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April 21, 2009


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"Facing facts can be difficult. Even scary. What if this physical life is all there is? What if God is just an idea in people's brains? What if when we die, that's it? Finito."

---So, why the need to face facts? Instead, might be easier to face information. Information is information. Nothing scary about information. What could be fun and enjoyable, is the process that One uses, in converting this information in a fact, or evidence, or a truth, or a theory.
---In addition, nothing scary about this process. Any fear that might arise, can easily be controlled by, "reserving the right to be wrong."

"Nobody is directly in touch with reality. Every human digs his or her own ego tunnel through the experiential world"

Does this also apply to spiritual masters like Ramana Maharshi and Gautama Buddha?

Ramana Maharshi (or Nisargadatta Maharaj) said that we were already THAT. Was there a possibility that this THAT he was talking about was just a creation of his own brain? Could he also be under illusion?

xyz, I'd say "sure." Why not? In fact, I just wrote a review on Amazon for "The Ego Tunnel" where I noted that modern neuroscience seems to be very much in accord with the philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism.

Namely, there is no such thing as a "self." Reality is manufactured, so to speak, by each perceiving mind. So THAT isn't a thing, an objective reality, but a process -- a maze of interconnections where it isn't possible to point to some thing and say, "This is really real."

Thanks for your response Brain.

But how can that be said for sure? I mean we do not know what they really experienced.

Science is advancing very well, no doubt about it. But it has it's own limitations. For example, doctors do not respect the concept of detoxification of the body etc. But there are many people who benefit (physically benefit not just psychological) from the detoxification methods.

I am curious to know if there is a possibility that science cannot really understand their experience.

Also, one more question.

I didn't read your review on Amazon yet so if you already answered this question in your review, just ask me to get lost to the Amazon site :)

What do you mean by "modern neuroscience seems to be very much in accord with the philosophies of Buddhism and Taoism"?

Buddhism believes in reincarnation, law of karma (without the soul) etc. But neuroscience does not support them.

"Science is advancing very well, no doubt about it. But it has it's own limitations."

---Nothing wrong with limitations. Limitations are limitations, no big deal.

xyz, I didn't mean to imply that everything in Buddhism and Taoism is supported by modern neuroscience. I was thinking mostly of the notion that the "self" does not exist. Neuroscience finds no trace of a distinct soul or self separate from the body.

Neither do Buddhism or Taoism, really -- though there's room for debate on this and other questions. Both philosophies are rooted in the here and now, rather than the there and then. Mysteries are left mysterious, rather than being explained away through dogma or theology.

I don't accept all of Buddhism, or Taoism either. There's lots of religious nonsense in each. However, the core ideas of these philosophies are much closer to modern neuroscience than, say, Christianity is.

Some interesting points here. The last few paragraphs attributed to Metzinger hint at something, but a bit too airy fairy still. What does he mean by a consciousness culture?

I'm glad the point on so-called 'truthiness' was made, which is those claiming direct knowledge or recognition of something are precisely making the same claims that runs central to all the mystic traditions imo and i'd include Taoism and Dzogchen here too.

Its impossible to objectively prove there exists some sort of primordial or natural state. Those who claim to recognise it (through meditation or however they have got there), make exactly the same claim as the Sant Mat satsangi who claims direct knowledge of the sound.

Who knows if this subjective experiene or knowledge is real or not, but it obviously seems real to the person experiencing it. Seems to be what Metzinger means by: "people ought to be free to explore their own minds and design their own conscious reality-models according to their wishes, needs, and beliefs".

George, Metzinger's basic take on a "consciousness culture" is that it would involve conscious decisions about how to manage or alter one's consciousness.

Currently most people are clueless about modern neuroscience. The walls of the ego tunnel are unthinkingly taken to be reality, rather than an appearance.

A consciousness culture would bring these incorrect assumptions out into the open. It would support people's inquiries into consciousness exploration, and frame ethical decisions regarding such inquiries (for example, are drugs a suitable means?) within the known facts of neuroscience.

Regarding the inability to proves that a primordial or natural state exists, actually it is impossible to prove that any inner state exists. I can't prove that I'm aware of typing these words. All you see are the words on a screen, not my awareness that accompanied my typing them.

You're right that anyone's claim they have experienced a special mystical state is just that: a claim that can't be substantiated. This is why people who want others to believe in some statement such as "Jesus saves!" or "Guru is God!" have to do more than simply say, "I feel it is true."

Feelings are a big part of being human, as is subjective experience (maybe the only part). But there also is an intersubjective side where some of the content of separate ego tunnels is the same. As I've observed before, most of everyday human life is like this: I see a red light and so do you, so we both stop at it.

Brain, agree with what you said about neuroscience and Buddhism and Taoism.

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