I'm really enjoying my decision to buy a used copy of Thomas Nagel's The View from Nowhere via Amazon. But after reading the "Freedom" chapter this morning, I'm convinced that I didn't freely choose to buy the book.
It felt that way to me, though. Which doesn't mean a whole lot, truth-wise, because reality is what it is, not how we consider it to be.
I've written a lot about free will on this blog. (You can find those posts by using the Google search box in the right sidebar.)
I don't believe it exists. Neither do many neuroscientists and philosophers, including Nagel. Pleasingly, he approaches this subject in a different way than other people whose writings on free will I've read and enjoyed. Yet he comes to the same basic conclusion.
Free will as commonly conceived is highly unlikely, if not impossible. Here's a passage that encapsulates Nagel's basic approach to this question.
I wish to act not only in light of the external circumstances facing me and the possibilities that they leave open, but in light of the internal circumstances as well: my desires, beliefs, feelings, and impulses. I wish to be able to subject my motives, principles, and habits to critical examination, so that nothing moves me to action without my agreeing to it.
In this way, the setting against which I act is gradually enlarged and extended inward, till it includes more and more of myself, considered as one of the contents of the world.
In its earliest stages the process does genuinely seem to increase freedom, by making self-knowledge and objectivity part of the basis of action. But the danger is obvious.
The more completely the self is swallowed up in the circumstances of action, the less I have to act with. I cannot get completely outside myself. The process that starts as a means to the enlargement of freedom seems to lead to its destruction.
When I contemplate the world as a whole I see my actions, even at their empirically most "free," as part of the course of nature, and this is not my doing or anyone else's. The objective self is not in a position to pull the strings of my life from outside any more than TN [Thomas Nagel] is.
At the end of the path that seems to lead to freedom and knowledge lie skepticism and helplessness. We can act only from inside the world, but when we see ourselves from outside, the autonomy we experience from inside appears as an illusion, and we who are looking from outside cannot act at all.
Part of what Nagel is getting at here is that human actions are determined by a host of influences outside of our control. Genetics. Culture. Education. Experiences of many varieties. Society. Other people. Unconscious influences. Emotions. Instincts. Nature. And more besides.
From the inside, most of us feel that we're freely choosing to act. However, when we look at other people, it is easy to think "They're acting that way because of _______," with that blank being filled by many possibilities of determining factors.
That's easy to do, because we view other people much more objectively than we view ourselves. Yet as Nagel says, when we subject our own actions to the same sort of analysis we apply to others, it becomes obvious that we are equally influenced by factors beyond our control.
I don't have a problem with that.
Being strongly inclined to philosophical Taoism and Buddhism (leaving out their religious aspects), I like the idea of being a humble part of the whole, a tiny bubble of being whose movements are directed not by me (whoever that is), but by my interactions with the big wide world that surrounds me.
Sure, like almost everyone I have a feeling that I'm free to choose what to do, think, and such. However, I also have a feeling that the sun sets, which also is an illusion, since actually it is our planet which is moving.
Nagel has some ideas about how to deal with the fact that it is very difficult to avoid feeling that we possess free will, in much the same way that it is very difficult to avoid feeling "the sun is setting" -- even if someone is an astronomer.
Here's part of what Nagel has to say on this subject.
We might try, first, to develop as complete an objective view of ourselves as we can, and include it in the basis of our actions, wherever it is relevant. This would mean consistently looking over our own shoulders at what we are doing and why (though often it will be a mere formality).
But this objective self-surveilance will inevitably be incomplete, since some knower must remain behind the lens if anything is to be known.
Moreover, each of us knows this -- knows that some of the sources of his actions are not objects of his attention and choice. The objective view of ourselves includes both what we can know and can use, and what we know that we do not know, and therefore know that we cannot use.
Let me call this the essentially incomplete objective view, or incomplete view, for short. The incomplete view of ourselves in the world includes a large blind spot, behind our eyes, so to speak, that hides something we cannot take into account in acting, because it is what acts.
Yet this blind spot is part of our objective picture of the world, and to act from as far out as possible we must to some extent include a recognition of it in the basis of our actions.
(My first post about Nagel's book is here.)
Ram Bahadur Bomjon/ Buddha Boy lives without food and even water. Discovery Channel had made documentary on it - The Boy With Divine Powers. That is the first step towards freedom from food slavery which can lead to human slavery by cabals and cartels.
Posted by: Vinny | September 05, 2019 at 08:01 AM
When anyone gains knowledge, through education, or, through better awareness, or finer scientific measurement, they see options they were not aware of before. They can now achieve things they could not before. They may have the same desires as others, but now they can see this better. That may change their goals, or help them to achieve them.
But their life is definitely changed.
It isn't free will, but it results in greater freedom. New choices they didn't know existed before.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 05, 2019 at 09:53 AM
"It isn't free will, but it results in greater freedom. New choices they didn't know existed before."
I suppose if there is no soul, no after life, no such thing as karma, also no determining factors in behaviour, humans are simply animals who can decide to do anything they want, steal, rape, murder... anything goes. Oh, thats right, this is what some people are doing anyway! Except for those who do have principles and believe in karma and follow some sort of faith or religion and do not harm others.
Posted by: Jen | September 05, 2019 at 02:25 PM
Brian you are living a very comfortable life style compared to so many people in today's world especially war-torn countries. If there is no such thing as karma why are people like you so lucky and privileged and others suffering so tremendously?
Posted by: Jen | September 05, 2019 at 03:03 PM
Jen, "karma" just means cause and effect. Everyone believes in cause and effect. The form of "karma" that no longer makes sense to me is supernatural, causes and effects extending over several lifetimes, since there is no convincing proof of this.
There is inequality in the world. This is due to causes and effects. No big mystery here. Rich people and poor people aren't the way they are because of some supernatural law. It's just cause and effect. No need to make things more complicated than they already are.
I'm a politically active person and do my best to improve conditions here in the United States. If everyone does the same thing, no matter where they are, things hopefully will get better. What doesn't make any sense is to throw up our hands and say "it's all about karma." That leads to despair and defeatism.
Posted by: Brian Hines | September 05, 2019 at 03:54 PM
Hi Brian, life on this planet just doesn't make any sense to me. There are no answers. Why some people suffer more than others. The problem with cause and effect us that we have no choice in where we are born. We humans seem like robots with our programming from genetic instructions and we have no idea who created this world and why we are here. I still like to believe in karma, it helps to keep me on track, doing the best I can.
Posted by: Jen | September 05, 2019 at 04:46 PM
"If there is no such thing as karma why are people like you so lucky and privileged and others suffering so tremendously?"
Genes play a huge role. They play a bigger role than anything else, really. Every sort of behavior pattern you see has to at least have genetic roots. After that possibly environmental triggers are a cause. But the environment can't "awaken" what isn't there already. Maybe at a deeper level there's something like a spiritual karma that causes us to be born in certain wombs and built with certain genes, but there's as of yet no evidence.
Over time certain genotypes succeed in dominating and proliferating. Later on those same sets of genes are no longer the most suited for survival and dominance and others rise to the top. The MAOA "warrior" genes which are found in much higher rates among violent offenders (and are not equally distributed across ethnicities. Asians almost never have it) likely served a great purpose in certain environments in the past when humans had constant and immediate threats from dangerous weather and wildlife.
In the modern corporate world the exact opposite of a warrior type of risk taking mentality leads to prosperity. Being a bland, safe and risk averse Ned Flanders-like character is one of the best ways to survive, thrive and pass on your genetic code these days.
We could see a world some day wherein tigers are weak and pathetic animals, and humans lose the status as apex predators. Then all our bickering about the differences between the wealth of one nation and that of another will be comedic because we'll be getting eaten by some kind of advanced venus fly traps like in Little Shop of Horrors.
Posted by: Jesse | September 05, 2019 at 05:10 PM
Hi Jesse, you say "Genes play a huge role. They play a bigger role than anything else, really."
Yes, I agree, it seems to me like programming. What do you think about the Simulation Theory? It seems way out there but it makes more sense to me than anything else.
This is a good review (26 Aug, 9 min read)
"We need to find out if we are living in a simulation"
Posted by: Jen | September 05, 2019 at 08:36 PM
The simulation theory seems like Hinduism for the 21st century comic book reader. The idea that there is a creator who has designed a labyrinth of deceptions of sorts is basically what maya is. And I guess "base reality" or whatever Elon Musk and the writer of that article call it would be equivalent to realization of the ONE, Sach Khand, or whatever other But we can't stomach religious imagery anymore so we imagine that it's our technology, or the technology of superior beings, who have put us in this Sim City video game.
I'm writing this as I'm going back and forth sort of quickly skimming the article and now they're talking about Musk, maya and Hinduism. One thing that's great about the internet, and also sucks, is that you realize that you're not alone with all your useless pondering and mental drifting. But you also realize that you're unoriginal and stupid in comparison to so many others who instead of work menial jobs and avoid taking life seriously, are trying to fly to mars and make electric cars at a massive financial loss.
Somebody put me on a new human life simulation server. I want to reset the game so I can be king for a while.
Posted by: Jesse | September 05, 2019 at 09:25 PM
Jesse, enjoyed your comment, especially : "you realize that you're not alone with all your useless pondering and mental drifting", yep gotta stop my constantly trying to work things out, there are no answers anyway!
Posted by: Jen | September 05, 2019 at 11:39 PM
It’s all so very deep. All we have is right now. I really appreciate your blog although today was my first read. So are you proposing that I had no choice in reading your blog today? If had never gone to the Freethinkers group I would have read it anyway?
Posted by: Randy | September 06, 2019 at 09:47 AM
Buddha Boy update...
Posted by: anami | September 07, 2019 at 07:45 AM
Free will or none can not change the circumstances we move trapped in thru our lives, intertwined and catalysed by brains on work 24 X 7 broadly around us and therefore state our actions next and next...
We are bound to act and react therefore. What ounce of free will it turns out to be need further research on each occasion.
Its essential to accept His will than sift free wills if one really wants to feel the helplessness to secure His all help which can alone be felt during meditation.
Posted by: Meditator | September 07, 2019 at 08:28 AM
You wrote something which I find very beautiful...
"Its essential to accept His will than sift free wills if one really wants to feel the helplessness to secure His all help which can alone be felt during meditation."
It's only when we realize we have zero free will that we can completely submit in meditation. And that is a miraculous, joyous, ecstatic process. From a point of being ground into the earth in utter dispair, in complete resignation, by the relentless movement of the inevitable, we find ourselves liberated in His gentle grasp.
Nothing else compares. No place on earth or in the many heavens compares to that moment. And with our enslavement here, it must become an event as often as possible for our own health and survival. Hence the utility, the necessity of meditation.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 07, 2019 at 09:38 AM
"It's only when we realize we have zero free will that we can completely submit in meditation."
If you have no free will how do you "realize" or "submit?" These are both intentional actions.
Also, why are you cutting and pasting RS literature and claiming it as your own "realization."
Sounds more like you're unsure how to leave the cult so you are trying to find ways to justify staying because it's easier.
Posted by: Jesse | September 07, 2019 at 11:29 AM
"If you have no free will how do you "realize" or "submit?" These are both intentional actions."
Realization happens when we are exposed to something new. That's just acquisition of information. But we respond to that information with submission.
There is zero intention or will involved. Stimulus and response, brother, stimulus and response.
We can't submit until we see we are nothing. Then we can't not submit.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 07, 2019 at 02:24 PM
Responding, acquiring, submitting. I still believe in free will. At least limited free will within some parameters.
Stimulus and response would make sense if we lived in a much simpler environment. But it's more like millions of simultaneous stimuli and an infinite number of potential responses that as far as we can tell are chosen by us. The only lack of free will I can accept as of yet is the inability to choose not to respond at all.
But that sounds too much like the Bhagvad Gita.
Posted by: Jesse | September 07, 2019 at 05:28 PM
Your stand inspires, boosts confidence to see BabaJee either behind bars/veils with-in/out respectively , whichever way one wishes to accept Him as.
Appreciate your Truth provoking sentiments even if disliked by many.
Posted by: Meditator | September 07, 2019 at 11:19 PM
I have absolute belief in there is no such thing as free will. I realised this the minute I was born - with no choice in the parents, birth date, country of birth etc etc. The minute I processed this info abracadabra this realisation hit me like a tsunami.
So I should have no problems submitting myself in meditation and experience that joyous, ecstatic process. Right? Afterall it's long since I realised there is no free will.
But heck, I don't meditate at all. Why don't you refer my case to GSD; justify it on the grounds that as there is no such thing as free will, my zero meditation is exactly as per his will or better still Hazur's will. Would love to see you getting smacked by GSD.
It's important to differentiate between helplessness and faith.. Compel the ONE to pay attention to you by your implicit faith.
Meditation - The ONE doesn't need it and is of no use to Him. Do it with the selfish motive. Attend to it as a duty, you honouring your bit of the deal struck with your master. Keep the faith with your comforter being a belief that HE / Your master knows what's best and essential for you.
Things will be taken care of - in the material world and beyond. Also sure shot recipe for a worry free life.
Anyways claims of complete submission are far fetched. My understanding, doesn't happen until stage 4. The mind ( I, me, mine ) isn't a small entity.
I chanced upon this last night. I think it's relevant. Unfortunately in Hindi. .
Posted by: SP | September 08, 2019 at 05:05 AM
Intended meaning of smacked - being reprimanded. But ppl in here are free to interpret as whatever suits their stated positions / beliefs.
Posted by: SP | September 08, 2019 at 05:20 AM
Can You write your email, I'd like to talk to you by post.
Find out who you are, where from, etc. about you. Can I? Because I like your interesting comments.
Posted by: Milton | September 08, 2019 at 06:08 AM
"I have absolute belief in there is no such thing as free will. I realised this the minute I was born - with no choice in the parents, birth date, country of birth etc etc. The minute I processed this info abracadabra this realisation hit me like a tsunami.
"So I should have no problems submitting myself in meditation and experience that joyous, ecstatic process. Right? Afterall it's long since I realised there is no free will.
" But heck, I don't meditate at all. "
Everyone is limited by what they see, and what they don't see. When they learn new things, they have greater freedom of choice. That isn't free will, but it is greater freedom.
So meditation, approached with an open mind, with the purpose of learning something new, is just one way to have a deeper understanding, and a greater awareness of these things, and those aha moments are liberating. All of science is doing this. And good scientists are good students.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 08:53 AM
"So meditation, approached with an open mind, with the purpose of learning something new, is just one way to have a deeper understanding, and a greater awareness of these things, and those aha moments are liberating"
I would rather approach meditation with a selfish single objective - that of gaining salvation. Everything else greater awareness, deep understanding etc are just freebies that are thrown into the package..
Posted by: SP | September 08, 2019 at 09:32 AM
"I would rather approach meditation with a selfish single objective - that of gaining salvation."
Salvation from what? Is there something you are unhappy about?
Personally, when I meditate and don't have to think about the world for a while, that's salvation. So if, when I die, I can just go to a place where there is nothing, that's paradise. Salvation is already built in! It's called death!
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 10:39 AM
"Salvation from what? Is there something you are unhappy about?
Personally, when I meditate and don't have to think about the world for a while, that's salvation."
You were just talking about being saved by Gurinder Singh from an indescribable darkness that he carried you through.
Now it's all alpha waves and chill?
This mess you've presented is worse than my spastic word salads.
Posted by: Jesse | September 08, 2019 at 11:41 AM
"This mess you've presented is worse than my spastic word salads."
As a brother, feeding at the same all-you-can-eat as you, I can only encourage you to accept that this is what you get. People, bags of chemicals, trying to discuss shit.
We all need to help each other. So when Master helps me, I'm grateful. We can't survive without helping each other, generally speaking. Maybe Robinson Crusoe, but even he had Friday.
As to 'salvation' that's quite a loaded term. It means whatever it means to you. That's why I ask, Salvation from what?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 12:52 PM
One more thought about death, Jesse
Brian Ji teaches us that no one, at least to his standard of scientific verification, has returned from death to tell us about it.
That works both ways.
Your world didn't exist before you were born, and this entire world you see, hear and live in, and all the people you know, will evaporate once you leave here.
When a good friend dies, we are very sad. But when we die, so do all our friends, acquaintences and children.
At least, to turn Brian Ji's argument on its head, there is zero proof that anything exists once you die. If you find peace in that, you have your salvation.
There is zero, zed, zip scientific evidence that one who has died has ever returned here to see that folks are still around. There is no evidence at all that anything here will persist once you go. Or that anything, even a grain of sand, existed before you were born. Not a single shred of proof that this isn't all your dream. Doesn't exist. No scientist can provide it.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 01:13 PM
I'm not sure why you change the subject every time you make statements and get called on them for being probable b.s., Spence.
You just said you travel at will in non-physical realms that exist solely in RS literature, and where conmen's enlightened souls come and carry you through psychologically crippling voids.
Then you say you just meditate to chill.
Now you're saying all the things you copied from RS books aren't loaded, but the term salvation is, and that somehow exempts you from explaining why you are picking and choosing your out of the books RS experiences. How is salvation any more or less "loaded" than "Master" with capital letters and all carrying you into your now semi-admitted santhood?
The story changes with every question asked. You'd do so poorly if you were ever arrested.
Posted by: Jesse | September 08, 2019 at 01:35 PM
Personally, when I meditate and don't have to think about the world for a while, that's salvation.
Ah, to mediate, to snore perhaps. Ay, there's the rub.
For in that slumber of death, what thoughts, yea, what
dreams may come when we have shuffled off those
blessed words of remembrance.
Posted by: Dungeness | September 08, 2019 at 02:31 PM
Spence, a true satsangi does not share his inner experiences with others like you are doing. On the one hand you worship an atheist, Brian Ji as you call him, on the other hand you find fault with Gurinder. If you are indeed travelling in the inner regions why not talk to Gurinder and chastise him about his so called wrongdoings. Gotta laugh Spence, you seem to enjoy a lot of wishful thinking.
Even as an ex-satsangi I would not talk about my inner experiences, because they are not proof of what really is true. They are simply some kind of function in the brain, some kind of imagination, like the experiences people have when they take mind altering drugs.
Anyway Spence, life can be quite boring so enjoy your ride. I was fond of reading Robert Monroe's books "Journeys out of the Body" etc, but nowadays I think OBE's all seem like fantasy and hallucinations created by the mind.
Posted by: Jen | September 08, 2019 at 02:44 PM
"Spence, a true satsangi does not share his inner experiences with others like you are doing."
I'm glad to know that you are confident in your definition of a true Satsangi. Confident enough to tell others where they have failed in being a true satsangi. So I guess that makes you a Satsangi policewoman. It's a big responsibility, Jen. I'm glad I don't have to shoulder it. Thank you.
What is A Satsangi? I'm still working that out. I think it may have to do with truth. And Truth invites inspection.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 04:29 PM
Jesse, you wrote
"You just said you travel at will in non-physical realms that exist solely in RS literature, and where conmen's enlightened souls come and carry you through psychologically crippling voids.
'Then you say you just meditate to chill."
Not at my will. I just chill. Master does the rest. Travel is always a request honored by Master. And it seems to me that the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Fray Louis de Leon, as well as Alfred Lord Tennyson (in' The Ancient Sage') all share their experience of rising up in spirit (I take that as an internal experience) listening to a glorious, beautiful inner music.
Or I read it that way since that's my own experience.
Though I like your summary.
" How is salvation any more or less "loaded" than "Master" with capital letters and all carrying you into your now semi-admitted santhood?"
True Saints are not known by their location, but by their helpfulness. You and I are the same, Jesse. As I've already written, true Saints are the bricks in the foundation. They hold up the whole building. But they are at the bottom. They carry no authority whatsoever. For people who need certified authorities, there are books, philosophers and Gurus. These are photocopies.
Master I'm familiar with. But salvation means different things to different people. That's why I asked what it means to you.
But Jesse, while I do my best to answer your questions you avoid answering mine.
What is spirituality if it isn't self - evaluation and personal progress?
What do you gain without those? How does Salvation mean anything if you are not saved from your own limitations? And if anything, including death, frees you from them, how is that not salvation?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 04:34 PM
What is fantasy? That takes the mind to experience.
What is truth? That takes the mind to experience.
What is the difference? Each of us must establish our own criteria to understand our own experience.
What, at a distance, may seem like fantasy to you, in reality may be someone's actual experience.
And what may seem invisible to you may be a truth about yourself buried deeply within you.
But if you cannot duplicate that exact experience, you are not in a position to make a determination.
It might be more polite, and certainly more accurate to replace "that's fantasy!... That's a pack of lies!" with "that's outside my experience / education / knowledge so I can't make anything of it today, personally."
The reason this is important is that people often experience different things. For many years some white people refused to believe that black people were just as capable and intelligent as they were.
And some Brahman class people believed that the Untouchables could not be trusted to work as equals.
And some Christians felt that all Jews were guilty of killing Jesus.
And some Jews felt that all Muslims were bent on destroying all Jews, and so treated Muslims very badly.
Changing such thinking, ending the terrible harm this has caused has taken blood, sweat, tears and lifetimes.
That harm could have been shortened, and replaced with enlightenment, with a simple philosophy, to paraphrase Abe Lincoln, 'I don't like that person because I don't understand them. Therefore I need to get to know them better. That's on me.'
Lack of experience is just ignorance. We are all ignorant about many things, including each other's experiences. But if we seek wisdom and knowledge, naturally we must adopt the condition of the good student. It's a daily practice.
If you want inner knowledge it is no different. We have to do our research as good students, with an open mind. But a closed mind about others is often a closed mind to the 'other' within yourself.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 04:57 PM
"Ah, to mediate, to snore perhaps. Ay, there's the rub.
For in that slumber of death, what thoughts, yea, what
dreams may come when we have shuffled off those
blessed words of remembrance."
First, forgive yourself for sleeping. The mind doesn't know what to do when it is even partially withdrawn. So it thinks you are trying to sleep and triggers sleep mode. That's a universal condition. But to move from relaxed to an expanded fuller wakefulness requires learning to listen and look.... Like a good anthropologist in the forest remaining very still watching the goings on in the village dispassionately. Or a microbiologist glued by fascination to their Microscope.
If you can practice this then, in stages, you don't become sleepy. And more things pop up for you to see. Even the Simran starts ringing, and becomes fascinating, like the words of a beaitiful love poem.
Keep in mind that the sleep you are talking about isn't tired. It's the brain triggering default sleep mode, thinking you are trying to go to sleep. This is entirely conditioned and with effort, in stages, can be reconditioned.
The more mindful you become, the more you will see. Lights will emerge from the darkness. The small dark space will become the cathedral. Stick with the simran and Dian, and be vigilent. You aren't doing anything, but you can avoid triggering sleep, and you can then see what was already there.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 05:35 PM
Let's count the theological claims in your comment, Spence.
1-Not at my will. I just chill. Master does the rest.
2-Travel is always a request honored by Master.
3-True Saints are not known by their location, but by their helpfulness.
4-You and I are the same, Jesse.
5-true Saints are the bricks in the foundation.They hold up the whole building. But they are at the bottom. They carry no authority whatsoever.
6-For people who need certified authorities, there are books, philosophers and Gurus.
7-What is spirituality if it isn't self - evaluation and personal progress?
That's a lot of religious poetry, man. You sure you're not just trying to sound like a saint? A few days ago you were cursing your master for being a scammer.
And no, you didn't ask me about salvation. You asked the other guy. Unlike you, I don't make many theological statements, or compound and contradictory theological statements to justify keeping a guru. And the word master is just an english way of saying "guru." So why are you saying you have a master, but also that you're too good for gurus? Super weird stuff.
This is the largest pile of b.s. of all time, and you're heaping more and more crap onto the top of it in an attempt to cover the pieces on the bottom. It's hilarious. You need salvation from dishonesty. This is truly hard to believe, but I'm seeing the words on the screen so I know it's at least that real.
I guess you could be a bot designed to mimic RS devotees language online. Probably not though.
Posted by: Jesse | September 08, 2019 at 05:42 PM
I do honor that you've captured my experience and beliefs in 1-7, so I honor the fact that while you disagree, you haven't exaggerated in that list.
However, you wrote
"And no, you didn't ask me about salvation..."
Now how could you miss something you just pasted?
"7-What is spirituality if it isn't self - evaluation and personal progress?"
That comment was addressed to you, Jesse. Please re-read it.
And I'm curious to hear your answer.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 07:03 PM
Actually, Jesse, more relevant is, as per Brian Ji's request, this post.
From the original post...
"Nagel has some ideas about how to deal with the fact that it is very difficult to avoid feeling that we possess free will, in much the same way that it is very difficult to avoid feeling "the sun is setting" -- even if someone is an astronomer.
"Here's part of what Nagel has to say on this subject.
" We might try, first, to develop as complete an objective view of ourselves as we can, and include it in the basis of our actions, wherever it is relevant. This would mean consistently looking over our own shoulders at what we are doing and why (though often it will be a mere formality)."
I suggest trying anything new or difficult. That is a constant reminder of how limited our capacities really are, and how much we are the victim /beneficiary of our family, genetics, society, travels, education, socialization and conditioning. Things that come easy and seem normal and true are actually a very narrow set of things.
But if we are conditioned to have an open mind, we can learn things that give us morevoptions, more freedom from which our conditioning may choose. There is no actual free will. These are environmental changes. If I am conditioned to dislike things that are foreign to me, then exposure to those things makes them familiar, and my negative conditioning isn't triggered so much.
Still no free will, but if more of my world is familiar, then my daily behavior is changed.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 08, 2019 at 07:33 PM
1) "Salvation from what? Is there something you are unhappy about?
SP: Salvation from what? Surprise surprise exactly what your supposed Master (Maharaji**) preached about. So now you know?
2) "Personally, when I meditate and don't have to think about the world for a while, that's salvation. So if, when I die, I can just go to a place where there is nothing, that's paradise. Salvation is already built in! It's called death!"
SP: So why the hell you wasting your time and importantly using your Master (Maharaji) as a coolie(porter) traversing the regions of Sunn, MahaSunn and beyond.
** - I hope its not Hazur Charan Singh
Posted by: SP | September 08, 2019 at 10:17 PM
The more mindful you become, the more you will see. Lights will emerge from the darkness. The small dark space will become the cathedral. Stick with the simran and Dian, and be vigilent. You aren't doing anything, but you can avoid triggering sleep, and you can then see what was already there.
Thanks Spence. Vigilance seems especially applicable for any practice.
Somehow though I suspect it's an intensity or bliss from within that stabilizes
you in wakefulness. Certainly not the mantra or the mindfulness itself.
I was surprised though at "when I meditate and don't have to think about
the world for a while, that's salvation." Mystics mention thought goes on 24x7,
So bravo for all those who succeed in withdrawing from it.
That reminds me of a funny story Ishwar Puri told about a classmate at
Harvard who bragged he had an yoga asana that enabled him to stop
thinking. Ishwar asked for a demo and told him he'd believe if it if he
could demo if for one minute. One bell: start; two bells stop.
The upshot was the classmate had to think to know it was time to start
when the bell rang and then again to stop on the second ring. Ah,
just a short thought, the classmate objected. But another one when
the bell rang to stop, countered Ishwar, It turned out the master
"yogi" on being quizzed recollected thinking all sorts of thoughts...
during his "holiday from thought".
Posted by: Dungeness | September 09, 2019 at 01:07 AM
Am almost done with my self - evaluation and am on my way (progressing) to taking over from Maha Kaal.
Epitome of spirituality ain't I.
Posted by: SP | September 09, 2019 at 05:42 AM
"SP: Salvation from what? Surprise surprise exactly what your supposed Master (Maharaji**) preached about. So now you know?"
Are you sure you are in the path of you aren't mediating?
And in either case what is your personal view of salvation?
So you believe in the soul? Etc...
I'm interested in your personal view. Naturally neither of us can carry a different opinion than the one we have been brought to without exposure to some new information, that we don't offhandedly dismiss because it is different.
But it is very common for people to do just that, dismiss views that are foreign, just as people dismiss other people who are foreign.
So rather than dismiss your view as the Sant Mat view, whatever that really is, I'd like your take on it.
Doesn't have to be official. Just what you believe. Do you have, for example, free will? Or does your conditioning and education allow for alternative views?
Do you sell alternative views?
What is enlightenment if not that?
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 05:55 AM
Oops.. Typo.. Should read
'Do you seek alternative views?
Afterall, what is enlightenment if not that?'
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 05:57 AM
I fell off the chair laughing when I read
The mind doesn't know what to do when it is even partially withdrawn. So it thinks you are trying to sleep and triggers sleep mode. That's a universal condition.
This entity as the mystics explain whose source is Trikuti and is an obedient servant of the Maha Kaal (so functions with the only objective of keeping you bound to this creation) and of course makes you do exactly what it pleases, doesn't know what to do when it is even partially withdrawn by meditation and in this confused state triggers sleep mode.
Amazing insight why the mind triggers sleep mode!
Further is it Mind or brain clear this confused state. In the same post you mention both triggering sleep mode.
Btw, Dozing off is an oft stated issue by disciples during Q&A in India - often kids /spouse too complain to GSD about their parents/partner dozing off.
GSD simple response is - let him/her sleep. Do not wake him up. Dozing off is also a part of the meditation process and it's a sign of progress.
Could you also keep it simple Spence. Thanks
Posted by: SP | September 09, 2019 at 06:29 AM
Our thoughts are entirely conditioned, like a machine. We don't stop that train. We learn to bycicle along side of as it continues.
And that train does slow down a bit. But it's in the distance so it doesn't bother us at all. It just becomes one tiny toy train in the far distance doing its thing. But we have other places to go. We are, at that point, in another place.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 08:49 AM
Apparently, salvation is eternal life, and this life/consciousness is to be suspended above all thing. Extended enough to know everything and want nothing. Apparently, There "soul" feel contentment, peace, bliss, love and happiness, because nothing passes.
I don't know what exactly it should look like - I'm at the beginner stage, but I have long confirmed that rssb and NOT Only RSSB are right - there are regions, views, lights, firmaments and there are sounds. ....
For me it was a shock that during meditation the body began to go numb, I was surprised that it really could be done. And the currents of the soul (prana) actually go up to the 3rd eye. I was a skeptic, now I don't know who I should be.
Posted by: Milton | September 09, 2019 at 10:19 AM
A friend of mine, a beatiful Chinese American raised in Communist China as an Atheist, taught me something very important about eternal life. I told her about reincarnation, and she reflected a much deeper understanding than I had.
She said, "but even if you come back, you will be someone else. This life will have passed and never to return again. The 'you' you are today will be gone forever.
" If you gain this Salvation you speak of, will you still be you? No, you will be someone else. Perhaps you will see things from a higher perspective. But why not set things from a higher vote right now? This life is all this life will ever be. We should make the most of it. "
In these few words she made Salvation meaningless.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 10:39 AM
It's a strange case of both and not or.
I am on the path and I don't meditate.
Of course I believe in souls.
Life is like a precoded executable program which starts running when the individual is born.
Still need my views on free will?
Posted by: SP | September 09, 2019 at 10:41 AM
Oops typo should read 'this life is the only one you will be you. So why not reach that higher perspective here, where it can do some good?''
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 10:41 AM
Sincere advice - shut up for your own sake.
Do not take this as me being rude. Go check with who ever initiated you whether you should be speaking about your experiences.
Posted by: SP | September 09, 2019 at 10:44 AM
And importantly with respect to doubts on your inner experiences who should you be engaging with.
Posted by: SP | September 09, 2019 at 10:57 AM
Here is a different perspective. Share whatever you like. If simply sharing your sincere experiences jeopardize them, then you will need to become stronger. So strong you can have an honest discussion, learn from your peers, and find some perspective.
Be strong enough to ignore anyone who would, even well intended, attempt to silence you, to censor you. This is part of an ancient culture of slave and master. But we have learned that great worldly and personal advancements come from teamwork among adults.
Public discussion also obliges you to keep going on your practice.
Just another perspective.
Only you have your voice, and so can say when your words will give all of us pause to reflect and learn.
You birthright read not to be a slave. But to be a human being in your own right. Please continue practicing that.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | September 09, 2019 at 11:20 AM
"Nagel has some ideas about how to deal with the fact that it is very difficult to avoid feeling that we possess free will"
Doesn't this get into that level of life that's unanswerable? It's obviously impossible to know whether or not, or to what degree, we have free will, so what is there to deal with or avoid?
If you mentally accept the abstract notion that you have no free will will whatsoever, you'll still feel like crap if Arjun smashes you in the face, and as far as you know you're gonna make the choice of how to react. You have free will insofar as our shared human experience is concerned, even if you can't see infrared spirits and hear 40khz chirping sounds coming from distant stars.
Accept any preposition you want for phenominonical experiences, or the philosophical and scientific how's and why's for why you experience anything at all, but the reality is that you're not escaping your experience or realizing anything more than base Pavlovian response. Reading books about science feels good.
If you fight against accepting what's on the surface, at best you'll succeed in temporarily subverting your most primal urge for pleasure with something slightly more cerebral. But only until you experience severe physical or emotional pain. After that you're an animal again. Just like me.
Posted by: Jesse | September 09, 2019 at 11:28 AM
If you mentally accept the abstract notion that you have no free will will whatsoever, you'll still feel like crap if Arjun smashes you in the face, and as far as you know you're gonna make the choice of how to react.
If you're mindful though, you're aware of feeling like crap. You're
watching the genesis of the thought as it arises. That's empowering
even in its inevitability. Ultimately, as this acuity deepens, the mystic
alleges you become aware of who you really are... consciousness
You become an observer who becomes more than Pavlov's dog,
yelping and howling at the moon, snapping at strangers, identifying
totally with hurts/pleasures of the moment. Lost in what's outside.
Never seeing anything deeper.
If nothing else, an observer will understand more fully "dog-eat-dog"
reactions and the roles we are cast in. Or at least have an inkling
of what's going on. Like Snoopy you can chill on top of the dog
house and laugh at stupid human tricks.
Posted by: Dungeness | September 09, 2019 at 01:34 PM
I think, here many people show "I", his ego. That he understand a lot, better than the other. And I will say that I do not understand anything, my mind and the human mind in general is a poor tool. :( Misery and tragedy.
I don't know whether to cry or laugh. I don't care what you all think about me. I'm not here, there are just a few words . :DDDD
I had many experiences before initiation and I am talking about them, I have not told you anything about these new ones. Why? Because I listen to the Master and friends/ teachings. I do not like this world, we argue, there are many misunderstandings. I'm finishing the discussion because we don't get along.
Goodbye everyone :D
Posted by: Milton | September 10, 2019 at 06:54 AM
Mr Spence has articulated quite fairly on this issue which has hardly any santmat or RSSB dependency. It is general and practically felt by each one of us at times when things happen involuntarily outside and within body.
Say, if your consciousness can not move your body i. e. If you become immovable with closed eyes for sometimes - same as in the final moment and in meditation when we push for longer sittings until...
Are we not helpless then due to involuntary circumstances or situations we get subjected to, often or seldom.
Either of the two, free wills or His wil exist.
A limited free will even if logically proved to exist may have its roots in His (one may say it to be circumstantial/ supernatural for now) Will in the chain.
Its important to feel the helplessness due to our dependent wills or no wills so as to bend or bow than be straight before the Humanity while compromising / accepting whenever needed. It is a pre requisite for spiritual progress and therefore emphasised by Believers.
Posted by: Meditator | September 11, 2019 at 10:51 AM