Monday, May 17, 2010
Just Because You Meditated for 30 Years Doesn't Mean You See the World As It Truly Is
Buddhists claim that through meditation you can achieve enlightenment. A part of that enlightenment is seeing the world as it truly is. Meditation reduces activation in your brain's parietal lobe, which is the area that allows you to distinguish your self from your environment. Let's say that long practice of meditation allows you to willfully reduce parietal lobe activation.
Why do Buddhists think the feeling of a loss of self, that the world is one, is the true reality? Why is the world as experienced after arduous meditation and getting your brain to work differently, thought to be the way the world is?
Let's say I created an exercise that allowed you to turn off your visual areas. Would you let me claim that this is evidence that the world, or at least light, doesn't really exist? And that doing this exercise allows you to experience the world as it really is?
In both of these cases you're training your mind to shut off the detector in your brain that makes certain distinctions. Shutting down a part of your brain doesn't tell you anything special about the world.
The attributionist view holds that we have a bias to misattribute psychological experiences to supernatural ones. This occurs with sleep paralysis and the belief in aliens and succubi, near-death experiences, and, I believe, in meditation too.