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October 02, 2011


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The idea of an unmediated experience is, of course, nonsense. But what gives it staying power is that it's an extrapolation of something true (that most people know nothing about... for, if they did, they would stop mythologizing the experience).

My undergraduate research was in cognitive psychology and one of the phenomenon we explored is what Dr. Ruth Day referred to as "language boundedness."

In short, most people perceive and manipulate ALL sensory information through a filter that's influenced by the syntax of their native language (not the words, but the rules).

A small percentage, though, have the ability to switch to a different perceptual mechanism, bypassing the syntactic filter.

Similarly, most sensory information is processed through a complex feedback loop, not a "straight path" from sense organ to awareness... but some people can "turn off" some of the feedback loops.

So, extrapolate from these two well-researched phenomenon -- there's clearly a way to become aware of information, free of the normal cognitive associations to which we've become familiar. These experiences can have the feeling of "timelessness", or "unmediated-ness," but they're merely unfamiliar types of non-typical perception.

The idea that these, or any other method of perceiving, is inherently better, desirable, or the proof of any sort of attainment is simply the sales pitch from the relevant teaching.

Steven, good points. Mindfulness is real. Unmediated awareness isn't. Yes, it's possible to shut off the "monkey mind" and be in closer contact with sensory experience.

I can follow a slow car ahead of me on the two lane road leading five miles into town without thinking, "That jerk is trying to make me late to my appointment." Rather, I can just observe that a car is driving slowly in front of my car without filtering the experience through an erroneous belief system.

If I was to say the the mediator is "the monkey mind", and that its unwilled absence is what I mean by "unmediated experience", would you still say that "unmediated experience doesn't exist"?

The only difference between your example of unmediated experience and mine is that yours involves effort and mine doesn't.

"These experiences can have the feeling of "timelessness", or "unmediated-ness," but they're merely unfamiliar types of non-typical perception."

I'm all for removing the hokum and hocus-pocus from the experience of "unfamiliar types of non-typical perception", and if the word "unmediated" is incorrect, I stand corrected, but I would say that this non-typical perception is "better" than what's typical.

"I don't see how an experience of inseparability is different from any other experience."

It's different because inseparability is actual and separateness is conceptual. Your dog, for instance, is more conscious of the inseparable nature of the relationship with you than you are because he has no concept of himself as a separate entity.

cc, my dog would be pleased to know that she is an Inseparability Guru, but so far she doesn't seem to be big on concepts like that. Her life revolves around simpler stuff: chew sticks, walks, sleeping, chasing cats, and such.

I'm not sure what you mean by our dog having no concept of herself as a separate entity. How do you know how dogs view the world? Heck, you don't even know how another person views the world, much less how another species does.

I can tell you that when our dog hears a gunshot, or thunder, she trembles and looks for a place to hide. Also, that when my wife is late taking her on her morning walk, our dog asks to go outside repeatedly and otherwise exhibits "Come on, let's go!" behavior. She doesn't seem to live any more relaxed life than I do, though admittedly our dog lives a less thought-filled life.

Along that line, what I don't understand about your worldview is how a natural, evolution-derived capability like human thought can be a negative thing. I hear this frequently from mystical or New Age'y people, but they invariably use thoughts to say "We humans shouldn't think so much!"

How do we get closer to recognizing the inseparability of the cosmos by separating ourselves from a central human capability? How do we embrace reality by disassociating ourselves from part of us?


Are you saying, the experience of inseparability, is a non-dualistic experience? This non-dual experience is actual? Actual is what way? How are you using the 'actual' word?

I'm not finding fault, just need further blogging clarity.

"what I don't understand about your worldview is how a natural, evolution-derived capability like human thought can be a negative thing."

Thought is good and necessary. We can't live without it. The problem, it seems to me, is that it operates when there's no need for it, and it seems to be a conditioned response. We seem to be conditioned to operate thoughtfully (as opposed to mindfully) at all times, and this creates and sustains confusion and illusion.

Roger, forget what I said about "actual".

cc, I agree with you about the downside of excessive thinking. Yes, not everything natural, like thinking most of the time, is healthy (poison oak, for example, which we have a lot of in our area).

I think -- there I go again! -- that we aren't far apart on this issue. It's mostly a matter of words, which can lead astray.

In my daily life, my most pleasurable moments are the least thought-filled: walking the dog, dancing, riding my scooter. When I'm thinking, like when I write a blog post, I'd call that more "satisfying" than "pleasurable."

Most people don't reach the end of their days and say, "I sure wish I had done more thinking." But more dancing... more scooter-riding... that's a more plausible "bucket list."

"we aren't far apart on this issue. It's mostly a matter of words, which can lead astray."

It may be that the only thing separating us on this issue is that I'm not resigned to discontinuous duality. I don't see why the brain can't drop dualistic consciousness when it isn't necessary; when no practical problem needs solving.

Unless I need opinions, self-serving perceptions, and a self-image to defend, I don't want them.

unmediated experience of inseparability

is not enlightenment.

Enlightenment is the realization of
no self.

Whwn you realize you have no self,
you come out of the conscious dream
you live while awake.



". . . the psyche is the only phenomenon that is given to us immediately and, therefore, is the sine qua non of all experience." (C.G. Jung in CW8, “The Structure of the Psyche” p. 139.)

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