It is an amazing and profound predicament the Western mind has gotten itself into, using the faculties of natural intelligence and consciousness to entangle itself into a corner about the very thing it professes to want to understand, while denying its existence and nature. In fact the nature of what a human being is, is also veiled by this whole network of thinking. In fact it is a basic denial of fact, while redefining what a "fact" is. This inner conflict in turn comes out in various neurotic ways in individuals and in the society.
It's taken me about 30 years to be able to more clearly articulate what is going on here.
What I discovered, or should I say uncovered more than 30 years ago; what dawned on me as a powerful moment of revelation or intuition — after years and years of going as deep as possible into the question of what is intelligence, what is mind, and how does it work, and pondering philosophical aspects of artificial intelligence, psychology and science — was startling. The massive intuition I had was that what all these high-flying researchers and professors that I was studying and dialoguing with were trying to do — and we are talking about the brightest and most rewarded in the world —was use this linear, problem-solving intelligence, and at the same time, identify with that modality, and base models on the tool they think with, what they presume is the "intelligence" that counts, as that which is real and important.
However, the true, native, real, natural and fundamental intelligence is what I called at the time "intuition", and is wholistic, timeless, non-local, instantaneous, fertile, and not predicted by memory. It is "underdetermined" by the past.
The models that they were creating (using real intelligence, when being creative, but denying the source) were derivative of the assumption that humans — who are assumed to be like animals, only higher up evolutionarily-speaking, with some added tools like language — were all based on the idea of problem-solving, control and survival, procreation and other Darwinian traits being the fundamental paradigm. Models of the mind assume this problem-solving and control (control of self-body-mind, control of others via language and behavior, control of material objects, etc.) is central, and that if there is anything like consciousness (which many assumed was in serious doubt, or maybe just like "waste heat" – never mind any definition that wasn't grasping at straws given the beliefs underlying their outlook on life), it would be a secondary or derivative function of lower-order processes. In essence, a mechanistic one. Likewise, they assumed that an understanding of intelligence — what they arrogantly saw as the paradigmatic human kind as best-case scenario — must be modeled or simulated or created by building up from parts. Then some kind of processing happens or emerge through time in a linear fashion, even if that linear fashion is complex, parallel, network based, or based in tubules with quantum processes (or whatever).
So with all those assumptions in place the sport consisted of various researchers, models, and theories battling it out in that given cognitive space. The game rules were set. The merry-go-round was put in motion, and one either played on the setup (if you wanted a career and any recognition, a "future"), or were thrown of, or jumped off (I chose the latter, and started studying and practicing Zen and creating visual art).
Even if it was admitted there might be something like consciousness, it was assumed to be local, mind-like, or a material process like brain attentional mechanisms. And intelligence was of course also assumed to be local, computer-like, software-like, or material-based in some way (if they could only find that way). Both were assumed to be phenomenal and impermanent. Even the most controversial philosophers like David Chalmers, were completely conservative in postulating that the "hard problem" was figuring out how consciousness arises from brains (Francis Crick, whom I met, also assumed that that was the problem, and was an "astonishing hypothesis").
If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like nail. If all you have is problem solving and time and space, and reality is seen as conceptual (which is what matter is: a concept) then everything takes the shape of problems in time and space in a conceptual battlefield (and not surprisingly, gets political and vicious).
Indeed, the fundamental assumptions of Western science have taken over philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and AI research. But they are wrong. Or should I say more accurately, extremely limited and dogmatic, and completely unable to account for the phenomenon of intelligence and consciousness. One will be going around in various circles forever, with such blinders on.
If researchers do not know who and what they are; do not have an experience of what they are which, like consciousness and intelligence is direct and self-evident, then how can one hope to spawn anything more than variations of what one came up with before, or slow incremental improvements thereof? The linear and process models and views of consciousness and intelligence can help engineer better car navigation systems and computer technologies that mimic certain processes (like the outward process of the expression of language, which is being stimulated with better and better refinement), but engineering cannot begin to hope to create beauty, love, truth, nor meaning. Those qualities, while experienced as being out there in phenomenon, are in fact footprints of our fundamental nature, universally. This recognition requires a certain maturity, which unfortunately is rare in academia and the culture at large.
So the children play on, building their toys and weapons and having fun in their wars in academia and in the streets and between nations...
Really GREAT article. The Information Age has certainly boomed over the last 50 years… leading to unimaginable improvements in just about all aspects of life. However, despite the vast technological improvements, the impact upon “human consciousness“ is almost nil. At best, further developments in technology & information will only allow us to create better “models” to manipulate a perceived material world. Until we collectively address the “real problem” we will simply continue to “miss the mark” (Sin)
Thanks Ric. I agree about this age. There are marvelous and sometimes useful inventions coming out daily (where would we be without refrigeration, and the fun of the internet?), including in Artificial “Intelligence”. Some of this research will ironically, or inevitably help some see the limitations of our thinking about thinking, and how our modeling is a double-edged sword based in the inherent double-edge of the mental instrument in use. In the meantime, the dynamics of ARP are in effect: Abstraction, Reification, and Projection.
Quite remarkably (or perhaps, given his story, which I’ll get to in a moment), British psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist has stumbled onto the same realization you so elegantly articulate.
“Stumbled” may not be quite the appropriate characterization, as he spent 20 years studying several thousand neuroscientific articles on brain lateralization (separation into two hemispheres).
Rather than the left hemisphere being the home of analytic intelligence and the right the home of emotion (the 1970s pop idea), McGilchrist relentlessly reminds us that BOTH hemispheres are associated with reason and BOTH with emotion.
What is different? How they attend to the world.
I imagine you’ll find this familiar:
The left hemisphere analyzes, separates, particularizes, sees things in linear, discrete terms, emphasizes the separate “me” and the separation of “me” from an allegedly objective world of hard material stuff. it is literal, quantitative, and its characteristic negative emotion is anger, often verging on paranoia.
In his epic book, “The Master and His Emissary,” tracing the play of hemispheric difference at the societal level over 2500 years, he sees modernity as overwhelmed by, almost possessed by the traits of the left hemisphere.
The right hemisphere intuits, sees the whole, connection, is Field-like in its knowing/feeling/sensing/intuiting, sees things in non-linear, metaphorical ways, it is qualitative, and its characteristic negative emotion is sadness (as befits this way of attending to the world, it is not really so discretely related to the right hemisphere but actually involves both).
John Yates, a former neuroscience professor and now buddhist meditation teacher, discovered the same fact about attention (and found parallels in the buddhist texts), naming the two ways of attending “selective attention” (for the left hemisphere way of attending) and “peripheral awareness” (the right hemisphere). Mindfulness, in his account, can – not so much choose, as there is no “doer” – but seems to intend, as circumstances arise and as is appropriate, one or the other or a combination of both ways of attending (in real life, of course, it is infinitely more complex and subtle, but these terms are used as a concession to our left hemisphere way of seeing things; in wiser times they used mythological, poetic terms to convey this, as in Apollonian and Dionysian).
I wrote Yates when I came across his writings, to tell him about McGilchrist. Yates wrote back and said he had just discovered McGilchrist’s writings, and that yes, they were both using different terms to refer to the same phenomena.
Your professor friends would write this off as mere coincidence. Not grokking the astonishing, Grace-filled, omniscient workings of Divine Intelligence, one can only smile and say that the professors writing this off is just as much a manifestation of this Intelligence as Yates’ and McGilchrist’s insights!
Don – Thank you for the interesting connections. I always like to see the common ground, no matter if it’s in science, philosophy, psychiatry, the wisdom traditions, or any other realm of experience.
I just corrected “*un*determined” to say “*under*determined”, which is what I meant to write. For example, a moment of insight or a flash of creativity, will put all the parts in the self-evident order, yet the parts-as-parts still exist, as does a past record of “causes” (or a story), they just did not determine nor create the whole (except as we believe they do – the mind loves to “make sense”, fill in the gaps, find explanations…).
Present intelligence can utilize (seemingly) discrete elements in coalescing experience via the continuity of Consciousness. This is parallel to the fact that phenomenal experience is dependent on Consciousness, but Consciousness is not dependent on phenomena. Thus one can have a completely causeless, non-phenomenal experience of Being – what’s been called “pure Consciousness” or “pure awareness”, awareness without objects. It cannot be grabbed onto or understood by the mind, yet it exists. One glimpses this, and it changes the mind, permanently.
I mention this because of your fascinating recounting of the story of the psychiatrists. It’s an incredible instrument, the brain, but as your story hints at, studying the instrument, while valuable, does not really tell one what is aware of the totality of what the mind-brain-body instrument is conjuring up – taking apart the radio doesn’t tell you anything about the radio show you’re hearing – nor what holds the experienced life together, from seeming birth to seeming death. And, this body-mind-world, and the brain therein, if I were somehow able to see it, are just one among many appearing in awareness, another character on the screen as it were. A very strange paradox to the mind, to be situated in something it cannot know…
What is ultimately perceiving the perceptions? Where does the buck stop? There’s no infinite regress if you see there can only be one reality, and that reality is the same as the undivided awareness.
Yes, it’s no surprise at all that the Buddhists and other psychonauts, by looking within, find by careful “subjective” observation the same patterns of thinking, perceiving, and sensing as modern researchers find by “objective” means, including the verbal reports of experimental subjects or patients, and so forth. And, not surprising, yet great good news, how “skillful” means of meditation can effect changes via effortless effort (even severe OCD can be overcome and the brain re-wired via meditation).
One of the non-duality teachers I hung out with for a couple of years always points students to “open the attention” towards an absolute and loving “welcoming” that is total and excludes nothing in experience.
One can even say “Yes” to “No.” 🙂
Wow, great response. Bernardo Kastrup has some fascinating essays on his website, as well as published commentary in Scientific American, noting examples of brain damage where by all scientific understanding, the person should be either brain dead or incapable of any functional cognition, yet in these examples the person may recall dreams during the period of brain damage that are incredibly complex. I don’t always agree with Kastrup’s ideas or approach, but he is an amazingly brilliant guy and I think he did quite well with this one. It’s one of the best proofs that the brain, far from being the “producer” of thought, feeling and Consciousness, is no more than a sensory image, a reflection in infinite Consciousness of what we refer to as “mental processes” but really are simply a particular action of Infinite Consciousness (or as I prefer, the Divine; a little more “flavor” to that word:>)
One other thought – I corresponded for awhile with Jeffrey Schwartz, who was the first to “prove” that the basal ganglia, caudate nucleus, and other areas of the brain as well as neurotransmitters associated with severe OCD, could be PHYSIOLOGICALLY changed through mindfulness. I asked him why, given his interest in mystic Christianity and Theravada Buddhism, that was so amazing, since the ancient texts detail infinitely more complex and varied possibilities. He agreed, just said – appropriately – that’s all one can put forth in mainstream scientific texts.
I’m always amused at the ferocity with which scientists and general – and in particular, in my own profession of psychology – leap to claim “such and such” is impossible.
Many know about the claims that nobody could run faster than a 4 minute mile, which Roger Bannister happily debunked back in the late 1940s. But if you look at the people who said it was impossible, do you find them issuing a mea culpa? From what I’ve seen, it’s like “Well, now we see we had made some minor inaccurate calculations.”
And my favorite part, there’s now a new impossible. “Yes, he broke the 4 minute barrier, but NOBODY can run a mile faster than 3’50.” And you know when that record is broken, they’re going to be the same way.
I had lucid dreams from early childhood, and I remember reading the pronouncements in the 70s that lucid dreams were impossible (until Stephen LaBerge proved otherwise).
Now of course EVERYONE knows parapsychological phenomena like remote viewing is impossible. So what do you think 600 leading physicists, philosophers, psychologists, evolutionary biologists on the Journal of Consciousness Studies list serv said when I told them I had a dream about an apartment I never entered, saw the exact layout, right down to a particular book shelf, the design of the shelf, and the name, cover design and author of a particular book on a specific shelf on a specific location on that shelf, and checked a few days later by going in the apartment and seeing the kitchen, hallway, dining room, living room, bathroom, bookshelf, book, etc all exactly as I had seen it?
Gotta love it. All part of the Divine play:>))
Yes, I have listened to Kastrup some and enjoyed him. He had a good critique of pantheism, which some scientists who first glimpse the logic of consciousness being universal, fall into. I see it as a sort of global idolatry, haha. But if you see consciousness as mind-like, it’s a natural mistake to make. And I agree (roughly speaking) with his assessment of the brain being mind-made-manifest-as-material-appearing, though I’m no longer an idealist like he is.
It is indeed very interesting that patients (and hopefully I remember this correctly) – this has been recorded by materialist doctors who have no explanation –who have been intentionally brain-flatlined by reducing their body temperature enough to do an operation on their heart, were able to recount details during the operation, such as conversations by the doctor, or the visual appearance of items on the surgery table they could not have even seen with their eyes. And then there’s Anita Moorjani’s experience of being comatose, with a body riddled with cancer and on her deathbed, seemingly about to die, having an experiences of (vast and among other things) knowing what certain relatives were doing, and finding out what in her mental-emotional state caused her cancer, and then waking up from this consciousness-as-total-field experience (not of the body), and fully recover – also recorded by doctors but with no explanation. We just call it a “miracle”. There’s obviously something more going on here than meets the eye, “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Of course these are all just clues to the murder and not the killer revealed as it were; just the bottle and not the real champagne – they are secondhand – despite how fascinating they are.
Yes, it was Schwartz’s work I was thinking of with respect to the OCD cure via meditation. I ran across it about 5 years ago but forgotten his name. That is true – what scientists or philosophers can say in public and what they say in private can be different. Since I’m not an academic, I’m free to say (read, write, post, publish…) whatever I want (within the limits of libel and PC culture), which is how I wanted it to be.
I learned to not bring up certain topics with the materialist social worker friends I had when I lived in the city (often left-leaning) or psychologists, therapists, etc, when my topic was of a spiritual nature that challenged their beliefs about psychology or politics, as it was like “sticking a pin in a tiger” as Sydney Banks once quipped: very threatening to adamantly held belief systems. Sometimes even my presence or fundamentally differently-oriented way of life – where happiness, creativity, fun, joy, freedom are more important than “security” – seemed threatening (which I suppose is why my common-law wife of 13 years left hahaha!). And the academic philosophers and even grad students spend years and decades sharpening their knives and hardening the ego to defend their territory and destroy the competition, the threat of other egos. Any other worldview than theirs is “crazy”, an “embarrassment” or to be utterly belittled, dismissed.
Yes, thinking that man could fly was deemed “impossible” when the Wright brothers were trying it, or going to the moon was objected to as impossible or hubris. But the change in outlook non-duality requires goes beyond even worldviews and paradigms. It may be that duality is part of the very fabric of this world, as is the conflicts and fun drama of societies. How boring would it be for “God” if we were all enlightened, sitting around in white robes blessing each other, brother. So I generally have had a more sober goal of seeing if the erroneous foundations of psychology and related fields could be exposed and another direction pointed to “beyond the mind”. That’s what it seems like anyway…
(No wonder all my friends these days are psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and therapists. And a few artist crazies, life coaches… Some retired, some not, but all seeing new directions or openings, Hmm… Well, not *all* my friends, but the ones I have the most truck with… ).
These days there are almost daily serendipities, both on my “side” and with friends I know. For example yesterday, I texted a friend in Austria I was having a conversation with “why don’t we use WhatsApp instead?” and he immediately texted me “Freaky!” because he’d just had that same thought, in a flash. And with a psychiatrist friend in New York, I will get a very distinct thought of her popping into my awareness, or have a touch of sadness, and “poof” within seconds or a minute she texts me “How are you?”… This is now the “new normal”.
This happens too often for it to be “coincidence” – it feels like an “answer” to something, like, if I were forced to put it into words, “Are you there, Love-Consciousness?” (which sounds silly but you get my drift). And I know at some deep level nothing is random, if there is no separation in consciousness-intelligence-reality. And it’s not spiritual or religious either. It’s not scientific, it’s not magic, it’s… simple fact. What can I say.
So as far as “paranormal” phenomena go, I see it differently now: it’s “merely” a peek behind the curtain. It’s not two separate entities communicating, because there simply are not two separate entities in existence. Get used to it (haha). There is no transmission and no special powers. Rather humbling (to me).
(Now if that lovely serendipitous stuff could just happen in a big and good way in the financial arena – so I can finish putting a book together – I’d *really* get the message of Love. Consciousness, are you listening? 😉 ).
Thank you for the enjoyable repartee my friend.
Sorry about the common law wife, but it sounds like you’ve made peace with it.
Glad to hear you’ve moved beyond idealism. I casually (though sometimes caustically) prodded Bernardo about 5 years ago to consider that there “may be more things than dreamed of in your philosophy” but I think he found his “God” in idealism and appears content to rest there. And who am I to take that away from him?
I love how you evoke (not just describe) the new normal of connections. I had a 12 person lucid dream group for 6 months as part of one of my grad theses (I hypothesized that a certain kind of “drone” music I composed would help people maintain awareness from waking directly into dreaming – it worked, 100% for the 6 who had the music – can’t say more now but sometime in the next year I’m going to put some free stuff up on YouTube along these lines). But the 2nd most successful lucid dream trick I employed was inviting everyone, for 1 week, to start noticing “coincidences.” Almost everyone had the same result – the first day or two, they started to – to their amazement – notice perhaps 2 or 3 instances. And what happened in just 7 days? Every one of them said there was kind of a gestalt reversal – rather than coincidences being an occasional interruption of linearity, linearity became more and more the exception to this ongoing flow (of course, they didn’t continue with this consciousness – why? Oh, that’s another letter!)
Finally, about wishing for the serendipitous finance – I am quite sure you already know why it doesn’t work that way. You seem to have a gift for recognizing the illusoriness of the “me”, which I imagine is what allows for the transparency in Eric’s mind-body complex for the Field to do its work (or, its play).
The financial area, from the tone of your parenthetical expression, may still have a bit to much residue of “me” to allow for the financial windfall. You don’t need me to tell you that the moment you truly let go of the slightest wish for it, it will come.
It happened to me once, and I didn’t even realize it was happening. The afternoon after I took my psychology licensing exam, I was browsing through a Borders book store (remember them??). I saw that Ken Wilber had published an 8 volume, gold bound collection of his books. As I was browsing through it, my first thought was, “wow, he still doesn’t get it.” Then i came the closest I’ve ever come to ‘hearing a voice,” which said, “It’s time to write the book.” This was in 2000, 30 years after I first got the hint (“adesh,” they call it in Sanskrit) to study the integration of psychology and spirituality, which took me 20 years to begin because I was having too much fun as a musician to take the hint).
I didn’t even know I was wanting to write a book, but – as my wife reminded me a few months later – I spent the next 2 weeks saying to Jan, “You know, I wish some rich guy would just get in touch with me and give me money so I could have time to write the book.”
And 2 weeks after that, I got an email to meet with this rich guy, who had talked with a friend in South India who told him, “Don is obsessed with integration of psychology and spirituality,” and who then gave me 25K to help give me time to write the book.
But i wasn’t consciously thinking about wanting to get the money. I was just throwing out that thought (heck perhaps I misread you and you are too) without any conscious desire for such.
Damn how God works that out. When you truly don’t want it, you get it.
Don – Yes the ex-girlfriends or wives or partners are all water under the bridge, yoga exercises during and after.
Indeed “connecting” in that new way becomes more and more important. It was always important I just didn’t know what it was, as it didn’t fit into the paradigm, so was filtered out, rejected, made personal, whatever. Life becomes a dance, on a different stage – one that was always there, but no longer slipping about as much on the surface muck.
When you say “truly don’t want it”, that would have to mean, “are benevolently indifferent” to the outcome. An impersonal desire is wanted, it’s just wanted in a way that has nothing to do with a separate entity willing it, or lacking it.
But I know what you mean: it’s a “wouldn’t that be nice” but it doesn’t matter if it happens or doesn’t. It’s free and playful, light. And then is let go off… or might be noticed again (without any counter-thoughts) and the intention “reset” in a sense.
How could the Totality lack anything or be unable to have what it wants? So when an intention unfolds – Iccha in the Kashmir Shaivism tradition– it’s merely an unveiling to our limited eyes what is already the case, like the dawning of the sun that was already shining.
And there’s “clear intention”: when there is no contradictory impulse, no unconscious resistance, it will manifest. Effortless thought.
I’m not exactly sure what the present circumstances are revealing, or going to reveal. So I must be content with unknowing, until it’s known.
So yes the residues of “me”-ness character had a spasm of wishing things were different than they are.
How does that “wishing” keep something away?
Now that’s a very interesting question.
One angle is to look at *personal* desire and fear. Personal desire is saying “I don’t have it” and the holistic intelligence obediently obeys. But we believe such personal desires will complete me or make me happy (a new love interest, or a rug, or a drug, or a car, a house…), or external imagined security take away the fear. Why? Because when you got it, there was a moment of desirelessness, a tension undone, happiness (for instance an orgasm after intense desire, or the glass of wine and the music that tweaks the mind-brain away from anxiety). Or a release of fear, and an elation when the doctor tells you, no you don’t have cancer, you’re fine, or you realize you actually do have enough money in the bank to meet the dreaded bill. But it doesn’t last very long. The fear or desire return, since the underlying assumption of separation is still there, or if not that, a residue of fear or desire in some area, like around money or sex.
Call it phenomenal happiness. In contrast to noumenal happiness, which has a very different character, of another order.
Along those lines, if one sees the noumenal (the spiritual), and the phenomenal (material), as separate, then spiritual abundance and material abundance remain separate. Are they literally the same in factual experience? That’s what we are really talking about here – not a person wishing or wanting.
Pretty high bar to set, perhaps, but I see what he means:
“There is only spiritual abundance, nothing is really material”
Francis Lucille – Video Answer 78 – What is the law of abundance?
“…as long as it was seen as being material, as long as there was this compartmentalization [of money or girlfriend in this case] there was an impression of or a belief in a finite supply; as the material realm becomes spiritualized, these limitations disappear. ”
Another thing is, everything we experience is what we want, whether we see that fact or not. Call it ultimate “responsibility”.
The New Thought church had it partly right in that there’s a deep and extraordinary way that experience is being what we believe. But it’s not personal thoughts manifesting or law of attraction. Thought has no power. It’s a choice by Consciousness to believe to be separate, or not, instantly experience changes according to that. It has to be a choice, because it is not fact: a belief is to willfully hold something to be true that isn’t.
As far as (seeming) personal situations or problems, as I said to a friend yesterday, after sharing with her a difficult session talking over Zoom with a heavy-duty seeker from India and my sense of frustration, then realizing I made the old mistake of trying to help or solve her (seeming) problem (not my job) “we’re like characters in a play taking credit for the good (or bad) acting lol”. So there’s that.
Can we intend to intend universally, impersonally, and make something happen? Can we personally will anything, or decide anything? We don’t decide our thoughts – that is, we don’t control our thoughts – they just happen naturally, like the weather, or the functioning of the liver or the flowing of the river. And yes there is the ultimate freedom as what we are.
It sounds like such a stark, black and white division:
Utter lack of freedom of the human being, a product of nature and nurture.
Infinite Freedom of absolute Beingness, Intelligence.
Sometimes, when all else fails, the only solution is the surrendering of the me-ness, including those residues you pointed out (thank you very much) 😉 “Here we go again… burned in the flame… ”
I covered a lot of ground in these notes, but it’s all interrelated. First shot here … maybe an article will emerge.
Really appreciated the non dual take on the law of abundance. Elegant simplicity.
looking forward to a blog post/article on it.
Thanks Don. I’m looking forward to it also. 🙂