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)

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...