Monday, January 02, 2012

The Look

明けましてお目出度う y'all! That's "happy new year" for those who can't read Japanese.

Here's an email I got recently.

Attached is a picture of Behring Breivik, the guy who shot, bombed and killed about 77 people in Norway this summer. He has been examined by psychiatrists and they have come to the conclusion that he is/was a paranoid schizophrenic, meaning he was insane at the time of his murderous actions.

But look at his picture closely, look at his eyes...he is very balanced according to the Tibetan theory of "eye science."

I sometimes ask myself if this means that Hitler, Stalin, Osama and all other crazy wackos are also just paranoid schizos then?

So are these people really just sick or are they just simply "evil" ? This guy Behring Breivik planned and planned and worked at this for years and went to such lengths to kill these people that it is very hard for me to consider him sick, as most healthy and very intelligent people would not have managed the task of producing, orchestrating and manifesting such a killing even if they wanted to. Should that not say something about his sanity?

I think this is a really important question. And to me the question is, What is sanity and how does it relate to Enlightenment?

I think it's clear that there is no real correlation between I.Q. and morality. Some of the most immoral people in history have been extremely intelligent as measured by the accepted standards of measuring such things. Several of the people who followed Shoko Asahara's orders and placed poison gas on the Tokyo subway system were highly educated. Many of the top leaders of the Nazi party were also very brainy.

This means that the ability to carefully plan out and execute some specific operation does not relate at all with being a moral person. It is quite possible to create a very complex proceedure and to carry it out without having any sense of morality. Whatever you think really happened in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001, it was clear proof that planning and executing complex schemes does not require any sense of morality. Whoever did that stuff was very smart. I'm sure they all knew how to conduct themselves socially and be accepted as sane. If not, they wouldn't have been able to interact with the many people they needed to deal with in order to accomplish their goal. These were not raving lunatics. They never are...

But one would expect that enlightenment in the Buddhist sense would correlate with morality and just basic human decency. This is where things get tricky. Because it all depends on how one defines enlightenment.

The general consensus seems to be that an enlightened person is one who has undergone what they call an "enlightenment experience." This experience reveals to the enlightened person the true nature of reality. After having had this experience, the person is transformed into something more than what he or she was before.

But I suspect there is precious little more correlation between true morality and the ability to have one of these so-called "enlightenment experiences" than there is between true morality and the ability to score high on an I.Q. test.

OK. I'll back off a little there. At some level an "enlightenment experience" shows the person who has it the real meaning of moral action — that anything one does to another person is something one does to oneself. And I don't mean this in any kind of figurative or metaphorical sense. I mean that when Moe hits Curly on the head with a sledgehammer, Moe is really only hitting Moe on the head with a sledgehammer. It only appears to be Curly getting hit.

But that's not always what gets labeled as an "enlightenment experience." Often what passes for an "enlightenment experience" is something quite different. Sometimes it's much more like a drug-induced hallucination. People on psychedelic drugs often report feeling at one with the universe. But it's not the same kind of oneness. It's a oneness in which the experiencer owns that oneness and incorporates it into his/her sense of self, thereby making that sense of self infinitely big and infinitely exclusive.

Even if an "enlightenment experience" is genuine, the ego is very powerful and exceedingly clever. Absolutely anything, even a true experience of oneness with all things, can be transformed into something the ego can use to bolster itself.

As for the ability to achieve the stereotypical "look" that a realized master is supposed to have, this is even less correlated with morality or even with enlightenment. A decent actor can convincingly act out a variety or roles even when the actor has not experienced anything like what the character he's portraying is supposed to have experienced. It's easy to look the part of the balanced guru without being the least bit balanced.

Osama bin Laden could do it.

Shoko Asahara can do it.

Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, who allegedly ordered several killings on the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna farm community could do it.

I suspect that Mike Myers can do it but refrained from doing it lest he look too much like his buddy...

...Deepak Chopra who has really got it down!

Which isn't to say Deepak is anything like Osama bin Laden, Shoko Asahara and Kirtananda. I don't think he is at all. But that beatific grin he's mastered doesn't prove it.

So sanity is something quite difficult to define. Like the famous quote about pornography, "you know it when you see it." But you don't know it just because someone looks the way the media tells you they're supposed to. It's much more subtle.

And people are uncomfortable with that. They want easy definitions that never change. Unfortunately, in real life easy definitions that never change are hard to come by. They want stereotypes that are reliable. But stereotypes are never reliable.


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Anonymous said...

I definitely think Deepak Chopra is a cheeseball and is suspect when it comes to all of his new age advice etc, but that photo of him has nothing to do with it. It looks like a normal portrait of a guy smiling to me. "Beatific grin he's mastered"???
Sure, photographs can reveal certain things, but don't go overboard and read too much into it.

arihanta said...

That's the Kanji used? The first one is understandable, but the last three surprises me.

Anonymous said...

"I mean that when Moe hits Curly on the head with a sledgehammer, Moe is really only hitting Moe on the head with a sledgehammer. It only appears to be Curly getting hit."

What does this mean? Moe smashes Curly's head. Curly dies. Moe lives on.

Now I understand that nothing is truly autonomous; but... How is Moe killing Curly, actually Moe killing Moe?

Thank you

Mumon said...

明けましたお目出度うございます。。。I want to say that I recently started reading one of your books...the one on 正法眼蔵.

While I'm not a Dogen kind of guy as you know, and I'm not a fan of your cover art, I greatly respect your ability to explain the 法.

Anybody who's actually read what you wrote immediately understands the difference between you and you know who.

Mumon said...

Oh, and your post is good here: "the look" is easier to do than magic tricks.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"the look" is certainty

Anonymous said...

Maybe the issue is with Tibetan eye "science"? So called Enlightened people are crazy, why they bother to deny it I don't know. Pretty sure Buddha was some sort of insane, maybe he never killed anybody, but he wasn't a normal person.

I do like your portrait list, it reminds me that:

Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.

Alan_A said...

@Anon @11:52 a.a. -

It's because there ain't no Moe...

Korey said...

Funny you mentioned Deepak in this post. I just started to read Muhammed by Deepak Chopra. It's off to a good start, and when i'm done I'll probably read Jesus and then Buddha. They're just fictionalized accounts of religious prophets so I don't have to worry about being sucked in with some hokey New Age drivel that may or may not be contained in his spiritual self-help books.

But I know Deepak Chopra's released 55 books and and built quite a name for himself as a "spiritual celebrity", to use a term you often use. I'm curious, what are your thoughts on him, if you have any at all?

Alan_A said...

Anon @ 12:21 wrote -

Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.


Except that Dr. King was a man of religion. And Dr. Mengele was a man of science.

Things aren't clear-cut.

Todd Mitchell said...

Good post, Brad. I, too, am intrigued by this subject. As another commenter suggested, "the look" might really be a reflection of certainty. And certainty, as much as it might seem desirable, must always be questioned for moral action to exist. If you're not doubting yourself, or willing to question your beliefs, then how do you know you're not committing some terrible acts? Then again, no one can ever know what the complete consequences of their actions are (there's doubt for you). Happy New Year! T.

Jordache said...

You've got the look I want to know better.
You've got the look that's all together.
Working, playing, day or night
Jordache has the fit that's right.
Jordache look.
The Jordache look.

(captcha = tramp)

Zenleo said...

I want to know the "Moe Hits Curly" answer, because I have never bought into that "Moe hits Curly is like Moe hitting Moe Crap." I realize that all your actions effect you and all reality surrounding said incident, but we are still separated by our skins even though we all require air and sunlight and all that sort of thing.
I am with that Anonymous posting number 3 that asks for Moe info!


Shaman Willie said...

If you want to read an excellent "biography" of Muhammad check out Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources written by Martin Lings.

Zenleo said...

This advertisement comes up at the bottom of the blog page:

Did You Know That Meditating Just 15 Min a Day Could Change Your Life

I am going to do 14 minutes or less so nothing changes.


Korey said...

Cool. Thanks Shaman.

lofishman said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Enlightment the state you reach when you see the world/universe as it really is(everything=the same thing)? Ergo, Enlightment is ultimate sanity isn't it? An enlightened being doesn't harm others because he/she realizes that that doing so harms himself/herself. Regarding the "look", I thought(correct me if I'm wrong again) that Buddists shouldn't trust our senses and should view superficial appearances as suspect. Therefore, it would be better to be wary of these so-called spiritual masters. Anyway Brad, I liked Hardcore Zen, and when I find the time I will read more of your writings.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hmm, odd...

A couple of days ago the
number of total YouTube
views was


but today the number of
total views appears to
have been reset and is
currently only


What's up with that?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Korey said...


Uhh, whatever the point of that post was, I agree with you. The facts are all distorted, we know that. None of that matters, that's why these Deepak Chopra books are released as fiction novels...

Mumon said...

BTW, speaking of photos of "spiritual" folk, I might as well provide a link to a thing like that I did a while back.

The author of this blog acquits himself well, IMO.

Some others, well...they've got "the look."

A Discordian Pope said...

"Buddha was an hysterical parsonage."
- Graffiti found in a rectory lavatory.

Manny Furious said...

Mental Illness is a myth. I don't mean to suggest that people don't hear voices or have trouble remaining happy. But the issues are psychological in nature, not neurological.

The problem is when we start labeling behaviors as diseases, because then it becomes a matter of what is acceptable to society is not a disease. That's a piss poor way of determining what is a "sickness." When someone has cirhossis of the liver, it's not because society says it's a negative affliction, it's because there is an actual, physical deterioration. Less than 100 years ago, homosexuality was considered a mental "disease." Of course, we know this isn't true.

There are brain diseases to be sure--parkinson's, tourrette's, Lou Gehrig's, etc. But there is a reason why those are treated by neurologists and not by "mental health" professionals.

Broken Yogi said...

Regarding the Moe hitting Curly paradox, I'm reminded of Nisargadatta's observation that the entire universe "outside" of us is merely that part of ourselves we have rejected and then projected outward, away from ourselves, as it it is something "else". We certainly do experience that world as "outside of our skin", but that is just the illusion based on our rejection of parts of ourselves. Non-dual practice means re-incorporating these rejected parts back into ourselves. And it does seem to involve coming to the understanding that there is no "outside", that Curly really is a part of Moe that he's struggling with, even angry with and hitting.

But look at it from Moe's point of view. Curly is there in his awareness, annoying the crap out of him, so he hits him. But Curly is really just a part of Moe's awareness, which extends beyond the skin. He just doesn't recognize this, because he limits himself to what is "Moe", and rejects everything else as "not-Moe", when even "not-Moe" is a critical part of Moe's experience. And so it is with everything we find in our experience of "the world".

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...

Mental illness definitely has biological counterparts to the psychological affects, and in many cases the biological process is more determinative of the illness than any psychological aspect. Try doing psychological therapy on a hardcore schizophrenic or biopolar personality without giving them meds. Pretty much hopeless. Until their neuro-physiological condition is at least ameliorated to some degree, the psychological condition can't be worked with.

Same with many psychopathologies. Sociopaths aren't just people who have bad attitudes, they are often people who have bad brains that don't have the physiological capacity to feel or process empathy or other emotions in a normal human manner. They may be very bright in some ways, but very restricted in others, particularly emotion. This does not make them evil or even hopeless, but one does have to recognize their severe limitations, and not be fooled into thinking one is dealing with someone of normal emotional response.

The spiritual problem with this is that many religions, even Buddhism, have this idea that low or even absent emotional response is a sign of spiritual advancement or even enlightenment. FOr this reason, many psychopathic types, or people with very little emotional range or capability, are mistakenly assumed to be spiritually mature, when the opposite is the case. They seem indifferent or non-reactive to the usual round of emotional response, not because they have transcended reactivity, but because they haven't even developed the capacity to be reactive. Instead, they have simply dissociated from emotion, or like a lizard they have purely predatory motives that are free from the conscience most of us have. This is not "freedom" however.

Bob said...

Um, that would be 明けましお目出度う.

Anonymous said...

But look at it from Moe's point of view. Curly is there in his awareness, annoying the crap out of him, so he hits him. But Curly is really just a part of Moe's awareness, which extends beyond the skin. He just doesn't recognize this, because he limits himself to what is "Moe", and rejects everything else as "not-Moe", when even "not-Moe" is a critical part of Moe's experience. And so it is with everything we find in our experience of "the world".

OK... You can say that Moe's thoughts of Curly is Moe. I agree with this...

However, how can you say that Moe is Curly, when Moe has just killed Curly? ie. Moe is still alive, Curly is dead. In other words is the person who kills you, you???

Manny Furious said...

Well, I'm not one who believes that "credentials" correlates to intelligence or knowledge, but since you asked, I have an MA in Counseling, have recently begun the process to becoming a Licensed Clinical/Mental Health Counselor, have been accepted to a Psy.D. program, although I will not attend as the thought of doing another "paper" makes my insides want to liquify, but I applied just to see if I could get in. I am also a Certified Addictions Counselor in the state of Colorado and have worked in the field of substance abuse counseling for about 3 years.

Not that any of that matters. I'm of the same mind on this issue as Dr. Thomas Szasz, whom you all are more than welcome to google on your spare time, and whose credentials far outnumber and outshine my own, if that's what you're in to.

First, to Mysterion, I never denied that there are chemical processes that occur within the brain of someone who has been diagnosed, with say, depression. However, there are chemical processes that occur in someone who knows how to play the piano, or in someone who is a good chess player, or someone who is a good writer. However, we don't label those chemical processes as "diseases" because those acts/behaviors are considered desirable by our society.

To broken yogi, there are certainly biological influences of the so-called "mental illnesses." Again, this cannot be denied. Nevertheless, just as some people are biologically predetermined to be susceptible to depression or schizophrenia, there are people who are biologically predetermined to be susceptible to being able to compose music, or write poetry, or play poker, or get the opposite sex to have sex with them. The only difference is, some behaviors are more acceptable to society than others. Again, less than a hundred years ago homosexuality was a disease, masturbation was disease, female promiscuity was a disease. There are biological predispositions to these kinds of behaviors and all can be found in older versions of the DSM, the official diagnostic tool of Psychiatry/Psychology. However, we now do not look at them as such. Why is that? The problem when you diagnose based on a set of behaviors is that the "normalcy" of any set of behaviors is determined, basically arbitrarily, by the society in which they are observed.

Korey said...

Anonymous above me:

I can "kill" a hair on my head by plucking it out, "kill" a patch of skin by slicing it off, or kill my brain cells by huffing some spray paint but in the grand scheme of things I'm still alive. However, my hair. skin and brain are still all me.

Manny Furious said...

Take, as an example, a client I recently finished working with. He presented with a classic case of clinical depression. He was a highly successful salesman, making six figures/year, a wife with two kids. A success story. One day, he found he had absolutely no desire or motivation to get out of bed. This went on for several months. He lost his job, his wife ended up having to get a job and he got hooked on meth and ended up spending some time in prison. He got out and the depression continued.

One day I asked him if there was any time, since the symptoms started, that he wasn't depressed. He said the moment he stepped foot in prison his depression went away. The moment he stepped out, his symptoms returned.

Now, someone with a genuine brain disease, such as parkinson's, does not have their symptoms disappear simply by changing their environment. A person doesn't have Tourrette's outside of prison, but not inside of prison. This is just as true for something like cancer or HIV. True diseases don't just disappear because a person goes to prison, or gets a new job, or meets a new love interest.

That's not to say that his symptoms "weren't real." They were, and he was suffering gravely. But as I worked with him, we discovered some profound "existential" dilemmas he was having and wasn't dealing with. Of course there was a bunch of stuff going on in his brain when he was exhibiting his symptoms, and to some extant some medicines regulated those chemical processes in the brain. However, the medication wasn't helping him deal with the issues he had with the lack of fulfillment he found from a life he was supposed to be enjoying. The medications didn't help him realize that a six-figure salary wasn't the source of happiness in the world. Etc. Etc.

It's my opinion that any chemical process leading to the depressive symptoms were being caused by psychological processes that weren't being tended to. There is certainly a correlation between "mental illness" and chemical processes in the brain, but I haven't yet read a study that suggested, with any authority, a causal relationship.

Anonymous said...

Wait... when did science deliberately fly you into a building? It didn't - science itself is not the problem here.

King's faith wasn't his cause. His cause was emancipation and civil liberty and he relied on his religion.

That is a very important point to make.

Many of these religious people, some here even, their faith is their cause and that is poison for the mind. It makes a feedback circle that will distort and twist your thoughts and you'll possibly end up just like Mengele - killing people.

That is the point of that quote. That when your main cause is your religion you're inherently FUCKED.

Anonymous said...

Hi Korey,

Someone shoots you in the head, and you die. Is your killer you?

Korey said...

Yeah... lol

Mri said...

"They want easy definitions that never change. "
You nailed it there, Brad.

Broken Yogi said...

"However, how can you say that Moe is Curly, when Moe has just killed Curly? ie. Moe is still alive, Curly is dead. In other words is the person who kills you, you???"

Curly is still alive in Moe's mind, as the guy he killed. He will always be alive in that fashion. And for Curly, yes, Moe will always be the person who killed him. He will have that karmic relation to Moe, and battle it out once again somewhere down the line. Thinking, of course, that Moe is some threat outside himself he has to protect himself from.

Broken Yogi said...

Put another way, if you take a gun in your hand, and shoot yourself in the head, did your hand kill you, did the gun kill you, or did you kill yourself?

Moe is just Curly's gun, which he used to kill himself with, and at the same time deny the responsibility for the act, conveniently blaming Moe for his demise.

Broken Yogi said...

Manny, while I agree that what we label a disease has much to do with cultural acceptance, the fact remains that much of what we do both positively and negatively has strong biological origins. We of course don't call "talents" a disease, even if they are rooted in our biology. We only called things diseases which interfere with our ability to function. In that respect, what we call mental illnesses are disruptions of our ability to function, especially in regard to mental and emotional functioning.

Many psychopaths are high-functioning individuals with strong abilities in a number of areas. And yet they have emotional disabilities which are not merely the result of social judgment. Laboratory testing shows they actually can't function on an emotional level as others can. It's not a preference on their part, or a different developmental path, it's an actual inability to function or develop in these areas.

Similar dysfunctions occur in other forms of mental illness as well. People do find creative ways sometimes to make something valuable out of their dysfunctionality, or to compensate in other areas, and the result is not always negative. But just as a blind person who develops greater hearing ability in order to function can be described as a healthy individual, no one would say that their vision is functionally normal.

When the disease is of the brain and nervous system, it's even harder to overcome the dysfunction, because the cognitive organ which governs neural functionality and which would be relied on to compensate is itself compromised.

This is not to say that people with mental illnesses are at the mercy of their disease, any more than we are all at the mercy of our brains and bodies. They just have a challenge that requires some deeper part of them to meet, something more fundamental even than the brain and body. That can make the process of dealing with mental illness a spiritual one, not a psychological one.

nemisisx said...

"Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings."

Science is used by political and religious and even influential personality regimes to do great harm (and much good),it was science that made it possible to fly into buildings. without science the perps would be still slinging stones at each other. Hiroshima, incredible cruelty to animals (in the name of research)and on and on, what does that have to do with religion, you need to be critical of science as much as religion etc. Otherwise you see only one side of a bi- "fucked" coin. As for science being neutral or a just a method, it may have started off that way but it much more than that now, a whole world view in fact.

Broken Yogi said...

"It's my opinion that any chemical process leading to the depressive symptoms were being caused by psychological processes that weren't being tended to."

Sorry, but this is just circular logic. You can make the claim that cancer is just caused by psychological processes also, and no one can "prove" it isn't so. You can ultimately say that everythign is the result of a psychological process, and in some higher sense, even be right. It doesn't change the reality that people have real disorders of the brain and biology that produce very real mental diseases that are not merely psychological.

A schizophrenic or someone with bi-polar disease has that regardless of their setting or even medication. Meds only help with the symptoms, they don't cure the illness. There is no causal relationship between their psychological development and the disease, and no psychological cure for the disease. It's not like being in a bad mood, and then you just come out of it. Their depressions are rooted in fundamental brain dysfunctions, not psychological habits that come and go. ANd yes, it suggests that most forms of depression have strong biological components that have to be addressed, or treatment simply won't work. Not just meds, but diet, exercise, and life level habits.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Lapwing said...

Sorry if this is super obvious, but does anyone know what "Tibetan eye science" is? I thought it sounded weird enough to google, but all I got was a snowflake image that the internet seems to think I should stare at to strength my eye muscles or something. It was quite festive, but I don't think it's the same thing.

john e mumbles said...

Broken Yogi @ 5:48 PM:

"Regarding the Moe hitting Curly paradox, I'm reminded of Nisargadatta's observation that the entire universe "outside" of us is merely that part of ourselves we have rejected and then projected outward, away from ourselves, as it it is something "else"."

I can't recall Nisargadata making such an observation, can you cite chapter and verse for us please? Or are you paraphrasing in your own words, ie; your personal opinion based on whatever you read?


Prince said...

108 Adams said...

Maybe it's time to look deep into Pali kannon and see, how bold and grave are Buddha's statements about morality as a basis of the Path? One does not GET morality entering the path in Nikayas, one enters the path DUE TO and THANKS TO the morlaity base.

It's way after Pali kannon, when people started to think that entering the way makes you a better person. In fact it's an opposite: deliberate CHOOSING to be a better person is a first step on the path.

108 Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blake said...

Deepak Chopra actually blocked me on Twitter. The conversation that led to it went something like this:

"@Deepak: It's not that I'm high on drugs, it's that my mind produces ecstasy.

"@blakethegeek: @Deepak Your brain produces ecstasy? Cool! My ass produces crack."

True story.

Fred said...

I read Thomas Szasz 45 years ago,
and it was probably compelling to
my personality at that time. But,
I think that the weight of new
discoveries in the last 15 years
in neuro-psychology dispels the
myth of mental illness.

If you have ever been to the bottom
of an abyss, you would discover how
it is rooted in neurochemistry and
not existential despair.

Manny Furious said...

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do--like post unpopular opinions on message boards and then attempt to defend them, even thought I know it's futile. It's an illness, I suppose....

First off: @ Broken Yogi, I don't disagree with much of what you have to say. However, behaviors are not diseases. Of course a sociopath has a brain that is functioning differently than mine or yours (assuming neither one of us is a "sociopath). The problem is that Yo Yo Ma's brain is functioning differently as well. Does Yo Yo Ma have a disease?

We can sit here and talk about so-called psychopaths and sociopaths all day. The fact remains that society defines what a sociopath and psychopath behavior is and therefore defines what the "disease" is. This is not the case for, say, Rheumatoid Arthritis. Society may give RA a name, but it doesn't decide if it's a disease or not.

This is the difference between Schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. A professional can take out the brain of someone suffering from Alzheimer's and tell, physically, that the brain was sick. There are no such physical traces for any of the "Mental Illnesses."

I get that some people have difficulty functioning. Again, I don't disagree with that at all. But to say that they suffer a disease is misleading and it confuses the metaphor for the literal thing. Again, the lack of functioning comes from the fact that they behave in a way that society has deemed undesirable.

For example, it's not difficult to imagine that in ten or fifteen years, if this "objectivist/Randian" movement continues to pick up steam, that many symptoms of sociopathy will be removed from the DSM. This will be because certain behaviors will become more acceptable to our society as our values change. Thus, someone who was diagnosed as a sociopath ten years ago was based on a criteria that ten years from now will no longer quailfy. How is that a true disease?

Manny Furious said...


First off, on Serotonin Syndrome. There are certainly aspects of it that would qualify as a disease. The physical and neurological effects, for sure, would qualify. I don't think the article you provided determined a causal relationship between Serotonin Syndrome and any behaviors.

It's like this: Let's take Pavlov's dog. We teach him to salivate when he hears the bell ring. If we take a C/T scan of his brain at the moment the bell rings, we'd see all kinds of crazy shit going on in his brain, would we not? Certain areas would light up, others would shut down,etc. etc. Chemical and neurological processes are taking place at that precise moment. I don't deny that, and I don't think anyone could.

Now, here's the twist. We can say, "Wow, look at all that brain activity. That dog has Pavlov Dog's disease. It salivates whenever it hears the bell." Then we can put it on medication that controls whatever brain chemicals influence salivating. But we ignore the fact that the salivating was a learned response. And as a learned response, we can work with the dog to unlearn it. We can change the brain chemistry without medications.

This is an overlooked fact--yes, fact--about so-called mental illnesses. Brain chemisty is changed at every moment of every day, and I can choose to change my brain chemistry. This is why even the most ardent psychiatrist usually requires a mentally ill client to undergo psychotherapy. I'm not saying it's always easy to do so. I myself was clinically depressed for about two years in college. I was highly suicidal and low functioning. But that doesn't change the fact that once I decide with determination to change something about my life, my brain chemistry changes along with it. Studies have shown that serotonin reuptake can be inhibited when one changes one's behaviors.

Again, this isn't to say that people aren't suffering or aren't in need of support and resources. That's why I do what I do. I believe people deserve all the help they want to get. I just don't think most mental illnesses are a "disease."

Anonymous said...

Moe poked Curly in his "I" using Tibetan "I" Science (patent pending so hands off, Genpo).

Manny Furious said...


I don't know what kind of depression others have gone through, so I can speak as to whether I've been "to the bottom of the abyss" or not. However, I was diagnosed with depression for a couple of years in college. I was suicidal and not in a good space "mentally."

I don't think people understand that I'm not saying that people don't suffer. I think think there are a ton of people in our society who have a lot of difficulty making it through the day for whatever reason. I believe these people deserve whatever help they can get. I don't believe that they can "fix" there problems simply or quickly. I think these are complicated issues that deserve complicated insights and, as Carl Rogers said, "unconditional positive regard."

With that said, I just don't think they qualify as a literal "disease." I think to call mental illnesses diseases is to confuse the metaphor of Mental "Illness" for a literal interpretation of what a "disease" is.

Anonymous said...

That was a capital "i" not a lower case "l" in the last comment.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gniz said...

I don't think Manny Furious is that far off the mark with what he's saying. But I would also argue that with many diseases we have such a gray area.

For instance, is the disease of high blood pressure simply biological in nature? No. Because blood pressure is conditioned by our diets, exercise, stress levels and so on. It's not strictly biological even though it can be measured physically, etc.

Same with heart disease and many other conditions. Our mind and body influence each other and are influenced by the world around us (which is part of what Buddhism teaches, no?)

Therefore it's silly really to call anything strictly a biological disease and something else a mental or behavioral issue. Many of our diseases have a behavioral root and lots of our mental issues have a biological component.

What we do is to try and find the right mixture of behavioral and medicinal therapies to help what ails us. I certainly agree that depression, anxiety and other mental maladies are too often prescribed away with whatever magic bullet the doctors and big drug companies have cooked up.

But anyone who tries to make an either/or case here is missing the boat. Many of these illnesses are both behavioral and biological in nature, and one reinforces the other. what will help one person might not help the next. This is true with drugs, surgery, meditation, and exercise.

Zenleo said...

Thanks Broken Yogi for attempting to answer the question about Moe and Curly.
In spite of what it may seem I am not trying to argue for the sake of argument I just want to get my mind around this question and it is not happening for the following reasons:

(1)I can stop my hand holding the gun from shooting me in the head, I cannot stop Moe from shooting me in the head.
(2)Curly does not really live as a thought in Moe's head, he is not living, eating, pooping, breathing, he no longer exists.
(3)I have a problem with the whole "Karma" thing, not denying it's existence but it reminds me of the Heaven and Hell of Western belief systems.
(4) This topic which has come up for me many times reminds me of what Christian Ministers and Priests use to say to me when I would ask difficult questions which is; "Some things we are just not meant to understand with our finite minds."

The last one is a cop-out and I appreciate you trying to explain things to me, but I really am not buying into this we are all the same business, although it looks good and sounds good on paper.

Thanks for the response, and I imagine this like many things comes down to what



Fred said...

Manny, that was the argument put
forward 50 years ago. It has been
ripped to shreds hundreds of times.

Go ahead and try to change the
brain of someone with Bipolar
using only words. It can't be done.

Even though the brain is plastic
and new circuits are created daily,
some " diseases " are resistant to
treatment through discussion only.

Fred said...

"" I think to call mental illnesses diseases is to confuse the metaphor of Mental "Illness" for a literal interpretation of what a "disease" is."

Yes, that is what Szasz said 50
years ago

Zenleo said...

Sounds Good on Paper!

Another Paradox

Khru said...

I have that exact same stare...but I've been told it's because I'm extremely stupid.

This thread is uber-rad, as usual.

Mysterion said...
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Lapwing said...

Thanks, Mysterion - I googled toads-eye science, but that gave me some stuff about it being science from the ground level as opposed to massively theoretical or something. This is possibly the biggest mystery EVER, or at least since the last episode of Scooby Doo I watched...

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi

To claim the outside world is just us is really just a belief that's unprovable. It"s also inaccurate.

I exist independently of you. How you perceive me may in fact be largley what you project but it might not be 100% and it is not enirely indpendent of me since my own manifestation is to some degree part of the material that you work with.

Just because something may be perceived does not ake it true. There isreally no way to be certain that what is perceived is in any way accurate.

If your belief is true then can you stop my existence?

Oh no, wait, arrrrghhhh!

Stinks of Zen said...


Don't be unfair about cause and effect. Or, at the risk of getting too Kantian, don't be unclear about proximate and ultimate causes.

Stinks of Zen said...

did i say unfair, i meant unclear? strange slip up.

Fred said...

"If your belief is true then can you stop my existence?"

There is no I to stop it. The
identification with the I inside
has ceased and life flows in all

john e mumbles said...

If there is some recognition that identification has ceased, who is perceiving this?

Zippy Rinpoche said...

So this is what it feels like to be potato salad.

Fred said...

The Universe perceives itself, John.
You already know and experience

john e mumbles said...

But you were referring to an "individual" one presumes, when you say the identification with the "I" has ceased.

Or, do you mean "the universe"has mistaken itself for "I" and has some need to rid itself of this mis-identification?

David Clark said...

Thanks everyone for the Moe/Curly thread, as well as the "mental illness" one. The Hardcore comments section can be damned interesting at times.

I'm not very good at debate, so I tend to just be a reader here, but I enjoy seeing these topics explored by this discussion.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Education or indoctrination?

Manny Furious said...


I agree that the "talking cure" is rarely the answer to what we call "personality disorders." But, then again, I don't remember every saying as much. And how can I help it if Thomas Szasz was right 50 years ago? I would venture to guess that most of us on this message board believe Buddha was mostly correct in his assertions made 3000 years ago, or Bodhidharma 2000 years ago, or Dogen 800 years ago, etc. Repeatedly pointing out that Szasz is old as fuck is hardly a refutation of my arguments.

I'm going to end my participation in this discussion by pointing out that Gniz's response is by far the most reasonable one. I think if a person believes that he or she needs a combination of treatments to deal with their issues, they should do whatever they think it takes. Hell, if one believes that medication is the ONLY way to treat what ails them, then more power to them.

I still don't think "Mentall Illnesses" are diseases. I'm obviously not going to convince anyone otherwise, and unless neuroscience comes up with something definitive (or, at the very least, takes over the treatment of these mental illnesses), I'm not budging on my position.

What got lost in my ego taking over this thread is that Brad's post was on point this week. Both in his treatment of morality and in how he views "enlightenment experiences" actually potentially feeding in to the ego instead of smashing it.

Mark Foote said...

"After having had this experience, the person is transformed into something more than what he or she was before."

enlightenment is not about something you gain, it's about something you lose- wasn't it Uchiyama who said that? Granted you are talking about what a person is transformed into, and he was talking about what the feeling a person has.

"It's a oneness in which the experiencer owns that oneness and incorporates it into his/her sense of self, thereby making that sense of self infinitely big and infinitely exclusive."

You meant infinitely inclusive, I'm sure.

On the Moe and Curly Joe analogy, my perception of well-being only extends so far as to accept that maybe the pleasant sensation of stretch that I experience sometimes when my consciousness rests near the tan-t'ien is my irresistable well-being, although I needs must include the near-painful sensations of stretch elsewhere in my sense of location to satisfy that well-being. The universe is in my sense of location, and everyone around me, some associated with pleasant sensation and some not; ignorance of this is the antithesis of well-being.

how's that. "Oh, a wise guy, a?"

Broken Yogi said...

Yo Yo Ma has a high-functioning brain. “Disease” means an impairment of functioning, not just “different functionality”. A broken leg is an impaired leg, not a “differently-abled leg”. Sociopaths actually have impaired brain function, not just some subjectively labeled behavioral problems. In fact, some of them don't have noticeable behavioral problems at all, they pass very well in society, and function by compensating. But if you examine and test their emotional responses, you will find a dysfunction. Not just a “different” function, but a lack of functionality. As with people who are lame, they are often able to compensate. Most sociopaths are not criminals, they make work in finance, say, and even make a lot of money. They just lack an ability to be empathetic, to feel emotions, just as parapalegic person may lack an ability to walk. They may be a danger to themselves and others without even knowing it. Or they might be able to get by relatively well by limiting themselves to things they can actually do.

There have been many clinical, scientific studies of sociopaths, and it's a genuine phenomena often with real physiological damage or dysfunctionality to the brain that can be tested. It's not just some made-up behavioral problem, though those symptoms are usually how it comes to our attention. The brain is a pretty delicate mechanism, and its functioning can be disrupted in a thousand ways, resulting in all kinds of problems.

Society doesn't define sociopathy and other forms of mental illness, doctors and mental health officials do. They actually study these things, observe them, and come to scientific conclusions about them. There's plenty of gray areas, particularly in the less severe cases, and overlap with normal functioning. No differently than with any other chronic illness. There are even variations in how these things develop and manifest. As with arthritis, there are good days and bad days. And it's not always clear what exactly has gone wrong, how, or why. Like with RA, or a whole lot of more ordinary diseases and syndromes. But it is clear that something has gone wrong and needs to be treated, not just labeled as “different”.

“This is the difference between Schizophrenia and Alzheimer's. A professional can take out the brain of someone suffering from Alzheimer's and tell, physically, that the brain was sick. There are no such physical traces for any of the "Mental Illnesses." 

Not true. The more advanced a case of schizophrenia or bi-polar gets, the more real damage is done to the brain. It's one of the reasons early treatment is so important. The more manic episodes a bi-polar patient goes through, the more his brain gets damaged, and the harder it is for them to recover functionality. Schizophrenics definitely do get damaged brains. In fact, one of the leading theories of schizophrenia is that actual pathogens are involved that may do damage to the brain under the radar for a very long time before symptoms develop. Of course, there may be many different routes that end up with damaged brains that we classify as “schizophrenic”. But there's little doubt that something has gone wrong with their brains. It's not caused by purely psychological problems, though stress does seem to exacerbate its development.


Broken Yogi said...


If there were diseases that increased our functionality, of course they would be desired by society. For example, mild autism can result in high functionality in limited ways, such as in science, academia, music, finance, etc. Bill Gates is a mildly autistic person, for example, and it definitely has resulted in some valuable contributions to society. Steve Jobs may even have some mild narcissistic or sociopathic problems that have also resulted in valuable work products, if making him difficult to work with. It's likely the case that the very genes which when they run out of control result in the more negative sociopaths, also can produce high intelligence or functionality when more mildly expressed, or when balanced and compensated for in other ways. Bi-polar people tend to be of higher than normal intelligence, but they have difficulty functioning in other respects. One is likely looking at a wide range of gene expression and selection here, and a vast difference in adaptive qualities.

As for diagnosis, what is being looked for is actual dysfunction, and in the case of pathologies, decided negative manifestations. One can certainly interpret the criteria in overly broad ways, but the underlying conditions do exist. The problem is often that they exist on a spectrum from high-functionality, to average functionality, to low functionality, with no clear dividing markers. The difficulty is in finding where someone crosses over into a damaged state where they simply can't function properly. And yes, there are social components to that, as always. In the old days, people with schizophrenia sometimes became shaman, or shaman tried to emulate schizophrenics. And there are indeed mild schizophrenics, as there are mild cases of RA. But there's no question that something is at least mildly wrong with their neurology, not merely their psychology. And also that there's something severely wrong with the more obvious examples of mental illness.

Lech said...

Just scrolled down too far but noticed that the FEMEN chicks have The Look, too. Strange, hadn't noticed their eyes before!

Broken Yogi said...

"I can't recall Nisargadata making such an observation, can you cite chapter and verse for us please? Or are you paraphrasing in your own words, ie; your personal opinion based on whatever you read?"

I wish I could give chapter and verse. Pretty certain I read it in I Am That, but it could be elsewhere. And yes, of course I'm paraphrasing, but I don't believe I'm injecting any personal opinion into his basic observation. It was something that struck me pretty powerfully at the time and has stayed with me ever since. What I make of it is up to me, of course, and you too. The power of it comes not from Nisargadatta's authority, but from whether it strikes you as true, or even possibly true. The purpose of his saying things like that is to get you to think, not to accept it because he said so.

gniz said...

Hey Y'all, Sorry to hijack the thread, but hopefully as a longtime participant here you'll forgive me.

I recently did a rough recording of an original tune and since I know some of you are music geeks, I'd love to get some opinions on it. The straight dope is appreciated.

You can listen to it at my old blog:

End hijack/

john e mumbles said...

OK but, "I'm reminded of Nisargadatta's observation..." implies that you are prefacing the rest of the comment on a specific quote and that your opinion is bolstered by the fact that he stated this. It does not point to a distinction of whether he said it or not, or that this makes no difference because he was only "trying to make you think." You are representing it as a fact, that an authority that you respect actually made a statement that informs your opinion, so that we should somehow consider that because of this reference, your opinion must be correct.

And later: When you say "Non-dual practice means..." What you meant was, " me."

How can you -or anyone besides Nisargadatta- presume to know or explain what the purpose of whatever he said was? Please...

Mysterion said...
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Manny Furious said...

@Broken Yogi:

Your most recent response is so void of any basic sense, reason or education re: my own arguments, that it is clear you either are unwilling to understand my arguments or are unable to. Either way, I realize I'm banging my head against the proverbial wall and wasting my time by responding at all. There are two major "points" that your response makes that are so misguided that I am embarrassed that I feel such a compulsion to respond to them.

Number 1-- Yo Yo Ma is high functioning based on what? Who determines what is "high functioning" or "low functioning"? Society does. It is not difficult to imagine living in a society that views music as evil, and, as such, anyone who performs music at an "advanced" level as mentally sick. This is not a hard concept to grasp. Less than 100 years ago masturbation, homosexuality and female promiscuity were considered mental illnesses, because that's what society said. Times have changed and suddenly what were once diseases, are now simply acceptable behaviors. The criteria is arbitrary and it's determined by what a large number of people in a given society fear. For further example, what we consider to be paranoid schizophrenia in our society is deemed by many other "aboriginal" societies as being a gift. We toss a series of pills down the throats of our schizos and lock them up in "hospitals" while other societies make them priests.

How is this a fucking disease?

Number 2--you say that advanced stages of Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders leave physical traces. I would love for you to come up with a reputable source on this, because this is absolutely not true. You wanna know how I and everyone else should know this isn't true? Because if it were, conditions such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder would be treated by neurologists, not psychiatrists. And this is a major point, because psychiatrists deal only with behaviors. They diagnose determined on a set of behaviors. Nothing else. They take no tests, perform no autopsies. They provide the client a series of questionnaires, perform an interview and give a diagnosis based on behaviors. Yes, they are M.D.'s but the science behind their craft is highly dubious. Whereas, on the other hand, neurologists actually diagnose based on physical, demonstrable symptoms. This is why neurologists treat Alzheimer's, Tourrette's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig's, etc. Because they are actual physical diseases that are objectively diagnosed. If personality disorders could be objectively diagnosed, they would be treated by neurologists, not psychiatrists. This is not difficult to understand. One set of diseases is diagnosed objectively, i.e. determined by physical facts. The other set of "diseases" is diagnosed based on a series of behaviors and on a Psychiatrist's opinion of what those behaviors mean. Psychiatrists themselves are beginning to understand this argument, this is why the next DSM will diagnose on a scale, as opposed to simply slapping a label on a person and their behaviors. The scale is an admission that a straightforward diagnosis is highly improbable.

You know how I know all of this--because I'm one of the assholes you talk about who studies this shit. This isn't an opinion I just concocted one day to be cute or contrarian. When I entered my counseling psychology program, I was just as sure as everyone else that these things were diseases. But when you look into this shit with a critical eye, it becomes quite clear that it doesn't all add up quite as nicely as the pharmaceutical companies and their doctors would like you to believe.

Broken Yogi said...

Leo, it's a fun exercise, regaredless of its value.

(1)I can stop my hand holding the gun from shooting me in the head, I cannot stop Moe from shooting me in the head. 

Yes you can. You can talk with him, appeal to his reason, emotion, etc., even grab his hand and wrestle the gun away. Lots of things you can do. You can't ultimately control him, but you can't ultimately control your hand either, or the emotions that made you put that gun to your head. You can argue with yourself, appeal to your own reason, emotion, even try to drop the gun, but you may not succeed. The same motives that might drive Moe to shoot you, might also drive you to shoot yourself.

(2)Curly does not really live as a thought in Moe's head, he is not living, eating, pooping, breathing, he no longer exists.

Of course not. Awareness is not limited to one's head. The head appears in our awareness, and like everything else, it is not the source of our awareness, any more than it is the source of Moe or Curly. It is a convention of identity to say “I am Moe, not Curly.”

(3)I have a problem with the whole "Karma" thing, not denying it's existence but it reminds me of the Heaven and Hell of Western belief systems. 

It depends on how you see karma. I see it as the tendency of attention to be drawn into various modes of awareness. There is no actual reward-punishment morality going on, but something closer to the physics of attention and experience. The settings may change, but the pattern tends to repeat itself. And even the settings have their patterning.

(4) This topic which has come up for me many times reminds me of what Christian Ministers and Priests use to say to me when I would ask difficult questions which is; "Some things we are just not meant to understand with our finite minds." 

I disagree with them. I think we are most definitely meant to understand these things, and that pretending otherwise is part of the desire to remain unconscious and thus irresponsible for our lives. And that's the nub – if we really paid attention and observed ourselves, we'd come to see that we are completely responsible for the world we find ourselves in. Not just partially, but in every respect. Our “karmas” coincide perfectly, in other words, such that Moe fulfills Curly's karmas at the same time that Curly fulfills Moe's. Yet each tries to blame the other for their relationship.

“The last one is a cop-out and I appreciate you trying to explain things to me, but I really am not buying into this we are all the same business, although it looks good and sounds good on paper.”

We are not the same, but we are One. A boot kicking someone's ass is not the same as the ass it kicks, but they fit together as one act. It takes both to have an ass-kicking. Our lives fit together with one another in the same seamless fashion, as one event. We like to think of ourselves as either boot or ass, often in swift alternation, but it's the experience that is our karma, not the position we occupy.

“Thanks for the response, and I imagine this like many things comes down to what”

No, not faith, but observation of the fine detail of our own experience when we are either boot or ass, and the alternation of the two. Seeing is believing. Faith is something else entirely.

Broken Yogi said...


First, it's not a claim, it's an observation. The truth of it depends on how closely it is observed. You say you exist independently of me, but here you are interacting with me. Simply because you believe you are independent of me doesn't make it so. Some impulse in you made you write to me, and something else made me write to you. That's a karma we share, right there. Did we control that? Not that I can see. We have a dual impulse to relate to one another, however briefly. We are no longer independent, if we ever were.

What Nisargadatta was pointing to, I think, isn't something about our superficial mind and body identities, but about the subtlest nature of how the world comes into being through mind itself, meaning not brain-mind, but the consciousness that forms itself into a growing brain-mind in a world it can barely comprehend how it arrived in. You may claim that this is unprovable, but to whom would one try to prove it in the first place? Find it out for yourself, and you will find out if there are other people at all to prove it to.

“Just because something may be perceived does not ake it true. There isreally no way to be certain that what is perceived is in any way accurate.”

Exactly. So why do you think your perceived experience of the world is true? Why do you think this perception of separate existence is actually true? Don't just perceive the world, but observe your experience of perceiving it. You might find out that it isn't what we think at all.

“If your belief is true then can you stop my existence?”

How could I, if you are me?

“Oh no, wait, arrrrghhhh! “

Another Yogini falls into satori...

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

4) Plus the two dudes are Janist Vegans.

Broken Yogi said...

Mumbles, I credited Nisargadatta as the source of the idea because that's where I got it from, and there's a context for it within his teachings if you are familiar with them. I don't state it as a fact, just as something to consider. Anyone familiar with Nisargadatta or his teaching style should know that he didn't just assert things and expect people to believe him, he expected instead that people would argue with him and thrash these ideas out until they made some kind of real sense. He was about as anti-authoritarian a teacher as there is, especially in regard to his own alleged authority. Maybe you weren't aware of that, but now you are. Unless you don't believe my “interpretation” even of that. Oh, well.

“And later: When you say "Non-dual practice means..." What you meant was, " me."”

I consider such qualifiers to be utterly redudant in any intelligent conversation. Everyone knows that everything anyone says is taken from their own perspective. Constantly expecting me to remind everyone of that is to presume that people here are idiots, which I don't think is the case. If you want to, you can add “ me.” to the end of every single sentence I write. I'm not about to.

“How can you -or anyone besides Nisargadatta- presume to know or explain what the purpose of whatever he said was? Please... “

I'm just explaining what it meant to me, and what I think he meant by it, and how that bears on the conversation here. I suggest you go read the book, “I Am That”, and see what you think he was trying to say. It's one of the best books ever written (and yes, you can insert a “to me” here if you like), and well worth pondering.

Broken Yogi said...

Manny, I understand your frustration that I simply don't accept your notion that brain function is purely some socially-dervived assessment of what is morally desireable. Yo Yo Ma has testable abilities to recreate musical sounds on an instrument that uses vibrating strings. These abilities are independent of whether society values music or not. There are many people who simply do not those abilities. There are even people whose hearing is literally tone-deaf – they can't differentiate the pitch of notes very well, and thus they can't sing or make music. Whether society values or stigmatizes that is another story.

The same is true of many mental functions. There are people with high functioning mathematical or verbal abilities, and people who do not, people who are dyslexic, etc. There are all kinds of ways in which brain development can be disturbed, such that people end up “retarded”. And there are diseases which can take abilities away. Beethoven went deaf, and he couldn't play music anymore, though he could still compose it.

With mental illnesses, there are countless numbers of people who have normally functioning brains for many years, and then in a relatively brief period, something goes wrong in there. Schizophrenics and bi-polar famously tend to manifest their disease in the late teens to mid-twenties, and it's not because they suddenly went through some kind of psychological crisis. Their brains rapidly begin to function in an aberrant fashion for reasons that are hard to determine, but are certainly not willful or intentional. If you've ever been around full-blown schizophrenics before and after the onset of the disease, you would know this is true. Their ability to process thoughts and perception and emotion is dramatically altered and dysfunctional, and not just because it goes against society's expectations or values, but because it goes against the way that brains normally function when healthy.

You bring up ideas about attitudes towards masturbation, homosexuality, and promiscuity, and point out quite rightly that such things were once considered forms of mental illness. The false conclusion you derive from these misunderstood matters is that ALL things that have EVER been considered to be mental illness are mere social constructs, rather than actual biological dysfunctionality. There's a way to actually examine these things and see what is true, and what isn't. It's called independent science. In this approach, science can simply observe these matters and see if they are actually dysfunctional or not. In most cases, they are not, though certainly we can find examples of compulsive masturbation, promiscuity, and even homosexuality that are dysfunctional and pathological – as we can with virtually everything, including their opposites of celibacy, lack of self-sensuality, and heterosexuality. I know you really seem to believe that all such things are social constructs and have no other reality, but I will just remind you that biology may be complex, but it has real functionality, and real diseases in which that functionality is compromised. The brain is no different from any other organ in that respect. It can get fucked up rather easily. And human beings can misunderstand the brain very easily as well, and assume there's something mentally wrong with people who merely have different opinions, perspectives, habits, etc., when there isn't any functional problem at all with the brain.

Broken Yogi said...


“For further example, what we consider to be paranoid schizophrenia in our society is deemed by many other "aboriginal" societies as being a gift. We toss a series of pills down the throats of our schizos and lock them up in "hospitals" while other societies make them priests. “

Not really. I've known paranoid schizophrenics, and very very few of them could actually function as “priests” even in a shamanistic culture. Most of them would be the “town crazy” or “village idiot”, and die abysmally and abused. I don't exactly see how appealing to romantic folk myths about how great schizophrenia is makes much sense. They are generally miserable people suffering terribly from their condition.

“How is this a fucking disease?”

I'm sorry, but do you have schizophrenia? If not, I suggest you spend some serious time around them when they are off their meds, and the question will answer itself.

“Number 2--you say that advanced stages of Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders leave physical traces. I would love for you to come up with a reputable source on this, because this is absolutely not true.”

I do fear for your professional career, if you are this uninformed about these matters. I suggest you acquaint yourself with search engines. Try this first link for starters, and move on from there:

I really do hope you are diligent in your studies, but I would say you have a lot to learn.

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nemisisx said...

Broken.Yogi"we'd come to see that we are completely responsible for the world we find ourselves in. Not just partially, but in every respect"

How does that work with the guy born in a horrific shithole such as parts of Africa or Palestine and the terrible life situations of millions. Do you really think that in that circumstance you could really allow that intellectual waffle to be taken seriously. Like giving someone on death row The Secret. you can imagine the responses to such an idealistic notion "oh..thanks perhaps in my next life, that may be of value but right now you don't have a spare file up your ass do you?"

nemisix said...

(4) This topic which has come up for me many times reminds me of what Christian Ministers and Priests use to say to me when I would ask difficult questions which is; "Some things we are just not meant to understand with our finite minds."

Well in my opinion there are limits to mentality or the thinking inquiring process, these guys were within the confines of their dogmas saying "they didn't have a clue" which is a quite honest statement and true enough on many levels. It's a sort of modern conceit that anybody can and should have an informed opinion on just about anything and everything, if you don't know best to state it, it's a sort of humility that is true to the nature of how we appear in this mysterious circumstance.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can get fucked by science. Nietzsche wrote about this - scientism.

Essentially what will happen is science ends up corrupted into another belief system and thus you are left with something like any other 'ism.

Either way everybody here is in danger of committing those errors. Looks like some are well down that rabbit hole.

Don't believe your own propaganda. If anything zazen meditation can offer you it is that. Remember even with zazen as in all things - moderation.

Broken Yogi said...

How does that work with the guy born in a horrific shithole such as parts of Africa or Palestine and the terrible life situations of millions. Do you really think that in that circumstance you could really allow that intellectual waffle to be taken seriously. Like giving someone on death row The Secret. you can imagine the responses to such an idealistic notion "oh..thanks perhaps in my next life, that may be of value but right now you don't have a spare file up your ass do you?"

I think the absolute worst thing someone in a terrible situation like that could think is "I'm not responsible for this situation, it's obviously someone else's fault." Can you imagine what misery that would bring to the poor fucker?

Whether you think it's true or not hardly matters, the best attitude to take when things turn sour is that it's entirely your own responsibility, the result of your own choices, your own free will, and to accept that, regardless of what appearances and well-meaning sympathetic assholes would like you to believe.

This is not "The Secret". This is stoicism and existentialism. The Secret peddles the illusion that you can create some kind of paradise which will fulfill all your desires. Taking responsibility for your world means accepting things exactly as they are without whining and bitching about your fate. It's a far, far better way to live than what you are seeming to suggest, that people should blame others for their circumstances. That leads to nothing good whatsoever. At least my approach leads to a certain peace of mind in the midst of whatever terrible events might befall you.

FYI (just something I came across) said...

- - -,7340,L-4171090,00.html - - -

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi

I don't think the world I perceive is true or false.

What I pereceive may vary from time to time in ways that seem determintic. Thus when I'm over-tired my perceptions can shift in directions I recognize as being consistent with some of Jung's stuff.

So I treat what I perceive as a working model that originates with me and is subject to revision and may ge inaccurate, accurate, wrong, or something else.

Problems seem to arise when I need to claim that my perceptions are 'right' or that I'm perceiving reality as it 'actually' is. That strikes me as a belief, one that aises from fear and clinging, one that closes me off from rapid readjustments to clues suggesting my perceptions are inaccurate.

Last night I was dancing with this guy socially who know has a girlfriend. He's a really great guy. Last year he was coming on to me and I kinda didn't encourage it, didn't think he was 'suitable'. We both seem to like each other and there seems to be sadness in how we dance - a dance for what never was. How I perceive him has changed and how I percive me has changed or reality has changed. Either way it doesn't matter. Either way I see how he dances with his girlfriend and that says all that needs to be said. They are good for each other. Maybe the same would have been true for us, but karma has played out the way it has,

The brain pattern-matches and will see patterns that may not exist. It is what the brain does. Beliefs are the patterns we cling to. Clinging to them prevents us seeing other patterns that may or may not exist. It restricts life.

Arguments about religion might just be fights over patterns that we want tto see and cling to.

Unbroken Yogini said...

@broken yogi

Your thoughts about the brain and normal are just wrong. Read something like "The Myth of Mental Illness" or listen to the comments.

Schizophrenia for instance can be seen as an adaptive response to a situation - if you look at the lives of some of these people you will see messed up scenarios.

The point is being made that there are no biological markers for what we like to call mental illness. The brain is working.

The brain also afapts to and is influenced by its environment. If.I put you in a concentration camp you will adapt or you will die. That adaptation may appear as sociopathology or leadership or empathy or PTSD or something else. Either way your brain wiring will change to improve your chances of survival - unless it doesn't.

After several tours in Iraq/Afghanistan soldiers are returning with brains that are wired tolook for threats from everywhere all the time. In a warzone we call an incorrect threat assesment 'collateral damage' in civvy street we call it assault or murder. In civvy street a orrect assesment is called "self defence".

After lots of Yoga and PTSD it seems that the mental disease model is just wrong.

PTSD might just have a biological market because it's now thought that the Amygdala and Hippocampus change size. But both of these changes improve the chance of survival in a world where missing a possile threat means being dead.

Healing from PTSD is pretty much a rewiring game. Repeated exposure to imagined threats until the brain rewires itself to "this is not a threat situation". It's a behavioural not chemical or pathogen based solution which takes time and works. the fact it ŵorks illustrates the disease model cannot be accurate.

Incidentally, during the 'nam war the US Military tracked and published stats for active duty. They worked out how long tours could be and how many tours they could do before something like PTSD became a certainty for most with the unaffected soldiers being either saints or sadists.

anon #108 said...

I don't know much, so in an effort to find out more I watched this yesterday: (thanks for the reminder of the link to doc heaven, john e)

I thought three things (I counted). First: This sounds very interesting, I wonder where he's going? Second: Why are a significant number of people in the audience laughing, tittering and applauding in all the same places? What do they get that I don't get? Third (during the last few minutes of the talk): Oh dear, "Atman is Brahman. I know that because I've done lots of meditation with my eyes shut" is where the very well-read Peter Russell was going.

After watching the film I checked the comments and learned that PR is a highly educated scientist and a student of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; a TM devotee. Now I don't know much about the Maharishi and his teaching, but I figure that PR's conclusion - that 'my' consciousness is the undifferentiated consciousness that is ALL things - is just the kind of thing the Maharishi believes and teaches. And it's my guess that the folks in the audience giving it large with the "We get it, Pete!" are fellow devotees of the Maharishi or one or other of his students/fellow travellers/Vedic or Hindu precursors.

I don't get it. I don't get why you would trust any experience in "deep meditation" to reveal a reliable 'truth' expressible as an idea such as "My consciousness/awareness is the universal consciousness; I am the Universe, the Universe is me". But that is what very many of ‘enlightened’ types profess to have directly experienenced and correctly understood.

Such experiences and understandings often seem to render victims prone to laughing and smug smiling; not bad things, maybe. But Universal consciouness style enlightenment, whether or not accompanied by the latest in physics, can also make people very sure of about what’s ‘really’ going on. And I don’t think being sure – about anything – is nearly such a good thing.*

Of course the joke that PR’s fans are getting and that I don’t get is me. I’m the joke. The joke is that there are people like me who don’t get it.

Understanding that all is one - and it is - is not much more use than understanding that all is not one (and it is). Not unless understanding impacts behaviour in a useful way is it much use, and there's no guarantee that any particular understanding will do that. Perhaps.

“What’s this? Don’t know.” Seems a far healthier and more realistic response to anything that looks like it might be ‘enlightenement’. If I ever have an experience that feels anything like “I am the Universe. The Universe is me.” I get it!” I hope I’ll remember to be very careful about how much importance I ascribe to it,** and very careful about the name I might want to give it.

*To be fair to Peter Russell, he himself is not giggly at all and, I thought, seems a tad embarrassed by his over-eager, over-happy audience. He does seem pretty sure though.

**No need to be despondent - other enlightenments are available.

Anonymous said...

I see plenty of evidence of "mental illness" or "mental disorder" in some of these comments.
In the words of Alanis Morissette Sensei, "isn't it ironic...don't you think?"

john e mumbles said...


The ultimate goal of the spiritual journey is to realize the union of your mind and ultimate reality. You discover eventually that not only are you in reality, but that you also embody that reality. Your ordinary body becomes the body of a buddha, your ordinary speech becomes the speech of a buddha, and your ordinary mind becomes the mind of a buddha. This is the great transition that you have to make, relinquishing your fixation on the separation of samsaric beings and buddhas. When we can talk about them as ultimately the same, when this actual transformation occurs within an individual, it is a truly great occurrence. It is remarkable because an ordinary, confused being still retains that preexisting continuity between an ordinary being and an enlightened being, in the sense that what you become is what you have always been. At the end of the journey, you are simply returning home.

- Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

Wonderer said...

Does it strike anyone else as odd that contemporary buddhist should make the same/similar statements as the ones The B seemed to speak against?

Fred said...

"But you were referring to an "individual" one presumes, when you say the identification with the "I" has ceased.

Or, do you mean "the universe"has mistaken itself for "I" and has some need to rid itself of this mis-identification?"

Yes, one presumes many things.
Can you say the universe is " Iing ". Sure, you can say anything.

Hows this. There are two sides to
the coin. Sometimes awareness is
on one side and other times its on
the other, and the path is to fuse
the two sides, but they are already
one anyway.

As for Mr. Szasz, yes our culture
is sick and labels unacceptable
behaviours. The problem with
sociopaths is not the degrees of
lack of empathy, but their
potential for murdering thousands
of people.

john e mumbles said...

Hi Broken Yogi, yes, I have read I AM THAT, and all of the other available English translations of Nisargadatta's recorded talks, many times, in fact. I go back to the various transcripts of his talks all the time. That is why I questioned the veracity of your statement you claim is based on one of his "observations."

The editing and translation of I AM THAT, a collection of talks given by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was done by another recognized (by Nisargadatta) jnani, Maurice Friedman. Reading the many other translations of talks recorded and collected by Mary Dunn, Robert Powell, Mark West, and many others it becomes clear that the voice we hear in I AM THAT is very different indeed. The closest comparison I can think of in Zen would be ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND, where the translation and arrangement are perhaps more the result of the editor's interpretation, rather than a literal translation. However, it is an excellent treatment, and is the typical starting point for most readers of Nisargadatta.

I agree that above all he wants each of us to think for ourselves, warning against assuming we know something simply based on his "observations."

"If someone picks up this book ten thousand miles away in a thousand years' time, those words will do their work if the reader is in the right state to listen to and assimilate the words."

-Nisargadatta Maharaj, from an interview with David Godman

gniz said...

Whether or not there are biological markers for mental illnesses, we still face the chicken and egg scenario.

If you sit around from age ten and eat big macs and twinkles and drink beer and smoke cigarettes, by the time you've reached middle age, you will have a series of health problems.

Doctors will be able to find significant abnormalities in your heart, blood sugar, liver, and lungs.

The diseases you have will be real and biological markers in evidence. And yet the nature of your diseases are still brought about by behavior. In other words, had you not ate twinkles all day, and drank a quart of beer every day, and never exercised, you might not have had ANY of these abnormalities.

There are some diseases--like sickle cell anemia or something--which to my knowledge are almost completely biological. Behavior plays little to no role whatsoever. Nor does environment.

Diseases seem to run on a spectrum like everything else. Some diseases appear to be fully biological in nature, a ticking time bomb that has to explode, and on the other end of the spectrum you have diseases that are caused mostly by environment and behavior and can be reversed when the environment and behavior changes sufficiently.

I believe mental illness likely functions on a similar spectrum. We still don't know for sure, but based on common sense and the anecdotal evidence I've seen, there are as many causes of mental issues as there are body issues.

Trying to make a blanket statement is silly. But we like to argue so why not make the generalizations anyway?

I believe that sufficiently horrible upbringings can bring about all sorts of mental illnesses. Our brains respond to stress and if we are put under undue stress in our formative years, our brains will change because of it. No different than our bodies changing because of polluting them with horrible food and so forth.

Our brains will have evidence of abnormalities. But what really causes the abnormality? Sometimes it will be environment. In other cases, I'm sure we can find that it's caused almost entirely by the person's biology. That nothing would have allowed the person to live a fully healthy life.

As the neuroscience around this progresses and perhaps they begin to find genetic markers for mental illness, we'll build a fuller picture about who is the ticking time bomb variety of mentally ill person, and who has arrived at this place because of environmental factors.

The treatments will likely vary based on these factors.

Right now, it seems we don't know most of the answers, although we suspect more and find more every day.

What I do know is that someone like Manny Furious is actually working in the field and trying to help people, while most of us are just bystanders shooting the shit on a blog for fun. Big difference.

john e mumbles said...

Correction (I was writing fast):

That should be JEAN Dunn up there, not Mary, although I'm sure Mary Dunn, whoever she is, could be a very nice person, possibly enlightened, even?..

Jean Dunn recorded some of my favorite Nisargadatta talks, transcribed in the books SEEDS OF CONSCIOUSNESS and the one I've practically worn out, the "last" talks, entitled CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE ABSOLUTE (both available through Acorn Press).

Highly recommended.

Mysterion said...

the ultimate goal is zero - nothing.

what we have to learn to accept is the emptiness of nothingness.

this world - this hell - is training. how much training does it take to "get it?"

that is an individual path, a path of one. nobody else can take it for you.

when asked by a follower: "How did you arrive in this place (consciousness)?" the Buddha answered: "If I held the ashes of my many transmigrations, they would be a mountain high."

there are no short-cuts, no Evelyn Wood Speed Satori, no cut to the chase. there is just the journey.

every journey is the hero's journey if you pay attention.

or so I was told...

Mark Foote said...

More "the look":

Gabriel Cousens

Got this link off Tao Bums "My first full lotus experience" thread, and someone responded that they watched the video and felt a very physical response that they couldn't account for, and they wondered if they were on their way to the ultimate healing (is that enlightenment?). Ok, that's my take of what they said. Seems appropriate for this thread. Disclaimer: I can't get myself to watch the video, I'm just posting for the picture and reporting on what someone said who watched the video.

Mark Foote said...

ok, I watched parts of it, the video is the look.

Broken Yogi said...

Unbroken yogini,

I agree with most of your first response to me.

I completely disagree about your view that "mental illness is a myth". Schizophrenia is no more an adaptive response of the brain to difficult circumstances than kidney disease is. You seem to be imposing a doctrinaire viewpoint on the whole issue which prevents from the outset any consideration that the brain is an organ which can be damaged and produce pathological dysfunction, like all the other organs of the body.

I have to ask you, what is so special about the brain that it can't be subject to diseases and syndromes of dysfunction like every other part of the body, simply because it is related to our "mental" functions? Why are all its dysfunctional symptoms simply "adaptation" rather than sometimes the product of a diseased or dysfunctional brain?

There certainly are adaptive functions of the brain to difficult circumstances - even to the difficult circumstance of having schizophrenia. But the underlying pathology is just that - a pathology, not merely an adaptation to the environment. And yes, there are many cases where schizophrenics are under extreme stress, and the disease does seem to be stimulated or exacerbated by that stress. But that is true of every kind of disease we know about, from heart disease to cancer to infectious disease. Stress causes organic breakdowns of our various systems, and often allows diseases to take hold when under more favorable conditions they might not manifest. Schizophrenia is not different than these. But it is not an "adaptation" that confers any benefits.

All diseases are attempts by the body to deal with its problems. A high fever is an attempt by the body to kill off pathogens that are attacking it, and it's the fever that usually kills us, not the pathogens. Allergic reactions have a similar basis, except the thing we are allergic to is not even harming us, it's only the reaction that does harm.

What schizophrenia's actual etiology is we don't know. But as the link I gave to Manny shows, it produces actual damage to the brain, loss of grey cells, etc., that can't be described as "adaptation". Mental illness is not a myth, it is a disease or condition of the brain first and foremost, and secondarily a manifestation of symptoms in those areas the brain governs - cognition, emotion, perception, sensation, etc. To presume that we can simply eliminate schizophrenia by changing the schizophrenic's circumstance, environment, or adaptive response to these is the romantic myth here. You can certainly help them by attending to these, just as giving a cancer patient a positive environment will help them, but one still has to accept the reality that there is a diseased condition in the body to deal with.

Broken Yogi said...


The idea that schizophrenia is brought on by life habits, environmental conditions, etc., is a testable thesis. With lung cancer, you can actually do studies that demonstrate a linkage to smoking or abestos. With heart disease, you can find a linkage to diet and lack of exercise, and also stress, etc. With schizophrenia, we don't find very much of that. To simply assert that it is brought on by these things is to fall in love with one's thesis, rather than to test it. It's a nice idea, but it simply turns out not to be true.

In fact, the “stress” that most schizophrenics deal with in their lives is the result of the early manifestations of the disease itself. Schizophrenics don't have discernably bad habits for the most part. Though the ones that do are often examples of the disease itself, or a desire to self-medicate an imbalanced brain with drugs. The problem is that a diseased brain often manifests itself in the form of pathological behaviors, but those behaviors don't bring on the disease, they are symptoms of it.

And even in relation to heart disease and cancer, behavioral problems are only part of the equation. There are genetic predispositions to these, and even infectious agents and long-term inflammations that will manifest such things regardless of your habits. Many people with very healthy living habits still get heart disease and cancer. And likewise, there are many people who smoke and drink and live wild lives who live to a ripe old age in maximum health.

I think it's fine to suggest that no diseases are purely biological, and that there's a personal, conscious element to everything we experience. But to single out mental illnesses as somehow not being legitimate diseases like everything else with complex origins and strong biological and genetic components is to simply ignore reality. I'm sure you're aware of the identical twin studies on schizophrenia that show how strong the genetic component is.

Mental illness certainly functions on a spectrum, but so does heart disease and a ton of other “real illnesses”. I'm not arguing for biological determinism, just putting mental illnesses on an equal footing with everything else, and looking at the actual evidence rather than mere anecdote and appealing theory.

Bad upbringings can certainly leave one psychologically damaged, but there's just no evidence that it produces a higher rate of genuine mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar. What you believe about it doesn't really matter. One can certainly stretch the label “mental illness” to far and have it apply to psychological dispositions with clear environmental causes, but that is a labeling problem, not an indication that all mental disease is only psychological, behavioral or environmental in origin.

These bodies are full of problems, even for healthy people. Laying a guilt trip on people with mental illnesses, as if their behavior caused their illness, is completely counterproductive to compassionate treatment. Manny may be working in the field to help people, but if he's doing so under false notions like these, he's not going to be of much help. There are many other people doing this kind of work, and most of them disagree with Manny's viewpoint, and have a lot of evidence to back it up. The road to harm is paved with good intentions.

Broken Yogi said...


You really don't have to take my word for it if you don't wish to. I'm not sure where I read Nisargadatta's description of the universe as a projection of that part of ourselves that we have rejected, but I don't see why it sounds to you like something he wouldn't say. It sounds to me like something completely consistent with what he taught everywhere else.

As for my own understanding of the implications of that, you are of course free to reject these also if they don't resonate with you. I'm not sure why you are reacting so strongly to it. I guess it is making an impression on you too.

In those interviews with David Godman, he talks about how Nisargadatta told him that the real purpose of his teaching was not intellectual understanding, but that he was literally just "planting seeds" in his listeners or readers minds, for them to sprout at some later time. That was what he cared about, not whether something was grasped intellectually, but whether it made its way deep enough into our "ground" to grow and flower at some point later on.

I can flip through I Am That looking for the original quote, but I'm not sure I can find it. I've read some of the other sources, Dunn and Powell, etc., and it may be from one of those, but my memory suggests I Am That.

I only read I Am That once, taking over a year to go through just a few pages at a time, letting things sink in very slowly. That was one of the things that stood out during that entire period, so I'm pretty sure I'm not just making it up. But the brain does do strange things with our memories, so you certainly don't have to trust mine.

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi,

Agree, disagree it doesn't matter either way.

The brain can be and is subject to disease. Alzcheimers for instance and BSE.

The problem is that what is called Mental Illness is not disease in the same way. It's a subjective classification of behaviour. There are ample studies done of this. One case was a group of psychiarists got themselves admitted to an asylum as an eperiment as inpatients and then had great difficulty getting out since all there actions were interpreted as proof of illness or proof that drug treatments or therapy were or were not working.

Other studies show how the same patients will be classified differently by different qualified professionals.

You can read DSM IV and V and see how subjective it is.

In the case of Schizophrenia both Carl Jung and ISTR Wilhelm Reich showed cases where it was an adaptive response and showed the patients were in fact 'sane'.

I used to hold views simlar to yours but after lots of reading technical literaure and my own experiences my views have changed.

That doesn't mean they are right or wrong or Defensible or indefensible, just that I find it harder to generalise Mental Illness using the disease model.

I know from my own experiences with PTSD that brain functioning did change and activation of various brain areas did move outside of 'normal' operating parameters in relation to the brain as a whole but I struggle to label it as illness.

E.g. intrusive memories are just a variation of normal memory recall and association. Normally when you rember things you also recall emotionally ressonant related memories. With PTSD at times when it's bad it can be like any attempted use of memory can cause recall of the traumatic event. The same is true in mourning - everything seems to remind you of the deceased. In one scenario we call it normal,in another we do not although the functioning is the same.

E.g Flashbacks are memories retrieved in response to external stimuli that then merge with external perception to form a single muddled perception - this makes sense since sensory memories replay in the relevant cortices where real-time snsory input are processes. If however the scent of a rose causes an equally strong recall of our boyfriend we call it love. When in love we see our beloved in every crowd but it's not called flashbacks an it's not treated as illness.

I have to say that my brain didn't work in a way that I wanted and now it's returning to a happier state. Maybe it was disease and maybe not. Often I've found Yogis to be more helpful than shrinks so it might be a matter of definitions not actualites.

john e mumbles said...

BY: Interesting, I, too, took almost a year to read I AM THAT the first go round. I wonder how many others had this experience? (or bothered to digest it as thoroughly.)

Don't take it personally: I probably reacted so strongly because I respect the teachings, and have been appalled at the glut of "non-dual" teachers all over the internet who refer to Nisargadatta as if their own understanding is somehow as sublime as his was, thus legitimizing their bullshit.

Anonymous said...

@ Manny Furious

Although I believe that there is some there is some truth in your arguments regarding mental illness I disagree with some of your views. I do believe that society defines what is considered pathological to some extent. However, I do not believe this proves that certain conditions are or are not true illnesses.

Interestingly you cite Tourette’s syndrome as an example of a true “neurological” disease as opposed to e.g. Schizophrenia as a psychological condition. Most of the arguments you cite regarding mental illnesses however apply to Tourette`s, too. No objective brain pathology can be demonstrated in the individual patient. Neurotransmitters are thought to be involved, but one cannot demonstrate that they are the cause. Tics can become worse with stress or sometimes disappear for a certain time. I think that it is society that defines that shouting obscene words and moving body parts in a funny way is an illness. I do not see why this should be objectively more ill than a patient with catatonic schizophrenia who is unable to move. Your argument that mental illnesses cannot be objectively diagnosed because they would otherwise be treated by neurologist and not psychiatrists is actually quite funny and shows that your concepts about what neurologist and psychiatrists are is determined by your society. One could just as well argue that if mental illnesses they were clearly not illnesses they would be treated by counselors not by psychiatrists. In some countries Tourette`s and Alzheimer`s are actually treated by psychiatrists (Alzheimer was a (neuro-) psychiatrist working in a lunatic asylum when he discovered Alzheimer`s). In migraine on the other hand there are no objective test for diagnosis. Diagnosis is based on the patiens subjective perceptions but migraine is treated by neurologists. The fact that societies differ in their understanding of illnesses does not necessarily make illnesses purely social constructs. Epilepsy used to be considered holy in ancient Egypt, today it has a clearly understood pathophysiology and is treated by neurologists.

Things are usually more complex than they seem and simply declaring everything that is treated by psychiatrist not illness is too simple in my opinion. I do not think your understand of e. g. schizophrenia stems from extensive experience with schizophrenic patients and I think your understanding of neurology, neurobiology and medicine is not very profound.

Still I think your arguments about the impact of society on the understanding of mental illness are worth considering.

Thomas Szasz as far as I know practiced as a psychiatrist for decades. Do you have any knowledge about how he treated his patients considering he did not believe they were ill? I would be interested in finding out how his concepts influenced his practice.

Best wishes


Mysterion said...

Schizophrenia is the result of neuron patterns being distorted from a time before birth.

Current research suggests that if the mother is exposed to certain viral agents - including some flu types - the development of the fetal brain includes errant patterns.

Schizophrenia is perhaps just another environmental gift to the cycles of fetal development.

Some people have it, we all need to co-exist with them (same as they do with us).

Unbroken Yogini said...

Incidentally, Ronald Searle, author of the St. Trinian's cartoons died recently. He was s PoW survivor. You can look at the cartoons and see how his experiences fed into them, there is a gallows humour about some of them.

You can also read the obits and see how he lived out his life. His aversion to flies and things is clearly related to his PoW experiences, as one suspects are the cartoons.

Was he mentally ill by DSM standards? He surived horrors. He built a succesful career. By societal standards he was a success. He might be labelled as eccentric. But I can also see signs of PTSD in how he chose to live his life - choosing controlled isolation for instance.

Sometimes the label benefits the labeller. "I could never be like THEM", it's like a magic spell,

After being diagnosed with PTSD (acing the test was a clue) the follow on is "and how do I make it stop". There to the disease model fails since the answer tends to be "you cannot" or "I cannot treat you" - so labelling hasn't helped, it's just made some people feel comfortable and safe.

You may also like to google for "Dalai Grandma" and read her blog. she was diagnosed as bipolar and lost her kidneys due to lithium treatment. Shes blogged about it all and her new kidneys.

Finally there are the higher Janas - talk to a shrink and see what happens.....

Labels are labels, not reality.

Broken Yogi said...


There are as many fuzzy Vedantists out there as there are fuzzy Buddhists. PR seems not to understand the avaitic teachings very deeply, however, if he is equating is ordinary consciousness with Brahman. Ordinary mind is not Atman, the Self. It is Atman, the Self, which is equated with Brahman, the Universal Conscious Being in Advaita. The ordinary conscious self is simply the ego, and the ego cannot identify with Brahman, until the ego realizes his own non-existence and knows himself as the Self, Atman.

This "shortcut" is known in as "the Advaitic shuffle" which tries to equate all our ordinary suffering egoic mind and its processes, positive or negative, with the Absolute. It results in a lot of very dumb mistakes, similar to Genpo. This is often called "neo-Advaita", or really, "pseudo-Advaita".

If it doesn't make sense, it's probably because it's an example of nonsense. It's also not Advaita either, but the kind of messy misinterpretation of Advaita that westerners often make when they are trying to rationalize themselves. Buddhists do this also, of course.

The statement "the universe is me" has profound implications for what both the universe is an what I am. Jumping the gun and coming to the conclusion "I am Brahman" actually prevents us from really considering what it means that we are the universe. One doesn't have to do that, one can instead merely notice in the most ordinary moments that what we experience as "I" and "world" is merely a field of awareness that includes both. You can call that Brahman if it makes you feel better, but it's no more true than it is false unless you actually see that it is so. The whole point of these teachings is not to accept such statements as true, but to investigate and find out whether they are true or not, by examining our experience of the world, and this "I" that seems to experience it. Don't take anyone's word for it. Find out for oneself.

gniz said...

Broken Yogi, Not sure if you were addressing me specifically about putting mental illness on a footing below other standard "diseases" like heart disease, etc.

I'm assuming not, since I stated over and over and over again that I believe both commonly accepted diseases like heart disease and other problematic states or diseases such as chronic depression all operate along a spectrum.

Some diseases are likely almost 100 percent biological in nature--schizophrenia might even be one of those, i have no idea--and other diseases are likely almost 100 percent environmental and behavioral. Can't think of one but I'm sure it exists.

We seem to be splitting hairs. I think some people like Manny Furious feel that a lot of mental illnesses can be treated more effectively with alternate therapies instead of drugs. In that sense he's not much different from holistic minded physicians who try to get their patients with high cholesterol and high blood pressure to try eating better, doing regular exercise and meditation, yoga, etc.

This whole discussion feels like everyone talking past one another, though certainly some interesting stuff has come up anyway.

Broken Yogi said...


PTSD is a real mental syndrome with real physiological changes in the body-mind. You are engaging in an obviously false leap in logic if you assume that all forms of mental illness have the same etiology as PTSD, and can be treated understood and similarly.

Why this desire to see all mental problems as the same, and why this particular notion that they are all essentially of the same nature as PTSD? Mental illnesses, and I would include PTSD as a form of mental illness, are wide ranging and have enormous differences in origin, development, diagnosis and treatment. Schizophrenia and bipolar are no more forms of PTSD than PTSD is a form of brain cancer.

In all cases, including PTSD, there are actual changes in the brain that occur, by whatever cause, that have to be dealt with. Knowing what changes are actually occurring and why is important in actually addressing the underlying problem, and not merely treating symptoms. PTSD, for example, if treated as a purely psychological condition, will not get much better. Understood as a physiological condition of the brain, it opens up some very promising avenues of treatment. Using MDMA, psilocybin, LSD and other hallucinogens, for example, shows remarkable results. If the condition were simply psychological, this should not be the case.

As Mysterion suggests, Schizophrenia may even be related to prenatal damage to the brain, or other forms of environmental damage. It doesn't really matter what the origin, it remains the case that the schizophrenics brain has been damaged in a real way. It's just not clear if the damage can be undone, and the best treatment is merely to try to ameliorate the symptoms.

Broken Yogi said...


I agree with your last stated position. I would not say that anything is 100% biological, since even genetics is a form of "adapation", but in the evolutionary species sense, not within the individual.

Schizophrenia and bipolar have some pretty strong genetic basis, and yet because they persist in human populations and are not weeded out, they also must confer some benefits. Bipolar people have above average intelligence, for example. As do people who only have one Tay-Sachs gene. And people with only one sickle cell anemia gene have immunity to malaria. So there are genes we have adapted to having which can bring both serious illnesses and huge benefits.

I agree that some mental illnesses can be the result of behavioral problems. Such as addiction. And yet, most addicts have a physiological basis for their addiction that has little to do with their own will or behavior. They are compelled towards certain kinds of addictive behavior because of an underlying physiological condition. If they get hip to that and learn how to deal with that problem, they are much better off. But it's not as if the problem were just in the mind, it's very much in their body also. Or both.

I don't object to an inclusive approach that accepts some of what yogini and Manny are saying. It's their exclusive doctrinaire approach that says all these things are the same, that there is no such thing as mental illness, and that they are all adaptive rather than having an intrinsic physiological pathology to them, that I object to.

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi

What you perceive and what I said or meant do not have to correlate. Earlier you argued that everything you perceive is projection and now you are imputing things as originating from me.

I'm not saying that mental illness does not exist. I am not trying to generalise. I am trying to show how a geeralsation may or may not apply to concrete examples. From this in turn that other things listed in DSM may not be most appropriately fitted into the Mental Illness model.

I don't have a problem with the label if it leads somewhere.

I think I agree with gniz. There's not a lot of communication going on. it's clearly emotive and it's clear you want to take a position which is less prevelant prifessionally than it was.

These discussions are entertainment more than anything so maybe I'll stop since it's going nowhere.

Mysterion said...

St. Trinian’s - home to the world’s wickedest schoolgirls.

ABC Obit

soul in torment

Unfortunately most of his best is not on line.

In a way, I think he was sometimes asking what did we do to deserve this (POW treatment).

He self-medicated on pink champagne.


David Rivers said...

Totally brilliant. I am glad you added the important fact that genuine satori bestows the actual direct "living" knowledge that "what I do to my brothers or sisters I do to myself" that's why I tend to term enlightenment the Emergence of Compassion. All learning is contrast and that why this article is such a gem in my opinion. Remember too that from what we are told the Buddha himself advocated developing total and all encompassing compassion as a prerequisit to the possibility of "ataining" true enlightenment.

Adi Don't said...

What the Hell, Broken Yogi? You were a long time devotee of Adi Da, huh?

And you received psychic messages from him after his death?

See: March 24, 2011

Son, your credibility is now officially fucked.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred said...

Broken Yogi said

"One can just say that while Da understood something about the Guru-devotee relationship, he also corrupted and exploited that relationship, rendering it essentially ineffective."

You had a 25 year relation with
this man while knowing that things
were not right on this level of
interaction. What was the
connection and what was the

john e mumbles said...

Adi da's artwork:
I dig it.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Brad WTF is " Eye Science" ?

Anonymous said...

This just in...

"Experts monitoring the Norwegian killer, Anders Behring Breivik, say they believe he is not psychotic, contradicting court-appointed psychiatrists."

Broken Yogi said...


The universe is a projection from a very deep level, and it does not mean that individuals don't exist. The relationship between individuals is what counts. In fact, it is the relationship that exists, not any discrete "self" that thinks it is "in" the relationship.

So in our conversation, you are saying some things, I'm disagreeing with some of the things you are saying, you are disagreeing with some of the things I am saying, and you seem frustrated at the lack of communication, so you want to leave. Well, shocking, I say. You might almost think that conditional life was dukkha, unsatisfying. I hope you find a more satisfying relationship out there somewhere, but I suspect you won't be able to find a "sweet one", if you know the story.

Anonymous said...

no such thing as " eye science" it is something brad made up to go after the tibetan Buddhism as an example of the topic that he is writing on. Peace.

Broken Yogi said...

Yes, I was a devotee of Adi Da for a very long time, on and off. And yes, I had a "psychic" relation with him for most of our time together, including after his death. I was also one of his strongest critics. Not sure how this bears on this conversation, but I'm glad you think you've destroyed my credibility. That kind of shoots yours down even worse. As if credibility were a high value concept here in any case.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...


That's a long story, especially for those of you who don't know much of Adi Da. He's a real hard case, and yes, I was involved for a very long time knowing that he was engaged in a lot of crazy ass stuff, and I kept at it because of what I found incredibly genuine in the midst of his excesses and even perversions. Call it karma, call it what you will. It was one helluva strange relationship, I can say that much. Puts Genpo to shame. But I did learn a lot from it also. Especially about how to laugh and feel grateful no matter what kind of crap one goes through.

Zenleo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...

Mysterion, you are way off in thinking Adi Da merely claimed to be some ascended master. That's chump change in his self-image. In his view, he's the greatest and only completely enlightened Avatar in the history of not just this universe, but all the manifest cosmos. So you insult him by comparing him to such middle-of-the-road claimants as Ballard. He's far more grandiose than that.

Zenleo said...

Broken Yogi, if you started a University you could call it BYU for short. Anyhow a few final points to make:

(( but it's the experience that is our karma, not the position we occupy.))

I think the position means everything in the world. Rather than being the one kicked or the one kicking it's time to stop and pay attention to your actions. I believe paying attention and attempting to be thoughtful about life's situations is the thing that is important. If not, then negative consequences can develop when the one being kicked has had enough and wants to get even.

((No, not faith, but observation of the fine detail of our own experience when we are either boot or ass, and the alternation of the two. Seeing is believing. Faith is something else entirely))

Yes seeing is believing and that is why I neither buy Karma nor Heaven or Hell. Karma to me seems to be some sort of reward for right behavior, or it works out that way. It's a nice thought, it is sort of like the Golden Rule, but some people and life situations are not Golden.

So in my thinking it all has to stop, it does not matter to think about the kicking or being kicked, it all has to stop and then observe....
.....observe what?

This whole message string makes me feel like I have just awaken....awaken after a heavy night of drinking!

Thanks for the comments and have a great evening.



Broken Yogi said...


The position we are in never stays the same however. If that's what matters, then life is hopeless, because it just goes round and round, and we never stay on top, or bottom, kicker or kickee, for long. So that can't be what matters.

But I agree that paying attention to this cyclic pattern does matter. It tells us that the answers we are looking for are not in the “how do I learn to kick better and stay on top?” category. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Being genuinely thoughtful means something more than learning how to manipulate one's relationship to the world, or even how to achieve some imaginary “harmony” where everyone just gets along. It doesn't exist, because of that nasty law of dukkha, the first noble truth. Doesn't stop people from trying, but it does guarantee they end up frustrated.

Yes seeing is believing and that is why I neither buy Karma nor Heaven or Hell. Karma to me seems to be some sort of reward for right behavior, or it works out that way. It's a nice thought, it is sort of like the Golden Rule, but some people and life situations are not Golden.

Well, I don't believe in that notion of karma either. It's like suggesting that gravity rewards those who obey its laws. That's more of a metaphorical way of looking at it. It doesn't mean gravity is unreal, however, and neither is karma.

So in my thinking it all has to stop, it does not matter to think about the kicking or being kicked, it all has to stop and then observe....
.....observe what?

Yes, it does have to stop. But for it to stop, you have to cut it off at the root, not at the leaves or branches. So you have to observe yourself deeply, not superficially. You have to go to the source of the ego, not just stop at the ego itself and try to work its problems out.

And thanks to you for some good fun. Hope no small animals were hurt.

Zenleo said...


That last comment was more clear and it's a good note to end on, thank you.

Also the small dog is still alive and not harmed in anyway but we do not however know if it has the Buddha Nature.



Anonymous said...

Brad, This was one of the silliest posting you have ever made as measured by the accepted standards of measuring such things.

Mark Foote said...

Mysterion, thanks for the Searle links. I sure recognize the style if not the name, fine, fine work.

And for the Hittleman link. Very interesting. So little time, so many human lives behind the look.

My connectedness, I learned doing the soft-slam at Mabuhay Gardens in the eighties. Sort of like blindfold Aikido at a punk rock emporium that turned out to have more indie rock than punk. Love the music, love the people who dance, love the way the miscreants cleared space to dance at Mabuhay by shoving each other into the spectators.

As my favorite non-guru Kobun said:

"When you sit, the cushion sits with you. If you wear glasses, the glasses sit with you. Clothing sits with you. House sits with you. People who are moving around outside all sit with you. They don't take the sitting posture!" (from Shikan taza on the Jikoji website).

Same is true for dancing. Same for Moe & Curly Joe, I suppose.

PTSD, yogini, did you see that they now believe respect for the enemy is an important part of the resolution of PTSD?-

PTSD Therapy: Restoring Honor to the Enemy

Guess that fall along the lines of psychology as opposed to neurology, but I have no idea, just thought it was something new.

nemisisx said...

Broken Yogi "Yes, I was a devotee of Adi Da for a very long time, on and off. And yes, I had a "psychic" relation with him for most of our time together, including after his death. I was also one of his strongest critics."

Hi, I am a current devotee of Adi Da do you still consider yourself a critic? I haven't read any of your stuff for some time, but our paths did cross briefly around 2002 and I left you with the rather smart ass comment "Hope you find what you are looking for" and "May your search bear fruit" or something of that nature.If anyone is familiar with Adi Da's teaching you may see the sarcastic irony in this.

There is a good blog out now that shows a lot of what has been hidden by all the bad press and so on(the good stuff that is) about Adi Da and Adidam particularly the arts of devotees some really beautiful works in progress may be appreciated by friend or foe.

On the matter of mental illness, I have to agree with BY mostly, having had several friends with schizophrenia, though some people do seem to just grow out of these conditions as they age, or they become less severe, it's different to actual brain damage as in intellectually disabled people from birth, they can be quite happy and socially adapted.

Broken Yogi said...


I don't have any particular designation for myself Da-wise anymore. I praise what I see as good in him, and criticize what isn't. There's quite a lot on both sides of that list. Most devotees would view me as a critic, since I don't whitewash everything he did as Divine, and point out some really awful crap that he pulled. On some issues, however, I'm more than happy to defend him, not that anyone much cares.

I've received quite a few hostile comments from Da's devotees since I left the scene, including at my blog. No big deal. I'm used to the smart-asses who think they sit in God's catbird seat. Eventually, they figure things out. Have you? Life has a way of humbling the proud to their own benefit.

I don't think the bad press Adidam has received over the years has hidden anything. It's Da and his devotees who have been doing most of the hiding in reaction to it. Refusing to deal with the obviously genuine criticism Da's gotten, and then playing victim and refusing to live openly in relationship to the world he presumes to be the World-Teacher of turns out to be a really bad strategy. It's good to see some folks coming out from under that cultural suppression, and I hope they keep it up. Eo Anderson's experience with that seems like a bit of step backwards though. Regardless of what one thinks of his spiritual attainment, he was very creative and had a lot of humor and devotion. Even I enjoyed his site occasionally, before they trashed it.

Still, there's plenty of good and talented people in Adidam who ought to be able to make something beautiful from the compost of their experience there, if they have the courage to simply be themselves rather than merely seeking the approval of the authorities. Always liked Nara, btw. I hope her father's health has improved. Her art seems sweet, not really my style, but some of it I really like. I tend to enjoy genuine devotion no matter what the tradition or object or style.

nemisisx said...

@Broken Yogi
With the spiraled light blog as far as I know that was copyright issues only, a lot could be said about it, but that was all it was about, and more coming both friendly works and unfriendly.

"I don't think the bad press Adidam has received over the years has hidden anything."

Disagree very strongly on that, when a huge amount of muck is thrown at any group, or person,as it has been, then the majority of people can't see passed the muck, yet there is a wonderful depth and culture "hidden" to this day in Adi Da's work and in the community itself. It sometimes reminds me of a lost tribe, in the esoteric sense. I know I am talking to the wrong person here on this point, but I remain firm on this one, it's a diamond hidden in the dirt, so to speak.

Lapwing said...

There's no eye science? I feel so sad inside. :(

Lapwing said...

In fact, NO. If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself. I'm going to make my own damn Tibetan eye science and it's going to be AMAZING (but may be lacking in fact).

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Mark Foote,

I've not seen the research.

It is true that changing how we see things is part of the process. For a soldier I can see that seeing the enemy as a soldier 'like me' would be an important part of it.

For other scenarios it might be different. Being able to see alternative interpretations is also part of it.

Psyhology and Neurology entwine and both have to be worked on.One without the other doesn't seem to work.

The metaphor that springs to mind is of a fried computer. Instead of 5v being put i to the chips 500v has been put through and now some ciruits have been burned out, some permanently on, some switches fused open and some just unreachable any more.

The neurology part is like trying to wire in alternative switches, bypass some ciruits, rebuild other, reroute between them all the while dealing with a brain that doesn't seem to work like it used to.

Obviously the metaphor is flawed but I think less so than the idea that the brain is sick and health returns it to the same state as before. Adaptation leads to resilience.

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi

So you see frustration and a girl that cannot get a guy? 10/10 for projection. 0/10 for accuracy.

i'm not trying to win a debate here. If we hold different views the options are that either one of us chnges those views or we both continue to hold those views. If the latter then given the arbitrariness of such positions it serves no purpose to continue a conersation in the same vein.

One of the difficulties in PTSD recovey is the loss of ability to sustain intimate relationships. Another is that some people sense weakness and seek a domination thing and so you can attract the wrong type of relationship.

Part of recovery is steering clear of the wrong kind of relationships, recognising when you are attracting them, reogmising when to say no.

Another part is cultivating the healthier relationships, recognising when to say yes, recognising when to say 'not today'.

So in fact last year I had two relationships with guys. Each one I saw as a stepping stone, building towards the ability to sustain and spot more initimate relationship potentials.

After a few months of stock-taking I'm back on the market and more aware of how to ignore the bad boys and spot the good guys.

But there's also all this non-dual stuff. There are degrees of intimacy. Fortunately there is Yogidar and a few beeps on my scanner :-)

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Broken Yogi,

Watching "The Primacy of Consciousness" would go a long way to clarify for you what Peter Russell means by Atman is Brahman (not that I'm recommending it...I found it interesting). Having watched it myself and having read your comments here, I'd be very surprised if his understanding is significantly different from yours.

Until such time as the Universal Consciousness finds a way to post on blogs, I'll read your responses to me and others, and mine to you, as expressions of (what I believe you mean by) ego. And I'll continue to read analyses of the relationship of the constituent elements of reality as more or less informed guesses, or as pictures or models which, when examined, collapse.

Some models - particularly metaphysical ones - tend to appeal to those seeking answers to big questions, and when understood - or worse, 'experienced' - can flatter (what I believe you mean by) the ego into believing it is enlightened. And so - If I ever have an experience that feels anything like “I (Atman/'true self') am the Universe. The Universe is me.” I hope I’ll remember to be very careful about how much importance I ascribe to it, and very careful about the name(s) I might want to give it.

Anonymous said...

The Love Guru

great movie !!! TM.

Timmy said...


Soft Troll said...

Broken Yogi wrote

...and yet because they persist in human populations and are not weeded out, they also must confer some benefits...

There is no reason why they 'must' confer benefits. This is an oversimplification to which I doubt any natural selection theorists would agree.

Fred said...

Being a sociopathic beserker served
a purpose in 800 AD Norway. Rapists
and killers left their DNA in a
brutal world where brutality was
the norm.

Soft Troll said...

Sociopathic behaviours 'serve a purpose' for individuals in the present day, Fred.

DNA fairy tales have their place too.

Broken Yogi said...


You are definitely talking to the wrong person if you want sell me a snowjob, but if you just want to talk about the real life problems Adidam faces, I'm your man.

I would agree that there are many diamonds buried in the bullshit of Adidam, but let's not pretend that's the fault of dissidents or critics or the media. Adi Da crapped out most of that bullshit, and devotees spread it around to the point where you can't help noticing the stink most everywhere you look. Merely talking about the reality of it isn't what covers up the diamonds, it is the original bullshit that does that.

I know full well that there are great and wonderful people in Adidam who care a lot about spirituality, even while having to shovel shit just to stay in place. Adi Da was himself one of them in many respects. It's just such an awful strain to have to pretend that all the bullshit is made of diamond also, and that the stink you smell is perfume. Noticing this is necessary for cleaning out the barn. Determinedly not noticing this just perpetuates it. Tamas is not our friend. You want those diamonds noticed? Clean out the bullshit first.

The world is full of lost tribes covered in bullshit with diamonds hidden inside. It's no one's fault but their own. As for as Eo is concerned, it's awfully interesting that he's had his blog going for four years, and it's only a couple of months after he announced his “seventh stage awakening” that the institution decides to bring him down, without even talking to him or giving him any warning (they claim to have sent him an email, but he never got it, probably because it was to an old unused account). I understand the copyright issues, but it seems like a pretext rather than the cause.

Broken Yogi said...


Speaking of projection, I hope you noticed that I said absolutely nothing about your relationships with guys or having a boyfriend. Obviously it's on your mind, but it wasn't on mine. My reference to “looking for a sweet one” is to a famous Zen joke:

The students of a Zen Master arrive in the Zendo hall one morning for meditation to find their Master sitting on the dias before them with a large bowl of red hot chile peppers in his lap. As they begin their meditation, the Master begins eating the hot chile peppers one at a time. Soon, his lips become swollen and red from the heat, his forehead breaks out in a sweat, and his whole face puffs up. This goes on for a very long time, and it's obvious that the Master is in agony, but he keeps eating the peppers anyway. The students sitting before him try to maintain their silent zazen posture, but soon they give up and begin begging the Master to stop hurting himself, but he continues on eating. Finally, one of the students yells at him, “Master, why are you doing this to yourself, why don't you just stop?” The Master looks up calmly, holds out a chile pepper, and says, “I'm looking for a sweet one.”

So it's not just about you and your search for a guy, which I didn't know about, but everyone's search for the “sweet one”, in all its forms. They just don't exist, and I say this as a guy who's been married to a very sweet and saintly wife (for putting up with me) for over 28 years. Point is frustration is inherent to every relationship you will ever have, and accepting that is the only way to have one.

I'm not trying to win a debate here either, just get down to the truth. Which means pointing out things which I think are false. As are you. We disagree about what is true and false, which in my view is no reason to get pissed at one another and say fuck off, it's just the nature of all relationships. And who knows, maybe there's something in that to consider as you get involved in your next relationship with a guy. We are all sort of assholes in one way or another, you know? What happens when you find that out, is what makes the real difference.

Broken Yogi said...

"There is no reason why they 'must' confer benefits. This is an oversimplification to which I doubt any natural selection theorists would agree."

It's my understanding of genetics that genes which only reduce one's chances for survival and reproductive success naturally get weeded out over time, unless they also confer some survival/reproductive benefits also. I'm sure that's an oversimplification, but still basically true.

So when one finds a genetic trait that seems harmful, one needs to find out why it would persist, when natural selection would tend to make it vanish from the gene pool. As others have pointed out already, even psychopathic tendencies probably have survival reproductive benefits that keep such genes around. Same with bipolar, and perhaps schizophrenia as well. Are you saying that a geneticist would really disagree there?

Broken Yogi said...


You're right, I commented on your comment without actually watching PR's video. So maybe he has a similar understanding. I'm not sure I want to spend an hour reviewing it just to make an informed comment here. But if we are saying similar things, I'm more puzzled at what you are objecting to. Advaita itself?

Of course you and I and PR are egos trying to understand ourselves and how we got in this mess. Wouldn't expect you to think any differently. All models and concepts certainly can and do feed the ego. Even your concepts, I'm sure. Mystical experiences are of course just as dangerous, for the same reasons. Whether Atman is Brahman or not hardly matters, until we comprehend and get over our own egoity. Talking about it only does any good if it helps stimulate that impulse. And for some people, it does serve that purpose. For others, it just provides a convenient “answer” that makes them feel better about themselves, which is kind of the opposite of what it's supposed to do. There's no accounting for the ways in which we can fool ourselves, even when we think we are no longer fooling ourselves. Especially then.

nemisisx said...

Broken yogi

Clearly I'm talking to the wrong man, not that it matters and nor do I hold any animosity to you, I think it was Alan Watts who said that a good judge has a special twinkle in his eye because he knows by a slight twist of fate he could be sitting on the other side of the bench (so to speak)

When I say diamond in the dirt I don't mean internal dirt, though there is always internal politics and difficulty in any group. I clearly mean what has been laid at the door of Adidam by others. Why that came to pass is complex. I am not blaming even ex-devotees or people such as yourself for this, it is more a "phenomena" that someone else may research at some point.

What I am saying is can Adidam be cleaned up as a "perception" to at least esoterically transcendentally educated people, to the degree that it came come "out"? So it's an argument that needs to be had in many places. It's in the "dirt", as a perception not a reality, that is the fundamental point I am making, that is only proven by people being able to see past the crap that has been dumped at its door, to what is being offered.

Again with Eo that was Adidam "bumbling" around, copyright issues nothing more.

Anonymous said...

As someone who with sick fascination has scanned a few Adi Da/Frank Jones books, and watched numbers of extremely creepy videos on youtube of him hypnotizing and manipulating the gullible, I'd like to point out that the guy never said anything that wasn't better said in a hundred other places - like, say, from the sources he so widely plagiarized.

As for his art, much less that of his minions linked to above - gack! Everything Jones ever did, said, or made reeks of narcissism on the cosmic scale he claimed for himself. There is nothing positive there - there are no kernals of edible corn in the enormous pile of shit that is his legacy. Much less diamonds.

His books are unreadable and senseless, his art third rate pseudo-modern new age greeting card illustration. He worked for Scientology for a year; that was the real model for his schtick. If he'd gotten what he stated he wanted and was destined for, which was the entire world of "slugs" (people as he saw them) bowing at his feet, I wonder how well that would have gone? Especially when even with just a handful he made such a mess.

I think he is the perfect model, the template upon which the guru model can be most completely deconstructed, analyzed, and dismissed. Add Andrew Cohen, others. And Ken Wilber, who loves both these guys, and all those who see "spiritual practice" as a "method" to "achieve" something, or "evolve."

Unbroken Yogini said...

@Broken Yogi

I missed the zen reference and read it differently.

"frustration is inherent to every relationship you will ever have, and accepting that is the only way to have one."

You are showing two false premises here.

i'm well aware of what is inherrent in an LTR, I'm not some blushing school-girl.

Every relationship is different, every one is a choice, a compromise. Sometimes the fustrations feel worthwhile and sometimes they do not. Some are just not worthwhile.

Some frustrations arise outbof wishful thinking, some out of self-preservation, some out of knowing what is healthy. Sometimes being single is healthier than being in a relationship and sometimes not.

You cannot posit anything based on how I choose to interact with some anonymous guy on the internet. Maybe you don't come across a likeable. Maybe what you see as an aversion to frustration is just me choosing who I interact with and ow I interact with them. Maybe that makes you uncomfortable.

You come accross as a guy who just wants to win an argument. Maybe thats not the sort of guy I enjoy relating to. Get over it.

In generalising based on these blog posts you seem creating patterns and treating them as inherrent. Not my concern,

Fred said...

Soft Troll said...
Sociopathic behaviours 'serve a purpose' for individuals in the present day, Fred.

DNA fairy tales have their place too.

Whatever Trollbot

Broken Yogi said...


Whether I'm the right guy to talk with about these things depends on what you're looking for. For starters, I'm the guy who went dildo shopping for Da at sex shops in Berkeley and picked up the latest in dildos and blow-up dolls for him. I'm also the guy who spoke to women who had been beaten and raped by Da, and who talked to an inner circle dude who Da had beat and rape one of his wives with him, while she screamed for both of them to stop. I've known the folks involved in the whole “sexual theater” game he played for decades, and I know the pain and misery they were put through, willingly or not. I was there while he implored people to drink heavily to gather up the courage to sign over their life savings so he could buy paperweights and Disney art. How many millions was that? Over five for certain, maybe much higher. I know quite a lot of what went on in those inner circle gatherings, and while some untrue things have been said here and there by critics, I'd say a good 95% of what's alleged not only happened, but was often worse than alleged, and more frequent.

So the idea that some outsiders have laid anything at Da's doorstep other than what he and his devotees themselves did is pretty delusional. If you are looking for someone to support those delusions, I'm definitely the wrong guy. I would suggest you need to do some research of your own and find out what really went on while Da was alive. See how open Adidam is to such research. And then you can tell me who is responsible for the dirt that one finds at Adidam's door, and all the way through it halls and rooms, and especially that secret inner sanctum.

The problem with Adidam is not merely one of perception. It's the problem of what Adi Da and his devotees actually did all these years. You want people in esoteric spiritual circles to respect Adidam, you are going to have to really come clean with all that. In my honest opinion, it's basically a hopeless task. Fronting a few nice artistic types like Nara is simply not going to cover over the rest of it. People in esoteric spiritual circles these days are simply not that naïve anymore. That's why Adidam can't make much headway, and all these attempts to clean up the “perception” of Adidam simply fall flat.

Adidam can't “come out” while also being in denial of the dirty realities it is trying to sweep under the rug at the same time. Pretending that it's all someone else's fault, that Adidam is some innocent victim of mistaken identity or gossipy mean girls is just not going to fly. As long as you and other devotees take this absurd position that Adidam is not responsible for its bad reputation out there, it's never going to change. Ever. The first step in any twelve step program is taking responsibility for oneself. Unfortunately, Da could never do that himself, and he's pretty much institutionalized that denial such that no one else can either. So Adidam is basically stuck at square one.

One thing to remember is that your critics are not your enemies. Nor is ordinary reality your enemy. It's narcissists who care about how they are perceived. Get over that, and deal with the reality of what Adidam has actually been, for better and worse. Yes, some diamonds, but also a lot of self-generated bullshit.

And yes, we not only could be in opposite positions here, I actually have been. So I do know the territory.

Fred said...

Thanks for that Broken Yogi.

Broken Yogi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Broken Yogi said...

I'm not sure why you think I have so low opinion of you. Projection again? I don't pretend to know you, but the image I have is of some smoking hot smart young zen hipster chick who's broken quite a few hearts in her day. Now that's probably projection on my part, but it's hardly a bad one. It does appear that you have the usual self-esteem issues that make you vulnerable to bad boys like me, which is maybe why you already have such a love-hate attitude towards me. Part of you is pissed at me, and part of you really likes the heat thus generated. Which is why you keep replying rather than blowing me off.

Honestly, if I were thirty years younger and single, I'd be more than happy to meet in person and hash things out. I'm sure you'd be worth the trouble, whatever came of it. And I'm sure there's a guy out there who's right for you, but maybe not in the way you think.

I'm reminded of this Tibetan tulku dude his students made a movie about a few years ago. Can't remember his name. Good bloke. Best line in the movie is when one of his western students asked him why he doesn't get married. He answers in deadpan, “I guess I just haven't found the right girl yet.” Then he turns to the camera, and says, “That's probably the best summary of human suffering I could ever make.”

Anyway, no harm meant. I'm certain you're right that I've been a righteous asshole to you here. Some people find that pleasing, others not so much. The point I'm trying to make is that it's never going to actually be satisfying, so why hold that against us all? Even the right guy won't satisfy you. In fact, the sign that he's right for you may be that he's not satisfying and drives you crazy. My wife certainly does. That's when you know you have someone you can grow with, rather than expect satisfaction from.

Good luck in either case, and I really mean that. You seem like a good person who I've just managed to bring out the worst in. Take care.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz said...

Err, "someone" (initials are B.Y.) sure has a lot of time on their hands. Too bad.

Broken Yogi said...

Sorry to binge here. I do sometimes get carried away.

Anonymous said...

Whatever, I get the last


gniz said...

Hey BY,

I think you'll find this place has a rather high tolerance for blather and self-indulgent ranting. I've been here for years, as has Mysterion, Anon 108, and many other blatherers,

However, over the years I've also seen that some folks on here are highly intelligent and knowledgeable and maybe you shouldn't be condescending as well as blathering.

Just my 2 cents.

BTW I think I know who Unbroken Yogini is and I can say almost certainly that your impressions of this person is just about as far off as is humanly possible, starting with the very, very basic assumptions.

Broken Yogi said...


Okay, so you're saying that yogini is actually a smoke-free, cold, dumb, old Christian square guy?

My apologies.

gniz said...

I'm saying that you come off incredibly disrespectful in many of your comments.

gniz said...

But whatever. Your comments are not bad compared to what a lot of folks have spewed here from time to time, myself included.

nemisisx said...

Broken Yogi

Dildo'd and sex toys no problem what's the big deal? "rape and beating" that's the clincher, no one gets passed that. I personally have no interest in Adi Da's sex life, but to mention rape and violence that's pretty much the end of any grand entrance or acceptance into anything other than the extremes of "strange religious practice" It does not matter one bit if it's true, partly true, or novelized, it's in the saying of it, that the damage is done.

It makes no difference what Adi Da or Adidam has to offer because it can't be credibly and openly enjoyed, it's tarnished already for most people, passed that point. A few would and will get passed this conundrum but very few.

So the point is made, on one hand I know first hand what Adidam has to offer : an absolutely brilliant, enlightening, liberating and enlivening way of life but this will mostly remain invisible and utterly implausible even though it is factually the case and many over the years have said and written to this effect.

Broken Yogi said...


So you're saying you don't actually care if Adi Da raped and beat women, you only care that it hurts his reputation?

Of course it matters that it's true. I was at one time Da's strongest defender against these kinds of charges on the internet. Then I looked into these things myself to find out if they were true, and guess what, they are. I know it doesn't jive with your image of Da, but that's your problem with the facts, not with me or others talking about these facts.

The problems with Da's spiritual credibility begins and ends with Da himself and his own devotees – including myself when I was one. From 1973 on with G&G he's basically made himself a disreputable figure who most people think is a charaltan. I could list the foolishness all night long, and while I'm sure none of it would change your mind, it's completely poisoned his spiritual work and reputation.

So, If you want to change that, and prove to the world that your claims about him have merit, it's going to really require something extraordinary and overwhelmingly convincing of the spiritual merit of all that trash. I hope you guys can pull it off, I really do, but it sure doesn't look that way. It sure won't happen by being in denial of the kind of teacher Da actually was, what he actually did, and pretending he was as pure as driven snow.

What you claim is true will of course remain invisible so long as it's actually invisible. Bring something worthwhile into the world, and it will be valued. But you haven't done that, and neither has anyone else in Adidam done that, including Da himself. Surprise us all.

Broken Yogi said...


I'm not really sure what you are pointing at. Manny comes here making obnoxious and false claims about mental illness, accusing me of being utterly and absolutely wrong. So I give up a link to a scientific website that completely destroys his argument that mental illness doesn't cause detectable brain damage, and what happens? The guy simply disappears, I suppose utterly embarrassed to have made such a fool of himself. And you're saying that's my fault, that I was "disrespectful" towards the guy? What, by pointing to the facts that undermine what he claimed with absolute certainty?

Guess what, the facts don't respect our precious ideas about the way things ought to be. Look at Nemesisx. She has these wonderful ideas about Adi Da, and all I have are the facts that show no respect for those ideas. I guess that's "disrespectful" also.

So yes, I could be a bit more tactful, but I'm not going around insulting people here, I'm just pointing to the basics facts, like dukkha, that show no respect for our delusions. You think dukkha cares what our ideals are and shows them any respect?

So yeah, I'm the asshole here. Kind of funny, really. I just don't quite see what that's got to do with anything that actually matters.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmnnn. It's not the assholiness per se.

Its the verbosity, I'd say.
Now, let me have the last...

gniz said...
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gniz said...
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gniz said...
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