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August 10, 2010


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I like the analogy Blogger Brian gave awile ago about the picture where sometimes you see the face of an old lady and sometimes you see a vase. You don't really force seeing one or the other. It just happens. So, I agree that there is "nothing else to do" but just "be aware". But this does not mean that there is not the possibility of a flip-flop of perception where one suddenly wakes up.

Probably some kind of practice where one is immersed more in calm awareness, rather than in our daily habit of the mind running all over the place, is more conducive to setting up the right conditions for seeing reality, the vase rather the old lady. (or if you like the old lady can symbolize rreality...whatever.)

Another analogy is the spinning dance figure where most people see it spinning clockwise while a few others see it spinning counter-clockwise. A few others are able to switch back and forth at will. They can be speechless in the zone one minute and then swith over to dealing with relativity the next.

But in any of these cases there is not a step by step mechanism that allows one to perceive differently. It just sort of happens.

Take Chapter One of Douglas Harding's book "On Having No Head" where he describes a spontaneous experience of the dissappearance of time, space and self and the "revelation of the perfectly obvious".

(I think this chapter is available online via Amazon's listing for this book)

Ah hah! You have uttered the most insanely glorious, liberating news there could be. And free of both spiritual and scientific jargon.

We humans can do anything we are capable of doing. And we certainly do, don't we?

Be aware. Be aware. Be aware.
Of whatever is. Of whatever is. Of whatever is.
Repeat as long as possible. There's nothing else [to do].

From: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/#PreEteGroUniThe

Presentism is the view that only present objects exist. More precisely, it is the view that, necessarily, it is always true that only present objects exist. (At least, that is how the name ‘Presentism’ will be used here. Some writers have used the name differently. Note that, unless otherwise indicated, what is meant here by ‘present’ is temporally present, as opposed to spatially present.) According to Presentism, if we were to make an accurate list of all the things that exist — i.e., a list of all the things that our most unrestricted quantifiers range over — there would be not a single non-present object on the list. Thus, you and the Taj Mahal would be on the list, but neither Socrates nor any future Martian outposts would be included. (Assuming, that is, both (i) that each person is identical to his or her body, and (ii) that Socrates's body ceased to be present — thereby going out of existence, according to Presentism — shortly after he died. Those who reject the first of these assumptions should simply replace the examples in this article involving allegedly non-present people with appropriate examples involving the non-present bodies of those people.) And it's not just Socrates and future Martian outposts, either — the same goes for any other putative object that lacks the property of being present. All such objects are unreal, according to Presentism

Tucson said:
So, I agree that there is "nothing else to do" but just "be aware". But this does not mean that there is not the possibility of a flip-flop of perception where one suddenly wakes up.

With the statement, "I am," we generally take the "I" as the subject but perhaps, "amness," is the substantive aspect of our being and the "I" is simply non-substantive form. For example, when I say, "Jane exists," what I'm implying is that it is Jane (the form) that's doing the existing. It sounds weird to say, "existence is Jane," but maybe that is reality or at least a facet of reality we can experience from time to time.

"Mountains don't give a shit about us. They just are what they are. So are we. We're stupider than mountains, though, because we think we're supposed to be different from what we are."

So really, what are mountains? What are you? Maybe you'd surprise me, but I'd hazard a guess that your answer wouldn't be very imaginative. Imagination doesn't really seem to be your strong suit.

Brian from Colorado, you're right. When I think about "what I am," my increasingly churchless self comes up with pretty obvious and vague notions.

Like, a conscious something or other typing a comment on a computer, wondering what to say next, realizing that there isn't much to say about what I am other than what I experience myself as being now.

A good Buddhist, which I'm not, would say that things -- including you and me -- have no independent existence. That's as good an answer as any.

But it means that the "who I am" query can't be answered in any sort of definitive way. I'm everything and I'm nothing.

Sounds good to me.

It strikes me that you think of "being" as more of a noun than a verb, Churchless. But of course, our being entails many active elements: will, desire, emotion, and dare I say, imagination all come into play. Being is extended and complex, and purpose and meaning are ALWAYS present, regardless of whether we choose to attend to them with awareness and thoughtful care or not. What is the wellspring for these things? Is it really all just based on the accidental evolutionary programming inherent in the automaton meat machines?

Your existentialism strikes me as shallow and dry; the stuff of depressed French men. It's an abdication, a punt, an evasion. Is your "wow" upon beholding the mountain really that much different from the "wow" of a child upon beholding Disneyland? Lead me to Mickey and the cotton candy! Does our purpose here really just boil down to clutching at transient gratification before we plunge into the looming abyss of non-being?

Another fine atheist, Marquis de Sade, once said that without purpose, "nothing is prohibited." Not much of a basis for a civilization there, my friend.

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