Author Topic: You're not conscious  (Read 8777 times)

Vanadium Gryllz

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #60 on: April 25, 2017, 08:32:30 am »
If you constantly reflect and force awareness of a specific area of your mind (Trigger a specific neural network) when exposed to a specific consciousness alarm (Or unusual stimulus), you can cause that reflection to happen automatically, almost in the background. In other words, you can automate that reflection/analysis so that you don't necessarily have to be conscious for it. The subconscious can take over that particular mental activity in the future.


This is something they deal with later in the gurdjieff work. There's this idea of an "instinctive center", our habit engine. I think Gurdjieff and Ouspensky describe ways to hack it... the goal is to build shocks, mindfulness, into your habits.

The exercise I'm doing this week is to be mindful every time I open a door.

I haven't succeeded even once so far lol





the comparison between lucid dreaming "reality checks" and developing a habit of consciousness is apt



Okay, so I just don't get the lucid dreaming thing.  Maybe I'm a light sleeper, running on some kind of deficit, I don't know. When I think about analysis, as taking-apart, the discursive process requires discerning separate determinations. How is it logically possible to perform this operation subconsciously, without a ground of recognition that is nescesary for reason to operate?

I am finding this whole conversation somewhat hard to parse but here we go -

When learning to lucid dream there are a number of different techniques that one can employ to achieve lucidity. These sometimes involve checking some aspect of the dream world to see if it matches up with your expectations of reality. If the reality check 'fails' then that is a clue that you are dreaming and it triggers, somehow, more control or lucidity in the dream.

Now for this technique to be successful you first need to be able to remember your dreams. The more you can recall and the more familiar you become with your dreams the more likely you will be able to remember lucidity. Then you have to remember to actually perform the reality check. The thing about a dream is that, while you are inside of it, everything makes sense for the most part.

So you can either try and remember to do reality checks when something really weird happens - your threshold for weird is very high when you are dreaming though.

Or you can try and do reality checks at regular intervals throughout your waking life and hope that this becomes subconscious enough that your dreaming self will do the same thing. This technique has worked for me in the past, though I haven't lucid dreamed in many years.

There are other methods to induce lucid dreaming that allow the dreamer to slip straight from wakefulness into lucidity. These are considered somewhat more complicated than the reality check method though I would say.


In the way we are discussing consciousness here I see the "reminders to be mindful" or whatever - like Cram said every time you open a door - or in my case I have set a number of silent alarms throughout the day. It is the same as a reality check in that it encourages you to get out of the narrative that you have been playing in your head and just have a look at things as they are for a while (for me this is about 2 seconds).

Interestingly the more I think about this the more parallels I see - in lucid dreaming there are degrees of lucidity.
You can be aware of the dream but still taking part in the narrative somewhat passively
You can be aware and actively participating in the narrative
Or you can completely change the narrative of the dream.
Being able to do things like fly or other supernatural feats under one's own volition seems to require higher levels of lucidity. In dreams a good way of becoming more lucid is, for some reason, rubbing your hands together or shouting.

Inevitably you will still lose lucidity somewhere along the line and you'll be back to regular dream action.

So likewise I see degrees of mindfulness and the same impermanence.
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Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #61 on: April 25, 2017, 09:33:46 pm »
If you constantly reflect and force awareness of a specific area of your mind (Trigger a specific neural network) when exposed to a specific consciousness alarm (Or unusual stimulus), you can cause that reflection to happen automatically, almost in the background. In other words, you can automate that reflection/analysis so that you don't necessarily have to be conscious for it. The subconscious can take over that particular mental activity in the future.


This is something they deal with later in the gurdjieff work. There's this idea of an "instinctive center", our habit engine. I think Gurdjieff and Ouspensky describe ways to hack it... the goal is to build shocks, mindfulness, into your habits.


I dunno if you saw it, but that's exactly what the article I posted is about... let me know if you can't access it, I can't tell whether it's behind a paywall or not when I'm logged in at work.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325518/

Here's the abstract:
Quote
It is now widely accepted that instrumental actions can be either goal-directed or habitual; whereas the former are rapidly acquire and regulated by their outcome, the latter are reflexive, elicited by antecedent stimuli rather than their consequences. Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) provides an elegant description of goal-directed action. Through exposure to states, actions and rewards, the agent rapidly constructs a model of the world and can choose an appropriate action based on quite abstract changes in environmental and evaluative demands. This model is powerful but has a problem explaining the development of habitual actions. To account for habits, theorists have argued that another action controller is required, called model-free RL, that does not form a model of the world but rather caches action values within states allowing a state to select an action based on its reward history rather than its consequences. Nevertheless, there are persistent problems with important predictions from the model; most notably the failure of model-free RL correctly to predict the insensitivity of habitual actions to changes in the action-reward contingency. Here, we suggest that introducing model-free RL in instrumental conditioning is unnecessary and demonstrate that reconceptualizing habits as action sequences allows model-based RL to be applied to both goal-directed and habitual actions in a manner consistent with what real animals do. This approach has significant implications for the way habits are currently investigated and generates new experimental predictions.


So basically (summarizing the above to see if I 'get it')....

They slice behaviors into two buckets: goal-directed or habitual.

We select goal-directed behaviors on the basis of their potential outcome
We select habitual behaviors on the basis of their "reward history". (this kinda reminds me of a markov chain? where every node has a dynamic value, and the output has to do with weighing nodes against each other to find the highest value for a given input)

I wasn't able to follow the bit about reconceptualizing habits as "action sequences", but it sounds like they're saying that if you understand them that way, it allows you to predict whether someone will use a goal-directed vs habitual behavior? sorry, I might need more unpacking before I can wrap my head around it





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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #62 on: April 25, 2017, 10:22:44 pm »
If you constantly reflect and force awareness of a specific area of your mind (Trigger a specific neural network) when exposed to a specific consciousness alarm (Or unusual stimulus), you can cause that reflection to happen automatically, almost in the background. In other words, you can automate that reflection/analysis so that you don't necessarily have to be conscious for it. The subconscious can take over that particular mental activity in the future.


This is something they deal with later in the gurdjieff work. There's this idea of an "instinctive center", our habit engine. I think Gurdjieff and Ouspensky describe ways to hack it... the goal is to build shocks, mindfulness, into your habits.


I dunno if you saw it, but that's exactly what the article I posted is about... let me know if you can't access it, I can't tell whether it's behind a paywall or not when I'm logged in at work.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325518/

Here's the abstract:
Quote
It is now widely accepted that instrumental actions can be either goal-directed or habitual; whereas the former are rapidly acquire and regulated by their outcome, the latter are reflexive, elicited by antecedent stimuli rather than their consequences. Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) provides an elegant description of goal-directed action. Through exposure to states, actions and rewards, the agent rapidly constructs a model of the world and can choose an appropriate action based on quite abstract changes in environmental and evaluative demands. This model is powerful but has a problem explaining the development of habitual actions. To account for habits, theorists have argued that another action controller is required, called model-free RL, that does not form a model of the world but rather caches action values within states allowing a state to select an action based on its reward history rather than its consequences. Nevertheless, there are persistent problems with important predictions from the model; most notably the failure of model-free RL correctly to predict the insensitivity of habitual actions to changes in the action-reward contingency. Here, we suggest that introducing model-free RL in instrumental conditioning is unnecessary and demonstrate that reconceptualizing habits as action sequences allows model-based RL to be applied to both goal-directed and habitual actions in a manner consistent with what real animals do. This approach has significant implications for the way habits are currently investigated and generates new experimental predictions.


So basically (summarizing the above to see if I 'get it')....

They slice behaviors into two buckets: goal-directed or habitual.

We select goal-directed behaviors on the basis of their potential outcome
We select habitual behaviors on the basis of their "reward history". (this kinda reminds me of a markov chain? where every node has a dynamic value, and the output has to do with weighing nodes against each other to find the highest value for a given input)

I wasn't able to follow the bit about reconceptualizing habits as "action sequences", but it sounds like they're saying that if you understand them that way, it allows you to predict whether someone will use a goal-directed vs habitual behavior? sorry, I might need more unpacking before I can wrap my head around it

Don't even bother to try to follow the abstract; character limits mean that abstracts don't explain shit. Can you access the full article at the link? If not, I can either try to find a free version, or get the .pdf and email it to you.
Im 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.


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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #63 on: April 25, 2017, 10:23:44 pm »
Im 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.


Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #64 on: April 25, 2017, 10:32:32 pm »
I'm intrigued by all kinds of consciousness, and I'm not convinced that "mindfulness" is an appropriate measuring stick for it.


Mindfulness isn't a measuring stick -- it's a technique.


Quote
It isn't particularly useful to define "levels" (or gradiations, or whatever) of consciousness as becoming more true or real or appropriate as they approach greater proximity to the "here and now". A lollygagging daydream that steals whole minutes or hours from one's memory or perception of the immediate moment or environment isn't evidence that consciousness itself is waning to anyone except maybe an outside observer.

I disagree with you here.

There are a few voices in this thread which discuss these different mental experiences kinda impartially, like, they're all basically just different flavors, as opposed to steps on a hierarchy. And yeah, you don't need to be in full-self-awareness mode all the time (which is impossible, anyway). When you're doing monotonous paperwork, let the habitual mind drive, it's better at that stuff.

But I do think that there is a form of awareness that most of us only experience in brief flickering elusive moments.. that state is desirable and it's worth thinking about how to increase it.


Let me revisit the metaphor of the Black Iron Prison. We're all trapped in this cell of our tastes and routines and habits. We call this situation a 'self-constructed cell', and we refer to the self as the jailer. If we find that our lives are mediocre, or that we are not able to find fulfillment, we have to accept that the personal ettin of desire and fear trapped us here.

The self that daydreams, the part of the self that gets lost in the everyday... that self cannot plan a jailbreak. It can't even recognize that it's in jail, it's too easily distracted, or hyperfocused on what's immediately in front of it.

If we want to escape our cell, if we don't want to keep getting bossed around by the personal ettin of desire and fear, we need to promote the "watcher". We need to develop an internal moderator who can choose which desires and fears get to drive the meat machine. In the absence of this moderator, we are ruled by whichever fears and desires are making the most noise in any given moment.


Quote
It seems better to approach the fitness of one's state of mind in terms of how useful that state is to one's chosen objective: Mindfulness is probably a good idea when interacting with other people or studying psychology or the environment. It may be less useful or even wholly inappropriate for other pursuits, as in artistic or creative work.




At the risk of tangent --- you said you thought mindfulness might be bad for artistic or creative works. I strongly disagree there too... Yeah, the mechanical aspects of creative production don't require mindfulness. But at the conceptual level? Don't we create better art/music/whatever when we're not just reacting?

The author Robert Pirsig died this week, so Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is on my mind. In that amazing book, he discusses Quality as a harmony between the technical and aesthetic. He thinks that our world has suffered by treating the artistic/aesthetic realm as separate from the rational/technical realm. In a way, Pirsig's saying that to create anything of Quality, you need balance between these two. The motorcycle is his symbol of something that can be appreciated both technically and aesthetically.

Repairing a motorcycle also requires both 'minds' - it doesn't just require a technical, mechanical understanding, but also your intuition and feelings.


This rings true to my creative process - I can't create anything good unless I'm in a space where I can hear my intellect and my intuition. If I'm too zoomed-in, I end up producing something either boring or ugly.


Quote
I'm also going to say I find reductive materialism so incredibly, mercilessly dull that it is its own excuse for intentionally believing preposterous woo just to escape it.

cheers


I spent a good chunk of my life rationalizing why religion sucks

now I'm trying to suck the marrow out of its bones


part of why I'm exploring Gurdjieff is that I think he's onto something that you can't hit from a purely scientific angle

these ancient systems of mythology don't tell us much about the universe, but they do tell us a hell of a lot about the self
« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 10:47:06 pm by Cramulus »

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #65 on: April 25, 2017, 11:20:25 pm »
So, escaping the prison of being ruled and defined by your reaction to external stimulus requires a conscious awareness of what forces exist inside and outside you. That's true. I may have been seeing the 'mindfulness' thing from the wrong angle.


re: your tangent on art

I see what you're saying about finding that space between intellect and intuition. I am not an accomplished artist myself, but I have experience in creative pursuits. I write music, I play music alone and in a band. Personally the "intellect" side of the equation is the most frustrating and annoying part of that process. I find dwelling on myself, my immediate environment, my emotions, etc. to detract from and almost always completely disable my creativity. I think of the intellectual side as a general direction to go in, but once that's been established, it has to be discarded, otherwise it'll keep popping up and second-guessing everything the intuitive side is trying to do. So, sure, there's a partnership there, but it's a very unequal one.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #66 on: April 26, 2017, 09:04:55 am »
In this text God is not God, Love is not Love and Christ is not Christ, but at the same time they are. Do NOT take it literally.
http://www.gometropolis.org/website/on-spiritual-struggle-by-elder-porphyrios/


For anyone who is REALLY interested in this kind of stuff that has been going on in this thread, Gornahoor MIGHT be for you.

"What is important to realize is that whether one comes by way of a Semitic sense of sin, or whether one realizes that the I is a fake I, one begins by being able to do almost nothing, other than reject ones false states of being." 
http://www.gornahoor.net/?p=6514


Jordan B. Peterson's book Maps of Meaning is strongly recommended too. It can be read for free. 

"I had no idea where my search would lead me. I came over the course of a decade and a half to understand the meanings of many things that had been entirely hidden from me things that I had cast away, stupidly, as of little worth. I came to realize that ideologies had a narrative structure that they were stories, in a word and that the emotional stability of individuals depended upon the integrity of their stories. I came to realize that stories had a religious substructure (or, to put it another way, that well-constructed stories had a nature so compelling that they gathered religious behaviors and attitudes around them, as a matter of course). I understood, finally, that the world that stories describe is not the objective world, but the world of value and that it is in this world that we live, first and foremost.

This all may appear as something far removed from the original problem, but that is true only in appearance. I have learned what it is that makes the tyrant, and how attractive it can be to participate in that process. I have come to understand what it is that our stories protect us from, and why we will do anything to maintain their stability. I now realize how it can be that our religious mythologies are true, and why that truth places a virtually intolerable burden of responsibility on the individual."
https://jordanbpeterson.com/maps-of-meaning/
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #67 on: April 26, 2017, 02:31:00 pm »
I do have to say, I don't buy into any "enlightenment" models of consciousness, at all. 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 think that most of us don't spend enough time thinking rationally or methodically during the perfectly whole aware times we already experience. There just isn't any evidence for this mythical higher level of consciousness.

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.

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.
Im 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.


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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #68 on: April 26, 2017, 02:47:37 pm »
I believe that the search for a state of higher consciousness as a discrete experience, a sort of key to enlightenment or to a superior state of being, stands at risk of becoming like Vex's (or is it Junky's?) dreaming accountant's key to changing the world; the search for the shining key in lieu of doing the very un-glamorous day to day labor can serve as an obstacle from ever really achieving anything at all.
Im 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.


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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #69 on: April 26, 2017, 02:58:20 pm »
I think that was V3x, I know it wasn't mine.
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #70 on: April 26, 2017, 03:18:23 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?
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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #71 on: April 26, 2017, 03:22:58 pm »
The short answer is that metaphors can be incredibly deceptive and can lead to entirely false notions of how the universe works.

Cf: metaphors for quantum behavior leading to the belief that consciousness literally changes objective reality.

Cramulus

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #72 on: April 26, 2017, 04:07:00 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.

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.

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.


Quote
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.




Quote
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.


Quote
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.
 

Quote
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.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2017, 04:19:29 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #73 on: April 26, 2017, 06:15:06 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.
Im 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.


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Re: You're not conscious
« Reply #74 on: April 26, 2017, 06:18:46 pm »
The short answer is that metaphors can be incredibly deceptive and can lead to entirely false notions of how the universe works.

Cf: metaphors for quantum behavior leading to the belief that consciousness literally changes objective reality.

I understand the argument. But all understandings of the universe are imperfect metaphors. I agree that scientific "metaphors" are far more accurate and can at least be tested through experiment and prediction, and I'd never dream of using anything other than those when describing the actual universe. But when discussing the elements of one's own psyche, in the confines of a consciousness which one understands to be self-generated and not translatable to outside forces, I don't see any harm in ritualizing or spiritualizing those elements and behaviors. This is only labeling, and all exercises in categorizing the various internal forces and desires driving oneself are exercises in labeling and categorizing those desires and the relationships between them. Whether we use language and conventions derived from modern psychology or (for example) Hindu mythology is more or less inconsequential except in the outward expression of such exercises. It's just a matter of personal aesthetics.

There is also a lot of dismissal of anecdotal experience just because it does not fit with materialist assumptions, and I find that unfortunate. People subscribing to a spiritual or even religious context for their self-awareness have had as much if not more success than the reductive materialist approach of throwing pills at everything. I don't believe it's because there is really anything in such spiritualism, but I don't discount the possibility that there may be a path to genuine self-knowledge that lies through such.
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