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July 06, 2011

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Fascinating stuff. I suppose it doesn't matter whatsoever whether one considers the ego as a trickster, comforting itself with notions of a permanent essence behind it all, or whether one believes in some permanent essence. Trying to figure it out at all is perhaps fruitless, but a delightful faculty of the game of life. Giving up on figuring out what the "right" or "perfect" way to label reality is perhaps another viable alternative. Conceptual labelling is always subject to varied interpretaion. The "permanent self" might be considered nothingness, for instance; or all that can be discerned, labelled God; or all the causes and conditions (the "bundle") that come together over and over to create this moment, whatever this moment seems to be, can be labelled illusory by the inablility of science or anything else to be pin it down. "Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one" is my favourite Einstein quote. That about covers it. Whether it's mentally healthy to covet a permanent Self or forsake such notions...it's probably different for different illusory apparent beings! Again - fascinating.

All guys like Baggini 'prove' is that while in this world the body-brain modulate thoughts to create a sense of a permanent ego or unified entity. They can't prove or disprove that consciousness is behind it all, and is not a 'thing'. He is as much a figure-outer as those who try to 'figure out' spiritual truths.

And I assert that there is as much if not more scientific evidence for things (like the mind) that can not be explained by the paradigm of modern empirical science.

Give up the search is fine advice, but just don't assume something is proven or disproven by thinking or observation, imho.

Peter, a few thoughts. When you say "guys like Baggini," you're referring to a consensus of the world's leading neuroscientists and brain researchers. Similarly, a climate change skeptic could say "guys like Al Gore," and be referring to a consensus of the world's leading climatologists.

It's easy to write a sweeping blog comment that dismisses solid evidence accumulated over decades of research and experimentation by hundreds or thousands of top scientists -- just as its easy to hold on to unfounded religious, mystical, or spiritual beliefs.

What's difficult, as you'd learn if you read Baggini's book, is understanding how our human intuitions and "evident" beliefs often aren't true about how the world, and we, are.

Why, isn't it evident that the sun goes around the Earth? And that the Earth is flat? Likewise, it seems so evident that there is an enduring self, an unchanging "I," an awareness that stands behind ever-changing experiences.

Zen masters are fond of saying stuff like, "show me your self!" It's a good question. Buddhism stripped of religiosity is close to modern neuroscience.

Peter, neuroscience considers that the mind is what the brain does. So back up your statement: "I assert that there is as much if not more scientific evidence for things (like the mind) that can not be explained by the paradigm of modern empirical science."

Modern empirical science tells us what the brain/mind does. So what are you talking about? Sure, many things remain unexplained by science. So who or what has better explanations for these mysteries?

MIND IS A MYTH with U. G. KRISHNAMURTI

http://www.intuition.org/txt/krishna.htm



It's easy to write a sweeping blog comment that dismisses solid evidence accumulated over decades of research and experimentation by hundreds or thousands of top scientists -- just as its easy to hold on to unfounded religious, mystical, or spiritual beliefs.

That's a bit facile too... it's almost suggestive that Baggini has a phalanx of "hundreds of thousands of top scientists..." supporting him. I seriously doubt that all of them are in step with Baggini's speculative battle cry.

Zen masters are fond of saying stuff like, "show me your self!" It's a good question. Buddhism stripped of religiosity is close to modern neuroscience...

Yes, but Baggini isn't just attacking the false idea of self but pawning off his "bundle theory" as a refutation of soul altogether. He has no compelling evidence of course but warms up by reminding the uninitiated of the complexity of the atomic/planetary models, hows cars are assemblies of parts, etc. He then leapfrogs to the conclusion that because neuroscience observes only a "complicated bundle of mental events served up by the brain" - his "collection of stuff" - that any core unity is a myth.

In fact, mystics have identified the deceptive nature of mind/ego eons ago. But B., stealing a page from them, even tries to shore up his case by fingering the "trickster ego/mind" as the 'perp' who's blinding us to this "remarkably disunified bundle-like system". The "tricks up the mind's sleeve" may be blinding us to other compelling explanations.

Dungeness, as I said in this post, the core of Buddhism is close to what modern neuroscience has discovered. There is no core self; we are a bundle of thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and such that constantly flow through us, but there is no enduring "Us."

So I don't see what your point is. Yes, mystics, Buddhist and otherwise, have discovered this ego trick. However, they have assumed a seemingly inaccurate alternative -- that a changeless soul or such lies hidden under the surface of all the ever-changing mental stuff.

Baggini's book, like the many other neuroscience books I've read, contains plenty of evidence in favor of the bundle theory. I don't know of any serious neuroscientific theory that holds to a "soul" or "unified consciousness" theory. Do you?

I ask because I'll probably write another blog post on this subject, and am curious if you can point me to the "other compelling explanations" that, I assume, posit a unified self-consciousness.

If there does exist a soul or unified consciousness, it doesn't need anyone testifying on its behalf. Denied or acknowledged, it would remain untouched, unphased by everything said about it, so why speak of such things at all? Stay within the realm of what can be verified or hypothesized and you approach the unknown with respect. But speak knowingly of what you can provide no evidence of and you're a religious nut.

cc, that's just how I see it. I can understand why people hang onto notions of "soul," "spirit," "life after death," "universal consciousness" and such after they supposedly have given up a belief in some traditional form of God.

However, those other notions are founded on the same blind faith as a belief in God is. It reminds me of Christians I've known who thought that they were discarding rigid dogma by embracing an Indian guru.

But then they'd look upon the guru almost exactly as they did Jesus. They simply transferred their blind faith into another form.

Where's the evidence? Like you said, without that, someone is a religious nut even if they don't belong to an organized religion. They've formed their own faith-based Religion of Me.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that. We all have unproven subjective beliefs. What I object to is when people say that scientific facts are wrong, even though they can't provide any more convincing alternative facts.

Meaning, they want other people to believe that their subjectivity is objective fact.

It's like telling me, "Dude, you've got a beautiful garden. But you've got to start believing that fairies are making the flowers grow."

I reply, "I don't believe in fairies. My flowers grow just fine with water, earth, air, all that natural stuff."

But the true believer persists. "No, man, you don't get it. Behind all that are FAIRIES!. I know they're real. You need to believe in them too!"

I'd respond with: "Hey, if you want to believe in fairies, go ahead. But unless you can show me evidence that is more convincing that what botanists tell me about how flowers grow, I'm going to ignore what you say."

There is no core self; we are a bundle of thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and such that constantly flow through us, but there is no enduring "Us."

But that's an assertion without any evidence either. Bagnini's analogies with his "trickster mind" in the fray have no more validity that the most far-fetched religious narrative. His book and the "plenty of evidence" you speak are not proof. It's pure speculation and dressing it up as "Neuroscience" will never change that.

However, they have assumed a seemingly inaccurate alternative -- that a changeless soul or such lies hidden under the surface of all the ever-changing mental stuff.

How do you know it's "inaccurate"...? You don't know one way or another. Qualifying it with "seemingly" doesn't make it any less judgmental. Because mysticism or religion doesn't offer an explanation that resonates with you doesn't make it inaccurate.

I don't know of any neuroscientific theory that holds to a "soul" or "unified consciousness" theory. Do you?

Who cares if it's in your "holy of holies" Neuroscience Camp or not. To claim dismissively that the "self/soul" doesn't exist or offer some bogus proof or its non-existence is the worst sort of hubris in my opinion.

Dungeness, thanks for the reply. What you said is pretty much what I expected: you don't have any evidence for your beliefs, but you believe in them anyway.

You've got lots of company. Most of the billions of people on Earth are religious in the same way. Note, though: this is a churchless blog. You should expect to be challenged if you promote religious beliefs for which there is no demonstrable evidence.

Lastly, usually it isn't possible to prove with certainty that something doesn't exist. In science and in everyday life, the burden is on those who claim that something DOES exist.

What you said is pretty much what I expected: you don't have any evidence for your beliefs, but you believe in them anyway.

Huh? I'm surprised you want to pigeonhole so quickly. I'm not arguing for any particular belief - but for openness and impartiality. I don't believe analogies build a case for Bargini's "bundle". And I believe the "Ego Trick" he postulates is layered on to give his speculation a more solid ring. It also has a dismissive and condescending ring to me... Like most of us when we want to make our case, we conclude firmly that it's some other poor schlep that has been deceived by his ego.


... Note, though: this is a churchless blog. You should expect to be challenged if you promote religious beliefs for which there is no demonstrable evidence.

That works both ways. And I would argue that B.'s "demonstrable" evidence and analogies don't warrant the conclusion that there's no self or unified consciousness.


Lastly, usually it isn't possible to prove with certainty that something doesn't exist. In science and in everyday life, the burden is on those who claim that something DOES exist.

And mystics would agree. They have their own discipline and meditative techniques. Unlike some dogmatic, evangelizing faiths, they shun the limelight; don't make baseless assertions; require rigourous discipline and careful lifestyle; and certainly don't marginalize or speculate about others' sincere beliefs.

Brian writes: "There is no core self; we are a bundle of..."

I would have to agree with Dungeness, who argues:

"But that's an assertion without any evidence either. Bagnini's analogies with his "trickster mind" in the fray have no more validity that the most far-fetched religious narrative. His book and the "plenty of evidence" you speak are not proof. It's pure speculation and dressing it up as "Neuroscience" will never change that."

Brian: "they have assumed a seemingly inaccurate alternative -- that a changeless soul or such lies hidden under the surface of all the ever-changing mental stuff."

I also agree with Dungeness who argues: "How do you know it's "inaccurate"...? You don't know one way or another. Qualifying it with "seemingly" doesn't make it any less judgmental."

I also agree with Dungeness that, just because mysticism doesn't offer a more scientific seeming explanation, that it doesn't automatically make it inaccurate.

Dungeness writes: "Who cares if it's in your "holy of holies" Neuroscience Camp or not. To claim dismissively that the "self/soul" doesn't exist or offer some bogus proof of its non-existence, is the worst sort of hubris".

I have to agree with Dungeness. There is no solid undeniable proof that Baggini's theory is correct. Just because there are many complex systems and mechanisms operating in and as the brain/body complex, that doesn't eliminate the possiblility of a fundamental unity of Being/Awareness (Chit), aka Soul/Self (Atman).

=========================================

Brian responded with: "Dungeness [...] What you said is pretty much what I expected: you don't have any evidence for your beliefs, but you believe in them anyway."

But Dungeness didn't claim to have any proof. And there is also no proof for Baggini's theory either.

Brian: "Most of the billions of people on Earth are religious in the same way."

But Dungeness did not say that he was "religious", nor did his comments reflect religiousity or religious belief.

Brian: "You should expect to be challenged if you promote religious beliefs for which there is no demonstrable evidence."

But the fact remains that there is no "demonstable evidence" for Baggini's suppositions, ideas and beliefs either.

Brian: "it isn't possible to prove with certainty that something doesn't exist. In science and in everyday life, the burden is on those who claim that something DOES exist."

Dungeness did not claim that some particular thing (like the soul, the Self, etc) exists. The burden of proof is upon Baggini if he claims that there really is no unified Self, but rather only a mere "bundle". He therefore must prove that there is only a "bundle". He cannot do that, so his theory is no better than the theories of sages and mystics.

Brian:

I appreciate your reply. However, I HAVE presented - and could re-present - the evidence of hundreds of studies by scientists that show the mind can't be explained as solely a result of brain processes. And the testimony of representative scientists who state things like, "Even if it were true i wouldn't believe it." That just shows the naive prejudice of the common empirical view for the last two hundred years. I haven't the time to repeat and dig up all of that research again, as you believe your guys, and I have my guys. There is no proof that you would accept, as far as I can see.It comes down to how one 'looks', imo, from 'outside-in', or inside-out'.

I, for one, don't need proof.

The Dalai Lama said, "he who denies his existence is a fool." I am not saying you are a fool, forgive me if anyone thinks I am suggesting that. But the Dalai Lama would be an example of one of those Buddhists whose views are close to what modern science seems to think, according to you, namely, that there is no fixed self - meaning personality. The Dalai Lama is an advocate mainly for the emptiness teachings of Nagarjuna, which dissects the phenomenal self into its component parts and shows there is no fixed entity. They don't, however, conclude that there is no substratum of consciousness or awareness. They just don't talk about it as much as the Vedantists do. Their view is that the consciousness that is our nature is just not personal, but can be known (I don't say 'experienced', as that is a loaded word, and since there has to be something that 'experiences', which is awareness.

But you can't see it, and science will never be able to see it either.But, imo, they have shown there is something other than the brain that exists and is conscious. There are, again hundreds if not thousands of experiments, well controlled, that prove this. But not to a sceptic who has an iron-clad world view. (I'm not saying you have one, but alot of scientists do - and, for that matter, so do the climatologists, for which there are hundreds, if not thousands who say there is NO global warming, or if there is, it is a natural process and has been alternating with global cooling for thousand of years. The problem with the scientists, as I see it, is the same as for the economists and journalists; as Mark Twain said, "tell me what a man gits for his corn pone, and I'll tell you hat his 'pinions is." i.e., people are afraid for their jobs if they fall out of the consensus view.

Again, you choose who you want to believe, we all do the same, I guess)

And here is something else. I am not saying this is the truth, the only way to go, or am an apologist for Sant Mat or any other mystical sect. But just to take the example of meditation. How does one account for the experience of being able to one-pointedly concentrate - dhyana - withdraw the sensory currents from the body into the foxhole of the brain, numbing the body below and slowing down all the physical processes,and then experience higher things. You may argue about the experiences, but what about the withdrawal? Again, I am not saying that is the highest or best meditation, or even that meditation is necessary to know oneself. But that process of withdrawal is a conscious one, and not a result of something the brain is doing. YOU are doing it. Even the brain waves slow down, especially if one 'leaves' the body, whether one wants to believe that is or is not possible.

I say neither you or anybody else knows what any thing IS. Take a flower. Science can pick it apart and explain things about it, but has nothing to say about what it is or how it came into being.It is a very beautiful and mysterious thing. But it is never known or experienced outside of consciousness. So much of this fruitless debating is, imo, flawed by the assumption that the consciousness or awareness that sages talk about is ones 'personal' possession. That may be the error of mystics or saints who hold out the carrot of eternal bliss by a personal soul in some higher realm - a view which I no longer hold, although I am not saying it is impossible either - but it is not the view of sages, say Ramana or Atmananda, Astavakra, Nagarjuna, Adyashanti, yadda yadda yadda...

Have a nice weekend - Peter

It appears Brian is correct. One needs to
look at Susan Blackmore and friends.

The idea of continuous consciousness
has been successfully debunked.

The idea of a self has been successfully
debunked.

The speculation a mind, or soul exists,
has absolutely nothing to substantiate
it.

The soul is the wishful thinking of
of thought to continue a self, until
it can be proven.

With all the zillions of gurus and holy
people, not one of them has ever proven
there is a soul. Nor, can any of them
teach you a way to experience the soul.

If no one can experience the soul, with
all the millions of people whom have tried,
then maybe the gurus and holy people lied
about experiencing it themselves.

Since it is proven holy people are
liars and cheats and hypocrites, why would
anyone take their word there is a soul, or
God ?

If someone here can tell us how to experience
the soul, or God, please do so.

If you can't, then all you have is a speculation.

Peter, you continue to fail to present...

(1) Peer-reviewed research published in reputable scientific journals, that (2) has been replicated by other scientists who have also published their findings, and (3) explains in a coherent fashion how "supernatural" phenomena can co-exist with the physical human brain.

You also have failed to explain why, if anesthesia is administered to you or your brain is significantly damaged, your consciousness is altered accordingly. If consciousness is immaterial, why do physical causes create consciousness effects?

Lastly, I'm not persuaded by Dalai Lama quotes, or Ramana quotes, or quotes from any other guru or religious books. Anybody can say anything. That doesn't make it true.

I'm enjoying playing with our comment conversations. I just wish you'd step up to the pitcher's mound and throw me a big fat ball of demonstrable scientific facts we could discuss, instead of dogma and beliefs.

tAo, have you read Baggini's book? He cites dozens, if not hundreds, of scientific studies to support his conclusion that the "bundle theory" is the most likely explanation of how the brain functions.

And you have a mistaken view of the scientific method if you believe that it is the responsibility of science to show that something (like God) does not exist. This simply isn't true.

A. In my previous comment, I did not say (or even imply) that "it is the responsibility of science to show that something does not exist". I never indicated that anything like that.

B. Baggini's is still only a theory. There is yet no solid evidence that it is the case. It could be true, but "the most likely explanation" doesn't mean that it is.


Consciousness or Awareness ?

May I suggest these two words are not related ?

There is a reason. Take Nisargadatta Maharaj.

He says consciousness dies with the body.

Yet, there is an Awareness which doesn't.

Awareness is THAT. You are THAT.

Until a person understands these are two
completely different words, they will never
get to first base trying to understand
jnani yoga.

Consciousness is an effect. A result.

Awareness is an underlying substratum.

Awareness may be thought of as the Substance
of your being. THAT.

What we experience as consciousness has nothing
to do with Awareness.

Ramana claimed THAT, or SELF (the Substance of
our beings) has tremendous power, as I quoted here
the other day. Ramana's use of the word SELF is
very unfortunate. We in the West would use
the word Substance, or THAT.

It is impossible for consciousness to experience
itself.

But, THAT, SUBSTANCE, can FEEL its own existance.

Substance can be directly Aware of itself.

Consciousness cannot be conscious of itself.

THAT, or SUBSTANCE, is at once powerful and
competent.

THAT is so powerful and competent, one only need
FEEL it.

So, consciousness dies with our bodies.

But, what if we have FELT our SUBSTANCE, before
our physical body dies and consciousness disolves ?

THAT ..... is for you to find out.


Peter:

The great body of Buddhist thought does not posit a 'substratum of consciousness or awareness'. It is clear from even a passing acquaintance with Buddhism that consciousness is said to arise with complex conditions. Conditions are empty - there is no abiding substratum or Self of any kind. This is the central insight of Buddhism and the reason that it is often seen to be at odds with Vedanta.

This is not to deny existence or reality itself - it's just that it is empty of anything inherent - that's the whole point - there is no abiding Self, no witness, no watcher, no abiding consciousness.

Awareness does not (can not) experience anything. It arises from complex conditions, when those conditions subside, so does awareness.

We are told that awareness is the unwavering substratum of all appearances. The implication is that there is an abiding, undying functionality of sentience, perception, cognition, memory, reason, imagination etc. That somehow all these (and more) qualities and functions can persist without (the conditions of) an embodied brain and nervous system.

Yet it is a scientific fact - and by this I merely mean a fact that is supported by evidence - that if parts of the brain were removed by surgery; the various regions of the cortex, the thalamus and limbic system etc., the above qualities would cease to be.

What does awareness look like without sentience, cognition, perception, memory.... ?? How does it remain aware? How does it experience?

Rob, I like your last questions. I used to believe in "pure consciousness." Why? Because I wanted to. I didn't like the idea of dying and never existing again as a conscious entity.

I still don't like that prospect. But I've decided (with more than a little trepidation, but that's often what deciding involves) to align myself with truth as much as possible, rather than what I want to believe.

Yes, what does awareness look like without any awareness of some particular thing -- even of awareness itself? "Pure" implies simplicity, oneness, no parts.

But there's no evidence that pure consciousness exists, since every person has a brain, and it is a fact, a truth, that if the physical brain is damaged or dies, awareness/consciousness is demonstrably affected.

This isn't all bad news though. Buddhism is optimistic and positive. So are the implications of modern neuroscience, if viewed from certain perspectives. I'll probably talk about this in an upcoming post.

tAo, maybe I didn't clearly understand what you meant in your comment, but you said:

-------------------
"Dungeness did not claim that some particular thing (like the soul, the Self, etc) exists. The burden of proof is upon Baggini if he claims that there really is no unified Self, but rather only a mere "bundle". He therefore must prove that there is only a "bundle". He cannot do that, so his theory is no better than the theories of sages and mystics."
-------------------

You want Baggini and neuroscience (because neuroscience can't find a unified self in the brain) to prove there is only a bundle of processes. It sure sounded to me like you are asking for proof that something, a unified self, doesn't exist -- even though there is plenty of evidence a non-unified bundle is the nature of our brains.

To me, this is like a religious believer saying, "There is no evidence of God in the world, but you need to prove to me that God doesn't exist."

Anyway, there's lots of evidence that the brain, and hence us, is a bundle of processes that usually cohere in a workable fashion, but often don't. This is akin to how our cars work. They are a bundle of parts. If you take a car apart, or damage a key part, the car won't work.

Baggini says that this doesn't mean there's no such thing as a car, just a bundle of parts. A "car" is a collection of parts, just as a "self" is a collection of brain processes.

There's much objective evidence in support of this. Here's my partially subjective evidence, something i experienced myself. My mother had a stroke before she died. When I went to see her in the hospital, it was like she wasn't there.

No, more. She wasn't there. It wasn't LIKE she wasn't there. She really wasn't there. I didn't feel that the person with her eyes closed, unresponsive, was my mother. My mother was someone conscious, alive, with memories, thoughts, feelings, all that.

If the self truly is an indestructible, unchanging soul "pearl" (Baggini's way of putting it), then why was my mother so affected by the stroke? I saw her with my own eyes. And a brain scan (if such had been available back then) would have confirmed what my eyes showed me.

My experience isn't uncommon. Almost everybody has friends or relatives who have deteriorated as their brains have been affected in some way. It's sad. But it's the human condition.

So, yes, there is plenty of evidence that the brain is a bundle of brain processes. I know this. I've seen it. And because I keep changing all the time, I've experienced it myself.


Again, the words consciousness and awareness
are being used as synonyms. I explained
in my last post, the definitions given by
Indian jnanis.

Consciousness and Awareness have exactly
opposite functions.

Consciousness cannot be conscious of itself.

Awareness can be Aware of itself.

Consciousness is temporal and not continuous.

Awareness is the Substance of ones being.

Consciousness has no intelligence.

Awareness is both intelligent and powerful.

Awareness is called THAT, or SELF, or Substance.

A person does not realize they are THAT.

A person FEELS themself AS THAT.

The Zen for example realize they are nothing.

But, it is a very rare Zen that FEELS themself
as THAT.

Jiddo Krishnamurti used to talk this point quite
often with Zen and those believing they were jnani.

The realization of no self is enlightenment.

And, people believe this is the end of a journey.

In fact, its only preperation for the final end.

The Zen and jnani, often BLOCK themself from from
the FEELING of THAT.

The logic of AWARENESS of THAT is completely different
from the logic of consciousness, which cannot experience
itself.

BEING THAT IS ..... FEELING 'THAT' AS ONESELF.

Remember, the realization of no self, does not create
the FEELING of THAT.

Those who are enlightened, walk away from the table
before desert is served.

Once more, the enlightened are still thirsty, even though
they deny thrist.

They sense something is still missing, but have
no idea what it is.

So, someone like Ramana comes along. The jnanis love him
and often have no problem with the attainment of
enlightenment.

But, he keeps talking about SOMETHING ELSE beyond
enlightenment.

Ramana talks about the SELF (THAT) as being powerful
and competent and one can be AWARE of THAT directly.

So did Jiddo Krishnamurti.

This throws the enlightened for a loop.

SOMETHING ELSE is there they think ?

How do I contact it they wonder ?

What is the logic of THAT, which is both powerful
and competent and can be FELT as Ones Substance ?

What is the logic of FEELING THAT, which is all
that needs be done, for the competent power to
make itself FELT as my BEING ?

Why is one either THERE, or not there ?

Why are there no steps to REALITY ?

Why is it only FELT here and now without any
preperation ?

The problem with the logic of Awareness, or Self,
or That, is that it is so simple in the method of
contact, it is impossible to conceive.

Yet, after simple CONTACT, its operation is
powerful and competent without even our knowledge.

I have been explaining how CONTACT is made here for
some weeks. The problem is, it is so simple, the
people here can't figure it out.

Only a childlike person can make CONTACT,
because only a child can understand the logic.


Yes Brian, the problem with 'pure consciousness' is that it can always be *found* to be composite. When the mystics tell us we are consciousness, they are without doubt implying that we are this consciousness *as we know it*, i.e. this self-aware experiencing that is so familiar right now. But we can see with a little investigation that this present 'condition' is composite in nature - it is always a mix of sense perception, cognition/recognition, memory, knowledge etc.

Now perhaps (and this is highly speculative) there is a condition that is prior to perception, cognition, memory, knowledge etc. Perhaps consciousness arises as basic essence/potential in elemental (subatomic) activity - becoming more effective/complex in molecules, cells, organisms. Of course this is not consciousness *as we know it* until the evolution of complex organisms. (This is a form of panpsychism - an idea that is being entertained by David Chalmers and others.)

But again, what is important to note here is that self-aware consciousness (consciousness as we know it) is something evolved - something *dependent on conditions*.

Rob, good points. Baggini, in his book, speaks along these lines several times. Language, concepts, words -- they can lead us astray from reality.

Meaning, like you said, when we strip every content of consciousness out from awareness, what is left? Nothing recognizably human, for sure. What's left is an idea, a hypothesis, not anything that can be experienced.

Likewise, he talks with a Tibetan lama who supposedly is the reincarnation of another lama. But the guy has no memory of his previous life. He's just been told that he is the fresh incarnation of the dead lama.

So what does it mean to be reincarnated, if there is no memory of your previous incarnation? It's just a belief, a dogma, a hypothesis. Baggini says it's like someone saying they went on vacation in the Bahamas, except it was really cold, they weren't on an island, and there was no ocean or beach there.

Well, sure, you can say whatever you want. But saying isn't reality. This is how I look upon all this talk about pure consciousness, awareness without an object, and so on.

Hi Mike

I've only heard Nisargadatta make this distinction between consciousness and awareness. He uses awareness as a synonym for reality/existence/totality.

But the fact remains that unless we are entertaining the realms of idealism or a form of panpsychism, reality/existence only becomes consciously aware via the evolution of organic life.

Hi Rob, Cont. from my last two posts
So far you are the only person to know
Nisargadatta uses Awareness as a synonym
for THAT, Reality,Substance, Self.

Nisargadatta uses consciousness as temporal,
which dies at death.

As you know, I am an atheist and do not
believe in a soul, mind, self, or God.

I am trying to move the discussion beyond
enlightenment, which there are people here
already at that stage.

The big question is .... is there something
in us that can be conscious after death ?

We know it can't be consciousness, because we
know consciousness is proven scientifically
not to be continuous and was the result of
evolution.

But, Nisargadatta, Jiddo Krishnamurti and
Ramana all spoke of a Reality which had
nothing to do with consciousness.

A Reality that defies description and is
Aware of itself, without consciousness.

We are discussing the possibility of contacting
THAT Reality right here and right now,
without any preperation.

We are talking about FEELING the Substance
of our Beings at this very moment.

The question is, can we FEEL the Substance
of our Beings without consciousness ?

This would be the only possible way to know
if there is Something we are made of that
will survive death and be Aware of itself.

What if this Substance, or Self, as Ramana claimed,
was a powerful intelligent Force ?

A Force that is already there and has no conditions
for contacting it ? It's ready to go when you are.

No steps, or stages. No religion, or rules of
conduct. No yoga. No masters.

Just contact ...ignition .... blastoff.

Here and now.

Brian' I'm not giving you dogma or belief, just trying to clarify your confusion.

I did give lists of of researchstudies that has been done,and the testimony of different scientists, you just won't except it. I don't see your own hard evidence, except for reading Baggini's book or others of that type. The same goes for climatology. If you want to get into that we can. I have alot of evidence that the bulk of the research on that is junk science, skewed and selected, cherry picked, flawed and prejudiced evidence, based on the historical record and current findings. Of course, I won't disagree that they should do something about the pollution in major cities (such as mexico City, where you can't see but a city block because of the smoke or smog, but that is another issue. Global warming, Mike should enjoy this, since he mentioned the global conspiracy by the Rothschild bankers, but global warming is another elite agenda to make an end-run around national sovereignty, based on the problem-crisis-solution dialectic to create global bodies to control the people and limit their freedom. Al Gore, I suspect, doesn't give a hoot about global warming. You have to look at who is running the show and the means they use..

I think you have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Because you got burned by radhasoami teachings , you throw out everything else.

Mike is a jumble of contradictions, on the one hand declaring himself an atheist materialist, and on the other hand seeming to know the difference between consciousness and awareness, and arguing for Ramana and pranahuti initiations to get to ultimate reality. Something is wrong with this picture!

Some sages use consciousness in different ways. Atmananda and Nisargadatta alternately say there is something beyond consciousness, which is awareness, and other times they say that consciousness is all there is. The way to see what they mean is in context. Yes, consciousness, if meaning empirical conscious, that is, consciousness of some thing, that does get snuffed out at death, for most people. But that doesn't mean awareness is snuffed out. Mike agreed that it is reality. I know you no longer believe in it, but it is not a matter of belief.

Now, I ask you, you are so accustomed to think of yourself as a body having consciousness, you can no longer think of or imagine consciousness as having bodies. it is a shift in perspective.

Let me put it this way: you are looking for proof of truth, without explaining what is the truth you have in mind and what proof will satisfy you? You can prove anything provided you trust your proof. But what will prove that your proof is true? You refuse testimony as the proof of truth: the experiences of others is of no use to you, you reject all inference from the concurring statements of a vast number of independent witnesses, so it is for you to tell us what is the proof that will satisfy you, what is your test for a valid proof of that which we are discussing?

You keep repeating that all reputable scientists say this or that - well, all reputable scientists do NOT say this or that, about psi research OR climatology. 1400 top scientists presented a statement denying the so-called evidence for global warming as bogus and distorted, but their statement was shut out of the recent global conference a few years ago, because it would have embarrassed the sponsors, including Mr. Al Gore. I will give evidence against, or at least showing the doubt, for global warning in another post, as I have to go now. Thanks for replying and being diplomatic about it. For now, my best - Peter

I see no hope for this argument, as it is a philosophical one, at base. Many scientists researching consciousness are on the fence. they see no reason to believe the findings that consciousness of nental awareness in many experiments can not be explained a s a result of brain processes, but they

Peter, now that I know you're a global warming denier, this explains your anti-science attitude on other subjects -- like neuroscience. I guess you're just opposed to knowing the truth about reality.

Forgive me for being blunt, but the truth is, as they say, inconvenient. Global warming is an undeniable fact. I suggest you regularly read the Climate Progress posts, as I do every day.

What humans are doing to the Earth is scary. I'm deeply worried for my four year old granddaughter. She is what makes this issue more than a little emotional for me.

People like you, who choose to ignore scientific facts, are responsible for the lack of attention being paid to this problem. Soon we'll be a tipping point, when irreversible changes to the planet will occur that will be hugely detrimental for humanity.

I hope you open your mind to climate science truth soon. Also, to neuroscience truth.

Peter, a P.S.: you are fact-challenged when it comes to global warming. Seriously. Educate yourself. Open your mind. Look at the evidence, not at conspiracy theories.

Art Robinson, the guy with the lengthy list of "scientists" who disagree about global warming is a farce. He's with a wacko non-think tank here in Oregon. The only credential to sign his petition is some sort of college degree in some sort of scientific field.

Robinson believes that radiation is good for you. So if you want to trust your health and wellbeing to him, good luck. Here's a debunking of the petition:
http://www.desmogblog.com/30000-global-warming-petition-easily-debunked-propaganda

Sometimes the minority scientific view is correct. Usually, it isn't. Modern science is quite effective at sorting out fraud from fact. I'm not interested in having this blog used for a disinformation campaign, so please share your global warming denying conspiracy theories on another forum.

You've got your mind made up. But remember: a mind/brain is a terrible thing to waste. Open yourself to reality. You might find that you like it.

Mike,

"The question is, can we FEEL the Substance
of our Beings without consciousness ?
This would be the only possible way to know
if there is Something we are made of that
will survive death and be Aware of itself.
What if this Substance, or Self, as Ramana claimed, was a powerful intelligent Force? A Force that is already there and has no conditions for contacting it? It's ready to go when you are. No steps, or stages. No religion, or rules of conduct. No yoga. No masters."

---Mike, how would Ramana be in a position to make such a claim? I would think that such claiming and talking would be pure dualistic wordism. A powerful intelligent force? How powerful, how intelligent and what kind of force? Too much dualistic wordage. In addition, is being enlightened, an event or occurrance among those that possess such? Name names of those bloggers, here, that have this trophy title. Thank Roger

Its your blog Brian, but I don't see the harm in someone voicing an opposing viewpoint, provided they are happy for it to be scrutinised and criticised by others who don't share it.

I believe you are right that there is a great deal of evidence for global warming, but it is not so clear as to what extent this is caused by man or to what extent its part of a natural heating cycle. There's the Milankovich cycle and various others which suggest we're in a natural heating cycle. CO2 build-up and volcanism are natural processes and climate change is as ancient as the earth itself, but it may well be that human prosperity is accelerating this cycle and the feedback from the biosphere might just wipe us out. Its an interesting one.

Was reading something today, which i thought was quite mindblowing as to our insignifance on the scale of geological time. Our human minds struggle to comprehend such scale, where the metaphor for the earth's age was a 75-year old human. The first multicellular animal only appears age 63, the dinosaurs appear at 72, the first ape in may/june of final year 75, modern homo sapies on 31 December and modern science at around 11:57.

George, on most subjects I agree with you. People should be able to share opposing viewpoints on subjects where there's a scientific consensus. I feel this way about neuroscience, where the overwhelming consensus is that the mind is the brain in action, with no necessity to posit anything immaterial.

But with climate change, the situation is much different. Here we're talking about the health of our planet -- which essentially is the "body" that supports us.

Look at it this way.

If a child was suspected of having a serious cancer, and the parents go to 100 expert cancer doctors for a consultation, and 98 of them say, "Yes, your child has a life-threatening cancer and needs to be treated immediately," it would be irresponsible if the parents failed to take action to save the child's life.

Yet global warming deniers are acting exactly like those parents. The science is settled, 98% of professional climatologists agree about the situation. The scientific debate is over. Human caused global warming is happening; Our planet is beginning to suffer. Countless humans likely will die if nothing is done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So I'm not going to be complicit by allowing anti-science, blind-faith believing global warming deniers to post their lies on my blog, just as I wouldn't do anything to help parents who wanted to leave their cancer-stricken child untreated.

This is a moral issue as well as a scientific one. I want to have a clear conscience when my granddaughter grows up if she asks me, "Grandpa, how come nobody did anything about global warming back when there was a chance to take action and keep our planet habitable for humans?"

If crazies want to believe weird stuff and harm their own lives, that's their business. But crazies who believe weird stuff and want to harm the planet we all depend on for life -- they can't be encouraged. That would be immoral. We need to fight them, for the sake of our children and grandchildren (plus us).

I would have to agree with Brian.

There are lots of crazy people
on the internet.

At some point they become rediculous.

Especially if they are moles.

We try to help them here, but sometimes
there is no hope for these poor people.


Global warming and the collaspe of the fiat currencies

I have heard some scientists say that they can shoot
some substance into the sky quite easily from locations
around the world that would lower the earth's temperature.

In other words, an artificial solution for a real problem.

There is another problem coming in the next 5 years which
I believe will be one of the greatest problems man kind has
ever seen. The former comptroller general of the United States
says it will be worse than atomic bombs going off.

People believe the problem is the U. S. national debt
reaching $100 trillion dollars, with accrued social security
and medicare. That's only part of the problem.

The real problem is the inherent flaw in fiat currencies.
Every fiat currency that has ever existed has ended up
being worth nothing. Fiat currencies must fail by their
very nature.

The Revolutionary War that caused the U.S. to battle Britain
was caused by a fiat currency crises in England according
to Benjamin Franklin. The Rothchilds owned the central bank
of England and were demanding interest payments in arrears
be made up to them by the king. The king of England had
to put heavy taxes on America to pay back the Rothchilds
and this created the war.

The Rothchilds are the richest people n the earth and it is
estimated thay own half the wealth of the entire earth.
They are the private company behind every major central bank
in the world, including the USA.

The Rothchilds are said to own 75% of the U.S. central bank
with J. P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs amoung the others.

Goldman Sachs was the largest campaign contributor to
Barrack Obama's presidential campaign.

The debt of the United States is largely owed to the Rothchilds,
as is most the debt in the world by governments. The Rothchilds
are Masons, whom worship Lucifer, as I have pointed out in
prior posts.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has said Greece will inevitably
collaspe. Goldman and J. P. Morgan have guaranteed much of the
government debt around the world with credit default swaps.
If even one small country like Greece goes under it wipes
out the banks.

To give you an idea. Italy is the third largest debtor nation
behind the USA and Japan. Italy has 2 1/2 trillion dollars in debt
and Moodys has downgraded it and it will inevitably collaspe.

If Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal default, it will destroy the
entire banking sysytem in the world. Just any one of these countries.
Experts are saying one or more will default in the next two years.

The USA will default at some point in the near future. None of this
money can ever be paid back.

Countries print more money to pay their debt ... with more debt.

The only solution for the world is to get rid of the central banks
and for each country to print its own money, as the United States did
in the early years. That way you owe no interest on any printed money.

Both Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy tried to get rid of the
central banks.

When J. P. Morgan died, it was discovered the Rothchilds owned
85% of his wealth.

Wonder why gold is near an all time high ?

The countries around the world know a great collaspe is coming.
They are buying gold at unbelievable rates.

It is estimated the USA would have to go back on the gold standard
and price gold at $12,500 an oz. to save the dollar. But, the Federal
Reserve Bank has leased out 60% of the gold in Fort Knox in their efforts
to keep the gold price down to make their fiat currencies look good.

Agreements have been made with China they can declare eminent domain
on USA land if the USA defaults.

In 1933 the currency was collasping during the great depression.
FDR called in all the gold in the USA and paid $20 an oz for it.
The next year the USA valued it at $37.50 an oz. You went to prison
for 10 years if you were caught not turning in your gold !!!

The Bush Patriot Act gives the government the right to confiscate
all your gold minted after 1933.

I have spent some months finding out about foreign bank accounts
in some countries like Canada and Switzerland. The rules and
regulations make it so difficult its not worth it.

It seems the only way to protect yourself is to own gold.

There are two good funds on the NYSE that own physical gold
held at the Canadian Mint. Stock symbol PHYS (100% gold)
and CEF (50% gold 50% silver) in Canada vaults. They do not
lease out the gold.

You can buy modern day USA coins valued at $50 which trade at
bullion value. American Eagles and Bullfalos one oz coins.
Don't pay more then 4% over gold value at your local coin shop.

But, not to worry. If this whole thing goes bad, we can all
move up and live with Brian and he can teach us survival
techniques. Please bring your own bow and arrows.


Mike you wrote:


"There are lots of crazy people
on the internet........We try to help them here, but sometimes
there is no hope for these poor people."


Mike this isn't the first time you have made a statement like the one above. You have mentioned all the 'jnani's' on this blog before and how some of them are martyrs saving our children.


A wee question for you Mike; do you honestly believe these things you say or are you taking the piss?


Hey, send some of the global warming over my way. I think we are getting colder here.....especially during our last winter. In fact it was the coldest winter here on record and this summer?.....well, lets just say, we are still waiting for our summer.


Marina


Its often dangerous to lump claims as scientific, particularly where one's personal interests might skew or expand on the actual science to support a passionate belief. Moreover, there is a very great difference in the standard of proof of various 'sciences' and theories.

For example there is a veritable gulf in the validity of proof between the physical and social sciences. The former relies on direct observation or emperical evidence to support universal inviolable laws of nature, whereas the latter tend to rely on statisitics and sampled measurements.

Often scientific theories take years and decades of evidence from various sources, before they are accepted as valid.

Science can say very little on consciousness. Psychological claims do not have the same degree of validity as those of physics, not even close. The theory of global warming by man is a very far cry away from the scientific standard of for example, the theory of evolution by natural selection, and even further away einsteinien relativity, newtons laws or the laws of thermodynamics.

Neuroscience is an emerging science that attempts to look at consciousness, but bundle theory is even more iffy than global warming imo.

On the question of supression of dissenting opinion, this is not condusive to openminded enquiry, knowledge growth or science. Science says put your case forward and it will be judged on its merits, not supressed because someone finds it disagreeable or even offensive to their personal beliefs. Some of science's major breakthroughs began as unsupported minority-held theories.

Hi George,

Understand Brian is dealing with some Rajinder moles
on this club. He is trying to be polite to these people.
And, he is much more tolerant then I would be.

Their sole purpose is to disrupt this club. They have
no interest in issues, only the rhetoric of dogma
from their gurus. They want Brian off the airwaves.
They want to harass the exsatsangis and get them
to leave this club.

There was a fellow who once started an exsatsangi
club and had to stop it when Gurinder harassed
his daughter, whom was still a satsangi.
And, there are Gurinder moles also. The Gurinder
mole operates a little differently.

The Rajinder mole is a unique creature. They can
never win a debate. Always sarcastic and low
class. Always inuendo.

Brian's club is now on the first page of Google
if you punch in Radhasoami. Rajinder and Gurinder
do not want this club here.

They are trying to suppress information about
themselves.

Both Brian and myself get tremendous harassment
for our websites.

So, Brian gets upset at global warming issue.
People will die in the millions. He is right.
He knows disinformation from vested sources
are against the global warming issue. No
different from disinfomation by gurus.

Brian can easily blow away their disinformation,
but does not want to discuss that issue here,
as he knows the moles want to get off subject.

The moles want to take the discussion off the
gurus. Their gurus.

Brian is not concerned with winning a debate
on this issue, he knows the moles tricks
of going off subject.

If we go off subject, the gurus win.

Because then, we are not talking about gurus,
but global warming and birth control and
politics.

If there is something we don't already know
about, it's OK. I just posted a condemnation
of the fiat currencies this morning on this
link on this club. That's something people
don't know about.

Brian is way too smart for the moles.

The moles do not want to stay on subject.

That subject being their gurus.

George, yes, consciousness still is unexplained by neuroscience. But a lot is known about the brain, including how it functions. When Baggini expresses support for the "bundle theory," he is contrasting this with a "pearl theory."

Meaning, if the brain doesn't function as a collection of parts bundled together, then it is a unitary whole, a pearl. A car is a bundle. If its headlights go out, my car's functionality is lessened, but it still runs. But if it was pearl-like, this implies an all-or-nothing functionality.

From this perspective, the brain clearly is a bundle, not a pearl. Things can go wrong in the brain, yet other parts of the brain often can compensate for the damage. This argues against consciousness (whatever it is) being a unitary, unchanging phenomenon.

Now, some people argue that the brain is a receiving set for consciousness, in the same way as a television set is a receiving set for electromagnetic waves. If the TV is broken, you don't get a picture, but the information is still there in the form of those waves.

I suppose this is possible. Unlikely, though. We can detect electromagnetic waves independent of a TV set. But where is the evidence for human consciousness outside of a human brain?

Regarding the suppression of dissenting opinions, I agree with you that this isn't part of the scientific method. However, when it comes to a complex subject like climate change, the place for presenting dissenting scientific evidence is before professional climatologists -- who are capable of assessing data, competing hypotheses, and all that.

The place isn't a churchless blog. What I object to is people blabbing away on the Internet, seizing on a couple of web sites or news stories that fit their unscientific agenda, demanding time and space to share their crazy views.

I often tell them, "Hey, if you've discovered something that the world's best scientists don't know about, write up your findings and submit them to a peer-reviewed journal. A Nobel prize could await you."

That said, I'm fine with discussing unsettled scientific subjects, like the nature of consciousness. However, global warming is a settled scientific subject. There still is much to learn about the details of how humans are changing the Earth's climate, but there is very little doubt, extremely little, that our emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the Earth rapidly.

Hi Mike,


Not sure if your above post to George was getting at me or not, but it seems that way as George is not talking about anything concerning these points you brought up.


If you are referring to me Mike, I have to say it is in an underhand way. I am just asking a question about some of your statements concerning being above people and knowing more than people and putting people right, or feeling you are superior and can save people. It has nothing to do with RS and any point in particular. You also bring Brian and his site into this and that is not my point at all.


I am not even sure what you mean by ‘moles’ but a lot of the time when a good ‘debate’ comes up, it is one of your line of defences. You seem like a clever man so I don’t know why you take this line of calling people moles. Yes maybe once in a while you get people ‘defending’ or trying to start a verbal war but generally what I have seen, it is not usually like that. It comes across that it is an easy way out to call them moles.


I have never harassed Brian for his site nor you for yours either Mike. I happen to enjoy the site but lately just read with nothing much to say but enjoy the light banter. Just once in a while as I say Mike, you comment on ‘saving’ people which smacks of superiority and I would like to comment on that. It can come across as condescending. It can make this site seem like the very 'cults' you give out about when you imply that Brian, yourself, this blog and some others are 'saving' people. I am not trying to take things off subject or away from Gurus or back to Gurus but on comments made - nor is it trying to disrupt the board.


In case you haven’t noticed, it has happened to everyone (mostly) and to me more than once, that I have been pulled up on something I have commented on. No problem. So where is the problem in asking you a question about some comment you have posted? That is all Mike that is all.


Marina

Mike,

Not sure who are moles or not, but provided someone is not abusive then it seems to me they should be allowed to make whatever point they want. Is this not one of america's greatest strength's, the freedom of speech?

Brian obviously cares passionately for the environment, and i also take the view that the evidence is pointing towards man contributing to global warming. Brian is also right to suggest that we should adopt prudent measures based on such evidence. However, people should be allowed to contradict these views. The choice is then whether to engage with them or not, but not to stifle them.

Brian,

That Bagginni clip is pretty interesting and he makes sense, common sense, but I dont really know how much science is involved. I also am not sure I agree with you when you say that alot is known about the brain including how it functions. I think we've just scratched the surface of how the hardware works, let alone the software. Having read his book, do you know why he happens to disagree with Metzinger? I guess the 'pearl' idea is not disimmilar to that of a soul, some sort of permanent essense of our true self or personality.

Yes, the 'cosmic consciousness' idea I can't really take seriously, unless someone explains it more believably. The idea of spirit before matter, rather than matter before spirit is probably what seperates the mystical perspective from the scientific.

But there are some very strange view espoused by some very credible scientists, like Penrose. Then there's ideas like qualia and all sorts from Dennett. Its a very new field.

George, I recall that Baggini disagrees, albeit rather mildly, with Metzinger because Metzinger is a "no self" guy. Baggini's view is more subtle. And to me, more accurate.

Yes, Baggini, says, we are selves. This is the ego trick: creating the illusion of an unchangeable "pearl" of consciousness that remains unaltered while experiences are ever changing.

Yet we also aren't selves, because of the trick. So we necessarily act and feel as if we had a "self," while some of us come to understand, through neuroscience and other means, what the trick consists of.

In this regard, Baggini sounds a lot like Michael Shermer, who has a new book about how the brain creates belief. (I've ordered it, naturally).

I saw Shermer on The Colbert Report last night. He considers that science is the only way for humans to get out of the trap of searching out reasons for beliefs that we want to believe in. Baggini has the same general attitude.

We can't unquestionably trust what intuitively appears to be true, because evolution didn't lead us to seek out truth, just survival.

The self - being the current state of the bundle, is like an awakening agent of consciousness....it is a prerequisite, it is the caterpillar state necessary before the butterfly. the self bundle is the flowers stem before the consciousness bloom

consciousness at rest is the beginning state, then consciousness in motion occurs by all the things that have been suggested into the self, then as the self bundle expands it reaches a point where self consciousness is born.... then we pass on this consciousness in a restful state to more and more newborns, we multiply consciousness. We apportion a new individual chunk of consciousness to another person when we have a kid. We fill them up with self bundled stuff until they become self conscious too, and it repeats... This is as far as most make it.... the next stage is for then you see that the self is just a bundle and so it burns off, and all that remains is consciousness in motion. But Baggini would have you think that because he sees the self as a bundle that it is a false sense of consciousness... but that's wrong. You a re consciousness. The ego trick book is the ego trying to take credit for being the consciousness. It is a last ditch effort of the ego to try to live on. See- the ego knows it has been found out by spiritualists so it has to assume their place in order to live on. The book title couldn't be any more literal!

... after sleeping on this and writing more abotu it on my site www.awareofit.com I have been able to start to see that an appropriate and simpler comment about Baggini's book and also about Krishnamurti's Mind as a Myth talk is....

Baggini's book "the Ego Trick" is a classic example of 'tossing the baby out with the bath water.'

He misses the truth 'the whole is greater then the sum of its parts' when it comes to knowing what he really is.

Baggini discovers something that is true and can set him free, and as soon as he does the ego tricks him to thinking freedom isn't there.

In Baggini's book "the ego trick" his ego, being exposed for what it is, wraps its arms around his Consciousness and jumps with it into thee abyss.

Misery loves company and in Baggini's case his ego takes his consciousness down with it.

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