Well, Im just a beginner here and Ive found out that there are many in this forum that state various eastern sources. Although I dont quite agree with most eastern ideals I know so far, I would like to know why some find it so attractive.
I don’t think easten practices are overrated but I do think many western traditions are misunderstood or confused. For example christian religious practices often involve singing when standing, insense etc to produce slightly altered brain states. Monks spending years in the contemplation of god. Traditions that talk about dreaming or religious visions induced by sleep/food/water deprevation etc.
I just think the easten practices are more true to what they are about rather than wrapping them round dogma like many western practices.
Well, the east got a tradition in spiritual things, we don´t. Actually I am quite interested to hear about traditional “western” ways, but most of it has been abolished by the church. I am sure there have been christian monks who used LDing, but I don´t know anything about them, that´s why I need to see what the tibetans are doing.
Of course we got modern science, and I appreciate LaBerges work, but we simply lack the experience of some hundreds of years.
(btw, saying “western” I am speaking of europe, probably it´s different with americans natives)
The East offers us some unique ways of interpreting reality. In the West, the mysticism of life and reality has very much faded away (except for traditional Indian tribes or some Christian monk orders), and this lack of healing recognition, respect and insights has made the Western view on reality as flat as a pancake. The Western way nowadays explains everything in terms of surfaces, completely hollowed out by for instance reductionistic science and (to a lesser extent) dogmatic religion. I think this demoralizing hollowness creates an emptiness which so desperately craves to be filled. Some people seek answers in food, extreme hobbies, multimedia, etc… While others find it in Eastern interpretations I think both the Western and Eastern insights, though very different at first sight, can complement each other perfectly to reach a deeper understanding of life and reality.
It is pretty simple why eastern traditions are emphasised here and in most lucid dream gatherings. Its the state of mind upheld in eastern traditions that makes it stand out. The meditation and concentration involved in eastern tradition makes it much more appealing than the evangelical style presented in most western traditions.
AFAICT, there’s not that much difference between the mystic impulse/traditions in the East and West. It’s just that in the West, the religious institutions (and also the political ones so closely intertwined with them) tended to distrust and discourage such inherently independent and non-heirarchical/anti-heirarchical perspectives.
But there are western mystical traditions. One of the best books about Zen I ever read – Zen And The Birds Of Appetite by Thomas Merton – was by a catholic monk.
Here’s a quote of his I just found online:
“It is illuminating to the point of astonishment to talk to a Zen Buddhist from Japan and to find that you have much more in common with him than with those of your own compatriots who are little concerned with religion, or interested only in its external practice.”
I think that although the West has been infected by some truly dodgy worldviews, you can find just as solid a philosophical and metaphysical base as in the East if you look in the right places. The East, however, is way ahead in terms of the actual practical work of spirituality. Sure, Western spiritual traditions do in fact alter brain states but the East seems to have had that kind of thing down to a science for a long time. For example, lucid dreaming is called ‘dream Yoga’ by Tibetan monks and they are superb at it. They even did things like have one monk sit with another as he fell asleep and wake him up every so often so he could attempt another WILD. Another example would be the mapping of the spiritual anatomy in the East with extensive knowledge of chakras and energy centres etc.
Don’t get me wrong, although I find the West frustrating in some ways, I also love living here. It is exciting and full of intrigue and, of course, technologically awesome. But now that I actually desire philosophical and spiritual tutoring I find myself wishing we had some kind of Eastern-style Zen temple I could go to and learn from. Of course as East and West begin to merge now there are places like that in the West but they still have to be profitable and therefore have to charge lots o cash to wannabe students.