Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Past Has Always Been Present

Some 13 billion years ago, you were born. Certainly not the “I-me” you experience now, but everything that preceded what you experience now had to unfold for “you” to experience this moment now. If the universe unfolded in any other way, you would not experience this moment exactly as you now experience it.

Many Ghandis and Hitlers had to have existed for you to be in the present moment you are now experiencing. Therefore, what you are doing now is what you should be doing now or you wouldn't be doing it.

There is nothing you should be doing but what you’re doing now.

However, if wanting to do something other than what you’re doing now is what you want to do now, then go ahead and do that instead. You are never NOT present to the moment you are now in, even if in this moment now you’re utilizing some practice as a means of trying to “be in the moment” that you believe you are not in now.
Egocentric mammalians rely exclusively on the chronic non-acceptance of the moment as it is, believing that each moment should be other than what it is and it does seem clear this has always been their fate as a species.
Yet, based on a predetermined causal universe, if the moment was to be experienced in a way other than how you are now experiencing it, it is certain you would experience it in just that way and no other.

When you pray for something, you ask for change and for something to be other than what it is. When you meditate, you seek to experience something different from what you are now experiencing, to acquire some new mental state or way of feeling. When you engage in ‘spiritual’ practices based on ideological rules, some “Master of Change” made up, you seek for a different moment than this one now.

The internet is a teeming cesspool of religio-spiritual ideologies, rules, rituals and practices, to aid you in experiencing a different moment than the one you are in right now, by informing you that the moment you are in right now is not the moment you should be in right now. 

Millions of ideologies have been constructed exclusively to cater to your consistent non-acceptance of whom and what you are in this moment and your desire to change this moment into something else by desiring the ‘self’ experience something other than what it now experiences.

Nevertheless, even the desire to change the moment is wrapped up in the moment. You are never NOT in the moment, even when in the past moment. Seeking to change the moment is IN the moment. A thought to achieve a different experience in the future is an electro-chemical impulse of the present, just as a thought not to do what was once done is in the moment.

However, as neuroscience is demonstrating, due to a slight delay in neural processing (Libet experiment) even a moment experienced ‘now’ is a moment that has already passed, making the past an experience in the present moment. Those who prescribe seeking “pure consciousness” fail to realize that all experiences have a miniscule time delay, thereby, making it already a past experience upon being experienced in the present.

That thought that you’re thinking right now, actually occurred a second before you thought it. Hence, the paradox is that every present moment is of the past and every past moment is ultimately in the present.
That spiritual “awakening” you experienced happened before you experienced it, proving “you” had nothing to do with it and there is nothing to be done, but exactly what you’re doing. When the predetermined causal order decides you should wake up to some other moment, then there is no doubt you will, just not by choice.
Every self-proclaimed new age-master-guru-teacher tells you that there is something you must ‘do’ to be enlightened, some way you must think or behave. Over the years I found many to have fascinating ideas, until they prescribe a practice (like meditation or prayer), always with the implication that without this practice your achieving enlightenment is destined to fail.

Egocentrica mammalia wants to know what to do and can never accept that what he is doing is exactly what should be done. 

The tendency to be a teacher is compelling to egocentrica mammalians, since their entire life has been all about learning how to have exceptionally “happy” moments by actualizing a ‘self’ through historically prescribed socio-cultural methods of achieving “happiness.” Unfortunately, all this learning appears to have resulted in the very opposite of what they desire, but they keep plugging away in the “pursuit of happiness,” as only egocentrica mammalians can and must do, because the predetermined causal order compels them to believe they should be always doing something other than what they are doing in the moment.

If you’re supposed to do the prescribed practice, then your neuro-circuits will take you there and you will engage the practice and vigorously baptize it with grand meaning and purpose, simply because you have to, until some other sacred jewel catches your neuro-circuited up-to-the-moment programming. You have never had a choice in what experiences sculpted your brain circuits, even up to the point you made your first conscious decision to do something, in tangent with fully formed memory circuits allowing you to remember making that decision all by your ‘self.’

You are engaged in that spiritual practice simply because childhood experiences that sculpted the developing gray matter influenced other thoughts and actions, subsequently influencing others, on and on, leading you to the desire to be a “spiritual” person who engages “spiritual” practices.

Egocentrica mammalians love to proudly proclaim, “I did that,” as if they had any part in the experiences that program their grey matter, while the predetermined causal order indifferently allows the next thought to naturally arise as it always does, even before you think it and, thus, with no help from “you.”
You are part of an ever unfolding predetermined causal web. Your ‘choice' to become “spiritual” occurred billions of years ago, long before there was a delusion of an “I-me” making choices.
You are simply flowing along with a predetermined force that has shaped your consciousness just as it has shaped the entire universe. The universe not only gave you consciousness, but every object in consciousness as well. Some recommend not resisting this flow, but again, this is not up to “you,” because even your resistance is entirely allowed and enfolded within the causal order. 

Nothing is free of the predetermined causal WILL that allowed for the delusion of free-will to be experienced in the first place.

Every perception in every moment has been exquisitely sculpted to precisely provide the exact details you perceive in the moment of perception and all else is simply filtered out of awareness, because the neuro-circuits simply do not exist for which to experience other stimuli that it has not been precisely sculpted to experience. 

You perceive a world that the conditioned neuro-circuitry allows you to perceive, based on childhood experiences that have been programmed into the circuitry, thus filtering out other experiences. There are experiences all around you that you will never encounter, simply because you were not culturally progammed or genetically endowed with the precise circuitry, as well as dopamine/serotonin levels, necessary for that experience to register in your cranial fatty tissue.

You have no personal responsibility for your thoughts, beliefs and actions and the choice you make in the next moment was made long before your actual birth. The decision you make in the next moment is predetermined to be made exactly as you make it, because a predetermined causal universe has ordained it be made exactly as it is and in no other way can it occur.

Your acceptance of this fact, or your failure to accept, is entirely contingent on the current programmed impulses coursing through your dense noggin right this moment, because you are never NOT in the moment and so can only do what that moment prescribes.

Your neuro-circutry determines what you experience and how you will respond. So relax, kick back and get all jiggy with whatever the fook you’re doing right now, because it has been causally predetermined to be exactly what you should be doing right now. 

There can be nothing “wrong” in a causally determined universe and, hence, there has never once been a “problem” with anything that has happened or will happen, as it can only happen exactly as it must.

Artwork by altair4444


  1. Hi Mike,

    You don't leave a whole lot of meat on the bone do you? No tasty bits for hungry ghosts to pick at. Good piece, did you read Norquist's book, it has some similarities in "tone". I had forgotten about the Libet experiment so went back and had a read. Interesting experiment and fairly damning it seems to me. However, some interpret the data with notions of "staged" free will, free-then-will. Sounds like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic to me.

    This all reminded me of some of my readings from quite a while back - RA Wilson (bastard son of Tim Leary). He was firmly in the mechanical-brain camp but his focus was more on the "OK, now what?". He (and Leary) were big on re-programming as much as possible to make the life experience as interesting as possible. Given your position, that may be the only sensible way to use our illusory free will.

    Lately, I have had more frequent sensations of not being myself. Of course this could be because: a) I had the flu over the holidays b) I am reading too much of this stuff c) I am actually not what I think I am. Stay tuned.

  2. Hi Chris,

    Glad you could post a comment.

    Indeed, the "I am actually not what I think I am" royally sux and I suppose it lasted about 5-6 yrs for me, till I got to the 'I don't care what I am, cuz it's not up to me." There is actually a 'suicidal ideation component to all this that I think many "master teachers" fail to inform on. In fact, from what I understand, without the suicidal component, it's just not actual. This was true for me, but not sure it's valid across the board.

    Know about Leary (and his assistant prof, alias Ram Dass) but never heard of Wilson. Will look it up.

    No didn't read Norquist cuz he ain't on Kindle yet (save the trees brothers and sisters). But I relate to much of what he says in his online essays (up to where he provides prescriptions as to what to 'do.').

    Always good to hear from ya and thanks for helping me correct the commenting issue.


    1. Hi Mike, I assume your 5-6 years encompasses what you describe as "Symptoms of Approach". It would seem only natural to the ego to consider suicidal tendencies, given that it is actually what is being killed. It could be easy to follow that impetus but there is also some sense that that would not matter, so why bother.

      On Norquist... his essay is interesting up to the prescription point, but his book is really quite evolved from that. It is actually very bleak, in a Mike-y way, very stripped down. It also lends itself to a printed book format with very few words spread across a lot of almost blank pages. There can't be a thousand words total. Interestingly, the word "I" never appears. It could probably translate to an ebook format but given the potential audience I don't see that happening soon.

      On Wilson, if you delve into his material, be aware that he is foremost a storyteller and a lot of his material is playful and metaphorical. While that is entertaining, I prefer his more direct material, constituting his essays (see dedroidify or his website) and my favorite book of his - "Quantum Psychology".

      Broadcasting to you live from the pulpit of the Church of Utter Hopelessness


    2. Ha, when I ask to publish a comment, the machine asks me to prove that I'm not a robot. How to respond? Too funny.

  3. Hey Chris,

    Yes, It is part of the process I phrased as "symptoms of approach." However, in retrospect, and as experienced currently, these symptoms do not abate or dissolve, but simply change form.

    "It would seem only natural to the ego to consider suicidal tendencies, given that it is actually what is being killed. It could be easy to follow that impetus but there is also some sense that that would not matter, so why bother."

    Full agreement!

    Can you post a link for Wilson?

    "Broadcasting to you live from the pulpit of the Church of Utter Hopelessness."

    Well howdydodaday!

    We attend the same church!


    PS: Indeed. Funny for Google to consider us anything more than robots, since its marketing plan tends to count on our obvious responses as profitable.

  4. Chris, RAW had a very interesting mind, I used to listen to him a lot. Rather drug-centric in my view (and that's coming from someone like what I used to be!), but his emphasis on metaprogramming was, as you say, a good approach, if kind of hedonistic in a Leary type way. But that's not a particularly bad thing (until you start hallucinating your face melting 24/7 as reputedly happened to Tim!). As Wilson said though, 'who is the metaprogrammer? That is THE question!' Good piece Mike!

    Thanks, Gabriel

  5. Mike, I suppose you could start at rawilson.com and poke around there, essays, videos. Again, be aware that there are two branches of his writings - the generally humorous fables, and the more pragmatic stuff. Also as Gabriel says, a lot of the material originates from brain states that had been manipulated in many different ways, hence is hardly consistent. But that is a large part of his position - that there is not one static mind that makes "me", but rather a constantly shifting panoply of posssible universes. Sound familiar?


    'who is the metaprogrammer? That is THE question!'

    I'm thinking there isn't a metaprogrammer. This whole reprogramming thing isn't really all that different from plain old learning, something even babies do. Humans are blessed/cursed with this self-awareness thing and can actually modify the way the brain works, using several methods (chemical, physical, psychological). Besides, a metaprogrammer implies some god-like entity and I gave up that thinking for Lent a long time ago.

    Well, now that I have fully resolved the true nature of self, I think I'd like to poke at how the advaitic concept of Consciousness (the C-is-all flavor, not the mind generated one) fits into all this, or if at all. It may be simply a self-generated experience as Mike leans, or maybe there is something else to it. If there is, unfortunately I can see now how the traditional sagely admonishment that it cannot be grasped with mind holds. Which also implies that it means absolutely nothing. But a fella has to have a hobby.

  6. As Jed said its all "truth talk in the dream state" The dream energy can't know this as knowingness as it is (so called) content appearing in it as a modulation of it. So as you say even the resistance to this is only ever it appearing to itself. Peter Marjason said "truth can never be found. because its truth that is looking. Nice writing Mike. Thanks

  7. Chris,

    The "metaprogrammer" quote reminds me of an old essay, I posted somewhere in here, regarding the idea that I am the dreamer is erroneous, since I am the dream. Hence, the task is to locate the dreamer, but "you" can't cuz your the dream.

    Nevertheless, here is what I am currently pursuing:

    "Our findings provide a framework for addressing how environmental information may be inherited transgenerationally at behavioral, neuroanatomical and epigenetic levels."


    Just more info on how a free-willed, autonomous self is a complete delusion and has been predeterminately formed without any actual input from the ego-self. All responses are programmed or had-wired into the material circuitry.

    Could it be that self-awareness is not agency but simply location?

    A brain in a specific cranium, experiencing the electro-chemical impulses of that brain and conceptualizing a 'self' from those experiences and superimposing 'agency' to those experiences.

    A brain experiencing itself results in the delusion of a 'self'?

    Indeed, gotta have a hobby.

    I should return to model airplanes.

    Much less frustrating.

    But then, of course, I had no choice in getting here and nor will I have a choice on where it takes me.

    That's totally clear to me now,


  8. Richard,

    Jed was part of my early education. However, I think the only way I differ now is that I realize those who "truth talk" have no choice. Jed seemed to imply there was a choice and that it shouldn't be the way it is.

    However, I do recall he explained that there is and never can be a problem. Nothing is 'wrong.' Every zit has a purpose, but most just can't see it...yet.


    1. and yet those or that which truth talks in the dream state is not you it is a modulation appearing in you known by you, that by its own conclusion seems to have choices which can be seen ultimately as a reflection of its apparent limitation. So the dream energy hears the message that there is no choice, believes it to be true and so attempts to do nothing because it is nothing that seems to be required as it is all predetermined anyway. But doing nothing or attempting to do nothing is also part of the script and it is seen that the fish is in the water but no matter how fast it swims it can not get closer to the water nor can it escape it.

  9. What's the purpose of a zit, Mike?

    Just so we can avoid confusion:

    pur·pose (pûrps)
    1. The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal: "And ever those, who would enjoyment gain/Must find it in the purpose they pursue" (Sarah Josepha Hale).
    2. A result or effect that is intended or desired; an intention. See Synonyms at intention.
    3. Determination; resolution: He was a man of purpose.
    4. The matter at hand; the point at issue.

  10. "What's the purpose of a zit, Mike?"

    I suppose it depends on the face from which it grows.

    Best to read Jed McKenna's trilogy and find out, since that's what I was referencing. I really don't have alot of info on zits (although, I do recollect their appearance in my youth)


  11. I was able to find the zit passage and I remember it now. So do you believe that life, consciousness, God, or whatever is directing you towards certain ends?

  12. Jonathan,

    Are you an attorney?

    No offense, but you seem quite adept at the practice of "leading questions" in which there is the attempt to lead me to some pre-conceptualized conclusion, which is usually an attempt to discredit or show incompetence of the witness (me).

    Nevertheless, I will answer your question in the affirmative.

    Yes, something other than"me" is directing me and has been doing so long before a "me" was made manifest.

    Hope that helps in ascertaining what "I" believe....


  13. Mike,

    I'm not trying to lead you anywhere. You specifically used the word "purpose," which implies that what happens now happens with some intention for the future. That's why I pasted the definition of the word into the first post.

    I thought that seemed opposed to the other views that you've communicated, namely that things happen through impersonal causality, despite any appearance of a personal will that some people think they have.

    That something is directing you doesn't equate to purpose if that something is conscious-less cause and effect. In order for purpose to be possible, that something would have to be a conscious presence, unless of course you redefine the word.

  14. Hi Chris, yes I assumed most of us would be on the same page regarding the absence of a 'metaprogrammer' or self pulling the strings here ;) I guess it's not 'THE question' so much as a redundant one implying an entity in control where there is not one haha. I think RAW perhaps was leaning that way himself though. A zen koan Wilson was also fond of quoting was 'who is the master who makes the grass green?' Again I'm pretty sure the zen guys were quite clear on the issue of 'self' too! Cheers, Gabriel

    1. OK perhaps I misinterpreted your question. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding words recently. I remember duelling (which I don't do any more) with one wily old coot for far too long. He got the best of me because he didn't work and could extensively research etymology.

      Just for the record, I like to use the traditional nomenclature. Capitalized words such as Consciousness, God, Self, One, etc refer to the boundless and timeless all, that of which many books have been written. When "I" enter the scene, some 300 mseconds later, I have self-consciousness, where my consciousness sees the thoughts arising in my mind. No caps here, except for that pesky I - that should go.

      So, Consciousness, which has never not existed, issues a small wave which results in a zit on Mike's nose. The purpose is solely to exist at the whim of capital-C. The why or meaning? Good luck on that. In fact, why *should* anything have any particular meaning?

    2. No worries, as I think I read you saying something similar on a another post; it can be hard enough to communicate the nuances of a conversation in Real Life (some more redundant capitalisation for you!), never mind in a forum like this.

      Yeah I've had my own share of over-drawn non-dual duelling too! They got the better of me as I was holding the sword backwards and was stabbing my 'self' more than anyone else could get their boot in (never deemed a terribly good move)!

      Needless to say I've retired from the 'art' of conceptual fencing, at least the kind with any investment in being 'right'. It's all bullshit... and people can lose an eye out there!


    3. Holding the sword backwards, sweet!

    4. To the anonymous poster, when you say conceptual fencing is "all bullshit," are you referring to the fencing part or the conceptual part?

  15. I'm sure I got a few swipes in there too, but mostly I was master at conceptual Harakiri! On guard! Oof. Whatevs, load of sound and fury ;)


  16. "In fact, from what I understand, without the suicidal component, it's just not actual" ... Well, damn! I really am a master! Yeah, been there too. Still not sure to this day what drove me to feeling that way, not sure I want to know. Anyway, it's actually true, have to say - everything is unfolding as it must. I guess I'm a lot more clear on that now, however if I could change aspects of life and how it unfolded it would. Of course, I can't... The 'I' to which that refers doesn't even exist, that's pretty clear too.


  17. Jonathan, ultimately all concepts are bullshit. Fencing with them = bullshit to the power of bullshit. But that's a concept...


    1. Gabriel (sorry I missed that the first time),

      What do you mean that concepts are bullshit? Not that I disagree (or necessarily agree) - just wondering what you mean.

  18. No prob, what I mean is that concepts, at least when they are 'taken delivery of', seem to reify what are no more than mental maps of the territory. Direct experience of an apple, for example, is an indefinable, constantly changing 'energy occurrence', you could say. The word 'apple' is a way of pointing to and indicating it, like a linguistic URL, but it obviously (as far as I'm concerned) doesn't come close to capturing what the experience of it really is.

    We can probably agree that what the word 'apple' indicates is objectively existing in some sense, however when you go into the realm of the abstract, whether that be overtly or more subtly, you get the reification of all kinds of weirdness and the creation of 'semantic spooks', one of these being the 'self' as some kind of individuated, separately existing entity. The philosopher Whitehead called these kinds of misattributed-as-real abstractions 'fallacies of misplaced concreteness', or as I might slightly more succinctly put it, bullshit!


    1. "Fallacies of misplaced concreteness" - not too shabby.

      Alright, I'm with you. In fact, I've been all over, up, down, and around this territory, but my thinking is starting to change. My question is does the experience of the apple alone indicate the possibility of misplaced concreteness or is it something else that indicates that possibility. In other words, doesn't the experience of the apple indicate that the apple is real without consideration of other factors? I think a good question is what is more real and what is more "conceptualized" - the experience of the apple or the other factors, e.g., self, a model of dualistic perception, etc., that lead you to believe that the apple might fall into the category of misplaced concreteness? I say that doubt of the apple's apple-ness is not inherent in the experience of the apple itself but must be injected through another concept.

      Another question is what is the difference between conceptualization as we're talking about it and direct experience? Maybe you have a quick and dirty answer, but don't we have to also experience concepts so couldn't they be just as real as the apple? I'm sure you upright theorists will hate this, but I think the answer comes down to a difference between concepts and experiences that are generated by fear and those that are not. What other reason is there to doubt that the apple is an apple?

  19. Hi Jonathan, I've never been called an 'upright theorist' before... Not sure whether to blush or be offended! Only joking. I'm not sure that Whitehead's term applies to physical objects technically, more strictly to abstract concepts but I could have made that more clear in my wording. On the other hand, I was indeed using it more broadly to mean what 'we' do to objects as well, when we try to capture them with words which may as well be grunts or interpretative dances.

    No one's doubting the apple's 'apple-ness', only that that particular type of energetic patterning corresponds 1-1 with the mental configuration of it. I am already experiencing the plant in my garden (I was thinking about this after I woke up and went outside for a smoke just now) before the linguistic formulation 'fern' even enters my head, in all it's detail (which can't be pinned down, I would say). At some preverbal level it is already 'known' what it 'is' too (RAW had much to say about the 'is of identity' and its spuriousness). Whether this is because there are already concepts about it that are registering subconsciously is an interesting question I think you were getting at. I'll have to ponder that some more.

    You're right, concepts do appear in direct experience and are in a real sense, well, real. Just to me that comes with the caveat that what they purport to be -about- is not actually real. Thoughts are a real energy phenomenon (and have a neurological correlate/are purely brain-based), but how they attempt describe 'things' is in a fashion similar to caricatures or stick figures compared to the actual experiences, in my view.

    I've never been afraid of apples (that I can recall) so I'm guessing you mean that we only doubt things we are not intimidated by? Or that the more something is perceived as a threat the more it is deemed real? I guess that would make sense, but emotional reactions to something are just another layer of conceptualisation going on in most cases. People aren't born afraid of… I dunno, guns. But if I saw someone pull one out round mine I'd sure as shit run! No time for philosophising in an event like that! I did actually study philosophy for a few years but gave it up as it started to wreck my head!


  20. "The baby is hungry and we must feed it words."

  21. It's only grunts and interpretive dance if you're trying to explain this shit to your normal friends. I think I agree about capturing concepts/experiences/objects but more in terms of the uniqueness of the experience to each individual. For example, each of us could experience the apple, but when we communicate, the words we use to do so refer only to our concept of the apple and not the other person's, which does speak to your point.

    I guess I am actually doubting the apple's apple-ness although it's not necessarily apples that get me, but more often my own feelings. That's kind of shitty - consider yourself lucky if you don't experience that and also thanks for playing your part in leading me to that epiphany just now. But it also could be apples. You mentioned that thoughts fail to capture the external reality? What evidence is there of that? Doesn't that lead to the "if a tree falls in the woods" question?

    When I mentioned fear, I was referring to the fear that our perceptions are not to be trusted in their full reality or that some other perception is superior in some way. Even talking about perceptions as potentially being incorrect could be indicative of fear. The healthier people I know tend to take things as they see them and roll with it but they also accept the opinions of others, I suppose because they see others' perceptions as equally as valid as their own.

    By the way, the fact that you're a smoker makes me somehow trust your word as being sincere. I don't even smoke, but it's like how Mr. Pink reasons that Mr. Blonde isn't a cop in Reservoir Dogs - because he shot the other cops. You have a vice so you're at least you're honest enough with yourself to acknowledge the power of a little addiction.

    1. And on concepts being real, I was referring first to the idea that the experience of an apple includes an element of reality and building from there. Assuming that concepts are built from experiences, if those experiences are real, the concepts that result could be just as real. You might have understood what I meant, but I wasn't sure.

  22. Hi guys!

    Incredible discussion and I'm reading thru all the comments.

    Unfortunately, the universe has ordained that I work longer hrs in order to offset impending bankruptcy. Henceforth, I will no longer be moderating comments and every comment will post immediately, which should aid in giving discussions momentum.

    Of course, this means there will be a few of my, shall we say, "haters" (and over the past 8 yrs of blogging, I have accumulated a few quite vocal haters). But, haters gotta hate, so I suppose letting them have their forum shouldn't detract from the theme here (which is rather nebulous anyway).

    Just wanted to put that out and I will probably be adding my 2 cents to some very stimulating perspectives here over the next wk.

    A big thanks!

    1. Mike, turning off moderation usually ends in a vale of tears. Please consider maintaining control but reducing your output to whatever you are comfortable with, kinda like Suzanne F. I'd rather have sporadic quality than a plethora of banalities.

    2. Ha! Lol....Sorry Chris, but even if I moderated, I allow everything to be be posted (other than spam marketing). Only diff is there is a delay because I'm at work and have no access to email.

      C'mon Chris, you know what they say: "If you can't stand the heat stay outa the kitchen."

      So here's a little Ditty from McKennaville:

      "Sit down, shut up and ask yourself what's true until you know. All beliefs. All concepts. All thoughts. They're all false, all bullshit. There is no meaning of life. Life is meaningless."(get that you know this, just posted for others)

      And, since many tend to rely on the experts (of which I am obviously not), I give you Balsekar:

      "That is the final conclusion you come to! Nothing really matters. What is the final effect of Self realization, of enlightenment? Whatever happens, what does it matter? The intellect will say, “How can you tell me nothing matters? Of course it matters.” To the intellect everything matters. So “nothing matters” is the conclusion, the answer, the feeling that comes from the heart. What the sage feels every moment is – whatever is happening – what does it matter? But the ego says, “Of course it matters.”

      Balsekar, Ramesh S (2012-04-20). The Infamous Ego (Kindle Locations 351-357). Zen Publications. Kindle Edition.

      But Dang! Excellent turn of a phrase. Yet, what is out there but a "plethora of banalities"?

      I suppose sometimes we simply need to toss our hands up and say...

      ...I'm done (McKenna)


    3. I can't argue with that.
      I also forgot to thank you for being a very genteel host.

  23. Thanks for the forum Mike!

    Jonathan, I'm definitely pretty normal! Apart from, like yourself, thinking about this kind of thing and looking into it experientially (which is relatively unusual I suppose) I'm just a regular guy, not claiming to be in any kind of special state or anything. As far as negative feelings and emotions and stuff they definitely still happen here from time to time! A lot less than they used to though and I'm generally pretty chilled. The only thing is 'I've' had (and this absurd to even say it) glimpses into the absence of an 'I' that refers to anything in particular fairly recently (and straight-headed! haha) and that has left 'me' a lot more relaxed with whatever happens. There's still somewhat of a seeking energy 'happening here', what Mike describes as the egocentric resistance to what's happening still rears its head on occasion, sadly! But of course resisting that would be futile too... Difference is I know deep down how absurd it all is on more than just a conceptual level now, if that makes sense.

    As for evidence of thoughts failing to capture reality (although, as we both mentioned, they are naturally a part of reality too), well, maybe pragmatically: look at something (like a tree or whatever) and close your eyes. Try to imagine every single detail of the tree (or more even a few) and, in my experience, fail miserably! Haha. Direct experience of anything is constantly morphing and full of inconceivable (literally) detail and nuance. Hopefully you see what I mean!

    Regarding the 'healthier people' who take things as they see them, I guess I have always been inquisitive and sceptical, naturally! Whether that's healthy or not in a functional sense… Going by own life at times I'd say it's been a definite hindrance at others I wouldn't change for the world! Probably most of us here on a site like Mike's have a similar disposition towards questioning things. Doesn't mean sometimes I don't think 'why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill!' (I tend to avoid any pills these days, mind!)

    Finally, yes concepts are reflections of real experience but not necessarily accurate in any way, even though they obviously are derivative of it, as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully I've understood you what you meant!

    Cheers, all the best,

  24. Even the haters are not responsible as concepts always succeed to fail.

  25. What is a "concept"?

    A bundle of interconnected neuro-circuits processed through language centers of gray matter giving an experience equally process conceptually as "thought"? Electro-chemical impulses influencing the firing of other impulses, thereby, influencing the firing of additional impulses, thereby, experienced as interconnected?

    Is a "belief" nothing more than an interconnected series of self-reinforcing neuro-circuits? What does this say about the sanctity of the "self," that which we do hold to be more sanctimonious than any other concept considered? Without a "self" what concept could be considered?

    If a concept is nothing more than material electro-chemical pulses, with the associated excitatory/inhibitory bipolar flow of neuro-circuit current, can they have any more sanctity than the instinct of the cougar to attain its prey as a means of survival?

    Is the desire to sanctify various electro-chemical impulses as something more than mechanistic processes the eventual downfall of the egocentric "human" mammalia?

    Just some things I wonder about, but consider as no more meaningful than the urge to shit, which comes about like clockwork every morning...

    Just saying,

  26. Hi Mike, like the causal 'just saying' haha.

    "Is a "belief" nothing more than an interconnected series of self-reinforcing neuro-circuits?"

    I'd say yes, definitely, as far as we even know what 'neuro-circuits' are.

    My question: Is the 'substratum' of reality somehow transcendent (as is everything in the sense that it can't be pinned down to anything in particular) regardless of this?

    I'd say, yes....

    That's my pet theory though and I wouldn't want to bore you with it again, as I know you hate it!

    Does having this (apologies...) intuition (or delusory brain-spasm, whatever you prefer!), spell the downfall of this particular body-mind organism? Maybe. We'll see. It's not the same as having religious belief in my view but I can see why you might think it is. Is it even harmful? If people are expecting an 'afterlife' as individuals and destroying the environment based on a belief in 'heaven' (yuk) or whatever then yes I can see where you're coming from though.

    I don't see why even a purely physicalist or materialist explanation of what is going on here and what we are necessarily limits us, given what we're finding out about matter and non-locality and bla bla bla Deepak Chopra shit bla bla bla. Are you listening?! Or did you just read bla bla bla…?!

    In all seriousness though… Yeah, what I said before.

    Anyway that's my babblings out the way, I think I've riffed on my particular musings on the subject enough to you…!

    Cheers, best,

  27. Thanks Gabriel,

    It should be more like "just saying... until the day to day programming causes me to just say something else"..Lol.

    "My question: Is the 'substratum' of reality somehow transcendent (as is everything in the sense that it can't be pinned down to anything in particular) regardless of this?"

    My sense is that there are neuro-circuits with the express function of providing an experience of 'exiting,' or transcending the neuro-circuits. There is a never ending desire to be other than and not as is.This is commensurate with centuries of cultural programming, which inculcated a desire for the self to exit the predetermined causal order and be....something external and more than that causal WILL, to be free of that and proclaim individual free-will. From my studies, the foundation of egocentric mammalian free-will is 'transcendence" or escape from the predetermined causal order and this is evident in the entire religio-spritual history of egocentrica mammalia.

    Akin to Nietzche's Will to Power, the only transcendence egocentrica desires is the ability to increase control of his personal world so as to benefit himself and increase his chances of survival, regardless of what the actual purpose of his survival is, which is nill-nada to the predetermined causal order of the universe that allows his manifestation in the first place.

    Why is there a desire for something more than a purely materialistic explanation? Why is it that man must be more than a mechanistic brain when, in fact, man superimposes that very explanation upon the rest of the natural order, thereby, fallaciously proving himself as superior and entitled to control less complex organisms?

    Indeed, my problem with Chopra his his need to sanctify egocentrica mammalia as separate from the causal order that spawned him. How can that be true? Nah..it seems to me, and this is a very tenuous perspective (open to change), the predetermined universal order gave egocentrica mammalia the capacity to experience it's own limits and, hence, extinction. A capacity the dinosaurs were not granted.

    The never ending question is why.

    WHich is outside my neuro-circuity to answer. But why be concerned about what could be, when what is, is all that need be addressed and is not.


    1. Mike,

      I think you're missing his point. He's not talking about free will or a self or anything along those lines. He's talking about the fact that objects must take a non-physical form to be experienced even if something physical underlies that experience. The image of an apple in my mind is not the actual apple and although the brain activity might be detectible, the image of an apple in my mind is not. I wonder if it will ever be possible to create projections of the mind from the underlying brain activity, but even if that were possible, the subject whose mind is being projected would have to verify the accuracy of the projection, but at no point would the subjects mind actually be accessed by anyone other than the subject. Follow?

    2. I am merely suggesting that all cognitive subjective experience is objective because it is entirely reliant on already sculpted objective neuro-circuited responses.

      However, if we posit that subjectivity merely represents what an individual brain experiences, then I'm all for it. However, I then counter posit thae brain is sculpted outside free-wiil to respond as it does, thereby, negating an autonomous self based on free-will.

      The experience of objects is itself an object, based on materialistic brain circuitry. Hence, there is no such experience as subjectivity except based on the locality of the individual brain experiencing itself, experiencing the world.

      Just saying though...

    3. At first these seem like fair points, but it's all reliant on the existence of some kind of link between the material brain activity and the non-material experience (the mental image of the apple) and the actual object that caused the brain activity (the actual, physical apple). For the reasons that I tried to outline in the previous post, I don't see how this issue can ever be resolved - the gap is seemingly infinite. If you know of a way that it might be resolved, I'm all ears.

    4. Seemingly, you can't enter the non-material experience in order to establish that link. If your argument is valid, then this picture may contain a square.


  28. Gabriel,

    So when you're talking about conceptualizing, you're talking about memory? That's what I was getting from the tree visualization exercise. I think this discussion has probably largelyrun its course, but I'll toss out a few more ideas.

    I have to agree with you at least in part (with the option to fully agree at a later date). In the case of visualizing the tree, the scope of the tree is too great to be taken in and conceptualized, but I don't think this is the case for all concepts. For example, internalizing a visualization of 1+1=2 requires significantly less hard drive space (because you don't an exact 1 and another exact 1 to make an inexact 2) and will always be true because of the way the elements of the equation are defined. Also, you could memorize the truth of the concept without having to visualize it every time and that probably requires even less hard drive space.

    There are probably a countless other number of questions to be asked about concepts. I wonder if it is possible to conceptualize in a way that is completely disconnected from sensory experience. If so, holy moly, we might be onto something.

  29. Mike, that's an interesting theory regarding "neuro-circuits with the express function of... transcending the neuro-circuits". I've entertained similar notions in the past (never expressed quite so clearly as that though), and frankly I don't know. I don't particularly share that sense anymore personally, but of course that may or may not be subject to change. I can see how that might present both an evolutionary advantage as well as a pretty glaring disadvantage, and it seems like a compensatory later development in that they would be needed in the first place. As Chris said something like earlier, the simultaneous blessing and curse of self-reflective awareness!

    Jonathan, again interesting points. The only thing I might say to your example of simple mathematical concepts is, can you find 1 or 2 of anything in particular outside the realm of conceptualisation? Can anything actually be extricated from the universe as a whole by anything other than thought, or are they merely artificial or virtual divisions made in the mind/brain?

    Not sure I entirely follow what you mean by conceptualising "completely disconnected from sensory experience", but I'm curious! Sounds like it may be the beginnings of a good concept for a sci-fi novel/film though, or maybe it will be science fact - as I say I'm not quite grasping the concept yet, perhaps because I didn't get much sleep last night!

    Cheers guys, good discussion.

    1. "The only thing I might say to your example of simple mathematical concepts is, can you find 1 or 2 of anything in particular outside the realm of conceptualisation? Can anything actually be extricated from the universe as a whole by anything other than thought, or are they merely artificial or virtual divisions made in the mind/brain?"

      If I get what you're saying about 1 and 2, then without an observer, these terms would be meaningless as they are just approximations of the world in the mind of the observer. However, this brings us back to the question of whether it even makes sense to question our perception of the world in this way. The trick is to determine which is more solidly grounded: our experience of the world or the abstractions used to question that experience, which, however, are grounded in direct experience. This is surely a quandary.

      As far as conceptualizing in a way that is disconnected from sensory experience, think about 1+1=2 again. We probably learned that through looking at two objects, understanding that each object was a 1 but together they were a 2. Perhaps we could have learned the same thing through two sounds, two smells, two tastes, or two feelings, but could we have learned this without seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling? I can't think of a way that we could have but if we could have, our minds might be much more powerful than what we're giving them credit for.

    2. I would say our direct experience of the world prior to abstraction doesn't in fact contain multitudes of 'things' that are separable from the rest of the universe. How could any 'thing' possibly exist in isolation from its surroundings? Foreground implies background, form implies space, you can't have one without the other so in fact they are not two. That's just a brute fact, like you can't have up without down. Alan Watts talked about that kind of thing a lot, who I'm guessing you'll have heard of. I'm saying our experience of the world is unitary, it's the conceptual abstractions which erroneously imply a multiplicity of individual, numerically assignable 'objects' which are in any way differentiable from anything 'else'. If you zoom in to the microscopic level there are no delineable borders to anything, and keep going to further down and you find just space. So, arguably, there is not even one 'thing' here being a universe.

      As for the thought experiment of whether we could have learnt or used concepts without sensory data, that's an interesting question and a bit of a mind-bender! No wonder I was having trouble with that (I still haven't slept properly btw, so if I slump out half way through this sentence you'll know why!). What exactly would be being 'counted' - to use a rudimentary example of what the concepts might look like? Pure mentation? I guess that is the case anyway but it at least is informed by the senses in it's 'appearance', typically, as far as I can tell. I guess it remind me of Naom Chomsky's theory that language is innate. If he's correct and you find some poor sod completely devoid of any senses then you may have your answer. Good luck getting it from them though either way! Nice idea anyway!


    3. I think at this rate, we can become enlightened by Friday or early next week at the latest. Actually, nevermind, I'm already enlightened. Aren't you?

      I'd have to agree that language is innate. How could it be anything but? Doesn't the fact that we have it indicate that it is innate or at least that the capacity for it is innate? Likewise, something like religion, which seems to be largely separate from the physical world could also be innate, if not to the individual, to humanity as a whole. I'm sure Mike would agree with that one.

      As for making distinctions and one implying the other, doesn't the fact that the background or reference can change indicate that the subject is distinct? For example, an apple is an apple whether it's on the floor and I'm looking down at it or whether I'm holding it up in the air and looking at it against the sky.

      I know I keep hammering this point, but what is more directly experienced, the apple as an individuated object or the concepts that we use to try to question our experience of the apple as such? When we look at the apple, it says "hey, I'm an individual object, separate from you and separate from everything else in your field of vision," but the concepts that lead us to question the experience of the apple are not so clearly perceived or easily gleaned and we have to actually assume separateness (which you're trying to dispute) in order to get there. I know that I'm also saying that there is separateness, but I think the true state of the world is some strange trans-rational combination of unity and separation.

  30. Hey man, yes language is to some degree innate, I agree. But that's a whole 'nother topic! You might find this article of interest regarding what I was trying to get at vis-a-vi space. It also speaks to the brain/consciousness issue discussed earlier. The questioner is saying:

    "I feel I’m really seeing now without the continuous interventions of the mind making things into more than what they are. These “benefits” were always here, I’m just removing the dust, removing the layers of insecurity and fear caused by the mind. It’s obvious that something is happening. I just can’t get past this “awareness in the brain” concept."


    It was through contemplating one or a couple of Gilbert's 'pointers' that an insight occurred here, as I mentioned earlier. Any insight from the 'past' is dead though and is only as good as the moment it occurs in. So I should watch myself to not make a big deal out of it or write a philosophical treatise on it! I will say though, as far as I'm concerned, any separation only exists in the mind.

    Cheers, Gabriel

    1. I agree with you about the past being dead, but only insofar as it is not currently alive. As I mentioned many comments ago, I think there is a big difference between fear-based experiences and those that are not - the "not" could be experiences that are generated from desire. If you are attached to a past idea, for example, a previously determined characteristic of yourself that you deem to be superior, this could prevent you from pursuing desires in the present moment if they contradict with that past idea of yourself. Alternatively, you could align yourself with a current desire that happens to align with a past truth without any disagreement between past and present.

      Well, I guess I've just showed my hand here. I did read the article and now I need to go on a little rant.

      I agreed with almost nothing that Robert said and pretty much everything that Gilbert said up until he started talking about time and space, after which I agreed with almost nothing. He talks about how seeing is all there is - ok great, I made essentially the same point but from a theoretical perspective. Gilbert takes the next step by saying that there is no external - there is only seeing. However, to view seeing in the seemingly lifeless way (let me know if you disagree with the way that I am reading it) that many non-duality proponents talk about it is, to me, not actually seeing. Let's compare this to desire. If there were no such thing as fear, each of us would follow his desires, impulses, and intuitions without hesitation and I think that fully experiencing is essentially the same as following intuition or desire. One quick side note: it occurred to me today that intuition and desire are the same thing, but we call it intuition when there is a relevant fear - in the absence of such a fear, we just call it desire. Back to experience, it requires thought to step back and say "oh yeah, this is not exactly how I perceive it to be." This thought is a hesitation, which, if the act of experiencing things fully really is similar to following desire, is based in fear. This self-imposed doubt literally slows the mind down and trust me, the party is not in slowing the mind down - the party is in speeding it up. Actually, it gets back to the point about the past being dead. The concept of experienced objects being just awareness and not, for example, representative of an actual, objective, external reality is a past concept that is not inherent in the experience of things in the present, i.e., it's not seeing.

      As Gilbert says and many other "enlightened" guys echo, "No one wants this ‘knowledge.'" Yes, no one wants this knowledge, yet there they all are, writing books and putting up websites about it. Yes, I realize that he might have meant that sentence differently, but for the person who does identify as a someone, he is asking that person to trust him, jump over a cliff, and hope for the best and simultaneously telling that person that the person doesn't want this. What?

      I mean, Robert is actively trying to give himself a derealized experience - are you fucking kidding me, Robert? Personally, I'd rather be wrong and live in what I think is a real world than be right and live in some kind of shadow world of confusion like what Robert seems to be seeking.

      What these non-dualist masters are describing is like death without resurrection. They are advocating a kind of suicide, but again, no one wants this. What people do want is a life where their desires are actualized which is where faith and skepticism come in. Skepticism is acknowledging what stands in the way of desire and faith is moving through those obstacles. Carefully calibrated cycles of the two can allow us to remove the barriers we face to obtain the life we want or at least that seems to be in the works for me. Personally, I think it makes more sense to pursue things that I want than to pursue something that no one wants. Crazy, I know.

      Ok, rant over. I apologize for any "new-agey" terms contained herein.

    2. I ran out of characters, but I think I'm getting close to understanding how manifesting might be possible. I know that's really, really new-agey, but if Jed McKenna, the world's foremost skeptic, can say it exists, then maybe it exists.

      Also, I didn't explain skepticism and fear well enough. Skepticism, at least when it comes to skepticism of ones perceptions, is acknowledging the fear that prevents us from being able to experience things as we intuitively want to experience them. Faith, also in relation to perceptions, is choosing to experience things the way that we want - it's choosing to cast fear aside, but before the choice can be made, the choice must be made clear, which occurs in part through exercising skepticism.

      Oddly, both skepticism and faith are instances of making perceptions more real (so, really they are both acts of faith but at different parts of the same spectrum), but through faith, one perceived reality almost consumes the conflicting inferior reality. To go back to the conflict between direct experience and the concept that we are just seeing (and that what is seen lacks a greater reality), in order to move to only direct experience without the hesitation, we have to crystallize these two perceptions of reality and allow the more powerful reality of direct experience to cause the "seeing" reality to collapse.

      Ok, now I'm worn out.

    3. Not sure we're back 'on topic' strictly, but I will just say quickly: I think you may have amassed some concepts about what 'enlightenment' or 'seeing that the ego as a fiction once-and-for-all' is that are not necessarily accurate (don't worry I'm sure I'm the same in many respects so I can relate). However, through going to meeting with 'Sailor' Bob Adamson I have become more clear that 'people who have the understanding' are just normal people really.

      They are not 'dead inside' or "in some kind of shadow world of confusion" or anything of the kind. Quite the opposite in my opinion. In fact it's pretty much impossible to tell who 'does' or 'doesn't' have the understanding until they open their mouths and talk about this kind of stuff, frankly. If anything, if I had to guess, it would be the people who are more at ease and 'comfortable in their own skin' who are more likely to be 'clear' on it. Belief in being a 'separate someone' is much more like death or a kind of 'half-life' I would say.

      I think what Gilbert means by 'no one wants this knowledge' is that people identified with the ego typically don't want to see through it as they are invested in it.

      As for the rest of what you say, sounds good to me, but I can't say I properly am familiar with some of the terminology or use of words you use to be honest. I think I'm a little out of my depth!


    4. Yes, we are waaaay off topic now. That's probably my fault.

      When it existed, I used to get on the Jed McKenna forum and I would constantly argue with these non-duality guys. Just for clarification, when I say "non-duality guys," I'm talking about a range of beliefs that center around the idea that consciousness is all, that the contents of consciousness lack reality, and that the real truth of life is something that is kept hidden from 99.99% of the population. I'll come back to this, but Robert from the link seems very typical of that crowd. I just can't imagine why someone would actively seek to try to remove the reality from their perceptions. I said "shadow world of confusion" because I have plenty of experience living in that kind of derealized state and it's terrible. At least I thought so.

      There was one guy on the Jed McKenna forum that seemed to have a similar train of thought as I do although he was clearly way ahead of me. He specifically said that he had "woken up from [the non-duality version of] enlightenment." He would say that the path of non-duality, at least as it is typically professed, is one of relief. That doesn't really agree with my experience because I didn't start with the non-duality mindset, but I can understand how he came to that conclusion. If you completely (although I don't think you can ever completely) deconstruct your reality to the point where it loses its realness, you are insulated from pain. After all, how can something that isn't real hurt you, especially when there is no "you"?

      I don't have a definition for "enlightenment," but I do have a starting point for a definition of "ego," which is "that which causes suffering." I believe that suffering is caused by a gap between what is perceived and what is desired. To the extent that desire is infeasible, it can be cast aside (by choice) and to the extent that it is feasible but perceptions prevent desire from actualizing, those perceptions can also be discarded. However, it could be that all desires are feasible and the only thing to do is remove doubt - there are some that believe this.

      The non-duality prescription is not to cast aside desire by choice but by making it unreal and to effectively kill the personality (this also seems to advocated in Buddhism). If you are seeking to kill that which makes you "you," why not just go ahead and kill your body as well? That is surely faster and involves less struggle. It doesn't make sense to me unless you think there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you could only determine that such a pot of gold is worth having from within your current, pre-enlightened desires (that you are trying to kill).

      But then we have the enlightened ones who have supposedly crossed over and they are putting out information with the apparent intention of helping others cross over. Why?

    5. Hi Jonathan, I'm not sure! I don't know that it has to do with killing the personality. Those I know who are clear on the matter (or at least claim to be, and I tend to trust them, I don't see why they would lie - it's not made into a 'big thing' at Bob's in the least) seem to have plenty of personality!

      "However, it could be that all desires are feasible and the only thing to do is remove doubt"

      This has certainly not been my experience! Is that like The Secret or something? I'm probably misunderstanding you!

      I don't know, from where I stand there doesn't seem to be anything sinister going on, I don't think anyone's trying to get people to kill anything that is real. The self-center is a fiction, it can't really die as it never existed, as I think you mentioned!

      I will reiterate, I really don't have a clue about most things haha, probably least of all this. I used to have more doubts like yourself though when I wasn't spending time with 'realised people'. They tend to just remind me that I'm spinning off in mind-stuff when I do and I tend to relax! Maybe it is like jumping off a cliff in a sense but I don't think there's any real harm done to anything real. Perhaps only when the suffering is great enough will one decide to take the plunge! But then again, Bob tends to dismiss that kind of thinking as more story-telling too.

      Sorry I can't address your thoughts any more than that and if I've misread what you're getting at, apologies!

      Best, Gabriel

    6. Gabriel,

      Sorry for the delay. I spent almost a whole day doing nothing but posting on this and another forum and I wore myself out. But I'm back.

      I'm not claiming that anyone is doing anything intentionally sinister. If someone was lying to himself, he could lie to others without knowing it. I just find it contradictory that someone would allow themselves to come into a position that they were "helping" others to achieve something that "no one wants." Doesn't that stand out as problematic?

      When I said that all desires might be feasible, I'm just saying that people talk about it and I wouldn't rule it out. Yes, I'm basically talking about The Secret type shit. Even Jed McKenna talks about manifestation despite the fact that total skepticism is the basis of his spiritual practice, so who knows.

    7. Jonathan, this kind of comes back to the point about solipsism Chris mentioned (or at least, as you say, skepticism - which is healthy in my opinion). It's understandable that you might think this nondual crowd might be 'lying to themselves' or deluded, as ultimately you can't have any idea where anyone else is 'coming from' or even if they're 'coming from' anywhere at all (by which I mean solipsism, though that's a little bit extreme in my view, but it shows just how little we can know for sure)! I think the 'nondual understanding' actually is 'desirable' in many ways, but that this is de-emphasised because trying to 'achieve' or 'get' some kind of positive state is totally the wrong approach to 'achieving it' (again, a completely bunk term in this context).

      They're sometimes referred to as 'mind hooks' or carrots; if you do this and this (meditation/some spiritual practice) you'll get this and this (more peace, more love, win friends and influence people - whatever). If you look into this stuff expecting some kind of boon for the 'me' you will be frustrated (not saying you are but that some people do), so they say.

      Bob says 'psychological suffering is unnecessary' - that's what he is all about, and I happen to trust him (he says sometimes, 'don't you think I would be bored of talking about this stuff by now if I was talking bullshit?!' - he's in his 80's haha). Showing people that all the negative emotions or at least fixations on them are completely predicated on there being an existent separate someone, with the punchline being that there isn't one to be found anywhere. Bob also has no belief in an afterlife (I asked him once as I was curious) nor of course a soul, though he does sometimes refer to the 'birthless and deathless One' - which is the kind of thing Mike has no time for I know (but I do personally... So put that in you pipe and smoke it, Mike! Oh wait that's more likely to be me seeing as I'm more the hippy here! ;)

      Ultimately, it's all speculation until it's looked into experientially. Bob says, 'you've been trying to find the answer in your mind your whole life - have you ever got it? When's it going to dawn on you that the answer's not there?' That shut me up anyway (for a time haha)!

      Cheers, Gabriel

    8. Regarding solipsism and a separate self, I think that we have to look at experience here. I experience that there are other people in the world and that I am separate from them, although it is difficult to say what that really means. In a sense, you could say that I don't "directly" experience separateness, but if you conceptualize it by referencing it against other experiences (you could do this by asking, "do you control the actions of Person X?"), that's how it is. The conceptualization doesn't have to be there, i.e., in the absence of conceptualizing, there's no basis from which to say I am separate, but conceptualized separateness is inherent from the direct experience of interacting with "others" in that it can be extracted from that direct experience at any time.

      I think the important question what the concept of separateness even means.

      So if it is the case that we experience things as separate from ourselves, does it really make sense to conclude that things are not separate? Let's look at how this is done or at least how I did it (probably in error). If I assume that I am an individual in a world and that my experience of the world is dependent on the contents of the world coming into my mind, I can rationalize that I am not experiencing the world as it is, but only a projection of it in my mind and that there might be a disconnect between the actual world and the projection in my mind. From there, I can determine that my picture of the world is based on the contents of my experience and not the world itself and from there, I can determine that there might not be an external world at all since all I need are my experiences.

      Is this good reasoning, though? I don't think that it is. I'm using my assumptions to draw a conclusion from which I negate one of the assumptions used to draw that conclusion.

      Honestly, I don't really care about this. I just want to drop all of this insecurity that has arisen because of my "awakening" and go back to banging chicks.

    9. I guess that's why this stuff is sometimes referred to as 'trans-rational' by Wilber-ites, and it's emphasised that 'the answer's not in the mind' by others. The thing about apparent separateness has thrown me before too. If everything is 'one', why this apparently particulate locus of perception I call 'me' or 'this body-mind'? As for not being able to control 'others', can you even control 'yourself'? Not if there's no free-will (or self for that matter!), and I can't find any evidence for it whatsoever - it actually seems quite absurd to even think it is possible in my view. Here's a video you might find interesting, which goes about trying to 'explain' how there might be both an infinite number of observers on one 'level' and only one on the 'ultimate level', to watch if you have the time and inclination:

      Menas Kafatos 'Observer Based Science'

      A lot of it's over my head to be honest, but it's very interesting none the less, perhaps not to Mike though - whose forum this is! On that note, I'm still not sure we're on topic! Not trying to brush off what you've said by any means, but it's a bit beyond my scope to even talk about to be honest. Maybe someone else will chime in who has a better intellectual understanding than I do.

      You're probably too far down the rabbit hole now! haha. But that doesn't stop you doing what you want really! I hope you feel better soon, insecurity or anxiety sucks, I've suffered with it myself. Maybe smoke a J and watch something funny! If you're anything like me though the questioning will keep happening. Just shows that no one's in control to me!

      All the best,

    10. I should have put at the end of that '... so may as well relax!' or even 'relax about -not- being relaxed, if one deems oneself not to be.' Gabriel

    11. This really is a good thread, so why stop it now. It is getting confusing locating responses though, so maybe it's too long. Mike, you may want to start a new one, doesn't have to be fancy, maybe something like "I woke up this morning and the both suns were a lovely shade of purple".

      OK, so this (as Mike suggests) might be a death match between "scientism-ists" and "immaterial-ists" (I categorically reject the term "spiritual-ists" as a red herring). The former use thought to dissect psychological processes in order to verify the lack of free will, a most noble pursuit. The latter suggest that all thought is inherently without basis, therefore not worthy of discussion other than how to destroy it so as to get on with their reabsorbance into All.

      Here's my reasoning: If you have fully subscribed to this notion of no such thing as free will (I have, at least as an intellectual/thought process), I don't see how you can rationalize that with the idea of a separate self. By all definitions (dictionary and common), a self requires some measure of independent volition... how else could this self distinguish itself from the other selfs? IMO this flies in the face of no-free-will. Please poke holes in this if you may. I think this is really quite simple and the real task is to figure out what to do with this information. I'm wandering around thinking I'm an independent entity but knowing I'm not. What a conundrum! As a hypothetical situation, let's say this notion of free will is permanently shattered, what then? My thought is that you are still "in" this physical universe with its requirements, and you just get on with the projections of gaining shelter, food, banging chicks, aka avoiding pain as much as possible. Or as Suzanne F might point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_world's_a_stage. Maybe that all sounds dour and could result in suicidal tendencies - as suggested earlier in the thread.

      I do need to add a caveat that I am not a card-carrying non-dualist... otherwise I'd be sitting in some nice warm SoCal ashram, rather than shivering in the frigid north. I have also noticed that I use parentheses way too much.

    12. Yes, it is getting a bit hard to locate the responses. Over here! *whistles and waves*

      I'm with you Chris, and I guess that's kind of where I'm at at the moment. I know there's no basis for free-will or a separate self and yet it still kind of feels that way. Or does it? What would it even feel like? Obviously this must be what it feels like to not have free will or a separate self, paradoxically. But yes, as you say - for some it seems the illusion has been "permanently shattered'' - and then the show must go on (I'd imagine with quite a weight lifted off the shoulders though).

      I read the Shakespeare excerpt, rather good isn't it! I also liked very much the Latin phrase "Totus mundus agit histrionem" (All the world plays the actor) - it appeals to my nondual-leaning sensibilities very much. I guess I'm pretty much a card-carrier at the moment - but as Mike astutely observes, that's as far as I have any choice in the matter of whether that changes or not (which is zilch)!

      "I have also noticed that I use parentheses way too much"

      Don't worry I seem to have that habit too, as well as 'inverted commas'. Hopefully people aren't picturing someone doing the Dr Evil style ''bunny ears'' gesture every time they read them!


    13. Jonathan, I just tried to watch that Menas Kafatos video again which I recommended to you and didn't quite make it to half-way this time! I don't think that what he says is actually over my head - it rather seems kind of simplistic and to make certain assumptions which I feel a bit critical of this time! Funny how your perceptions can change like that haha.

      I watched it a few weeks ago and remembered being intrigued by what he said about the infinite/one observer(s) - that part might still be good but I didn't get that far this time!

      Just thought I'd mention that, as I'm not even sure I fully endorse it now! I'm apparently theoretically capricious today haha.


    14. Gabriel,

      I watched the video and it wasn't too bad. His philosophy seemed very on point, but I lack the knowledge to know whether his science was equally on point. In cases like that, you have to trust that the person speaking is not twisting the facts to align with his worldview. The idea of object-based science is an interesting idea though, but I'm not sure that it ends up being any different than spiritual inquiry. The way that we look at science now is inherently object-based and I'm not sure how you would successfully connect that with observation as the ground of it all. Maybe I wasn't listening closely enough.


      In terms of a separate/non-separate self and free will/determinism, it's kind of funny how differently we see things (not that I necessarily think you're wrong). Personally, I wouldn't define "self" in terms of free will or not. I would define it in terms of an independent consciousness. Said another way, I have a mind/experience that only I can access and you have a mind/experience that only you can access - neither of us can access the other's mind or experience. In theory, I don't actually know that you have a mind, but I experience that you do for roughly the same reason that I experience that I don't have free will and that is that I can't control everything that I experience.

      I experience that I can't control everything that I experience because I can't predict 99.9% of it. I think this alone indicates that there are significant limitations to my free will, especially when you consider suffering. Almost by definition, no one would choose suffering, right? So the fact that it exists means that something outside of my will is causing it.

      The part of my experience that I call "you" is also seemingly out of my control and thus separate from me.

      So, just to summarize, a lack of free will via suffering and an experience of "you" are commonly connected by a lack of control on the part of my conscious will so I think that determinism and separation are compatible.

      Then again, I don't have to experience that I'm not in control. It's only when I compare and contrast my experiences in a certain way that I come up with a lack of control. Seemingly, I can just re-direct my attention. But then again again, if I am not doing that, isn't something causing that?

    15. Thanks, glad you got something out of it. I think I zoned out through his introductory talk the first time I watched it and my interest piqued when he got to the science part, the second time I really focused on the opening spiel with my skeptical 'what if I was Mike watching this' hat on and found it a bit lacking. I would need to watch it a third time to fully be able to assess it with the little I can remember about quantum physics they taught us in school (wait they didn't teach us anything about that in school). Who knows what I'd focus on a third time though, probably would be the interesting way the light bounces off his head knowing me.

      Cheers, Gabriel

  31. Forgive me if it seems I'm trying to derail your convo, but it seems to me that language, religion, and apples are all the same: appearances in mind aka thoughts. It's a fascinating area for discussion - is my perception of the apple the same as your perception, where and what exactly is the apple, etc. However it is a mental game, akin to chess or perhaps more accurately a jigsaw puzzle and I'm not sure it's the tone Mike has established here. I will butt out of the thread now, really.

    The one thing I wanted to throw into the soup pot is that I like a lot about Jed M's last book - the fourth part of the trilogy, or the appendix as I prefer to consider it. His terminology selection pleases me: "Truth" for the only thing that can be said to be true, and "Reality" for the vast amusement part encompassing apples, conversations about psychology, jigsaw puzzles, and zits. This makes it easy for me to categorize things - everything goes in the Reality bin except for.... aaargh. Probably RAW was smart to just go play, or as Jed replied to the question "what's the point?"... "What's the point of the amusement park ride... the point is the ride". So I guess the idea is to enjoy the ride, even if it scares the shit out of you. I'm still working on that.

    And as far as enlightenment goes, I'd prefer to get it done by the end of the weekend... I have a busy schedule next week.

    Butting out now,

  32. Hi Chris, no that's cool - nothing wrong with derailing derailers! I had the same sense, perhaps we are going way off topic, I'm guessing Jonathan will probably concur! I think we said it was winding down long ago haha.

    "Language, religion, and apples are all the same: appearances in mind aka thoughts" - good point!

    I've not really read or listened to much Jed McKenna, maybe I should. "The point is the ride" makes a lot of sense to me!

    Enlightenment is so yesterday, I'm all about accessing the Psychoatomic Quantum Non-local Circuit!

    Cheers, Gabriel

  33. Jonathan, hope you enjoy that article anyway! I'm still up for chatting, I suppose if we can stay more 'on topic', however that plays out. It just occurred to me though, Chris: Isn't the only thing we can talk about 'mind stuff' or thought? Gabriel

  34. Gabriel:

    Isn't the only thing we can talk about 'mind stuff' or thought?

    Of course. And the talking is all mind stuff too. Slipping on my solipsist hat (Jed says it's ok now, whew), all I can know or talk about is what arises in my mind. I have no clue about anyone else's and I defy anyone to prove unequivocally otherwise. However, while I could actually be fooling myself, or dreaming in some matrix pod, I'm going along on the hypothesis that there is a lump of meat named Gabriel somewhere that is typing words that my mind is interpreting as "an interesting subject", so I play along. That's the theory of course, but I frequently forget that.

    So you're a friend of Sailor Bob's? I like him and think he's the genuine article but honestly his offspring give me the creeps, particularly Gilbert. They strike me as typical examples of the current crop of neo-advaitists - they've got the rhetoric down, and perhaps some measure of self-programming but they just ring a bit hollow to me. Of course that's just my thoughts and I'm quite happy to be completely wrong. What the hell do I know? Oh yeah I forgot - I'm supposed to sit down, shut up and write down what is true.

    1. Yes, as you say Bob is genuine and also happens to be a lovely old dude, for what it's worth. As far as his 'offspring', well that encompasses many people! As for Gilbert, he's a pretty good guy really. I don't think there's anyone who would argue that he is not abrasive and rather confrontational at times and there are not many people that have not been pissed off by him or he has not been pissed off by ha, but he has a good heart really. As far as I can tell! You're quite right, I could be completely wrong or he may be a figment of my imagination, as could you Chris! :)

      Yeah, it's all mind-stuff, you're right. We never know who or what anything or anyone is really, it's all pretty ephemeral as far as I'm concerned. Seems kind of sad in a way, but then how boring would it be if things just were a certain way, statically! All impressions are valid as far as they go.

      Thanks for the thoughts!


    2. I guess bitching about Gilbert's fine as I don't think there's anyone I haven't heard him bitch about! He's probably bitching about me right now! I'm not sure what you mean by him 'ringing hollow' though, I find his 'pointing' very clear actually. Different strokes for different folks though. Who would you recommend? Jed? He reminds me of Gilbert in his delivery style actually, from the little I've read, at least superficially - seems to take the piss out of everyone and poke at their self-centre. I like Peter Brown, personally, if you've heard of him. He's a fan of McKenna as it happens, but he's different, a pretty affable Californian dude. I sometimes wonder if he offers too much 'mind-food' to chew on though... I've been told in no uncertain terms (by guess who!) to 'stick to Bob!'

      I've mostly been doing so of late but I tend to be quite promiscuous with this stuff. I dunno, there's not many good ones out there it seems, but I'm happy I found Bob. Most of them give ME the creeps actually! Very fake, a lot of them and not all they seem (it seems. Naturally these are impressions).


    3. Actually I think I was being quite kind. I'd say 90% of them are absolutely nauseating bullshit artists actually! Gabriel

  35. Well, I guess it all boils down to personality (or ego if you prefer, I'm OK with that). My personality responds positively to Jed's diatribes, not so much to Gilbert's. Yours is inverted from that somewhat. Yet I sense that our personalities are compatible! Well, ain't that a kettle of fish.

    As far as hollow pointing, you know there is a metric ton of that out there... Gilbert just seemed that way to me, but I'm willing to ascribe that to plain old preference. Besides, as has been drilled into you, we are all enlightened right now anyways, just most of us are ignorant of it. That's what I'm told anyways.

    I'll check out Mr. Brown but at this point I am trying to keep the reading room down to an absolute minimum. I recall (source unknown) something to the effect of "Don't read a thousand books once, read one book a thousand times". Kind of like a wooby. Besides, Bob said to pick one pointer and stick with it. Don't be promiscuous, you might get a nasty disease.

  36. Hi Chris, actually what I've read of Jed I've really resonated with. For some reason I haven't pursued it further (yet) but I did contemplate buying some of his books a while ago and I may still do (but for now, I will in fact, stick to Bob, as advised from all quarters!).

    "Yet I sense that our personalities are compatible! "

    I sense that too, I think I get on well with people who are serious enough to look into this kind of thing deeply yet light enough of heart to know that it's a bit of a joke on some level! :) I get that sense with Mike too. Even though we got off on kind of the wrong foot and disagreed on some points, I always came away from exchanges with him thinking, 'damn, he actually seems like a really nice guy!' Cognitive dissonance in the best kind of way!

    Anyway, not trying to turn this into a koombaya love in, as Mike might say! You're right about the promiscuousness, even metaphorically - I think it's called ADD! I know that's a disorder, but you know what I mean! Sticking to one or two pointers has been the most help for me too, sounds like you have the right idea.

    Cheers, have a good day (it's morning here anyway)!


  37. Ahhh... non-dual love.

    You guys are cool. Thanks for hanging out here. I will be perusing the posts and jamming in here and there, but most likely you guys will be giving me more grist for the mill.

    Much of my blogging junk has arisen from someone's comment (alas, more proof of the absence of free-will) and I definitely appreciate all the disparate and commensurate perspectives.


    PS: I'm jotting down some ideas of the materiality of thought and consciousness (much based on the neuroscience, which will always provoke the accusation of my being caught in scientism) which I imagine will provoke a great deal of consternation amongst the immaterial consciousness/spirit/soul folks.

    But I have no choice...

    Cheers, or as the kumbaya crowd would say...


  38. Quick question for the Jedbots: does anyone remember how Jed reconciles the idea that "I am" is all that can be known with his ideas of human adulthood and synchronicity, e.g., a zit isn't just a zit? I remember him saying something like "the rest is taken on faith," but I would think he would give more attention this topic since it seems hugely important. I don't feel like doing a full reading of Book 3 so I'm hoping someone has a quick and dirty answer.

  39. Jonathan,
    Actually I would look to Book 4 (the humble Theory Of Everything) for a better answer to your question. He uses very explicit terms: Truth - the one/only thing you can know (I am) and Reality - the myriad and wondrous playground of life as a meat puppet devoid of free will. These are terms that satisfy me, better than all the other crap I've read. He also correlates these to Brahmanic consciousness and Atmanic consciousness, respectively, though I think some vedantic scholars may argue that.

    As far as reconciliation, he doesn't seem to try real hard, they just both are. He claims the real prize is Human Adulthood, and that he is still working on that. Consider the text book definition of enlightenment - no sense of a separate self. This would then include all children before roughly the age of two, and sever Alzheimer's patients, but so what? One with the universe but sitting in dirty diapers is not a big prize I think. He definitely tries to steer the reader towards HA but for those who just must know what's really going on, they just must follow that. Almost as if they didn't have free will.

    Did you ever read Flatland? The attempts of the plane people to talk to the line people reminds me very much of these sorts of discussions.

    BTW, I am still chewing on your recent response to me - good questions.

  40. Chris,

    Glad you're back. To some extent, I can understand the idea that "they just both are." The "I am" idea only applies in the area of concepts. If you reduce your experience to the senses, the question of "can anything other than 'I am' be known" exists nowhere and only has an answer once conceived of. I suppose the "faith" part is the willingness to separate concepts from direct experience, but it seems like a serious oversight if he didn't address this.

    By the way, and I'm sure you'll let me know if you think I'm wrong, but I think Jed's theory of everything is pretty much total nonsense. He defines Truth as infinite and never-changing (I think there are more stipulations to "Truth" but I don't remember offhand) and says that it is "all." However, he says that the whole of experience is false because it does not meet the strict conditions that he defines as Truth. So it really is a "theory" of everything because, by Jed's conclusions, he should have no ability to access Truth, unless he somehow believes that he can step outside of experience. By his definitions, he couldn't have experienced Truth, but again, this is only relevant once conceived of.

    Also, it's illogical to conclude that experience is false because you have to start off with the assumption that you have some capacity for truth. Because all you have is experience, you would have to conclude that at least some part of experience is true for your realizations or logic to mean anything, but that's not what Jed does - he concludes that the whole of experience is false.

    Other than the possibility that Jed is completely wrong, the only thing that I can come up with is that the term "Truth" means absolutely nothing - it's inconceivable by the mind and refers to literally nothing. If that's the case, then what's the point?

  41. Well just thought I'd report I'm over half way through 'The Damndest Thing' and it seems pretty good to me as a whole. Slightly funny though that he recommends 'Stranger In A Strange Land' as a book to read, maybe an in-joke, as I was thinking his persona actually reminds me of a sophisticated, smooth talking Heinlein character, in an idyllic setting dispensing wisdom to beautiful, wide-eyed seekers hanging on his every word. I keep expecting him to state that some of the students arrived by hovercar before reclining on the living grass carpet.

    That aside the points he makes are pretty hard to deny, from my perspective. Some of it hit me quite hard, actually. I find what he says to be in accord with what Bob says in his own understated and direct ways, in essence. I'm going to keep reading anyway - certainly readable and has some very profound parts.


    1. He's just had a rip-roaring, potentially fatal skydiving adventure now. This is like the Boy's Own version of nonduality, I think I like it. Though again, the actual points he makes are pretty stark and ring true to me, so I'm not trying to downplay that. Maybe there's some kind of punchline coming up, or maybe he just has a great, successful spiritual guru life in many ways (plagued as he is by what are usually portrayed as somewhat sophomoric seekers of truth) and is not afraid to only portray himself in a good light (with the caveat that he is merely 'playing' the teacher role and none of it really means anything to him).

      My general assessment, though generally positive, could be completely wrong, mind you! I like his quote: "If you're not amazed at how naive you were yesterday, you are standing still", very much - that's spot on.


  42. Jonathan,
    Yeah, I'm back, got tired of banging chicks. So, to the crux... my take is that Jed's premise aligns with my interpretation of a whole raft of historical nondual sages, several of whose books are on my shelf. Many emphasize the "I am" as a central theme but are very careful to repeat ad nauseam that this is not something that is grasped by the mind. So when you say The "I am" idea only applies in the area of concepts. you are immediately in the domain of mind, a place of "ideas" and "concepts". The traditional explanation is that I Am is there before the "I Am" thought arises and takes ownership, and starts wrapping a story around it. I am familiar with this process and it gets boring. Jed calls this substrate(?), Truth, and all the of the mind constructs, Reality. Others call the latter the dream state, also a good term. I think you are using or interpreting these terms differently, as multiple shades of what Jed calls Reality. Now, skinning the Reality onion is a fascinating and worthy game (Mike is a Jed-I master I think), in fact forms the basis of Jed's only method prescription - S-word Autolysis. The premise of that is you cannot grasp what is not graspable by the mind, all you can do is expose relentlessly what is not Truth. It goes something like: "I like apples"... "You presuppose that there is such a thing as an apple - please prove this". You have to be really dedicated to do this for more than three minutes at a time. And perhaps most importantly, the question of the hour is "Why do you think you are orchestrating this whole question and answer process"? And this is why I am here.

    Other than the possibility that Jed is completely wrong, the only thing that I can come up with is that the term "Truth" means absolutely nothing - it's inconceivable by the mind and refers to literally nothing. If that's the case, then what's the point?

    You are spot on with this one. Let me respond with: "Why should there be a point"? This is a deadly serious question and pivotal to all the discussions on this warm and cuddly blog.

    So that's it from a Jedbot - what kind of bot are you?

    1. Didn't see this comment here, I like Jed's Autolysis idea very much. Regarding the ''why should there be a point?" point: Quoted For Truth! Or quoted for the veracity of where the question is leading (new less pithy acronym). I do like this book btw, I've just recommended it to a friend who's going to get it - so these things spread (for what it's worth...). Gabriel

  43. I faintly recall that banging chicks can be tiring, so I know what you mean.

    I knew I should have been more clear when I said "the 'I am' idea." What I was referring to was the idea that "I am" is all that can be known. I think that, like apples or anything else, "I am" can be experienced, but the question of whether anything else can be known outside of "I am" only has an answer once conceptualized. Experience in the absence of conceptualization of potential falseness offers no evidence of its falseness, but I wouldn't limit this to an experience of "I am." When I mentioned the willingness to separate concepts from direct experience (although I should have reversed the order of those two), I was talking about exactly what I think you're talking about.

    However, I am confused about how direct experience, the substrate as you're calling it (did I get that right?), is the same thing as "Truth" as defined by Jed. I just didn't get that from the Theory of Everything. I could easily be wrong - I haven't read any Jed McKenna material other than a passage or two in the better part of a year. I might have a different opinion of it now.

    I'm well-versed in S-word Autolysis and frequently promoted its (il)logical conclusion for around two years, but there's just something about it that doesn't feel right to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for skepticism, which I outlined above, but I don't see how you can get around utilizing truth. It takes some capacity for truth to identify untruth so the same problem exists both with SA and the theory of everything. Practicing SA is like repeatedly saying "this sentence is false" for, as I'm told, up to two years. It's not even possible to conceptualize the sentence using normal definitions and for that matter, it might not even be possible to truly conceptualize falsehood. Conceptualizing falsehood is like conceptualizing the hole in a doughnut without conceptualizing the doughnut. If you want an easier example, try conceptualizing "1+1=3." I bet you can't. I think it would be more accurate to say that the idea that we know of as falsehood is composed of individual truths, e.g., the truth of what 1, 3, +, and = mean, and represents a gap in our ability conceptualize. The basis of the truths that comprise such quasi-conceptions of falsehood is experience, but that is what we are seeking to discredit through SA, is it not? Well, more specifically, it sounds like you're saying that SA is trying to discredit the link between experience and conceptions thereof, but even the conceptions are a product of experience, they are inherent from that experience, and they are, themselves, experience.

    Jed put out four books that many people have read and probably used as guides in their lives. That's why it matters what's said in the books. When I ask what the point is, I'm referring to the point of Jed using a meaningless concept in one of his books. Does it really matter to me if those people get lost as result of reading Jed's material? Maybe.

    Right now I'm an accountingbot. Pretty soon I'll be a commuterbot. After that, maybe a Felipe'sTaqueriabot, and then, most certainly, a sleepbot.

  44. Jonathan, I'd say prior to conceptualisation you don't know anything whatsoever for certain other than the 'felt sense' of existence, and that this is the case even during and after conceptualisation too, when closely examined. Any other speculation as to what is true or not comes after the bare fact of existence. 'I am' is a concept but what it 'points to' is not. That's my thoughts anyway, hope I'm not missing your point to Chris. You have a very rigorous, questioning mind - it's good!

    I think sometimes I might not interrogate certain 'spiritual teachings' (whatever that means) because I write them off as 'well it's a paradox and can't be understood in the mind'. That may be the case but you have to sink your teeth into it really (even if this eventually leads to failure to understand conceptually) to ever be able to understand it, I'd say.


  45. Let's move this discussion to another place to minimize load time.