Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

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D Fl, modified 9 Years ago.

Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/7/09 Recent Posts
This post may be a bit rambling so just giving a warning to anyone who is not in the mood to read long posts at the moment.


I started on this path of wondering why anything is the way it is a few years ago. At first it budded as a curiosity in all brands of Eastern Mysticism. What sparked it was a debate on a bulletin board I occasionally frequented at the time (no longer do) about why so many people are so delusional and insist on believing weird things like Chi, psychic powers, etc instead of just sticking to what Science has discovered.

The more I debated in that thread (I was then firmly in the camp of Atheist Materialist Secularists who revere Science as the Uber-Alles of All-Knowing). I quickly realized such a debate was as useless to understanding how each of us experiences "knowing" (for lack of a better world) and just leads in circles. Circles that usually end up in finger-pointing of "you're wrong". "No! You're wrong!" and it ends in a draw with each side sticking firmly with their own beliefs - in other words - it ended up exactly where it began. And I was no closer to understanding How understanding works or why and how this Scientistic Materialism came to be so revered among the average human.

I made the determination that unless I "taste" what it's like to be a "Irrational Believer" (the typical accusation of most Atheists) I wouldn't understand how one knows what one believes nor how one separates it from what ones believes is true from what actually IS true or even if there is a legitmate difference between the two.

So that got me started investigating.

And I quickly discovered a few things.

There's the "spiritualism" that's mocked by most Atheist Secular Materialists (typically either New Agey stuff or most-usually - typical fundie Christianity with occasional detours into disparaging other religions).

But then there's a subclass or maybe a less well-known class of spirituality. What used to be taught by Mystics (which to my surprise has a deep history across diverse cultures and continents) and all seemed to be pointing to something deeper. Of which one of the things usually prescribed no matter what the spiritual tradition on any continent all seemed to point to similar methods The Method of...shut up, sit down and start observing without interjecting thoughts or opinions on the actual process. I saw this in Hinduism. I saw it in Sufism. I saw it in Buddhism. I saw it in Hermeticism. I saw it even in some parts of Christianity (to my great surprise - apparently Christian monks and nuns have a long history of using the Lord's Prayer as a type of mantra while single-pointedly focusing attention on the Heart Center).

In other words...a kind of "empirical oberservation method" (about as "science-y" as you can get) without dragging in (hopefully) pre-conceived notions on what you are actually experiencing as you're experiencing. And it leads to a kind of knowing about things that no amount of "normal knowing" the typical human knowing defaults to.

This is the kind of spiritual tradtion I did NOT (and still do not) see the average Secular Atheist Materialist OR the average New Agey "spiritual but not religious" person OR the average mass-religion practitioner "get" or even know such traditions exist.

Other pieces of the puzzle fell into place when I started reading and listening to assorted Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and Hermetic teachers and/or books.

Like the great surprise that there is a type of knowing which has NO foundation in our usual conciousness. The average everyday consciousness understands by splitting things apart and examining them closely. The whole of the Scientific Method bears the hallmarks of exactly this process. It's the only kind of knowing ordinary human knowing knows how to do or understand.

It blew me away when I listened to Saddhguru in a talk he gave explaining that there are other kinds of knowing that do not "operate" this way at all. Not at all. I quickly realized this is the unifying problem the average human has - whether a secular materialist atheist who reveres Science as the Only Truth or the average New Agey spiritual person or the average traditional religious practitioner in religions like Christianity or Islam.

They have a hammer (typical human consciousness which only knows how to divide to understand) and so everything becomes a nail - and if it doesn't use this method or process then it is defacto not based on "Reality". They deny there can be anything besides their "hammer" for knowing (a big unconscious bias in all Secular Materialists as it was in me but also present in varying degrees in other people too).

It's taken me a long time to finally "get this". Another huge surprise was actually experiencing just how awful I am at being able to keep my attention focused on a single point for any length of time. Boy was that ever humbling. It's like I have zero control over deciding when or if I want to focus my attention on any single point - it goes where it will despite my best efforts to not let it happen. It made me wonder - wth else have I always believed I had control over but if I put to the test would discover I truly don't?

Anyway...to my amazement...my thoughts seem to be slowly becoming "softer" or "quieter" (does that make sense?) as I keep practing.

One thing that has distressed me greatly over the past few months is all the sectarian finger pointing that goes on even within Mystic Tradtions! Buddhists point fingers at Hindus and claim "You have Wrong View" (happens in reverse too of course). Ditto with other Tradtions.

And finally - one final note:

Buddha taught that Re-incarnation is a Wrong View. Yet right there in the Lotus Sutra is example after example of this-or-that Bodhisattva being said to have been "so-and-so" in a prior birth. Take Meitreya...the supposed Next Wheel-Turning Buddha. In the Lotus Sutra it is said in former lives he was known as "Seeker-of-Fame". "Could he be unknown to you? He was none other than you, Metreiya."

How is this so very different than what Hindus teach when they talk about there being re-incarnation?

I've read Buddhists insist then, "Oh Buddha taught there is Re-birth but that there is no Re-incarnation". To me that sounds like a cop-out. A Distinction without a Difference. I'm trying to leave that question behind for the time being (good luck...apparently I have as little actual "control" over that rumination at the moment as I do with staying focused on a single-point - i.e. this question revolves in my head CONSTANTLY and I do mean CONSTANTLY whether I want it to or not!!! WTF?!!)
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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Next Sam Harris book will be an attempt at making the kind of "spirituality" (for lack of better word) more palatable to atheists. Considering how influential he is in those circles, it might get a lot of people interested in the matter. On the matter of rebirth, a monk once answered to my skepticism "you will understand when you get there" (in reference to enlightenment). I consider that as a way to say "don't bother with it". One problem I see with the belief in Hindu-style reincarnation is that it might lead to spiritual procrastination. Buddhadasa, one of the most well-known thai monk used to criticize the idea of rebirth, saying that it's something imported from Hinduism into Buddhism. He would say "If you don't get enlightenment, you have wasted your life". It's probably a marginal view but it highlight that the belief isn't needed to achieve enlightenment.

I like the idea that rebirth is a metaphor for all the "realms" we experience in our life. After stream entry of the 10 fetters model , it is said that there is some kind of stuff that you shouldn't do or think again. You don't get back in those "realms".
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D Fl, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/7/09 Recent Posts
Simon T.:
Next Sam Harris book will be an attempt at making the kind of "spirituality" (for lack of better word) more palatable to atheists. Considering how influential he is in those circles, it might get a lot of people interested in the matter.


I'll check out this next Sam Harris book. emoticon

The one thing I got frustrated with the average secular atheist is that they do not seem to be able to see that their mind is doing the same thing that they accuse of 'Believers'. They hold to the belief of Physicalism (aka Ontological Naturalism) without ever having tested HOW they themselves (a hallowed tenent of the Scientific Method I might add - it tests HOW, not WHY) come to believe something, what that process is and HOW knowing knows. No one to my knowledge among these kinds of Physicalist Atheists - has ever had the utterly 'pure experience' of 'being' a quark. Or an electron, photon or atom.

That's why most refuse to discuss consciousness and instead reduce everything to the brain. They can't explain consciousness at all. The smoking gun is that not a one of these proud, flag-waving Physicalist Atheists can explain how a universe supposedly devoid of awareness / consciousness at the Big Bang came to evolve it. It's the elephant in the room none of them can address. Aka - their explanation is still stuck at the Belief Stage (the hallmark of a *gasp* True Believer) since they haven't experienced DIRECTLY how awareness rises inside themselves in the first place.

It's Materialists/Physicalists being lazy and not robust-testing their own knowledge and beliefs FOR THEMSELVES via actual direct testing. Always notice how many poo-poo other people's "non-scientific" experiences yet turn around and state only validation by other people's experiences counts as what's "Reality"? How did they come to that conclusion? They'd rather be lazy and 'buy' their Belief off-the-shelf from other Physicalists with its shiny Pseudo-Good-Housekeeping-Seal-of-Scientistic-trappings but push their beliefs about 'Reality' into realms where actual Scientific experiments can not go (at least not currently).

The lack of curiosity and examination into this subject for themselves - by people who proudly claim they LOVE hypothesis testing and refining and totally base their worldview around it (cuz after all that's "Reality") - astounded me (still does as readers might've noticed from this reply).

Simon T.:
On the matter of rebirth, a monk once answered to my skepticism "you will understand when you get there" (in reference to enlightenment). I consider that as a way to say "don't bother with it".



I will certainly try. But when not asleep or totally distracted doing something (like playing MMOs with my boyfriend) these thoughts are in my head constantly. It's really frustrating to be told "don't bother with it" or "you're playing with thoughts" but not seeming able to stop them. There seems to be a weird correspondence of behavior between this and my lack of ability in maintaining one-pointed concentration - if that makes sense. It's like this lack of ability to 'drop' something not only manifests as a lack of ability to maintain pointed-focus but also manifests as a lack of ability to drop thoughts in my head.

Oh well... I figure this is just *life* doing it's thang and "this too shall pass". It just sucks waiting for it to do so. LOL.emoticon
C C C, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Have you read McKenna's Enlightenment Trilogy?

His stance is that everything you know, everything you can know, is false, no matter how true it sounds. That's because the thing that knows, the thing that wants to know and understand everything, is false, (namely, the self).

He gets to the bottom of this using a process he calls spiritual autolysis. It's not very well explained how this process works, but the gist of it will get you thinking... or stop you thinking....one or the other.

Great books. They penetrate right into the heart of this matter that has you stumped.
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Andrew ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
C C C:
Have you read McKenna's Enlightenment Trilogy?

His stance is that everything you know, everything you can know, is false, no matter how true it sounds. That's because the thing that knows, the thing that wants to know and understand everything, is false, (namely, the self).



Hi CCC
If everything is false that one can know, there is absolutely no hope of knowing anything.

I started reading his books but found them to be false. I guess I know why now, but then in the simple knowing of why, I am also knowing something false, but of course I know that, hence it is doubly false...

I think I get it; so basically I loose my mind in this 'spiritual autolysis' which is itself false as soon as i know it, but is falsified in the knowing it is false, hence being a false fallacy, which makes it true, as long as I don't know it...

sounds simple enough; of course in sounding true it is of course false.

emoticon
C C C, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Andrew .:
C C C:
Have you read McKenna's Enlightenment Trilogy?

His stance is that everything you know, everything you can know, is false, no matter how true it sounds. That's because the thing that knows, the thing that wants to know and understand everything, is false, (namely, the self).



Hi CCC
If everything is false that one can know, there is absolutely no hope of knowing anything.

I started reading his books but found them to be false. I guess I know why now, but then in the simple knowing of why, I am also knowing something false, but of course I know that, hence it is doubly false...

I think I get it; so basically I loose my mind in this 'spiritual autolysis' which is itself false as soon as i know it, but is falsified in the knowing it is false, hence being a false fallacy, which makes it true, as long as I don't know it...

sounds simple enough; of course in sounding true it is of course false.

emoticon


All the ideas in the books are false. I think that's pretty much right. A good teaching should consume itself in flames.

Someone mentioned it earlier, the distinction between knowing using the mind, and a knowing that appears when the mind surrenders its need to know. I can feel his books speak on that second level... not all the time, but some of the time.
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D Fl, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/7/09 Recent Posts
C C C:
Have you read McKenna's Enlightenment Trilogy?

His stance is that everything you know, everything you can know, is false, no matter how true it sounds. That's because the thing that knows, the thing that wants to know and understand everything, is false, (namely, the self).

He gets to the bottom of this using a process he calls spiritual autolysis. It's not very well explained how this process works, but the gist of it will get you thinking... or stop you thinking....one or the other.

Great books. They penetrate right into the heart of this matter that has you stumped.



I've watched some Youtube vids on McKenna. I might check out the books. But I'm not sure I'd place his "realization' as being the 'end of the road'. Yeah, I do get it that when the machinery in the brain that gives the "I" illusion finally completely breaks down (and there's no going back) I'll understand things that words can not explain.

But this guy is also making claims I can't "buy into" yet completely as I've not directly experienced it. Things like what Yogiraj Gurunath or Master Nan Hai-Chin or Master Hsuan Hua teach is bullshit and anyone who 'buys into' what they're "selling" is buying into bullshit (McKenna sounds a lot like U.G. Krishnamurti in fact).

Also I could swear I read somewhere that Thusness said McKenna was only at Stage 5 out of 7 - McKenna hasn't reached double-fold emptiness realization yet. So at least one person in this mirage is stating that McKenna's awakening is not even (supposedly) on par with Nagarjuna's. And it's (supposedly) definitely not equivalent to the Buddha's.
C C C, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
D Fl:

I've watched some Youtube vids on McKenna. I might check out the books. But I'm not sure I'd place his "realization' as being the 'end of the road'. Yeah, I do get it that when the machinery in the brain that gives the "I" illusion finally completely breaks down (and there's no going back) I'll understand things that words can not explain.

But this guy is also making claims I can't "buy into" yet completely as I've not directly experienced it. Things like what Yogiraj Gurunath or Master Nan Hai-Chin or Master Hsuan Hua teach is bullshit and anyone who 'buys into' what they're "selling" is buying into bullshit (McKenna sounds a lot like U.G. Krishnamurti in fact).

Also I could swear I read somewhere that Thusness said McKenna was only at Stage 5 out of 7 - McKenna hasn't reached double-fold emptiness realization yet. So at least one person in this mirage is stating that McKenna's awakening is not even (supposedly) on par with Nagarjuna's. And it's (supposedly) definitely not equivalent to the Buddha's.


Definitely. My bullshit meter goes off all the time with almost everyone I read or speak to. McKenna is no different in that sense.

I have a handful of teachers/writers whom I trust at this moment. If they put a foot wrong, I question them. If they can't answer they're out. McKenna has survived partly because he doesn't make himself available for questioning, but I do have questions for him, especially on drug use which he seems to push.

At some point one needs to take a leap of faith and say "ok I might give this a shot". I do this based upon what I feel when I read or listen to someone. If it feels 1) freeing and 2) anxiety-provoking, that's my criteria. I've not found a better one. McKenna is pretty good on that measure. But the world is full of liars and self-deluded people, I'm aware of that.

I would still say the books are a very good read.
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Andrew ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi D FI,

I like the depth of analysis in your post and would suggest you not imagine that 'things you cannot know' are all in the domain of irrational beliefs, for me after many years of irrationality I am finding myself heading in the direction of empirical knowledge armed with the simple idea that 'I can change' rather than the passive 'there is nothing I can know' mindset. there are things we cannot know, but there is plenty we can and do know.

Don't jump camps, draw a circle around yourself (figuratively) and be your own person - informed by what you find, not allowing 'isms' and 'ists' in the circle, just your own investigations. You can know things, you can line them up and test them in your own experience, you can adjust what you know to suit what you find.

Irrationality is a silly as it has ever been.

Regarding rebirth; a figurative take on it is easy to put on the shelf, a literal one make for harder going and potential cope outs imo. I think it is sound enough to say 'one has only this moment in which one is alive' - I wouldn't want to regret (pre-emptive regretting?!) wasting it (by not enjoying it) regardless of what is true.

A
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D Fl, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 6 Join Date: 10/7/09 Recent Posts
Andrew .:
Hi D FI,

I like the depth of analysis in your post and would suggest you not imagine that 'things you cannot know' are all in the domain of irrational beliefs, for me after many years of irrationality I am finding myself heading in the direction of empirical knowledge armed with the simple idea that 'I can change' rather than the passive 'there is nothing I can know' mindset. there are things we cannot know, but there is plenty we can and do know.

Don't jump camps, draw a circle around yourself (figuratively) and be your own person - informed by what you find, not allowing 'isms' and 'ists' in the circle, just your own investigations. You can know things, you can line them up and test them in your own experience, you can adjust what you know to suit what you find.

Irrationality is a silly as it has ever been.


Oh that's definitely not what I'm doing. I'm all about directly finding out exactly how Knowing Knows, how Awareness Awares, how it arises, all the factors that come into play that allow it to arise, etc. If it's one thing I'm NOT about it's believing that process can't be experienced directly (or any other experience for that matter though my real burning desire is to understand Knowing in and of ITSELF (ditto Awareness).

You see...I'm not really *into* discovering about the *I*. I actually think it can, does and will break down. Anything and everything that has that 'solid' sense of 'self' and 'other' will get acid tossed on it as I do these practices. I've finally realized that's not really what I'm after after all. It's a stop along the way. An interesting and scary one to be sure but just a layover.

What I'm after is directly experiencing HOW Knowing Knows. How does the Process of Knowing Know. The Pure Process of Knowing. And the HOW Awareness AWARES. I intend (once the I is dissolved) to turn directly into seeing if Auto-Digestion (aka Self-Autolysis) can be done on KNOWING and AWARENESS too. Pure Experience, Pure Awareness and Pure Knowing - can they be digested too? How far can this process really be taken? Right now I don't know. I don't even know what it is I know nor what it is I don't. But I'm sure as hell going to try to find out.


p.s. I LOVED this YouTube vid by Sadhguru as it summed up perfectly how I see what I myself was doing when I used to be one of those Atheist Physicalist/Materialists


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=few-CN5OywQ
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Andrew ., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Learning to Know what one Knows - or Doesn't

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi again,

What if one finds that existence has the nature of being conceivable as thought (information) and extension (energy) without reduction to the other? Infact what if it could equally be conceived in other ways (infinite others) not accessible to humanity at all, would one ever experience 'purity' (implying ultimate reduction) of an existence that defies reduction as an attribute of it's very nature?

Maybe, but one has to be very, very quiet (I'm hunting Wabbits here..)!


if existence has as its attributes; 'infinity' and 'eternity'; then the reduction implied in experiencing HOW is a tautology*; as one is asking oneself to experience that which has existence as it own nature, there is nothing one can reduce that to that isn't already fully expressed immanently as a matter of it's attributes (infinity and eternity), that is to say one already knows HOW, this is it, right here and now, it is happening as it has always done.


how** is one enjoying that which is already immanent and irreducible? The knowing of this information can of necessity (implied in the immanent nature of existence) be known, which is a good thing as otherwise we would be stuffed. This is also to say that existence is of necessity present to itself, hence has consciousness expressed in infinite and eternal modalities, humanity being the only one we can experience as humans, which stands to reason. (I cannot as you point out experience consciousness of a quark, or even know if consciousness is a quality of the modality 'quark')

But in knowing that existence has attributes of 'infinite' and 'eternal' -and this knowing is present in me as a human, one cannot by definition imagine how far I may take that experience of knowing. Of course being immanent I can only ever start NOW finding out!



emoticon



(Spinoza rocks)

(edit: spelling)

* perhaps this isn't the best word, but I mean it to mean this; something that is already true/obviously the case/can't get any more true, by virtue if being what it is (universal), HOW gets no more HOWness whether one reduces or expands, digs or piles, gathers rocks or throws them, HOW remains unchanged, even if one is perceiving what one perceives to be more HOW than what one previously thought HOW could be. HOW is already here and now, you are experiencing HOW as much as anyone ever will.

**removed confusing 'how'.

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