Monday, October 23, 2017

EP 039 Daniel Ingram on Meditative States, Paths, and Ethical Living

Daniel Ingram has a successful career as an ER doctor, but he's best known on the Internet for being a meditator and meditation teacher. He's the author of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, which I first read about over on Scott Alexander's blog Slate Star Codex here and here. Daniel made some waves in the dharma community by claiming to have attained enlightenment as an arahat.

On today's podcast, we talk about the different ways to assess that claim, what states and insights may occur on the way to enlightenment, and what to do if you get yourself into a spiritual crisis of one sort or another. We also talk about some of my meditative experiences and how to use a candle flame as a focus for meditative practice.

I feel as though I did not communicate well during the discussion of visualization practices in the last part of the interview. While it is certainly possible to get some level of visualization going within the first day of doing practice, the quality, detail, interactivity and stability of visualizations will also improve slowly over 90+ days of effort. That's about the period of time it took me to develop a fully zoomable and rotatable model of human anatomy with full motion inside my head. It's also the amount of time it should take you to get through the ngondro (preliminaries) of Vajrayana, some of the journeying techniques, Jung's active imagination, and the spirit contact models for various ritual magic systems. I think there's some neurochemistry behind this, specifically an upregulation of serotonergic 5-HT2A receptors, which seem to be connected to creative/optimistic thinking styles. These same receptors are involved in the visual effects of entheogens such as LSD and psilocybin. But that's a discussion for another day. The upshot is that if you think your visionary experiences are good at the outset, keep working for a few months and they will gradually get better.

Enjoy this episode, and want me to keep making more? Download, subscribe, rate and review on iTunes

Want to hear more like this?
Pair with B Alan Wallace on Dzogchen and Dudjom Lingpa or Ben Joffe on ngakpa and Tibetan traditional medicine.

Show Notes and Links

Daniel's website
Daniel on Twitter
His fire kasina site

The Dharma Overground forum


Al said...

Good podcast. I always enjoy hearing Dan.

Scott, you mention that you practice a version of the Art of Memory. I've done some of that in the past but I am wonder what technique you are using or if there is a text that you have been working from? Some friends have wanted to learn it in the past but a lot of the written material on it is quite antiquated or quite academic and not practical in the slightest.

scott said...

I learned to do the memory palace method from Frances Yates's Art of Memory, and I'm in the process of translating Giordano Bruno's works on the subject. He's probably better as an example of how extensively the memory palace can be used, rather than as a strictly practical guide.

You can get an easy entry into the topic by looking up Anthony Metivier or Ed Cooke, both of whom have been guests on this podcast. Anthony also has a podcast and website of his own, called the Magnetic Memory Method. Ed was Joshua Foer's memory technique coach for the World Memory Championships as described in Moonwalking with Einstein (also a good resource for learning the method), and runs a company called Memrise, dedicated to language learning using memory techniques.

Al said...

Thanks. I've read Yates but I wasn't sure if someone was teaching more current methods.