The Shocking Truth

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Summerlander
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The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 01 Jun 2015 18:36

Here is an interesting video about life, consciousness, beliefs, models of reality, but, most of all, the concept of anatta -- or no self. Some of you might disagree with Leo and some of you might agree with the gist but find that he did not convey this "truth" as best as it could be conveyed. Nevertheless, he is not making this up. There is actually something along these lines to be realised in our field of awareness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsyplaii9p4

One of the subjects he talks about is free will -- or the notion that this is an illusion -- which is covered in the literature of Benedict Spinoza, Bertrand Russell; and Peter Cave. Sam Harris has also published a thesis on it. We have also discussed free will extensively here for anyone who is interested:

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=15086

The no-self concept, by the way, is covered in detail in a recent book by the neuroscientist Sam Harris called "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion." Harris puts it more eloquently and mentions a lot more. (I really recommend that you get the book.) Meditation is included to help one realise that the self -- as an observer hiding behind the eyes -- does not exist. But Leo also has something to say about this:


http://www.actualized.org/articles/how-to-become-enlightened


I'd say dreams, on reflection, are enough to realise that our waking identities are fictions seen as one can be someone else and even have different memories in dreams (and it all seems to make perfect sense at the time). Padmasambhava spoke of an underlying pristine awareness (pure consciousness) that exists before the self fiction. This is one area where studying the brain can tell us nothing and where meditation can be used as a scientific tool for the exploration of the nature of mind and its underlying consciousness. I've already mentioned something along these lines here which somewhat pertains to the practice of lucid dreaming:

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16442

Yes, this is consciousness revisited in a different way. Say what you think regarding the mystery of consciousness, philosophy of mind, theory of mind, beliefs about life and death, Buddhism, and what the Buddha actually said. Mention if you have had interesting experiences with meditations (it doesn't have to be anatta.)

Here is an interesting thread authored by deschainXIX that some of you might want to revive about the concept of souls and other versions of dualism:

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=15420

Have fun! 8-)
Last edited by Summerlander on 15 Mar 2016 01:42, edited 1 time in total.
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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DesertExplorer
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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby DesertExplorer » 01 Jun 2015 19:07

I will follow the links later and come back. I just wanted to ask that if the self does not exist, then why do we see it?
Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.

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Summerlander
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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 01 Jun 2015 19:42

There is an answer to that. The self, according to this view, is an illusion. This means that it is not an observer, but rather, just a mental concept that begets a sense of self. The self -- as an eternal soul riding the body -- does not exist.

But feel free to follow the links, and, if you feel like it, counterargue if it really makes no sense to you or is counterintuitive. But... do we really see the self? Describe it to me. What do you see? What does the self look like?

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Summerlander
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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 02 Jun 2015 00:49

Ok, here is something that will spice things up. After much deliberation, I decided to practise mindfulness under the influence of cannabis. It's an idea for an experiment whereby attention is paid to the contents of consciousness from an unconventional mental perspective.

Remember, we are not just lucid dreamers or oneironauts; we are mind explorers and thus we investigate all aspects of mental activity. We have adept tools at our disposal: meditation, dream yogas and mind-altering substances to stir the pot with. If we commit to our own ways of exploration, patiently undergoing trial-and-error, and are enthusiastic about this project, I believe we can acquire a better understanding of consciousness.

I am serious about this. We don't have to do as Leo says. He doesn't know everything and neither did Siddartha Gautama. (In fact, the Buddha gave to undertand that following him wasn't required, that one could find his own way by himself.) Perhaps there are other ways to become enlightened. There is also a good chance that there is no such thing as permanent enlightenment in our present human condition. It also seems to me that the pursuit of getting a glimpse of what may be the substratum of conscious experience is an egoistic one from the start. (This doesn't mean, however, that we won't be able to lose our egos later.)

The idea of practising mindfulness whilst stoned revolves around the possibility that altering the state of my consciousness will enable me to easily reduce the familiarity of my mind to a degree conducive to dissociation from its conceptions, bringing about the corollary of nitid contemplation of the psyche's inherent phenomenalism.

If the kif-induced state doesn't help me to attain an indifferent view of my own mind, I may at least be able to notice unusual conceptions -- this should be the height of the buzz as there will be a marked difference in perception that I will be aware of. Well, I have certain predictions for how I will feel. Notice how this is an imagined future state of consciousness and in some ways a desired one too. I haven't taken drugs in a while, especially not as some potential shortcuts to altered states of consciousness. With drugs, it is always a gamble. All I have right now are memories of drug-addled highs, some lows, lucid abstractions, and interesting epiphanic moments.

I guess my predictions here are more hopeful than theoretical. I need to move on to the practical side of things. Try out this method. I recall from my previous encounters with marijuana that sensations tend to be heightened during the buzz and this may help to emphasise the contrast with anatta (if stumbled upon) and even prolong such epiphany -- which in sobriety tends to be elusive and extremely ephemeral. I want to be able to "stare" at the absence of self. I may not agree with Leo entirely -- especially on the time it takes to realise his "shocking truth" -- but he is right about one thing: Anatta lies at the surface; its patency so blatantly before us and thence easily imperceptible (kinda paradoxical, right?) with our habit of constantly flirting with enticing mental illusions.

So I spark up, thinking, "hopefully, quod erat demonstrandum... amen." I can now bid farewell to my default waking awareness. :mrgreen:

To be continued...

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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deschainXIX
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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby deschainXIX » 02 Jun 2015 02:29

I hold to the idea that the job of the philosopher (or any "thinker," really), is not just to sit and think but to adventure. To explore altered states of mind, to experience the world through lenses wholly unfamiliar, to put oneself in strange, even uncomfortable situations, and thusly observe. The state of mind of a person spending weeks prostrate in the darkness, vomiting and dry-heaving, is inevitably different from that of an Olympian whose mind swims with endorphins almost always. Someone who doesn't explore alien states of mind is, in my opinion, not flexing their philosophical muscle to the extent that it could be.

Marijuana can be an interesting substance to experiment with, especially for what we're discussing. I think one way to put it is that it compartmentalizes experience and existence. While high on cannabis, one aspect of the organic orchestra that composes my existence is easily accessible and separated from the others to be vivisected without the mire of sensory overload that is vanilla neurology obscuring the focus. (It's why the substance is the great plastic soother; pain is easily put into a box and locked in a closet, it is only a mere facet of the spinning orb of sensation.) The manifest principium individuationis of the psychophysiological duality. I have observed the absence of the ego while on it. I've also been smoking Calea Zacatechichi because marijuana, I've noticed, can take me too deep into the strata of consciousness to the point where I lose conscientious lucidity of myself; plus tetrahydrocannabinol can have a negative effect on lucid dreaming, while CZ has a positive one. The effects are similar, only much more mild (and it's legal!).

I'm actually going to argue for the existence of an ego (to keep things fresh), but I haven't had the time to properly read everything and compose my argument. :D

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Well said.

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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 02 Jun 2015 14:28

deschainXIX wrote:I hold to the idea that the job of the philosopher (or any "thinker," really), is not just to sit and think but to adventure. To explore altered states of mind, to experience the world through lenses wholly unfamiliar, to put oneself in strange, even uncomfortable situations, and thusly observe. The state of mind of a person spending weeks prostrate in the darkness, vomiting and dry-heaving, is inevitably different from that of an Olympian whose mind swims with endorphins almost always. Someone who doesn't explore alien states of mind is, in my opinion, not flexing their philosophical muscle to the extent that it could be.


This is exactly what I had in mind and I wholly concur. :ugeek:

deschainXIX wrote:Marijuana can be an interesting substance to experiment with, especially for what we're discussing. I think one way to put it is that it compartmentalizes experience and existence. While high on cannabis, one aspect of the organic orchestra that composes my existence is easily accessible and separated from the others to be vivisected without the mire of sensory overload that is vanilla neurology obscuring the focus.


Well, my "vanilla neurology" was caked in sweet chocolate and other strange flavours last night when I took what I now believe to have been a skunk strain of cannabis. The following is an edited version of the notes I took whilst stoned:

"The mind is ostensibly becoming so convoluted -- a kind of pollution, it seems -- that an unnatural propensity for confusion is perceived. I feel lost and slightly queasy. A little anxious. Why must I feel this way? I talk to my wife and ask her if she wants a cup of tea thinking that I need something, too, something that will keep me distracted from this mental pestilence that I believe should be kept hidden from my wife. I feel that if I tell her about this mild torture that she will somehow begin to experience it, too. I feel I should make that tea as quickly as I can. I think of tea as a life saver, the bringer of peace and tranquillity.

My wife knows I'm stoned and suggests that we watch Jesse V. Johnson's "The Package" starring Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren. I tell her about my experiment. I sense that dialogue is a bit of an effort. Too many thoughts, the heart is racing, and I am slightly paranoid about what my wife is thinking. I need to sit down and rest. I deliberately recall past bad trips and lows in the hope of ameliorating my mental state. I remember being so stoned once that I freaked out at the sight of people performing body suspension with hooks at a pain party on Karl Pilkington's "The Moaning of Life." There was a man saying he is happy when he feels pain and I thought he was a right weirdo. Pilkington was the only normal individual there, a hero striving to understand a perceived mad world.

I realise the film is on and think that it might be interesting to see how I perceive it. I worry about how I come across to my wife. The ego is certainly magnified! If there is a permanent state of enlightenment, I am light-years away from it. Living in this condition is problematic. I watch the film and feel like a child observing events in an adult world where the protagonist (Steve Austin's character) is always right and not to be fucked with because he is an unbreakable tough guy and it is wise not to be on the wrong side of him. I'm unusually self-aware as I watch The Package, as opposed to being absorbed by the film and forgetting myself. My mind is too concerned about ego, it keeps asking what I would do in the situations depicted in the film. I briefly ruminate about these conceptions and make an attempt to transcend them.

Then it dawns on me. How can I be the thinker of my own thoughts, the author of these emergent excogitations, when my own mind asks me questions? Or I ask myself questions? But why? Then I realise that I am not really talking to myself; rather, this phenomenal mind is using input data from the external world to further its activity -- making associations which serve to preserve and expound upon my identity. It seems to be answering a question that should have never been asked: "Who am I?" So it creates and expands an intricate narrative in order to answer the mental non sequitur.

The mind has authored me and not the other way around. It builds me. I realise I am nothing until it answers questions based on events perceived in the objective world. It's strange. It asks, in a way, how is he supposed to act in that situation as though it should have a contingency plan. My identity, it seems, is a mental piece in the making, not a work of completion. This seems to me an unusual way of realising anatta. The sense of self has remained but I understand that it is not an eternal soul. The self exists only as an illusion, a fiction somehow concocted by cerebral data, a goliath of a knot in the field of pure consciousness. Now I understand the thought and therefore emergent concept of 'observer' as opposed to the thought of 'observed.' Hence the epiphenomenal sense of dichotomy. I think if I shatter this dichotomous illusion I will annihilate the ego.

Suddenly, there is a mental pressure urging me to pay attention to the film. 'You're missing out!' it says. There is an overwhelming hedonic compulsion to follow the plot. The challenge to be mindful seems to be greater in this state. Or perhaps this state makes one realise that there is a challenge to surmount. I sip my tea and try to relax. I'm sweating a little. Body temperature has risen. Am I thinking too much again? My tension has diminished but my preoccupation with ego remains unusually prominent. It's clear to me that it's a problem. Ego. What a snag! My wife is in the room, self-image is everything. I don't want to freak her out. I don't want... and I want to transcend the sense of self. Now, that I have managed to relax, there is a tendency to pay attention to details which doesn't even seem to be undergirded by proper curiosity. Where is this coming from? Doesn't even feel like a proper urge. Does it come from a prior wish to focus more? Is this a delayed reaction. The concept of free will is more absurd than ever before. I am certainly not in control. If one wants to take baby steps in the practice of mindfulness, this is not the ideal state. I feel like a neophyte thrust upon the hardest level.

I want to be mindful but, strangely, a part of me clearly does not want to mind. It seems to avoid focus in the present moment, it gets bored quickly, novelty wears off fugaciously. It never keeps still, it wants to go places in the realm of imagination. It's self-absorbed. It's selfish. Its doctrines are egoism and hedonism. It complains that the past didn't go so well, that there is always something better in the future, and it always overlooks the present. I realise this side of me is augmented in this altered state and it is never satisfied. This aspect of my psyche, it is clear to me, is unsustainable and needs to be addressed. I will never have proper peace as long as this exists. Perhaps it's a good thing that this intransigent ego doesn't live for long. Simultaneously, I am aware of the concept of not desiring so much. I can imagine it. I see it as a blissful place where true peace and happiness are found. A place where I keep still because I see no reason to move. Free from desires -- the best kind of contentedness. An "I" that doesn't move? Still like a placid lake, beautiful and pristine? An "I" with no worries and desires? There is no such thing. And then I realise I am just like Tommy Wick in the theatre of this thing I call 'my mind.'
"


deschainXIX wrote:I've also been smoking Calea Zacatechichi because marijuana, I've noticed, can take me too deep into the strata of consciousness to the point where I lose conscientious lucidity of myself; plus tetrahydrocannabinol can have a negative effect on lucid dreaming, while CZ has a positive one. The effects are similar, only much more mild (and it's legal!).


I should have gone for this option! :lol:

deschainXIX wrote:I'm actually going to argue for the existence of an ego (to keep things fresh), but I haven't had the time to properly read everything and compose my argument. :D


Well, the ego does exist, no question, just not in the way that most people think. It is not distinct from the mind but part of it. It is an illusion, i.e. not what it seems. But there is definitely something that precedes the self fiction, a kind of baby awareness or pure consciousness which is devoid of all concepts. And it seems to have a tone. A tone of lightness, weightlessness and... bliss. :shock:
"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby deschainXIX » 02 Jun 2015 19:53

What interesting observations! The lack of free will is very noticeable, as the mechanization and causal compartmentalization of mental processes is somewhat easy to see; at least, that's the case for me. I find it more conducive to the object of mind-exploration to be separated from the corporeal world (and I only mean "external" by this word), so as to allow the internal mind to wander without preoccupation. Whatever stimuli that the mind perceives will be expanded to occupy nearly the totality of one's mental consideration.

I empathize with the gross influx of hedonic will that you suffered--on second thought, that is one aspect of cannabis. I think you can observe the absence of the ego, but it's far more difficult to transcend its sensuous demands ... in some ways, acknowledging its absence amplifies the desire. Calea Z has some of the same effects as far as disorientation; for your purposes, it's probably better to retreat from superficial considerations and to separate oneself from all external concerns like film and self-image.

"My identity, it seems, is a mental piece in the making, not a work of completion."
This profundity (taken from my favorite paragraph of your psychological transcript) is precisely the thesis of my argument. Or, perhaps more concisely, "Time is what defines an ego."

I think the concept of the ego is not illusory per se but transient, which is to say that the typical human's idea of the self is indeed completely false. It is absolutely a concept, a mere generalized construction that encompasses all that is an individual organism's manifold and variably-manifested existence. All of the members that come together in an instant to compose the orchestra (I like referring to it with the word "orchestra" because it connotes a series of parts whose assembly produces an intangible, abstract, and liquid entity that, despite being difficult to define, certainly exists--a symphony, a self) last for only a moment; which is to say that I exist, but "I" did not exist one second ago. To be linguistically correct, one can say that "I" open the door, but one cannot say that "I" opened the door; the "symphony of ego" that was Me opening the door has already disassembled and reassembled to formulate a new Me by the time the door is open. And, obviously, the increment of time distinguishing separate existing egos is far more fastidious and minuscule than my absurd "one second"--but it is quantifiable. It's a value that would be extremely difficult to obtain, but we can surmise that it exists. This specific valuation of Chronos, this is wherein lies the existence of myself. That's my postulation.

This hypothetical segment of time, further, varies with each egotistical usurpation, so it would be impossible to isolate a singular ego, to take a snapshot in time to really observe it (perhaps this is why meditation and introspection never allows us to actually see the self).

An interesting (and troubling, if one were to be a nesgirlian fatalist) corollary to this assertion is that "I" thus am dead by the time I perceive of "I"'s existence. I am perpetually nonexistent. It takes time for my neurons to connect and perceive and observe my "self," to achieve introspection. And by the time this happens, there has been an alteration to my neurology which produces a new "self" and the "self" I am observing is nothing more than a stony epitaph, a ghostly silhouette of my true present existence... I am the Late Sam, not the Now Sam. Rather than listening to the London Symphony Orchestra in person, I'm listening to a dusty recording of them.

We must evolve from the classical meaning of self--that of an independent, indivisible entity residing within the body--to a kind of neo-egoism, in which we recognize the self as a collective, ephemeral flash of existence that has so little significance that we might as well say it does not exist.

Of course, Summerlander, your conclusions and mine are the same. I just find this more interesting than simply saying "The self does not exist." :mrgreen: By the way, I haven't watched the video yet so I have no idea what we're even supposed to be talking about, and I wrote this on a whim.

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Well said.

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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 03 Jun 2015 01:49

Mental models (at least in the waking state) usually act as interpreters of what the physical body detects in the world at large. This means that you never experience reality directly, you experience the mental fiction. (Buddhism is quite distinct from other religions in addressing this in practice.) What Leo up there is trying to get everyone to consider is the possibility that the self, or observer, is part of that fiction and that all that we are is manifest reality. (Although I suspect he is mostly a master of sophistry mingled with hypnotism, not everything Leo says should be rejected.)

Anatta is in fact very easy to experience. You can notice the absence of an observer in the very first instance of trying an exercise which is outlined in Sam Harris's "Waking Up." It's not something akin to a brief DMT or salvia high that will knock you off your feet. It is merely a mild epiphany where you feel qualia arising without the need of a receiver or observer -- in fact, none is found. (And one need not be implied just like a divine creator.)

What is hard, as you say, is transcending the ego's sensuous demands. The real battle is with Mara, the lord of illusions so to speak, the one who did all he could to distract a contemplative Buddha who admirably did not budge in the end. I think, however, that observing the truth of anatta can help one to pursue the path of enlightenment. We are talking about losing our egos here. We are talking about abandoning our desires including the will to win arguments on WOLD when we believe we're right! And this is an uncomfortable prospect for me right now.

You mentioned that "time is what defines an ego" and I swear something along these lines was posted by a member of obe4u.com some time ago now. I think his name was bluremi. He was certainly an enlightened person (and I mean it in the educated sense). I must have a look at his posts when I get the time. Like us he abnegated God and declared free will to be false.

I like the idea of the symphony of ego, but to me it is still a fiction that changes and rearranges itself as time passes -- not really who we are, just who we believe to be. Underneath all this mental malarkey, there is a ground of pristine awareness, something that can exist apart from conceptual reality. A kind of clear consciousness. This is our true nature which I have witnessed once, however ephemerally.

I don't have a theory for how consciousness emerged and evolved in this world, but I do have a hypothesis. Imagine that different types of organic mechanisms evolved and stumbled upon different flavours of primordial awareness. Then, these different flavours evolved complex mental models in accordance with their anatomy. The complex minds that evolved from a primordial awareness with a negative or intrinsically unpleasant tone denoted conscious creatures whose psychologies led them to behave erratically and often drove them to annihilation. I posit that human consciousness evolved from a primordial awareness of a blissful tone. This led to the generation of monstrous mental models and conceptions that required a sense of self by association, and an ego with attachments and desires to survive, to experience highs, and crave happiness in general. The happiness the ego seeks is a complex conceptual mutation -- or the concept of an unrealistic ideal against objectivity -- begotten by the intrinsic blissful tone of naked consciousness. What I'm proposing apart from the idea that hedonism -- as the conceptual doctrine adhered to by the ego -- drives us away from enlightenment, is that the self-indulgent happiness is an aberration, a distortion of the truth.

Your chronoscopic postulation (which may help us to penetrate the complex mental web and reach the pristine ground of all this existential being) could still be true, and indeed some types of meditation (usually of the 'know thyself' kind) urge practitioners to pay attention to thoughts coming and going, and to capture the very moment when they are about to flare up in your mind.

But if the self exists and is as elusive (and yet paradoxically obvious as a sense) as your postulation implies, what exactly does it look like? Are you postulating distinct observers that hide within immesurable increments of time that somehow beget the illusion of a continuous self? If we surmise that such time increments are quantifiable, we can also surmise that an elusive ego could be observed/captured in principle if not through meditation. What would one of those short-lived egos look or feel like? I only pose this question because all that seems to be experienced in the field of awareness are conceptions and nothing more. You'd think that by removing, or in the least seeing those conceptions for the illusions that they are, that we'd be left with a lucid observer to contemplate. But this is not what is found. What is found is an empty awareness devoid of identities and thus barren of aspirations or desires.

I could quote David Hume on Cartesian absurdities, but Leo would say I am wasting time with philosophy because it is also a mental narrative, a fiction. The "Truth" of anatta is right on the surface for all to see. We look at the movie and become absorbed by the plot, not realising the obviousness of the situation right before our eyes: It's just a projection of light on a screen...

Another useful analogy: We often pay attention to what the mirror reflects whilst overlooking the truth nature of its surface... and never seeing it without reflection.

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby Summerlander » 03 Jun 2015 09:43

Here is bluremi on the topic of free will, evolution, time, self and the universe:

"I just read several books on this topic, starting with Sam Harris's book you mentioned above.

To sum up my current understanding of free will, consciousness can be thought of as a series of systems working simultaneously.

The simplest creatures, such as insects and amoebae, are systems that react to stimuli using heuristics determined by their simple neurons. If you cut a cockroach's head off, it will continue to run around. It's just a series of electrical impulses moving the legs around, reacting to light/sound/texture, etc. Kind of like an organic robot.

Moving up the chain to larger animals and mammals, these creatures have much more complex brain systems. Their brains take all of the input from their sensory organs and use it to fashion an internal representation of the world. We have this basic system as well: the world we see looks nothing like we think it does. All the colors we imagine to exist are just different wavelengths of light: solid objects are not actually solid, we just perceive them to be because we can't see the spaces between atoms, or the radiation passing through them at higher wavelengths. Our brains create a world and then place us inside it, at a specific time ("now"). If you described the entire physical universe in mathematical and conceptual terms, there would be no way for you to describe the concept of the present moment. Time is a continuum, and the idea of "now" is an illusion created by our mental model. That's how we get the feeling of "existence" or "Presence". A self that exists is one that can experience the world and all it's suffering or pleasure, at a single point in time.

Humans randomly evolved one more complex layer above the already mentioned systems: our brains are able to abstract one level further, and we are able to form recursive concepts of ourselves. We have thoughts, but we can actually think about our thoughts. This third-level-abstraction is what allows us to form goals, and most importantly, it allows us to analyze the behavior of others and project goals onto them. We went from behavioral reading (that lion is hunting) to mind reading (that guy is lying to me because he wants X). These systems of abstraction can get incredibly complex, which proved to be a great evolutionary advantage. Think of poker and the limitless recursive loops our brains create (I know that he knows that I know that he wants me to think that...etc).

What we perceive as consciousness is the system that arose to represent our own "self" in our brains.

What does this have to do with free will? These systems are all part of the same larger system of organized complexity, and they loop into each other. Our brain has subconscious decision making abilities: that's where our thoughts and motivations come from. When they arise in our brain, they fall into the attention of our highest neural system, the self-referencing system, and in the act of perceiving them we ascribe them some personal agency. Our body gets bored, creates the thought "I'm getting up to do X", we become aware of the thought, and our "self-system" takes the credit for coming up with it, even though upon closer observation we have no idea where the thought came from.

You can think of us as having two minds: one is in the background, a complex system that processes all the input and comes up with solutions and thoughts and actions: the other is the foreground, our self-abstracting system of "self-awareness", which is aware of the thoughts only once they are fully formed. One invisibly does all the work, the other takes all the credit.

This means that free will is a nonsense concept. If you know the starting points of all the objects in a system, we can calculate their position at any point in time. The universe is one such system, and we are part of the universe. We can't escape causality, but our brains have evolved to mask it from us under the illusion of "self" (or the Ego, if you prefer).

This is very counterintuitive and hard to explain, so sorry for the block of text. This is a very important subject to me and I am still researching it.

When people reach meditative states deep enough to see through the illusion of the "self" or ego, the experience is of a uniformity of reality. Everything is connected, there is no separation between the body and another person, nor is there a boundary of air, of water, etc. The causal nature of reality becomes completely apparent. Your statement of "if a brain is a computer then all of nature is too" is completely accurate.

A computer is organized complexity. So is all organic life. The only difference between a computer and a brain is that the design of the former is bottom-up and the other is top-down, meaning a computer was designed from base components towards an end goal, and the top-down brain reached organized complexity through random mutation. There is no coherent organization principle at the micro-level in a brain, only at the macro-level."

If Leo is Protagoras, this guy is Aristotle. Sorry Leo, but when seeking the truth, to be without philosophy and science is to be without a compass. The argument from Plato's Cave with the caveat that the shadows cannot tell us anything about the true nature of reality is an argument from ignorance. :-P

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"Empty cognizance of one taste, suffused with knowing, is your unmistaken nature, the uncontrived original state. when not altering what is, allow it to be as it is, and the awakened state is right now spontaneously present."

- Padmasambhava

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Re: The Shocking Truth

Postby deschainXIX » 03 Jun 2015 12:29

What is meant by "distinct egos," in my postulation, separated by "increments of time" is that one singular snapshot of a single distinct ego would be the molecular composition of the entirety of your body at an instant in time. As soon as some molecule exits or enters your body (which happens all the time, of course) and your molecular composition is altered in any way, the old ego is dead and a new one is produced. Or maybe the level we should be looking at is smaller than the molecular and the atomic--it doesn't matter, the principle remains. My idea is that this value is so unimaginably minuscule (and also constantly varying) that it would be too difficult to quantify it, but I can assume that it exists, and it can be quantified, thus a self can be isolated. It can be argued that time, too, is a construct, so my argument is probably kaput. There are far more minute alterations to the atoms composing an individual body, things like electrons, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle tells us that there is a limit to the exactitude we can measure "change" in a physical body.

I further reject my postulation because I am reconciled with end-all absolute "Everything is fiction." I like approaching this true abrogation of faith in Truth itself not from any ideological, Buddhistic, or Christian way but in the way of the order of Assassins, free thinkers par excellence, whose only thought is epitomized in the haunting maxim: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."

I haven't read Sartre extensively, but this subject/object issue is discussed phenomenologically by him and his conclusions are similar: that there is not subject but yet another conceived object based on reflection back into the mind.

I mean, isn't the idea that everything is a construct (which is absolutely correct) produced by philosophy; meaning just love of wisdom? I know what Leo means by that, though; a lot of philosophical literature like Aristotelian syllogisms and the atomism of antiquity is so clearly just clever manufacturings of semantics, and they don't really mean anything objective. What we should do (and I know that Nietzsche asserted this too) is forget all of our unborn values that society projects--not in the sense of classical nihilism, but in a new kind of nihilism, a Sartrean nihilism in which we constantly accept the world to be an absurd construction produced by conscious objects--that we ourselves are nothing more than phenomenological objects constructed from the observer's conception--and as a result we are truly free. Free to pursue anatta, say. Or anarchism and mass murder... which is problematic. Our current society is a twisted model of all mankind could be had it not been laden with the deception of "morality," specifically Christianity.

I think all of this is perfectly apparent to people like us ... the problem is that we need to be able to be constantly aware of this principle of conception. Bluremi did a good job of explaining the illusion of free will in the context of the illusion of the self--I don't think I had made that connect yet, and fully understood how the two operate. It also throws light upon the "mystery" of the conscious/subconscious dichotomy; we are really just our subconsciousness and that which we consider "us," or our consciousness, is merely the portion of our mind that is self-referential, that is aware of the mind thinking and takes credit for those thoughts by constructing an abstract sense of self.

I used to assert like Bluremi does that free will is a non sequitur when one posits a universe framed in causality. But then one's opponent, arguing for the illusion and against reality, only has to adduce quantum spontaneity in evidencing the possibility of a non-causal universe. But, of course, even then we have no control over the random movement of electrons, over the virtual particles blinking in and out of existence seemingly unprompted... We still don't have control.

As is probably apparent, I'm a pretty infatuated Nietzschean and Hitchensian at the moment. Which is to say that my perspective is that the annihilation of the ego is the annihilation of life, of all existence. It implies a certain Christian ressentiment and hostility toward life and humanity itself. But perhaps that is the point--life is a petty, vicious thing, after all. Maybe we need not stoop to the level of life simply because we are living. Nietzsche wanted to revalue all mankind's fabricated, civilized values; what he failed to do was take it a step further and revalue all innate, biological values. Perhaps what we're talking about is a secular transcendence of life, which ultimately would lead to annihilation of society--a truly classical nihilism. Because even if you achieve anatta, you still have the problem of pleasure and suffering--the will to abnegate oneself is probably not as powerful as the will to resist torture. I feel like a natural centralization of mind would be restored the moment an intense pain or pleasure is experienced...

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Well said.


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