« Free will doesn't exist. Compatibilism makes no sense. | Main | Why have faith in a God who fucks things up? »

July 18, 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Dear Brian,

For the little value which it has, I endorse your just offered view/standpoint.

I believe you are less "full of crap" now than you were when I first communicated with you some years ago. Let us both so continue.

(Further, I do suggest each of your wives have apparently been of great help/"blessing" to/for you. They do deserve your thanks.)

Robert Paul Howard

Full of crap...............??

Funny said..;(

By the way Brian ,I have the idea that satsangis are becoming more genuine then earlier..

And I hope the put downs will become lesser.
Your wife can be as happy with you as the other way round.(I think)
And also your dog!!

Hi Brian. Don't worry about 'put-downs' or 'spiritual experiences'- it's all in the mind (brain). Check out my take on some of it below.


The phrase or concept ‘Living in the now’ has mostly become a mantra that is chanted with little understanding of what it implies. It seems to be used as an updated version from the ‘hippy era’ of ‘living for the moment’. For most, living in the now suggests living each moment as it happens without bringing in the past or projecting into the future. But this is not possible. The mind is entirely composed of experiences and memories; the mind is its contents; it is a collection of information. We simply cannot live without this information. Even animals must have minds; that is information enabling them to recognise, recall and act accordingly – it is more than instinct.
Try looking at something without the mind coming in with its commentary and judgements. I am looking out of the window at a flowering bush; the brain is just observing and although the mind is not racing off into abstract thoughts such as thinking ‘I must pay that bill’ or ‘what shall I have for dinner’? It’s still subtly active. Without commenting on the scene words like yellow, wind, pretty arise automatically. Trying not to use the mind seems to be a forced, even aggressive undertaking. It takes a degree of concentration – which raises the question, ‘who or what is concentrating’? Perhaps this is where we need to clarify the concept of ‘Living in the now’.
It is surely not the purpose of ‘spiritual enquiry’ to attempt to arrive at a point where the mind is forced to be quiet or ‘tamed’? The mind is a very useful part of our survival apparatus; we would not get far without it; in fact, we would be as helpless as babies. But, we need to understand the mind, or rather be aware of how the mind/ego influences our lives, our relationships with each other and the environment.
Some of the contents which comprise the mind can strongly assume the role of being who we are; they become ‘me’, ‘I’, ‘myself’, ‘us’, ‘them’ and so on. Where we strongly identify with the contents such as a country, culture, race or religion, they become our identity. We have identified with the mind; we have identified with an arbitrary number of contents that were installed into our brains by the time and place of our birth; a different time, a different place would have given us a different ‘self’ identity.
Being totally identified with the mind – the experiences of yesterday, the experiences that made ‘me’ – is living in the past. The moment which is now is automatically obscured by the weight of the past. We are not talking here of the mind’s function of using information, planning and projecting but of obscuring the present moment, obscuring the actuality of what is before us with a predetermined conditioned response. Hence the flower is a thing of beauty or a weed or just a statement; the perfectly adapted seagull becomes a pest – and you become a friend, an object or an enemy.
Unless we understand the processes that form the mind’s structure it will continue to dictate how we relate to ourselves, each other and the world around us. It has a huge investment in identifying with anything that maintains the illusion of being the ‘I’, the ‘self’, the ‘controller’. In this respect ‘I’ will always live in the past – unable to see the reality of now. And here’s a paradox. The mind can never be in the now; as soon as the mind enters the picture the past arises. The body/brain is always in the now but the mind only ‘knows’ of it retrospectively. It appears that it is the mind which is witnessing the reality of the moment but through honest enquiry and awareness this almost instantaneous mental process can be seen as just another myth that is the mind.

Sounds a little defensive.

"Oh yah!


Says you...

No, you!

I'm having a good laugh.

Brian, you said something very important with which I agree completely. Our experiences are entirely subjective. The notion of objectivity is itself a system of beliefs. The notion of rational thinking is itself a set of rules to help us using our brains to understand our experience in a more honest and truthful, "objective" way.

But however we interpret it, that is our choice, and it is inevitably personal and subjective. It isn't actually Truth, just what we accept as truth.

The put downs are only put downs if you accept them as such, and they always apply both ways.

1. "You haven't had enough experience"
We are all seeking truth and more truthful experiences, Satsangis and non-Satsangis. Some are more diligent in their efforts. And in relation to our goal of getting to "objective truth" none of us can claim anything much on that front. So the accusation fits all of us, Satsangi and non-satsangi alike.

Yes, we see the world from our limited experience. That is the truth. But since no one can get into your head, they can't interpret your choices from their perspective, nor should you attempt the same.

2. "If only you worked harder you would see what I see". Well, maybe that works both ways too. Are you sure this isn't your projection onto others? It isn't the monopoly of religions, but "practical" men and women of the world as well.

What is truthful is that none of us see it all. The five blind men and the elephant...
So, what can you or any Satsangi truthfully say about someone else's experience? Nothing, I would suggest.

3. "Because of what you do and say, that makes you an immoral egotist!"

This really overlaps with 1 and 2 above. Since we are incomplete and our experience subjective, what are we wasting time judging others for? That happens all the time among atheists as well as religious devotees. Everyone thinks they know something you and I don't. And the truth is we are all in that situation. But that doesn't entitle us nor enable us to objectively make a judgement on anyone.

I only say, Brian, that this complaint of yours, if you are trying to be rational and objective, must be laid upon the greater lap of humanity and not a favorite enemy.

4. "I'd admit I'm wrong if you can prove it."

Brian, I have been attempting to follow this path for over thirty years. I am wrong every day,several times a day. Indeed I carry wrong with me, I express wrong continuously all the time.

My experience on the path is of being an onion of infinite layers that are getting pealed away one at a time. Intellectually, it's like being skinned alive every single day. Terribly painful to my pride.

If you haven't had to look at your own stupidity as a practice several times a day...if your particular beliefs and lifestyle permit you that insulated comfort, I envy you!

My spirituality helps me bear the burdens of....myself!

But a stiff drink, a good woman, or a vacation to a nice mexican beach might do the same....the problem is that everywhere I go there are still mirrors, and I come back to who and what I am, and if I haven't gotten any further along, the pain becomes sharper still.

Spirituality for some of us is not a choice.

And the more the onion is pealed, the more painful, the more central the "wrongs" are, over so many more years than this one life....and yet, the peace and happiness of finally being free of that layer is without comparison. The good company of my friend is without comparison.

Spence, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

There's good reason to consider that "peeling the onion" of our self doesn't reveal anything, because there is no self to be found. This was a theme of several short posts I put up tonight.



Buddhism and like-minded philosophies don't find any meaning in anything but living life as it is, here and now. Searching for a transcendent reality or an immanent truth is useless since wherever we go, there we are -- and there is no "we."

Yes, subjectivity is a fact of life. So is objectivity. I don't mind people talking about a subjective experience which was important to them. What rubs me the wrong way is a claim that something subjective really is an objective truth.

The two shouldn't be confused. That way lies dogmatic religiosity, ego, holier-than-thou'ness. A subjective experience is just that, unless it is an experience of an objective reality that can be confirmed by others.

Psychotic people hallucinate experiences which seem real to them. So do mystically inclined people, people who meditate, people who desperately want to have a vision of Jesus, a guru, Buddha, or such.

Naturally I respect subjectivity. But I have little patience when people expect me to believe that THEIR subjectivity is better than MY subjectivity. I have experiences that would amaze you, if you were me. But you're not; you're having your own experiences.

Where we meet is on the common ground of objective reality, where you say "I see that" and I reply, "I see it too." Without that confirmation, no claim of knowing an objective truth unknown to others can be entertained.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.