Science Studies… Awakening ?

Can science actually study awakening ?

This April, I attended the 2014 Consciousness Conference in Tucson, AZ,  titled Toward a Science of Consciousness. The conference consists mostly of academic work in the fields of neuroscience, brain science, philosophy, psychology, and physics as applied to consciousness and the brain.

Toward a Science of Consciousness 2014

Perhaps a dozen out of the 7-800 or so attendees were local geeks like the author, wandering in and around  (with no credentials whatsoever) listening to the sometimes barely scrutable offerings of 21st century science.

Some delightful exceptions stood out from the crowd.

Dr. Carmel Ashton presented her work in poster form on the essential ( and often missing ) element of childhood education : emotional intelligence. Her unequivocal message – we have no choice but to include the emotional development in education if there is to be any possibility of addressing the grand issues the world faces. Compassion is and will be fundamental for our continued survival.

Dr. Henry Viner spent 22 years studying the ” Healthy Human Mind ”  – egolessness – among Tibetan Lamas who practiced Dzogchen meditation. He spoke without slides or PowerPoint – just a plain mike. His conclusion: the egoless mind is far healthier and happier than the egoic mind and we need to start talking about how to transmit egolessness to our kids.

Dr. Jeffrey Martin studies awakening. [ more accurately, the phenomena known by that name and more than 200 other names] His research involves over a thousand people on most of the continents who have had awakening experiences, their psychological states, practices, personality attributes and the experiences themselves. His presentation deeply impressed this attendee.

Dr. Jeffrey Martin

Dr. Martin founded the Center for the Study of Non-symbolic Consciousness to continue research into this very human phenomena.

Apparently, science has been studying awakening for a few years now.

It started around 14 years ago. Until then, most psychological research focused on pathology. In the year 2000, some grant money started to become available for studying happiness, wellness, etc. – healthy people’s psychology. The cool pics of monks with electrodes on their heads and the “mindfulness meditation” proliferation followed.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche wearing electrodes for scientific inquiry into the electrical correlates of meditation

Thereafter proceeded Dr. Jeffrey Martin’s work on the happiest, wellest people around as a population: post-awakening types. Are there patterns ? ( yes) Do they resemble each other ? ( not in most ways measurable ) Is this reproducible through other means which might take less time than decades of meditation ? ( pending )

Am keen to hear where this line of investigation leads.

Staying tuned.


For further reference:

The photo of Dr. Martin came from:

The photo from the conference came from:

The photo of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche wearing electrodes came from:

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Say what you please,
as long as it does not prevent you
from seeing
how things are.

(And when you see that,
there will be
some things
that you won’t say.)

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations 2009 #79


Header quote from here:

Main Quote from here:

Graphic of Wittgenstein from here:

For further reading :

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if there’s no ‘there’ out there… by miriam louisa

if there’s no ‘there’ out there…

by miriam louisa

Meditating Woman - sculpture by Dorothy Frankel

I keep on checking
but I always fail to find
a ‘within’ or ‘out there’
apart from thoughts in mind

so how can I ‘go within’
to ‘nurture’ the Immeasurable
or ‘cultivate’ it in the world
when ‘world’ and ‘me’ are inseparable?

if there’s no ‘there’ out there
(and this isn’t hard to see)
the buck stops right here
in this matrix called ‘me’

with nowhere to go
and nowhere to hide
no inner, outer, higher or lower
the heart can open wide

can kiss each wondrous moment
with a love that can’t be taught
the only way you’ll stop it
is to entertain a thought


Sculpture: Meditating Woman by Dorothy Frankel


This post thanks to miriam louisa , from:

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the unnameable is the eternally real by miriam louisa

the blessing

emelle says

I found the unassailable
rock of refuge

I found the treasure
that can’t be bought or sold

exhausted and ill
I found healing
in that which is ever whole

I found delight
in every uninvited chore

I found my tribe:
the wild wideawake
whose only muse
is this nameless name
and whose only beacon
is this unlit light


Ed. Note – Quite possibly the most poignant expression this nobody has ever heard describing its own empty, luminous nature. – d

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We’re in an Impossible Situation, You and Me by Thassa Amzwar

We’re in an Impossible Situation, You & Me

We’re in an impossible situation, You and Me.
With no you.
With no me.
With no place to ‘situate’.
With no time to exist IN.

There’s nothing I can tell you.
With no I.
With words that aren’t the thing itself.
With no things.

You’ll never hear this.
No one is there to hear.
There’s no there, there.
No here, here.

You’ll never get this.
The most impossible situation of all.
Nothing to be gotten
Everything to lose.
No one losing it.
No it.

Ok, then.


With acceptance
by the imagined self
who seemingly has something, everything to lose
and insists on a willingness to lose it…

Just See!
In the simplest way possible.

Not “YOU LOOK”. 

Instead JUST the looking.  Seeing. 

Notice it’s just the seeing, happening.
Alive seeing.
Seeing can’t be helped!  Can’t be stopped.  Can’t help itself!
No looker, no director of looking.
Just the display, seeing itself.

And then, too….

This is not understood.
Not with thought.
Thoughts divert.
Seeing can’t be studied, thought through.
Waking up can’t be gathered, grasped.

Seeing scenery and it becomes clear.
Seeing needs no seer, and it’s the end of you.
Yet that’s not quite true.
Endings don’t come to something that never was.

The impossibility of it, is itself, impossible.
Because anything’s possible.

So give up.
And just (as in “do no more than”) look.
Then stop.
Where is the you who is frustrated with this nonsense talk, this gibberish?
When did the you begin reading this post?  Before this word?  Or did the “I” appear…

As a single thought.

Only after the question was asked?


The entirety of this guest post is thanks to Thassa Amswar (a.k.a.  Delma) who writes the amazing blog Tabula Rasa at

The citation link is here:

The photo comes from here:

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Truth is too simple for words by Nirmala

Truth is too simple for words by Nirmala

Truth is too simple for words

before thought gets tangled up in nouns and verbs

there is a wordless sound

a deep breathless sigh

of overwhelming relief

to find the end of fiction

in this ordinary

yet extraordinary moment

when words are recognized

as words

and truth is recognized

as everything else

(From Gifts with No Giver ,

a free ebook of nondual satsang poetry by Nirmala.)


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Thoughts Dance their Enticing Moves by Nirmala

Thoughts dance their enticing moves
before my entranced inner sight
but the spell is broken
when I wonder
who is entranced

memories beckon seductively
with all the luster they can manage
yet their shine is swallowed
in the light
behind my eyes

there is one dancer
I cannot resist
her only movement is utter stillness
I find no memory
in her transparent gaze


Poems from the Free Poetry Ebook, Gifts with No Giver:
Gifts with No Giver: A Love Affair with the Truth…. These poems attempt to capture the undying presence of love in all of its forms.


This poem comes from here:

Nirmala’s website is here:

Nirmala photo from here:

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No True Things by Susan Kahn

No True Things

To see that there are no true things
Is to fall through crevasses,
Through the appearing bedrock
And into an emptiness.

One finds a freedom
To wander among open fields
Of neither thing nor no thing.

With everything arising dependently,
And so, without inherent natures,
The many are not fractured.

And because nothing stands alone
But for the veil of empty names,
The barren desert blooms.

-Susan Kahn

Susan Kahn


This post came from :

Photo of Susan Kahn :

More related :

Read more archives from Emptiness Cafe

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can you, do you, live this savage wisdom? by miriam louisa

can you, do you, live this savage wisdom? by miriam louisa

impossible! see

this ultimate knowingness
isn’t a teaching, a path, a doctrine
one can ‘live’ or embody

(although the earnest peddlers
of nonduality apps
would love you to buy the notion)

you can’t “live this savage wisdom”

it’s what’s living you

and not just when you’re clear and angelic
oh no
it’s living you when you’re a mess:




seducing and story-telling

its play is infinite

it has no preferences;

it loves all that it creates and beholds

and because You and It are inseparable

your recognition of this

is ITs total fulfillment

it’s how IT gets its jollies!

"It's how it gets its jollies!"

(c’mon, wake up, don’t be a party-pooper!)

Uncredited image found in an archive on my hard drive and played with in Photoshop. Please contact me if you recognize it as your work and I’ll add your name.


This poetry entirely thanks to miriam louisa, found  here :

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Poetry Week

Spiritual experience can explode like a hydrogen bomb, leveling the old life, leaving behind fertile smoking cinders from which a new way of living is born.

Prose  often utterly fails to capture such events; profound glimpses into new worlds, deep departures from previous life patterns.

Yet expression still strains at language, yearning for connection.

Often, exasperated with the rigidity of prose, those with spiritual insight turn to poetry as a pliable vessel for such volatile expression.

This week on SIOF, spiritual poetry of this ilk strives to point to the inexpressible.

Seven days of powerful language,
packed with pointers and potential insights.

Seven days of original material,
much of it first published right here on WordPress,
all of it powerful, truthful, fresh.

What a delight to come across such fine offerings !

Please enjoy the wisdom and  creativity in this week’s spiritual poetry.

Photo from here:

Poet links other than those featured this week:

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