Author Topic: You're not conscious  (Read 4367 times)

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #75 on: April 26, 2017, 06:23:29 pm »
There may be no such thing as a true "higher state of consciousness", but if there is something both indistinguishable from that to the experiencer and apparently that to the observer, there might as well be. There are states of awareness that can be and have been achieved almost as a matter of course by, say, indigenous Americans or yogis in Nepal, which endow them with a much greater awareness of their environments than the human default. See also many martial arts. I don't buy that these are the result of a spiritual awakening so much as deep training of one's senses, but what's the harm in allowing yourself to believe it's spiritual, if that makes it more interesting?

These states are context-dependent, and, at risk of being accused of being reductionist, seem largely to boil down to "people get good at doing that which they do frequently". So it's not the *human* default, it's the *environmental* default; what environment is this person in? What do they do frequently? A yogi in Nepal might be very bad at driving in Boston traffic, for example.

Yes. Absolutely. I think what I was trying to get at was, in the pursuit of "consciousness", the kind self-awareness one seeks inevitably colors the kind one gets. So there is no truly "transcendental" state where one is both "enlightened" in the Buddhist sense and also a master motorcycle mechanic (for example) just because they meditated past all the steps required to achieve one or the other. There is no 'parent' consciousness that includes all varieties that you can get to. But if the 'yogi' state is what you are after, and you work to get there, it is no less valid than the art of Zen and motorcycle maintenance.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #76 on: April 26, 2017, 06:26:47 pm »
I do have to say, I don't buy into any "enlightenment" models of consciousness, at all.

I think there's a lot of baggage around the term Enlightenment, so let me unpack it a little bit so we don't get snagged.

I think that there are moments when we're more "awake" (to use a nebulous Gurdjieff term). But they don't last, we will always get distracted and lose it. You can spend your life meditating on a mountain, and have some holy experience, but as soon as you come down into the city and smell food, it's gone.  There are no "enlightened" people. There are enlightened moments.

This concept sounds a lot like making new connections and realizations. The moment of connection is instantaneous, and you do not remain in that moment indefinitely; rather, you integrate that realization into your existing worldview.

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With a lot of work, you might be able to stay in that moment for a minute or two, but that's the best you can hope for.

I am not sure there is benefit in nouning a verb.

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There are experiences, though, which will alter your perception, perhaps forever. Like, if you experience a real moment of ego-death... in that moment, all the information inside of you gets reorganized. You process things differently. The self has changed. There are a few kinds of meditative experiences that work like this (and non-meditative experiences too - take childbirth). In this thread I'm trying to explore paths to one of them.

In psychology, this is usually referred to as a cognitive crisis, and crisis resolution. I definitely agree that there is great benefit in learning to fluently navigate, and even invite, crisis resolution.

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I don't think there is a higher state of consciousness, nor do I believe that most of us live our lives in a suboptimal state.

I can observe in myself that my level of consciousness crests and troughs throughout the day. And that when it's in the higher state, I'm better at dealing with .. well, basically everything.

Example:
I get in an argument with somebody, I spend most of the day pacing around and stewing, mentally replaying it, fantasizing about what I could have said. We'd call this a low level of consciousness because I'm wrapped up IN the emotion, I'm not able to think ABOUT it.  I'm "out of balance". When I calm down, when the emotional poison has run its course, I feel different (physically), and I'm able to process the experience from a different angle. When I was pissed off, I couldn't see how I was wrong. When I am mindful, it's like I'm looking down on that battlefield from above, instead of fighting on the front line.

We could call this a "different" state. The gist of this thread is about trying to increase that capacity within oneself, to expand ones ability to operate their minds - so we're making a value judgment here, that it's a higher, more desirable state.

This sounds like rationality, ie. the harnessing of the prefrontal cortex to contemplate a situation using critical thinking skills, rather than being ruled by emotionally-driven impulses from the amygdala.

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I think that most of us don't spend enough time thinking rationally or methodically during the perfectly whole aware times we already experience.

The aim I'm discussing in this thread is different than just being more rational or methodical. The rational mind is one part of the self, but if we just focus on that, we will end up unbalanced. Speaking for myself, my problem is that I ignore my body, and I ignore my emotions. I will go entire days forgetting to eat, and then I get cranky and don't understand why. Or I will ignore my emotions in favor of a rational choice, and will ultimately become miserable. From a "mindful" state of being, it's obvious. But when I'm in the mix, it's invisible. I can only see the carrot 4 inches in front of my face.

It does sound like you need to get better at assessing and integrating your emotional and physical signals into your cortical processing.

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But, I may be getting hung up on the layers of mystical obfuscation. It's possible that what you mean by "awareness" is vastly less occluded than it seems.

We're talking about internal states which we can't show to each other, so we're forced to use shitty language

For my part, I am aiming to understand what Gurdjieff meant by "consciousness" -  it is not quite what we mean in the field of neuroscience. But it's worth exploring nonetheless. I recognize that discussing this topic in an esoteric context rather than a modern material one is not everybody's cup of tea.
 

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That said, it seems to me that the real challenge for most people is not accomplishing a higher state of awareness or attaining conscious performance of tasks that have long since been relegated to automatic control, but rather, learning to be comfortable just existing in one's own skin. Attaining a state of contentment with being alone with the self. Becoming at home existing with the memories and thoughts that flow through constantly as a side-effect of multiple network emergent property of consciousness.

Being comfortable with the self, being peaceful and still, is a fine aim.

We all know somebody, however, who is perfectly comfortable being a piece of shit. They actually need to be less comfortable, more critical and reflective, more connected to the people around them.

There's a state of being where you're able to observe which is correct for you - being able to enter that space is MY aim.

It still seems an awful lot like this is simply examining well-known concepts using an alternative vocabulary and a packaging of mysticism to make it look and feel like something different. This is the same objection I have to almost every form of mysticism I have encountered; occultism, occlusion, is employed to make it seem like a novel system when in fact it is not. I wonder at times what you might find if you took a year and seriously studied psychology and neuroscience. Maybe you're right, though, and those aren't the insights you're looking for.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2017, 06:28:40 pm by Mesozoic Mister Nigel »
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Vanadium Gryllz

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #77 on: April 26, 2017, 06:58:43 pm »
There's an interesting Cousera course i've almost finished that I think could be relevant here:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/science-of-meditation/home/welcome

It's possibly too basic for many here but I thought he had some interesting insights as to the relationship between the ways that buddhists express the experience of meditation increasing consciousness and evolutionary psychology and brain scan studies etc.

It still seems an awful lot like this is simply examining well-known concepts using an alternative vocabulary and a packaging of mysticism to make it look and feel like something different. This is the same objection I have to almost every form of mysticism I have encountered; occultism, occlusion, is employed to make it seem like a novel system when in fact it is not. I wonder at times what you might find if you took a year and seriously studied psychology and neuroscience. Maybe you're right, though, and those aren't the insights you're looking for.

I think I agree with the premise that all of these systems are taking what is an essential principle and repackaging it but I don't know if I would dismiss that as worthless - after all this seems to be an explicit point of Gurdjieff's - having seen how a bunch of different mystics were trying to escape their prisons he distilled it into something palatable for his audience.

How that resulted in the dancing I cannot explain. I enjoy the music though.

Psychology and neuroscience (in some senses) are attacking the same problem from a different angle - more the outside in than the inside out.

I think that both angles are valid - you need the experiential meditative side and you need the scientific, peer-reviewed side for a complete understanding.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #78 on: April 27, 2017, 06:00:48 pm »

It still seems an awful lot like this is simply examining well-known concepts using an alternative vocabulary and a packaging of mysticism to make it look and feel like something different. This is the same objection I have to almost every form of mysticism I have encountered; occultism, occlusion, is employed to make it seem like a novel system when in fact it is not. I wonder at times what you might find if you took a year and seriously studied psychology and neuroscience. Maybe you're right, though, and those aren't the insights you're looking for.

This is the motorcycle I've been sitting on since the beginning of this thread.

However, I think the two ways of looking at these concepts can be balanced for the greater good. I think it's important to be able to connect the complex, high-level (As in, stored in multiple layers of abstraction) concepts in the esoteric understanding to the biological, reductionist concepts, because after a certain point, it becomes next to impossible to keep track of all the biological, chemical details. Sometimes the higher-order concepts in the esoteric perspective allow you to tackle multiple things at once because of the complexity of the neural network connections that are made in understanding these higher-order concepts.

I would connect this to what Vex was talking about in regard to mindfulness during expression of creativity. Intellectual understanding of what you want to do to set the stage, or the direction of your expression is important. But after that, the rest should be left to intuition. If you're driving along a curve on the road, it's best to look ahead at the end of the curve segment you're on. If you stare right at the road in the front of the car, you'll probably swerve back and forth between the lines. Whereas, if you stare ahead at the end of the curve, where you want the car to be, your brain will automatically calculate the movements necessary to steadily drive in between the lines along the curve. You'll practically drive the exact shape of the curve without touching the lines. (This was all obvious/previously stated, but it was intended to portray thought process and detail the connection I'm making. I'm not trying to be a pretentious prick.)

I think the problem Cramulus is trying to tackle, in regards to balancing emotion, physical needs, and intellect, might be best tackled by complex, semantically-based intuition. The mindfulness - the intentional, semantic, conscious awareness of one's tendencies in different states of mind and body should automatically connect neural networks in the prefrontal cortex related to decision making and consequences to those mind-body states. Once those connections are made, goal/consequence oriented behavioral psychology should take over. Ideally, the curiosity and act itself will eventually solve his problems, regardless of whether he understands it on a biological level. The complex semantic relationship between the esoteric ideas and the neural networks can allow an abstracted understanding to have real, intended consequences, even if they're not understood.

Not that I don't completely encourage having the biological/neurological understanding of all of this. It's a very important perspective to have in solving many problems. And it's also important to have if you want to explain the success of the thread's intention to someone who is not geared toward esoteric ideas. I just don't know if its absolutely necessary to solve the problem Cramulus is focusing on.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #79 on: April 27, 2017, 06:20:08 pm »
Also, I kinda see the esoteric language as a good way of developing the metaphors necessary to teach the consciousness/mindfulness training. If you wanted to teach these concepts to someone who wasn't involved in neuroscience, and you wanted to connect it to something unrelated to neuroscience in particular, you'd probably wanna use the esoteric language.
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Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #80 on: April 28, 2017, 03:20:27 am »
There's an interesting Cousera course i've almost finished that I think could be relevant here:

https://www.coursera.org/learn/science-of-meditation/home/welcome

It's possibly too basic for many here but I thought he had some interesting insights as to the relationship between the ways that buddhists express the experience of meditation increasing consciousness and evolutionary psychology and brain scan studies etc.

It still seems an awful lot like this is simply examining well-known concepts using an alternative vocabulary and a packaging of mysticism to make it look and feel like something different. This is the same objection I have to almost every form of mysticism I have encountered; occultism, occlusion, is employed to make it seem like a novel system when in fact it is not. I wonder at times what you might find if you took a year and seriously studied psychology and neuroscience. Maybe you're right, though, and those aren't the insights you're looking for.

I think I agree with the premise that all of these systems are taking what is an essential principle and repackaging it but I don't know if I would dismiss that as worthless - after all this seems to be an explicit point of Gurdjieff's - having seen how a bunch of different mystics were trying to escape their prisons he distilled it into something palatable for his audience.

How that resulted in the dancing I cannot explain. I enjoy the music though.

Psychology and neuroscience (in some senses) are attacking the same problem from a different angle - more the outside in than the inside out.

I think that both angles are valid - you need the experiential meditative side and you need the scientific, peer-reviewed side for a complete understanding.

I don't think that I would dismiss other approaches as valueless, per se, so much as I would encourage cross-referencing them with well-researched science, because frankly, a lot of these other angles are the work of one or two people thinking about the question, while the body of psychological knowledge is formed by thousands of people who have joined forces to research the question from a wide array of perspectives and approaches, and seek to collate all this combined knowledge into a comprehensive whole.

The individual knowledge-seeker has the benefit of total creativity over their approach, while the collaborative field has the benefit of thoroughness.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”


Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #81 on: April 28, 2017, 03:24:17 am »
Also, I would classify psychology as examining conscious experience from the experiential angle, while neuroscience deals largely with both conscious and unconscious processes from a (mostly) mechanistic angle. This is the main reason I felt it was necessary to pursue both biology and psychology as an undergraduate, because I think the value of each perspective is significantly strengthened in the presence of the other.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”