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February 24, 2013

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"It's the same with everything I experience; there is not a separate me as well as the experience."

The brain realizes that there is nothing but experience and its residual effects, the illusion of an experiencer being one of them.

Great post Brian. I think that some of this answers a few of Roger's recent questions.

My only concern or rather hesitation is the idea that by "just" embracing the Idea that "I" don't exist, that it takes the pressure off to know (experiential-knowing?) that I am an illusion. I think the statement makes a lot of sense that since "I" don't exist, this "I-illusion" that I am, doesn't need to chase it's illusionary tail anymore to find out it is an illusion. The illusion me trying to see through the illusion me seems to be somewhat psychotic in nature.

But it seems too simplistic to "just" embrace the notion that "I" don't exist and walla!, I am free of my illusion inquirey by just accepting everything about "me" being an illusion. This seems to appear like a fast-food remedy to our hunger for freedom of our psychological self. The reason why I say this is that I have had experiences with the instant-no-self crowd before that reminded me of a type of religious denial about relative reality pertaining to their flawed behaviors. When I tried to bring to their attention that their behavior didn't match up to their claims of living a no-self life, they would just say that there is no-self and what you are looking at is an illusion. It was sort of like listening to a Christian caught stealing and then saying that Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.

In my prior years of religious activity, I use to go to satsang groups and the imagery of no-self that was being talked about had everyone in a trance of feeling like we were experiencing no self. And though it brought about a sense of relief, peace, love, and happiness, people were still stuck in the quicksand of living their lives in a dysfunctional self, just feeling giddy and light-hearted about it.

I think the statement makes sense though, but maybe it is putting the cart before the horses. It sort of like saying what the view of a mountaintop is without ever "being there" on the mountaintop.

Your thoughts?

Shawn, my general attitude toward the questions you raised is... there are no hard and fast rules; everyone is different; the amazing complexity of the human brain allows for an essentially infinite number of different ways of experiencing the world (one of the points made in the New Scientist piece; there has never been anyone just like you, or me, and there never will be again).

So how someone experiences "the self is an illusion" can happen in lots of ways. As I'm sure you're aware, Buddhist tradition puts a big emphasis on right understanding, which is largely, though not entirely, about correcting thinking errors.

As I've noted before, supposedly "intellectual" understandings are tightly linked with "experiential" understandings. Knowing that the Earth orbits the Sun, rather than vice versa, will change our experience of the sun "setting" even if what our eyes see is unchanged.

Knowing how the brain works will change our experience of how the brain works. How could it not? We've added a new experience to our life history: an understanding of neuroscience. Yes, I realize that some spiritual/religious traditions look upon thinking and rational understanding as somehow alien to us. But this strikes me as thoroughly dualistic.

We wouldn't be the way we are unless that way paid off during vast spans of evolution and natural selection. Thinking is part of us. So is intuitive non-verbal experiencing. Both combine to produce how we view the world, and what meaning we get from it.

One problem with your mountaintop analogy is that the brain isn't like this. There is no "Cartesian theatre" in the brain, no place where a detached self/soul looks upon reality. So by the prevailing scientific account, it is wrong to think that we can reach a point where we see reality "as it is," and even more wrong to think that we can ever see ourselves as we are -- because there is no "as we are" to see.

You seem to be presuming that there is a way to experience an experience of "no self." What would this be like? How would you know you're experiencing it, and not some other experience? And why would you want to?

I liked an ending piece by Richard Fisher in the New Scientist special issue:
----------------------
"Let yourself go" now has a whole new meaning, but there are fewer things harder to let go of. Our concept of ourselves as individuals in control of our destinies underpins much of our existence, from how we live our lives to the laws of the land. The way we treat others, too, hinges largely on the assumption that they have a sense of self similar to our own.

So it is a shock to discover that our deeply felt truths are in fact smoke and mirrors of the highest order. What are we -- whatever it is we are -- to do?

First of all, keep it in perspective. Much of what we take for granted about our inner lives, from visual perception to memories, is little more than an elaborate construct of the mind. The self is just another part of the illusion.

And it seems to serve us well. In that respect, the self is similar to free will, another fundamental feature of the human experience now regarded by many as an illusion. Even as the objective possibility of free will erodes, our subjective experience of it remains unchanged: we continue to feel and act as though we have it.

The same will surely be true about the self. The illusion is so entrenched, and so useful, that it is impossible to shake off. But knowing the truth will help you understand yourself -- and those around you -- better.

When you see through the illusion of self you can be whatever self is most appropriate to the social situation at hand, or as selfless as the situation will allow. The self is neither good nor bad, neither something to be rid of or freed from, but something to be utilized or not, depending on the circumstances.

A persona, a self, is needed for communication, contemplation, amusement, etc., but not for consciousness. You are conscious without you until the need to be someone summons you.

Brian,

Again, I agree with what you have to say. How could a self and all of its self-assumptions, know it is experiencing the vacuum of it not existing? Who or what could view this nothing while it is being experienced, the eyes of self that thinks and sees only within a something? I have no problems at all with words that point at this.

I am trying to say that there appears to be a very, very, blurry line in all of this "talk" about no-self. Is it just talk? Is it just a way to think? Or does this no-self understanding actually have "experiential healing application" to the accumulation of our psychological dysfunctional "self". In my comment to you I brought up the subject of behavior in relationship to this no-self talk. Is the subject regarding behavior irrelevant to the understanding of no-self? Does a person that has lived a selfish life begin to live and exhibit more of a selfless life with this type of understanding of no-self? Does the bonds and chains of living in the four walls of delusion, with all of its emotional fire, dissipate because of this knowledge of no-self? I very much try to avoid quoting the bible because of all of the hostility of distractions that may arise but,”Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works". Let's change the word faith to the knowledge of no-self. Show me your knowledge of no-self apart from your historical behavior that may have you in its grips and I will show you the knowledge of no-self by the freedom from my historical dysfunctional self exhibited in my now new behavior.

What is this knowledge of no-self? Does this knowledge bare any kind of "evidential fruit"? Can we apply some sort of visual science to this thinking besides saying it is just thinking? But I guess this could all be subjective and a matter of personal preference. There was once an American Zen teacher that once said, When a whore master experiences enlightenment he will still remain a whore master. Again, I guess it is a matter of personal preference as it is all so ambiguous.

Shawn,

In your spare time, research the Ego. Is the Ego an illusion too? True, divided mind can create the Ego, or sense of self. Maybe, Ego is a word, we use, that points to something and nothing more.

Shawn, I'm highly dubious that any sign of non-self is possible, especially since this seems to be the default condition of everybody. It's just that some people believe in the illusion of self more strongly than other people.

But I doubt compassion, love, or any other positive attribute is more common in supposedly "selfless" Buddhist meditators, compared to other people. I know some amazingly generous, caring, and compassionate people who aren't interested in what we'd call "spiritual" issues.

On the other hand, I've known some Grade A jerks who have devoted themselves to spiritual practices for many years. So go figure. I sure can't.

"On the other hand, I've known some Grade A jerks who have devoted themselves to spiritual practices for many years. So go figure. I sure can't".

I agree with your observation here. This is EXACTLY what I am trying to address. I am trying to draw a line in the sand that separates spiritual jerkology from transpersonal psychology/spirituality. I just did a search on the subject that might better explain transpersonal psychology infused with a scientific perspective. I have only read a few pages and can't put my stamp of amen-approval on its total contents yet but I would appreciate it if you would check it out and give me your thoughts.
http://eurotas.org/uploads/pdf/20Harrisweb.pdf

Shawn says,

"What is this knowledge of no-self? Does this
knowledge bare any kind of "evidential fruit"?"

Absolutely key question. The answer in no.

The Zen and Rajneesh realized no self.
They did nothing but talk of their transmission
and how to find no self.

But, Raneesh loved Rolex, Rolls Royce,
sexual and monetary domination.

The Zen are famous for their terrible scandals
and were the largest contributors
to the Mitsubishi airplane factories
in Japan during WW II.

A selfless person can be more evil than
an egotistical person, whom has compassion.

This is why U. G. Krishnamurti said,
" If people knew what enlightenment was,
they would not touch it with a ten foot barge pole."

It is not necessary to be enlightened to
discover Something Else.

It turns out only Compassion is real.

Only Compassion produces beneficial
results to help the world.

Religion and enlightenment are scams.
They are two sides of the same coin
of Deceit.

"I'm highly dubious that any sign of non-self is possible, especially since this seems to be the default condition of everybody. It's just that some people believe in the illusion of self more strongly than other people."

If you're saying, Brian, that any sign of non-self is self, I would agree. Logically, non-self would have to be the absence of all signs, all derived meaning. But it isn't clear what you're saying is "the default condition of everybody"...self or non-self?

Dear Brian,
You are 63 years old. Your energy is
slowing down. At the exact time you
need all the energy you can muster.

Therefore, I ask you a favor. A big favor
which will take only ten seconds. A huge
favor.

Feel the top of your head. FEEL it tingle.

Say to yourself ... to Something Else...
"Something Else, I believe you are a fraud.
I do not believe you exist. You are
a rediculous fantasy of one of the crazed
people on my web site, of whom there
are many. But, I only do this as a favor
to a crazed exsatsangi Mike Williams."

"Something Else, give me energy to handle
this club and understand things that are
beyound my understanding."

Thankyou Brian. And, posterity thanks you.

Mike and Brian Hines,

What do you guys think of Reiki and Shamanic healing? These reiki healers claim to have access to the spirits and angels etc. I know you Mike are very educated with regards to this type of stuff.
I was at a hard time in my life when i left RS, i visited an angelic reiki healer, the healer did dowsing on me. I'm not sure if you guys have heard of dowsing, but it has to be the biggest scam ever. This is what dowsing is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VAasVXtCOI

I found out about the dowsing scam after my session.

She said the root cause of my health problems was not forgiving myself at the time of Christs death, i thought wtf?
She made me recite some mantras such as 'i now release all fears', and 'i know forgive myself'.
She said her dowsing is always right because 'her angles are assisting her'. She stated Archangel Michael a lot in the sessions.

Then the final nail in the coffin was when she said to me that she was informed in her meditation that she was Jesus's healer in one of her previous lives, she claims that other intuitives told her this too.

Upon hearing the above, i decided i am not going to utilise her services in future.

Mike,

I appreciate it a lot that you expressed your view about the subject of behavior, religion, enlightenment, no-self, etc.

I am not trying to act snobbish or anything like that but I have been at this business of spirituality for over forty-five years. Your statement here (that I also once realized) clearly defines what I find as problematic with today's spirituality. Christianity, Rajneesh, Ramessh, Zen, Hinduism, they all seem to have something in common. No matter what the person experiences, they all default (the default condition of everybody) back to their ego/persona, maybe just in a different way that expresses it.

I once knew a person that was very narcissistic. He now claims he experienced enlightenment, no-self, Satori, the whole smorgasbord of new-age spirituality. Now he is more narcissistic than ever! I am sure if Rajneesh wasn't enlightened he would have found another means to express his love for Mercedes Benz. For me, this knowing of spiritual hogwash-hypocrisy became a problem. It spun me around and around, spilling out all that was in my cup of previous spiritual knowledge. And yes, I became thirsty. I became cured from the "disease of knowing", as old Lao Tzu so eloquently called this plague of spiritual arrogance that is so prevalent today. I started to question my motives on what was I really doing all of this time.

I came to see that we humans do not want to experience the abiding-death of our ego-identity and will USE spirituality to keep the little bastard in a status quo condition. The philosophy that you expressed here in your comment is a good example of its subconscious workings. We do not want the terrifying change that death represents. We want our so entrenched loved egos to stay in a happy condition forever, thus the convenience of spiritual philosophical enabling delusion arises.

And I really appreciate what Brian mentioned once regarding challenging each other. It is all good. As the old proverb said, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the wits of another".

cc, when I said "default condition of everybody" I was thinking non-self. Meaning, if what neuroscience tells us is true, there is no discrete continuous detached "self" lurking within the neurons of the brain, then obviously everybody, enlightened or not, is in the condition of selflessness.

Metaphors and analogies are limited here, since we're talking about something that almost defies metaphor. (In part because there is no outside to our brain-based experience.) But it's sort of like seeing water on a desert road from afar. Which is a mirage, an illusion.

Difference is, with the illusion of the self we never drive up close to it and see it disappear. Well, maybe not never, if Buddhism, Zen, and all that are to be believed. But regardless, the water of the self was never there to begin with, so whether or not we see through the illusion the reality of who we are remains.

Brian,

Good points.

You mentioned,

"But regardless, the water of the self was never there to begin with, so whether or not we see through the illusion the reality of who we are remains."

---The reality of who we are, that remains, is our individual subjective awareness? Included with such, is how we are objectively known by others too?

Mike, no problem. Done. I'll let you know how the result of the experiment transpires. I'm fine with craziness. I just don't expect much to come from it except craziness, I guess.

"I once knew a person that was very narcissistic. He now claims he experienced enlightenment, no-self, Satori, the whole smorgasbord of new-age spirituality."

---Nothing wrong with any kind of person making claims. However, can that person hold up under enless probing questions regarding how the experience is created......etc., etc.

Roger, I was thinking that what remains is whatever our brains have made us -- understanding that "us" is no different from our brains. That is, it seems that there is no such thing as a soul, spirit, or mind separate from the brain.

This being so, anyway we see through the illusion of "self" counts as enlightenment. A neuroscientist could be as enlightened as a Zen master.

Thanks Brian,

Yes, our brain creates the illusion of a self and a separate Ego. That said, the positives from meditation would be a calming effect, of some sort, of supposed harmful effects of brain activity. Or, is there a better clarification of what meditation is doing?

Hi Brian,
That you have no confidence in Something Else
is a great attitude. It loves the challenge !

But, now my friend Brian, get ready to grab the
bull by the horns as it runs outside
the China shop. As you leap on the back of the
beast you will find you are not alone.

Sitting in back of you is Pandora and she
has her arms firmly around your waist.

You have now turned the Genie loose from the
bottle, on Church of the Churchless.

Now all you have to do is grab your ass
and hold on to your socks.

And, watch in wonderment.

That's all you can do.

It's all you ever could do.

God help us ... Raging Bull is loose !!

HERE AND NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How about if I grab Pandora's ass instead? Is she cute?

"...our brain creates the illusion of a self and a separate Ego. That said, the positives from meditation would be a calming effect, of some sort, of supposed harmful effects of brain activity. Or, is there a better clarification of what meditation is doing?"

What could be clearer than realizing, "seeing", how the brain creates the self? As I see it, that's what meditation does. As for "harmful effects of brain activity", the harm is the confusion and misunderstanding that comes when the "calming effect" of meditation is never allowed for.

What I call "meditation" is not a practice intended to bring about an effect, but what the brain does when it isn't in a perpetual state of doing. To schedule or practice meditation is not to allow for meditation, but to be a meditator.

Hi Shawn and Gaz,

Shawn, I totally agree with you. Hypocrites run
rampant. The subconscious always wants to assert
its domination. Enlightenment
is net neutral. The person can be good,
or bad afterwards. Because after no self,
the will to assert is still alive. To control.
Yes, those claiming spiritual heights and
selfessness and satori are
still in the grips of wanting to control.
Look at the Catholic Church.

You can be selfless and still be a Republican,
or a Democrat. Which means
selflessness has not shown one the extent
of the total delusion. A broader Awakening
is necessary. Something Else we have not
considered as a possibility. Something totally
outside the box. Something Else
completely unexpected.

People mistake the subsciousness for the Higher
Self. But, this so called Higher Self does
not work and gives bad advice. People still
get divorced and loose their jobs.

People end up empty handed. Yet, they think
they have 'arrived'.

To Gaz,
Yes, the deep occult is my speciality and I have
just finished studying the Palo Mayombe death cult
and watching them first hand. They are Santeria related.
One time I had my small dog with me from a distance. My dog
sat inside a square with a vodoo doll in it and I did
not see it. My dog died of a heart attack shortly after I
arrived home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKbsW7BAufY

None of the occult tricks work. Houdini did a good job
of going around the country giving discourses on their
fraud. Read Blavatsky's Baboon also. Many tests have
been done and nothing regarding supernatural events,
or miracles has proven true. For weeks on this club I posted
these various tricks and how they are done.

Well almost none. I spent a great deal of time investigating
Saint Bernadette, even to speaking with the Priest at
St. Bernadette's church in Los Angeles, at which supernatual
events happened to both me and my wife when the church was closed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5711hI04mw

My studies included the incorruptible bodies of saints
and Zen masters (packed in salt).

But, there are demons. There is possession. There
is another dimension we are not aware of. I have not
found God. But, I have found Satan. These powers are very real.
They are very very hidden. I believe there is a Radhasoami
branch group with thousands of possessed people in it.
I believe Kirpal Singh was Satan.

See Malachi Martin, the greatest exorcist of all time.

These forces are not to be tampered with. They are extremely dangerous.


P.S. Brian, Pandora's ass is so tight,
it cannot be grabbed.

Mike,

I agree with your agreeing with me. Let's start a church. The only problem with starting a spiritual community is that we might fall into what is called "group thinking". Max Beerdohm once said, "You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind legs. But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men". I think Jesus said something similar, "Whenever there are two or more gathered in my name "I" (delusion) will be in their midst".

Brian, your grabbing Pandora's ass comment is the only thing here that makes sense (nonsense). It was like getting hit smack in the face with the Zen Mu Koan. Thanks for the chuckles. Maybe someday we will get together in a cool new age café, have some communion by drinking a cup of coffee, and check out to see if any young ladies are in need of some spiritual counseling. Just kidding, in fact, tomorrow I'm headed down to Southern California to witness the birth of our first grandchild. Should be pretty darn cool.

"...there are demons. There is possession. There is another dimension we are not aware of. I have not found God. But, I have found Satan. These powers are very real. They are very very hidden. I believe there is Radhasoami branch group with thousands of possessed people in it.I believe Kirpal Singh was Satan.

See Malachi Martin, the greatest exorcist of all time. These forces are not to be tampered with. They are extremely dangerous."

Thanks for the warning, Mike. I was just getting ready to do some tampering with those "forces", but your words have stayed my hand. Keep up the good work.

"How about if I grab Pandora's ass instead? Is she cute?"

Yes, Brian, she's irresistible, so turn away as if she was Medusa or her box will open and all Hell will break loose. You don't want that, do you? Think of your wife and your dog. Would they want that? I think not, so please, do not open Pandora's box.

It's like Mike says, don't be tampering with these forces.

Mike...I must ask....are you a modern day Boris Balkin? Do you know the secret of the Ninth Gate?


Alan Watts on Krishnamurti
(From Alan Watts autobigraphy on their meeting)
Watts is recording his memory of an evening in 1936 when, in a friend's home, and for the first time, he heard Krisnamurti speak:
(Emphases are in the original).

Why - and again why - do you want to know whether there is a God, whether there is life after death, or what method you should follow to be enlightened, liberated, or realized. Could it be tht you identify yourself with a merely abstract ego based on nothing but memories? That therefore you are not alive and aware in the eternal present, and thus worry interminably about your future? Furthermore, don't you you realize that when you accept someone as a spiritual teacher, you do so by your own authority and choice? You yourself licence the Bible, the Koran, or the Bhagavad-Gita as infallible. Wake up! ... and, without putting it into words, watch what is, now. You thus realize that there is no "feeler", apart from feelings, and no granular billiard-ball "self" confronting the universe.


In 1953, when Watts was an internationally known figure, he had, in his words, "a long heart-to-heart conversation" with Krishnamurti at the latter's home in the Ojai Valley near Santa Barbara. Watts writes:

We discussed the art of meditation. Was I practicing yoga? If so, why? I replied that this was my problem: I could not do any systematic or formal meditation because I had pondered too long his own reiterations of the point that methodical spiritual disciplines are merely highbrow ways of exalting the ego. Aiming at unselfishness is the most insidiuos form of selfishness.

Thereupon Krishnaji picked up two cushions from the couch and said, "Look. On the one hand there must be the understanding that there is nothing, nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing that you can do to improve, transform, or better yourself. If you understand this completely you will realize that there is no such entity as 'you'." He then moved his hands from the first cushion to the second, and went on, "Then, if you have totally abandoned this ambition, you will be in the state of true meditation which comes over you spontaneously in wave after wave of amazing light and bliss."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O5cJqfwWZk


Brian,
The above post is my Happy Birthday
present to you. Happy Birthday.

Today my friend, your long journey
has ended.

All journies can only end here and now.

Today ... the Gods have favored you.

Hello 9th Gate,

I have looked directly into the
eyes of Satan (Kirpal Singh).

I have come back from the Kingdom of Shadows
to warn you not to enter.

Pandora is not the whore of Babylon.

In her Box is contained the truth. When
this Box is opened, it can never be closed
again.

Pandora sits behind Brian on the Bull
of Courage, so she can whisper the great
mysteries into his ear.

The Genie is inside the lantern which
hides Something Else. Something Else
is the Genie.

You only need make a wish ......
and it will be granted.

Our Father, who farts in heaven
Shallow be Thy name
Your kingdom cumm
Your will be slum
On earth as it is with thy oppression
Give us this day our daily illusion
and forgive us our nothingness
as we forgive our other nothings
And please lead us into temptation
and deliver us to our heart's desires

For its all yours Lord, its all yours!

Thanks cc,

You mentioned,

"What I call "meditation" is not a practice intended to bring about an effect, but what the brain does when it isn't in a perpetual state of doing."

---How is meditation, as you mentioned, related to the brain in a perpetual state of not doing? Could this state of not doing, be accomplished without meditation?
Could you explain what a perpetual state is?
What is an example of a brain activated doing?

"---How is meditation, as you mentioned, related to the brain in a perpetual state of not doing? Could this state of not doing, be accomplished without meditation?
Could you explain what a perpetual state is?
What is an example of a brain activated doing?"

Good questions. Forget what I said. I don't know what meditation is.

Thanks cc,

Well, medtiation can be described in a number of ways. The sitting in a comfortable chair, in a quiet place, and hopefully letting excessive thought fade away. This activity can have a positive effect on mental issues, that result in positive bodily health issues too. This is all good.

In addition, the brain does engage in activities or doings that control bodily functions, such as various organ operational functions. Again, no big deal.

When mediation engages in various spiritual activities, this could be true too. But, but one needs to provide further information on how this really is done. Makes great blogging conversation. Nothing more and no harm done.

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