Author Topic: Automatic writing as meditation  (Read 1475 times)

Offline arka

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Automatic writing as meditation
« on: May 25, 2014, 11:00:21 am »
Automatic writing, especially surrealist/ surrealism-inspired verse (e.g. Tristan Tzara or Aime Cesaire), with its range of free associative metaphors seems to me to be an appropriate raft/ vehicle for meditation. Now automatic writing in the scheme of things in this post is not really automatic most of the time, given that I am equating it with a certain sort of poetry. But there is an added emphasis on listening which creates meaning alongside/together with the music of verse itself. When Satprem sez "the curtain of death must be pulled open in all bodies" or the Buddha describes the search as a man digging under a castle and not worrying overly about whether the castle faces North or South etc,  that's a powerful image. All the more so because the literal meaning has clouds of images added on.

I am not entirely confident about the Buddha's views on language used this way (did he feel as kindly as say a Heidegger did towards poetry?) (not that I am suggesting the Buddha said it cannot be done therefore &c) but would be interested if anyone has any thoughts on this.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2014, 11:08:37 am by arka »
"the curtain of death must be pulled open in all bodies"

(satprem)

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2014, 11:28:40 am »
I'm not too sure that automatic writing in any form should be seen as an appropriate raft or vehicle, though I'm speaking strictly from the potential of practitioners becoming misguided as to its source and importance --- for example, the so-called "True Buddha School" (among others) appears to have cornered the market on such practices and there's certainly enough fair criticism of it, as well as toward any teacher or monk who publicly announces (or claims) to possess such abilities, such as Master Sheng-yen Lu:

http://tbsn.org/english2/article.php?id=717


Offline arka

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2014, 01:15:35 am »
I'm not too sure that automatic writing in any form should be seen as an appropriate raft or vehicle, though I'm speaking strictly from the potential of practitioners becoming misguided as to its source and importance --- for example, the so-called "True Buddha School" (among others) appears to have cornered the market on such practices and there's certainly enough fair criticism of it, as well as toward any teacher or monk who publicly announces (or claims) to possess such abilities, such as Master Sheng-yen Lu:

http://tbsn.org/english2/article.php?id=717




Thanks for the considered response, dharmakara. Master sheng-yen lu is completely disarming and a benevolent practitioner by the looks of it, but my question was more geared toward its potential as a practice, not as an ability. Something like creating your own projections and taking on/observing their hues and qualities without attaching further significance to such.
"the curtain of death must be pulled open in all bodies"

(satprem)

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2014, 01:43:53 am »
Yes, I suspect that something like creating one's own projections could be of benefit, though this would be more related to stimulating creativity than any other aspect of what's been defined as "automatic writing" through the years --- in other words, it wouldn't be a problem provided that the practitioner acknowledged that they're creating their own projections and not attaching further significance to it:

Quote
Use in religious movements

Automatic writing is used in Spiritualism and the New Age movement as a form of channeling. One of the best-known automatic writers was Hélène Smith, an early 20th-century psychic who felt that her automatic writing was the attempt of Martians to communicate with Earth. She claimed she could translate their Martian language into French. Another well-known author, Neale Donald Walsch, wrote the book series Conversations with God, claiming to have used automatic writing to speak with God.


Use in therapy

Automatic writing is used as a tool in Freudian psychology and in related "self-knowledge" studies, where it is seen as a means of gaining insight into the mind of the automatic writer through their subconscious word choices.

It was primarily used by Pierre Janet in France, and later by Morton Prince and by Anita Mühl in the United States.


Use in stimulating creativity

André Breton pioneered the use of automatic writing within the Surrealist movement and produced several important pieces while using the technique, most famously Soluble Fish. The ideas of Hélène Smith, the so-called "Muse of Automatic Writing", also influenced the Surrealist movement (in the Surrealist deck of cards, Smith is the "Genius of Knowledge").

Automatic writing became a part of the Surrealist's repertoire of games, and it soon developed into a number of other Surrealist games and tools that greatly influenced the movement, such as automatic drawing, automatic palimpsest, and a variety of marker-word games. (See Surrealist automatism.)

Free writing later gained popularity with writers and poets, both as a means of stimulating creative thought and as a technique for overcoming writer's block.


Criticism

Skeptics note that there is little evidence distinguishing automatic writing claimed to be of supernatural origins from a parlor game that is little more than sparks of creativity in the minds of the participants. They assert that there is no evidence that there is anything more than the subconscious of those performing the writing influencing their actions and that there is no solid evidence that any messages are coming from anywhere other than the minds of the person holding the pencil. This is referred to as the ideomotor effect.

As there is no scientific evidence regarding the use of automatic writing in therapy, its usage to release repressed memories is suspect as well. While unconscious ideas are expressed in automatic writing, skeptics question the likelihood that they are any more profound than the writer's conscious thoughts. Skeptics argue that there is no evidence that the "true self" lies in the unconscious any more than there is for it to lie in normal consciousness.

http://www.new-age-guide.com/new_age/automatic_writing.htm

Offline arka

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 03:40:28 am »
Yes. That's some history it has. Almost like visions and glossolalia. Useful but can become too standardized/ occulting.

One other thing.  Can you please guide me to any links/discussions re the Buddha's thoughts on language? Thanks very much

arka
"the curtain of death must be pulled open in all bodies"

(satprem)

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 10:42:34 am »
I'm not sure that I understood your request correctly, but this is an article in regard to the Buddha's request that monks use the colloquial language of the people to communicate his teachings:

http://www.languageinindia.com/oct2002/buddhismandlanguage.html


Also, here's some links on language in general:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magahi_language

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_Hybrid_Sanskrit



Offline arka

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 02:52:45 am »
I am so sorry. Should have been more specific (loved the first link btw. My mother tongue's Bengali. So it actually is easiy for me to at least understand the concepts names etc in the original without a translation. For example, vijnana matra. Even before i read that matra can mean 'only' or 'just' i could relate it to bengali where there's still a word "matra" with the same connotations. It's cool that way.) What I mean is you get to read about the buddha warning against the limits of language. What intrigues me is how does he conceptualized what language can and cannot express. Did he draw any overt distinction between the figurative use of language and misleading language? My question ispartly inspired by Mahamati's q to the Buddha in the lankavatara sutra (trans. Suzuki) where Mahamati asks about "the essence of discrimination as regards words" at which the Buddha at one pt says, "word discrimination goes n taking place by the coordination of the head, chest, nose, throat, palate, lips, tongue, and teeth" followed by "words rise, Mahamati , with discrimination as their cause." The argument is clear, words are not the highest reality, cannot express the highest reality etc. That the Buddha gives instructions/words (as a father gives toys to his kids) but that the ultimate truth can only be realized within oneself. 

Here the Buddha's views on language seem to emphasize and instruct on the emptiness of all words, and effectively challenges our usual equation of language with reality, or to talk about our mantras and 'words of power'. One thinks of deleuze's order words) ,but does not really give language the extended treatment that the 62 wrong views get in the brahmajala sutta. It would be great if I get some pointers or get nudged toward some stuff where the link between a rejection of metaphysics and the rejection of any special status to words/ language becomes clearer. For example,  in Conze's translation of the Abhisamay alankara(under the heading "cognition of defilement and purification") , "may you meditate on the 42 letters as contained in one letter, and may you meditate on one single letter as contained in 42 letters!"
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 02:57:26 am by arka »
"the curtain of death must be pulled open in all bodies"

(satprem)

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Automatic writing as meditation
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2014, 02:37:23 pm »
The argument is clear, words are not the highest reality, cannot express the highest reality etc.


Yes, very true --- the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.

As for your question, in regard to whether the Buddha recognized a distinction between the figurative use of language and misleading language --- I would certainly say that he did, especially if we're talking about the deliberate use of misleading language as a means to deceive, ect.

Although the following link is not related to Buddhism, it provides an excellent examination of misleading language:

http://andreasstokke.net/docs/LyingCompassPenultimate.pdf

Abstract: This article discusses recent work on lying and its relation to deceiving and misleading. Two new developments in this area are considered: first, the acknowledgment of the phenomenon of lying without the intent to deceive (so called ‘bald-faced lies’), and second, recent work on the distinction between lying and merely misleading. Both are discussed in relation to topics in philosophy of language, the epistemology of testimony, and ethics. Critical surveys of recent theories are offered and challenges and open questions for further research are indicated.


 


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