Sunday, October 22, 2017

In the mirror, what goes in never fully comes out--where is free will?

One might assume that the experience of consciously willing an action and the causation of the action by the person's conscious mind are the same thing. As it turns out, however, they are entirely distinct, and the tendency to confuse them is the source of the illusion of conscious will....*

The existence of free will, libertarian or otherwise, derives from an assumption and is formulated in theory. Through a rather straightforward examination of experience, one can readily observe that free will bears little relation to what is observed. For several moments of quiet attention sit comfortably and observe the movement of thought. Now, without looking for anything in particular, simply observe how thoughts arise without any effort on our parts to think them. They simply arise of their own accord, not ours. The voluntarism is not ours. If it was truly ours or accurately ours, we would be thinking of the thought before the thought arose. This would lead to an infinite regress. Not only is the observation that thoughts arise of their own accord accurate, but if they are said to be willed into being it would fly in the face of logic. To speak in loyalty to experience, we are obliged to say that thoughts arise of their own accord and there is no intentional directedness of thought by the infamous and illusory free will.

Now we take our observations to another aspect of thought, its intentional structure. Thoughts are purposive. At bottom, even the simplest of thoughts such as "Oh!" or "if" are intentional. Thought and language, even visual thought images, presuppose a type of thinker and a listener. They are aimed at; they are intended for; they are meaningful for; finally, they are derivative--something will shall discuss in time. If there is no thinker how does the experience of a thinker arise? What are the necessary conditions for this? Well, one condition, already discussed, is the thought itself, i.e., the intention. We can say, in analysis or parsing, that thought is inherently intentional, meaningful, processual (evanescent), vibratory, and felt. Of course not all of these aspects of thought are present to us all at once. This is an analytical observation and is real only upon observation or, as some would have it, reflection. Now, keeping in mind that what we observe and analyze is another narrative (allegedly) about thought, this analysis is strictly for the purpose of aiding in, or pointing to, or imagining a useful tool for observation; and this observation must point back to the realization that thought occurs without a thinker and there is no need for positing either free will or will as such. What types of thoughts occur will usually be determined by either perceived circumstances or by their association with other thoughts. (Much more needs to be said about this but this is not the time or place.) In point of experiential fact, thoughts do not exist at all. As we live them they do not present as thoughts. Thoughts, as lived, appear in the dynamic context of circumstances. Thoughts are situational. They present as meaning. This is a purely phenomenological approach, being as accurate as possible with the tools of observation we have, narratives.

We have offered a brief discussion of one of the conditions necessary for the arising of a self-sense. Another condition for the appearance or condition of a self-sense is a living context. Thought appears to be autogenous, self-arising. There is no agent thinking or directing thought. However, the fact that it is arising implies that it arises in someplace. There must be a womb in which thought appears. There must be some sort of feeling/context for living meaning to arise within. If we can be said to "hear" thoughts, we must hear them in a silence. To hear is simultaneously to hear silence. We often overlook the necessity of the context of thought's appearance. If we hear thoughts, or see thought-images, they must arise within. But within what? Try it, close your eyes and watch thoughts arise. Are they not arising within? What is this "within"? The within is a living, breathing, no-thing. Yet, it is alive! It lives as a within. The within in which life takes place. We hear within its silence; we taste within its tastelessness (We cannot taste the tongue.); we speak to its silence; we touch within its touchless; it is odor within the odorless; and we think in its open receptivity. This openness is another of the necessary conditions for the arising of a self-sense. Its receptivity appears to thought as an implicit listener, the one to whom the thought is implicitly directed. The openness within simultaneously functions, in its hiddenness, as the thinker of thoughts. It is the feeling of thought production that abides or dwells providing one basis for a confusion or fusion of body and thought as a self-sense. The within is mistakenly taken to be, at once, both the whom thought is directed to and the one who thinks the thoughts. This mistaken assumption is made possible by both the feeling of thought production and the openness to and from which thought takes place. This openness is not inert. It lives! It provides us with the support of thought and feelings. Without it thoughts, sensations, and feelings could not become experience. This living openness makes experience possible.

Another way of speaking about this is the use of a metaphor, the mirror. The mirror has a long and varied history of use in philosophy. However, each of these usages is somewhat different and ours will be no exception.

We may begin by likening the openness discussed above to a mirror. The mirror lives as a reflecting whatever is revealed to it. It is indifferent to the content of the presentations and is untouched by them. No matter what is presented to the mirror, it remains untouched, unmoved, indifferent. What thought captures are the images in the mirror. Thought is not what is presented to the mirror. What appears in the mirror is experience. What is seen in the mirror is thought or imagery. Thought is always one step behind what is presented. What is presented is anonymous, selfless. What is reflected is self-laden. We believe what we see in the mirror is what was presented to the mirror. But how would we ever know that? How do we know that what is presented in the mirror is exactly what is presented to us in the mirror? How would we verify that? We even believe, without thinking it, that our reflection in the mirror is what everyone will see when they see us. Sure we could get some consensus about the forms and colors in the mirror leading us to believe that others see what we see in the mirror. But when others look at us do they see only naked form and color? No, they see a face full of significances that each of us carries to various forms and colors. The face is the basis of historical, cultural, ethnic, social, and personal significances that each person brings to faces. A face is so much more than mere form and color. Our friend sees our face one way and our mother sees an entirely different face. Form and color pale in comparison to the richness that a face exhibits in ordinary perception. This same inclusion of significances is intrinsic to what everyone perceives at all times. We see through fully human eyes, not physical eyes. Perception is a human process, not a biological one. We must not let human perception be reduced to a purely natural process.

In the mirror, what goes in never comes out. 

In our mirror metaphor, experience is what goes into the mirror. We may also say that what is alive enters the mirror. The use of the mirror is alleged to bring experience to the activity of cognition--in the everyday use of the term. However, this bringing may be equated with desire (craving). In almost every case, we intentionally come to a mirror to see what is in it, only occasionally to clean it. More often than not we come with the expectation to perceive something in the mirror. That expectation is desire. That desire to "see ourselves"* (or something else, e.g., a blemish) in the mirror" Expectation is at work and therefore history, the history that functions as a subsoil of beliefs--a matrix of cultural/neurological accretions the origin of which is not present to thought--that frame the expectation to see ourselves in the mirror. (I cannot even tell this story without that matrix.) I mention "neurological" because all perception and cognition bears feeling. "Neurological" provides somewhat of a concession to the language of biology. Now, what goes into the mirror in our metaphor is likened to the concept of experience. The desire intrinsic to thought in its function as expectation may be likened to all thought. All thinking is intentional and as such is desire-laden. "Desire (Skt.kama) came upon that one in the beginning; that was the first seed of mind."**

The mirror metaphor may also point to the reductive nature of thought. When arriving at the mirror, carrying desire, what is anticipated is reductive. Usually, we do not perceive the wall behind us and much of what is present is ignored. Our perception reduces the wholeness of experience to the frame of expectation. Our expectations--configured by past human acts of body, speech, and mind--reduce experience to their own configurations. Experience, reduced by desire-laden intentions, suffers necessary reductions of space, time, feelings, thoughts, etc. It is no wonder that we fail to appreciate and be grateful for the everyday experience of our so-called "ordinary" lives.

Much more requires saying for this story. I will return to it soon. I welcome any thoughts you may have to assist in its completion. Thank you for reading and reflecting on it. You have my gratitude.





   













1. Daniel M. Wegner, The Illusion of Conscious Will (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2002), 3.

*Notice, we don't say, "I want to see my reflection in the mirror."

**Rg Veda: 10:129:4
















Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Intention and Desire: Two Sides of the Coin

On Intentionality and Desire

All thought, all cognition, is intentional. Desire is present in the movement of intentionality. Craving (tanha/trsna) inheres in intentionality. In fact, craving or thirst, accounts for the movement of intention. The movement of thought, in a purely humanized observation, is the movement of desire. Desire and the content of intention are two sides of the same coin. Even the very dynamic of thought is intentional and therefore desire laden.Intention is the meaningful movement of thought. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Glance

The tree!
Where is everything else 
and where am I?
Making the tree possible,
mindfulness!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A meditation on the limits of thinking--continues

There is no thinker of thoughts, despite the experiential fact (for most of us at times) that there seems to be. Thoughts think the thinker. In point of fact, there is no such thing as a thought. Thoughts are conceptual entities, available only upon abstraction. Paradoxically, they exist only in thought! We can say the same about consciousness. In a sense, thoughts and consciousness are products of being thought (about). So, it is fair to say that we are not thinking about anything when we think about thoughts or consciousness. (This speaks to the inadequacy, or perhaps error, of translating/interpreting the Sanskrit cit as "consciousness.")

The "contents of experience" at any given moment are, simply, what is the case, or what there is. Once the force of history has enacted experience, in the present toward the future, we live the contents of our experience. Thoughts often occur when we attempt to capture what has already happened--when we reflect. However, are we "reflecting" on anything but the contents of thought or consciousness? What exactly does "reflection" mean? Our reflections are reflections on the very contents of the selfsame reflection. Reflections do not reflect anything.

The thinker is the experiential fact of selfhood, a knowing-feeling. The feeling and knowing of our self-sense are inseparable in the occurring of selfhood. However, they are distinguishable analytically. Selfhood is a qualitative and evanescent occurring. The qualitative aspects of selfhood inhere in what is not self. We have at our disposal various schemas for such categorization, e.g., form (objectivity), feeling, perception, consciousness, historically generated intentional structures for narrative content that are sedimented as habitual acts of thoughts, words, and deeds (karma). These five constitute the structure and meaning of experience. They were formed by desire, without a perceivable beginning, and they are maintained by desire or an, often unnoticed, epistemological craving. This craving results from their impermanence (or evanescence) in association with the narrative tropes of having, owning, possessing, identifying with, and being.

So, brahmin, when there is the element of endeavoring, endeavoring beings are clearly discerned; of such beings, this is the self-doer, this, the other-doer. I have not, brahmin, seen or heard such a doctrine, such a view as yours. How, indeed, could one — moving forward by himself, moving back by himself — say ‘There is no self-doer, there is no other-doer’? (1.) (from the Attakārī Sutta: The Self-Doer)

In these words of the Buddha, he is said to have acknowledged that some sort of self-sense is present in experience. He does not commit to a metaphysics of self, but--on my interpretation--only a phenomenal sense of self as the agent, the "one who endeavors." He is speaking, in this dialogue, to a Brahmin priest who came to the Buddha with a doctrine of "no-self" that was clearly naive. He denied the existence of a self with an all-encompassing sweep of abstraction. He presents a theory that simply negates self. The Buddha points the Brahmin back to his own experience. "...endeavoring beings are clearly discerned." Metaphysics is not the issue here. We do indeed experience self, in all of our endeavors, our intended actions. This will have a great bearing on the manner in which the Buddha will instruct his students. I mention this here to pave the way for my future ruminations on experience and the minimization of suffering.

I mentioned above that self inheres in what is not self. Given that selfhood--for the purposes of our discussions--is strictly phenomenal, we intend to discuss self as it appears. Its appearance is in the form of feelings and narratives. Feelings authenticate its reality and narratives shape the manner of its appearance. If we leave aside the feelings associated with self, it would appear almost as literature and not life. If we lose the narrative clothing of self, feelings would be inchoate and selfless. Self always appears with circumstances, whether they be empirical or conceptual. Form, feelings, perception, consciousness, and historical determinations constitute the building blocks of the narrative, providing these "stories" with structure and meaning.












1."Attakārī Sutta: The Self-Doer". 2017. Accesstoinsight.Org. Accessed September 18 2017. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.038.niza.html#fnt-3.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

Power of Repetition--suggestion for cognitive scientists

Neuroscience must take a penetrating look at the power of habit. What I mean by that is the "selection" processes involved in what we call "choice" are weighted by quantity. How many times has an action, or associated action, been repeated? This may be mapped or perhaps even quantified and it might lead to a theory of habit or a repetitive execution model of selection.

As always, there is no perceivable beginning to this process, only an end to certain habits via their being drained of attention by oppositive habits or a type of non-judgmental witnessing. It is attention, of consciousness, feelings, perception, forms, and history-laden fabrications to various intentional formations that determine their "place in line," their strength. It is attention to these formations or fabrications and both the quality and quantity of attention that determine the "weight" of habits.

Of course, this suggestion leaves the topic of physical causality out. However, we may venture another suggestion here. If these history-laden habits have physical properties that would be seen by many cognitive scientists as causal, then the locus of historical sediment in the brain would also be responsible for the structuring of experience. While I am not concerned in this blog to locate causality in either consciousness or the brain, I am suggesting that this analysis may be a fruitful path to follow for cognitive science. Also, please forgive me for not knowing whether this has already been a serious path of inquiry, I simply have not come across it in my limited research into the brain sciences.

I hope to continue writing more on this topic in future blogs. It involves the notions of free will and determinism as well as a phenomenology of decisions and choice. Stay tuned, please.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Craving and Imposition, edited somewhat

For now...as always, more to follow.

What's perceived as reality is, more often than not, the imposition of history on the present toward a future dictated by the past--in word intentionality. That which holds history to that which is seen is an existential thirst, what we may provisionally term desire. This desire is born of habit to provide sanctuary, i.e., spatial/temporal location and security of being, for selfhood. Take the example finding a bag of paper currency, dollars. One look at that bag of money is all it would take for most of us to perceive it as valuable. "Wow, a bag of money!" Yet, if I took say a fifty-dollar bill out of the bag and placed it on a table and asked you to look at it as its form alone, I doubt that many of us would be able to do so without some effort to abstract the notion of money-value from it and see its shape, probably a rectangle. (I have yet to come across any triangular or circular paper money.) It would be with a quick glance that the dollar bill would be perceived as valuable. One would certainly not have to look, then detect it as money, then posit it as valuable. There would be an immediate, i.e., non-mediated, perception of the bill as valuable money. Only one glance! So, let's take the glance as indicating our conceptual model or paradigm for the manner in which most perception works. Therefore, our experience includes our perception of the form money, our consciousness of it as money, our feeling of perhaps "elation" in finding that what we see is money, the role history (past acts of interpretation) plays in the perception (Let's call this fabrication.), and the perception itself. Now, we have "isolated" no less than five co-implicated components or factors of the glance. How does a self-sense fit into this? All five of those co-implicated (complicated) factors will have taken place in our example as being a personal experience, an experience that "I have." Our conventional, usual experience of objects, the glance, wears the clothing of a narrative. The experience of the bag of currency or the fifty-dollar bill is experienced with an attending sense of self, an I or me. You can observe this for yourself. (No pun intended.). Simply take note of the experience of almost anything and you will see quite plainly that it feels as though you are the one seeing, feeling, tasting, touching or hearing what occurs. In this case, finding the money is certainly a good feeling. This may lead to the desire to keep the money. "I have it now and it feels good; it will feel better if I keep it." "It will feel even better if it's mine." "Boy, what I can do with this money." That initial good feeling is, as we have already intuited, a process. We feel, an active feeling, that finding the money is a feeling we can surely live with. The fleeting nature of feelings is, at some level, apparent. We want to hang on to them by keeping the money, perhaps even knowing that it does not belong to us, but it could. We crave to continue feeling the feelings we feel now and into the future. Desire has taken root in the form of present and future narratives. Now, consider that our desire is rooted not only in the narrative, but in the form, perception, feelings, consciousness, and fabrications that are at play in our example. Recall that these five components are co-implicated. They are inseparably linked together to provide us with experience. Of course, we have abstracted them conceptually, from our experience. They are certainly abstractions. However, these abstract concepts may prove useful for a more inclusive analysis of experience as well as a means to overcome the often burdensome weight of our desires that are bound to them. It was the narratives of history, the meaning making fabrications, that provided us with the defined object, the money. History (karma), personal, social, and cultural provided us with the significances or fabrications that are inseparably linked to our feelings and (possible) desire to keep the money. We liked what we saw, the feelings it gave us and the potential extending of those feelings into a hypothetical future. We could be rich! So, we have ensured the continuity of a group of historical determinations for future incarnations. Our repeating of historical determinations, our karma or acts, have ensured our future is full of similar desires.
       
This same perceptual process applies to all conventional perception. Desire or craving results from repetition and only repetition. Repetition determines what inheres in the seen, felt, tasted, touched, smelled, and conceived. How does this relate to a self?

The sense of I-am-ness rises and falls on desire.

We find ourselves on the effect end of desire. Desire or more commonly "craving", has already found its assignations prior to our "personal" incarnations of it. The actions--in thought, word, and deed--of prior births, including our own biographical narrative, have already seen to desire's multifarious costumes. We are normally, existentially situated on the created side, what we might call the "effect" side of this causal process. No origin is perceivable, it is beginningless. However, it does have, for some of us, an end.

What we may provisionally term "unsatisfactory" imputations of desire (or craving), i.e., those whose unfolding effects either are or result in some level of suffering, result in feelings that are pleasurable, in some sense painful, or neutral. We will consider experience so configured to be "afflicted." One may scoff at the idea that our so-called pleasurable experiences are afflicted. However, when we reflect on this conception of the pleasurable, we may readily understand that pleasurable experiences almost always sediment a pleasure memory that, by its very transience, seeks more of itself. For example, when tasting a delicious ice cream cone, the experience of taste--for all but few of us--demands continuity. To elaborate, the movement of tasting is evanescent, i.e., as it is coming into experience, is it simultaneously disappearing from experience. This impermanence, when coupled with a narrative of "I-tasting" or "This sure is good" (clinging)--an autobiographically flavored narrative--will entail some degree of wanting more. Consider the result if the ice cream cone is dropped. Or, consider if we are down to our last bite. Many of us would feel wanting, if not for more now, more in the future. This is, in itself, unsatisfactory experience, a lack or vacuity (?) is born. Craving may be seen to consist in lack.

As a great man once said, "the nature of becoming is origination and cessation." To realize this in direct experience is to "see" beyond craving.



Unfinished....

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Some speculations about the "hard problem"

If physicalism is to be defended, the phenomenological features must themselves be given a physical account. But when we examine their subjective character it: seems that such a result is impossible. The reason is that every subjective phenomenon is essentially connected with a single point of view, and it seems inevitable that an objective, physical theory will abandon that point of view. (1.)


This quotation is from a very popular paper by the philosopher Thomas Nagel entitled "What is it Like to be a Bat." (See footnote 1.) For those not familiar with philosophy jargon, physicalism (see quote) is the view that everything is, at bottom, physical. In more technical language, everything supervenes on the physical. An opposite perspective would be idealism. Idealism states that everything is mental; or everything is, at bottom, mental or mind. So, all things supervene on the mind. For science, everything supervenes on the physical. Science, not as method but in its metaphysical outlook is physicalistic. In scientific thought, consciousness or subjective experience is supervened by the physical. Consciousness is said, therefore, to be grounded in physical processes, i.e., consciousness is the result of neural processes. 

When Nagel says that "the phenomenological features must themselves be given a physical account" he states the view that most neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, analytic philosophers of mind, and many philosophers hold. The phenomenological features are the subjective contents of consciousness. Hence, Nagel discusses what it must be like to be a bat--the bat's subjective experience of being a bat. 

Digest this and I'll be back for more. 
























1. Nagel, Thomas. "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" The Philosophical Review 83, no. 4 (1974): 435-50. doi:10.2307/2183914.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Life

Life is not only a gift but a givING.


Life is a gift in that we did not give it to ourselves but find ourselves already living. Life is a giving in that its movement is from the inside out. We are a light unto "the world," i.e., the illumination of experience. 

On Capitalism & Desire

What many Socialists and Marxists overlook is our possession of the primary means of production, mind. The means of production of desire is not owned by capitalists alone; all of us own one, "consciousness." The manufacture of desire on the part of consumers is a necessary prerequisite for the success of capitalism. So, ownership of the primary means of production, in this sense, is already equally distributed, i.e., we must realize that we too own the primary means of production.

What capitalists, i.e., the elite, fear more than anything is the realization, on the part of the working class, that the working class owns the primary means of production that will either sink capitalism or promote it. Consumerism is an outcome of desire.

Friday, September 01, 2017

On Capitalism & Nirvana...

The configuration of experience for Western and specifically American educated peoples cannot be fully understood and, therefore, transcended without something of a grasp of the driving forces of capitalism as practiced in the U.S. These driving forces are embodied in forms of consumer subjectivity and marketed as gratification in acquisition. We ignore these structuring beliefs at our peril. Ignoring them leads to the instinctual and often violent hegemonic drives evinced in today's political scene. In addition, for those of us desiring release of all "craving" and hence acts of mind, speech, and body that are themselves discomfort and suffering, becoming aware of these insidious proclivities derived and sustained by sophisticated forms of unconscious propaganda, these drives must be made apparent prior to the exercise of dispassion with regard to them. Compassion is enacted when we no longer delight in those experiences configured by the selfish drives that exclude others' happiness.    

Thursday, August 31, 2017

On Listening...an offering

close friend speaking Buddha to me
in the silent park 
the quiet was listening 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On Thinking, Thinker, and Me as Intended Object

When thinking, there is the tacit assumption that you are thinking "to yourself." At one and the same time, there is the tacit assumption that you are the thinker." In thinking, "I am both thinker and hearer of thoughts, i.e., a subject and an object. How is that possible? This is a well-known paradox that, to the best of my knowledge, remains unanswered or dissolved. (At this juncture, I wish to give credit to Edmund Husserl's Fifth Cartesian Meditation for inspiring me to write about the paradox. I'm still looking for the page to quote from. It's forthcoming.)

When faced with another sentient being, we are--at one and the same moment--both the subject who faces and the object being faced. All of this occurs in our own experience. The other is other in our experience. And, we are also an other in facing the other. Questions arise. Does it matter if what you are facing is sentient? Yes and no. When faced with a situation excluding any sentient beings, do we not assume that we, as an object, are there, in a world? How can we be both subject and object at once? However, when facing a sentient being, human or animal who is aware of us, by the very fact that both are aware of us turns us into an object for another--in our own experience. Again, we are both subject and object. Is this possible? Logically speaking it is defiant. We have a seeming contradiction. Does it or can this contradiction be "resolved." How? Remember, this bifurcation occurs in all experience, barring specialized states of awareness.

Several important points must be added in the form of questions. What kind of self as object are we to the other? Can we have a say in that? Like it or not, we are an object, not only to the other but to the other in our own experience. We as subjects are simultaneously aware of being both the subject and object. How is that possible? The other gives us our selves as objects. But in this instance, we have no choice but to be the object for the subjective facing of the other in our own experience.

The sentient other turns me into an object for me--the subject (I) becomes an object (a thou) to me at one and the same time as I am a subject, similar to what takes place in thought. Note well this comparison. Often, we concern ourselves with the kind of "objective" self we "give" to the other--all taking place within our own experience. Maybe, we then concern ourselves with our "objective" self as others may view it. After all, it is the power of otherness that gives us this objective self that clearly resides in our experience. What kind of other do we wish to project to others in ourselves?









Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What-,who-ever gave us the belief...?

Whatever gave us the belief
that what we perceive is anything
other than our experience?

Perhaps metaphysics?
Perhaps the who is
the Ancient Greeks?
Perhaps Parmenides?

Whatever gave us the belief
that technology was changing anything
other than our experience?

When we seek to change "the world,"
we are looking for "everyone," or
"the means of production,"
or "society" to change.

When we seek to change experience,
we are "seeking" change
in ourselves.

Change in experience
is the radical change
that will change our worlds.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The "Body"

Many materialists and naturalists hold the view, with variations, that we encounter some version of a physical, natural, or material world in perception and cognition. Once that metaphysical and epistemological view is in tact in the body-memory with its attendant feelings, the world is cast away from its dynamic and living source in a feeling-body. The mistake here is to believe in an encounter with the world. Being unaware "of" the always and already prior union of the body-world, the body-world union is concealed. By repetition, this embodied encounter belief regularly operates to render the union hidden. It glides unobtrusively into a background function that is subject and object (form khanda*) yielding.

Identities are manifest in relation to objectification. "I am in relation to my circumstances." Both selves and circumstances are generated in reciprocal relations. Circumstances incarnate forms, feelings, perceptions, and consciousnesses shaped by incarnate memories, the "cognitive unconscious" of the cognitive scientists. These derive from prior acts of body, speech, and mind. These prior acts form the intentional memory configurations that provide meaningful manifestations of selves and situations. We find ourselves, in all cases, on the manifest side of these memory configurations. Selves and situations are at the effect end of the evanescence of experience. We are not the agents of these acts that produce time as experience. We find ourselves already in identities and situations. Hence, there is no perception of creations or beginnings. This process of experience is without beginning.

At this point, a question may arise: "If this union of the body-world is prior to thought and perception, how is it known?" The answer, perhaps a seemingly elusive one is "We are it." It is held in the body. It is felt in the body, it is breathed in the body. The body, as mentioned in a previous blog post, lives in real time, experience time. The body holds the felt evanescence of time. Its manifestations are the manifestations of worlds, of experience.

Ever had the experience of noticing the halt of an air conditioning unit? Or, the silencing of a birdsong? Or the cessation of children's laughter as they play nearby? How is it that we do not notice the air conditioner, the birdsong, or the children's laughter when it was occurring? We seem to notice only the cessations. Well, we may say, I wasn't conscious of the sounds but I became conscious of them when they ceased. Are you sure you were not conscious of them? Perhaps a different type of knowledge was operative that held the sounds. Perhaps we were able to become conscious of the sounds because they were held in a different kind of knowing, one that we are not habituated to call "knowing."

More to follow...






 *Rosenberg, Alex. 2017. "THE STONE; A Foundation Of Science". Query.Nytimes.Com. Accessed August 18 2017. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F00E7DF1F3CF93BA2575AC0A9679D8B63&rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fthe-stone&action=click&contentCollection=opin


**"Khandha Sutta: Aggregates". 2017. Accesstoinsight.Org. Accessed August 16, 2017. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.048.than.html.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Me-ness: A Brief Meditation

I am making an entreaty here. Please come along with me and explore this me-ness at its root. The revelation that beckons us may lead us to accept our ultimate vulnerability, i.e., the ground of courage.

When observed in a moment of empty, silent, me-ness, it reveals itself to be no one in particular. In a word, the I am is empty of identity. It is at once, me and not me. Take a good look you'll see what I mean. In its being revealed for what it is in experience, it shows itself to be anonymous. The self is empty of self-nature. Who am I then? I am no one in particular; I am everyman. I am the everyman! More precisely, I am the everyself, gender is not at hand.

In the raw revelation of selfness, I am revealed to be worldless as well. Without identity, its correlate, world, vanishes. World and identity are like form and color, distinguishable yet inseparable.

poem

Oriental Islamic rug on my office floor,
that's the body being complicated.
They are called "magic" carpets for
good reason.

"so to speak"

We could, with justification, follow almost every meaningful sentence we utter with the words "so to speak."

On narration...

We begin with a telling etymology of the word "narrative": early 15c., from Old French narracion "account, statement, a relating, recounting, narrating, narrative tale," and directly from Latin narrationem (nominative narratio) "a relating, narrative," noun of action from past participle stem of narrare "to tell, relate, recount, explain," literally "to make acquainted with," from gnarus "knowing," from PIE *gne-ro-, suffixed form of root *gno "to know."*
In addition, we add the Latin word gnosis, "knowledge" and the Sanskrit word Jnana, "knowledge" from the verb jna, "to know, and English "know." Here it is of immense interest that the word "narrative" has its roots in words for "knowledge." We shall aim to indicate why in the following.



Why narrative? Narratives are, upon reflection, the stories we live. When living in their pure execution, narratives speak situations that, more often than not, seem real. Upon reflection, we call them thoughts. Thoughts are a conceptual artifice designed to explain what happens. They too are a component of narration.



*"Online Etymology Dictionary". 2017. Etymonline.Com. Accessed August 14 2017. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=narration&allowed_in_frame=0.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Did you ever...

When thoughtfully, i.e., no thought, observing the nature of an accidental spill or dropping something, did you ever focus on it from the point of view of surprise? We are generally surprised by accidents. Why? A simple answer would be, "We are surprised by accidents because we do not commit them. They are quite selfless; they lack agency. So, when an accident occurs, we feel a shock, a pause, a fear, and a range of other feelings that may occur. These feelings are, not to be silly, felt. We feel surprised. It feels somewhat uncomfortable, in less intense accidents, and often horrified by the more intense. These feelings are, for the most part, uncomfortable or worse. Our bodily feelings of surprise are a crack or fissure in what might be called the continuity of agency. We feel and often think that we are simply sailing along, performing actions as the doer until something, often the surprise of accidents, interrupts that continuity. The shock occurs as an interruption or fissure in a seeming continuity. What happens? Well, what happens is the fissure awakens us to the fact that we are not the agents of our acts. We ride the current of the continuity of agency to the breaking point, the occurrence of an accident. Accidents interrupt life as we anticipate it. They may be seen as an opportunity to watch what happens as it happens. This may be termed the thoughtless observation "in" living.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On Thinking

There is no thinker of thoughts;
the thoughts think the thinker. 
More precisely,
there are no such things as thoughts.
Thoughts exist in theory only;
just like everything else. 
Narratives rule all
but the wise.




Thursday, August 03, 2017

Freedom, Determinism, Free Will, and the Causa Sui: Karma

Introduction:


The doctrine of free will may, and very often does, exclude compassion through one of its common manifestations, blame. Some may protest, without free will how can we be said to make choices? We don't! It is prior acts (karma) that determine what arises in experience and it is karma that will change what arises in experience. We may call that the cultivation of merit (punya) or demerit (apunya). With the exclusion of free will, we can blame only the causes and conditions that constitute our histories, including our present circumstances, and therefore we place the blame where it belongs--in our ideas and beliefs, i.e., the fundamental presuppositions that constitute the latent powers of manifestation of experience. In a word, it is incarnate history that determines the nature of all experience, barring what some may call the experience of nirvana or the "freedom from experience."*

If we truly had a radical form of free will, that will would not be determined. It would be unconditioned by history or anything else. To be "free" means, in this sense of the word, to be free from all determinations. In this instance, a will can be free only if it is not conditioned at all. To be undetermined would, therefore, include being without any causal influence whatsoever. If there was such a thing as free will, it would be without any determinations. A will that is partially free would not be free. So, this kind of will would not be influenced by prior acts, nor would it be caused to exist. It would have to be uncaused and totally undetermined. If this will was "real," upon what would its decisions be based? If unconditioned, there would not be any conditioned views to draw upon because then the will would be conditioned by those views and hence conditioned itself. As Nietzsche pointed out, the notion of free will implies what is called a causa sui or "cause of itself."

The causa sui is the best self-contradiction that has been conceived so far, it is a sort of rape and perversion of logic, but the extravagant pride of man has managed to entangle itself profoundly and frightfully with just this nonsense. The desire for "freedom of the will" in the superlative metaphysical sense, which still holds sway, unfortunately,..., the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions oneself....**

(This aseity is what was ascribed to the God of the Catholics. God is the cause of himself. Or, God contains, in some fashion, the cause of himself. He is the first cause of all else but He must be the cause of himself. This is Aristotle's "prime mover, or theos. This godlike Being is the thought that thinks itself. Well, we may take that a bit differently, as we shall see below. The subject is the thought that thinks itself. The I is in the thought. The thoughts think the thinker.)

We are now left with the problem of accounting for what is euphemistically called "choice." The notion of choice has been a plagued narrative element since its inception. There is no doubt that we experience making decisions. I don't think most of us would argue that. However, most of us do not often focus on the process of decision making. We simply take it for granted, i.e., we rarely observe the process closely. Let's begin with thinking in general. When carefully observed, thought arises without effort--often to our detriment. The manifestation of thought occurs without someone, a thinker, there to generate the thoughts. If there were a thinker of thoughts, it would involve us in a logical and, I hasten to add, an experiential impossibility. If there was a thinker of thoughts, that thinker would have to be separate from the thoughts that arise. That would, of necessity, imply that a choice of the thought to be thought is being made. The thinker would choose what thought to think. This involves us in what is called an infinite regress. If a thinker chooses what thought to think, the thinker must--of necessity--have already thought it. Now, if the thinker has already thought it, what need would there be to think it again? And, if the thinker has already thought it, there must be a thinker "behind" that thinker choosing the initial thought the first thinker thought, and so on. This leads to an infinite regress of thinkers, choices, and thoughts. I trust you see the problem.
If there is no thinker of thoughts, then what leads to the distinct impression that we think our thoughts. My answer is feelings! We feel the thinking process thus granting a sense that I, in this instance my body, is doing the thinking. My feelings, being distinct from thoughts and being identified as "me," provide a felt basis for the impression that I (as my body-feelings) am doing the thinking. In this manner, we are identified with both feelings and the cognitive content of the perception or cognition. This is usually apparent only in a condition of quiet watchfulness; it is a serene form of consciousness.

Now, you may be asking yourself what chooses the particular responses to various circumstances, or what "decides" on what thoughts or feelings to manifest. Well, the easy answer is association. In meeting our "almost" novel circumstances in each moment, we only know what there is and what to do because of the presence of the past. Our prior knowledge, our karmic history, is on reserve. The familiar is only so in relation to the past. This past is further elaborated in the movement of thought toward action infused with knowledge. The present acts move based on an incarnate history toward an as of yet incarnate future. The future is always an "as of yet." That is the nature of our living future. The future in this sense is not a future fantasized. This future is a living future toward which we live in immediacy. The present in this sense incarnates the three moments of time, the past, present, and future. They arise interdependently. One does not exist without the others. The important point here is that these three moments, being interdependent, are infused with meaning: objectivity or form, feeling, perception, vectorial formations, and consciousness. (What the Buddha called the skandhas/khandhas, "heap," "muckle") This is one form of analysis that brings some completion to our reflective understanding of experience. Subjectivity is configured by the co-occurrence of these constituents of all experience. Subjectivity is always a meaningful subjectivity. Of course, some may say, there is the possibility of a minimal subjectivity without attendant meaning (Zahavi). We must hasten to add that this minimal subjectivity is infused with its correlative notion of being as in "I am." There is no sense of self that is naked. There is, however, the minimal subjectivity of the I am--still laden with the notion of meaningful being.
Now, if subjectivity is always a meaningful subjectivity, then it is not a pure subjectivity but an intersubjectivity. We share a common language, common meanings, common perceptions and so on. If subjectivity is a historical and social construct, we are of "one mind." There is, in this sense, a universal mind or "collective mind." If subjectivity is drawn from a historical repository, as "I" must be to function in the "world," the familiar, i.e., in experience, (For the lived world is always and only experience.) subjectivity must be intersubjectivity. We are, in this sense, inherently communal. Experience is drawn and projected from a communal well of past acts of body, speech, and mind--our karma. No human is an island. Our living is simultaneously a sharing.

Desperately needs some editing, but I hope it leads you in the right direction. I will entertain questions in the meantime.





*This is something of a difficult statement that I hope to explain in greater detail. I'm sorry for the momentary inconvenience.
**Friedrich Nietzsche - Beyond Good And Evil: Part I - Aphorism # 21 (Philosophy Quote)". 2017. A Contemporary Nietzsche Reader. Accessed August 3, 2017. http://nietzsche.holtof.com/reader/friedrich-nietzsche/beyond-good-and-evil/aphorism-21-quote_55f5c2e62.html.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Staring...

Washing dishes, 
with no one to talk to,
my Buddha dog looks on.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Q & A

An appropriate answer to the question, "Are you happy?" is "When?" 

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Few Words on Intersubjectivity

Intersubjectivity is, in many areas of philosophy, cognitive science, the social sciences, and perhaps most prominently in phenomenology and the philosophy of mind a very important topic  So, let's add our contribution.

What is intersubjectivity? The answer is not a simple one. My immediate response is, "It all depends on how we are using the word." So, in our desire to be considerate to the readership, we'll attempt a working definition. Of course, all definitions are laden with the history of prior usages of the term and the agendas that infuse the term with meaning. We must attempt to be careful when defining any important term, and all terms may be considered important given our intentions. It is the plurality of usages and intentions (agendas) that provide terms with meanings. In our desire to open a clear path for our readers, we offer this usage: Intersubjectivity is the realization of both the implicit and explicit movement of otherness within our experience. The rest of this brief essay will attempt to unpack that definition.

More on the way...


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Usefulness of "Consciousness"

Let us employ the language of consciousness* (awareness) in an attempt to surpass the limits of its ordinary or more common usages and provide the term with some helpful additional roles.

We begin with a claim: Consciousness is not exhausted or limited by thought.

This may sound odd to many who are used to employing consciousness in the rather limited sense of being aware of something. Again, our aim is to enrich the term with another possible usage that may prove valuable for generating an opening to a more full or complete path to experience. So, one might say that this may provide some valuable aids to one's understanding facilitating a more complete realization of the breadth of human experience. Now, let's begin our exercise.

What we are about to say has been said before. In fact, it is one of the major themes in many religious and philosophical traditions. However, the route we shall be taking is a bit different. Our use of the term is meant to open us to a different way of looking, a looking with insight. When one exercises the proper focus, what is revealed may help lead us to a life with less suffering and correlatively a more inclusive openness to experience. That is the intention of this exercise.

We begin with an exercise in perception. I'm sitting at a table with my wife having coffee. It is morning and the birds are chirping. Suddenly, I hear a most unusual bird song while my wife is speaking to me. For a moment, the bird song steals my attention from what my wife is saying. She appears to be very intent on explaining something to me while the bird is singing. Then, she finishes what she has to say and I ask: "Did you hear that unusual bird song?" She pauses and then says yes. I ask: "Were you conscious of it while you were speaking to me?" She says "no, but I did hear it." "How, I ask." She says: "I don't know." I respond: " So, you were not conscious of it, but you somehow heard it." She responds, "yes." Our question is, how is that possible?

Well, this is where it becomes interesting. We often reduce our experience to what we become conscious of. However, what we become conscious of--as in our brief example--is not all there is to experience. An ambient consciousness is at work here. This is a consciousness so subtle, at least for most of us, that we miss paying attention to it. Our habits of perception obscure it. Our culture has been hell bent on claiming that all there is to consciousness is consciousness of something, i.e., intentional consciousness. However, what we may surmise from our example is that another more expansive consciousness is at work. This consciousness is not only a cognitive experience but additionally, it is a felt consciousness. If we have read some of my prior posts in this blog, you may have come across what I am about to say now. All experience, by definition, must take place in the body, i.e., in felt experience. The source of all experience, perceptual and cognitive, takes place in feelings, the body. By feelings, I do not mean emotions. It is in the ambient consciousness, a fully embodied consciousness, that the bird song took place. One may characterize this view as one of corporeal panpsychism. It did not take place consciously, as we are prone to say, but it did take place in what some cognitive scientists refer to as a cognitive unconscious. However, in our exposition, we must add, with haste, that the experience is not limited to an unconscious cognition; it is a felt awareness. This is a most subtle form of knowing that permeates all experience. This permutation prods some writers to add an additional metaphysical element to their exposition. You see, some of us are still echoing the voices of a naive realism, one that states the "world" is independently objective, i.e., independent of our consciousness of it. The things of this world attract our attention and we simply become conscious of them. However, and this deserves repetition, this is not all there is. So, in this sense, they posit consciousness as the ultimate reality, a substrate reality, or a universal consciousness--one that pervades all things. In our experience based view, consciousness is a term that we may find useful in exploring and augmenting our experience with an intimate and often blissful, felt dimension.

Through the cultivation of a skillful attentiveness to the ambient consciousness, it may begin to yield a fuller and more subtle dimension of feelings. We may refer to this as the process of surrendering to what is occurring in our experience without judgment or, most importantly, without any self-natured investment expressed as craving. This craving short changes our experience to the point wherein experience is poverty stricken. There is, ultimately, no satisfaction to be gained by this type of exclusivity of consciousness. The reduction of experience to the consciousness of does not exhaust experience. Experience is far too rich for that. But, the exclusionary form of consciousness of conceals experience; it is laden with non-virtuous cognitive activity, i.e., stories that are suffering itself. Actually, when this exclusionary consciousness is seen from the perspective of the ambient, embodied consciousness, instead of stories we have fables. Usually, these fables carry a strong notion of I-am-ness. There is nothing inherently wrong with the thinking and feelings of selfhood. However, when saturated with cravings, these processes are also laden with suffering. The fables with strong feelings of self of the non-virtuous type are themselves suffering and their correlate is ill feelings.

Please allow a cautionary note here. The use of the word "consciousness" here is not to be understood as an element that constitutes experience. I prefer to speak of awareness so as not to hint that a metaphysical reality may be made of "consciousness." No one experiences consciousness! I know that may sound odd or downright ridiculous. However, when burning your hand on the stove is felt, where the heck is consciousness? Think about it and watch your experience. You may find our view to be helpful in your future observations. Your keen observations may even lead to a reduction of the suffering we all share as human beings. That is my hope.




We plan on carrying this theme throughout our subsequent blog entries. If you find anything here at all relevant or interesting, please add your comments or questions to the blog. You may contact me at epkelly@gmail.com.





*Probably a loan-translation of Greek syneidesis, literally "with-knowledge."

"Online Etymology Dictionary". 2017. Etymonline.Com. Accessed July 5, 2017. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=conscience&allowed_in_frame=0.


Brief Insight



On the lake,
two ducks swimming, 
they're using
the whole lake.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Awareness at the Intersection of Contact and Craving

When our senses, including the thought processes, come into contact with their respective (intended) objects, more often than not (sadly), the experience of the contact is smothered by a craving that reduces the experience of contact to a cognitive framework that turns the experience into a conceptual yearning. This yearning is expressed in the forms of felt attachments, aversions, or numbing indifference. The yearning is inherently, and by definition, dissatisfaction--on a scale from minor to major suffering.

To illustrate this, take the simple example of dropping a container of milk on the floor in a supermarket. The experience of witnessing the event includes a bodily component. The experience of perceiving (i.e., contact) the milk dropping and landing on the floor may be one of simple yet profound amazement at the movement and crashing of the container on the floor. This may elicit a felt, open bodily intimacy with the movement and crashing of the container. It may be quite a profound experience! This may elicit a "WOW!" moment. However, the movement may also be one of fear (for obvious reasons) and its associated contracted bodily experience coupled with the aversion that is fear itself. Fear is an unsatisfactory feeling that may be a warning or an instinct to move from an oncoming truck. In this instance, the fear aversion is not a satisfactory experience. In the case of milk dropping, we are not in danger. In the case of a truck, we are. Dissatisfaction may be, at times, a very helpful experience. However, often it is an unnecessary one. On the other hand, if one is in the middle of an argument with one's spouse, dropping the milk may be a deliberate act to elicit a reaction. Then the crashing milk container may yield an intended effect. There is a felt gratification (pleasure) on the part of the agent of the act and a painful response felt by the one toward whom the act is directed. Keep in mind, this is not solely a conceptual event. Intentionally it was designed to elicit both a painful and pleasurable feeling from the one toward whom the act is directed and the perpetrator of the act. The nature of the act, whether pleasurable, painful, or neutral (indifferent) hinges on intention. I hope this is clear.

Actions (karma) of body, speech, and mind that are intentional will result in reinforcing their conceptual and felt origins. These origins are held in intentions.
               

Sunday, July 09, 2017

On Craving

Craving diminishes our capacity for experience.


When the fullness of experience is tinged with aversion, attachment, or indifference very often dissatisfaction results. These three are known in some traditions as the "three poisons." When they substitute for the role the fullness of experience plays to bring completeness to our lives, we find ourselves situated in dissatisfaction yearning for more or less via attachment and aversion. The fullness is reduced in relation to the intensity of the desire. The passions of attachment or aversion serve as movements of reduction.

Craving is intrinsically reductionist. When desire inhabits experience, the fullness of experience is reduced to the structural dimensions of the language of the desires. Just a tinge of craving will have that effect, except only moderately. However, all too often, cravings are intense and reciprocally reduce experience to their framework. Keep in mind that craving is also present in aversion. Aversion is wanting some or all aspects of experience to dissolve.

Another way of understanding the relationship of craving and experience is to view the relationship as one of "inverse proportion." To the extent that craving increases, the fullness of experience decreases. In reducing experience to a closed system or structure of desire, experience no longer satisfies. It is found wanting. Experience, in this movement, exhibits a lack.

When a sense organ such as the eye comes into contact with a sense object, experience is reduced to the configuration of a desire. The whole is concealed, sacrificed, to bring about an object(s) which appears in relationship with the desire that may have initiated the perception.

The fullness of experience is, in effect, reduced by craving and vice versa.    

Unedited and more to follow, I had to get this out. 

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Scarlet Flower: Notes on experience


I wrote this some years ago and noted that much of it contained the seeds of a growing vision and understanding of how life, as experience, works. I hope you will find it useful. 🔻🔺🔼🔽ꜛꜜ


The scarlet flower against the evergreens shouts at me from inside, manifesting itself from a sacred movement within my heart.

Our selective attention catches hold of substances, not from some natural element outside of us, “the world,” but from the movement of experience itself, a movement that is life itself modulating into experience. This life is none other than my (and your) own inmost depth, our own solitary, pulsing, be-ing. All things take shape, become, through this life, as this life.  
Our aversions and attachments cast this movement of sacred manifestation away to become the perception of things we like, things we don’t, and things we are indifferent toward.  
Our selective attention, our conceptual mind, selects from a sphere or world that seems "already" there, as if it preexists our seeing it and post-exists our departure from it. However, that "already there" is not the world "out there," but the fundamental movement of experience itself. The world out there is the world already there as us. In other words, selective attention selects from experience and not the world-at-large. We are always already the world; it has its roots in our own felt-existence. It lives and has its being in our human life—beginning in our heart center. The heart center, the source of all life, modulates our depths into experience, into a world. Our lives, the life of each one of us, is the process of the whole. This is the only universe there ever was, is, or shall be. Or, to be more accurate, the world of experience is the modulation of our heart. To feel this modulation is to touch life itself and "know" how it arises to become this all. Tat-tvam-asi!!! 

Monday, July 03, 2017

History and Difference: Liberating Pursuits

When states of affairs are seen, through the lenses of history, anthropology, or even what is called "past life regression," one may realize that things are not the way they are because of their mere existence, but because there were processes, vast processes (acts/karma) of history at work to make them that way. We may regard this as a liberating view in this sense: Things have not always been the way they are now and therefore things do not have to be the way they are. When looking at the plurality of cultural practices via an anthropological eye, we may realize that, interculturally, things are different now, and what we face as states of affairs do not have to be the way they are (currently). The study of history and cultural diversity, seen from this philosophical perspective, can be quite liberating.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Corporeal Panpsychism

At the risk of becoming dogmatic, I will refer to the philosophical position taken in this blog as one of "Cultural Panpsychism." However, a cautionary note is in order. What we advocate here, primarily, is a refocusing on experience as a way of learning about "the Universe." (The scare quotes are very important.) One of the major results of the type of refocusing we are calling for is the realization, direct and embodied, that the world--as we have come to believe it--does not exist in an independent and radically objective manner. Tibetans often refer to this naive view as "the world existing from its own side."

What we wish to bring about is the fullest realization that we (i.e., our past actions of body, speech, mind, and history) are responsible for the character of experience we have. This does not mean our experience can instantly change for the better. The force of history is not to be underestimated. Thousands our years of the repetition of unenlightened actions of body, speech, and mind stand in the way of our happiness. When our history is more powerful than our ideas: Our worlds then become the world. This independently existing world then becomes the experienced world, i.e, what was once a true theory becomes a placeholder for a plurality of experienced worlds. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, when the world is perceived to exist independently of us, we no longer understand the responsible role we human beings have in the nature of worlds. It seems as if the world, as experienced, no longer holds the title of our world, but "the" world. That's when the many varieties of suffering plague all sentient beings. Our karma (i.e., acts of body, speech, and mind) holds little place as a guarantor of happiness. History plays a small part in our experience because "the" world is the way someone (else) dictates, e.g., in politics. When history in its incarnate role is forgotten, or its role is ignored, we human beings are as good as lost.

Our position is called Corporeal Panpsychism with the intent to lure the reader into a felt, i.e., incarnate perspective wherein the underlying union of body, self, world, and universe is held as the source of all experienced realities. This is a dynamic processual (impermanent) experience that is the womb of all realities.

Is there a world out there?

When we perceive something, anything, it appears against a totalistic background, the entire sensorium. In spotting a duck in the water, we are not generally conscious of the water, the visible background, the colors in the leaves behind the duck in the trees and numerous other "things" that are called into play when we spot a duck. More often than not, we do not focus on the living context--be it visible, aural, tactile, etc.--that is a necessary condition for anything to be perceived. This evanescent, living context is what many refer to as the background or "world." It arises so quickly that we are seduced into a primordial belief that it exists as a static world outside of perceived experience. It seems as though the world is already there. It seems as though when coming upon the duck, we have "picked" it out of the world. This is how fast experience takes place, i.e., embodied and ambient awareness. Experience moves faster than cognition. Our bodies are faster than our minds.

There is a sense in which we can say the world is something like a garden of Eden and we feel we are placed in it. However, being outcasts, like Adam and Eve, we may become aware of our beatific gardens of Eden and, through no small effort with few exceptions, suddenly find ourselves in the garden; or, should we say we are in the garden without finding ourselves at all. We may then find a garden view having abandoned the myopia of selfhood with its attendant cravings.

Yes, the world--as we are wont to call it--then takes on the face of pure experience. The world is no longer out there, but the outside has become the "objective" inside, i.e., inside of experience.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Power and Seduction of Belief

To begin with:

The stronger the belief that "world" exists outside and independent of us, the more susceptible we are to control by external powers. What is susceptibility? Its foundation is a metaphysical stance, i.e., belief in an independently existing universe. In this manner, there can be only one universe in which we exercise the limited power granted to us by external forces. This, at its worst, is called "politics." 

If we can suspend the radically held and incarnate belief that the world is not ours, we can directly experience our "nervous" systems, or not so nervous systems, holding the worlds within itself in an evanescent movement of the whole. Please consider meditation. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

From the Inside

Snow falls
from where
 the dog barks
                                             

Monday, May 15, 2017

Body is Faster than Mind

In order for a world to be perceived by our senses and mind, it must already be generated in a non-dualistic modality in what we commonly (and biologically) call "the nervous system." This is the presupposition, and for some experience, underlying all perception and cognition. For this reason, we claim that time is the movement of the whole and particulars are unfolded sequentially.

When perceiving a flying insect, some necessary perceptual conditions for the insect to appear are space and all of the form and colors that are not the insect. At some ulterior level of awareness, what we may call an implicate awareness, all of the conditions necessary for the flying insect to appear--even on the rudimentary level of forms--must somehow reside in our living experience. It would not be possible for a flying insect to appear without that ulterior, implicit awareness; all of the living and dynamic conditions necessary for the appearance of the insect must be present in an ulterior and subtle experience. To illustrate this in more common yogic or even "spiritual" language I have chosen a quotation from a well-known Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda: "God is consciousness. There is essentially nothing in the universe but mind or consciousness."* To put this in language that is more readily accessible, we may recast this quote as follows: "Experience is everything. There is essentially nothing in the universe but experience. The universe is experience." In demystifying the quotation, placing our emphasis on direct experience in a radically phenomenological cast, we have, hopefully, open to the possibility of a direct experience of the "truth" of this incarnate, implicit awareness.

It is in this manner that we can understand, quite directly, the notion of the body being faster than the mind. It is the dynamic openness of the "body" that holds the movement of implicit awareness. This is not the objective or medical body, but the feeling body in a most subtle sense. Sounds and forms move within the various body feelings as the source and home of life's movement, i.e., experience. Sound may be felt as stemming from the heart-center as a seed giving rise to sonorous movement. The bird's song happens in us and the tree to our left. This implicit awareness does not cancel out the objective world but situates it as the dynamic movement of the life of the body. The body makes possible, through its feeling dimension, the objects of perception of the senses. The necessary conditions for the insect's flight such as space, form, and color are an implicit context for an insect's flight to be perceived. The speed of this body openness makes it seem as if the world is independently given from its own side. Objectivity then becomes independence. The world is cast away into a sort of material spatiality that renders it the "natural" world, instead of an incarnate one.  








*Darecki, Y. (2017). Spiritual Path - Yogananda Quotes. [online] Yogananda.com.au. Available at: http://yogananda.com.au/gurus/yoganandaquotes10.html#path [Accessed 23 Jun. 2017].

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

A thought on "consciousness"

The term "consciousness" is often used not only as an element that is part of experience, but the word is often used as that which may constitute our reality, i.e., what is experienced. In this sense, consciousness becomes a term that has utility in describing how experience is structured. It is often seen as that which is primary and not derivative. Some even use the word consciousness to be some metaphysical reality that all else is derived from and rooted in. It is the fundamental reality. However, there is no need to go that far and posit consciousness as some reality-in-itself. What is truly real to us is our minute-by-minute experience. In this sense, reality is evanescent, dynamic, and elusive. As a phenomenological fact, we rarely if ever experience consciousness in our everyday lives; but we do live with illumined worlds of experience. What we do experience is the structure (relations) and contents of experience. We may learn to discriminate or isolate awareness as an aspect of all experience, but I see little need to make consciousness any sort of metaphysical entity that gives rise to the contents of experience. More to the point, I see no need to use the word "consciousness" in this sense.

A difficulty for some then, seems to be the issue of the type of reality consciousness is. The simple truth, as we formulate it, is that consciousness (awareness) is an aspect of all experience but it is not the contents of experience. It transmutes all contents of the sensorium into experience, but not into consciousness. There is no need to use the word "consciousness" as a sort of fundamental reality. Even the Indian Upanishads don't have to be read that way. Brahman, often viewed as the all-pervasive consciousness, is the totality of that which is illuminated or made manifest in experience; it is the "vision" that is all-inclusive. "Brahman" is used in two senses. First, it is the content of all experience. This is called sa-guna brahman--the brahman with "qualities"--an unfortunate translation. The other sense of the word is called nir-guna brahman--brahman without qualities. If we restrict the concept of Brahman to its nirguna aspect, we may use "consciousness" as the life-granting aspect turning all things (contents, qualities) into experience. We, therefore, give "consciousness" a more narrow use. There is no intrinsic need to do metaphysics in the sense that the word "consciousness" does not have to be used as a fundamental reality at the bottom of all things. Brahman is a phenomenological conceptualization of experience, not some fundamental "reality" that all things are made of. Brahman relates to human experience.

Moving on to our everydayness, awareness (consciousness) is not typically something that is experienced. However, it may reveal itself as that which illuminates all things rendering them experience in a strict phenomenological sense. We may reflect upon lived experience and say that consciousness was an element in experience but not a cause of experience in the sense of it being a reality in itself. Advisedly, when speaking of consciousness, we must be aware that we have left behind our immersion in experience and have reflected upon what has just happened in experience. The past, in a rather limited sense, is then the object of our reflection. But note, awareness is not the object of experience in the act of reflection. Consciousness does not reveal itself in experience; it reveals our manifest worlds. On this basis, we may then use "consciousness" as a tool to interpret our (past) experiences thus providing a way of understanding experience in a purely conceptual manner. Consciousness is a concept, often helpful but frequently a dangerous one.

Burning as living, Living as burning

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