Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Last Words on Bill Harris and Holosync™

NellaLou's post on the Holosync™ guy's coercive legal tactics has resulted in my thinking about my issues with whole issue of putting headphones on to meditate to something.

And those issues start with a bit that Hakuin wrote

What is the Sound of the Single Hand? When you clap together both hands a sharp sound is heard; when you raise the one hand there is neither sound nor smell. Is this the High Heaven of which Confucius speaks? Or is it the essentials of what Yamamba describes in these words: "The echo of the completely empty valley bears tidings heard from the soundless sound?" This is something that can by no means be heard with the ear. If conceptions and discriminations are not mixed within it and it is quite apart from seeing, hearing, perceiving, and knowing, and if, while walking, standing, sitting, and reclining, you proceed straightforwardly without interruption in the study of this koan, you will suddenly pluck out the karmic root of birth and death and break down the cave of ignorance. Thus you will attain to a peace in which the phoenix has left the golden net and the crane has been set free of the basket. At this time the basis of mind, consciousness, and emotion is suddenly shattered; the realm of illusion with its endless sinking in the cycle of birth and death is overturned. The treasure accumulation of the Three Bodies and the Four Wisdoms is taken away, and the miraculous realms of the Six Supernatural Powers and Three Insights is transcended.

From p. 164, Yabukoji, in The Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings, Translated by Philip B. Yampolsky, Columbia University Press, New York and London, 1971.

Is Holosync™ the High Heaven of which Confucius speaks? Well... Bill Harris claims that his product allows you to "meditate as deeply as a Zen monk, literally at the touch of a button."

As I said elsewhere, buried in a comment somewhere, my response to this claim was, "which one?" Just which "Zen monk" would his product allow me to meditate in as "deep" a state?

Well, that's a ridiculous question because it's a patently ridiculous claim. It is ridiculous because, despite all the sensors you could hook up to anyone's brain to detect brainwave patterns, when it comes to Zen monks, their meditation is whatever it is!

IOW, you, dear reader, whether you've been meditating for 5 seconds or 50 years, already meditate as deeply as a Zen monk!

You don't feel it's "deep?" Well, according to the Lankavatara sutra, that is a phenomenal aspect of Mind...or should I say "Big Mind?" Just note the shallowness, and resume your practice.

You need to train your mind to do that to be skilled, and to be able to carry that over into all the crap that fills the rest of our lives when not on a zafu.

True enough, maybe Bill Harris's device might put the mind into states that Pink Floyd could only induce accompanied by chemical ingestion. I don't know. I've never tried it. But the experience of sammadhi (ざっまい), or kensho (見性) and the like are not a goal. It's not ultimately about some tripped-out state for its own sake, but rather because training your body and mind to act moment to moment in this state allows you to be in the right place at the right time with the right frame of mind to actually friggin' help people who need help. This is not to say that one does not, in Rinzai Zen, pursue meditation practice (specifically koan practice) without any hope that there will be an enlightenment experience. It is to say that it is ridiculous to think that this experience is valid unless it becomes operative in one's day to day boring old existence.

To make it operative you've got to practice while "walking, standing, sitting, and reclining," while doing so "making your whole body one great inquiry, working at it night and day", and at least in the koan practices, you've generally got to focus on the hua-t'ou, which isn't simply a verbally repeated mantra, but is the ante-word - "word before the word" or the meaning of this hua-t'ou traced back to its source.

Similarly, (and I'm not a Dogen guy as much as I once was, so Soto folks please elaborate/correct) the "just sitting" done on the cushion should be carried over into the "one act sammadhi" of engaging everything in life with the single purpose as done on the cushion.

The object of this is not at all about the cultivation of a state. None of this is about "profoundly deep (and extremely pleasurable) meditation." No quanta are leaped.

In fact it's not about getting anything, but about being to the best of your ability while you've got metabolic processes encased in that bag of skin.

Now why then does Hakuin (and the original Mumon, and others) say all this great stuff will happen if you pursue this stuff? Well, read the damn thing closely! Hakuin says that if pursued dilligently you'll be able to "pluck out the karmic root of birth and death and break down the cave of ignorance." The only place that can possibly happen is in the interstices of your everyday existence! D'uh, as they say! You see - and are empowered to act - in a way that's not the same old crap! And you're able to appreciate it! And isn't that better than some tripped out experience? Yeah, it should be 'cause that's where you live your life most of the time!

The folks who created and refined this stuff over millenia needed no voice dialogs, they needed no technology to live their lives, and the very moment they started walking on the path...bam! they were "meditating like Zen monks."

Even the lay folk were.

And that's why I think Bill Harris makes claims that are not true, and I say this as a practitioner of Zen for close to 2 decades.


Duff said...

Thank you for this wonderful article.

gniz said...

Awesome blog post...really well written. Thanks for this.

Mumon said...

Thanks you guys.

Penney said...

I emailed the Centerpointe Research Institute and asked them (craftily) to point me to the research where they compared holosync to placebo. They replied that they didn't do research...!
Poor science indeed.

Robin said...

Sad to say that I found this and other posts after 8 years with Holosync. My first clue should have been that he said he does not meditate now. Stupid asshole! I have a philosophy that went right out the door when I started this, 'don't follow someone that isn't doing what you want in your own life'. I thank you and others for the truth. Now I can let go of my expectations and enjoy my peaceful quiet time. :-)

charlos john said...

The article looks magnificent, but it would be beneficial if you can share more about the suchlike subjects in the future. Keep posting. Holosync