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February 03, 2022


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Hi Brian Ji
You wrote
"Again, we can be less attached to our body, but we're still a body with a mind/brain. So the separate point mentioned above is just a manner of speaking about a certain sense of detachment, not an actual point separate from the body/mind/brain."

Separate levels of consciousness, Brian Ji.

Medical science has already confirmed that a human being can traverse several levels of conscious awareness: sleep, deep sleep and a few different levels of wakeful awareness... Including a stage called metaconsciousness.


At each level we are aware of different things.

In Metaconsciousness, there are also different levels of self - awareness.

Meditation practices are a means of raising our awareness to things within us that we are not aware of in our normal waking state, focused as we are on environment.

One common example is pain. Why does pain often feel worse at night?

The pain signals our brain supppresses during the day come to the front at night, when our mind is not occupied with outer work.

The pain hasn't changed at all. But the brain's filters adjust based on our attention. Not attending to outer activity, those filters open up a little and we become more aware of other things.

This is a mundane way of explaining mechanisms built into the brain.

Meditation is another means of affecting those filters and thus what we are aware of.

Going beyond thought is simply engaging in a practice that reduces attention on thoughts and opens awareness to other internal stimuli, other experiences.

As you already know, your attention affects what your brain filters and what it amplifies. And thus what you are aware of.

Meditation research has shown dramatic changes, many very healthy, that accrue simply by what we attend to.

All those experiences and regions spoken of by mystics past could all be part of what they witness when attention is focused inwardly, withdrawing from external stimuli.

When the Masters' write that in deep meditation our limbs go numb, there is pain but that passes, these can be understood as physiological reactions and changes that take place from a practice of attending to something that isn't the body or conventional thoughts.

With attention withdrawn, in stages, from the senses other experiences come into our conscious awareness.

The three mystics often report and I can confirm are a sense of immense space, a flood of light, and joy.

These, along with so many other experiences within constitue a fantastic adventure, a journey within that includes other experiences and people as well.

The fact that this all takes place within the brain should be, for any scientist, a source of fascination, not an excuse to dismiss this branch of human inquiry.

But it is beyond conventional thought. And our place of conscious awareness is not our normal thought and outward focused daily environment at all.

In fact getting there involves the practice of letting worldly preoccupations go. Hence, "beyond (conventional) mind."

Another interesting point. If you can keep your conscious awareness in that internally focused place of peace while interacting throughout the day, you see, hear and become aware of many more things you weren't aware of before. When you look at someone, when you listen to them, you see them and hear them, without the layer of labels and reactions that is your normal mind's functioning.

Your capacity to be consciously aware of a greater field happens naturally.

And conversely, the moment you react to something with emotion of any kind, and your attention now comes out from that beautiful internal place of focus, all that broader and deeper vision and awareness evaporates. And you are back to seeing and hearing and feeling whatever your brain filters and whatever emotions your lower brain center feeds you. It is literally a downward step.

Bounce up and down like that enough and it is natural to prefer living and operating at that higher level. Hence practice. Hence "beyond mind", though perhaps "higher mind" is a better description.

Just as you were conditioned to react, you can recondition your responses to this more pleasant state of consciousness. It is only a matter of sincere practice.

The human brain is not one thing. It is many, And you can help it run much better, several degrees better, by exploring what is in you. This very process automatically helps heal and integrate brain, body, even your DNA.

This is an interesting discussion, fascinating even, absolutely. Part of which I agree with, and part of which I don't (that is, while it could be true, but there are no objective grounds for taking them to be true, so far as I know; and nor do I myself have compelling subjective grounds for taking them as true; so that one takes it in, sure, but only with a pinch of salt sprinkled on top of it).

And I agree, there's no reason to dismiss this aspect of the human experience out of hand. That is, no one is compelled to "study" this, either experientially or in tomes; but if they are drawn to the subject, then sure, it is as good a subject for study as any other. Study, in terms of "practice", as well as rigorous evidence-based exploration, science in other words. As you well know, Spence, my skepticism about the conclusions you espouse notwithstanding, I'm already fully sold as to that exploration, and in my own small humble way am very much part of it myself. (Just the exploration, and not, sitting where I do, the conclusions you yourself are sold on, some of which you discuss right here, and many more of which you've not directly mentioned here but discuss elsewhere.)


But fascinating as all of this is, rather than the meat of your post, Spence, and yours as well, Brian, what I'd like to explore a bit further, if I may, is this part of what you'd said --- or at least, quoted Sam Harris as having said --- that caught my attention:

" (...) She would no longer feel that there is an inner self who is a thinker of these thoughts. (...) Even just recognizing the impermanence of your mental states -- deeply, not merely as an idea -- can transform your life."

From an entirely secular and rational POV --- I'm assuming Sam Harris isn't advocating some kind of woo, and that his POV is purely rational --- what exactly does "deeply" mean, in this context? Any idea what he might have meant? As far as the impermanence of mental states, certainly; but also as far as recognizing the essential insubstantiality of our sense of self?

Is it even possible to "no longer feel" one's self of self? I tend to think of this "illusion" much like our every-day illusion (pardon the pun!) of the sun going around us. We know it is the earth that goes around the sun; but as far as actual experience, we continue to "feel" that the sun goes around the earth; and that's fine, because there's no need at all to directly "feel" that it is we that go around the sun, and it would be silly to devote hours and years to somehow get that "feel" first-hand. It's quite enough to simply know that intellectually.


So, well, in context of what I've said here, any idea what Sam Harris might have meant when we speaks of "no longer feeling that there is an inner self", and also of recognizing the impermanence of mental states "deeply (and) not merely as an idea"?

The mind as information: -

The term ‘mind’ includes thoughts, memories, emotions, knowledge etc – the whole range of mental phenomenon. In fact, the term mind is a habitually used label describing the storehouse of information that has been amassed in the brain since birth. On investigating the mind, what is found is its contents which we are experienced as thought and memory.

The emergence of the mind logically begins when the brain is developed enough to register sense impressions – starting at some point while in the womb. As time passes the infant accrues more information and so its contents grow. People have differing contents depending on their particular cultures with varying beliefs, education and environment, yet they all have the experience of feeling that the mind's contents are who we are.

As for the notion of the mind being who we are, well, in a sense that is true seeing as all our accrued information represents ‘me’, ‘who I am’. Yet it is possible to lose this information (disease, accident, etc.) and still retain the sense of ‘me’ – which is logical as even without all the accrued information, the whole body organism persists as the real biological me. Even a simple celled creature has the sense of its own existence.

There is an awful lot of hype regarding the mind. Much of it stems from the wish to make the mind something more ethereal than it is. Also, as the mind is its contents and some of these contents give rise to the sense of a ‘me’, the ‘self’, then it feels it is imperative to maintain this illusory mind/self structure. (Illusory in the sense of not being what it seems).

All seeking is initiated by the mind/self structure. When it is seen for what it is then seeking naturally dissolves – in that there is no one there to seek.

"When it is seen for what it is then seeking naturally dissolves"

Ron, I'm going to step in here and ask for a clarification, if you don't mind. Because this kind of ties in with what I'd been asking in the previous thread. And I'm asking this of you now, because I've found your comments generally free of religiosity, however defined. I mean, the religious perspective is kind of predictable, no matter how broadly or narrowly you define the term "religion" in this context; what I'm hoping to better understand is where, exactly, the informed rationalist is coming from (whether rightly or otherwise).

"Seen" how? "Seen", as in sift through the science, and arrive at the conclusion that science seems to be pointing us towards? Or "seen", as in ...something else?

If the former, I personally am there already. As are many, many others. But if something else, either separately from the former, or over and above the former, then it might be interesting to hear you talk about that.

You quoted Harris
"" (...) She would no longer feel that there is an inner self who is a thinker of these thoughts. (...) Even just recognizing the impermanence of your mental states -- deeply, not merely as an idea -- can transform your life."

Of course, Harris is projecting what someone might be like who had advanced as far as Harris can see.

But A. There is no need to project what might be someone else's experience.

And B. Practice will bring you to a real place inside yourself. Whatever that is. That is your reality. You can go there whenever you like.

C. If you don't believe in God, there is no reason to use words like Spiritual. That would be trying to deconstruct what other people have written about spirituality who claim to experience it.

D. Attempts to describe other's private experience while dismissing those people's own own accounts of their own experience is a little insulting. A person has to have a pretty big ego to do that. And of course that's not what Zen promotes.

Much better to stick to one's own experiences, and respect, without trying to validate or invalidate others.

If you want to broaden your own experience, then the dialogue has function. Otherwise, it's just opinion without any interest in exploration.

Truth is a journey, not a spectator sport of other's experience.

Why is truth a journey?
Because it is based on the premise that we don't know everything. We can grow, why can learn, but there is no "I know it all!" point.

That's hard for some folks to own.
You completionists out there, not gonna happen with Truth.

We are all students, or not.

We are either learning, or not.

Learning means we don't know it all.

"know it alls" have trouble with this.

Because it means what they thought yesterday could be obsolete today. The ink is hardly dry and their book is already out of date.

@ Spence

Learning WHAT?

Hi Um
You ask
"Learning WHAT?"

Anything you don't know, something new. Learning and growing.

What interests you?

Spirituality is an interest, a desire, a passion, a life's work for some. I don't discount that, I honor it in all forms. Like what Joseph Campbell wrote," follow your bliss"

Then there is the interest in the sciences....

The interest in debate, logic and argumentation...

Related schools but not the same.

You can love one school of thought and hate the others....

Or love them all... What you love, you pursue and it occupies all your thinking and much of your speech. Can't be helped.

And Um
You can live the passion of others...

I love Brian Ji's fierce Atheism and rejection of all things spiritual, including his years with RSSB. He is a lion demanding our own liberation.

And at the same time I love RSSB... When I read the old letters of the Saints, or listen to BabbaJi, I'm enthralled and feel that these are divine things.

And even your cynicism about people, life, and learning. It fascinates me.

I love ARs rigorous calling out fact from subjective emotion... Statements people, myself included, make without giving them some serious editorial questioning.

These, to me, each, are schools of thought and truth, mixed with our passions and loves to one extent or another.

So, I'm learning about the light in these, and how it filters through.

@ Spence

>> Anything you don't know, something new. Learning and growing.

What interests you? <<


I had to learn many things in life and I did my best, to create interest in those things others went on and on to say that were interesting to know, learn and grow.

I found never any pleasure in it.

It took a whole life to try in vain to be a "normal" person like all the others and often an painfull struggle with the world and my self aswell.

In the end I gave up and accepted my fate ... being like the desert.

Everything that comes in and upon the desert has to die.


Only one rainfall will set the dessert in full bloom, with staggering colours.

The fall of the rain is an gift, nothing can be done to provoke it.

The ,mental landscape you is almost the opposite .... hahahaha

And with the acceptance of my fate came also the insight that there is nothing to learn, there is no growth,. There are crows, nightingales and eagles and they are all birds and good in their own right. They all are born that way, live as such and will die as such no matter how they passed that life in that form.

Fortunately for the world, culture etc there are more of your kind than mine.

@ Spence

In order not to complicate it for you ... walking this path of life I had the company of many people of great accomplishments and or character,. It was a great pleasure to have them around. What ever they did was material to me and to them too when they were with me.

He is have to be written ... I wish you many a good friend, staunch and true, to travel through the years with you.

I had .. and I am gratefull for it as it should be.

Hey, Spence. Thanks for your take on those Sam Harris quotes.

Actually, though, I was wondering what Sam Harris might have meant there. You present your POV, and interesting though that is, I doubt that reflects Harris's POV. I was looking, there, for what a scientifically-defensible-and-yet-open-to-these-things perspective might be ---- assuming that is the perspective Harris speaks from, and assuming that he keeps the superstitious elements of his Dzogchen tradition firmly away from his own worldview.

Which is not to discount your own POV, at all, of course. It's interesting in its own right, even if I've mixed views on some of what you say.

We are all a mixed bag.
I would like to see the dialogue between you and Sam. I'm pretty sure he could not escape having to rethink some of his statements at some point during that conversation, from the insights you provide into his use of language.

Are you familiar with Noam Chomsky? He came at philosophy from a linguistics perspective, much as you do, and unveiled far reaching insights into the basis for our unconscious assumptions when we speak.

Hi Um
A desert can also be lovely. You might think nothing is there. Traveling through the Nevada desert years ago I was surprised by the colors in bloom. You did not see them from the road. But stopping to walk closer to the boulders there they are all around.

You are alive, Um. You have it all. Whatever I have, you have.

Harris writes
"Every mental state you have ever had has arisen and then passed away. This is a first-person fact -- but it is, nonetheless, a fact that any human being can readily confirm."

There is more truth to this than Harris may know or understand.

Our brain turns consciousness on and off several times every second. Between those beats the brain reconstructs our image of reality. We aren't normally conscious between those beats and never see that reconstruction process. We actually black out several times a second and are only aware of what the mind places into the picture it constantly repaints.

Our entire persona and sense of identity, all our memories, everything we value, all of it is reconstructed for our mind's consumption. And when the mind reconstructs it doesn't duplicate things perfectly. The object of your love and hate changes slightly. You aren't even aware of it as it happens.

If we could never have the reference of our own past writing to remind us of who we are, nor the constant reminders of those around us, we would change immediately in ways we would be entirely unconscious of. Yes, we are heavily dependent upon our environment as a physical memory of who and what we are. Our brains just don't handle memory that well.

The "you" of ten seconds ago isn't actually the same "you" of now. You have already been rebuilt, several times. And there is nothing you can do in your current state to prevent the "you" that will appear in ten seconds from being nothing but a similar but not exact clone of who you are right now. "You" are nothing more than a brief projection. And your brain is producing that protection frame by frame. Each frame is completely separate from the one before and the one to come. They are not the same person at all.

Any variation in that production and we cease to exist as individuals. But we already do so many times every second.

The issue of detachment becomes a non - issue when you see your own brain detaching your consciousness from its train of thought, reconstructing your thoughts and memories, and reconnecting your consciousness to that dozens of times a second.

When you actually see this taking place in meditation you realize the most critical truth neuro physiology proved long ago but which very few but the mystics acknowldge:

You die all the time. The you that lives this instant is biochemically similar to the you that existed moments ago, but it isn't the same, physically. It's a reconstruction of memory. A reconstruction of biochemicals.

But who is the one who is watching all this? That is the only continuity.

There have been hundreds of thousands of copies of your mind, each slightly different and each a complete reconstruction. And there will be more.

Your brain clones "you" all the time. But each is a separate clone. Just each frame of a movie, projected onto a television screen is entirely separate.

"You" have died thousands of times. Right now you are just the latest copy.

This idea that when I die I will finally end is rediculous. You ended several times before you finished reading this sentence. You were born completely new several times in that same second.

Once you understand that, cognitively, you are a reconstruction, and this current version will die and be reconstructed, you realize there is no physical continuity to "you."

All the things you cling to you do unaware that it is your next copy who will do the clinging next, long after you are gone.

"You" can hold nothing. "You" own nothing. And all the people around you are not the people your earlier clones knew. They are clones too.

@ Spence

What others had was never an issue for me, nor were their accomplishments in society.

What did matter was their company whenever they were able to leave behind what they had and were in society at our and later my doorsteps.

Humans are unique varieties of the same so it make little sense to know what others have or not have.

Look around .. no creature wants to change or can change ... for the better.

Humans are no exception to that rule.

Humans can dress up in fancy material, mental and also spiritual CLOTHES but that makes them appear different but they are not.

Hi App. R.

I guess where I am coming from with my take on everything, is that of a naturalist in that the natural order of things is sufficiently amazing and complete in itself and doesn’t need to incorporate anything supernatural.

Using the term ‘seen’ is my lazy way of saying realised or acknowledged, acknowledged in the sense of accepting (the mind in this case). For me, the mind (as I commented on) is information which has become a reality to me over the years. Some branches of science also state this, but the fact is that this can be ‘seen’ for ourselves.

I feel there is much that can be realised when it is not distorted by personal beliefs, perhaps fear or by a habituated desire to wish life – our lives – to be something other than they are. I see the problem here to be the constructed sense of ‘me’ (call it the self, ego, soul or whatever) which fears annihilation so resorts to all manner of mental avoidances to maintain or escape the obvious reality that it is merely an attribute of the physical organism and will cease to exist, along with the body at some point.

Perhaps what people like Watts, Buddhism etc. is saying is that the body/brain organism has its own intelligence and unlike the mind will quite readily die when it is time, but the mind/self will do or believe anything to avoid this fact. Perhaps, when the mind/self is seen for what it is and resumes its evolved role of using information to evaluate and navigate its environment, then its death will cease to be its dominant concern.


I've listened to Sawadaw U Tejaniya's recordings. He's a Burmese monk who found the answer to his psychological suffering in Buddhist mindfulness.

I have a lot of respect for U Tejaniya, probably more than for most Buddhist teachers. But I don't think mindfulness by itself works for most people.

Whether something actually works or not is just as important a consideration as are how good it sounds or how much sense it makes.

Mindfulness practice definitely has value, perhaps for short meditations. But frankly, trying to make bare mindfulness the foundation of one's life is a recipe for neuroticism. This is why, if one is a Buddhist, that meta or bodhicitta are important. A practice of just deconstructing one's mind leads nowhere.

@ S. Harris [ The promise of spiritual life -- indeed, the very thing that makes it "spiritual" in the sense I invoke throughout this book -- is that there are truths about the mind that we are better off knowing. What we need to become happier and to make the world a better place is not more pious illusions but a clearer understanding of the way things
are. ]

Harris commendably ticks off the benefits of mindfulness but
then takes a swipe at the "pious". Hm, call me crazy, but I
think he's got religious/mystical strawmen in mind. It's as
if the "non-pious" feel duty-bound to remind others of the
need for an evidence-based, experiential approach.

Mystics adopted this methodology long ago. Some of them
were pious too as a matter of fact. Made no difference as
they progressed within and experienced the grandeur and
truth of creation. Their piety and devotion, supported by
spiritual insight, was strengthened.

Harris' approach is entirely valid as far as it goes. But
how can he judge the status and attainment of others
unless he's evaluated their precise experience and
has the spiritual insight to tag it "pious" or "illusory".
He and his audience are better served by relating
incidents of his own false piety or illusory notions that
he exposed thru his own mindfulness practice.

Hi Um
You wrote
"Look around .. no creature wants to change or can change ... for the better.

" Humans are no exception to that rule."

All creatures want change. They want food, healthy children, safety. And they struggle for these things all the time.

All these creatures are equipped for the struggle to master their environment more or less. That is all they want and nothing else. And they are outfitted for it, though level of success varies.

Humans also are equipped to master their environment, both outside and within. Effort, struggle and progress are natural, for one's worldly career and family duties, and one's inner career and inner duty as well.

You can say that the creation is complete. But we are given only one point of time in any moment on a journey from point A to point B, C... All the way, if we wish to the end, Z.

Yes, our desire for progress is only heightened with any glimpse of where we are.

Asleep, in the dark, no progress is possible and any place is the same as any other. And in that situation it is understandable that we have no interests and become stagnant. But that is not our true nature. We were built to move.

Open a blind, pull back the curtain, let a little light in and our next step becomes obvious, and our desire for it overwhelming.

To site the example you have quoted, when there is no food, or we are blind to it, we have no interest in doing the work of eating.

But let us see the food before us and hand automatically starts moving that food into our mouth.
Even we can do nothing but proceed at that point. That is our progress.

We can do everything, Um. Because what we attend to, what we focus on, what we desire, the whole creation mobilizes to deliver. Even if that order takes a while to fulfill. We are doing nothing. We merely ask. We merely place our attention upon an object of desire. God does the rest. Serving silently and dutifully 24/7.But we can ask for whatever we like.

And what is delivered to us daily are the orders we made long ago. We live in the place we ourselves built order upon order.

It's all free will understood from a much larger perspective, and we are craving change all the time, hence all the deliveries. Our mailbox is bursting.

@ Spence

Whatever you wrote has nothing to do with Change.
The crow, living as a crow does all the things the crow is programmed to do to keep himself allive but in and by doing so he doesn't change.

Humans too, they do all the things humans do during life, but they die as they have come.

No creature has the capacity to create and re-create what nature has ordained.

As I wrote the cultural garments, can and do change and for most people that change is perceived as natural but it is just the change of the cultural garment.

Talent is a gift. It Can not be created. Even the 10.000 hours rule does not create that talent it only gives form to that talent. An the circumstances in and by which a talent can come to fruitation are also not in a persons hand. Reason for him to say ..."the pull must come from within and if it is not there there is nothing you can do + For you to eat there must be 2 conditions fulfilled, one, there must be food on the plate second you must be hungry and concluded to say that both of these conditions are not in your hand. ... and ... he has proved himself to be correct.

As a Christian you know also the story of the sower and the seed.

You have had many a call in your life and you were given the opportunities to answer these call and you were given also the will to put in the effort and that has brought you what you are and what you have.

No problem at all Spence

@ Spence

>>Asleep, in the dark, no progress is possible and any place is the same as any other. And in that situation it is understandable that we have no interests and become stagnant. But that is not our true nature. We were built to move.<<

This is how it is Spence, you are awake and in the light and I am asleep and in the dark. If I would be in your shoes I would write as you do.

Hahahaha .......a whole life of contact with teachers and teachings has not been able to wake me up.

After writing many a letter he in the end wrote ....that it was not in my hands whether there was change or not in life ... as ... then you are jostled in to a situation that you cannot but act in a certain way, and you have no control over it.

And until now nothing has changed, the darkness is all around and i am sound asleep.

I surrendered to my fate, it was not pleasant, i did not do it whole heartly but in the end it prove to be the best rational outcome ....still some steps to go.

And again when it was to heavy at times there has always been a good friend and comrade in whose company I could forget the burden for a short time. They were the steppingstones, the inns along the road, may the lord, if there is one, bless them all.

But .... walking all have to do alone even you Spence. You have to carry the burden of light with you

Hi, Ron.

Thanks for the clarification. I see now that you’ve only been putting forward, as you say, a naturalist POV. Your phrasing earlier on, about the sense of self “dissolving”, had thrown me off, and got me wondering where you were coming from, as far as the "seeing". I see now that was only a figure of speech, and what you were actually saying is entirely reasonable, and wholly shorn of any hint of woo. Cool. I agree, totally.

“I would like to see the dialogue between you and Sam. I'm pretty sure he could not escape having to rethink some of his statements at some point during that conversation, from the insights you provide into his use of language.”

Hi, Spence.

Actually I’m not really interested in having Harris rethink anything he thinks or says, even should we ever get to talking. It is enough for me to properly understand him, so that I can properly evaluate him, and if warranted then properly put his ideas to the test and/or go on to incorporating that in my practice and/or my worldview --- or not. If he should end up rethinking anything, that would be his lookout, his business, not mine.


“Are you familiar with Noam Chomsky? He came at philosophy from a linguistics perspective, much as you do, and unveiled far reaching insights into the basis for our unconscious assumptions when we speak.”

I’ve heard of Noam Chomsky, that is, the name is familiar to me, as well as very sketchily what he was about, but I’ve never read him, no. (There’s so many things I’m so very ignorant about, and get to engage with here thanks to you guys here who’ve read them yourselves, for instance Alan Watts whom we’d all discussed at quite some depth earlier on.)

I don’t think what I’m doing here is grounded particularly to some linguistic perspective, except only to the very limited extent that you can’t engage with something that you aren’t clear about, so that the first step to engagement, regardless of whether that engagement leads to agreement or disagreement, is to first understand, and that sometimes calls for a clear restatement of what had been vaguely conveyed, and/or only vaguely followed, that’s all!

For instance, see my brief exchange with Ron here. His comment had led me to think that he might have been referring to some other-than-everyday means of “seeing” that the self is not what it appears, given his talk of “dissolving” the self. I was curious about his POV, given his generally rationalist POV as expressed in these pages, and I wanted to explore that POV further. The first step to that would be to have him clarify his meaning, which he did; at which point we find that we’re in full agreement, and there’s nothing further to “explore” really, not as far as what he’d said there.

In that same vein I wanted a clarification of Sam Harris’s POV, about the specific issues I’d raised in the earlier thread and in this one. Given that he’s himself not here, I was hoping someone acquainted with his work --- Brian maybe, or maybe one or more of the gang here, who might have actually read him and who might be familiar with his POV --- might be able to fill me in. It was in that context that I found your subsequent comment, given that it’s clearly your own POV that I’m generally familiar with (and very clearly not Harris’s at all!) not quite what I was looking for, even though it is interesting enough in its own right.


As far as what I’d asked you: What you were doing is basically channeling that mysterious Sutra of the Buddha’s in order to exhort us to go beyond the mind. I’d found that vague, both the original Sutra (in contrast with most of the rest of the Buddha’s original’s teachings, which unlike most mystics is very clearly laid out) and your take on it. If you go back to my original comment addressed to you, you’ll find I’d asked you to explain yourself by clearly specifying the actual points on which I wasn’t clear, as far as your brief comment there.

Well, I’m afraid in your subsequent comment in that thread you didn’t really address those issues at all, not really; but ended up presenting, instead, a more detailed exposition of your general POV, that I’m already familiar with. At which point, instead of going the whole length thrashing out all of that with you, I let it go --- as I let it go now, not touching on the meat of it even now --- and only acknowledged the clarity of your subsequent comment, taken in isolation and without reference to what went before. And, as before, I’m generally in consonance with your interest in the issue, and in agreement with your broad approach, but, and again as earlier, I’m afraid I completely disagree with the conclusions you draw. I didn’t want to get into all of that at that point, and still don’t, partly because we’d end up largely revisiting past discussions, and because I don’t really want to get into a protracted exchange at this time. But I’m afraid we don’t really agree about the conclusions you’ve reached, and that you exhort others to incorporate into their worldview.

But not to beat this thing to death! I’m clarifying all of this now only because you’ve ended up giving me underserved credit for engaging in some kind of Chomski-esque “linguistic” and “editorial” approach to philosophy, that frankly I don’t know the first thing about, and mustn’t take undeserved credit for --- as I’d implicitly end up doing if I didn’t clearly explain the entirely earthy entirely everyday context for those comments and questions of mine. I wasn’t engaging in some kind of complex structured highfaluting “linguistic” or “editorial” approach to philosophy, all I was trying to do is figure out what people were saying!

Hi Um
You wrote
"then you are jostled in to a situation that you cannot but act in a certain way, and you have no control over it."

Once we take the on ramp we are limited to our lane, and by the cars in front and those approaching from behind. No matter how wealthy you may be, you are imprisoned by the stupidity of the drivers around you, and the road conditions around you. Sometimes you must stop and crawl in traffic. Other times you must take a detour. And at other times the road is wide open and you fly.

In that sense you have no choice.

But you are on this highway because you chose it, to get to the destination you also chose. Highway is the same for both of us. Same highway, Um.

Moment by moment we have no choice. We are bound by the laws of Physics, chemistry, biology and psychology.

But we are going where we choose. Path is the same. No one is alone. It might be night, but no one is alone.

A strong character may do bold things, and end up thinking they are alone. And they may have bold problems to match their character

A meeker character is not so ambitious and always, cautiously, moves in the Company of their friend. Perhaps that is the stronger character.
Both have the same destination.

You see people on the highway speeding and weaving dangerously until they are out of sight altogether. Then you see their car at the same rest stop you took. Same destination, practically same actual timing.

You mentioned
"As far as what I’d asked you: What you were doing is basically channeling that mysterious Sutra of the Buddha’s in order to exhort us to go beyond the mind. I’d found that vague, both the original Sutra (in contrast with most of the rest of the Buddha’s original’s teachings, which unlike most mystics is very clearly laid out) and your take on it. If you go back to my original comment addressed to you, you’ll find I’d asked you to explain yourself by clearly specifying the actual points on which I wasn’t clear, as far as your brief comment there.

"Well, I’m afraid in your subsequent comment in that thread you didn’t really address those issues at all, not really; but ended up presenting, instead, a more detailed exposition of your general POV, that I’m already familiar with."

I actually presented the physiological perspective. How the brain physically operates.

We function at different levels of consciousness throughout the day. What we are aware of is a constructed image presented to us by the brain. We perceive a constant awareness but actually we perceived those images as they are created and are unconscious between them. This is how we perceive motion when exposed to a motion picture, for example. We are unaware of sound oscillation but hear instead individual sounds, etc...

Our perception of sensory intensity is attenuated by filters in the brain.

So, for example, what you see as a perfectly clear scene of perfect exposure is really your brain's construction from several images. This is why no camera can reproduce that with a single exposure. When you take a picture of a scene, parts may be too dark or too bright even though it appeared clearly visible to you at the time.

You were looking at a constructed image.

Those images take time to construct, but you won't perceive any loss of time. That's because you are only conscious of those images and are unconscious between them. Again, watch any movie and you will see motion that isn't actually there.

Just look at this line of text. It appears perfectly straight.

The actual image your eye captures is curved. But you only see it after your brain has reconstructed it. Your brain patches images together, straightens edges, cleans up the exposure all before you see it.

In short, we are living in a controlled hallucination, AR.

Every thought you have about who and what you are is a construction pulled from memory. It is refreshed several times each second. If your brain should stop doing that your understanding of who you are would end instantly.

In that sense you die and are reborn all the time.

That's the short way to explain what physiological psychology proved decades ago. And Saints claimed eons ago.

The perspective I offered, in respect for your desire to have information grounded in science, was to share long established physiological information in the context of our experience of "self", the world around and within us.

The brain is a host of biochemical machines working in concert, but not perfectly.

Stuff any good textbook on human perception and physiological psychology details much better than my comments.

Let me add one more point to this.

People think they have a train of thought, that one thought leads to another. But this is actually several projections from memory every second. There is no actual single thought. Several times a day external sensation or other prescheduled recollections interrupt that train. Your brain holds in very short term memory a few of those current thoughts and cycles back later. But whatever items exceed that capacity... Generally 3-5 items, gets dropped altogether. You won't even remember what you were thinking, no matter how interesting or important that notion seemed at the time. If it becomes item six, and wasn't around long enough for mid-range interim memory, it's gone. Part of you dies all the time without the "you" of this moment every having a clue.

"That's the short way to explain what physiological psychology proved decades ago. And Saints claimed eons ago."

That explains it, true. But that doesn't offer any compelling reason to buy into that explanation.

(It does offer people who might be drawn to this sort of thing grounds for further exploration. But in as much as I'm already, and as you know, sold on the exploration part, that latter part would be kind of redundant. But sure, if it was meant for the benefit of lurkers even though addressed to me, then I guess it kind of makes sense.)


"The perspective I offered, in respect for your desire to have information grounded in science, was to share long established physiological information in the context of our experience of "self", the world around and within us."

Yes, but you use that long established physiological information to extrapolate your way to your particular conclusions --- conclusions that may or may not be right, but that are most certainly not grounded, at all, in science. And in as much as the point of all of that was to have a clearer idea of what you meant when you asked us to "go beyond the mind", we are left where we began, with an unsupported exhortation, that implicitly assumes a worldview that there is no scientifically grounded reason, as yet, to buy into, and nor does it provide any justification for putting in that effort.

But hey, like I said, we needn't whip this poor beast any more. We both know where the other is coming from, and we both know that we disagree with each other, and on what grounds we do that. (You're taking your subjective experiences as gospel truth, and extrapolating your worldview off of them; while I, lacking that first-hand experience, can do no more than simply explore for myself, which I'm already engaged in doing; and in any case, I don't see how even that first-hand experience might equip you with such certainty about your conclusions [certainty, as opposed to tentative speculation] that you go out and exhort others to buy into it as well. That kind of sums it up our disagreement, doesn't it?) We *could* reopen that chapter again another time, and no doubt we will --- and who knows, perhaps I might end up prevailing on you to change your mind then, or you me --- but not at this time, if you wouldn't mind.

"People think they have a train of thought, that one thought leads to another..."

None of which really addresses the part about "going beyond the mind", not without textbook question-begging.

But generally speaking, and taking this comment of yours in isolation, I'd say that's both very interesting and, as far as I can tell, it's true enough.

Going beyond mind, meaning conventional thinking. Raising your level of consciousness.

This is what meditation research has already proven. Long term meditators demonstrate better cognitive functioning. How did that happen? Focusing on things outside conventional train of thought.

Your daily conscious awareness is a composite of higher and lower brain inputs. You "think" based on reactions, chemicals and drives.

Changing your locus of attention triggers a change in all those. Herbert Benson first discovered and explored this, calling it "The Relaxation Response". Researchers since discovered other unique physiological attributes such as alpha waves.

More recent research has a shown the positive effects of this practice in all sorts of physiological outcomes including helping heal broken DNA strands.

In the practice of mediation you are practicing taking some control over those things by attempting to attend to a specific subject or object. That subject or object influences your results.

These are all researched findings.

The confusion here is thinking mind and brain are one thing.

Brain produces images that constitue perception, experience and thoughts.

You can change your point of view and leave all that was considered "me" and "my thoughts / mind" for an entirely different experience.

Of course you can say it's all you. But this is a doorway to another part of you. Much more pleasurable.

How far you go is certainly where my spiritual beliefs come in. The parts science hasn't reached yet.

But as for what science has already proven, there should be no dismissal of those facts as "Spiritual" or opinion.

Spence, apologies for having ended up revisiting our old (and apparently ongoing) disagreement. I hadn't meant to do that, at all, at this time, and I'd studiously kept away from it in the other thread (beyond merely ascertaining your meaning clearly); but somehow I seem to have ended up getting drawn into it now. Having reopened that discussion, it seems kind of unfair to then back off from properly examining it, no matter how long it might take, I agree, and hence the apology. My excuse is a lack of time, as well as energy, at this time, for another such drawn-out exchange. Not a very good excuse, I guess, but it'll all I got! :--)

"Going beyond mind, meaning conventional thinking. Raising your level of consciousness."

You're defining "going beyond mind" as "going beyond conventional thinking"? Okay, if you say so. That sounds fine. Not the definition, which seems dodgy; but the going beyond the conventional thinking part, sure.

Again, raising one's level of consciousness, the meditation thing, does not mean all that you've said it means. Not in a scientifically established sense. There's enough grounds for further scientific research; and proper grounds for such as are interested (like me) to explore it at a personal level; but most certainly no grounds for treating this as some kind of done deal --- by slipping in other pieces that science does support, and implying that it supports this latter too --- and, what is more, actually exhorting others not just to explore but to actually partake of the end results. Even as I am myself part of the exploration, and even as I would be happiest if you were proved right, but I cannot play along with the make-believe that that is already a done deal. It isn't.

*backs off, with hands raised, and apology revisited*

(Another time, another day, hopefully.)

@ Spence

In the past decades I have gone trough all of this, not once but many times and with many people. So I know all the possible answers, related to the different view points.

These days I take rest with how it appears for me. In every day life I will take the stand that we have free will and free choice but alone gazing ovewr an cup of tea at the birds in the trees before my window, i realize that we are only a witness to what is put inside us and outside us to witness and that we have no free will in it at all and even free choice is not free although it seems to be.

Free will is not the problem but free choice is is an illusion, very clever illusion.

You still believe that there is a path, a goal but as a teenager I already "knew" there was nothing to do nowhere to go but as the people around me all believed it to be otherwise, I have tried to make myself understand what was so simple for them ... and ... i failed. What one knows one cannot not know ... hahahaha.

I imagined the activities of society as an immeasurable structure on wheels that had to be pushed forward. Every morning all people went to their posts and one could here the voice of the managers .. ho hup, ho hup ...and at 12 they would stop for lunch etc
etc. But the the structure never moves it is an illusion.

But probably that is the best thing ... imagine if great groups of people would realize the same ... hahaha.

Spence if one leaves behind what one has learned, the religious and philosophical viewpoints, and then doing nothing at all, little by little things start to look different.

To drink a decent cup of tea or coffee there is no need to believe in anything, or to identify oneself with this or that ... saying I amd xxx, vvv, eee, etc

Hi Appreciative
I think my point above was to limit my comments to you to scientific findings, in the context of experience.

In other places I speak to my internal experiences and then, in other places my spiritual beliefs about those experiences.

Doing my best to distinguish the three.

[“OK, I agree that it isn't possible to go beyond the mind, because mind isn't something we can go beyond, since mind is what we are. At least, that's what all the neuroscientific evidence shows. When mental activity ceases, we're brain dead. In other words, dead.”]

Just to explain again, we are our brains not our minds. Yes, when mental activity ceases, we’re brain dead. The clue is in ‘brain’ dead. As the mind is information which is retrieved via memory as thought, damage or disease to the brain can disable the brains’ ability to generate mental activity. A person can suffer brain damage or memory loss and not know who he/she is yet still be very much alive.

Our identities being the information that describes ‘me’, only exists as the information that has been accrued in the brain. If this store of information is lost or temporarily disrupted, the real me – which is the total brain/body organism – continues to exist by virtue of the genetically programmed survival network within the whole organism.

Our minds, along with the totality of our remarkable mental capabilities is a relatively recent addition to our evolved brain that gives us increased survival abilities. The mind is not who we are although it is undoubtedly an incredibly important component for our survival – which should be used wisely.

Hi Um
You wrote
"To drink a decent cup of tea or coffee there is no need to believe in anything, or to identify oneself with this or that ... saying I amd xxx, vvv, eee, etc"

The only need arises with awareness.
Without awareness there is no need.

But awareness creates options, freedom and the journey.

So to say "they're is no need" it's only half the sentence.
"no need...".in order to accomplish....?

... In order to....?

In order to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, little if anything must be done. But even then, fresh beans, fresh grind, fresh water.

Whatever the answer, you must actually be that, be there, know that, and not merely believe it, in order to make such a claim.

Many claim there is no need. But they have no idea that they are one point in one place, and a destination is always before them.

"The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath your feet."
The Tao

Coffee is fine but I recommend a stronger morning drink. In order to drink a cup of divine nectar, the journey within is required.

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