Tag Archive: mindfulness


Natural sleep


Sleep is natural, it is nature’s way of “recharging the batteries”. This is simplistic and appears to say little, but apply the converse:-

“Not sleeping shows there is something unnatural going on.”

It is this that is worth investigating if we are to understand sleep and why some people cannot sleep. There is something unnatural going on.

For a while I will consider whether we live naturally rather than what affects sleep. That means going back to basics, and for me that means Buddhadasa. To understand what could be unnatural we have in some way to understand nature. Ajaan Buddhadasa has a very interesting stance on this but because it is Buddhadasa the meaning is buried in language – in this case the Pali words he uses. He describes the Buddhist’s God as Idappaccayata, and he further “languagises” the issue by saying this one God is idappaccayatapaticcasamuppado, and he gives details of what is paticcasamuppada – dependent origination [Idappaccayata pdf p1]. God is a bit shorter, I could use the word nature but I prefer Gaia; let me explain why. At one stage I was calling this ONE planet. Buddhism amongst other religions talks of unity – ONE thing. We are not a collection of individuals, a collection of separate species etc., we are just one life that appears as separation yet we should consider as one – ONE. James Lovelock when he talks of gaia describes an ecology that is interweaved, separate life forms that connect. He describes this inter-connectedness as gaia, but as far as I understand it he sees man as separate. This is why I capitalise gaia, Gaia is the ONE life that comprises of all life on this planet. Because of this Unity Gaia is a more apt word than nature, and because of this Unity it is more applicable than a separate omnipotent God.

“The law of ‘conditionality’ is the highest of laws, the law that makes everything work, and this we call idappaccayata. …. Beasts, people, plants, trees, they’re all formed from atoms grouping together, and in every atom will dwell the law of idappaccayatā. …. the law of nature, idappaccayatā, pre-exists all things in the universe and is the reason for the existence of the universe itself” [Idappaccayata p3].

I think this law of nature is observable and I accept it, but if you like it is the only aspect of faith that I believe in. This faith consists of belief in the law of conditionality, that this law is in every atom, and that it pre-exists all things in the universe. I trust in Gaia – nature, but not what man has done to it.

Buddhadasa gave the law of idappaccayata as :-

“when there is this thing, then there is this thing too; because this arises, this can arise also; when this thing isn’t, then this thing isn’t either; when this quenches, then this quenches too. [p3].

Just a brief point on sleep, it follows this law. “when there is this thing, then there is this thing too”. When we are natural, sleep follows. And “when this thing isn’t, then this thing isn’t either”, when we aren’t natural, we don’t sleep.

It is also worth flagging that this law is causal and therefore fundamentally scientific. However science is based on defined axioms – axioms defined by science. Whereas idappaccayata is just based on causality and conditionality, a conditionality which I will look into later, yet a conditionality that is based on empirical observation. One such observation is that sleep is natural, a conditionality that is based on what we observe in a loose sense – everyday “wisdom”. A more contentious empirical observation is that TCM and acupuncture heals. This can be empirically observed by observing treatments and seeing patients recover but is rejected by some scientists who are given respect by some.

The Buddha took refuge in the Dhamma, saw the Dhamma as his God “In the end he made up his mind that he’d revere the Dhamma he’d awakened to: he’d ‘enter into and dwell within it,’ that is, he’d take it as his refuge.” [p1]. For this use of the word Dhamma you could replace Gaia as I have described it above, either way we are trying to understand “natural”. Buddhadasa describes 4 natural laws:-

“Dhamma (here with the meaning of the ultimate truth – the way things really are – hence it’s spelt with a capital ‘D’) has four meanings: nature itself; the law of nature [BZ – Idappaccayata]; the duty to be done according to the law of nature; and the fruit, or result arising from doing or not doing that duty” [p6].

In describing these laws Buddhadasa said “Essentially, it’s the duty of any human being to maintain life correctly. If they don’t then they must – in accordance with the law of idappaccayatā – experience the result, the punishment: suffering, ranging from being unable to sleep, to nervous disease, to deadly pain” [p11]. Subconsciously I might have remembered this but I was surprised at the relevance to sleep when I read this.

Now we come to the other half of the Buddhadasa “languagised” God – idappaccayatapaticcasamuppado. Paticcasamuppada, also known as dependent origination or dependent co-arising, is described by Buddhadasa as what the Buddha struggled with under the Bodhi tree “It was during the night of his awakening that he sought thus: What does suffering come from? Then he realized that it came from jāti, from birth. Jāti, ‘birth,’ what does birth come from? ‘Birth’ comes from bhava, from becoming. Becoming arises from upādāna, from clinging. Clinging comes from taņhā, from craving, from desire. Craving, comes from the vedanā, from feeling. Feeling comes from phassa, from contact. Contact comes from the āyatana, from the senses. The senses come from nāmarūpa, from name and form. Name and form comes from viññāna, from consciousness. Consciousness comes from sankhāra, from the power of concocting. The power of concocting comes from avijjā, from ignorance” [p1]. I have previously discussed this in relation to mindfulness meditation in education. This could be partly summarised as suffering arising from conditions that our desire allows and that we cling to. Through mindfulness at contact we are able to avoid suffering.

I also wish to consider this summary of Buddhadasa’s teaching that I call his meme:-

There are the 5 khandas that make up the body, psyche and consciousness. Under conditionality we attach to these khandas especially when young as we operate through instinct. As we get older we gain the maturity that enables us to be aware of conditionality and if mindful can avoid detachment. With increasing maturity we do not create new attachments and we detach from the selves that we have already made – through instinct. In the end ideally we are not attached to the khandas and have detached from all the selves that previous attachment has created leading to our being free of all conditioning. In this freedom there is just sunnata, unity functioning.

Somewhere within all our conditioning suffering through affected sleep occurs. Meditation can help as it can be used to remove detachments and avoid attachments.

I am not however offering this as an understanding as to how to deal with sleep issues but sleep is natural and the above discussion of nature, its laws and understanding of the development of suffering has some connection. In the next blog I will connect this conditioning to the path.

<– Previous Post “Conative” Next Post –>

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez, Zandtao.

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Modular Mind and Natural Conditioning

Do we have a choice about conditioning?

This is an important question that is not asked because our 1%-system benefits from people not being aware that they are conditioned. This system promotes greed, valuing accumulation as prestige or status. Whilst there are some good people who reject this attachment to greed and the damage it causes to the planet and humanity, most just accept the conditioning that greed is acceptable and join in with it.

Once this greed is accepted there is much damage against Natural Law. This acceptance of personal accumulation is leading to economic catastrophe as discussed here. We already have environmental devastation through exploitation by the accumulators, and to top that off the accumulators, Koch Brothers, pay for climate denial to further promote their greed. How senseless is this. Even less sensible is the way this need for accumulation causes global war and suffering, and on a personal level leads to wage-slavery.

Whilst accepting greed is the worst aspect of the conditioning it is not the only aspect of conditioning that is damaging. In this post scepticism leads people like Rupert Sheldrake to question fundamental scientific dogma. When our scientific establishment fails to examine its own conditioning and presents us with limited knowledge of who we are as humans, how we interact together, how we act together as ONE planet then we have to question science and its education – we have to question the basis of education as a whole, but we don’t.

Failure to examine our conditioning is against Natural Law. So it is necessary to understand what conditioning is and how it arises. Above I have described the worst aspects of conditioning, and whilst much of this conditioning benefits the 1% and their political system it is far from being the only conditioning that is happening. Conditioning is happening all the time from the smallest and least important to the drastic acceptance of accumulation and its global impact.

Here is a limited version of the important teaching of paticcasamuppada (law of dependent origination) or as Buddhadasa describes it Idappaccayata-paticcasamuppada in order to stress that it is Natural Law:-

This is discussed in detail by Matriellez in mindfulness meditation and mindfulness generally.

But let us consider it here. We experience something through our sense – this can include a thought or idea. We react emotionally to this thought or idea, we desire or are averse to this experience, we feel strongly about it – one way or the other, and as a result it becomes added to our modular mind. Once added to our modular mind we have been conditioned.

Let us consider this notion of modular mind. Science is not willing to reach agreement as to the nature of mind preferring to accept different views; one such view is that of modular mind. This view says that mind aggregates various “selves” as part of a modular mind, and dependent origination is a description of the way such selves could arise. These aggregated selves are created through sense experiences that are clung to as a self – this is conditioning through sense experience. Personally this is how I understand mind to work but for science/academia I present this in an observational way – a forced “deception”.

This is a natural process of conditioning but because we don’t examine this conditioning process through education it becomes an oppressive process as we have no control of it. Desire as greed is natural but it needs to be curbed. Some religions will tell you greed is bad but mostly as humans we are subject to propaganda that enforces the acceptability of such greed by glamourising the lives of the rich and famous. Because of this repetitive clinging greed becomes more and more entrenched as part of our selves – our modular mind. We accept that we are greedy.

In examining this process of conditioning in which selves are added to the modular mind we can see a way through the problem. There is the experience that becomes part of the modular mind. If we are clinging to the experience that is hard to fight, once the desire arises it is also hard to fight, even just liking or disliking is difficult to work through, so if we want to control our conditioning then we need to intercept any formation of emotion, desire or clinging. Matriellez was discussing this in regards to mindfulness meditation, and suggested using watchfulness in meditation to intercept the forming of selves through emotion, desire and clinging.

There is a conditioning moment – phassa (discussed here) in which we can intercept the self from forming. We can stop the conditioning. Education could choose to stop the conditioning (Matriellez discusses it on this page). Science could choose to be sceptical of its 10 dogmas. Our system could choose to be wary of what are real and imaginary economic transactions and control them. There is a choice, there is a conditioning moment that we can choose to control or not; BUT we don’t.

Once we become aware that we are conditioned then we can begin to intercept the formation of new conditioned selves. But by that time of life the problem is that our minds are conditioned through upbringing and education. So the problem is similar but different, how do we remove the conditioning? The process is similar in the sense that we use meditation to examine the modular mind for selves that have aggregated there, and once we recognise these aggregations we can examine see them for the conditioning they are and remove the clinging, desire and emotion that put them there in the first place.

At this point we have recognised conditioning, we can choose to prevent that conditioning from arising, and also work on the conditioning that has arisen. So that leaves the question, what happens to us if there is no conditioning? Do we stop functioning if all there is is conditioned selves?

Buddhadasa described us as having 4 systems; according to Santikharo, who is generally recognised as Buddhadasa’s conduit to the West, this was what he was working on towards his death. These systems are described as body, psyche, self and emptiness, and I have summarised these 4 systems in this meme:-

Through our conditioning we aggregate selves to the self-system. In a sense this self system blocks access to “emptiness”, I choose the Pali word Sunnata for this emptiness; Buddhadasa described it as Void mind, void of self. So through our deconditioning we remove selves leaving access to sunnata, and this sunnata is what enables us to function.

Well almost completely. If there is only sunnata we are not alive. For the optimum state of life we need human functioning but without conditioning – no selves, so that within that optimum state we are functioning through sunnata. But our humanity is maintained through the 5 khandas, body -rupa, vedana – feeling, sanna – memories and perceptions, sankhara – mental operations and vinnana – consciousness; Buddhadasa divided these as body and psyche. How does this work? These khandas are the basic arena of sense experience (as described in dependent origination). And humans need sense experience. But what happens to that sense experience, is it just left as is? No, we allow it to become selves through the process of emotions, desire and clinging, so that these sense experiences become my sense experience (having accumulated in the modular mind). But if we do not allow these sense experiences to form as selves (attach) in the modular mind, then we can experience life as it is meant to be experienced – through sunnata.

This is the Natural Law. Within this law there is the conditioning of selves as a natural process, there is the point at which we choose whether to allow conditioning, and there are the ways we can remove the conditioning (meditation or otherwise) that allow us to live naturally – through sunnata.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez, Zandtao.

Is Acupuncture Medical Knowledge?


I would have preferred to have as a title “Is Acupuncture Applied Science?” because medicine tends to be recognised as applied science, but if I use that title the answer is prejudiced by such as the one-way sceptics at Science-Based Medicine.

I therefore have changed the blog title although I will return to the issue. First and foremost when you ask if medicine works who is it you ask? The patient. If a patient is cured, then that means the treatment probably works but needs to be verified. In China especially patients have been cured and they repeatedly go back for treatment. This tends to suggest a valid treatment, strong evidence.

However as a sceptic this is not proof. To investigate we start with patients. And here is the problem with science measuring the success of acupuncture, their western machines cannot measure the chi. As a reminder acupuncture sees itself as a chi-based system in which the chi should be balanced. The chi also runs along meridians and if those meridians are blocked disease arises. If your machines cannot measure chi, yet it is a chi-based system then science that does not believe in chi cannot measure. To determine whether acupuncture works, it is not good to use a system that does not believe in the structural framework.

So before we can answer the question “Is Acupuncture Medical Knowledge?”, we have to either determine whether the chi exists or we need to find an alternative methodology; science-based medicine has not attempted to do that.

As a statistician I would try to design an experiment in which similar symptoms and disease has been treated by acupuncture. If various combination of needle placements are supposed to fix a disease, then I would try to find patients with those symptoms and then apply the treatment. I don’t know that science-based medicine has done that.

I have previously argued that there is 3000 years of evidence regarding the efficacy of acupuncture. Here is a paragraph from the one-way sceptics that describes that evidence:-

“In the study of acupuncture trials, 252 of 1085 abstracts met the inclusion criteria. Research conducted in certain countries was uniformly favorable to acupuncture; all trials originating in China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan were positive, as were 10 out of 11 of those published in Russia/USSR. In studies that examined interventions other than acupuncture, 405 of 1100 abstracts met the inclusion criteria. Of trials published in England, 75% gave the test treatment as superior to control. The results for China, Japan, Russia/USSR, and Taiwan were 99%, 89%, 97%, and 95%, respectively. No trial published in China or Russia/USSR found a test treatment to be ineffective.” from here.

Now this looks like good evidence that acupuncture works. In fact the figures might well be too good. As a sceptic I would try to find whether the investigations have been manipulated. But until I found such I would have to say the evidence is good that acupuncture works.

Here is what science-based medicine said “This is important to the understanding of the acupuncture literature, as many of the positive studies are coming out of China. The unrealistically high percentage of positive studies makes the Chinese body of clinical literature very suspect.” from here. Suspect, maybe, but given the wealth of evidence in favour of acupuncture a scientist needs to accept the conclusions. Surely if there is such a preponderance of suspect literature, it would be easy to find dubious “studies”. But science-based medicine does not accept the conclusions, has found no dubious studies, and continues to attack acupuncture treatments. This is not sound science. As a sceptic I would also consider such numbers high, but I would need far more evidence than statistical scepticism to imply such a body of evidence is “lies”. And when you consider the level of influence BigPharma has on western medicine the source of the conclusions is more likely to be funding pressure than scientific veracity.

Let me push at the personal boundaries here. Undoubtedly there is Chinese national pride in acupuncture so as a sceptic I must question. However western science also demonstrates its own pride feeling that its own academia is the best in the world – more than likely true. But making a statement that implies that because the figures are high they must be rigged is simply disguised racism. This is supposed to be science-based medicine so the metier of criticism is science. I am sure that the studies in China and elsewhere were published in journals, and I am equally sure such journals had some sort of academic rigour prior to publication. Examine that rigour, point out erroneous assumptions, question experimental methodology. Without applying this sort of criteria and drawing the conclusion they have done has meant that SBM is little more than western pride and disguised racism.

Why does consideration of acupuncture fit in with mindfulness methodology? What is the conditioning point? That is the question. SBM dismisses China’s evidence yet at the same time they do not recognise their own vested interest in supporting a system that is funded by BigPharma – nor do they recognise their own institutional academic pride. Their scepticism is one-way. As a sceptic I would question the evidence in China but I could not dismiss it based simply on scepticism as the evidence is too strong.

This would mean that there would need to be appropriately-funded research. The design of the experiment would have to be extremely robust in terms of:-

a) Effectively measuring the functioning of acupuncture within its environment.
b) Allowing such sceptics as SBM to have unbiassed access to the design.
c) Not requiring western-based machines that cannot measure chi to be part of the design
d) Having a design that could test success or failure without needing to accept the chi framework.

I doubt whether BigPharma would be willing to fund such an experiment, and given the plethora of evidence in China why should the onus of funding be on them. UNESCO might be a way forward but their ties are western and BigPharma influence might be too strong.

BigPharma’s business strategy cannot realistically be access to the Chinese market, however it can be limiting western acceptance of acupuncture. Appealing to racism that dismisses Chinese science would fit in with such a strategy.

“Is Acupuncture Applied Medical Science?” ought to be the title of this blogpost but science dismisses the existence of chi without appropriate scientific investigation. The reasons for this are not scientifically clear given the high proportion of people on earth who accept the existence of chi and prana. As patents cannot be taken out on “nature” and as there can therefore be no profits to BigPharma, my scepticism indicates BigPharma influence as to why science is not currently investigating the chi.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez, Zandtao.