semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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Dream Walker, modified 3 Months ago.

semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

Posts: 1330 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_satiation

So, I was thinking about this after seeing it refrenced in a book. I've not known the name but thanks wiki.
This might actually be what happens the the sense doors but it would have to be the exploration portion of each door not just the noting portion.
thoughts?
​​​​​​​~D
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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It sometimes happens to me if I silently repeat a word long enough. It started when I was a kid, I would just kind of become fascinated by a word. It feels like the floor of the mind dropping away. Now that you mention it, I suppose it is a kind of emptiness experience. We rely on language to have a definite meaning, so it can be surprising when that evaporates. It could be related to koan study. For anyone reading who hasn't experienced it, try repeating 'the' or 'not' for a while and see what happens ...
Vossagga Vossagga, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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It's exactly the same thing as staring at your face in the mirror. 
The sensory input is constant and so if you stare at your face for long enough, eye consciousness dissolves.
Anything which is constant and unchanging ceases to have meaning and relevance and thus fades away... 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
This really is a weirdly fascinating angle on the brain transition out of "substance," and it does seem at least metaphorically relevant to the progressively empty jhanas. The human brain just sort of stipulates "no meaning happening here" and moves on; the "thing" becomes transparent, a given, a non-factor. Then the emptiness of substance itself presents until its turn comes; and, uh, so on?

The three characteristics in relentless practice sort of do this to EVERYTHING. And then consume themselves, lol. The transience of everything itself becomes a given, ditto the dukkha, ditto the anatta: and the three Cs become transparent too. 

Then we lose our job, because, as we told the supervisor, "It just don't mean shit, man."
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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    Hi DW,

Thanks- this is a topic of interest of mine which i'm currently writing about, but it's nice to have the opportunity to spell out some of those thoughts i've had for a long while for people to read directly emoticon

I think the intersections between "emptiness" and "meaning" is a really deep and interesting one. Let me say a few things about "meaning" and "semiotics" and the likes.

So, I'm not gonna claim to know what "meaning" is - an intrinsic aspect of phenomenal reality, if you ask me -, but if you look at the words sem-antics, sem-iotics, you see that this "sem" bit, greek sema, actually means "sign", as in signpost, etc.

What's a sign ? The best definition IMO is the one given by C. S. Peirce : Something which stands for something else to someone, in some regard. (maybe a not very clear translation, sorry emoticon)

The fundamental thing is : relationality and reference. The world of meaning and signification and signs, and semiosis, is a world of depth, where things are distinct from one another and enter into various kinds of relationship one with the other in some mysterious ways, like an echo chamber ; it is the world of voices, where things speak, say stuff.

See this article for a presentation of some of Peirce's stuff : http://www.signosemio.com/peirce/semiotics.asp

I recommend it, because his conception of signs and the life of meaning is really interesting, very dynamic. I don't know it so well, but the bit I do know has really been enriching.

Here I want to just quote this :

"2.2 THE FOUNDATIONAL CATEGORIES OF SEMIOTICSAccording to Peirce, three categories are necessary and sufficient to account for all of human experience. These categories correspond to the numbers first, second and third. They have been designated as "firstness", "secondness", and "thirdness".2.2.1 FIRSTNESSFirstness is a conception of being that is independent of anything else. For example, this would be the mode of being of a "redness" before anything in the universe was yet red, or of a general sensation of hurt, before one starts to wonder whether the sensation comes from a headache, a burn or some emotional pain. We must be clear that in firstness, there is only ONENESS. Thus, it is a conception of being in its wholeness or completeness, with no boundaries or parts, and no cause or effect. A quality is a pure, latent potentiality. Firstness belongs to the realm of possibility; it is experienced within a kind of timelessness. Firstness corresponds to emotional experience.2.2.2 SECONDNESSSecondness is the mode of being that is in relation to something else. This is the category that includes the individual, experience, fact, existence, and action-reaction. For example, the stone that we drop falls to the ground; the weathervane turns to point in the direction of the wind; and now you feel pain because of a toothache. Secondness operates within discontinuous time, where the dimension of past time enters in: a certain event occurred at a certain moment, before some other event, which was its consequence. Secondness corresponds to practical experience.2.2.3 THIRDNESSThirdness is the mediator through which a first and a second are brought into relation. Thirdness belongs to the domain of rules and laws; however, a law can only be manifested through the occurrences of its application, that is, by secondness; and these occurrences themselves actualize qualities, and therefore, firstness. Whereas secondness is a category of individuality, thirdness and firstness are categories of generality; but the generality of firstness is on the level of possibility, and the generality of thirdness is on the level of necessity, and therefore, prediction. The law of gravity, for example, allows us to predict that each time we drop a stone, it will fall to the ground. Thirdness is the category of thought, language, representation, and the process of semiosis; it makes social communication possible. Thirdness corresponds to intellectual experience."

These "categories" are really interesting to me for thinking about this. I believe they are closely related to what buddhism calls Dependent Origination.

For instance, IMO, practices like vipassana and more generally emptiness practice, basically are a training at Firstness. When you look at sensations as sensations, thoughts as thoughts, etc., you are basically trying to see them not in relationship with anything else, but just as what appears, as their phenomenal matter. This is getting "BELOW" the level of meaning and just in the realm of pure "phenomenological matter", if you take the classical opposition between "form/matter". 

It is what has been described here as "semantic satiation" - which has sometimes been called "examplification", by Nelson Goodman for instance. 

You take a perception, and try to see it just for how it appears and not for what it might mean - try to discern the "mental" and the "physical", as Dan Ingram would say. 

I used to call that "going beyond the Name", trying to see things not for what they are identified to be, but just as a "pure phenomenal experience".

Notice that this is basically a movement that goes from "form" to "emptiness", in the terms of the Heart of prajñaparamita sutra. 

This sort of "deactivates" meaning, relationality, semiosis, basically, it sort of "flattens" the experience in the sense that everything starts to be perceived as just one whole big undifferentiated continuum, right ?  

That's kind of firstness, "non conceptual experience", rigpa and whatnot.

So, I tend to think that "in-sight" is a way of looking that cultivates this movement of going down into what Peirce calls Firstness, pure qualia, a kind of "vertical" movements that actually "unfabricates" perception, simplifies it, makes it go "unity" and beyond that, "nothingness" - everything is the same, there's just this one big thing. 

Ok, there is a connection with DESIRE there, too, as is well said in Dependent origination. Here, the concept of Eros is pretty interesting - I heard it presented by Burbea and it made a lot of sense to me.

Eros is a kind of love/desire which is different from Agape/Metta, in the sense that its specificity is that it wants MORE CONTACT, which is not the case of metta, disinterested love, basically. Eros wants more of what it touches on, it is INTERESTED in what it loves, and so its effect will be to COMPLEXIFY, not SIMPLIFY experience. Metta/agape/disinterested acceptance/love, which is the attitude involved in deconstructive practices such as vipassana/emptiness practices, SIMPLIFIES experience. We can recognize the "Firstness/emptiness" directionality here...

That's why the "semantic satiation" expression is very on point. : when there is ANT-EROS, ie, non grasping, holy disinterest, EQUANIMITY, things begin to "unfabricate", and even fade, and even disappear entirely ... empty, empty.

Ok, so here, we can start to see that in the other direction, which we might see as "horizontal", the direction of meaning making, of relationality (which implies that individuation is kind of a necessity there), there is on the contrary a movement towards multiplicity and differentiation - which in a way is a result of the kind of desire and engagement with experience being present.

There's a dimensionality there, we say "depth of meaning", things reference each other, speak, speak of each other, etc. With the Peircean categories we can say we are moving into Secondness. IMO this is the other direction of dependent origination, "dependent creation", as someone here aptly said, and it is born, from some kind of EROS, of INTEREST. Interest fabricates.

Ok. But here is something interesting : the heart sutra equates these two directions. 

That's the thing : looking for a purely "non conceptual experience", a "pure phenomenal experience", a pure "firstness" experience : well that doesn't actually exist. A purely non-conceptual experience is a non-expeirence - the unfabricated, the deathless, cessation, etc. WHenever there is experience, there is form and meaning. Even your most profound rigpa type experience : things are still things. Still meaningful.

Realizing that, for me, was a pretty important moment, and in a way I relate it with this bit from mctb :

"Daniel Ingram, in the Three Kayas

Arahants also have a wondrous understanding of all of this that is unique to them and to Buddhas (though there may be hints of it at third path) called the sambhogakaya. They know that the full range of phenomenal reality and even the full range of the emotional life can be deeply appreciated for what it is. They see that the world of concepts, language, symbols, visions, magickal experiences, thoughts, and dreams is fundamentally the same as the world of materiality, that they both share the same essential nature from an experiential point of view. The first line of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God,” is a nice way to put it. For those who find this phrase too cryptic, I paraphrase it as: “From the beginning, concepts, words, dreams, visions, and the realm of thought have always been an aspect of ultimate reality.

It might be interesting to think of the three categories of being that Peirce outlines in the light of the three kayas model...

These dimensions are just that, dimensions, but they don't exist independently of each other and are always co-present in manifestation. 

You can see even "thoughts" dawn as dharmakaya, as they say. And you can also see the pure quale, the pure quality of "redness", as a specific sign meaning something very precise, for instance, as a reference to a childhood illness you had where your skin turned really red, or something, and this "reference" can be totally embodied "as the redness" perception, it can be what the "redness" is and means, because things don't have inherent meaning, unless you cling to FIRSTNESS as somehow being more REAL than THIRDNESS, which is a form of clinging.

Wink wink.

But they definitely are different "directions" in a way, which I like to see as "horizontal" and "vertical".

In terms of the arts of perception, I kind of see them as as Esthetics, which is characterized by its Infinite depth of meaning making, and Contemplation, which is a movement towards the universal, oneness, and beyond that, Nothingness, 0. These are not separate, though...

So, I'll stop here for now, hope there can be something of interest in there somewhere emoticon Glad to clarify anything if that was confused somehow...

​​​​​​​Cheers


    
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Olivier

It might be interesting to think of the three categories of being that Peirce outlines in the light of the three kayas model...

These dimensions are just that, dimensions, but they don't exist independently of each other and are always co-present in manifestation. 

ahh, Olivier, you sparked my interest, and perturbed my agapic equanimity with erotica. This could turn into a Holy Trinities thread, with apologies to Dream Walker, who may get semantically satiated with it real quick and we'll need a thread-split, lol. But I'd love to hear your three kayas model run-out in light of Peirce's Three Ness model. Then I could jump in with the three men I admire most, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who reportedly caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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Yeah, I didn't write it but that was always an aspect of my thinking about that stuff, of course...

Funny, I was reading Victor Hugo's Contemplations again yesterday, after quite a few years, the poem "What the shadow mouth said" - worth checking out, it's about what we've been talking about here.

Right before it, there is a short poem called : "Nomen, Numen, Lumen".

That basically says it all : the Name, the Divine, and The light ... Meaning, Ground of Being, Rigpa... Dependently originated world/impure mind, Alaya, Alayavijñana... Logos (holy ghost ? after all they say it's the "process" aspect of the trinity, isn't it), Father, Son... The in-between/imaginal world, Heaven, and Earth... The same but different... And yes, maybe the three kayas... 

I do like to think that's what it is.
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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Oh yes, expanding the bit about the Three kayas and Peirce's Three modes of being.

Well it's pretty straightforward : Firstness is the Dharmakaya, Secondness is the Nirmanakaya, Thirdness is the Sambhogakaya.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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Vossagga Vossagga
It's exactly the same thing as staring at your face in the mirror. 
The sensory input is constant and so if you stare at your face for long enough, eye consciousness dissolves.
Anything which is constant and unchanging ceases to have meaning and relevance and thus fades away... 

Welcome Vossagga and thanks for teaching me a new word! emoticon

A company where righteous speech prevails, dhammavadini parisa, is one whose members are able to ‘give up’ their views instead of insisting on them dogmatically (A. 1, 76). Those who dogmatically hold on to their views, sanditthiparamasiadhanaggahi, will find it difficult to implement such giving up, duppatinissaggi (e.g. M. I, 96). The importance of being able to ‘give up’ one’s view is also reflected in several sanghadisesa and pacitiya regulations in the Vinaya, which deal with monks or nuns who hold on to views that are mistaken or even have the potential of leading to a schism.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

Posts: 203 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
      I hope this works, I still get weird responses on this new platform. But anyway I quote from Olivier and submit a question I have had for many years. I'm not fully conversant on any way of looking at this and I'm always looking for more precise ways of description.
"That's the thing : looking for a purely "non conceptual experience", a "pure phenomenal experience", a pure "firstness" experience : well that doesn't actually exist. A purely non-conceptual experience is a non-experience - the unfabricated, the deathless, cessation, etc. Whenever there is experience, there is form and meaning. Even your most profound rigpa type experience : things are still things. Still meaningful."    
      I agree that there can be no "looking for" the " purely non-conceptual experience, practice just sets you up for it. It's a non-experience because there's no way to hold on to it. It's more like a vision of firstness that changes the relation to secondness and thirdness as you've described it (new to me also).  And one of the dangers, as I see it, is in the way the second and third modes are used to describe it. But my experience is that once you "see" it, it can't be unseen. But it can repeat itself as the effort is made to act according to the vision.      
     In the "Interior Castle" of St. Teresa of Avila, I found a description that helped me understand a little better: ​​​​​​​ "Let us now speak of the sign which proves the prayer of union to have been genuine. As you have seen, God then deprives the soul of all its senses that He may the better imprint in it true wisdom: it neither sees, hears, nor understands anything while this state lasts, which is never more than a very brief time; it appears to the soul to be much shorter than it really is. God visits the soul in a manner which prevents its doubting, on returning to itself, that it dwelt in Him and that He was within it, and so firmly is it convinced of this truth that, although years may pass before this favor recurs, the soul can never forget it nor doubt the fact, setting aside the effects left by this prayer, to which I will refer later on. The conviction felt by the soul is the main point.  But, you may ask, how can a person who is incapable of sight and hearing see or know these things? I do not say that she saw it at the time, but that she perceives it clearly afterwards, not by any vision but by a certitude which remains in the heart which God alone could give." "http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/03d/1515-1582,_Teresa_d'Avila,_The_Interior_Castle_Of_The_Mansions,_EN.pdf
​​​​​​​Does this match what you have studied? 
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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Angel, this sounds to me more like "cessation", or "the unfabricated", or "the Urgrund", or the "non manifest", or the "superior Night", or "nirvana" in the technical sense, or "the abyss".

The unfabricated has no quality at all, but having had a cessation changes something, definitely.

That's not firstness, because firstness is just the world of appearances experienced as a totale unity, pure quality, so, more like a complete opening into awake awareness, what mahamudra calls "the natural state", let's say., or perhaps even what ingram might call "a formation", that is to say, existence experienced at a very low level of Dependent origination, the one which comes right before ignorance is removed (and supposedly cessation happens right there and then, when ignorance is totally removed).

But such openings, IME and O, are actually not non-conceptual. A tree, even though it might be illuminated totally differently, experienced "at the level of formations", to talk ingram parlance, or "from awake awareness", is still a tree, still recognizable, or if it's not as a tree, it's still totally imbued with meaningfulness always.

I've never, if i'm truly honest with myself, had an experience with even one bit of it being devoid of meaning, even if that meaning is just almost pure phenomenal mater such as redness. 

Perhaps we can say that it is a non-conceptual experience, in the sense that there is very little gross dependent origination, yes. But there is still signification throughout.

That's what I meant, - not particularly, that you can't "look for a non-conceptual experience", but rather that no experience is non-conceptual.

​​​​​​​ I don't know if that makes it any clearer emoticon
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Olivier, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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(At least that's how I understand firstness...

I think it's an ideal pole...

Unless it does mean the non-manifest, but in that case ,that means that a "pure quality" is actually invisible and a non-experience... Which is a bit counterintuitive ! Why not, though.

When you stop believing that your pure perception is "really real", such as "i'm perceiving a pure visual sensation", it can shapeshift, and become some totally different form with a different meaning... Kinda weird)
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

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It is difficult to pinpoint definitions and make equivalencies.  But, no harm in trying. It's good brain exercise.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: semantic satiation, emptyness practice and noting

Posts: 1636 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Vossagga Vossagga
It's exactly the same thing as staring at your face in the mirror. 
The sensory input is constant and so if you stare at your face for long enough, eye consciousness dissolves.
Anything which is constant and unchanging ceases to have meaning and relevance and thus fades away... 

Apparently this has a name too - the Ganzfeld Effect - so we could say:

Ganzfeld Effect = Dissolution of eye consciousness
Semantic Satiation = Dissolution of mind consciousness

I found a couple of interesting articles expanding on the theme:

Transcendental Tongue Twisting: Mantras and Semantic Satiation
A Scientific Approach to Silent Consciousness

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