, even if it gives you just a little bit of quiet in your mind so that you can rewind and be more affable and loving to those who love you in return and even those who don't, then it's justified.

I agree, although I think that one should be a little careful with the more extreme cases. I mean, there's nothing inherently wrong with going on spiritual journeys for several weeks. It's just that, if a person wants to be a true seeker, they might want to be honest with themselves, and approximate how much of it truly helps them function better in the world, and how much of it is simply because they want to. There's of course nothing wrong with either, and it's great that many people now live in societies where this is possible :)

Spirituality / Re: Why seek enlightenment?
« on: October 29, 2015, 05:13:57 PM »
Thanks to both of you for your insightful answers. However, a couple of things still aren't perfectly clear to me, so if it isn't too much of a bother... :biggrin:

My pursuit for Self-Realization has only made me a more honorable and empathetic person. I do not easily lose my temper, I listen to people better, I learn things more easily, and I am not bogged down by unconscious self-sabotage as much as I used to be. When I want to learn or do something, I just do it.

All of these things sound to be very good and useful. But, as step 2 of IIH and the various commentaries (Veos, Rawn Clark) suggest, it is possible to go after these things directly. Your fundamental development paper suggest this as well. So why do many people try to awaken the kundalini in pursuit of enlightenment? How does it help?

NDE's are very different for different people. Some people experience nothing, some have fully conscious OBE's, and some people dream during them.

I think that the term NDE usually implies that the person in question has experienced at least something, so that would be either an OBE or a dream. Also, quite a few people report such experiences:

Quote from: IANDS
Depending on how restrictively the NDE is defined, studies have indicated that between 12% and 40% of people who go through a near-death episode will later say they had an NDE. It is clear that in the United States alone at least several million people have had NDEs.
taken from

So, considering that millions of people are probably not enlightened, is this not evidence that enlightenment is not necessary to remain conscious after death?

Bardon approaches it in a similar way, with more detail if you wish to read the IIH. Elemental Equipoise reaches its peak when you cultivate Volition, Intellect, Sentience, and Character, each of these represented by an Element. When the corresponding Element is refined to a high grade of purity particularly in the mental body, and these are all in harmony with each other, you experience "the magicians enlightenment." Which is much like what Sadguru touched on with his story of the four Yogis.

Would it be fair to say that:

* Jnana Yoga = fire,
* Bhakti Yoga = water,
* Karma Yoga = earth,
* Kriya Yoga = air?

By knowing all we can about ourselves and our impact on one another through our thoughts, words, and gestures (actions) we are better equipped with the tools necessary to take action to prevent or solve problems whether they be emotional, magical, or altruistic.

I agree that knowing yourself can be useful. But how would energy work, or psi, or prayer, or ritual help in obtaining such self-knowledge?

Magic gives us the tools to get ready for what is to come on the spiritual plane, and whether our magic is meditation, energy work, psi, prayer, ritual, or a combination, we are given a choice in our physical incarnation whether or not it is our time to crystallize our consciousness and transcend to a new level of incarnation through magic or to just remain mundane and let fate (ebb and flow) decide for us.

On one hand, it makes sense. On the other hand, do we have any evidence that this is the case? For example, do people who practice these kinds of things report more pleasant NDE's, or just more NDE's in general?

Spirituality / Re: Why seek enlightenment?
« on: October 25, 2015, 04:54:43 AM »
Wait a minute. So I'm not the only person on this forum who likes Sadhguru? :eek:

Because they want to. If you don't want to do something, there's no point in doing it.  :P

I'm just trying to find out what benefits it brings to help me decide if I'm interested in it, and if so, how much time do I want to devote to it.

Self-Realization allows you to better understand not only yourself, but other people. This not only makes your personal life richer, but it also makes you better equipped to help others, because you tend to have a better perspective on the nature of many things, and so you can better counsel someone in regards to those things.

I can understand the general principle, but could you perhaps give a specific example of this?

As for the afterlife, well. Self-Realized people tend to retain their conscious awareness after the first death, which allows them to continue being themselves in the Otherworld until the second death.

Okay, that may be true. But, is it necessary to achieve self-realization to retain conscious awareness after the first death (I'm assuming that this is physical death)? What about NDE's? Aren't they evidence that it isn't necessary?

Also, what is the second death? Is there any good web site, book, or a forum post which explains this? Preferably something short without lots of symbolism?

It's a "charity begins at home" thing. Spending a lot of time refining yourself does not directly make the world better, but by bettering yourself first, you are better equipped to make the world a better place.

I understand and agree. I'm just trying to decide how far to go with this.


Concerning the first Sadhguru video, I believe he's arguing that most people should not strive for enlightenment, but just reach a certain point, and then become enlightened at the moment of death. Is this correct? And what is this certain point that results in enlightenment at the moment of death?

Concerning the second Sadhguru video, he's saying that if you cultivate your body, mind, emotions and energy to their peak possibility, then "an absolutely wonderful flower blossoms within you".  And this is enlightenment, correct? If so, why wouldn't it result in you leaving the body, as he was talking about in the last video?

Thank you for your answers, by the way!

Spirituality / Why seek enlightenment?
« on: October 22, 2015, 05:58:36 AM »
Hello everyone.

So I'm an occasional lurker on these forums, and wanted to ask this question to all of you who seek enlightenment.

Let us, for the purposes of this thread, assume three things:
1. reincarnation is real, although everyone may not agree on the details
2. there is some time between incarnations, with some level of consciousness
3. enlightenment is reconnecting with this pre-birth consciousness

So, assuming these things to be true, I have a couple of questions:

1. Why should anyone seek enlightenment?
2. How would enlightenment improve one's life, afterlife, or the ability to be of service to others?
3. How would it be more noble to spend hours in meditation seeking enlightenment, rather than spending this time making the world a better place?
4. Since we're here, why not enjoy the things which can only be enjoyed here, and let us enjoy the spiritual worlds after death?

I hope someone can enlighten me :)

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