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I guess Ajahn Brahm is going to like this

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  • I guess Ajahn Brahm is going to like this


    I stumbled across a study (from the Havard psychology department, I guess), published in "Science" in 2014 with the title "Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind".

    The researchers asked their test subjects to sit in an unadorned room for 6 to 15 minutes with no other task to do then to think. They had to leave everything like books or cell phones outside.
    I one of those studies people had to sit inside that room for 15 minutes and did have the opportunity to administer electro shocks to themselves. Most participants shocked themselves even after previously answering that they would pay money to not receive an electric shock again. All of those participants had experienced the shock when they were instructed about the experiment. So they knew what they were expecting.

    I guess that would make a great story for Ajahn Brahm's talks: people chose to suffer over sitting still for 15 minutes.

    The study can be found here:


  • #2
    The experiment shows people are "addicted" to getting sensory stimulus. Boredom translates into discontentment, demanding relief. Do something. Just Do It. But pay a price. It is described in the Connected Discourses (Samyutta Nikaya) under "nutriment".

    This experiment can be adapted to study any kind of addiction. e.g. observe the "addict" in seclusion. They can open a locked box to get a dose of "fix" -but must endure an electric shock. The "fix" can be food, candy, alcohol, etc. It's not news that "addicts" are willing to break rules to get their fix, when withdrawal symptoms are too strong to bear.

    Ajahn Brahm talked about the Pali word "asava" as "outflow" - the tendency of consciousness to seek out sensory stimulation and explore the world outside. Interestingly, other translators like Bhikkhu Bodhi used the word "influx". I prefer "outflow".



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