Can Machines Bring Us Closer To God?


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There are machines that are designed to bring a person into deep places, that usually take discipline, and much effort to get to. Patterns of light on the eyelid, a binaural beat in the ear or synchronized music, guide the mind deeper and deeper. It might be synched to the mind via biofeedback.

Clearly, what this lacks is discipline. It can bring about different states but not higher stages, although it has been suggested that having different states can act as lubricant to allow an easier transition into different stages, according to a hierarchical map of development.

So my question is this: can a machine now, or could a machine in the future if that is an easier question, help to deepen a person's spirituality, to bring him or her closer to the Divine? Is it an authentic spirituality? Is this too close to a drug if you find drug use offensive? How do you feel about constructing vehicles to take us on our journeys deeper into the Divine, out of metal and wiring and plastic?

Background: I just purchased one of these machines. Don't have it yet. But I remember someone wanted me to use it once to help with my bipolar disorder when I was much younger. I'm hoping it can help me to deepen my spiritual practice with and without it, but then again it may turn out to be just blinking lights on my eyelid. I heard in an interview that it didn't work for R. Schachter-Shalomi, which is actually what reminded me of it.

someone else mentioned something similiar to this a couple of months ago. i 'think' it was Dondi when he first joined.

i do have a couple of ideas on this Dauer, because I have been thinking about the machine thing for some reason this year.
Yes i think it is possible to make a start into a realm or new realm with God, but not possible to flourish & become closer to Him by depending on a machine or a drug.
i think God will use a lot of things to reveal Himself to people, if that person is truly seeking.
i was filled with the Holy Ghost at age 12, so i have always been able to reach the throne of God in prayer, praise, worship, repentance, sorrow, thanksgiving etc... so i dont think a machine would really help me too much.
i am going to get back to you on this within a week if you are still up for a chat on it.
**Mods--Please delete if it is too "off color"--Thank you**

So my question is this: can a machine now, or could a machine in the future if that is an easier question, help to deepen a person's spirituality, to bring him or her closer to the Divine? Is it an authentic spirituality? Is this too close to a drug if you find drug use offensive? How do you feel about constructing vehicles to take us on our journeys deeper into the Divine, out of metal and wiring and plastic?
Um, how can I put this delicately? Has anyone drawn the analogy of such a machine being a "spiritual vibrator?" :eek:

given that all spiritual revelation is private and not shared (ignoring the unverified claims of certain texts) could you still say that using a machine for entrainment to deeper waves of mental activity is like using a vibrator? And if it is like using a vibrator, does that mean that meditation is masturbatory?

No, I was asking if anyone made the analogy. I've had others tell me that chanting is masturbatory, but in coarser words.
I would say that using a machine is a personal choice, but I would also guess that it might also come with a danger of inducing undesirable side effects, such as epileptic seizures. Does this machine include biofeedback sensors? Can this machine respond intelligently if a seizure starts? Or, is this machine blind to that sort of thing?
It sounds like such machines can serve as tools to reach an ends, rather than be ends in themselves - ie, no flick a switch and instant enlightenment, so to speak. :)

I've tried one of those "lights on the eyes thingies" before, and it certainly produces interesting patterns. However, I suspect that, like hallucinagenics, the patterns are a cute distractionfrom the actual process of self-realisation.

Still, tell us how it goes. :)
Seizures are a risk primarily for people with a certain form of epilepsy. There is one frequency that will increase the risk greatly, but on this machine it would have to be programmed in, as it's not in any of the presets. I was thinking actually that a good analogy for this machine would be viagra for the soul, if that makes sense. Or training wheels.


My thought is that at first it will prove a distraction. It has a meditation setting, one hour mostly at a very low frequency both audibly and visually, and I plan on doing vippassana, while using this, daily, to see if it can improve my meditation. But I think that any result, positive or negative, is possible. Well, not any result, in either direction. But I think that the result could be either positive or negative, or neither of the two. Yes. That makes more sense.

I suppose it may be possible to reach higher states of consciousness with the aid of technology. I don't know how one would differentiate between a spiritual state and some sort of alternative psychological state though.
If one could prematurely "beam" themselves into a higher state there could be a danger of not having learned the appropriate lessons of the slower paths to be able to handle such a state (or any supernatural powers one might acquire there) from a psychological and/or physical point of view.

Like the difference between going to school to become a surgeon, or just picking up a scalpal one day and starting to cut.

If it were me, would proceed with caution...

First, I would like to apologize for pushing anyone's buttons. {I tend to do that more than I should.} :eek: Isn't any form of spiritual practice an "attempt to push the right buttons?" I suppose that they could serve as "training wheels," to help us recognize our more subtle spiritual aspects. Just be careful not to try to ride with your training wheels on the freeway during rush hour traffic, so to speak. Be careful, dauer. :)

If you meant my buttons, don't worry. I wasn't offended. I just thought a better analogy was viagra. but... (however...)

The gadget came in the mail and I have used it a few times. I noticed that I got into a meditative state very easily while using it and, in addition, when not using it, when not attempting to, I got into a meditative state. So now I think that what this machine will enable me to do is entrain my mind to run more frequently in the Theta range. I have yet to meditate without it since getting it, but I will be doing that probably this evening. Not sure. I also want to get used to the machine.

Another strange occurance. After using it I was looking at my hands and my hands seemed a little distant, not that they were further away, but that they were not who I was (not that they weren't a part of me, but that they weren't who I actually am.) That's at least how it felt.

Also, while watching Batman Begins (awesome movie and I'm not just saying that because I love comic book movies) I was very into the movie, and a lot of parts of it brought me to tears.

I think I also cried once while wearing the machine, just a few tears.

So now I can't say that it is like viagra, or training wheels, or a vibrator. I don't think any of those analogies fit. I guess training wheels is a good analogy, except that we grow out of training wheels and I think I could always gain benefit from these. So maybe training wheels for the eternal grower. Not mower. But that could work too.

I don't realize I'm meditating -- when it just happens -- until after I interrupt myself. Or sometimes my body will jerk slightly, which it does when I meditate, and then that will make me aware of what was happening.

So that's my first impression. I did read that different people would have different reactions, as Brian's reaction indicates.

Oh, I did notice today that I noticed the lights less and less. They were only there when I noticed them, and otherwise they were simply maintaining the visual beat, unnoticed by my conscious mind. Wait. I can't say notice that much. They were there only when I focused on my vision, but otherwise I didn't...notice...

I suppose some machines could actually create some changes in the brain which in turn would take you deeper into a meditative state .... the same can be said of certain music or tones and chanting has historically been known to set the stage for deep meditation because it does put the brain into a different brain wave state ....

I recently purchased a whole course on "coordinated remote viewing" which includes cd's with what is termed "pinks sounds" that will shift the brain (with yogic breathing) into an alpha zone .... I haven't tried them yet because I'm still reading all the material, but I'm looking forward to listening to them ....

also violin music .... so lately I have spent a lot of time lately listening to the music of Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Pearlman .... my grandson is just taking up violin, so we listen together .... and I keep telling him that Einstein was a violinist ....research has shown lately that the cerebellum which supports activities of higher learning like mathematics, music and advanced social skills is the only part of the brain that continues growing well into the early 20's (well I'm way past that, but my grandson still has plenty of time) ....

I do worry a little about some of the new machines however because certain types of pulsating lights can actually create anxiety and may do more harm than good .... I would be a little cautious about anything that makes your hands appear to change in any way, shape or form .... aloha nui, poh

my hands didn't appear to change, I just felt myself identifying with them less. Not in a negative way. Basically, what the machine does -- I may have said this earlier and if so my apologies -- is play the actual frequencies in the ear,(alpha, theta, etc) but in order to make them audibal, it plays them 5 decibals apart. This way the human ear can hear even though the sound is so low. And it sounds like a pulsing. The lights synch with that pulsing so that the entrainment is not just through the ears but also through the eyes.

I think it's a little like if I was going to my Father's house. I could walk, or I could take a car. So how far is it? Well, if I walk it will take a long time to get there. I could drive, and keep training also, and that way someday I will be able to walk, but in the meantime I can still go to His house.

I don't really see the pulsing as this machine works creating anxiety on the settings I'm using. I've actually felt like falling asleep. The setup I have actually has different programs for energizing or relaxing or studying or sleep or whatever. It has about 40 different programs. I'm not interested in any of the energizing ones.

I've never used any of these neuro-entrainment gizmos, but Dauer, it does sound as if your meditative journey has brought you to a point of disidentification with at least some of your body-self-conceptual image. Whether that brings one closer to God or not, it's a useful step on the journey because it's hard to make progress as long as we're still caught up in a case of mistaken identity-believing we are only who we typically take ourselves to be on a daily basis; all caught up in our mundane mind noise. At very advanced stages of Buddhist paths, there's a point reached where they speak of "mind and body" falling away-in that sense. However, as to whether any of that equates with full realization, particularly as relates to mental states, machine/drug-induced or otherwise, might want to check out the useful discussion re neurotheology @ Wikipedia. I've always loved the quote by contemporary Ameican Buddhist writer & teacher Surya Das that "enlightenment" isn't about getting high, (achieving a particular state of consciousness), but rather about getting free, (of limiting self-/0ther-conceptual limitations and perceptions). Take care, Earl

I've thought about that. I'm not really doing this for the sake of enlightenment. I go along with one of my teachers, David Cooper, who said that ecstacy is really ec stasis, being able to step out of our normal way of thinking and act in a more skillful way. At the same time, I am drawn to experiences that I relate to God. As a person with no faith whatsoever, who goes so far as to even doubt the truth of his own experiences, I suppose I may really just be looking for something convincing (not that I haven't enamored myself to the Divine.) But on a deeper level I think I also want a better template with which to understand the monism I feel drawn to. This may be a quicker ticket. I also am somewhat comforted by the conclusion Ken Wilber has come to that higher states act as lubricant for transitions into higher stages (which is so typically hierarchical of him.)


edit: For wikipedia info see:
it does sound interesting dauer .... I guess I was just getting a little maternal and worried about you .... keep us posted on how it is working .... I'll let you know how those "pink sounds" work also .... aloha nui, poh