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September 18, 2019

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Love it!
Beautiful..
And soo soo true..
<3

"Hey Darnell. Wake the f*** up n***a. Hey n***a open the door. DARNELL!!! N***a open the mothaf***in door n***a! I told your stupid ass don't go to sleep n***a now I'm stuck out here mothaf***a! Wake the f*** up n***a! You better let me in this mothaf***in apartment 'fore I beat your mothaf***in ass n***a!"

Being fully present with my external environment, I meditated on those words being yelled by one of my neighbors at 3AM the other night. Was truly a moment filled with gratitude and bliss. Blessings ❤️ Namaste

Sarcasm aside, awareness is a double edged sword at times. I do appreciate moments when I'm at peace and the sights and sounds around me are pleasurable on their own. But then there's the other side when you are not in the kind of pleasant environments that are rapidly disappearing.

"I do appreciate moments when I'm at peace and the sights and sounds around me are pleasurable on their own. But then there's the other side when you are not in the kind of pleasant environments that are rapidly disappearing.'

Like when you are in here and away respectively.

Tonight 3am meditate on your hate. Accumulate it aggressively. It's priceless. There is still space within you to fill up.

Good night Jesse

I'm not a hateful person, Sir Bored_of_jesse. I just have an honesty that you are too stupid to understand. You'll be ruled by externally imposed taboos until you burn in hell forever. God despises you, man. Sorry. I can't do anything to help with that.

Now do you have anything to say about effortlessly observing your surroundings? That's what this article is about. Not about your failed attempt to not even psychoanalyze me, but to comprehend basic expressions in the English language.

Have you considered that the world is 2D yet? Put all the topics discussed here together until you can think about and feel the ways in which you might be being tricked into seeing and feeling what isn't there. It's maybe the best mindfulness meditation of all time.

Here's a link with the core of Carlos Casteñeda's The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge...
http://www.prismagems.com/related/donjuan1.html

(Note: by "ally" he's referring to something akin to Mind, as we understand it--an opponent at first that once defeated, becomes a help)

Quoting don Juan Matus, Yaqui shaman,

"A man of knowledge is one who has followed truthfully the hardships of learning, a man who has, without rushing or without faltering, gone as far as he can in unravelling the secrets of power and knowledge. To become a man of knowledge one must challenge and defeat his four natural enemies.
"When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning.
"He slowly begins to learn--bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield.
"And thus he has stumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: fear! A terrible enemy--treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest and he will never learn. He will never become a man of knowledge. He will perhaps be a bully, or a harmless, scared man; at any rate, he will be a defeated man. His first enemy will have put an end to his cravings.
"It is not possible for a man to abandon himself to fear for years, then finally conquer it. If he gives in to fear he will never conquer it, because he will shy away from learning and never try again. But if he tries to learn for years in the midst of his fear, he will eventually conquer it because he will never have really abandoned himself to it.
"Therefore he must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task.
"When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy. It happens little by little, and yet the fear is vanquished suddenly and fast. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity--a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed.
"And thus he has encountered his second enemy: Clarity! That clarity of mind, which is so hard to obtain, dispels fear, but also blinds. It forces the man never to doubt himself. It gives him the assurance he can do anything he pleases, for he sees clearly into everything. And he is courageous because he is clear, and he stops at nothing because he is clear. But all that is a mistake; it is like something incomplete. If the man yields to this make-believe power, he has succumbed to his second enemy and will be patient when he should rush. And he will fumble with learning until he winds up incapable of learning anything more. His second enemy has just stopped him cold from trying to become a man of knowledge. Instead, the man may turn into a buoyant warrior, or a clown. Yet the clarity for which he has paid so dearly will never change to darkness and fear again. He will be clear as long as he lives, but he will no longer learn, or yearn for, anything.
"He must do what he did with fear: he must defy his clarity and use it only to see, and wait patiently and measure carefully before taking new steps; he must think, above all, that his clarity is almost a mistake. And a moment will come when he will understand that his clarity was only a point before his eyes. And thus he will have overcome his second enemy, and will arrive at a position where nothing can harm him anymore. This will not be a mistake. It will not be only a point before his eyes. It will be true power.
"He will know at this point that the power he has been pursuing for so long is finally his. He can do with it whatever he pleases. His ally is at his command. His wish is the rule. He sees all that is around him. But he has also come across his third enemy: Power!
"Power is the strongest of all enemies. And naturally the easiest thing to do is to give in; after all, the man is truly invincible. He commands; he begins by taking calculated risks, and ends in making rules, because he is a master.
"A man at this stage hardly notices his third enemy closing in on him. And suddenly, without knowing, he will certainly have lost the battle. His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man, but he will never lose his clarity or his power.
"A man who is defeated by power dies without really knowing how to handle it. Power is only a burden upon his fate. Such a man has no command over himself, and cannot tell when or how to use his power.
"Once one of these enemies overpowers a man there is nothing he can do. It is not possible, for instance, that a man who is defeated by power may see his error and mend his ways. Once a man gives in he is through. If, however, he is temporarily blinded by power, and then refuses it, his battle is still on. That means he is still trying to become a man of knowledge. A man is defeated only when he no longer tries, and abandons himself.
"He has to come to realize that the power he has seemingly conquered is in reality never his. He must keep himself in line at all times, handling carefully and faithfully all that he has learned. If he can see that clarity and power, without his control over himself, are worse than mistakes, he will reach a point where everything is held in check. He will know then when and how to use his power. And thus he will have defeated his third enemy.
"The man will be, by then, at the end of his journey of learning, and almost without warning he will come upon the last of his enemies: Old age! This enemy is the cruelest of all, the one he won't be able to defeat completely, but only fight away.
"This is the time when a man has no more fears, no more impatient clarity of mind--a time when all his power is in check, but also the time when he has an unyielding desire to rest. If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.
"But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate through, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy. That moment of clarity, power, and knowledge is enough.
"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.
"This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."


My reason for posting excerpts from The Teachings of Don Juan (first published 1968) is that talk here recently turned to LSD, and the Yaqui way involved peyote and magic mushrooms, and it was my entry into exploring the supernatural, including the hallucinogens. LSD awakened me to "oneness" and "consciousness," but I also went nearly schizophrenic, so I can't recommend it. Should I set out for the Sonoran Desert and seek out a Yaqui sorcerer for training? It seemed impractical. I explored other options and stumbled into Sant Mat eventually. Good thing in my case, because it gave me a reason to give up drugs and restored me to sanity by wrapping everything into a singular package. It echoed much of what I already understood and gave context to other points that I didn't.

At which stage am I? Fear, definitely. "Taboo" is a good word, as Jesse mentioned above. I'm still afraid of coming to CoC! It's taboo! I have many fears still to confront. Jesse, it seems, denies the Holocaust. I think he's wrong, but he might as well be right, because 1) people forget, 2) one can't rely on sympathy and 3) hostile people and forces lurk in the world, happy to exploit or kill you, no matter who you are.

Identifying taboos and other social constraints is a healthy exercise in confronting Fear. Some are irrational, others are manufactured by the powers-that-be to maintain control, but some are based in reality, so you have to take in the totality. One problem with eradicating Fear and any sense of taboo is the feeling of invincibility that can go with it. Criminaity often follows. I've seen it directly in a person, and we've all seen it in the arenas of business, politics and war.

I think don Juan nails the enemies of Knowledge on the head too--Fear to Clarity to Power to Old Age--and they extend to mundane affairs as much to spiritual. What also resonates is his declaration of many paths. Go with the one that suits you. Try and try. If it doesn't suit you, try another.

Don Juan also said, "Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
"I have told you that to choose a path you must be free from fear and ambition. The desire to learn is not ambition. It is our lot as men to want to know.
"The path without a heart will turn against men and destroy them. It does not take much to die, and to seek death is to seek nothing."

You're a satsangi? Okay. You're not a satsangi? Okay. Either way CoC is a good place to check in with yourself.

Its primarily the self-styled independence in every next moment that brings about a happier world around us as also within us but for some finite periods say, ones lifetime if one is able to simulate such environment within oneself and around as rightly stated by Mr Brian.

But what thereafter or hereafter in post life.

Therefore can God and us coexist and be at peace with each other so as to have pleasing moments now and forever. I think some of us may disown His existence to have full life which otherwise gets curtailed for them.

To me the post life as also invisible world ( from external eyes) exist and is the driving force behind all our circumstances and situations.


A correction. Should read

Yes I do. After effortlessly observing my surrounding let me start with...….

@ Anami, it is not the path bur the person that takes a path that matters. No path has an heart. But he who walks a path can do it with and without heart.

It all depends on you … whether you like it or not

An insect, a leaf, sunset. What makes these a source of pleasure?
The source is within ourselves. Finding that pleasure in simple observation is a step towards finding that source within us.

Since we didn't invent that, because it is part of our construction and we didn't birth ourselves, there is a wonderful mystery, a reality, within. And our pleasant reaction to viewing the world from a place of peace is merely a subjective finger pointing to something less visible within, and also worth our contemplation.

Hi anami,

Thanks for the reminder. I loved the Carlos Castaneda books, took me into another world. Found some quotes...

"Discipline, as understood by a warrior, is creative, open, and produces freedom. It is the ability to face the unknown, transforming the feeling of knowing into reverent astonishment; of considering things that exceed the scope of our habits, and daring to face the only war that is worthwhile: The battle for awareness."

"The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive."

Yes, um, I think we agree.
My words: "What also resonates is his declaration of many paths. Go with the one that suits you. Try and try. If it doesn't suit you, try another."


"Discipline... astonishment... daring to face the only war that is worthwhile:
The battle for awareness."

Jen Ji... that's a gem from Castaneda. It encapsulates all
of the mystic path really.


" His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man, but he will never lose his clarity or his power."

Nope.

That was already there, the cruelty was already there, hence the craving for power.

Real power is like a mirage. As you approach it you find yourself in a different place, surrounded by consciousness, and you are no longer you. You didn't get there seeking that illusion. You were heading towards the mountains anyway. Power was just a shimmering of distortion, never an interest. But even if it was, you aren't you anymore when you get there.

"When I am, He is not. When I am not, He is!
Kabir

Hi Anami
Since we are each individuals, there can only be an individual path for any one of us. But it is for us to discover it. And the deeper we pull back the covers the more clearly we see that it is in us, singular. The outside are symbolic guide posts. So long as we run to those pretty and popular things we are running away, being led astray, from something within ourself, towards the distorted and misleading reflection we see outside.

But if we understand it is all reflections, symbolic reflections of things inside us, then it's helpful.

We don't get the path we want. In fact it's often the opposite. We do get the path we need, to spot the cruelty and the light within us, to navigate our way,.

I like mindfulness because then you are observing, and the Way shows herself in stages, and all for price of being gentle, and quiet, attentive, interested.

Anami,
I forgot to thank you for the reminder.
Like Jen, I enjoyed reading Castaneda´s books.
I did some reading of the link you gave and found that the understanding now is quite different from how it was the past. Maybe I will re/read the whole.

Hey Bhadwa Jesse,

Am in Houston for the Howdy, Modi event

Wanna catch up?

Cheers

Spence:
>>Since we are each individuals, there can only be an individual path for any one of us<<

If God is to be found inside men, he said, the path leading to him, can only be one!

Individuals are just unique variations of the same.

The road from your town are there for everybody… it can be used in different ways, walking, driving etc but it remains the same way.

There are no secrets or beauty in those variations that don't have the stamp of the same.

“As I've noted before, and surely will note again, mindfulness has become my meditation. I'm no longer seeking enlightenment, mystical uplift, or even self-knowledge. 
In fact, I don't believe that I have, or am, an enduring self. The world exists. I exist. When I'm fully aware of the world, that's enough for me.”


Not sure about the above Brian. Its probably an ego-based error to maintain that we've ceased seeking enlightenment, mystical uplift or whatever. It is likely to be the case that whatever position we take stems from the 'enduring self' – the self that we don't want to believe in, the self that one way or another is still seeking – perhaps under the guise of not seeking.

I have heard it said that when seeking actually stops, that is enlightenment. As there is no self, there is no-one who stops seeking. Seeking just drops away leaving nothing – no comment, no-one saying I have stopped seeking and no-one to be enlightened – an unenviable place that no-one would want.

Seeking is stimulating, interesting and fulfilling. It subtly helps maintains a strong self-structure - while at the same time denying there is one.

Thanks, but no, Modi Bhakt.

I would never go to a political event in support of a foreign country in my country, or any other. I think it's distasteful and disrespectful.

Hi Um
You quoted me then wrote
"">>Since we are each individuals, there can only be an individual path for any one of us<<

"If God is to be found inside men, he said, the path leading to him, can only be one!

" Individuals are just unique variations of the same.

Who knows?
Let's ask our dogma to sit this one out and discover for ourselves the Truth first hand. Anything second hand can only be another form of dogma, however well or poorly articulated.

Hi Turan

You wrote
"I have heard it said that when seeking actually stops, that is enlightenment. As there is no self, there is no-one who stops seeking. Seeking just drops away leaving nothing – no comment, no-one saying I have stopped seeking and no-one to be enlightened – an unenviable place that no-one would want.

"Seeking is stimulating, interesting and fulfilling. It subtly helps maintains a strong self-structure - while at the same time denying there is one."

I believe that when you put aside all thoughts of yourself, there is natural fascination with all things observed, whether inner or outer.

It is only when these are watered down by thoughts of self that they lose their fascination.

A child is fascinated by things adults commoditize. From that perspective, the one who no longer seeks is fully absorbed in themselves, completely engulfed in ego.

But when we escape ourselves, there is endless astonishment.

Spence, because of our sameness docters can help us whenever we fall ill.
The acupuncturist, cannot treat an uniqueness … only as an unique variation of the same.
It is that simple…. the meridians in all people are the same.

In that way, the mental processes around inner activity is the same for all.
All meditative techniques are the same and have the same effect on the mind.
It is sensory deprivation.

All cars are the same .. cars

Um, bring a broken Tesla to a standard mechanic and see how well he fixes it.

Hi Um
You write
"Spence, because of our sameness docters can help us whenever we fall ill."

It is this thinking which has caused nearly all the medical errors I have encountered.

Spence, you have twisted this quote into your own interpretation...

Quote: "His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man, but he will never lose his clarity or his power."

You say:
"Nope.
That was already there, the cruelty was already there, hence the craving for power."
................................

This is the complete quote:

"A man at this stage hardly notices his third enemy closing in on him. And suddenly, without knowing, he will certainly have lost the battle. His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man, but he will never lose his clarity or his power."
................................

I don't agree with what you said: "That was already there, the cruelty was already there, hence the craving for power."

Its very easy to find fault and twist words into what you want to hear.

There is nothing wrong with having one's own personal power. If we don't, we become a simple minded, pathetic creature, waiting to be stomped on whilst quivering in fear.

Hi Jen
Please re-read what Castenedos wrote:

"He will know at this point that the power he has been pursuing for so long is finally his. He can do with it whatever he pleases. His ally is at his command. His wish is the rule. He sees all that is around him. But he has also come across his third enemy: Power!"

Castenedos is describing someone in pursuit of power, not truth.

And then he writes that power corrupts this very same person.

" His enemy will have turned him into a cruel, capricious man, but he will never lose his clarity or his power."

Castenedos writes that the power his subject sought and gained then corrupted him.

But this is wrong. The seeds of corruption were in the very pursuit of power.

Seek truth, not power.

As for your own personal power, Jen, how can that ever be greater than the power of Truth? What kind of power is greater than Truth? No power I'd want to have anything to do with.

I think don Juan was saying that there are pitfalls at every step.

The Power stage is good to acheive, but it's also an "enemy" in that it can halt progress. It isn't an end in itself. One who abandons himself to Power necessarily turns cruel and capricious, because then it's all about him. To defeat it, he must have command of himself and the understanding "that the power he has seemingly conquered is in reality never his."

Don Juan was talking about supernatural power, but it's no different in the ordinary world. As the saying goes, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absoutely."

It's a double edged sword that depends on the holder's self mastery.

Spence,

Each person will find their own Truth.

Castaneda found his truth, satsangis and religious people will find their own truth. What is truth? I would think that each person has their own version. Religious people have their understanding of truth, atheists have theirs.

As an agnostic and not really having any idea of what the heck Truth is, all I know is that we exist for a while on this planet and then we die and its impossible to know what happens next. I still practice not harming others and doing the best I can in this lifetime but other than that life is simply a magical mystery.

In other words, Power is a natural and essential stage in the progression to Man of Knowledge. It's not the end of the road, but it can trick you into thinking that it is.

Like if you awaken Kundalini but turn around and use it only to sleep with your disciples.

Jesse, the very fact that you bring the Tesla to a mechanic and not to a barbers shop, means the tesla is a CAR and nothing else.

Spence, whatever doctors all over the world know about humans, be they western, eastern, sjamans, tribal medicine men, etc. it is based upon what humans have in common.

Knowledge of the unique variation of humanity will no be of much help in curing others.

Hi Anami
You wrote
"each person will find their own truth."
I agree. Which is why Casteneda's road map of the' path ' can only be good for those on a similar path.

He writes that
"... The power he is pursuing is finally his."

That's someone pursuing power, according to Casteneda. But that isn't everyone's path. It's the highest path he writes about, so the reader may not be able to place it in context. Mindfulness gives you another context.

It's true many people seek gain. He is writing about the journey of those people. The truths he learned in the context of pursuing power.

Truth changes dramatically in a non - avarice, non - confrontational context.

Mindfulness isn't about grasping, but about understanding, and finding joy in learning in a gentle, peaceful way. It involves accepting, and 'blooming where you are planted'. Just how plants and people grow, almost invisibly, little by little. Often without their awareness, naturally.

Put aside ambition, and you have a different path than Casteneda wrote about. It worked for his career at UCLA, it was popular at the time. He helped the Anthropology and Philosophy departments, and what he wrote contained much truth, at least as anyone can tell reflecting upon his writings. And for those on that path, it was a helpful guide.

But whether it resonates may depend upon what sort of path one is actually on. Understanding that people have different objectives, hence there are different paths.

Sometimes that changes. One may realize, once they stop grasping and fighting and trying, that the complete picture surrounds them and is in them, and all they have to do is stop, look, and listen patiently. When that becomes their practice, all the parts of the machinery of life line up neatly, though not exactly as we would like, but it all fits, and we have our natural place and position in time. And then as we see it, we can also adjust ourselves to that true center we find in our life, our time and ourselves.

Mindfulness is distinct from a warrior's path. It doesn't require a great act of movement and force. The minimum condition is stillness, and quiet, patience, acceptance, learning.

There may be a battle within each of us. But if you withdraw from all that, enraptured in witnessing what is around and within you, then you are no longer a part of those battles. You've risen above it, just by being absent from it. And all those battling parts cease fighting in the absence of your attention and begin to line themselves up in perfectly obedient order behind you, as you simply attend fully, patiently, gently, persistently to whatever you choose, around or within you.

And you are automatically stronger, standing on a larger foundation that includes all the people and things around you, and within you.


Spence, you and don Juan might be saying the same thing.

He warns against ambition too. "But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition." And "I have told you that to choose a path you must be free from fear and ambition. The desire to learn is not ambition. It is our lot as men to want to know." There are Men of Power, but he's teaching Carlos to go beyond that to Man of Knowledge.

I keep writing "man," "he" and "his," but not to leave Jen out, there were sorceresses in don Juan's world too.

What's the final Truth here? I don't know, except not to give into the overwhelming desire to rest and forget. "But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate through, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy," Old Age. Then he also knows a path is only a path.

Indeed, the tendency to lie down is ever present. Don Juan reminds Carlos over and over about death. The learner must be as a warrior, because Death stalks constantly. BOOMSHAKALAKA!!!

Whether you're into the mindfulness thing, the Yaqui sorcerer thing, the satsangi thing or the red pill thing, attend fully, because every new certainty along the way contains the seeds of self deception.

No-self, then, could be the ultimate, even for don Juan, though his path is different. I'm sticking to RS methodology, because it still fits my context, but everyone here and every point of view is a help, just in different ways.

"because of our sameness docters can help us whenever we fall ill.
The acupuncturist, cannot treat an uniqueness … only as an unique variation of the same.
It is that simple…. the meridians in all people are the same."

Go read the description of some mental pathology from the DSM. Notice how vague it is and how often doctors misdiagnose and wrongly prescribe medicines that exacerbate problems.

The sameness is mostly on the surface. Just like the body of a tesla that shares little in common with a Chevy sedan.

The one size must fit all meditation teachings of "mystic" gurus is similarly dependent on a sameness that doesn't really exist.

Hi Jesse
You write
"The one size must fit all meditation teachings of "mystic" gurus is similarly dependent on a sameness that doesn't really exist."

Here we mostly agree. I have had to deal with medical errors made by physicians who tried to diagnose using test results alone, refusing the extra steps to do a simple eyes on patient medical screening exam. It takes a few more minutes but yields better results, and replaces over utilization of tests. So then you have an emergency department filled with patients waiting for test results, most of which will be negative, rule - out, for a dictionary of possibilities, and more patients sitting in the waiting area. And all delayed for hours.

It can't be done by auto pilot yet. And when the day comes, it well be when AI can handle quantum levels of human variations and all the data to tease through it in real time.

We are all human beings but there are quite enough subtle variations that the treatment which heals one patient kills another. That is why there are several different treatment options. And why there is no substitute for the visual assessment of a certified Emergency physician.

Um is only right from a broad brush perspective. But that argument is disastrous when trying to judge what is best for someone else.

"But that argument is disastrous when trying to judge what is best for someone else."

Spence you seem to be treating this blog as if the people commenting here need your help, like we are in hospital and need to be saved.

This is the problem with you Spence, you are preaching and judging and trying to change others. Wake up to yourself. You are not perfect and have no right to judge others. We all follow our own individual path.

@spence,
>>Um is only right from a broad brush perspective. But that argument is disastrous when trying to judge what is best for someone else.<<

Accepting the idea that nothing can be changed and individuality exists as an variation of the same, something inside does change, slowly, softly … nothing special realy.

Looking at ones body and everything pertaining to it as "a....." instead of "mine …." makes that difference.

If I speak of "my hand and arm lifting the tea-cup" I am almost "all knowing" but if I look at the same activity as "a hand and a arm that lifts a cup" the feeling is that I hardly know a thing about that hand and arm and "wonder" arises. That awareness makes me realise that there is a "sameness" to that activity, with all other human beings and the wonder that the sameness can be executed in so many variations.

Nothing special to be honest and nothing changes, neither the sameness nor the uniqueness.

Tesla is a car but not all cars are tesla's

It is a matter of focusing, a painter looks different to a butterfly than a biologist, child or an mystic … there is no "better"

Re-reading my last post, it almost looks like I was calling Jen a sorceress! Not so. I only meant to include women.

I think the catchphrase "Knowledge is Power" actually came from the Carlos Casteñeda books, so power can be a shield as well as a sword. Wisdom is a form of power, good to have and good to share.

Everyone experiences the world differently, so there are many variations on wisdom. Big thanks for all the tips, hacks and reality checks!

Excuse me. Castaneda. I've been spelling it wrong.

Uh oh, and "knowledge is power" is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon. Well, as I said, every certainty contains the seeds of self deception!

...and comment under the right thread, for crying out loud! C'mon, anami, you're better than that! Impeccable warrior? Sheesh.

MY TWO CENTS

In the course of a long life, each of us will occasionally encounter a difficult decision we must make. Stay single or get married? Go for a run or have another doughnut? Go to grad school or enter the real world?

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to choose both sides, rather than picking one? Quantum mechanics suggests a strategy: whenever you have a decision to make, you can do so by consulting a quantum random-number generator. Indeed, there is an app available for iPhones called Universe Splitter that can be used for this very purpose. (As Dave Barry says, I swear I am not making this up.)

Let’s say you have a choice to make: “Should I get pepperoni or sausage on my pizza?” (And let’s say you have too much restraint to give the obvious answer of asking for both on the same pizza.) You can fire up Universe Splitter, where you will see two text boxes, into which you can type “pepperoni” and “sausage.” Then hit the button, and your phone will send a signal through the internet to a laboratory in Switzerland, where a photon is sent toward a beam splitter (essentially a partially silvered mirror that reflects some photons and lets others through).

According to the Schrödinger equation, the beam splitter turns the photon’s wave function into two components going left and right, each of which heads toward a different detector. When either detector notices a photon, it produces a readout that becomes entangled with the environment, quickly leading to decoherence and branching the wave function in two. The copy of you in the branch where the photon went left sees their phone flash with the message “pepperoni,” and in the one where it went right, they see “sausage.” If each one actually follows up with your plan to do what your phone advises, there will be one world in which a version of you orders pepperoni, and another in which a version of you orders sausage. Sadly, the two persons have no way of communicating with each other to share tasting notes afterward.

Even for the most battle-hardened quantum physicist, one must admit that this sounds ludicrous. But it’s the most straightforward reading of our best understanding of quantum mechanics.

The question naturally arises: What should we do about it? If the real world is truly this radically different from the world of our everyday experience, does this have any implications for how we live our lives?

Largely—no. To each individual on some branch of the wave function, life goes on just as if they lived in a single world with truly stochastic quantum events. But the issues are worth exploring.

*

You are welcome to offload your hard decisions to a quantum random-number generator, thereby ensuring that there is at least one branch of the wave function in which the best alternative was chosen. But let’s say we choose not to. Should the branching of our current selves into multiple future selves affect the choices we make? In the textbook view, there is a probability that one or another outcome happens when we observe a quantum system, while in Many-Worlds all outcomes happen, weighted by the amplitude squared of the wave function. Does the existence of all those extra worlds have implications for how we should act, personally or ethically?

It’s not hard to imagine that it might, but upon careful consideration it turns out to matter much less than you might guess. Consider the infamous quantum suicide experiment, or the related idea of quantum immortality. It’s an idea that has been considered ever since Many-Worlds came on the scene—reportedly Hugh Everett himself believed a version of quantum immortality—but has been popularized by physicist Max Tegmark.

Much of how we think about our current lives depends on a projection into the rest of our existence.
Here’s the setup: we imagine a deadly device that is triggered by a quantum measurement, such as sending a query to the Universe Splitter app. Imagine that the quantum measurement has a 50 percent chance of triggering a gun that shoots a bullet into my head at close range, and a 50 percent chance of doing nothing. According to Many-Worlds, that implies the existence of two branches of the wave function, one of which contains a living version of me, the other of which contains a dead version.

Assume for purposes of the thought experiment we believe that life itself is a purely physical phenomenon, so we can set aside considerations of life after death. From my perspective, the branch on which the gun fired isn’t one that any version of me ever gets to experience—my descendant in that world is dead. But my descendant continues on, unharmed, on the branch where the gun didn’t fire. In some sense, then, “I” will live forever, even if I repeat this macabre procedure over and over again.

One might go so far as to argue that I shouldn’t object to actually going through this experiment (putting aside the rest of the world’s feelings about me, I suppose)—in the branches where the gun fired “I” don’t really exist, while in the single branch where it failed to fire time after time I’m perfectly healthy. (Tegmark’s original point was less grandiose: he simply noted that an experimenter who survived a large number of trials would have good reason to accept the Everett picture.) This conclusion stands in stark contrast to a conventional stochastic formulation of quantum mechanics, where there is only one world, and I would have an increasingly tiny chance of being alive within it.

I do not recommend that you try such an experiment at home. In fact, the logic behind not caring about those branches in which you are killed is more than a little wonky.

Consider life in an old-fashioned, classical, single-universe picture. If you thought you lived in such a universe, would you mind if someone sneaked up behind you and shot you in the head so that you died instantly? (Again, setting aside the possibility that other people might be upset.) Most of us would not be in favor of that happening. But by the logic above, you really shouldn’t “mind”—after all, once you’re dead, there’s no “you” to be upset about what happened.

The point being missed by this analysis is that we are upset now—while we are still very much alive and feeling—by the prospect of being dead in the future, especially if that future comes sooner rather than later. And that’s a valid perspective; much of how we think about our current lives depends on a projection into the rest of our existence. Cutting that existence off is something we are perfectly allowed to object to, even if we won’t be around to be bothered by it once it happens.

And given that, quantum suicide turns out to be just as bleak and unpalatable as our immediate intuition might suggest. It’s okay for me to yearn for a happy and long life for all the future versions of me that will end up in various branches of the wave function, as much as it would be valid for me to hope for a long life if I thought there was just a single world.

This goes back to the importance of treating individuals on different branches of the wave function as distinct persons, even if they descended from the same individual in the past. There is an important asymmetry between how we think about “our future” versus “our past” in Many-Worlds, which ultimately can be attributed to the low-entropy condition of our early universe.

Any one individual can trace their lives backward in a unique person, but going forward in time we will branch into multiple people. There is not one future self that is picked out as “really you,” and it’s equally true that there is no one person constituted by all of those future individuals. They are separate, as much as identical twins are distinct people, despite descending from a single zygote.

We might care about what happens to the versions of ourselves who live on other branches, but it’s not sensible to think of them as “us.” Imagine that you’re just about to perform a vertical-spin measurement on an electron you have prepared in an equal superposition of spin‑up and spin-down. A random philanthropist enters your lab and offers you the following bargain: if the spin is up, they will give you a million dollars; if the spin is down, you give them one dollar. You would be wise to take the deal; for all intents and purposes, it’s as if you are being offered a bet with equal chances of winning a million dollars or losing just one dollar, even if one of your future selves will certainly be out a dollar.

But now imagine that you were a little quicker in your experimental setup, and you observed a spin-down outcome just before the philanthropist busts in. It turns out that they are a pushy dealmaker, and they explain that the version of you on the other branch is being given a million dollars, but you now have to give them one dollar in this branch.

There’s no reason for you to be happy about this (or to give up the dollar), even though the version of you on the other branch might be happy about it. You are not them, and they are not part of you. Post- branching, you’re two different people. Neither your experiences nor your rewards should be thought of as being shared by various copies of you on different branches. Don’t play quantum Russian roulette, and don’t accept losing bargains from pushy philanthropists.

*

That may be a reasonable policy when it comes to your own well-being, but what about that of others? How does knowing about the existence of other worlds affect our notions of moral or ethical behavior?

The right way to think about morality is itself a controversial subject, even in single-world versions of reality, but it’s instructive to consider two broad categories of moral theory: deontology and consequentialism. Deontologists hold that moral behavior is a matter of obeying the right rules; actions are inherently right or wrong, whatever their consequences might turn out to be. Consequentialists, unsurprisingly, have the alternative view: we should work to maximize the beneficent consequences of our actions. Utilitarians, who advocate maximizing some measure of overall well-being, are paradigmatic consequentialists. There are other options, but these illustrate the basic point.

Deontology would seem to be unaffected by the possible presence of other worlds. If the whole point of your theory is that actions are intrinsically right or wrong, regardless of what outcomes they lead to, the existence of more worlds in which those outcomes can occur doesn’t really matter. A typical deontological rule is Kant’s categorical imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” It seems like it would be safe here to replace “a universal law” by “a law holding in all branches of the wave function,” without altering any substantive judgment about what kind of actions might qualify.

The picture of branching as “creating” an entirely new copy of the universe is a vivid one, but not quite right.
Consequentialism is another matter entirely. Imagine that you are a no‑nonsense utilitarian, who believes there is a quantity called utility that measures the amount of well-being associated with conscious creatures, and that this quantity can be added among all creatures to obtain a total utility, and that the morally right course of action is the one that maximizes this total utility. Imagine further that you judge the total utility in the entire universe to be some positive number. (If you didn’t, you’d be in favor of trying somehow to destroy the universe, which makes for a good supervillain origin story but not for good neighbors.)

It would follow that, if the universe has positive utility and our goal is to maximize utility, creating a new copy of the whole universe would be one of the most morally valorous actions you could possibly take. The right thing to do would then be to branch the wave function of the universe as often as possible. We could imagine building a quantum utility maximizing device (QUMaD), perhaps an apparatus that continually bounces electrons through a device that measures first their vertical spin, then their horizontal spin. Every time an electron undergoes either measurement, the universe branches in two, doubling the total utility of all universes. Having built QUMaD and turned it on, you would be the most moral person ever to live!

Something about this smells fishy, however. Turning on QUMaD has no impact whatsoever on the lives of people in this universe or any other. They don’t even know the machine exists. Are we really sure it has such a morally praiseworthy effect?

Happily there are a couple of ways out of this puzzle. One is to deny the assumptions: maybe this kind of no‑nonsense utilitarianism isn’t the best moral theory. There is a long and honorable tradition of people inventing things that would nominally increase the utility of the universe, but don’t resemble our moral intuitions whatsoever. (Robert Nozick imagined a “utility monster,” a hypothetical being that was so good at experiencing pleasure that the most moral thing anyone could do would be to keep the monster as happy as possible, no matter who else might suffer thereby.)

QUMaD is just another example along these lines. The simple idea of adding up utilities among different people doesn’t always lead to the results we might initially have imagined.

But there’s another solution, one that comports more directly with the Many-Worlds philosophy. When we talked about deriving the Born rule, we discussed how to apportion credences in conditions of self-locating uncertainty: you know the wave function of the universe, but you don’t know which branch you are on. The answer was that your credences should be proportional to the weight of the branch—the corresponding amplitude, squared.

This “weight” is a crucially important aspect of how we think about worlds in an Everettian picture. It’s not just probability that goes that way; conservation of energy also only works if we multiply the energy of each branch by its associated weight.

It makes sense, then, that we should do the same with utility. If we have a universe with some given total utility, and we measure a spin to branch it in two, the post-branching utility should be the sum of the weights of each branch times their utilities. Then, in the likely event that our spin measurement didn’t affect anyone’s utility in a substantial way, the total utility is completely unchanged by our measurement. That’s just what our intuition might expect. From this perspective, Many-Worlds shouldn’t change our ideas about moral action in any noticeable way.

It’s nevertheless possible to cook up a system in which the difference between Many-Worlds and collapse theories really would be morally relevant. Imagine that some quantum experiment will lead to equally likely outcomes A or B, with A being extremely good and B being just a little bit good, and that these effects apply to everyone in the world with equal measure. In a single-world view, a utilitarian (or any commonsensical person, really) would be in favor of running the experiment, since either the vast good of A or the minor good of B would raise the net utility of the world.

But imagine that your ethical code is entirely devoted to equality: you don’t care what happens, as long as it happens to everyone equally. On the collapse theory, you don’t know which outcome will happen, but either one maintains equality, so it’s still a good idea to run the experiment. But in Many-Worlds, people in one branch will experience A while those on the other branch will experience B.

Even if the branches can’t communicate or otherwise interact, this could conceivably offend your moral sensibilities, so you’d be against doing the experiment at all. Personally I don’t think that inequality between people who literally live in different worlds should matter that much to us, but the logical possibility is there.

Excluding such artificial constructions, Many-Worlds doesn’t seem to have many moral implications. The picture of branching as “creating” an entirely new copy of the universe is a vivid one, but not quite right. It’s better to think of it as dividing the existing universe into almost-identical slices, each one of which has a smaller weight than the original. If we follow that picture carefully, we conclude that it’s correct to think about our future exactly as if we lived in a single stochastic universe that obeyed the Born rule. As counterintuitive as Many-Worlds might seem, at the end of the day it doesn’t really change how we should go through our lives.

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