Monday, December 24, 2018

Unedited version

I believe that 'consciousness,' when once it has evaporated to this estate of pure diaphaneity, is on the point of disappearing altogether. It is the name of a nonentity, and has no right to a place among first principles. Those who still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the faint rumor left behind by the disappearing 'soul' upon the air of philosophy.*

                                                                                           --William James


This quote from an article by the great William James, published in 1904, has yet to infiltrate much of academic philosophy let alone the proliferation of New Age thinking that takes consciousness to be some sort of fundamental reality. The use of consciousness by many in the New Age movement and its progeny is a regrettable metaphysics. Consciousness in some of this thinking has become a substitute for God, the Divine, and no small amount of Non-Dualistic thinking. In this article, William James points to the need for consciousness to be seen as a function and not a thing. He goes on to make this explicit a few sentences later.

In this blog, we have emphasized that consciousness (sometimes awareness) is an aspect of all experience. As such, it is all-pervasive or omnipresent. Experience, all that is known, cannot occur without consciousness. Therefore, we may say that it is all-knowing or omniscient. All knowledge is contingent upon consciousness. Finally, consciousness is absolutely necessary for the production of anything in experience. Therefore, we may say that it is omnipotent. All of this sounds an awful lot like God, does it not? Well, with our understanding of consciousness as an aspect of experience even God is contingent upon our consciousness for his/her existence. God is a phenomenon that appears in my life, illuminated by consciousness. So, given what we have stated here, we may say that all of life, even other people, is made possible in our experience because of consciousness--and, of course, the multitude of phenomena it illuminates. In this quote by James, he does not acknowledge the role that the diaphaneity of consciousness may play in freeing us from the grip or clinging of/to the pleasure, pain or insensitivity often accompanying phenomenal manifestations. However, I am quick to add the following. All sentient beings, if we experience them as such--and that is something that many contemporary embodiment views conceal or ignore--open us to the possibility of realizing that our sentience is their sentience. Strangely enough--and we shall unfold this view below--we may even perceive that our awareness is their awareness precisely because of its impersonal nature--at first glance a seeming paradox. 




Contemporary views on embodiment and enactive views often make it possible for us to lose sight of the sentience of the other in the manner in which we have just mentioned.* This brings us to a discussion of intersubjectivity.

All thoughts, for starters, occur in a sort of sentient space. Thoughts carry with them the implicit notion both that they can be heard, i.e., that they are directed to or shall we say they are vectorial, that some sort of listener hears them. Thoughts carry the implicit notion that they will be heard. This is not an explicit idea or thought construct. This is implicit in the very nature of thinking itself. Or else, why think? In addition to being listened to, thoughts carry the implicit notion that there is someone, the self, who thinks them. Again, this is not thematic or explicit. It is an underlying and, very importantly, a felt belief--as is the listening. Thoughts are not only that which is thought but that movement which is felt. All thoughts, regardless of their lack of great significance, even the most subtle of thoughts, are felt. The feelings may be very subtle but if one is quiet and attentive enough, these two being two sides of a coin, one may actually feel even the most subtle of narrative movements as feeling-vibrations moving from the lower regions of our abdominal area all the way up to our mouth, if spoken. These feelings give rise to the sense that the self thinks them as well as hears them. Feelings are the basis of, or support for, the belief in the listener and the thinker. Our feelings, being aligned with the narrative content of thoughts, generate specific senses of self and the nature of realities, i.e., the very movement of conventional experience. Also included are the movements of perception which is configured in the same fashion, except perception operates through the sense-realms giving rise to cognitive, felt narratives in association with the perceived. Our perceptions, not simply those we are conscious of but those which configure the realities we face at an ulterior level of awareness, also become felt realities giving rise to pleasure, difficulty, or insensitivity, i.e., not caring or paying much attention to, or perhaps insignificant to us at the moment. 

Now, on the other hand, awareness or consciousness is totally indifferent to all appearances. This is due to its nature of pure diaphaneity as William James was aware of. He made it a point to warn us to avoid the reification of consciousness. Reification tends to overlook the role of consciousness in all experience and places it in a conceptual framework of metaphysical speculation, now even some far-out scientific speculation. This movement, at present, tends to overlook or relegate to the background the importance of seeing the role consciousness can play in the alleviation of suffering or difficulty for all of us.

(For the present, we are not going to focus on the ethical implications of taking pure experience as our fundamental reality--as William James suggests in his Does Consciousness Exist? I hope to get there in the near future. I very much hope others will join in this endeavor.)  

The Usurpation of the Function of Consciousness  

As we mentioned above, thought rests on the tacit beliefs that they are both listened to by a hearer and thought by a thinker. Now here is the tricky part. This subtle (cognitive) belief is concomitant with the feelings felt when movements of thought or perception are in motion. 

Those feelings serve to authenticate the movements of cognition thereby granting them the sense of being actual or real by their intimate association with those feelings plus consciousness. So, we might say that the visceral nature of all cognition instantiates or, better, incarnates knowing thereby giving the self-sense--implicit in all narratives--validity and solidity and the sense of selfness, the I-am. Hence we are embodied. I am. I am the knowing and am is the feeling. All this is made possible by the additional fact that consciousness is present and providing this movement of instantiation or incarnation that which turns it into experience. Consciousness is experience rendering. It gives sentience to phenomena, in this case, to narratives and feelings inclusive of the presuppositions of there being a thinker and a listener. Here is the moment that the role of consciousness is usurped. Since consciousness is diaphanous, a word carrying the Greek for phenomena as that which appears, it is that which phenomena can be seen through (dia-phanous). Again, it renders phenomena sentient, alive as experience. It is distinct from phenomena and yet implicit in all phenomena. There are no appearances without it. Its distinct nature may be exploited in at least two ways, one to our detriment and the other to our benefit. The detriment is found in our unexamined sense of self. Because of the Janus-like presence of diaphanous consciousness and meaningful phenomena, the presumed audience and thinker become the self-sense. This presumption--the exquisite usurpation, has no perceivable beginning. But, it does have an end.   


The Janus-like relation between awareness and phenomena, i.e., phenomena  meaning the evanescent appearances, implies feeling--in all cases. We do not normally focus on the incarnate aspects of the movements of (what we call) mind. Mind, in our sense of the term, is the movement of the narrative structuring of the entirety of experience. If we closely observe the movement of sound we can easily peer into the structural and ephemeral workings of mind. Sound is an ephemeral movement. In its appearing, it is disappearing. A visual analog would be a flame. Looking at the flame, it is a visual paradigm of evanescence, it must continually disappear to appear, just like all experience. Vision, if not informed by this, will seem to grant us access to stable things, there for our use or observation. This is not the case at all. If we focus on the experience of those same things and take our cue from that, we will note that movement, i.e., time as experience, is on the move. One can feel this, but not necessarily see this. Take a look at a faded curtain and give it some thought.  

Narratives are evanescent and meaningful agents accompanied by feelings. In other words, mind is always incarnate in feelings, not in an abstract, conceptual version of a body-- which is a substance narrative. The feeling-body is not a thing; it is a felt movement informed by narratives, taking informed to mean forming, structuring--a dynamic and evanescent movement. This felt movement is structured not only by the explicit words we hear in thinking but by a process of anamnesis, a remembering that makes thought seem rational and meaningful. The implications are staggering. How far back do we go to find the most basic elements that serve to grant meaning to the present moment, to our present meaning-full present? There is no perceivable beginning. The reservoir must be ever-present, alive and infused with consciousness without which it would not function. It is consciousness which grants it life.  

All sentence-like thoughts are granted meaning from the unfathomable depths of history, the wellspring that makes any explicit thought meaningful. This wellspring is ever-present as the sustaining source, the reservoir that grants significance to the explicit. Of course, this is a speculative movement of mind and is not direct experience. The Buddha, for example, would not have approved of this movement--to theorize about this would have little to do, in his eyes, with the alleviation of our difficulties. I'll try to adhere to his outlook. 

More often than not, we in our narrative cultural movement, take mind to be an inhabitant of a flesh body in a physical or natural or material world. From our perspective, this narrative, this belief is and has been a terrible curse. How? It inclines us to ignore feeling the movement of narratives in the experiential feeling-body, or subtle body, and observing that it also conceals much of the movement of experience. It conceals the movement of the meaning-granting acts of situation creation. Each of our moment-to-moment experiential circumstances, inclusive of both self and what we call objective reality, is being granted life and significance through this sentient movement of narratives, or intentionality--as Husserl termed it. He saw that the transcendental ego was the underlying intentional agent of the constitution of experience. 

Here you are, on a park bench, alone with your thoughts--and the silence in which they occur. As you realized from the preceding, this silent-sentience is not thematic, it is the presumed listener to and author of thoughts--if without much consideration you pause to reflect and take note of this underlying aspect of experience. Now, suddenly, a friend approaches and you, in an effort to capture her attention say, "Hello." Now please consider this carefully. You may even wish to experiment with this if it comes to mind in a similar situation. As you say hello, the sentient-silence has gone from your implicit experience of it and may now be considered to have disappeared. But, what if it did not disappear? What if it is now the presumed listener to your "Hello"? The sentient-silence has taken birth in the other. Is this your experience? Is this what happens? What can we then say about the SS? What conclusions can we draw? More importantly, is this what we actually experience just under the radar of reflection? There was once a popular saying. It went like this, "The eyes are the mirror of the soul." Now, I'm not sure what "soul" means, but the expression was usually taken to mean that when we look into another's eyes, we have some insight into their soul. Well, let's take a closer look at this expression. What about taking it to mean that when we look into another's eyes they are the mirror of our soul?  

*Unedited 










*Current narratives, promulgated by many financial interests, seek to reduce human beings to material entities at the expense of their living subjectivity. Inherent in these narratives lurks the danger of a reduction of empathy narratives and an increase in our capacity for violence. The sentience and subjectivity of all living beings must be respected and made primary in our moral attitudes at the expense of profit maximization. By profit, I do not mean only financial profit but all self-interest material maximization at the expense of other sentient beings.
** Some in the sophisticated Tantric traditions of so-called "Hinduism" and Buddhism speak of this "body" in Sanskrit as the sūkṣma śarīra, pronounced (suk-shma-sha-ree-ra) in Sanskrit.  

Monday, December 10, 2018

Time, Narratives, Control and Configuration

Narratives, although not necessarily conscious, are what configure experience. Experience is vectorial*, i.e., experience is selflessly directed movement from the past aimed toward a future in the present. 

All three times are alive and conscious, configured by the past and intentional, i.e., structurally directed toward a possible future. In other words, experience--even what we may believe "happens to us"--is structured by fundamental beliefs about what is (the past) and what we will do (the future) with what is. In this sense, experience, as such, is a vectorial configuration constituted by past acts that anticipate or intend a possible future. This aim toward a possible or imagined future is as central to the configuration of experience as the past. In the oft repeated words of the Buddha, "Karma/kamma (action) is intention (cetana)". Thus, both past and future configure present experience in view of present conditions.

Present conditions are configured by the sensorium, covert cognitive and proprioceptive** processes that are, more often than not, covert or latent. Conscious thought plays somewhat of a superficial narrative role as our "consciousness of" an objective reality--the only kind we can be conscious of. However, that objective reality has become what it is via those covert processes of cognition, sensorial activity, and proprioception. These processes not only result in thought processes but also provide three general types of "feeling" (Pali: vedana), pleasurable, undesirable, or indifferent. Remarkably, there is no independently existing objective realm which is "worked on" by the three inner organs mentioned above, i.e., the sensorium, covert cognition, and proprioceptive--and our positing these is merely a tentative gesture at best.***  The only objectivity that is perceived to be independent is through the consciousness of and this is the result of a set of unspoken and unjustified assumptions. Reality, as the great Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset has stated, is "...what we do with what there is." In our sense of the term reality is experience. Since experience is fundamentally ephemeral it does it an injustice to attempt to freeze it and reduce it to the image of thought, something that began for Western Civilization, to impose a convenient start to it, with the great Parmenides who told us that "thought is the way to Being." So, reality for him, must be like thought and thought freezes and reduces movement to frames, pictures, and unicorns. To paraphrase Ortega, "Whoever guaranteed that "thought reflects reality?" Pragmatic results do not justify the hidden and mostly unquestioned materialist metaphysics. To be continued... 









*For a definition of "vectorial" see:  https://www.dictionary.com/browse/vectorial

** For "proprioceptive" see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception

***You might even say, with some hesitation, that the positing is a conciliatory gesture to our brothers and sisters steeped in physicalism.











Saturday, December 08, 2018

Home Away from Home*

When asked "Where do you live?" many of us will provide a geographical answer, e.g., Chicago, or on Main Street, or some such place. However, when looked a bit more closely, one may justifiably say, "I live in experience." Experience [as experiencing] may now be viewed as a home away home. Home is a habit of mind.

Therefore, whatever appears [as appearing/disappearing] to us at any given moment-situation is our ultimate home. Based on this, we would have to say that ecology is better viewed as taking care that experience is skillfully constituted. The skillful constitution of experience is brought about by various practices that aim toward peace of mind. Peace is an important component of experience. It renders us attentive to the mind’s essential sentience, one of two aspects of our binary nature. The evanescent arising and dissolving of phenomena, now seen to be accompanied by awareness, grants phenomena their sentience.

                                 Our Binary Life Movement

This binary distinction is an important perspective. Awareness--not some sort of existing "thing" or "entity," such as some have done with consciousness in making it a sort of foundation or ultimate reality--is not a separate thing from phenomena but the aspect the of experience that we can distinguish from phenomena with a calm focus.  However, most of us pay little attention to awareness itself as it is all to often tied, or better yet "bound," to the phenomena which are being lit by awareness turning them into the contents of experience. Peace of mind offers us the possibility of realizing that there is a distinction between awareness and the contents that are being illuminated by it, in it, through it--however one wishes to point to this aspect. Again, our mirror metaphor may serve to illustrate this. Awareness functions much like the mirror's surface. How often do we look at the surface of a clean mirror? We are, much more often than not, focused on the image within the mirror and not the mirror. No problem there. Taking our metaphor to experience, awareness functions in a similar, unnoticed, and unappreciated fashion. This is due to our not realizing that there may even be a distinction between what appears as experience (dharmas, phenomena, etc.), i.e., its contents and not that which goes on being taken for granted, awareness. The two are distinct but not two separated "entities." In point of fact, we are here discussing experience, in which all phenomena are movement, evanescence, and process; identity (things) are not our focus--although identities may appear in the stream. Awareness and the contents of experience are here considered to be alive as a moving and sentient current. However, in quietude, one realizes upon reflection that awareness defies characterization. One can only point in the hope that the pointing is not taken for the pointed to. Things do not play a role in this specific context. Awareness and the contents of experience may yield things but things are a conceptual reification of contents which may be considered a process of identification--often necessary but at times dangerous. I cannot stress this enough. In this context, things are our experience of things and not things in themselves in the context of our present discussion. Thinking may identify, i.e., grant identity to, but identification may shift the focus from process to identity. That discussion is for another time.

                                        * * * * * * * * * * *

Awareness functions as the eye of the storm, a truly dispassionate, non-conceptual spectator at peace and aloof despite the whirls** of the experienced.

Awareness, a function of which is to grant sentience to phenomena, may be realized to be distinct from phenomena and as such, it may become a door to liberation. Its distinct nature is untouched by the selfless arising of phenomena and as such it provides the possibility to allow for the synchronous arising and cessation of difficulty. This is not to be confused with effort as we normally regard it. As the surface of a mirror is indifferent to the passing phenomena it yields as reflections, awareness, a purified subjectivity, may be seen to have been a posture of indifference from a time without a perceivable beginning. Thus, in discovering the role that awareness has been playing all along, one may now regard awareness as our domicile the protection of which calls for civil liberties.

The civility required to protect and encourage the care of our liberation from difficulty may now function as the ground and justification of virtue. Civil liberties may now function to protect the peace of society, i.e., the sentient nature of all phenomena--inclusive of all the sentient others that arise in our experience--is our society.



*This entry first appeared on "The Spiritual Civil Liberties Union" where the title was "Home and the Need for Civil Liberties." Here: http://spiritualcivillibertiesunion.com/

*"Whirls," interestingly employed by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the conscious movements of experience, citta-vrtti.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The Ultimate Reality



The ultimate reality is the life of each one of us as it is lived. All other realities, even god, are rooted in the “my life.” The bio-life of each one of us, i.e., life as it is lived, is where all things gain their life as they are lived in us. Taking care of “my life” is to take care of all that appears in my life as a living. The universe that takes place in my life is the only universe. It has commonalities with others but will never be “the universe.” The notion that there is such a universe is an abstraction that is rooted in a belief that is—with very few exceptions—is uncritically held, presupposed, assumed, and in the minds of most scientists, axiomatic. The demand that all adhere to the notion of “the universe” is not only tyrannical but wrong-headed. It is an epistemic dream that science, politics, economics, society, etc. exist as independent realities.


What makes this ultimate reality mine? This movement or bio-life includes a phenomenal I-sense that is generated within phenomenal manifestations. The I think, I know, I am, mine, me, and mine are circumstantially situated along with the movement of experience and as such, they are felt phenomena, i.e., dynamic, animated--a living appearance. The sense of self is ephemeral, mercurial. As an appearing it is an ephemeron, ever appearing and simultaneously dissolving. Reality is a movement, a flux that includes all three times--past, present, and future. Not one moment is devoid of all three times. This is not conceptual or contrived time but living time--experience as time itself. Without the three times being present, it is not possible to take even one step forward. Time is evanescent experience. 


“In its coming, it is going; in its going, it is coming.” (Gurani Anjali)

Monday, August 13, 2018

On Ultimate Reality: The Bio-Life of Each One of Us



The ultimate reality is the life of each one of us as it is lived. All other realities, even god, are rooted in the “my life.” The bio-life of each one of us, i.e., life as it is lived, is where all things gain their life as they are lived in us. Taking care of “my life” is to take care of all that appears in my life as living. The universe that takes place in my life is the only universe. It has commonalities with others but will never be “the universe.” The notion that there is such a universe is an abstraction that is rooted in thought. The demand that all adhere to the notion of “the universe” is not only tyrannical but wrong-headed. It is an epistemic dream that science, politics, economics, society, etc. exists as independent realities.

What makes this ultimate reality mine? This movement or bio-life includes a phenomenal I-sense that is generated within phenomenal manifestations. The "I-think," "I-know," and "I-am" are circumstantially situated along with the movement of experience and as such they are felt phenomena,i.e., dynamic, animated a lived appearance. As an appearance it is an ephemeron, ever appearing and simultaneously dissolving. Reality is a movement, a flux that includes all three times--past, present, and future. Not one moment is devoid of all three times. This is not conceptual or contrived time but living time--experience as time itself.

                                                   ******

The eye cannot see itself. The eye sees, but cannot be seen, even when looking in the mirror, the one in the mirror is the seen, never the seer. In awareness, self is not everything else. It is, without exception, the truly unique. So, what does it mean to call it “self”? Why that word? In experience, not theory, not concept, what justifies our use of that word? Is it a self? If so, how would we know? What does that word “mean”? How is “self” being used? The how is always accompanied by a when. Is there any other time when “self” is also present? This so-called “self” is accompanied by past and future historical and projectival aspects(?). Subjectivity, the wholly other to all that is, is never at risk of being found. The familiar “self” is used because it is familiar. Can anyone actually say what this word means? Is it ever what it is claimed to be? It rises and falls in living and dynamic contexts, always mercurial. It is no more a what than a who. Looked at very closely there is no one there. There is no one home. Then why call it “self”?

I don’t have any answers of the kind most looked for, to some degree I can address life as each one of us lives it. After all, the living of each one of us is the fundamental reality, is it not? When speaking history, politics, economics, literature, and many more languages, more often than not, the living and breathing life of each one of us as it is lived is not considered as a necessary ingredient of the narrative. Instead, we settle for imaginary beings--who may just as well be thought of as things--to discuss what is best, or politically appropriate, or medically applicable. Think about it, how often is a living being, in living and dynamic situations considered in any narrative context? Strange, to say the least, since it is this living that makes all of the others possible, even theology.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

Enactivism, Embodiment, Extended Mind, etc.


Zen Koan: A monk was meditating by the pond with his master one day. While meditating there the monk saw a frog jump into the pond. He asked his master who was sitting beside him how this happened. The master replied: "If you can explain what happens when the pond jumps into the frog then you will have your answer". The monk realized, in that instant, the meaning of his master's statement and then began to meditate some more.

As the koan shows, if the monk/student can imagine or fabricate his way to an explanation of how the "pond jumps into the frog," he will understand how the frog jumps into the pond, how it occurs. Please note that it is how and not why. Our knowledge, our experience, our "embodied consciousness" does not stop at the skin. What is known, at this [mostly occulted] level of perception is the manner in which mind extends into living circumstances. Each moment of our sentient living demonstrates an incarnate construal of self-body-mind-world instantiation. These moments provide much of the sediment for subsequent moments of life's movement as living time. As I have discussed in previous blog entries, a process of deposition is at work; we might call it a process of an assimilating deposition. The immediate conditions of each moment, a fractal frame, imposed upon all of the prior frames already deposited, is structured as a new past conditioned by both the present conditions and all of the prior fractal frames. This movement includes a paradoxical looking back to the future thus conditioning all subsequent moment-frames. All looking forward relies upon the present and the past for its vector. All acts of body, speech, and mind—past, present, and future—reside in dependence on the entirety of the past as well as present conditions carrying intentions forward. There is no room for a free will but the all-inclusive present conditions offer novelty in each moment thus offering the possibility of innovation. Nothing remains the same. Given this analysis, there can be no eternal return à la Nietzsche. The past provides the working material from which, influenced by present conditions, the future holds out the possibility for change. We may view this as the unfolding of history or karma. Innovation is made possible by the openness of the present to unique conditions into which the past enters to undergo modification in its vectorial movement to future acts. The process is far too complex to rationally compute. However, it may be said that what we do in the present, which is the result of past acts that have been perfumed all along by unique presents, offers us the possibility of changing our futures. TBC



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Friday, June 22, 2018

Neither Idealism nor Realism & More...


Familiar with an idealist notion that our thoughts create reality? Or, a realist notion that reality exists independent of minds & from its own side? I invite you to take a look at how our desires bring about experiential, living reality--an alternative to the other positions.
Examining experience takes a bit of practice, luck, & sometimes, help. Let’s begin with an examination of desire. Desires may be seen to arise quite selflessly. We don’t elicit them do we? We don’t say “I would like to arouse a desire,” do we? Did we desire to arouse desire?
And if that was the case, what would have aroused that desire to examine desire? What would it be like to elicit a desire? What would be the necessary and sufficient causes and conditions in place that would give rise to a desire? Let’s examine our experience, shall we?
By carefully watching our experience, we can be witness to something quite surprising, the absence of a self that desires. Let your attention rest on of the birth of a desire. Sit quietly long enough and a desire will arise. (Perhaps a desire to move, or adjust your posture arises.) Just witness it. See if you actually, that is, consciously and explicitly act in such a way that you can actually and honestly say that “you” created a desire or made a desire arise in your experience. Now, did you actually give rise to that desire? Were you present at the birth of that desire? Were you there actually creating that desire? Did you design it? Did you structure it? Did you select the words that are its content? Can you honestly say that you explicitly took those actions to create a desire?
Yes, in anticipation of a question, without question, all experience arises selflessly, even those characterized as “evil” or “self-centered.” Blame is a mere convention and implies only a naive, conventional guilt. Blame requires a notion of a free agent who, with deliberation, decidedly performs an action out of her own free will. Now, given what we know of desire from the above remarks, do you think this is a possibility? Do actions not result from desire, an intention to act? Then, what gave rise to the desire? Again, did one consciously say, “Hey, I think I will desire to do such and such an act?” Is this the way it happens? Let’s say for the moment that it did happen that way. Now, what would be the next step that gives rise to the act for which we can lay blame? If we think clearly about this, without uncritically adhering to the presuppositions (the habitual) that immediately enter our minds to muddy the waters, we must say that some sort of a decision takes place. So, how does that happen? Do we then think, “Oh, okay, I think I will decide to perform this act?” Is this what happens? Or, is it something like, “Should I perform this act?” Say it is the latter. Okay, now what happens next? Do we then decide? Since we have decided to decide? Okay, do we then decide to decide to decide to do the act? You must see where this is going? An infinite regress occurs. No act will ever take place. Certainly, this cannot be the process of acting upon desires.
Consider this: “I forgot….” On first listen, this sentence may appear to reflect a process of forgetting. But what would this process entail? A self that has deliberately forgotten something. What is that self? What is that process? Think about it. How would such a process appear? Is there a self who willingly places a something some place where they will forget it? How would that be possible? How would this forgetting process be enacted? Maybe with some sort of drug, or a really great hiding place that one may forget. But if it is such a great hiding spot then how might it be forgotten if you just remembered about it now so that you may place this object in it? Does this not seem rather oxymoronic? “I’ll put this somewhere so special that I can forget where I put it--so I cannot remember it? Sound right to you?
One of several presuppositions grounded as the false hope of the enlightenment is that we, as independently existing selves, we arrive at a point where each of us will rationally know, will have gained that knowledge where we suffer no more, will not age, will be happy, will be healthy, and on and on. This assumption of independently existing substantial selves (IESS) grounds the belief that conceptual knowledge is what should and can guide us to some sort of rational knowledge that will bring all of IESS to fulfillment in a better future. Some of us even have a dream of AI that will enable us to accomplish this utopian future. This is not in keeping with what experience with a truly focused, quiet, and non-conceptual attention tells us is the case. 

To be continued on a post above...





Thursday, June 21, 2018

Blog Post Revised: Observations on Free Will, Intention, and Meaning


Familiar with an idealist notion that our thoughts create reality? Or, a realist notion that reality exists independent of minds & from its own side? I invite you to take a look at how our desires bring about experiential, living reality--an alternative to the other positions.
Examining experience takes a bit of practice, luck, & sometimes, help. Let’s begin with an examination of desire. Desires may be seen to arise quite selflessly. We don’t elicit them do we? We don’t say “I would like to arouse a desire,” do we? Did we desire to arouse desire?
And if that was the case, what would have aroused that desire to examine desire? What would it be like to elicit a desire? What would be the necessary and sufficient causes and conditions in place that would give rise to a desire? Let’s examine our experience, shall we?
By carefully watching our experience, we can be witness to something quite surprising, the absence of a self that desires. Let your attention rest on of the birth of a desire. Sit quietly long enough and a desire will arise. (Perhaps a desire to move, or adjust your posture arises.) Just witness it. See if you actually, that is, consciously and explicitly act in such a way that you can actually and honestly say that “you” created a desire or made a desire arise in your experience. Now, did you actually give rise to that desire? Were you present at the birth of that desire? Were you there actually creating that desire? Did you design it? Did you structure it? Did you select the words that are its content? Can you honestly say that you explicitly took those actions to create a desire?
Yes, in anticipation of a question, without question, all experience arises selflessly, even those characterized as “evil” or “self-centered.” Blame is a mere convention and implies only a naive, conventional guilt. Blame requires a notion of a free agent who, with deliberation, decidedly performs an action out of her own free will. Now, given what we know of desire from the above remarks, do you think this is a possibility? Do actions not result from desire, an intention to act? Then, what gave rise to the desire? Again, did one consciously say, “Hey, I think I will desire to do such and such an act?” Is this the way it happens? Let’s say for the moment that it did happen that way. Now, what would be the next step that gives rise to the act for which we can lay blame? If we think clearly about this, without uncritically adhering to the presuppositions (the habitual) that immediately enter our minds to muddy the waters, we must say that some sort of a decision takes place. So, how does that happen? Do we then think, “Oh, okay, I think I will decide to perform this act?” Is this what happens? Or, is it something like, “Should I perform this act?” Say it is the latter. Okay, now what happens next? Do we then decide? Since we have decided to decide? Okay, do we then decide to decide to decide to do the act? You must see where this is going? An infinite regress occurs. No act will ever take place. Certainly, this cannot be the process of acting upon desires.
Consider this: “I forgot….” On first listen, this sentence may appear to reflect a process of forgetting. But what would this process entail? A self that has deliberately forgotten something. What is that self? What is that process? Think about it. How would such a process appear? Is there a self who willingly places a something some place where they will forget it? How would that be possible? How would this forgetting process be enacted? Maybe with some sort of drug, or a really great hiding place that one may forget. But if it is such a great hiding spot then how might it be forgotten if you just remembered about it now so that you may place this object in it? Does this not seem rather oxymoronic? “I’ll put this somewhere so special that I can forget where I put it--so I cannot remember it? Sound right to you?
One of several presuppositions grounded as the false hope of the enlightenment is that we, as independently existing selves, we arrive at a point where each of us will rationally know, will have gained that knowledge where we we suffer no more, will not age, will be happy, will be healthy, and on and on. This assumption of independently existing substantial selves (IESS) grounds the belief that conceptual knowledge is what should and can guide us to some sort of rational knowledge that will bring all of IESS to fulfillment in a better future. Some of us even have a dream of AI that will enable us to accomplish this utopian future. This is not in keeping with what experience with a truly focused, quiet, and non-conceptual attention tells us is the case.












Monday, June 18, 2018

All of us are burning...

All sentient beings are in the flame, burning with it and as it, the impermanence--arising and ceasing as samsara. That is experience as time. Sentience makes all experience conscious and evanescent in its synchronous arising and ceasing. Witnessing is freedom itself. Distinguishing pure subjectivity-- as an impersonal, conscious witnessing--from the witnessed is liberation. This is not something added to what is now ongoing. Experience as sentient evanescence is ever the case; now is the only time freedom lives. Past, present, and future coalesce to inform the movement of life with structure and meaning. There is no doer, no owner, no one home there. One can only become what you already are. Practice must not forever remain the plug-in-the-gap between now and then. All of us must awaken.

When experience demonstrates birth and death as one movement it has revealed their unification as time. All opposition, all dualities now remain as conventional and or pragmatic tools rather than descriptions of "the real." Dualities are now seen to be purely conceptual and often helpful or a sophistic hindrance which may and do become sinister in their utility.

As always, more to come...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Biography and the Exploitation of Meditation and Virtue Practice


                                       

Meditation is not done to change, transform, improve, or enlighten your life but to change the nature of moment-to-moment experience at the expense of the presence of suffering. Biographically oriented change through meditation defeats one of its primary reasons for its existence throughout its history.

                                          




















Friday, June 01, 2018

More on Body: Rambling thoughts on thoughts

The body lives in "real- time, living time as experience. It does so anonymously until the feeling of selfhood is elicited. Often, that's when the trouble begins. However, trouble is not inherent in this. The body is always faster than thinking, but thinking lives in real time also. Reflection plays catch-up to the body's dynamic, to feeling organized by living narratives that run very deep. The work of embodied narratives is too fast for reflection to catch. However, reflection does its work in real-time also. It's just that we believe the intended objects of reflection are an accurate "mirroring" of what has already occurred. Reflection, in the performative sense, takes as its object the past. Memory can be deceived and has often been caught out in error. Our deepest beliefs, held in body-memory, often lead us astray.

The body is now, the evanescent present flowing with the complication (co-implication) of past, present, and future. The past, i.e., past actions of body, speech, and mind--from time without beginning--flow in an intentional as a yet-to-be future, always. This language attempts to hold what cannot be held, like quicksilver. The body flows in evanescent effluence, flush with acts built of time.

In the "encounter," the body-mind-world is the forgotten but promised land. The memory of this forgotten land hides in our primordial anxiety, our longing for home. Without so much as a wink, the body as the evanescent is forgotten and paradise is lost. We then come upon a strange world that must be thought to know its "nature." Parmenides saw to that. He opened the methodos, the path, that claimed being is known by thought. Thought cannot reclaim that which is lost. Thought, as the belief that it can reflect, mirror, capture, or know the "what is," is an ever alienating movement to know the evanescent in the still. Thought then becomes incarnate belief in the encounter. "I come to being as the still," the still that becomes framed in ideas. Vision, as Aristotle knew, can only capture what does not move, what does not become.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Some notes on karma, novelty, change, and free will

This vectorial nature of (phenomenal) experience is intentional, i.e., meaningful present acts aim toward and determine meaningful future experience.* The unique, incarnate, and meaningful circumstances of each present moment are what makes a qualitative change in future experience possible.

In this depiction of the structural continuum of experience, what some Buddhists refer to as the mental continuum (a problematic translation), there is no room for free will. If there were free will it would require input from a willing agent. This agent, a self, possessing such a will, would of necessity be unconditioned by the past and have the capability to make decisions without relying on input from the past or present circumstances or a conceivable future which would also be free of any input from the past in any conception of a future. This agent would be free of all conditioned imperatives even those which demanded the next breath. Such an agent excludes the existence of a memory in any conception of the time in which and for which a decision had to be made. One is exhausted by any attempt to even conceive of an unconditioned agent possessing free will let alone making decisions...





*This movement is 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

On the Manifest and the Unmanifest...short takes

Many of us may think that silence is simply a lack of sound. However, it is only in and through silence that sound can be heard. This statement holds true for all of the other senses with their respective fields or contexts, e.g., the tastlessness of the tongue and the "lack" of feeling that skin minus the contact is touchless and the tongue is tasteless. All six of our sensations or cognitions, including the mind-sense, require their sentient opposites to originate, continue, and dissolve. This threefold process(ing) of origination, continuity, and dissolution is synonymous with time itself as experience. All three may also serve to help us take note of this process and perhaps even practice non-interference, i.el, neither attachment nor averson toward it. All three occur (as occurring) synchronously. In an abstract sense, all three make up each now as the movement of experience. In order to taste, for example, the occurring of tasting must happen as process. So, to manifest taste as tasting time as experience is always an occuring not a static taste but a movement of tasting. This is an occasion for the words more or less. Do I need more ice cream or put my fork down an toss this untasteworthy food--the play of attachment and aversion. However, when we drink pure water, we may be indifferent to its movement of taste. It is often overlooked or ignored when we may use it to wash down what we wish we hadn't eaten. It may now become clear why I call silence sentient silence, for it is a necessary element of tasting anything, liked or not. 



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Axioms and Suffering (It's not very clear but I'm working on it.)

The intransigent presupposition (belief) of an independently existing reality outside of human experience, be it the world, nature, or the universe, gives rise to the compulsion to justify the alien others, such as Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, etc., by naturalizing them. This process seems, at first glance, to be a process of discovery of what is and is not affected by bias, i.e., it appears as natural and independently existent. The sciences claim to be a process of revealing the secrets of the universe, be it biology or physics and their related natural sciences.

Science is the practice that ultimately will require justification once these “alien” others are more fully comprehended and incorporated. For now, let me state that we live in worlds that are situational and not natural. By situational we mean manifest as the attempted fulfillment of human desire. So, instead of asking the question "What is?," we intend the question "What does it mean for us?" In most cases of scientific investigation, the answers looked for are driven by the intentional questions "What is it?," What is its function in the natural order of things?," and "Of what use is it to fulfill our desires?," or "What can we do with it?," following a simple progression of explanation, prediction, and control.

The overwhelming inclination, even compulsion, to justify other realms of life, philosophies, or practices by naturalizing them via science, e.g., neuro--whatever, must be examined.

The Western sciences, in light of a fuller understanding of the other(s) such as Buddhism, Yoga, Sufism, phenomenology, mysticism, etc., may very well be those who are summoned to provide more and or other justifications for their own activity.

These so-called others find their justification for adherence in the efficaciousness of their claims to either alleviate suffering and may even provide something of a foundation for the sciences and its (possible) intentions.

In marked contrast to many forms of scientism and materialism, Buddhism etc., are intended as methods different than the acquisition of theoretical knowledge for the purposes of explanation, prediction, and control. The theories propagated by sciences currently rest upon foundations and justifications that are often obscure, assumed as axiomatic, and even based on the profit-bearing motives of capitalist economy. Often our sciences serve the cruel masters of ignorance and afflicted thinking as evinced by environmental degradation, poverty, alienation and the increased suffering of all sentient beings.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The World According to the Buddha

The Buddha said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world."

Friday, April 13, 2018

More remarks on free will and karma, but as yet unfinished...


Some adherents to a free will view may not realize all of the necessary assumptions in place making such a view seem plausible. However, keen or vigilant attention paid to experience reveals that an error is in play. Experience rises and falls, by its own momentum, effortlessly--for good or bad. Its source is unknowable, in a strictly experiential sense. Watch very calmly and closely if you are in doubt, for this is precisely what it takes to come to know this to be an accurate description. A self-sense inheres (as a conceit) in the continuum of experience, not as an agent of actions of body, speech, and mind but as an implicit or explicit component of the continuum. This is often called our karma--because it becomes manifest in our experience with an implicit or explicit attending self-sense. The conceit is what we may refer to as the illusion, the mere appearance of Ime, and mine. However, the vigilant attention spoken of here, while intrinsic to experience, is not a self or an agent of actions. This attention makes the bearer of experience and the contents of experience possible.

What arises as experience results from necessarily incarnate past acts, historical, social, familial, and personal. If experience occurred in any other way, change would not be possible. Thus, change for the better, i.e., change in the quality of future experience is indeed possible through acts taken in the present.

No act (karma) of body, speech, and mind is lost. Meaningful experience, fully human experience, unfolds from the past in the present toward the future. Thus, experience is intentional. Actions taken in the present, providing the deposits for the nature of future experience, include the circumstantial elements of each present moment wherein the past is unfolded as the present toward the future. Thus, the deposits left by the action taken in each present circumstance accounts for the novelty of future experience. Thus, innovation is included in the experiential continuum. If one thinks of this in the manner of geological deposition, such as we see in the sedimentary layers of the Grand Canyon, we must take note of, not only the prior layers of sediment conditioning the structure of the newer deposits, but of the causes and conditions of each moment that also lend to the configuration of each new layer of sediment deposited upon the prior layers. All (and I must stress this word) of these prior layers (the past) are also the conditions which remain to configure each new layer as it is deposited. Thus, each present action, inclusive of all of the circumstances conditioning that present action, will also be conditioned by all prior acts deposited and both the present and the past become the causes and conditions of future experience. This makes the novelty and the continuity of experience possible. In effect, the future is in a sense, but not entirely, present in the past. So, our actions in the present do count. However, they are conditioned acts with the possibility of qualitative change made possible by the manner in which each action taken, not by a free agent mind you, establishes the conditions upon which future experience is created.





















Monday, March 26, 2018


“There are two kinds of suffering: the suffering that leads to more suffering and the suffering that leads to the end of suffering. If you are not willing to face the second kind of suffering, you will surely continue to experience the first.”
                                                                                                                                     --Ajahn Chah

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On the Dangers of the Reification of the Process of Attention

A Simple Introduction

A wonderful lesson I took in my early years in college was from one of Ortega y Gasset's* works. It involved the following (crudely) paraphrased example. He asked what the color white was and to what we might apply it knowing full well that many whites existed and we apply the word white to all of them. So, which was the real white? He drew the distinction between the variety of whites we experience and the ideal or concept white we think. While, as far as I can recall, he never applied it to the concept of self; but his lesson in color also applies to the notion of self. We commonly use the words I, me, mine as if they applied in one or another sense to the same self. We also use names (nouns) as if they apply to a self-same person, place. or thing. These usages are fine as long as we have in mind the conventional nature of the application of the concept to the changing experience of what we conventionally call the thing. But, as we know, this is seldom if ever the case. We seldom, if ever, realize that the name is not adequate to the ever-changing experience we have of what we believe the name to refer to. Take the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus's well-known example (and warning), "It is impossible to step twice into the same river." Now, while I have stated this rather simplistically, it works to point to ever more complex issues that often cause us a great deal of confusion and even suffering.


On the Dangers of the Reification of the Process of Attention (unedited but headed in the right direction)

If we are hellbent on using the term “consciousness” for discussions regarding our experience as sentient beings let us be acutely aware of our tendency to regard this term as a thing, entity, or object rather than an activity that lives, that is intensely alive and superbly ephemeral; it is an ephemeron.

All five factors--objectivity, feeling, perception, narratives, and consciousness--of the assemblages are ephemerons, they are alive and as such not things, not cadavers, not objects in a frozen landscape called the world. Experience is living; it is coming and going simultaneously. Birth and death are the movements of time, of experience. Freedom may be viewed as the evanescent awareness of assemblages in their synchroneity and revelation.

Craving is the arising of narratives of the death-rendering battle against impermanence.









*Jose Ortega y Gasset, 1886-1955, the great Spanish philosopher that I strongly recommend your attention to at some point in your life.    

This post takes the place of the deleted "Desire and Fulfillment..." post

On the Movement of Experience as Time

We may analyze experience into five basic factors that integrate to form assemblages: (intentional) objects, feelings, perceptions, narratives, and awareness.

The collusion of any them--past, present or future; internal or external; explicit or implicit; common or sublime--is here termed an assemblage.

Assemblages may be seen as an organization of the factors, i.e., both the structure and content of all conventional experience.

These assemblages, for most of us, function as the targets of craving, invariably accompanied by a self-sense.

The factor that organizes the others is narrative. Narrative organizes perception, consciousness (or awareness), objectivity, and feelings (body). Again, the organizations are here called assemblages.

Narratives are, in the linear sense, historically constituted. Their intentional structure and content are formed by a process of deposition, as in geological deposition, wherein the past shapes a present inclusive of circumstantial conditions that also lend to its intentional, future-oriented composition.

All narratives are vectorial. It is helpful to consider the depositional character of narratives as frames that are inclusive of each moment of present circumstances as well as all prior deposits also shaping that present moment as well. (More should and will be said of narratives but we will have to wait for more appropriate time and place--assemblages.)

Assemblages are temporal in two senses: 1.) the sense that they derive from the past in the present toward an intended future, i.e., they are vectorial; 2.) in the sense that they are ephemeral.

Assemblages are evanescent and, in conventional experience, attended by a self-sense, also evanescent.

An assemblage, when with its attendant self-sense, is a necessary condition for attachment, aversion, or indifference to arise. An assemblage is also a necessary condition for the various modalities of self-senses to arise in the forms of I, me, and mine. Identification with, relationship to, and possession of
the assemblages are the general forms of self-sense composition and manifestation.

A self-sense may be said to be the bearer of the craving-assemblages. They are concomitant, in all but a few cases, with dissatisfaction ranging from cravings for continuing pleasure, to aversion, indifference, stress, to extreme suffering--despite the evanescent nature of the self-sense.

This apparent continuity of the self-sense is due to the similar intentional content of the evanescent narratives organizing the factors providing cohesion.by association. This processual movement of similar self-sense bearing narratives is time itself.

Experience is time.*







*As always, the foregoing is subject to modification.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rather daring, wouldn't you say?

The intransigent presupposition (belief) of an independently existing reality outside of human experience, be it nature or “the” universe, gives rise to the compulsion to justify Buddhist, Yogic, Sufi, or other practices by naturalizing them. Science is the practice that ultimately will require justification once these “alien” others are more fully comprehended and incorporated.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Time as Experience: Karma, Accretion, and Change part 1



Frames and full-bodied memory--introductory remarks

Viewing time as the unfolding of experience requires some modifications of what we bring to our usual understanding of “experience.” To gain insight into time as experience, our use of the term “experience” must become radically inclusive of the entire range of each moment of embodied living. In this vision, experience unfolds as frames--perhaps the frames reminiscent of strobe lights or, better, "trails" seen during pharmacological experimentations. Each frame is inclusive of both focal awareness and ambient awareness, i.e., the peripheral visual, olfactory, kinesthetic, tactile, and somatosense to the extent they impacted the frame. Also, and very significantly, the form and aural spatial configuration of that frame. Seen as time (Sanskrit, kshana, Pali: ksana), each moment is a temporal frame inclusive of all the frame contains. Space and time are distinguishable but not separable. So a frame is all-inclusive and not limited to a conceptual memory of an event of any sort. It is the context which the conceptual or cognitive event occurred within. The cognitive memory is an abstraction made in the present from the frame of the past that still abides in the store of living memory that lives, remains, in the present conditioning each "subsequent" frame that is and will be.


Part I: An Elaboration on the Frame

Each moment is filled with some form of objectivity, feeling, perception, consciousness, and meaning content. In addition, each moment may be, and in most instances is, attended by a self-sense, a subject. Frames, when considered from a temporal perspective, are moments. These moment-frames are cumulative. Depictions of fractals are a way to visualize them.



Each kshana or moment-frame becomes on the basis of all the prior ones, despite their differences. If we use the metaphor of geological deposition as in the sediment layers visually apparent in (as) the Grand Canyon, we see that each of the layers takes on the configuration it does from both the prior sediment layers and the conditions laid down from the multitudinous influences of the spatio-temporal context. This is what Buddhists and other Indian philosophical schools refer to as karmic deposits (vasana, samskaras/samkaras). These then form the basis of subsequent deposits. This leads us to a karmic or historical theory of deposition.

All of our acts of body, speech, and mind are conditioned by this process of deposition. As you may observe in the picture of a fractal, each frame follows on the basis of all the other frames. This process has no perceivable beginning when seen in experience--often one arising from meditation or other unconventional perception. Perceptions, thoughts, and memories arise carrying with them all of the relevant factors of past and present in a vectorial movement toward the future. The doctrine of karma states that the processes conditioning all experience have no beginning (an-adi)--but they do have an end. Some might hold that end to be death others hold it to be some sort of release like nirvana.

Part II: Freedom Within the Frames (forthcoming)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Worlding: The Bodily Constitution of Form Part II

Prior to the seemingly late appropriation of things, concepts, forms, and images by the consciousness of or intentional consciousness, the structural organization of visible forms has seemingly always already taken place. This is my rationale for declaring that the body is faster than the mind in prior blog entries. This structural organization, being an as yet unappreciated process of constitution, seemingly earlier than the intentional consciousness can grasp it as things out there separate from a body here, is done in concert with bodily, spatial, and feeling components seldom accessed by most of us. However, with a special attention paid to the subtle feelings of what might be called a subtle body, one can begin to appreciate the dynamics of form-constitution within. This form-generation or -constitution is in sync with and joined to a felt bodily constitution. They arise as an undifferentiated unity seemingly prior to appropriation by thought. In a full appreciation of the feeling-structuring of form, there is no experiential delay in an intentional consciousness grasp of thingness. Intentional consciousness and, what I have referred to as this form constituting ambient, feeling consciousness occur at once. There is no need for the addition of the always already as cautionary device.

Experience, in the above sense, arises as frame-moments (kshanas*). Thought grasps this only as a static reality out there due to its seeming lateness in arriving on the scene as knowing. Hence a dualistic rendering of the prior union into subject and object is one outcome. Each moment of this body-form generation may be called the ambient frame that provides the backdrop for perception by intentional consciousness. Most commonly, the union dimension of experience is perceived as a world out there that awaits our presence as embodied subjects encountering this objectively independent environment full of either physical objects or meaningful others.

There is so much more to be said of this that it overwhelms me. I am forced to stop and calm myself prior to continuing.




*"Concept And Measurement Of Time In Vedas". 2015. Sanskriti - Indian Culture. Accessed January 19 2018. http://www.sanskritimagazine.com/indian-religions/hinduism/concept-measurement-time-vedas/.

Burning as living, Living as burning

On the Dangers of Translation

One of the most important texts of Mahayana Buddhism is the  Bodhipathapradipam ("Path to Awakening") by Dipamkara Shrijnana Ati...