alan little’s weblog

no spirituogram?

15th August 2004 permanent link

I was looking through some old yoga magazines before I went to bed last night, and found an interesting advert in an old copy of Yoga Journal.

The ad was for a book on “Synchronicity High Tech Meditation”, by a bloke with a dodgy hairdo styling himself “Master Charles”. Master Charles claims that his method “yields at least a fourfold acceleration factor over classical methods of meditation”. I haven’t got to the interesting bit yet.

The interesting bit is this: Master Charles’ claim of fourfold acceleration is based on EEG studies of the brainwaves of Zen meditators with various levels of experience, and claims that they are similar to the brainwaves of practitioners of his method with substantially less experience. He cites several scientific studies of Zen meditators that sound worth looking at:

No links because the ad was in a 1995 magazine, so I mention this here largely to remind myself to look some of this stuff up later.

Thoughts: there is a spirituogram. It doesn’t matter whether one believes that there is only the material universe , and learning to induce particular states of brain activity is enlightenment; or that enlightenment truly is a state of union with something outside the material world, but it happens to produce a particular measurable brainwave state as an epiphenomenon; either way it seems that the mental condition is clearly detectable in numerous studies of Buddhist meditators and some studies of yoga practitioners. I don’t know how cumbersome EEG equipment is: I suspect doing an advanced yoga asana practice whilst wearing it might be quite a bit harder than doing a sitting zen practice.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to rush out and buy Master Charles’ book. Even if it actually works and the degree of enlightenment one can achieve with five years of “Synchronicity High Tech Meditation” is comparable to twenty years of zen or yoga practice, I’m enough of a hair shirt Luddite to say so what? What’s wrong with doing twenty years of zen or yoga? And then there’s always the risk that the brainwave state is just an epiphenomenon and you might be spending five years just to learn to fake the outward appearance of something. Plus I’m automatically suspicious of people with pseudonyms and dodgy hairdos, even if they do put interesting things in their ads.

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