"Ground of all Being"?

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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#41  Postby Kafei » Oct 18, 2014 12:01 pm

nunnington wrote:
I can connect your ideas to the so-called 'non-dual', which is found in a number of Eastern religions. It involves the dropping of the ego, or the separate I. This can be done via various meditation techniques, some drugs, such as ayahuasca, and I've met some people who just sort of slide into it.

I'm not sure about the ground of all being, but I can see how that experience could occur, since the non-dual experience quite often seems to invoke feelings of oneness and creativity. And again, I can see how this might lead some people to theism, but then in disciplines like Zen, it doesn't. But in something like advaita, the individual and God are the same, so this is quite different from the Abrahamics, (where God is the Other); maybe this is rather similar to Berkeleyan idealism, although I stand to be corrected on this.


The eastern idea behind non-duality is the subject of heated debate in Philosophy of Mind, because it relates to the Mind-body problem or the subject–object problem. Perhaps you're familiar, but for those who are not. Non-duality is the dissolving of the subject-object duality. The subject of experience, and the objects which are being experienced, i.e. your life, the world, the universe, basically. The boundary between these two are dissolved in such a way that both become seemlessly interconnected, hence non-dual. So, you have this metaphor, "I am one with everything," but this metaphor is sometimes misleading, because it posits that there is an "I" to become "one," a duality.

Ramesh Balsekar, a recently deceased guru of India put it this way, "What is the significance of the statement 'No one can get enlightenment'? This is the very root of the teaching. It means that it's stupid for any so-called master to ask anyone to do anything to achieve or get enlightenment. The core of this simple statement means, according to my concept, that enlightenment is the annihilation of the 'one' who 'wants' enlightenment. If there is enlightenment - which can only happen because it is the will of God (or Cosmic Law if you're not comfortable with the word God) - then it means the 'one' who had earlier wanted enlightenment has been annihilated. So no 'one' can achieve enlightenment and therefore no 'one' can enjoy enlightenment. The joke is even the surrendering is not in your control. Why? Because so long as there is an individual who says 'I surrender' there is a surrenderer, an individual ego… What I'm saying is that even the surrendering is not in [your] hands."

I felt this "oneness" not as being one with the current of every moment of the universe, but it felt rather almost acosmist. A sense of a kind of absolute. This is what gained my interest in String Theory, because string theory seemed to be saying exactly same thing, although physicists didn't arrive at this conclusion by powerful intuition through a phenomenon in consciousness, but rigorous intellectual mathematics. The notion of "11-dimensional hyperspace" in M-theory is defined as an absolute. You cannot go any higher dimensions, according to M-theory, because once you've reached the 11th dimension, that's it. That is the domain where every possibility is contained. The reason it might be called static or timeless is because it is an expression of all possibilities at once that are unmanifest in pure potential. If it's true that matter, the manifest universe, is nothing but an array of "strings" that resonate in these higher dimensions, then that's why you have these metaphors, like the one I used earlier, of a 2D horizontal slice through a three-dimensional cone. This would leave you with a 2D circle. Well, a three-dimensional slice through hyperspace would leave with the perception of this universe. Michio Kaku would often say that these strings are analogous to strings on an instrument. You, of course, don't play all the strings at once, but you select notes, and by selecting notes, in this sense, the universe is like an orchestra of vibrating strings which casts out this manifested universe.

So, the idea here is that while we have our known universe, these strings, because they resonate in hyperspace, are not only casting out our universe, but every single other possible universe. After all, the Big Bang was not simply an unimaginable explosion that burst our universe into existence, but a Bang that occurred in hyperspace that flung all universes into existence. I don't know how accurate any of that is, it's simply what I've picked up from reading Brian Greene or Kaku's material, but the point is that this domain in which the mystics intuit seems to be more profound than simply being "one with the universe," it seems more that this "unmanifest absolute" is rather what they are getting in touch with, and this is what I felt myself, and this is what most people who have this experience describe. Otherwise, I don't think you'd have a whole group of Strassman's volunteers coming back muttering phrases such as "4th dimensional" or "beyond dimensionality." Now, like I said before, I'm not positing that you do, in fact, come in contact with a higher dimension, but this is the overwhelming impression within the experience itself. So, to summarize, I don't believe it is Berkeleyan idealism unless you want to invoke the concept of Indra's net. Berkeley's idealism seems more like an extension of solipsism. This impression of the absolute is what eastern mystics might refer to as the "divine," or a "panentheism" as distinct from "pantheism." I want to leave you with two links that sort of go over similar concepts.






tolman wrote:
I was pointing out that 'experiences' I had could not be meaningfully described as hallucinations, and that I personally saw things in them beyond entertainment, such as a greater insight (or at least a feeling that I had greater insight) into how I think.

I just don't feel or pretend that experiences I've had are reflective of anything hiding 'out there'.


I apologize. As I said, I was going to work, so I was in a rush and skimmed through your post and I admit, I did misinterpret it. The question of whether the brain is the generator of consciousness or that is fundamentally non-physical is still up for debate in neuroscience, and is heavily the topic of Philosophy of Mind. I do realize it's the assumption of most people, the mainstream view is that consciousness is definitely produced by the brain, the same way a factory makes cars. So, if you destroy the factory, then the factory stops producing cars. Ergo, if you destroy the brain, then consciousness blinks out. The other view that the brain is a transceiver of consciousness in the very same way a TV is the transceiver of a signal. So, if you destroy the TV set, the signal it transceived is still there. It's concepts like this that keep the debate running, and that have physicists like David Bohm reject materialism as an explanation of consciousness, and adopt new concepts such as Qauntum Mind.

I still want to make a distinction about this experience, because you compared your experience to a fully awake dream. My experience, I felt, was much more profound than a lucid dream, not matter how lucid or fully awake. It felt as though I was somehow witness to what I've come to call "The Fountain of Dreams," and I use this in a very similar sense that people use this phrase "Ground of all Being." In other words, in a dream, you usually have the impression (usually) that you're a bodily entity roaming through an environment, no matter how much lucidity or lack thereof of you possess. Well, my experience seemed more that I was somehow glimpsing the source of all dreams, of all possible dreams. So, I wasn't playing out a specific scenario, but by "Fountain of Dreams," I was somehow experiencing the source of every possible dream that could be, simultaneously. This is what made this experience feel much profound than that of a lucid dream.

tolman wrote:I'm intrigued as to when either Terence McKenna or you became experts on my internal experiences, how consistently 'fun' they may have been, and what I may or may not have done in order to have them.

And that will be Terence 'the universe will end in 2012' Mckenna, I suppose.


Terence was often taken too seriously the whole "2012 thing." If your cornered him, he'd admit that he didn't take the idea too seriously. People seem to hold him to that, and discredit his concepts based on this one idea. The real thing he did, I believe, is in studying shamanism, and living in South America and seeing how these people used psychedelics. He saw that these indigenous people, if they were going to have "have fun," they'd intentionally take light doses of these psychedelics. However, the shaman was the appointed individual that would use what Terence called the "heroic dose" or "effective dose." In other words, the dose range that will give you the full-spectrum of effects. And this for them was done for spiritual purposes, and of course, if you don't like that word, then psychological insight. Terence would engage in these experience often, but not in the sense of every day. Just often enough so that he could stop and examine an experience before moving on to the next one. He admitted to smoking N,N-DMT over 70 times in his lifetime. He also was an avid reader, and was well aware of Freud, Jung, classical philosophy, depth psychology, etc. He didn't just interpret his experience purely through shamanism, he simply took the technique. Have you ever heard one of his talks? This guy was extremely articulate and could drift you away into imagery, and paint a picture for you like no other.

So, while I'm not sure what would constitute an "expert" for you, but that's definitely more expert, I'd say, than someone who studies this stuff purely from the outside, meaning without undergoing the bioassay. I don't have as much extensive experience as Terence, but I do have a considerable experience myself, and I've also been obsessed with this topic since my first "heroic dose." I wouldn't call myself an expert, but this is a research endeavor that's ongoing in my life. But basically, this phenomenon will not occur until you've taken a "heroic dose," and that doesn't mean there's a concretely defined dose. It's a different amount for different people. No two people share the same bodyweight, metabolism, sensitivity to these substances, etc. All these factors, of course, play a role, but as a general rule with something like psilocybin-containing mushrooms, he'd say if you weigh about 140 lbs, you want to take at least five dried grams. If you weigh more, take a little more, but you want to take more than less, because you don't want to miss the point.

I'd also like to point out that this isn't necessarily about psychedelics. I believe psychedelics can induce this "mystical experience," but it's not the only path to it, like I've mentioned in earlier posts. I believe the phrase "Ground of All Being" is a metaphor drawn out of this experience, it's a subjective take of the individual's impression. It's definitely not something, I believe, the individual on his/her own could draw out of fanciful imagination in the ordinary state of consciousness. Psychedelics just seem to be a reliable route to them (mystical epxerience) so that you don't have to fast for weeks, you don't have to engage in asceticism, disciplines such as meditation, or a near-death experience. It is a tried-and-true phenomenon that does, in fact, exist. I don't believe it to be "vague religious philosophical bullshit," people simply assume that because this experience has, thus far, primarily been spoken about in a context of religion. But there are more modern takes that have been written about by such authors as Richard M. Bucke or William James who've spoken about this experience in a more contemporary context, and do not use religious references in their labelling, and so Bucke called labelled this phenomenon "Cosmic Consciousness." Neurotheology is an effort to pin this phenomenon down with the explanatory power of neuroscience. Anyway, I wanted to write so much more, but in fear that this wall of text might be so daunting as to not get people to read, I'll end it here with a link of an atheist speaking on the matter.

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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#42  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 18, 2014 12:24 pm

Kafei wrote:The question of whether the brain is the generator of consciousness or that is fundamentally non-physical is still up for debate in neuroscience

No. It isn't up for debate anymore. Not in the science anyway.

Though the idea that the brain is the generator is flawed by itself.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#43  Postby Kafei » Oct 18, 2014 12:35 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
Kafei wrote:The question of whether the brain is the generator of consciousness or that is fundamentally non-physical is still up for debate in neuroscience

No. It isn't up for debate anymore. Not in the science anyway.

Though the idea that the brain is the generator is flawed by itself.


Perhaps you didn't understand what was meant by that or what physicists mean when they say materialism is insufficient to describe consciousness. The idea behind quantum mind is that consciousness may not be grounded in materialism, but nevertheless is intertwined with it. I'll give you a metaphor used by Steven Pinker to describe what I mean by that. Steven Pinker once said:

The way I think of mind is as a 4th dimensional organ of your body, you cannot see it, because it resides in a higher dimension, but you experience a sectioning of it within the phenomenon of consciousness, but that is only a partial sectioning of it in the same way a plane is a partial sectioning of a cone when it transects it.


I agree that mind may be the current physical state of the brain, but I think there’s more to it than that. I know that quote sounds like something Stuart Hameroff might suggest, but what’s implicit here is that this emergent property of matter, what we call “consciousness” is somehow intertwined with what M-Theorists rave about, the “higher dimensions” which make up String Theory. For instance, to give an example of this “sectioning” in the quote, when you imagine, say, a tree in the daytime spring scenery, you can see it in your mind’s eye quite vividly, can't you? You can make out brilliant colours and and even almost hear the wind as it brushes against its branches and leaves. But where is this tree, really? Where is it being projected? We can’t make the analogy from the computer’s output to a monitor, you see, because the tree isn’t really anywhere in your mind. If we were going to take a look at the physical brain, we wouldn’t find the tree, instead we may find certain electrical neural patterns, the breaking and forming of chemical bonds and various other fast chemistries, etc. But if we were going to use the computer analogy, then the monitor, where the image is being projected is in within this “sectioning” of hyperspace while the hardware is a direct correlate in the physical brain, they go together. So, what seems to be happening here is that the potentiality to imagine the tree was already there, perhaps had always been there. Graham Hancock had an interesting take on this issue, he said, “I don't believe that consciousness is generated in the brain any more than that television programs are made inside my tv.” So, when I say the "the tree perhaps had always been there," this is referring to that signal that is always there. It wasn't "your thought," it was something that was transceived, so to speak. So, when you say that it isn't "up for debate, anymore," I wanted to make sure you knew what I meant, otherwise to even make such a claim, you should at least offer some evidence.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#44  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

I don't want to suggest that a lot of silly scientists aren't still trying to make the mind or even the brain out to be something more than the heap of protoplasm that it is.

But it is not a serious debate in science. It's a serious debate in the overall misunderstanding we apes have of the universe and our scant place in it.

But I want to say more about the tree and psychedelics and where the mind is exactly.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#45  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 18, 2014 2:07 pm

Kafei wrote:....

So, the reason I believe there's no consensus to this peculiar phrase is simply because no one in this thread has had this phenomenon in consciousness occur to them. ...


I have had this experience wile completely without drugs and actually engaged in an Alan Watts piece at the time it occurred.

Kafei wrote:...
Ramesh Balsekar, a recently deceased guru of India put it this way, "What is the significance of the statement 'No one can get enlightenment'? This is the very root of the teaching. It means that it's stupid for any so-called master to ask anyone to do anything to achieve or get enlightenment. The core of this simple statement means, according to my concept, that enlightenment is the annihilation of the 'one' who 'wants' enlightenment. If there is enlightenment - which can only happen because it is the will of God (or Cosmic Law if you're not comfortable with the word God) - then it means the 'one' who had earlier wanted enlightenment has been annihilated. So no 'one' can achieve enlightenment and therefore no 'one' can enjoy enlightenment. The joke is even the surrendering is not in your control. Why? Because so long as there is an individual who says 'I surrender' there is a surrenderer, an individual ego… What I'm saying is that even the surrendering is not in [your] hands."
...


There is no one. There is no mind apart from the universe. Mind is of the universe, as a locality, when there is a brain somewhere in the system. Mind is a relationship.

Kafei wrote:...

I agree that mind may be the current physical state of the brain, but I think there’s more to it than that. I know that quote sounds like something Stuart Hameroff might suggest, but what’s implicit here is that this emergent property of matter, what we call “consciousness” is somehow intertwined with what M-Theorists rave about, the “higher dimensions” which make up String Theory. ...

There is no need to go this far. There is something more to it than the neurons and the brain and that something is what the universe is doing in the locality about you. It's actually materialism, but not the materialism that we mutter about which is just a failure of imagination.

Kafei wrote:...For instance, to give an example of this “sectioning” in the quote, when you imagine, say, a tree in the daytime spring scenery, you can see it in your mind’s eye quite vividly, can't you? You can make out brilliant colours and and even almost hear the wind as it brushes against its branches and leaves. But where is this tree, really? Where is it being projected? We can’t make the analogy from the computer’s output to a monitor, you see, because the tree isn’t really anywhere in your mind. If we were going to take a look at the physical brain, we wouldn’t find the tree, instead we may find certain electrical neural patterns, the breaking and forming of chemical bonds and various other fast chemistries, etc. But if we were going to use the computer analogy, then the monitor, where the image is being projected is in within this “sectioning” of hyperspace while the hardware is a direct correlate in the physical brain, they go together. So, what seems to be happening here is that the potentiality to imagine the tree was already there, perhaps had always been there. Graham Hancock had an interesting take on this issue, he said, “I don't believe that consciousness is generated in the brain any more than that television programs are made inside my tv.” So, when I say the "the tree perhaps had always been there," this is referring to that signal that is always there. It wasn't "your thought," it was something that was transceived, so to speak. So, when you say that it isn't "up for debate, anymore," I wanted to make sure you knew what I meant, otherwise to even make such a claim, you should at least offer some evidence.


But there are trees and these are far above those breaking and forming of chemical bonds in your mind. There is no imagining a tree without prior trees in the world. Now if you imagine a tree, then stand in front of a real tree, then take some acid and stand in front of a real tree you will find that the first is far less lurid than the last. This is because your mind IS the tree and of course you as well. A relationship in some local space.

Various drugs and temporal lobe seizures allow a 'glimpse' into what the material universe is actually like. Imaginings about quantum connections and cosmic consciousness and the mind as some sort of super-phenomena are actually nowhere near to the spiritual nature of the material universe itself. They are pale caricatures of the actual reality of materialism.

Going back to the Balsekar quote above you can see the subtle twist I am applying here. Expanding the mind to take in the universe is just another one up level of ego and fails enlightenment.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#46  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 18, 2014 2:10 pm

After I get some sleep I can give you my strange perspective on all of this and how it maps to neuroscience.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#47  Postby tolman » Oct 18, 2014 2:14 pm

Kafei wrote:The boundary between these two are dissolved in such a way that both become seemlessly interconnected, hence non-dual. So, you have this metaphor, "I am one with everything," but this metaphor is sometimes misleading, because it posits that there is an "I" to become "one," a duality.

It's also dubious because it suggests not merely the absence of a boundary in thoughts between self and non-self, but rather implies that that results in people being able to see everything, as opposed to, for example, seeing what they already knew existed from some other perspective.

Kafei wrote:Ramesh Balsekar, a recently deceased guru of India put it this way, "What is the significance of the statement 'No one can get enlightenment'? This is the very root of the teaching. It means that it's stupid for any so-called master to ask anyone to do anything to achieve or get enlightenment. The core of this simple statement means, according to my concept, that enlightenment is the annihilation of the 'one' who 'wants' enlightenment.

That's one definition of what 'enlightenment' means.

If 'enlightenment' is taken to mean something else, the meaning of the statement changes.
If someone sees 'enlightenment' as covering either the temporary state of feeling at one with everything or the (real or imagined) more lasting effects of having felt such feelings, then they are justified in seeing 'enlightenment' as something that they could get.

That would seem to be the case whether we're talking about some Eastern Mysticism or about one or other form of Christianity, or about something more secular.
A Christian, for example, may see some form of 'annihilation of self' through prayer and meditation as an end in itself, or may see it as a means to an end, with the goal being having a different perspective on reality (or a different perspective available) when they do feel a sense of self.

Kafei wrote:The question of whether the brain is the generator of consciousness or that is fundamentally non-physical is still up for debate in neuroscience, and is heavily the topic of Philosophy of Mind. I do realize it's the assumption of most people, the mainstream view is that consciousness is definitely produced by the brain, the same way a factory makes cars.

Well, maybe more like the way an orchestra produces music.

Kafei wrote:So, if you destroy the factory, then the factory stops producing cars. Ergo, if you destroy the brain, then consciousness blinks out. The other view that the brain is a transceiver of consciousness in the very same way a TV is the transceiver of a signal. So, if you destroy the TV set, the signal it transceived is still there. It's concepts like this that keep the debate running, and that have physicists like David Bohm reject materialism as an explanation of consciousness, and adopt new concepts such as Qauntum Mind.

If the mind is a 'receiver', it's an extraordinarily strange one, given how it malfunctions when temporarily compromised or permanently damaged. It'd be like having a television with specific circuitry required to pick up ultra-specific bits of a transmission, so just as tinkering with a brain can affect recall of specific events, the 'television' would have to be possible to tinker with so it refused to pass on transmissions regarding Aunt Flo's wedding 30 years ago while letting everything else through.

'Mind-as-receiver' seems to be a convenient technological metaphor for people who wish to believe in a soul or suchlike, but I have yet to see anyone really try to explain how someone with dementia gets 'soul damage' to match their brain damage.

Kafei wrote:I still want to make a distinction about this experience, because you compared your experience to a fully awake dream.

Well, that was essentially meant to convey that things which happened were happening on some internal screen, not projected out and mingled up with an optically observed reality.

Kafei wrote:My experience, I felt, was much more profound than a lucid dream, not matter how lucid or fully awake. It felt as though I was somehow witness to what I've come to call "The Fountain of Dreams," and I use this in a very similar sense that people use this phrase "Ground of all Being." In other words, in a dream, you usually have the impression (usually) that you're a bodily entity roaming through an environment, no matter how much lucidity or lack thereof of you possess.

How do I know that I don't have regular disembodied dreams but with such dreams being naturally hard to meaningfully remember?
Possibly hard to remember because language is quite tied up with memory and such dreams are not easily describable.

Kafei wrote:The real thing he did, I believe, is in studying shamanism, and living in South America and seeing how these people used psychedelics, he saw that these indigenous people, if they were going to have "have fun," they'd intentionally take light doses of these psychedelics. However, the shaman was the appointed individual that would use what Terence called the "heroic dose" or "effective dose,"

That's certainly interesting, not least because among other things it's not a million miles away from how many people relate to cannabis, or even sometimes to alcohol.

Kafei wrote:But basically, this phenomenon will not occur until you've taken a "heroic dose," and that doesn't mean there's a concretely defined dose. It's a different amount for different people. No two people share the same bodyweight, metabolism, sensitivity to these substances, etc.
[...]
Psychedelics just seem to be a reliable route to them (mystical epxerience) so that you don't have to fast for weeks, you don't have to engage in asceticism, disciplines such as meditation, or a near-death experience. It is a tried-and-true phenomenon that does, in fact, exist. I don't believe it to be "vague religious philosophical bullshit," people simply assume that because this experience has, thus far, primarily been spoken about in a context of religion.

I'm not saying that such experiences don't happen, simply that claiming they have some external meaning or connection simply because the experience involves a feeling of connection is going beyond the evidence, however strong that feeling is.

If I have a dream that I'm riding a racing motorbike, I can have vision, smell, motion, noise, the lot, and it can be entirely convincing to an extent that might scare me if I wake up. However, intensity notwithstanding, it isn't real in any external sense, 'just' an internal, personal one.
Similarly, if I get in a mental state where I feel I can see the whole planet or galaxy and experience the real meaning of Deep Time, however personally meaningful that may be to me, it is 'just' personal.
(and 'just' there isn't intended as diminishing or denying the experience, but simply in not claiming it is more than it is.)

And as for a phenomenon requiring a 'heroic dose', that suggests it's an all-or-nothing thing, even maybe implying there is nothing to be gained by people not quite getting stoned enough.
While a complete loss of self may be an ideal, possibly as you say it's not an ideal someone can reach while being aware of what was happening.
In such a case, it's not clear that an 'incomplete yet maximal loss of self' is the only worthwhile experience and anything less is inadequate.
Indeed, it could be that a less extreme experience may be as good, if not better for a given individual if the lower intensity allows more of the experience to be somewhat understood and/or self-described at the time and to be more memorable later.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#48  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 18, 2014 3:26 pm

A religious experience, or temporal lobe meltdown, allows you a glimpse from a radically different perspective. One without the habit(karma) of self. Once you have such a glimpse it becomes knowledge that does have it's uses. But all you have glimpsed is direct unmediated realism. Material. Materialism at full throttle.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#49  Postby Kafei » Oct 21, 2014 12:39 am

tolman wrote:
If 'enlightenment' is taken to mean something else, the meaning of the statement changes.
If someone sees 'enlightenment' as covering either the temporary state of feeling at one with everything or the (real or imagined) more lasting effects of having felt such feelings, then they are justified in seeing 'enlightenment' as something that they could get.


Well, Ramesh makes a distinction between enlightenment and the experience of which he calls "free samples from God." Enlightenment is what is gained from this "free sample," the lasting insight that effects the person for the rest of their life. That's his take, of course, but some people do refer to this temporary experience of "samadhi" or "sunyata" as the Enlightenment.

tolman wrote:That would seem to be the case whether we're talking about some Eastern Mysticism or about one or other form of Christianity, or about something more secular. A Christian, for example, may see some form of 'annihilation of self' through prayer and meditation as an end in itself, or may see it as a means to an end, with the goal being having a different perspective on reality (or a different perspective available) when they do feel a sense of self.

Yes, I agree. I don't believe mysticism is exclusive to eastern religion, it seems to be prevalent in all the major religions, and Christianity is no exception. Perhaps you're familiar with quietism. It's a form of meditative prayer that is quite akin to Zen meditation in Buddhism.

tolman wrote:
Well, maybe more like the way an orchestra produces music.

Well, did you catch the post where I mention Kaku's analogy of the orchestra?

tolman wrote:
If the mind is a 'receiver', it's an extraordinarily strange one, given how it malfunctions when temporarily compromised or permanently damaged. It'd be like having a television with specific circuitry required to pick up ultra-specific bits of a transmission, so just as tinkering with a brain can affect recall of specific events, the 'television' would have to be possible to tinker with so it refused to pass on transmissions regarding Aunt Flo's wedding 30 years ago while letting everything else through.


Well, in an earlier explanation, I say that these things are intertwined. The signal it receives it in direct correlation with the physical brain. So, I don't see these instances of brain damage as "weird." They're interconnected in such a way that a compromised brain would be correct to malfunction in the way that it does just as a damaged TV might botch a signal.


tolman wrote:'Mind-as-receiver' seems to be a convenient technological metaphor for people who wish to believe in a soul or suchlike, but I have yet to see anyone really try to explain how someone with dementia gets 'soul damage' to match their brain damage.

Well, people often imagine "souls" to be an individual thing, like everyone has one. In this case, if you're going to posit a soul, then the "signal" is the one and only soul that everyone taps into from different angles, so to speak.

tolman wrote:
Well, that was essentially meant to convey that things which happened were happening on some internal screen, not projected out and mingled up with an optically observed reality.

Well, as in the TV set analogy I gave earlier, this internal screen is projecting every single RGB output or every possibility in order to give the impression of a panesthesia. So, that's why I differentiate it from the dream. The dream seems like it outputs a single scenario whereas this so-called "mystical experience" seems as though it outputs the entire spectrum of scenarios, and in fact, where the single scenario of the dream may have drawn from in order to manifest in the first place.

tolman wrote:How do I know that I don't have regular disembodied dreams but with such dreams being naturally hard to meaningfully remember?
Possibly hard to remember because language is quite tied up with memory and such dreams are not easily describable.
That may be the case, it's often said of this experience like it's gold dust running through your fingers, and before you know it. It's gone! I mean, it's so hard to recollect or even bring anything back quite similar to how it's difficult to sometimes recall the dream, the "one scenario" or a piece of that scenario.

tolman wrote:
That's certainly interesting, not least because among other things it's not a million miles away from how many people relate to cannabis, or even sometimes to alcohol.

Oh, definitely. I would not compare psychedelics to alcohol or cannabis at all.

tolman wrote:I'm not saying that such experiences don't happen, simply that claiming they have some external meaning or connection simply because the experience involves a feeling of connection is going beyond the evidence, however strong that feeling is.

I don't think it's necessarily without evidence. I linked in an earlier post to a page on neurotheology. This is basically an effort to describe these phenomena in neuroscientific terms. It references the work of Dr. Rick Strassman who speculates in his book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" that these experiences may be mediated by a natural induction of N,N-DMT.

tolman wrote:If I have a dream that I'm riding a racing motorbike, I can have vision, smell, motion, noise, the lot, and it can be entirely convincing to an extent that might scare me if I wake up. However, intensity notwithstanding, it isn't real in any external sense, 'just' an internal, personal one. Similarly, if I get in a mental state where I feel I can see the whole planet or galaxy and experience the real meaning of Deep Time, however personally meaningful that may be to me, it is 'just' personal. (and 'just' there isn't intended as diminishing or denying the experience, but simply in not claiming it is more than it is.)


Well, by saying it isn't "out there" in an external sense I believe is missing the point. This type of hallucinatory activity within this experience isn't a projection of perceived entities as in a leprechaun or unicorn or something like that. It seems to be a kind of glimpse into an 'end state' of consciousness or perhaps a future state. This seems to be the impression. If you haven't read that TV set analogy, that's basically my best metaphor so far. I've others, but if that one isn't understood, I'll try and find another way to describe it. However, the point being that this colossal altered state has over millennia been interpreted as God, Brahman, the Beatific vision, nirvana, samadhi, Cosmic consciousness, ego death, etc. Perhaps the modern version is M-theory's "11-dimensional hyperspace." This view is referred to as "Perennial Philosophy." Alan Watts discusses it a bit more articulately than myself, and I'll link to his talk on it.



tolman wrote:
And as for a phenomenon requiring a 'heroic dose', that suggests it's an all-or-nothing thing, even maybe implying there is nothing to be gained by people not quite getting stoned enough.
While a complete loss of self may be an ideal, possibly as you say it's not an ideal someone can reach while being aware of what was happening.
In such a case, it's not clear that an 'incomplete yet maximal loss of self' is the only worthwhile experience and anything less is inadequate.
Indeed, it could be that a less extreme experience may be as good, if not better for a given individual if the lower intensity allows more of the experience to be somewhat understood and/or self-described at the time and to be more memorable later.


Well, yes, a full-spectrum dose is necessary to elicit this phenomenon. So, the hitting the marker makes all the difference between "sunyata" and "try again, Sam."
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#50  Postby Kafei » Oct 21, 2014 11:01 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
I have had this experience wile completely without drugs and actually engaged in an Alan Watts piece at the time it occurred.

Well, Dr. Rick Strassman speculates in his book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" that even in the natural case, this may very well be an induction of endogenous N,N-DMT. So, if he's right, then one can never truly say they've had this experienced "without drugs."

SpeedOfSound wrote:There is no one. There is no mind apart from the universe. Mind is of the universe, as a locality, when there is a brain somewhere in the system. Mind is a relationship.


Well, this is the concept behind Bohm's Quantum Mind as well, only that consciousness is projected into this "sectioning of hyperspace," if you will. It is intertwined with the physical brain, but it is ultimately not 'anywhere' in the sense that it could be 'measured.'

SpeedOfSound wrote:
There is no need to go this far. There is something more to it than the neurons and the brain and that something is what the universe is doing in the locality about you. It's actually materialism, but not the materialism that we mutter about which is just a failure of imagination.


The entire reason for concepts such as Quantum Mind is because physicists feel that materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness. Materialism doesn't really have an answer for the Hard problem of consciousness. If everything was utterly humdrum, and classical mechanics described the functioning of consciousness, then one might ask why aren't there philosophical zombies?


SpeedOfSound wrote:But there are trees and these are far above those breaking and forming of chemical bonds in your mind. There is no imagining a tree without prior trees in the world. Now if you imagine a tree, then stand in front of a real tree, then take some acid and stand in front of a real tree you will find that the first is far less lurid than the last. This is because your mind IS the tree and of course you as well. A relationship in some local space.


I used a tree as an example, but I didn't have to. You don't necessarily need to be aware of a concept first to arrive at a result. I could have used something more abstract. The physical brain may be localized, but as for the imagined concept, this is what Quantum Consciousness might say is nonlocal, but nevertheless possesses a direct correlate to the physical brain.

SpeedOfSound wrote:Various drugs and temporal lobe seizures allow a 'glimpse' into what the material universe is actually like. Imaginings about quantum connections and cosmic consciousness and the mind as some sort of super-phenomena are actually nowhere near to the spiritual nature of the material universe itself. They are pale caricatures of the actual reality of materialism.


Okay, I get it. You're a materialist. Does this mean you do not accept concepts like superstring theory or M-theory that posit higher spatial dimensions? Or a concept like Bell's nonlocality which involves quantum entanglement?

SpeedOfSound wrote:Going back to the Balsekar quote above you can see the subtle twist I am applying here. Expanding the mind to take in the universe is just another one up level of ego and fails enlightenment.


I don't think that's necessarily what's happening. After all, this experience is more contemporarily known as "ego death." It is rather not that you're trying to "expand you're mind" to level up your ego, but that you're witness to or you glimpse a full-spectrum of consciousness such that words could scarcely say what that is like, experientially. It is a phenomenon in consciousness that atheists and theists alike are usually unfamiliar with, and in fact, aren't even aware exist. If Perennial Philosophy is correct, then these type of experiences are at the very basis of major religion. If you scratch every major religion, you're going to find individuals engaging altered states of consciousness. Even Alan Watts spoke on this point of view, and I'll post a link to that below.

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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#51  Postby Spearthrower » Oct 21, 2014 11:11 pm

physicists feel that materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness


I have very little to say on this topic as I consider it mostly mystical speculation worded as if it were fact, however this is now the 2nd time I've read you state this.

Please be clear: not ALL physicists agree with the above - actually, only a very few are even interested in dealing with consciousness, and of those, only a minority would hold the position you ascribe to them. Perhaps you could specify which ones you are talking about.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#52  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 21, 2014 11:12 pm

Kafei wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
I have had this experience wile completely without drugs and actually engaged in an Alan Watts piece at the time it occurred.

Well, Dr. Rick Strassman speculates in his book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" that even in the natural case, this may very well be an induction of endogenous N,N-DMT. So, if he's right, then one can never truly say they've had this experienced "without drugs."
...

What is interesting is that I was under extreme stress at the time and suffering from hallucinations and depression. I think that is a factor.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#53  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 21, 2014 11:14 pm

Kafei wrote:...

SpeedOfSound wrote:Various drugs and temporal lobe seizures allow a 'glimpse' into what the material universe is actually like. Imaginings about quantum connections and cosmic consciousness and the mind as some sort of super-phenomena are actually nowhere near to the spiritual nature of the material universe itself. They are pale caricatures of the actual reality of materialism.


Okay, I get it. You're a materialist. Does this mean you do not accept concepts like superstring theory or M-theory that posit higher spatial dimensions? Or a concept like Bell's nonlocality which involves quantum entanglement?
...

I'm not that kind of materialist.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#54  Postby Kafei » Oct 21, 2014 11:29 pm

Spearthrower wrote:I have very little to say on this topic as I consider it mostly mystical speculation worded as if it were fact, however this is now the 2nd time I've read you state this.


Well, I wouldn't necessarily say it's all speculation. I mentioned earlier that Dr. Rick Strassman felt the culprit behind these so-called 'mystical experiences' may be a natural induction of endogenous N,N-DMT. Dimethyltryptamine, as you may know, is naturally occurring neurotransmitter that also is one of the world's most powerful entheogens. There was a study done at the John Hopkins University involving clinical trials with psilocybin. Psilocybin is structurally related to N,N-DMT, and the research actually proved that a 'mystical experience' as described in ancient religion could, in fact, be induced by administering an effective dose to the volunteer.



Spearthrower wrote:Please be clear: not ALL physicists agree with the above - actually, only a very few are even interested in dealing with consciousness, and of those, only a minority would hold the position you ascribe to them. Perhaps you could specify which ones you are talking about.


At the very edge of science's explanatory power, you arrive at M-theory. This is basically science's best shot at describing the multiverse, and it involves including higher spatial dimensions into the equation. Some theoretical physicists feel that consciousness is no exception if we're going to describe how the mind truly works. David Bohm is considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century, and espoused such ideas as "quantum consciousness." I'm not trying to appeal to authority here, but I'd like to acknowledge the fact that neuroscience finds consciousness to be a very slippery topic. It's still somewhat of a mystery of how it truly functions. Even Wiki's page on consciousness makes the statement, "Nothing worth reading has been written about consciousness." So, I find it a very interesting topic, and I don't posit any of these concepts as true, and I'm also skeptical about a lot of these ideas. Materialism is sometimes thrown out there as though it's had the official stamp of neuroscience as the end-all, be-all explanation of consciousness. I don't think that's the case.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#55  Postby Kafei » Oct 21, 2014 11:30 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
Kafei wrote:
SpeedOfSound wrote:
I have had this experience wile completely without drugs and actually engaged in an Alan Watts piece at the time it occurred.

Well, Dr. Rick Strassman speculates in his book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule" that even in the natural case, this may very well be an induction of endogenous N,N-DMT. So, if he's right, then one can never truly say they've had this experienced "without drugs."
...

What is interesting is that I was under extreme stress at the time and suffering from hallucinations and depression. I think that is a factor.


Well, at moments of extreme stress, this could be a trigger for a natural induction of N,N-DMT. At least that is Strassman's speculation. Alan Watts called it a "natural satori."

SpeedOfSound wrote:I'm not that kind of materialist.


So, you can buy into a theory like M-theory? Is that what you're saying?
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#56  Postby SpeedOfSound » Oct 22, 2014 12:57 am

Spearthrower wrote:
physicists feel that materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness


I have very little to say on this topic as I consider it mostly mystical speculation worded as if it were fact, however this is now the 2nd time I've read you state this.

Please be clear: not ALL physicists agree with the above - actually, only a very few are even interested in dealing with consciousness, and of those, only a minority would hold the position you ascribe to them. Perhaps you could specify which ones you are talking about.

Yes. I wanted to grab that piece out and scream a little. I get so tired of hearing this shit. It's a bit analogous to '"Have you stopped beating your wife?" .

Anyone, including physicalists, who say we have not explained consciousness, are in fact holding a definition of consciousness that is not explainable because it is the spirit-mind definition.

So instead of damning materialism they simply damn themselves.

physicists feel that materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness

Physicists??? WTF??? Why and the fuck would a physicist have a useful opinion on the brain?

Materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness Spirits.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#57  Postby Kafei » Oct 22, 2014 2:27 pm

SpeedOfSound wrote:
Yes. I wanted to grab that piece out and scream a little. I get so tired of hearing this shit. It's a bit analogous to '"Have you stopped beating your wife?"


The truth is that it isn't explained. Why is this is frustrating for you, I'm not sure I quite understand.

SpeedOfSound wrote:Anyone, including physicalists, who say we have not explained consciousness, are in fact holding a definition of consciousness that is not explainable because it is the spirit-mind definition.


I'd recommend looking into the Philosophy of Mind, because right now neuroscience is in such an infantile stage that Philosophy of Mind seems like it holds more insight into how to think about consciousness. I don't think David Bohm was spirit-minded, to be honest.


SpeedOfSound wrote:Physicists??? WTF??? Why and the fuck would a physicist have a useful opinion on the brain?


Well, I mentioned David Bohm. He was an American theoretical physicist who contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. He is considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century. He espoused such concepts as "quantum consciousness." Neuroscientists are basically biologists if they study only the brain. Physicists have a comprehensive understanding of reality, and so I don't see how they wouldn't be good candidates to speak on the topic of consciousness. The brain is fundamentally grounded in physics, and according to theoretical physicists nowadays, reality itself cannot be fully described unless you posit multiple higher spatial dimensions.

SpeedOfSound wrote:Materialism is inadequate for describing consciousness Spirits.


Well, that's simply an opinion of yours if you think that materialism describes consciousness. Like I said, there's no evidence for that. Neuroscience has yet to truly define what consciousness is and explain how consciousness works.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#58  Postby Shrunk » Oct 22, 2014 2:33 pm

Kafei wrote: Neuroscience has yet to truly define what consciousness is and explain how consciousness works.


Is it the job of neuroscience to define "consciousness"? If there is not yet an adequate definition of the term, then it is highly premature to start making any claims about it, such as that it cannot be produced by material processes.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#59  Postby Shrunk » Oct 22, 2014 2:35 pm

Kafei wrote: Physicists have a comprehensive understanding of reality, and so I don't see how they wouldn't be good candidates to speak on the topic of consciousness.


By that line of reasoning, physicists should be better able to predict who will win this years World Series than someone who follows baseball closely.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#60  Postby Kafei » Oct 22, 2014 2:59 pm

Shrunk wrote:
Is it the job of neuroscience to define "consciousness"? If there is not yet an adequate definition of the term, then it is highly premature to start making any claims about it, such as that it cannot be produced by material processes.


If that's the case, then by the same line of reasoning you could say it's also premature to make the claim that consciousness is the product of a material process. I never said it was the job of neuroscience to describe consciousness, but most rational skeptics would expect for science, particularly neuroscience to explain consciousness as accurately as possible and for the explanation to be backed by evidence. Neuroscience is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine, genetics, and allied disciplines including philosophy, physics, and psychology. So, it's not as though we're restricted to biology here with this term "neuroscience."

Shrunk wrote:
By that line of reasoning, physicists should be better able to predict who will win this years World Series than someone who follows baseball closely.


I never said that we should get physicists for all our issues, I just didn't understand why SpeedOfSound didn't feel a physicist should hold an opinion about consciousness. I believe a physicist, especially a physicist like David Bohm who contributed to other fields involving the topic of consciousness, would have a say on what consciousness may be that should be heard.
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