Finding the right practice

John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
I feel I could benefit from some quality (preferably written) instruction and formal practice, but don't quite know where to look.

My basic orientation is:

Life doesn't suck.

There is no round of rebirth.

Even if there was, I wouldn't want to get off the ride; I'd rather develop consciousness in ways that allow me to learn about and appreciate this life more and more.

I believe there is a natural human happiness, benevolence and clarity that operates freely when all trouble and confusion subsides. Many of us have spontaneous glimpses of this, and many more get a taste of it with drugs.

(Eg. think of the early stages of an MDMA experience when all trace of anxiety or ill will has fallen away, but the hyper empathic effects haven't quite kicked in yet. There's no feeling of being drugged at all, just a really nice clarity, openness, freedom and benevolence; no personal worries, but no callous or uncaring blitheness. In such a state it seems like the most natural thing in the world to (a) wish other people well (a kind of metta); (b) want their suffering to end (a kind of karuna); (c) share their happiness (a kind of mudita); (d) be able to say qué será será when things don't go as you'd prefer (a kind of unforced magnanimous equanimity)). And still be fully functional.

I've long been of the view that this is my/our natural state (sans obscuring factors), and could be the baseline experience of ordinary people (and probably is for some). But I haven't figured out how to completely deal with whatever prevents/obscures this, and I'd like to.

I'm NOT talking about being a bliss bunny or being perpetually goofed out in ecstasy, or being hyped up and having having great experiences all the time. I'm thinking more of a natural stress-free awareness, appreciation of, and fascination with, the most ordinary things and events, which needs no maintenance because it's all happening of its own accord and is intrinsically amazing. (Because that's how the world is).

What I'm looking for is already here. The necessary conditions are here, always. It's a matter of dealing with whatever (seems to) get in the way.

Not solipsism in disguise (ie. not interested in something that eases stressful feelings of separation by blatantly or subtly denying the reality of other minds, other beings).

Does not derive it's benefit from some notion of immortality. (eg., the neo-advaita crap where the simple epistemological fact that nothing can be experienced without consciousness gets turned into an implausible ontological Truth: that Conscious is All, and birth and death are mere arisings within It).

Not actualism. While close in many ways, it's a million miles away in other ways. Instead of eliminating troublesome aspects of our common humanity, I'd rather have them become totally transparent, if possible. I believe that the capacity for human feelings and human imagination are not inherently flawed, and that there must be some way they can be rendered harmless by greater understanding, greater consciousness or greater skill. I don't believe it's necessary to forgo the capacity for empathic resonance with other people, the ability to intuitively see / feel where they're coming from, and to understand things from their perspective, and to value them as persons, not as flesh and blood bodies only.

So...

Does anyone know of any contemplative tradition / training / practice with remotely similar aims and orientation? I would have thought all the above would be pretty common, but I haven't been able to find a really good fit. I've muddled along on my own for years, and will keep it up, but feel I could probably benefit from some good instruction... as long as the aims and results tend in this direction.

Any ideas?
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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The work of Byron Katie?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
The work of Byron Katie?


Hey Adam, I was a bit puzzled by this suggestion at first, but I think I get it now. Given a basic orientation of "everything's already always fine, but...", this (or something like it) could be a good way of systematically working through some of the objections and muddles that arise. Not something I would have thought of myself, so thanks for the suggestion.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Adam . .:
The work of Byron Katie?


Hey Adam, I was a bit puzzled by this suggestion at first, but I think I get it now. Given a basic orientation of "everything's already always fine, but...", this (or something like it) could be a good way of systematically working through some of the objections and muddles that arise. Not something I would have thought of myself, so thanks for the suggestion.


Would you elaborate on this? What do you mean by "systematically working through the objections"? "The Work" as I understand it is just taking each thought or belief, noticing it, and letting it go: basically just vipassana-lite (i.e. so-called "mindfulness meditation").
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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I don't think that is an accurate characterization, what experience do you have with the work?

edit: sorry that was kind of a dick way of saying that lol. it's just that i don't think it is very accurate to just say it is "letting go" of the thought. In the work you do a serious inquiry into the truth of the thought and its effects on your life. you can spend an hour or a day just inquiring into a single thought.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
I don't think that is an accurate characterization, what experience do you have with the work?

edit: sorry that was kind of a dick way of saying that lol. it's just that i don't think it is very accurate to just say it is "letting go" of the thought. In the work you do a serious inquiry into the truth of the thought and its effects on your life. you can spend an hour or a day just inquiring into a single thought.


lol, no, that was legit. My experience with the work is 10 seconds reading a Wikipedia page so I'd like to hear more about how it works. tell me!
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
J C:
Adam . .:
I don't think that is an accurate characterization, what experience do you have with the work?

edit: sorry that was kind of a dick way of saying that lol. it's just that i don't think it is very accurate to just say it is "letting go" of the thought. In the work you do a serious inquiry into the truth of the thought and its effects on your life. you can spend an hour or a day just inquiring into a single thought.


lol, no, that was legit. My experience with the work is 10 seconds reading a Wikipedia page so I'd like to hear more about how it works. tell me!


ok here is what it is like for me.

First you isolate and write down a stressful thought

In other words try to figure out the source of feeling stressed. Byron Katie recommends visualizing and mentally visiting a specific situation wherein you felt stressed and trying to put into words the thing you wanted to be different. One example could be "he shouldn't have judged me" or "I should have been nicer" or "My leg shouldn't hurt" or "I need more money" or "those people shouldn't be so selfish".

Try to get as specific as possible with the situation you are imagining and be as specific as possible with wording how it is that you oppose the situation. For me common thoughts are about getting the approval of others "I need her to like me" "they shouldn't judge me" or judging myself "I should be more enlightened" "I shouldn't be so needy."

Having isolated the thought/belief you ask four questions of it and "turn it around."

1. Ask the question of the thought "Is it true?" This question should be asked as meditation, you should ask it and let yourself "be shown" the true answer for you. You should ask the question and still your mind and wait for a simple yes or no that feels true for you. Yes or no are both totally ok answers, it's just a matter of whether it is true for you or not.

An example here would be "I need her to like me, is it true?" I try to still myself with this phrase. What tends to happen is mental images appear as the "evidence" for this thought being true. The images come to me of how terrible it would be if no one liked me or how great it would be if people did like me. At the same time counter-images come to mind, for example i notice that whether or not she likes me I am still standing here, the floor still holds me, I still have everything I need to be happy. I just let both sides of the "argument" to play in my mind and wait until I have a clear "yes" or "no." Sometimes this alone can take 30 minutes.

2. Ask the question of the thought "can I absolutely know that it is true?" You only ask this if your answer to the first question was "yes." You do a similar thing here, except the "can I absolutely know" part opens you up a bit to a "no" answer. If you think you have done something to hurt someone then this question can cause you to question whether you really know whether you have hurt them in the long term or not. If you really believe you need something, then this question can point you to the fact that you don't REALLY know that you need that, you might be able to get by without it. This question is basically a double take at the first one that gives a little more power to the "no" side of the argument. A "yes" is still ok though, if it seems that it is what is true for you.

3. Ask the question of the thought "how do I react when I believe that thought." This is a sweeping question and can include alot. First and foremost it asks whether believing this thought brings peace or stress into your life. It also asks specifically what it feels like to believe this (being specific and descriptive here is helpful), and how you act when you believe it. How do you treat people? What kind of choices do you make? What methods do you use to "numb" the stress? This is another question which can take a lot of reflection to answer. When I ask this question of the thought "I need people to like me" I see the stress and self-criticism it brings up in me, how it feels heavy and dull throughout my body, how I tend to shut down and be unfriendly for fear that people won't like me, how I sometimes tend to try to act special to get peoples respect, how all of these efforts are really exhausting and difficult and drive me to try and seek pleasure, to numb the worrying about peoples' approval. It can be good to ask this question in specific reference to the stressful moment you have in mind as well as your life in general.

4. Ask the question of the thought "who or what would you be without this belief?" When I ask this of that thought "I need people to like me." I see someone relaxed, enjoying life, open to people, friendly, not asking anything of them, generally less stressed out, with way more energy, able to have fun, willing to be close to people regardless of their opinion of me, not judging them, liking them, not even considering whether they like me. I look at "who I would be" both in a specific situation (in which a person seemed to indicate they didn't like me) and in my life in general. [1]

After having asked these questions I find I am generally way less stuck on that belief. Sometimes though, my answers aren't genuine and just come from the intellect, if I have some "motive" for what the "right answers" are then they don't have much effect. If I genuinely and deeply ask this question, totally open to any answer, then often something "opens."

After the "four questions" you do the "turnaround" wherein you take the belief and rearrange the concepts. For example "I need people to like me" can become "I need to like me" or "I need to like people" or "I don't need people to like me". Then you look at these turnarounds and find genuine specific examples where they are true. An example for "I need to like people" might be "If I like the people I am with then I will have a much better time, and they probably will too." Often you find that your examples for the turnarounds feel even truer than your examples for the original thought. After inquiry "I need to like people" feels just as true as "I need people to like me."

The turnaround confuses people because they think that you are supposed to attach to and believe in the turnarounds, but it isn't that you "choose" the turnarounds over the original necessarily, it is more that you use the turnaround to show yourself that what you originally believed in might not be as true as you thought.

This is my experience with the work. I question thoughts that are stressful, and when my inquiry is genuine and open I notice an emotional "opening." Then later I find myself acting in kinder and more free ways. Sometimes I don't even realize the work was effective for a certain thought until I run into the same situation again and am genuinely surprised by how I act and feel.

Some thoughts seem to have mostly disappeared from my life after doing the work on them just a few times, others I haven't been able to crack despite having done the work on them many times. For example my relationship with my mother wasn't ideal when I started doing the work, and now I have found myself having a very consistently kind, friendly, enjoyable, loving, close relationship with her. But as for my thoughts about needing the approval of my peers, I have tried and apparently had incomplete successes many times. There's been some progress yet I still find that alot of my stress comes from worrying about whether I am cool enough, good enough, whether people like me, whether they respect me etc.

It is day to day though, today I have not been very stressed from this thought, perhaps due to yesterday when I was questioning my thoughts about this issue with apparent success. I look forward to getting upset about this issue again so I can find where I am still stuck on need for approval.

btw, thework.com for more resources.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John, it sounds like Mahamudra, Dzogchen or Chan/Zen would be good potential fits. The challenge there is finding a teacher with whom one can work (since I take it, that is what you are really looking for, rather than books). The first two can be pretty caught up in tricky Tibetan cultural forms and archaic patterns of authority. My own personal feeling is a Western teacher is a really good thing for Western practitioners.

You could check out the Aro folks: I have a few friends who have or are studying with them and speak very highly of their programs:

http://arobuddhism.org/community/dzogchen.html

http://arobuddhism.org/community/an-uncommon-perspective.html

These Western Lamas also have some great books out which are quite practical if you already share the basic orientation. I would check out 'Roaring Silence' for their introductory approach to sitting practice and 'Spectrum of Ecstasy' for their more tantric teachings aimed at transforming the emotions. The latter is in fact all about the transparency of emotional reactions. According to the Tantric principle each emotion (such as anger, jealousy, etc) is the dualistic perception of a wisdom-energy. When seen in the transparent mode different emotions are revealed to be different flavors of wisdom/compassion.

These two books represent a potentially comprehensive approach to something like what you are talking about-- practice based on primordial perfection of reality which does not require the elimination of human capacity for imagination and emotion, but actually involves these faculties on the path and reveals their wisdom qualities.

I find this approach viable yet challenging, personally. To me, it is worth it to work in this way even though it could be more straightforward to simply practice renunciation-- i.e., eliminating those processes which potentially give rise to afflictions.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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. Jake .:
I find this approach viable yet challenging, personally. To me, it is worth it to work in this way even though it could be more straightforward to simply practice renunciation-- i.e., eliminating those processes which potentially give rise to afflictions.


Yeah, Jake, this is definitely the best fit in terms of temperament, aims and outlook. But what a world of difference between approaching that stuff as a virtuoso compared to being a restless dilettante. I know it's a bit clichéd, but I feel a bit like a musician who has a good ear for certain styles, and a bit of natural aptitude, but needs some intensive discipline to be able to play with real freedom.

I appreciate the book suggestions and the Aro links. I've come across these (Aro links) on my travels before, and thought they sounded interesting. Some of the ideas on -- http://meaningness.com -- also pretty neatly encapsulate how I think and feel about a lot of tensions --- and the tension between freedom and discipline fits right into that framework.

Thanks again. I'm going to work on building some foundational skills, and this is essentially what I want to do with them.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
. Jake .:
I find this approach viable yet challenging, personally. To me, it is worth it to work in this way even though it could be more straightforward to simply practice renunciation-- i.e., eliminating those processes which potentially give rise to afflictions.


Yeah, Jake, this is definitely the best fit in terms of temperament, aims and outlook. But what a world of difference between approaching that stuff as a virtuoso compared to being a restless dilettante. I know it's a bit clichéd, but I feel a bit like a musician who has a good ear for certain styles, and a bit of natural aptitude, but needs some intensive discipline to be able to play with real freedom.

I appreciate the book suggestions and the Aro links. I've come across these (Aro links) on my travels before, and thought they sounded interesting. Some of the ideas on -- http://meaningness.com -- also pretty neatly encapsulate how I think and feel about a lot of tensions --- and the tension between freedom and discipline fits right into that framework.

Thanks again. I'm going to work on building some foundational skills, and this is essentially what I want to do with them.

Since Aro purports to be Buddhism, doesn't it contradict point 2 of your basic orientation, "There is no round of rebirth."?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Since Aro purports to be Buddhism, doesn't it contradict point 2 of your basic orientation, "There is no round of rebirth."?


Yeah, Buddhism as a whole does, but I still think its tools and techniques can be adapted to life in this world, this life only. At least, that's what I'll be trying to use them for.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Pål S.:


* Imported from a thread here: http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5131996 *

Can you give more details about your view? Are you aiming at reducing the self with its unskillful qualities out of respect for other people's reality? But not so much that your reality deviates from whatever is most common?


Sort of. I'm aiming at reducing unskillful qualities and cultivating better ones, both for my own and other people's benefit. I don't mind deviating from the norm. But there are different ways of doing that. Some I'd accept, some I wouldn't. For example, I would not want any kind of peace that depends on (or results in) the non-recognition of another person's subjectivity. There are some things I won't abandon or betray for the sake of my own peace.

The way I see this more broadly is, people use all sorts of strategies to enhance their lives and be free from pain and suffering. Some of those strategies are crude and desperate; others are refined, subtle and mutually beneficial.

An example from one end of that spectrum would be schizoid or psychotic defenses. Someone who is unable to deal with a situation in normal ways might opt out by depersonalising themselves or others. They might think of people as things, objects, instead of subjects. It walks. It moves. It speaks. It eats. It is a machine. It's a puppet. It's an illusion, a play of colours and textures, empty of all else. Or they might resort to solipsism: I'm all that's really here; I'm truly alone; everything else is a mere appearance in this mind. For some people these things may be pathological and involuntary, but for others they're a strategy or a refuge.

At the other end of the spectrum -- (if indeed it is a spectrum, which I think it probably is) -- there are elaborate systems of philosophy and practice that can take much of the pain out of feeling limited, vulnerable and mortal. They're less crude, they have a more respectable rationale, they're culturally revered, and they're tempered by the cultivation of other qualities to compensate for unwelcome side effects. But they also use similar methods.

Some use forms of systematic depersonalisation ("train yourselves thus...."), but they're tempered by strong ethics and positive qualities (brahmaviharas) to compensate for what would otherwise be a bleak and miserable assessment of life on earth: these five heaps temporarily cohere into this scabrous affliction known as a sentient being, until we snuff out that process forever. And there are the solipsistic varieties too: an impersonal Consciousness that is the source of all, and in which life, death and universes appears.... and You are That. (Well, You may be, but I'm not).

I guess all this must sound pretty cynical, but I'm really not a cynic. On the contrary, I think my attitude toward this stuff is rooted in a genuine lack of cynicism at heart, if that makes any sense. I still believe that life on earth can be great, without necessarily having to resort to cheap tricks.

I used to believe that normal ego consciousness is a state of illusion and confusion, but certain developmental or transformational paths could dispel the illusions and lead to clarity, genuine gnosis, true insight into the way things are. I still believe the first half.

It's not that I now regard normal ego consciousness as the gold standard, and the alternatives as flawed. I guess I'm just less credulous and more cautious regarding the alternatives than I used to be. (But still no less optimistic that there are better ways to be).

Anyway, I think possibly the best thing I can learn from the DhO community, more than any particular teaching, is: choose something, stick to it, put in the work, get the results, then see how it looks from that perspective, and see what remains to be done. There's a certain amount of voluntary stupidity in it, but it's no more stupid than trying to work it all out in advance and going nowhere new.

And I think it's important to have some fun doing it. This is life, and as far as I can tell, it's the one and only. (What kind of strange game is this: against an existential background that's already absolutely fine, perfect, complete, there's a restless desire to somehow make it that way. But if that's how it is, that's how it is).
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Pål S., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Pål S.:


* Imported from a thread here: http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5131996 *

Can you give more details about your view? Are you aiming at reducing the self with its unskillful qualities out of respect for other people's reality? But not so much that your reality deviates from whatever is most common?


Sort of. I'm aiming at reducing unskillful qualities and cultivating better ones, both for my own and other people's benefit. I don't mind deviating from the norm. But there are different ways of doing that. Some I'd accept, some I wouldn't. For example, I would not want any kind of peace that depends on (or results in) the non-recognition of another person's subjectivity. There are some things I won't abandon or betray for the sake of my own peace.

"the non-recognition of another person's subjectivity" is a bit too abstract I think, I've never heard of anyone who no longer recognize that other people have a felt sense of self. Even the Buddha stated that people do have/are beings responsible for their own actions.

I assume what you don't want to lose is the "I am real and you are real" that practically every human experience. The problem is, as you know, that if you look to closely at that idea it starts to change. Do you want to look closely? Only to a certain degree? Do you stop when the truth changes the way you view other people? How do you stop? Do you pretend that the remaining ignorance is not ignorance because it's "good" ignorance? If you were the sort of person who could leave ignorance be would you even find yourself in this predicament?

Do my reduced suffering induce suffering in the next guy, and what about the nextnext guy? How far down the chain of cause and effect can you look, and how far should you look? Do only initial intention matter or the actual repercussions? What do you have control over?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Pål S.:

I assume what you don't want to lose is the "I am real and you are real" that practically every human experience. The problem is, as you know, that if you look to closely at that idea it starts to change. Do you want to look closely? Only to a certain degree? Do you stop when the truth changes the way you view other people? How do you stop? Do you pretend that the remaining ignorance is not ignorance because it's "good" ignorance? If you were the sort of person who could leave ignorance be would you even find yourself in this predicament?


These are all good questions. In general, I'm not afraid of what I might see if I look carefully. The kind of change I value most is the kind that follows as a natural consequence of clearer seeing, and I'd like to be able to follow this to its natural ends... but be willing to temper it with feedback from others sometimes.

When mismatches do arise between people's understanding of themselves and each other and the relationship between them, I can definitely understand people opting for a purely pragmatic approach. It's very clean and simple to say: as long as I act in accordance with law, custom and civility, my views, feelings, identity, intentions, etc, are no one else's business, and vice-versa. And it's hard to come up with a globally better alternative.

What I was more expressing an objection to -- or, more accurately, personal distaste for -- is the choice to simplify my own inner life by airbrushing another's out of existence -- whether in blatant or subtle ways. It's something I just wouldn't do, and not for practical reasons.

Pål S.:

Do my reduced suffering induce suffering in the next guy, and what about the nextnext guy? How far down the chain of cause and effect can you look, and how far should you look? Do only initial intention matter or the actual repercussions? What do you have control over?


I don't have a simple answer. Life is complicated. But I'd be hard pressed to beat the Buddha's advice on this, with one word added:

"Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to [mutual] benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:

I don't have a simple answer. Life is complicated. But I'd be hard pressed to beat the Buddha's advice on this, with one word added:

"Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to [mutual] benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them."


You've seen this, right?
B B, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 69 Join Date: 9/14/12 Recent Posts
In my practice, it's becoming increasingly clear that this mind/body is very much an interdependent part of the fabric of life, even down to the slightest movements, glances, and focusings. This has lead me to believe that any such orientation as “Life doesn't suck” is empty, dependently arisen, merely a ripple in the fabric that certainly can't logically be owned in the sense of “this is my orientation”, where there's some autonomous being who's free to act as they choose in the world and is somehow separate from the circumstances in which they exist. The Buddha also taught this. He also taught the path to transcending all views, as they are all dependently arisen and thus empty (e.g. as Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains here, "Right view, in seeing all things as events, is also in a position to see itself as an event. Thus, when it has done its job in cutting through attachment to views about one’s self or the world, it can turn back on itself as well. In this way, it contains the means for its own transcendence").

If you were born in worse circumstances and your life was filled with traumatizing events, wouldn't you think differently?
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Anne Cripps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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:-) Hi John!

As Jake observed, your strong intuition of buddhanature seems suited to Atiyoga and Chan/Zen approaches. As you have observed, energy is intrinsic to the nature of mind, a point often overlooked.

For a Mahamudra/Dzogchen approach, I know of a couple of Western teachers in the UK; though travelling that far may be ‘way out of the question, you might find some of their writings helpful or supportive…

Rigdzin Shikpo (Michael) Hookham is dharma director of the Longchen Foundation, a non-monastic organisation. I have read and would recommend his book Openness Clarity Sensitivity. I have not read his other publications yet, but here are some excerpts from Never Turn Away; he also has some videos on YouTube.

His wife, Lama Shenpen (Susan) Hookham is spiritual director of the Awakened Heart Sangha. Shenpen offers distance learning courses; the one I’ve seen was well-presented, and she is very approachable. Here’s a link to AHS videos on YouTube.

Wishing you every good (-:
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Anne Cripps:
:-) Hi John!

As Jake observed, your strong intuition of buddhanature seems suited to Atiyoga and Chan/Zen approaches. As you have observed, energy is intrinsic to the nature of mind, a point often overlooked.

For a Mahamudra/Dzogchen approach, I know of a couple of Western teachers in the UK; though travelling that far may be ‘way out of the question, you might find some of their writings helpful or supportive…

Rigdzin Shikpo (Michael) Hookham is dharma director of the Longchen Foundation, a non-monastic organisation. I have read and would recommend his book Openness Clarity Sensitivity. I have not read his other publications yet, but here are some excerpts from Never Turn Away; he also has some videos on YouTube.

His wife, Lama Shenpen (Susan) Hookham is spiritual director of the Awakened Heart Sangha. Shenpen offers distance learning courses; the one I’ve seen was well-presented, and she is very approachable. Here’s a link to AHS videos on YouTube.

Wishing you every good (-:


Great, thanks very much, Anne. After reading your message, I spent a while browsing the Longchen Foundation website, and I think the notion of cultivating / uncovering some natural qualities -- here called openness, clarity and sensitivity -- is an excellent framework for me.

I find this article in particular --- http://www.longchenfoundation.org/resourcesDownloadAspects-Openess.html -- expresses very clearly how I feel about where to go and what to do -- right up to (but not including) the "Indestructible Heart Essence" beyond space and time.

I have a fairly long-standing prejudice against such things (aspects of human experience purporting to be beyond space and time), but those prejudices aren't rooted in my own experience. In my own experience, I've never known anything not-good to arise from what's here called openness, clarity and sensitivity, so I guess I've reached a point in life where I'm willing to put aside any prejudices, trust my experience so far, and see where these things lead if followed further.

Thanks again. Much appreciated.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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I like a view of the buddhist path as presented in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's book "wings to awakening". I simply filter out the matter of rounds of rebirth and all that.

I am particularly keen on looking at the path as a development of the five faculties.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:

I am particularly keen on looking at the path as a development of the five faculties.


I've only had a small taste of that, but it seems to have a lot of potential.

Small example: I used to think that concentration was achieved by focusing attention on something specific and being impervious to distractions, and I wasn't too keen on that. (Pretty much opposed to it in fact). But what I've found out recently -- old news to experienced meditators, no doubt -- is that balancing the five faculties has a totally different flavour. It's more like: create the necessary conditions for a calm, clear, stable mind to emerge, and it emerges by itself.... which is a lot more consistent with what I'm aiming for.

This also gives me confidence that other pieces of the eightfold path might come together as a coherent whole, in ways I haven't understood before.

(Yeah, Thanissaro seems to me a very, very good expositor of these things).
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Bruno Loff:

I am particularly keen on looking at the path as a development of the five faculties.


I've only had a small taste of that, but it seems to have a lot of potential.

Small example: I used to think that concentration was achieved by focusing attention on something specific and being impervious to distractions, and I wasn't too keen on that. (Pretty much opposed to it in fact). But what I've found out recently -- old news to experienced meditators, no doubt -- is that balancing the five faculties has a totally different flavour. It's more like: create the necessary conditions for a calm, clear, stable mind to emerge, and it emerges by itself.... which is a lot more consistent with what I'm aiming for.

This also gives me confidence that other pieces of the eightfold path might come together as a coherent whole, in ways I haven't understood before.

(Yeah, Thanissaro seems to me a very, very good expositor of these things).


Here is a short definition of the five faculties, in my current understanding. The terms, as I understand them, don't mean exactly the same as people use them (especially the last three).

conviction - basically how engaged you are with this stuff
persistence - how much work you actually put into developing this stuff, but also somehow the physical ability to keep doing it
mindfulness - how well you can keep your mind within a chosen theme, how well you can remember to return to it
concentration - basically signal-to-noise ratio, mental silence or mental clarity if you will
discernment - the ability to distinguish skillful from unskillful actions

Where skillful is broadly defined as that which leads to a beneficial outcome, and unskillful its opposite. I particularly like that what you consider beneficial or detrimental is left reasonably open, beyond a few basic precepts.

Thanissaro preaches a relatively nice flavor of buddhism.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
I feel I could benefit from some quality (preferably written) instruction and formal practice, but don't quite know where to look.

My basic orientation is:

Life doesn't suck.

There is no round of rebirth.

Even if there was, I wouldn't want to get off the ride; I'd rather develop consciousness in ways that allow me to learn about and appreciate this life more and more.

I believe there is a natural human happiness, benevolence and clarity that operates freely when all trouble and confusion subsides. Many of us have spontaneous glimpses of this, and many more get a taste of it with drugs.

(Eg. think of the early stages of an MDMA experience when all trace of anxiety or ill will has fallen away, but the hyper empathic effects haven't quite kicked in yet. There's no feeling of being drugged at all, just a really nice clarity, openness, freedom and benevolence; no personal worries, but no callous or uncaring blitheness. In such a state it seems like the most natural thing in the world to (a) wish other people well (a kind of metta); (b) want their suffering to end (a kind of karuna); (c) share their happiness (a kind of mudita); (d) be able to say qué será será when things don't go as you'd prefer (a kind of unforced magnanimous equanimity)). And still be fully functional.

I've long been of the view that this is my/our natural state (sans obscuring factors), and could be the baseline experience of ordinary people (and probably is for some). But I haven't figured out how to completely deal with whatever prevents/obscures this, and I'd like to.

I'm NOT talking about being a bliss bunny or being perpetually goofed out in ecstasy, or being hyped up and having having great experiences all the time. I'm thinking more of a natural stress-free awareness, appreciation of, and fascination with, the most ordinary things and events, which needs no maintenance because it's all happening of its own accord and is intrinsically amazing. (Because that's how the world is).

What I'm looking for is already here. The necessary conditions are here, always. It's a matter of dealing with whatever (seems to) get in the way.

Not solipsism in disguise (ie. not interested in something that eases stressful feelings of separation by blatantly or subtly denying the reality of other minds, other beings).

Does not derive it's benefit from some notion of immortality. (eg., the neo-advaita crap where the simple epistemological fact that nothing can be experienced without consciousness gets turned into an implausible ontological Truth: that Conscious is All, and birth and death are mere arisings within It).

Not actualism. While close in many ways, it's a million miles away in other ways. Instead of eliminating troublesome aspects of our common humanity, I'd rather have them become totally transparent, if possible. I believe that the capacity for human feelings and human imagination are not inherently flawed, and that there must be some way they can be rendered harmless by greater understanding, greater consciousness or greater skill. I don't believe it's necessary to forgo the capacity for empathic resonance with other people, the ability to intuitively see / feel where they're coming from, and to understand things from their perspective, and to value them as persons, not as flesh and blood bodies only.

So...

Does anyone know of any contemplative tradition / training / practice with remotely similar aims and orientation? I would have thought all the above would be pretty common, but I haven't been able to find a really good fit. I've muddled along on my own for years, and will keep it up, but feel I could probably benefit from some good instruction... as long as the aims and results tend in this direction.

Any ideas?


I pretty much agree with all of the above, which is why I like MCTB so much. It's all the good stuff from the Theravada without the renunciation side. Doesn't MCTB fit perfectly with all of the above? Just Masahi note till you get to arahat?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
J C:

I pretty much agree with all of the above, which is why I like MCTB so much. It's all the good stuff from the Theravada without the renunciation side. Doesn't MCTB fit perfectly with all of the above? Just Masahi note till you get to arahat?


From one perspective, there's a person here trying to choose a practice, trying to choose a new relationship to phenomena. But from another perspective, this choosing and deliberating process -- and the person thought to be doing it -- is just more phenomena. There's no thing outside the field of phenomena looking in and having a relationship with it all, and making choices about it all. Everything that seems from one perspective to constitute an 'outside' is already, from another perspective, 'inside'.

So there is a sense in which the choice of path doesn't matter. Any attempt to 'exist' apart from (or 'extrude' from) this complete phenomenal field is going to fail, and any such striving in ignorance is going to be stressful, unsatisfactory, etc. Any path of practice will eventually show this. It's often not what people hoped for or expected at the outset, but it's (arguably) what they need to know at some point. In my own way, from my own experience, I already get that. Not with the fine granularity of perception that years of vipassana teaches, but in essence, I get it.

But then what?

I guess I forgot to say in my original post that I believe that we humans are just barely conscious of our situation, and have barely even begun to figure out what's possible. We've barely scratched the surface. From what I can tell about the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, it looks to be a fairly laborious path to disenchantment, but it doesn't go very far from there. And I guess that's where individual temperament comes in: I like open-ended possibilities, and I'm interested in life here on earth, and I like to think of 'disenchantment' as a beginning rather than an end.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
John Wilde:

I guess I forgot to say in my original post that I believe that we humans are just barely conscious of our situation, and have barely even begun to figure out what's possible. We've barely scratched the surface. From what I can tell about the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, it looks to be a fairly laborious path to disenchantment, but it doesn't go very far from there. And I guess that's where individual temperament comes in: I like open-ended possibilities, and I'm interested in life here on earth, and I like to think of 'disenchantment' as a beginning rather than an end.


Hmm. I think I disagree with the first part... I think we basically understand the universe and our minds pretty well. I'm not sure I understand... what kind of things do you think are beneath the surface? New laws of physics? Psychic powers? New kinds of jhana or levels of enlightenment?

It seems to me that this is where sila, the first and last path, comes in. Questions about how you live in the world and where to go from there fall under the category of morality/virtue, which is a separate path from the one to enlightenment. Enlightenment is the end of the insight path, but there's still the question of how to live your life after that.

So what's wrong with separating out all the open-ended possibilities from enlightenment? Once you're enlightened, then you can (continue to) figure out what you want to do with your life, what your values are, and so on. I just want good relationships, good sex, yummy food, good experiences, and so on. But maybe my perspective will change after I become an arahat.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Lots of good advice here, but one phrase struck me as worth adding something to regarding choosing a relationship to reality:

Intrinsic in this phenomenal world of sensations is the intrinsic quality of them all being themselves, aware of themselves where they are, happening causally, naturally, on their own, all the way through.

From this point of view, to use a paradoxical phrase, it would seem that the best relationship to reality is actually one in which there isn't a relationship to reality, in that there being no separate chooser to relate to reality, meaning no split at all, meaning the whole field doing its thing, as it always has.

Said another way, simply clearly investigating the sensations that make up the sense of a this side and a that side, a movement from and towards, an attention and that to which it attends, can, by stages (or perhaps all at once for the lucky few), reveal that it was that whole duality that caused the problem in the first place.

Thus, regardless of totally unnecessary and diverting philosophical assumptions of rebirth or suffering or solipsism or whatever, the foundation practice of direct sensate clarity of all processes that seem to be a this side and a that side, a relator and a relatee, a chooser and a chosen, a reality and that which investigates reality, will show that all of it never really was any of that in those split-up sorts of ways but just appeared to be so by poor perception of the raw sense data.

So, regardless of the path that you choose or the tradition or set of conceptual frameworks, my best advice is to have as your first assumption basic sensate clarity about whatever is going on, as that, more than all of the rest of it, leads to the resolution I believe you seek. It is something worth of obsession, worth of diligence, worthy of making it your baseline way of perceiving everything all the way through and all around by relentless habit and persistent work to make it so.

For a brain wired thus, paradoxes resolve, fundamental truths reveal themselves naturally, splits integrate, fundamental philosophy and ancient dogma is transcended, and what happiness is intrinsic to the system can shine forth.

Basic moment to moment sensate clarity is an unassailable and pristine first principle which can serve as the foundation for amazing things.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:

(...) So, regardless of the path that you choose or the tradition or set of conceptual frameworks, my best advice is to have as your first assumption basic sensate clarity about whatever is going on, as that, more than all of the rest of it, leads to the resolution I believe you seek. It is something worth of obsession, worth of diligence, worthy of making it your baseline way of perceiving everything all the way through and all around by relentless habit and persistent work to make it so.

For a brain wired thus, paradoxes resolve, fundamental truths reveal themselves naturally, splits integrate, fundamental philosophy and ancient dogma is transcended, and what happiness is intrinsic to the system can shine forth. (...)


Thanks Dan. I appreciate this advice, and I'm going to take it.
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Droll Dedekind, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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FWIW, I found this buried post the most helpful in the thread
John Wilde, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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[Deleted in the interest of maintaining practical focus]
John Wilde, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
[Deleted in the interest of maintaining practical focus]
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
I feel I could benefit from some quality (preferably written) instruction and formal practice, but don't quite know where to look.

My basic orientation is:

Life doesn't suck.

There is no round of rebirth.

Even if there was, I wouldn't want to get off the ride; I'd rather develop consciousness in ways that allow me to learn about and appreciate this life more and more.

I believe there is a natural human happiness, benevolence and clarity that operates freely when all trouble and confusion subsides. Many of us have spontaneous glimpses of this, and many more get a taste of it with drugs.
...
I've long been of the view that this is my/our natural state (sans obscuring factors), and could be the baseline experience of ordinary people (and probably is for some). But I haven't figured out how to completely deal with whatever prevents/obscures this, and I'd like to.
...
What I'm looking for is already here. The necessary conditions are here, always. It's a matter of dealing with whatever (seems to) get in the way.
..
Does anyone know of any contemplative tradition / training / practice with remotely similar aims and orientation? I would have thought all the above would be pretty common, but I haven't been able to find a really good fit. I've muddled along on my own for years, and will keep it up, but feel I could probably benefit from some good instruction... as long as the aims and results tend in this direction.

Any ideas?


It seems like you are really just coming at this with a basic Buddhist perspective. The beginning of the path isn't 'life sucks', it's simply, 'I am deluded and want not to be'. And as for karma, it really does not seem to mater whether you believe that or not.

It is very good IMO that you have an idea of the enlightened state, and it sounds accurate. That is an excellent start.

However, (apologies for frankness) when you say you want to reach a deeper appreciation of life, or you don't want off the ride, or you want to gain specific mind attributes and lose others, it sounds like wishful thinking. There is not some nice little path that will give you what you want. The old saying, 'you cannot have your cake and eat it too', is extremely applicable here.

If you want spiritual transformation, if you want to reach enlightenment, which is the state you are describing, you are going to have put in the extreme effort to get there, and go through the hardships inevitable on the path. What I am trying make clear is that IMO you have very good ideas about the goal, but the way you want to get there seemingly does not line up.

There is an enlightenment common to all human beings, in the same way that there is a state of delusion common to all beings. To get from one to the other you must tread a path that is also common to all beings. Whatever unique system of meditation you chose to follow, whatever practices you employ, regardless of what you want and think you'll get out of it, if you are successful, you will get what IS, which is never what you imagine. The goal is great and worthy, but it is an extremely vivid place of total openness, nakedness to the void, and most painful of all, you must cross through the fire and leave your delusion and self grasping behind to get there.

So I'm not trying to scare you off, I'm just saying it's human to want certain things out of practice, but frankly the best it can do is to kill those dreams, revealing them as fantasy. On the path, in order to open your heart, you will have to suffer through all of your personal issues and open up to them. Nothing is blocked out, everything must pass though. Strength comes from bearing suffering. Realistically, there is no comfort in the path, there is no hiding from pain. There is only comfort in the sense that is it possible for you to bear the hardest trials without being broken. The hardened steel of enlightenment is forged through the suffering of immense blows and unbearably hot fires.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Okay, got a practice routine worked out for the next few years.

Daily life: cultivate and enable the natural qualities of openness, clarity and sensitivity, together with the natural forms of brahmaviharas (or similar, as referred to above). Be guided by these in everything. Let them be both the ends and the means wherever possible. Let everything else be supplementary to that.

Meditation: Work on foundational skills: overcome the five hindrances and balance the five faculties to enable sustained clarity, and use it to systematically explore the four foundations of mindfulness -- not detaching or dissociating so much as disentangling. (Do this for first 12 months, then reassess based on what's been learned).

Emotions: Turn towards, face full-on, and see what happens.

Stuff: Most problems arise from "Internal Considering" (see Gurdjieff). As a remedy: whenever possible, just notice it and let one of the natural alternatives take its place. If that fails, or if the same problems arise repeatedly, use something like Byron Katie's 'Work' as described above by Adam.

Physical practice: Lots of walking/hiking, boxing, yoga.

Thank you all for your suggestions. Will start a practice log in a few months.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
And most importantly of all: daring to understand that every moment of my time and everyone else's time, [our time] [this time], is priceless. Concerning that: cynicism is cowardice.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
And most importantly of all: daring to understand that every moment of my time and everyone else's time, [our time] [this time], is priceless. Concerning that: cynicism is cowardice.


I didn't expect you to write this kind of sentence. I personally avoid this kind of thing like my hand avoids the fire, for I have been burned before.

It sounds like the kind-of meaningless happy thought one might indulge in simply because it's pleasurable to do so, with no concern over its accuracy or verifiability. Not too different than Richard's "everything is perfect" or the more typical feel-good-buddhism "people have a good nature deep down, they are just confused" or some other feel-good statement that's impossible to falsify or verify.

If you think it enough times, and with the right persistence, and fueled by a powerful mental practice as you are capable of, I'm sure you will come to believe this thought and feel it to be so (or "see it is so", if you go to the point of believing its universality... a dirty trick reserved for the greatest wankers...).

Wouldn't you prefer to focus on accuracy and pragmatism over mental masturbation? Aren't you forgetting the enormous potential for self-delusion that these practices entail? Isn't this a bit careless of you, given your close acquaintances? Are you sure you want to live in your little world where everyone's time is priceless and cynicism is cowardice?

From a pragmatical POV, say, what's important is not whether cynicism is true or not, courageous or not, but rather what does it lead to? When is it useful? When does it just get in the way? When does it protect you from expending fruitless effort, for instance? When does it stop you from doing something worthwhile? etc

Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, but it serves as a reminder to myself as well, just as I am about to embark on a 5 month retreat! So hopefully it's the useful kind of dramatism that leads to worthwhile things emoticon
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
John Wilde:
And most importantly of all: daring to understand that every moment of my time and everyone else's time, [our time] [this time], is priceless. Concerning that: cynicism is cowardice.


I didn't expect you to write this kind of sentence. I personally avoid this kind of thing like my hand avoids the fire, for I have been burned before.

It sounds like the kind-of meaningless happy thought one might indulge in simply because it's pleasurable to do so, with no concern over its accuracy or verifiability. Not too different than Richard's "everything is perfect" or the more typical feel-good-buddhism "people have a good nature deep down, they are just confused" or some other feel-good statement that's impossible to falsify or verify.

If you think it enough times, and with the right persistence, and fueled by a powerful mental practice as you are capable of, I'm sure you will come to believe this thought and feel it to be so (or "see it is so", if you go to the point of believing its universality... a dirty trick reserved for the greatest wankers...).

Wouldn't you prefer to focus on accuracy and pragmatism over mental masturbation? Aren't you forgetting the enormous potential for self-delusion that these practices entail? Isn't this a bit careless of you, given your close acquaintances? Are you sure you want to live in your little world where everyone's time is priceless and cynicism is cowardice?

From a pragmatical POV, say, what's important is not whether cynicism is true or not, courageous or not, but rather what does it lead to? When is it useful? When does it just get in the way? When does it protect you from expending fruitless effort, for instance? When does it stop you from doing something worthwhile? etc

Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, but it serves as a reminder to myself as well, just as I am about to embark on a 5 month retreat! So hopefully it's the useful kind of dramatism that leads to worthwhile things emoticon


Wow. If I read it over again, I can hear the tone in my words that I think you're responding to. It isn't where I was coming from (I'm almost sure), but I can hear it coming across that way.... and in light of that I'm not too surprised at your reaction.

Rather than it being a kind of feel-good or schmaltzy pep-talk kind of thing, it actually came from sadness, reflecting about the imminence of death, the amount of time wasted already, and the failure to properly appreciate certain people as much as I'd like to, as a result of being unable to see my way clear of confusion for so many years. The "cynicism is cowardice" thing was meant to be a safeguard against being too afraid to feel the poignancy of mortality. In other words, an essential part of my practice has to be not allowing other people's time and presence to be eclipsed by self-absorbed struggles.

I can hear it the other way though. I can even hear it delivered in a smooth Days-of-our-Lives, Young-and-the Restless kind of voice-over, or like a line in Gone With The Wind. (Which, incidentally, is how I always hear "this moment of being alive....") ;-) Heard that way, I'm not surprised it'd trigger the gag reflex.

On a related note -- ie. perhaps more relevant to where I think you thought I was coming from -- I'm coming to see the value in taking a pragmatic approach toward the ultimate nature and/or value of life, universe or self: If you take the stance of X, it has these consequences; if you take the stance of not-X, it has these consequences; if you stand with neither-X nor not-X, it has these consequences (...)
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Wow. If I read it over again, I can hear the tone in my words that I think you're responding to. It isn't where I was coming from (I'm almost sure), but I can hear it coming across that way.... and in light of that I'm not too surprised at your reaction.

Rather than it being a kind of feel-good or schmaltzy pep-talk kind of thing, it actually came from sadness, reflecting about the imminence of death, the amount of time wasted already, and the failure to properly appreciate certain people as much as I'd like to, as a result of being unable to see my way clear of confusion for so many years. The "cynicism is cowardice" thing was meant to be a safeguard against being too afraid to feel the poignancy of mortality. In other words, an essential part of my practice has to be not allowing other people's time and presence to be eclipsed by self-absorbed struggles.

I can hear it the other way though. I can even hear it delivered in a smooth Days-of-our-Lives, Young-and-the Restless kind of voice-over, or like a line in Gone With The Wind. (Which, incidentally, is how I always hear "this moment of being alive....") ;-) Heard that way, I'm not surprised it'd trigger the gag reflex.

Perhaps "this moment of being alive" et al can likewise be read and heard with different tones, one of which triggers a gag reflex, another of which is actually pragmatic and beneficial, eh?
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Wow. If I read it over again, I can hear the tone in my words that I think you're responding to. It isn't where I was coming from (I'm almost sure), but I can hear it coming across that way.... and in light of that I'm not too surprised at your reaction.

Rather than it being a kind of feel-good or schmaltzy pep-talk kind of thing, it actually came from sadness, reflecting about the imminence of death, the amount of time wasted already, and the failure to properly appreciate certain people as much as I'd like to, as a result of being unable to see my way clear of confusion for so many years. The "cynicism is cowardice" thing was meant to be a safeguard against being too afraid to feel the poignancy of mortality. In other words, an essential part of my practice has to be not allowing other people's time and presence to be eclipsed by self-absorbed struggles.

I can hear it the other way though. I can even hear it delivered in a smooth Days-of-our-Lives, Young-and-the Restless kind of voice-over, or like a line in Gone With The Wind. (Which, incidentally, is how I always hear "this moment of being alive....") ;-) Heard that way, I'm not surprised it'd trigger the gag reflex.

Perhaps "this moment of being alive" et al can likewise be read and heard with different tones, one of which triggers a gag reflex, another of which is actually pragmatic and beneficial, eh?



Ah, the sentences that end on "eh?"! emoticon That sure brings me back!

You know when your amygdala recognizes a pattern in the most subtle of signs, and some almost primordial fear rises up through your nerves until the hair stands on the back of your neck? Well this came pretty close emoticon Nothing like a bit of trauma to hot-iron such a useful, deep, informative impression.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Perhaps "this moment of being alive" et al can likewise be read and heard with different tones, one of which triggers a gag reflex, another of which is actually pragmatic and beneficial, eh?


Ah, the sentences that end on "eh?"! emoticon That sure brings me back!

You know when your amygdala recognizes a pattern in the most subtle of signs, and some almost primordial fear rises up through your nerves until the hair stands on the back of your neck? Well this came pretty close emoticon Nothing like a bit of trauma to hot-iron such a useful, deep, informative impression.

Yes, because I[1] have[2] never[3] ended[4] sentences[5] in[6] eh[7] before[8] - good catch! I think our dear Overlord is in on it too[9].

Tune in next time for another session of: using visceral reactions of aversion and fear as guiding lights towards careful discernment of what is skillful and not! Along with: claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and autophobia: why you should avoid closed spaces, open spaces, crowded spaces, and being alone. Plus, paranoia: learn to follow those subtle signs that everyone is out to get you, especially when you're high.

===
[1] 4/24/2011: "it's still easy to not do it, e.g. to get distracted and then forget for a bit, but that can change. although, knowing me i'll forget this for another two weeks then i'll re-read this and be like 'oh this is what i should have been doing the past two weeks eh?'"

[2] 3/29/2011: "the drive also causes restlessness. lots of it.. like the one i experienced when arriving as i checked my email and all the comics and started typing this post (a long one, eh)"

[3] 3/1/2011: "Heh that wasn't too smart of him, eh?"

[4] 12/8/2010: "then some murky stuff, then back to what i thought was equanimity, where I was before. sounds like a Review eh?"

[5] 12/3/2010: "Maybe I should define full enlightenment then eh?"

[6] 10/31/2010: I can also see unsatisfactoriness of good things - there's the desire to get them, the actual non-satisfaction when they're gotten, or the fading satisfaction if it did satisfy (that's pretty related to impermanence eh?)

[7] 10/31/2010: "I had a strange feeling of no-self where I was re-playing a conversation in my head as I always do, then I noted my mind doing that, then I had a feeling like "ah it's ok to do that, happens to everyone", then I noted that, then it's like hmm, that's a strange way to look at one's self.. as if what I had just thought was not part of my self (which I guess it wasn't since the self doesn't exist as a separate entity eh?)."

[8] 8/31/2010: "I suppose I should just note those things and continue practicing eh? =P."

[9]
Daniel Ingram:
Nice to even be in a place where you are asking these questions, eh?
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
So you did it before you got into actual freedom... I recognize I was wrong... It instantly reminded me of Richard, and I thought you were copying him again.

One question: it would seem, judging by this latest reply of yours, that our little exchange served to strengthen your own view ("using visceral reactions" distorts understanding, or some variant of this). Wouldn't you say so?

And if that was indeed the case, isn't it funny that I, perhaps the only person who has actively tried to dissuade you of pursuing AF, would haplessly provide you with the opportunity to go an inch deeper into it? This is a really bad sign.

Perhaps you will even take the opportunity to finally put our long-time-pending discussion to rest... after all, I am so blind by my aversion and fear, I will never see things as they actually are... he?

I have added yet another bug to the list. Though I admit at this point I don't really see a way out. How am I to convince you that something which can not be falsified is not universally true? At the end of the day, if you want to believe that a perception where the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and you are having fun all of the time, makes you understand the world somehow better, how could I possibly deny you?

This, funnily enough, was exactly the problem with what I thought John was saying.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
So you did it before you got into actual freedom... I recognize I was wrong... It instantly reminded me of Richard, and I thought you were copying him again.

Alright. I'm glad you recognize that!

Bruno Loff:
One question: it would seem, judging by this latest reply of yours, that our little exchange served to strengthen your own view ("using visceral reactions" distorts understanding, or some variant of this). Wouldn't you say so?

I would say so. This seems rational to me, because it is evidence that using visceral reactions does distort understanding - since your visceral reaction led you to an incorrect understanding. Actually there's two pieces of evidence here: your reply to me, and your initial reply to John.

Bruno Loff:
And if that was indeed the case, isn't it funny that I, perhaps the only person who has actively tried to dissuade you of pursuing AF, would haplessly provide you with the opportunity to go an inch deeper into it? This is a really bad sign.

It's a bad sign if "AF=bad" and "not AF=good" and you lump all this stuff together. But if you use some discernment and consider instead the notion that feelings are unreliable indicators of what is factual, then this is only a bad sign if that's an incorrect notion. If it's a correct notion then our exchange was a net positive, and also that's a plus for <quote>AF</quote>.

Bruno Loff:
Perhaps you will even take the opportunity to finally put our long-time-pending discussion to rest... after all, I am so blind by my aversion and fear, I will never see things as they actually are... he?

It's certainly an indicator that your judgement may be clouded, if anything that reminds you of Richard instantly gives you such a powerful reaction. It doesn't mean your ideas are incorrect, though - they still have to be evaluated on their own merit.

Bruno Loff:
I have added yet another bug to the list. Though I admit at this point I don't really see a way out. How am I to convince you that something which can not be falsified is not universally true? At the end of the day, if you want to believe that a perception where the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and you are having fun all of the time, makes you understand the world somehow better, how could I possibly deny you?

You would have to show that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom, or that actual freedom isn't what Richard describes it to be. These should certainly be possible to show: cite factual evidence that actually free people don't fit the description of what actual freedom is, or that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom. For example, if part of the benefits are a better understanding of the world, you could cite evidence that it doesn't lead to a better understanding of the world. If it is claimed to be a way of experiencing life free of delusion, you could cite evidence that actually it leads to a delusory experience of life.

If you cannot cite any such evidence then you have no case for either one. In that case, you would have to instead attempt to show that actual freedom is a bad idea and that I shouldn't pursue it, even though it and the path is accurately described. This is subjective, though, which isn't "provable" per se: we can simply have differing opinions on the matter. Then the only reason to pursue that conversation would be if you want to convince me not to do it, or if I want to convince you to do it, or if I want to get you to validate my opinion and choice that I should do it.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
So you did it before you got into actual freedom... I recognize I was wrong... It instantly reminded me of Richard, and I thought you were copying him again.

Alright. I'm glad you recognize that!

Bruno Loff:
One question: it would seem, judging by this latest reply of yours, that our little exchange served to strengthen your own view ("using visceral reactions" distorts understanding, or some variant of this). Wouldn't you say so?

I would say so. This seems rational to me, because it is evidence that using visceral reactions does distort understanding - since your visceral reaction led you to an incorrect understanding. Actually there's two pieces of evidence here: your reply to me, and your initial reply to John.


My initial reply to John was an entirely reasonable reply to a very plausible interpretation of what he had wrote. I stand by it. In fact, I daresay that without his clarification post, it was the most plausible interpretation.

It turns out he meant something entirely different, something, in fact, which agrees much more with what I expected he would say.

Claudiu:
Bruno Loff:
And if that was indeed the case, isn't it funny that I, perhaps the only person who has actively tried to dissuade you of pursuing AF, would haplessly provide you with the opportunity to go an inch deeper into it? This is a really bad sign.

It's a bad sign if "AF=bad" and "not AF=good" and you lump all this stuff together. But if you use some discernment and consider instead the notion that feelings are unreliable indicators of what is factual, then this is only a bad sign if that's an incorrect notion. If it's a correct notion then our exchange was a net positive, and also that's a plus for <quote>AF</quote>.


The notion of factual itself is something you need to be careful with. Unfortunately your choice of wording, "indicators of what is factual", seems to imply that you have taken in the idea that there is such a thing as facts, independent of an interpretation... This despite my many warnings throughout the years (see bug #4 in our list).

From that point on, several perspectives and mental impressions become justifiable. In your view, you can either be wrong about the facts or right about them. But what you call facts is an active product of your mind in response to stimuli, there is no such a thing as a fact independent of an interpretation.

I don't see how, from this perspective, you could possible understand how self-delusion works --- or magick, for that matter. You see, it has exactly the same standing as what you call "facts", it is an active product of your mind in response to stimuli.

For instance, I currently think that my interpretation of your "eh?" was wrong. I don't think I was wrong because of my emotions, though I do think that my emotions where the only reason why I pointed it out in the first place.

But I am convinced that, if I were to apply myself through rigorous mental exercise every day for many months, I could convince myself, with absolute certainty --- because of some reason or evidence that I would meanwhile "uncover" --- that my interpretation was actually right. And with sufficient application I would be able to reply to any objection you may have, and one day maybe you would find yourself inadvertently doing something that would push me one inch further down that path. So much for facts.

Instead of what is true or false, fact or non-fact, I have recently come to think it is more interesting to ask: what leads to what? What leads to things that are worthwhile, or not worthwhile (subjectively speaking)? What leads to things that are beneficial (subjectively speaking, for those involved)?

Claudiu:
Bruno Loff:
Perhaps you will even take the opportunity to finally put our long-time-pending discussion to rest... after all, I am so blind by my aversion and fear, I will never see things as they actually are... he?

It's certainly an indicator that your judgement may be clouded, if anything that reminds you of Richard instantly gives you such a powerful reaction. It doesn't mean your ideas are incorrect, though - they still have to be evaluated on their own merit.

Bruno Loff:
I have added yet another bug to the list. Though I admit at this point I don't really see a way out. How am I to convince you that something which can not be falsified is not universally true? At the end of the day, if you want to believe that a perception where the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and you are having fun all of the time, makes you understand the world somehow better, how could I possibly deny you?

You would have to show that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom, or that actual freedom isn't what Richard describes it to be. These should certainly be possible to show: cite factual evidence that actually free people don't fit the description of what actual freedom is, or that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom. For example, if part of the benefits are a better understanding of the world, you could cite evidence that it doesn't lead to a better understanding of the world. If it is claimed to be a way of experiencing life free of delusion, you could cite evidence that actually it leads to a delusory experience of life.

If you cannot cite any such evidence then you have no case for either one. In that case, you would have to instead attempt to show that actual freedom is a bad idea and that I shouldn't pursue it, even though it and the path is accurately described. This is subjective, though, which isn't "provable" per se: we can simply have differing opinions on the matter. Then the only reason to pursue that conversation would be if you want to convince me not to do it, or if I want to convince you to do it, or if I want to get you to validate my opinion and choice that I should do it.


Suppose I present such evidence, and you simply decide it is false because Richard acts like a really nice guy to someone who has traveled half across the world to learn from his teachings? Oh wait, that already happened!

See? You can choose to believe what you want to believe, nothing that I can provide will stop you. I don't have the charm, the best I can do is try to be provocative.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
One question: it would seem, judging by this latest reply of yours, that our little exchange served to strengthen your own view ("using visceral reactions" distorts understanding, or some variant of this). Wouldn't you say so?

I would say so. This seems rational to me, because it is evidence that using visceral reactions does distort understanding - since your visceral reaction led you to an incorrect understanding. Actually there's two pieces of evidence here: your reply to me, and your initial reply to John.


My initial reply to John was an entirely reasonable reply to a very plausible interpretation of what he had wrote. I stand by it. In fact, I daresay that without his clarification post, it was the most plausible interpretation.

Sure, and it was ironed out in short order. But the feelings of certainty and conviction I assume you had (based on the wording, and since you didn't correct me that your reply was the result of a visceral reaction) when you wrote your reply - those were not valid indicators that you correctly understood what he was saying. Also as you pointed out, you didn't expect him to have the point of view you thought he did, because you seem to have interacted with him a lot and thus have a good idea of where he's coming from, but that wasn't enough to cause you some lack of certainty that you knew what he was saying.

Bruno Loff:
Claudiu:
It's a bad sign if "AF=bad" and "not AF=good" and you lump all this stuff together. But if you use some discernment and consider instead the notion that feelings are unreliable indicators of what is factual, then this is only a bad sign if that's an incorrect notion. If it's a correct notion then our exchange was a net positive, and also that's a plus for <quote>AF</quote>.


The notion of factual itself is something you need to be careful with. Unfortunately your choice of wording, "indicators of what is factual", seems to imply that you have taken in the idea that there is such a thing as facts, independent of an interpretation... This despite my many warnings throughout the years (see bug #4 in our list).

From that point on, several perspectives and mental impressions become justifiable. In your view, you can either be wrong about the facts or right about them. But what you call facts is an active product of your mind in response to stimuli, there is no such a thing as a fact independent of an interpretation.

You are contradicting yourself, here. If there are no facts absent interpretation, then there's no possibility for accuracy or verifiability, because what would you verify or be accurate about? It could always "just be your interpretation". Plus there'd be no falsifiability etc.

There are certainly facts absent interpretation. It's a fact that there's a computer monitor here, that I have two hands. It's not up to interpretation - it is simply not a fact that I don't have two hands. You could be *delusional* and see me as only having one hand. Or you could see two hands but simply be incapable of making the logical connection that I have two hands for some reason - perhaps drugs or brain damage. But that doesn't change the fact.

It can be difficult to ascertain a fact. You don't *know* that I have two hands, I'm just telling you I do. I could have lost one hand a week ago and be lying to you. In that case, the fact would be I have one hand, and that I'm telling you I have two. You'd have to see it for yourself to be sure - maybe a Skype video. Of course I could be plotting an elaborate scheme to falsify the fact and show you a fake video or something, but that's unlikely. You can choose to interpret a Skype video of me with two hands as an elaborate hoax to cover up the fact that I have only one hand, but then you would simply be wrong.

Some definitions from Wikipedia:

"A fact [...] is something that has really occurred or is actually the case."
"The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be proven to correspond to experience."
"In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation"

This is quite basic and fundamental. If you don't accept that there are things that objectively happen, then there is not much point in continuing this conversation.

"Existence has been variously defined by sources. In common usage, it is the world one is aware or conscious of through one's senses, and that persists independently in one's absence."

"existence: Empirical reality; the substance of the physical universe."

Facts and existence are what has led to all the scientific progress the fruits of which we now enjoy. It would be impossible to build anything complicated in the world out of simpler things in the world if there wasn't existence, or things that happen independent of one's absence, or facts absent interpretation.

This is in no way unique to actualism.

Bruno Loff:
I don't see how, from this perspective, you could possible understand how self-delusion works --- or magick, for that matter. You see, it has exactly the same standing as what you call "facts", it is an active product of your mind in response to stimuli.

Self-delusion involves taking to be fact that which isn't a fact, because of strong conviction or belief, or perhaps altered states of consciousness where your experience actually becomes delusory (e.g. psychedelics, but then you usually understand that what you're seeing isn't an accurate depiction of the world around you). This doesn't change the fact, it just means you are mistaken. How to ascertain a fact? That is a good question, and one well worth pursuing.

Certainly you can theoretically stimulate certain parts of the brain to make yourself see a chair that isn't there. It doesn't change the fact of whether a chair is there, it just means you experience a chair where there isn't one. It means your sensory apparatus is being hacked. It is damaging your ability to determine facts.

Bruno Loff:
For instance, I currently think that my interpretation of your "eh?" was wrong. I don't think I was wrong because of my emotions, though I do think that my emotions where the only reason why I pointed it out in the first place.

You weren't wrong because of your emotions, you were wrong because you made a connection that wasn't there. Maybe you only made that connection because of your emotions - that's certainly possible. But my main point was more drawing attention to this aspect of the feeling - "Nothing like a bit of trauma to hot-iron such a useful, deep, informative impression." - that powerful feeling was *not* an accurate indicator of how accurate the connection was. You seem to have taken it as such, and indeed were glad that it was solidifying this informative impression. I was glad that you were able to quickly discard that notion - I guess it didn't take such a deep root after all. This is part of the reason I converse with you - you can be quite reasonable.

Bruno Loff:
But I am convinced that, if I were to apply myself through rigorous mental exercise every day for many months, I could convince myself, with absolute certainty --- because of some reason or evidence that I would meanwhile "uncover" --- that my interpretation was actually right. And with sufficient application I would be able to reply to any objection you may have, and one day maybe you would find yourself inadvertently doing something that would push me one inch further down that path. So much for facts.

I don't think you could do that because you'd have to want to do that, which you don't. It'd be quite a mental gymnastic trick, to make yourself believe you want to do it, then forget that you had to make yourself believe that, then actually do it. That'd be quite a bit of self-deception. In any case, this doesn't mean "so much for facts", it just means it's important to be able to figure out what the facts are. You were perfectly capable of reading my reply, recognizing the fact, and adjusting your understanding.

Bruno Loff:
Instead of what is true or false, fact or non-fact, I have recently come to think it is more interesting to ask: what leads to what? What leads to things that are worthwhile, or not worthwhile (subjectively speaking)? What leads to things that are beneficial (subjectively speaking, for those involved)?

What leads to what? That refers to facts. It means that some things happen, and they lead to other things happening. Worthwhile and not worthwhile are more opinions, subjective as you said. If you say there are no facts absent interpretation then you can't say that anything leads to anything else, because you'd have to say X only leads to Y if you interpret that it does, or something along those lines. Yet clearly this is not always the case. Dropping a ball leads to it falling regardless of interpretation.

Bruno Loff:
Claudiu:
You would have to show that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom, or that actual freedom isn't what Richard describes it to be. These should certainly be possible to show: cite factual evidence that actually free people don't fit the description of what actual freedom is, or that actualism doesn't lead to actual freedom. [...]


Suppose I present such evidence, and you simply decide it is false because Richard acts like a really nice guy to someone who has traveled half across the world to learn from his teachings? Oh wait, that already happened!

Did you? What factual evidence did you cite? Oh you were telling me what someone told you about what he heard from somebody else? Things which were presented to you as being secrets, yet many of which I had somehow already heard about on public forums at that time? Things I had talked to one of the parties involved about and had understood something totally different than what you had heard from someone else who had heard from one of the parties involved? Things which have repeatedly failed to be substantiated on the yahoo group despite many requests to do so? Things involving a party which has publicly given compelling evidence that they are false? Rock-solid man, I really had no reason to think it was false and I must have simply decided it was false only because Richard was acting really nice to me and for no other reason at all.

Your "such evidence" is along the same lines as all the evidence that global warming is a giant conspiracy, or that there's been no warming since 1998, or that there's no historical correlation in the scientific literature between CO2 and temperature, etc., i.e. people keep repeating it over and over but it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. And see, I believed all those things until I saw the videos of somebody calmly and patiently showing where many of the myths commonly circulated on the internet originated from. Really that entire video series is well-worth a watch. Now that being said, I'm not much more well-informed about global warming, I've just watched some guy's videos who seemed careful and meticulous, but I haven't checked up on his sources yet - so I'm open to being shown I'm wrong again.

Bruno Loff:
See? You can choose to believe what you want to believe, nothing that I can provide will stop you. I don't have the charm, the best I can do is try to be provocative.
Just stick to the facts, please. I had a pretty deep-held belief that global warming wasn't happening, yet that guy was able to show me the error of my ways - namely that a lot of what I had taken as evidence against global warming was simply not grounded in fact. Granted this happened on both sides - he also showed how much of the publicly presented face of global warming is also misleading. If you can do the same then go for it.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
It is not worth it, you believe what you want to believe.

Of course, because I can't but agree that the ball does fall, that makes it seem like an irrevocable truth. Yet the recognition that the ball falls is based on a sensory apparatus we both share, and that is unable to interpret that stimulus any differently. That the ball is falling is not a fact, it is a consensus. Even mathematics, which is logic in its purest form, and, if truth exists consistently anywhere, it is there first and foremost ---- even mathematics is a social activity of consensus building, and even it has statements which can not be proven true or false (see Godel's theorem).

If only this conundrum happened on such simple, straightforwards things, which are of importance to no-one... But just add some desire or self-image into the mix, and you will soon see that maybe the ball didn't fall exactly, or it did, but that doesn't have the same implications that you previously thought it would. E.g., maybe she didn't reject your advances and you reacted aggressively, but rather it was she who was aggressive because deep-down she hates men.

Also worth pointing out, with regards to usually-consensual facts --- there is a fun social experiment you can do with 30 people or so, in which you play a game where you have to label the colors of a given object. One person is unaware that the other 29 have arranged to claim that there is a slight shade of, say, blue, in a purely black object. Just put enough pressure and presto, the person who was singled out, in most cases, will come to see that shade of blue.

Your view that the world is made of facts, and that the only thing standing in the way to clearly seeing them are feelings, is that itself a fact?

Because to me it sounds like a very tempting assertion that justifies your particular choices. It sounds like the kind of abstract, unfalsifiable statement that there is nothing I could possibly do to argue against. You simply have no interest in changing your mind, no reason to do so, and hence unless something truly unlikely happens. For instance, Richard might get into trouble again, and the person who he got into trouble, or her associates (for it will be a she, don't you just know it), actually bother to post something to his followers on a public internet forum made for the adulation of his writings, to people whom she has for the most part never met, AND the problematic events happened in a way that is objectively verifiable --- maybe there's even a video --- AND this time this person or people actually post their complaints in a systematic way, without blunders or misguided rants AND you, instead of believing in Richard who will claim it is all lies, actually bother to pay attention to the evidence, giving the accusation the same kind of consideration as the defense... THEN you will be convinced!

No, that will never happen. It came close, though, and some of us where really lucky.

EDIT: curiosity, Godel's theorem says that given any "mathematical perspective", if you will, there are statements which can neither be proven true nor false --- these statements are called "undecidable". That these statements are undecidable, however, is something that must be ascertained from a different "mathematical perspective" than the one that is under scrutiny. Furthermore, as a consequence of the theorem, one can also conclude that there must be statements that are undecidable, but whose undecidability is itself undecidable --- one won't be able to prove that the statements are undecidable, i.e., there is a statement S that one won't be able to prove that one won't be able to prove that S is true or false. Such statements are utterly beyond mathematical scrutiny --- by their very nature, I wouldn't be able to present you such a statement, and be able to convince you that I had done so.

Now this VERY COMPLICATED state of affairs is how things work in something like mathematics: where everything is describable with the utmost precision and rigor, not at all like messy things such as balls and falling and me wanting this or feeling that. It should be no surprise that in the real world things are even more complicated.

But the fact of the matter is: if someone were to believe in an undecidable statement, I could not prove him or her wrong, no matter how hard I tried. At best, I might point out the fact that it is undecidable, in case that itself was known. If someone were to believe in an undecidable statement whose decidability is itself undecidable, then there would be absolutely nothing that I could say against it, no matter what.

Many mathematicians, when a statement is found undecidable, simply declare it to be a meaningless question.

I suspect that there are certain statements, postures and attitudes, which are --- to speak by way of analogy only --- undecidable. Things like "everyone is good deep down" or "god loves us" or "the world is perfect" or "each moment of our lives is precious" or "it is possible to have direct access to facts". I would rather discard these whenever I come across them, it seems to me that it is safer to do so.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
We seem to disagree on what the nature of facts is so I'll focus on that in this reply:

Bruno Loff:
Of course, because I can't but agree that the ball does fall, that makes it seem like an irrevocable truth.

Just because people agree on something doesn't make it a fact.

Bruno Loff:
Yet the recognition that the ball falls is based on a sensory apparatus we both share, and that is unable to interpret that stimulus any differently. That the ball is falling is not a fact, it is a consensus.

It's unable to interpret that stimulus any differently because sensory apparatus for the most part accurately senses things in the independently-existing world, and in this independently-existing world, a ball is falling. Whether the ball falls is a fact - either it falls, or it doesn't. This is independent of anybody perceiving the ball falling. If you disagree that there is a reality independent of your perception of it then there is no point talking, really.

The recognition of a fact is another matter. If your sensory apparatus is broken in the right way, then you won't be able to recognize that a ball is falling. This doesn't mean the fact is that the ball didn't fall - it means you can't recognize the fact that the ball fell.

It is unsurprising that the consensus for something as simple as a ball falling is usually that the ball is falling. This doesn't mean the consensus makes the fact, or that the consensus is the fact - it means that the fact is simple to ascertain.

Bruno Loff:
Also worth pointing out, with regards to usually-consensual facts --- there is a fun social experiment you can do with 30 people or so, in which you play a game where you have to label the colors of a given object. One person is unaware that the other 29 have arranged to claim that there is a slight shade of, say, blue, in a purely black object. Just put enough pressure and presto, the person who was singled out, in most cases, will come to see that shade of blue.

I'm not sure where this particular set-up comes from: 30 people, and seeing blue in black. Can you provide a link to the study?

In the original Asch conformity experiment (source), 25% of the subjects always answered correctly, i.e. in accordance with the facts. (Note that there are *facts* here outside of anyone's perception of them!) 75% were incorrect (conformed) at least once. 36.8% of total responses by the participants were incorrect. So far from it being "in most cases", it's rather "in 36.8% of cases". Asch said in "Group Pressure and the Modification of Judgments" that "The preponderance of estimates in the critical group (68%) was correct despite the pressure of the majority." (source).

Now it wasn't always because they came to actually see the answer the wrong way. There were three possibilities for giving the wrong/conformity answer:
1) distortion of perception: they really did think the wrong answers were right (e.g. came to see that shade of blue)
2) distortion of judgement: they suspected the wrong answers were wrong (they didn't see it that way), but they thought they must be wrong because the group was right
3) distortion of action: they didn't want to be ridiculed so they went along with the group even though they thought the group was wrong

The "distortion of perception" category were relatively few. The distortion of judgement was the largest group. And the distortion of action was the second largest (source).

So far from it being that "the person who was singled out, in most cases, will come to [actually perceive the incorrect answer]", it's in the fewest cases that that actually occurs.

And even in the cases that that does actually occur, it doesn't mean that the fact was different for that person. The fact is the same - the person just perceived it incorrectly due to group pressure. Indeed this is a good reason to avoid group pressure.

Bruno Loff:
Your view that the world is made of facts, and that the only thing standing in the way to clearly seeing them are feelings, is that itself a fact?

Because to me it sounds like a very tempting assertion that justifies your particular choices. It sounds like the kind of abstract, unfalsifiable statement that there is nothing I could possibly do to argue against.

Well not the only thing, but there are definitely many and various ways that feelings stand in the way of seeing facts - and this is indeed a fact that is falsifiable! The very experiment you cited is proof of this - the majority choices caused such doubt and anxiety in some subjects that despite their experience of the correct answer, they figured they must be wrong! In some cases the subjects even actually experienced the wrong answer as being the correct one! It is far from unique to actualism that feelings cloud judgement and get in the way of ascertaining facts.

As to the world is made of facts, that is tautological, since a fact is defined as something which actually happens in the world. Of course there are things that are not known and things that cannot be known, but yes, the world is made of facts. This isn't even something that needs to be proven in the scientific sense - science is *based* off of the notion that things actually happen and that they can be measured. You might say it is an axiom but I'm not sure that's entirely correct. In any case, as the wonders of scientific progress has shown, there are many clear and obvious benefits to understanding that the world is made of facts that can be measured.

As to it being an assertion that justifies my particular choices - by the very nature of what a fact is, I am extremely limited as to what my choices can be. That's because I do not make up the facts - they exist independent of me. If I really do care about facts, then I will always be willing to change my mind based on new information if that information shows a new fact that challenges my understanding, or shows that something I previously thought was a fact, wasn't. For example, I used to think the scientific consensus a few decades ago was that the earth was cooling. Yet after seeing the facts that only a minority of scientific papers predicted cooling and it was in fact the media that popularized the notion of cooling despite the scientific evidence, I changed my understanding/dispelled my belief (for it had become a belief at that point).

Of course I might not actually be after the facts, but distorting my understanding of what the facts are and thus forming beliefs instead, ignoring facts that contradict my understanding, etc. Maybe I am deluding myself so I see as factual what isn't. Maybe, but that's not what I'm going for. And if something is truly factual then it should be able to be verified by other people.

As to math, that was indeed an interesting diversion:
Bruno Loff:
Even mathematics, which is logic in its purest form, and, if truth exists consistently anywhere, it is there first and foremost ---- even mathematics is a social activity of consensus building, and even it has statements which can not be proven true or false (see Godel's theorem).

No, it's not consensus building, it's starting from axioms and applying the axioms regularly to get proofs. These are simply definitions and rule-following. These are logical constructs which exist only as abstract entities and has nothing to do with consensus. Now all mathematicians might indeed have a consensus that a proof is accurate when in fact it isn't, but this doesn't change the mathematical truth of that proof, and indeed eventually it will be discovered to be false by the very nature of mathematics. As for Godel's theorem, yes, it is a mathematical truth that in a sufficiently advanced mathematical system, not all mathematical statements in that system can be proven true or false.

Bruno Loff:
EDIT: curiosity, Godel's theorem says that given any "mathematical perspective", if you will, there are statements which can neither be proven true nor false --- these statements are called "undecidable". That these statements are undecidable, however, is something that must be ascertained from a different "mathematical perspective" than the one that is under scrutiny.

Almost, but not quite. It is a proof within a given "mathematical perspective", as you put it. That is, for any sufficiently advanced mathematical perspective, there is a proof within that perspective that there exists a true statement that is unprovable by that perspective. It's actually delightfully awesome. Godel, Escher, Bach provides a full, detailed explanation of the proof that I was able to follow - that's when I first really understood the proof.

EDIT: Seems I misunderstood and was mistaken. Godel's theorem is a proof within the perspective that there exist undecidable statements - but you were right, the proof of undecidability of a particular statement does have to lie outside the system - otherwise the system itself would be inconsistent and thus useless.

Bruno Loff:
Furthermore, as a consequence of the theorem, one can also conclude that there must be statements that are undecidable, but whose undecidability is itself undecidable --- one won't be able to prove that the statements are undecidable, i.e., there is a statement S that one won't be able to prove that one won't be able to prove that S is true or false. Such statements are utterly beyond mathematical scrutiny --- by their very nature, I wouldn't be able to present you such a statement, and be able to convince you that I had done so.

I'm not sure that follows from the incompleteness theorem itself - see these questions that don't mention it - but this does seem to be the case, yes.

Although I'm not sure these statements are utterly beyond mathematical scrutiny. There are a large number of unsolved problems in math. Maybe some of these are undecidable - there's no way to know yet, since nobody has proven them undecidable. Maybe the decidability of some of these is undecidable - again no way to know yet, since nobody has proven that their decidability is undecidable. So maybe the fit into the category you described, yet they're still pretty scrutable. But perhaps I am missing something.

Bruno Loff:
Now this VERY COMPLICATED state of affairs is how things work in something like mathematics: where everything is describable with the utmost precision and rigor, not at all like messy things such as balls and falling and me wanting this or feeling that. It should be no surprise that in the real world things are even more complicated.

Well the real world is of an entirely different nature than mathematics. Real world things are ultimately based on sense experience, not abstract systems of axioms and rules.

Bruno Loff:
But the fact of the matter is: if someone were to believe in an undecidable statement, I could not prove him or her wrong, no matter how hard I tried. At best, I might point out the fact that it is undecidable, in case that itself was known.

Actually this would prove them wrong. They would say I believe this is true or this is false, and you would say, no actually it is mathematically impossible to show that to be the case because the statement is undecidable. Interestingly, I think you can use such a statement as an axiom to extend a system - another term for undecidable is "independent" - and then you can see how that system (original system + new axiom) behaves.

Bruno Loff:
If someone were to believe in an undecidable statement whose decidability is itself undecidable, then there would be absolutely nothing that I could say against it, no matter what.

Well you could say that there exists no proof as of yet showing that statement to be true or false. This would apply to Fermat's Last Theorem 100 years ago, for example. So they could believe until they're blue in the face, but in mathematics it's always starkly obvious whether a statement has an existing proof of truth or falseness. It's simply illogical to believe in a statement that hasn't been proven yet. You can strongly suspect and not be able to disprove it, but that doesn't make it true.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hmm OK, we are well off-topic. But here goes:

You are already assuming what you want to conclude; you say "suppose a ball falls in the ground". Just by saying it, you are already using and asking me to use an apparatus that interprets that sentence and imagines what that would be like. I can only understand what you mean because we have that in common.

There is no fact in itself, isolated from it having reached someone's eyes and/or minds, and being recognized as such. This is not to say that nothing is happening without that recognition, but it's nothing you could possible call a fact. You actually couldn't call it anything, for there would be no-one to do so. The fact --- the ball is falling, as opposed to some nameless, unperceived event --- depends essentially on there being someone/something there interpreting it as such.

Hence your sensory and perceptive apparatus is an essential part of what is seen. When you look at a tree, and see that, in fact, "it is a tree", your are completely and unavoidably involved in this process.

Perhaps a more ambiguous example will illustrate what I mean: there is a psychological condition called amusia, which has many variants, but generally speaking is an inability to understand music. Some sufferers regard music as simply "noise", often compared to drainpipes or drills, or other forms of background noise. Vocal singing can be understood, but is simply seen as "odd tone of voice".

Now make the following conceptual experience: suppose that because of some virus or something that everyone in the universe suddenly suffers from amusia. Let a generation or two go by, but suppose that some recordings of musicians playing are preserved. Question: is there still such a thing as music?

Now, if you play some of the old recordings, people will indisputably agree that there is sound --- that will be a fact. But is there music, and they simply can't see it? I would say that there is no longer any music, but I would predict that you might say: well, there is music, and that is a FACT, in the universal, independent-from-any-observer-who-can-recognize-it-as-such sense that you are promoting, it is simply that these people are defective in their recognition of facts, and don't see it.

OK, let's now start from there, and suppose that the virus, instead of making people amusical, would cause the opposite effect: people would hear the vast majority of sounds as being musical. Actually I have the personal experience that the set of sounds that I am able to interpret as music can vary widely, and my favorite musicians are so in part because of their ability to extend the range and type of sounds that I consider musical. So suppose that this virus makes that range much wider than it currently is.

Then, when listening, for instance, to the clatter of dishes while washing them, they would find the experience to be quite musical, and if you would ask these people, they would all say: well, the clatter of dishes is musical, and that is simply a FACT. Then, from your former stance, you are forced to conclude that, somewhat absurdly, the clash of dishes IS musical, and that you are simply defective in your recognition of this simple fact.

And if that sounds implausible, then I can tell you that I personally find washing the dishes can be quite a musical experience, actually emoticon Particularly after listening to some free improv.

However, no contradiction or absurdity arises if, instead, you accept that facts are part interpretation, perhaps a sensory, very raw, non-intellectual interpretation, but an interpretation nonetheless, that depends on your sensory apparatus. And that this is always the case for ANY AND EVERY fact.

So the reason people disagree is not simply because some are seeing it right, and some are not, but instead because some have learned to see certain things in a certain way, and others in a different way. As soon as one accepts that, then the question of "what is true or false" becomes much less interesting than the question of "which interpretations lead to what". Then you can think of modes-of-interpretation, or ways-of-seeing, as being part of a toolbox, rather than believing that one particular mode-of-interpretation is correct and others are incorrect.

Except for the tea-party, they simply got the facts wrong emoticon No, seriously, their interpretation leads to global warming, income inequality, and bad news reporting emoticon But also... great jokes in Colbert report!
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Hmm OK, we are well off-topic. But here goes:
Off-topic to this thread, true, but I think it's a point worthy of discussion. I can split the thread at my 7:20pm post if you and John both want. Or maybe it's slightly on-topic: ideally the "right practice" would entail being in accordance with whatever is factual.

Bruno Loff:
You are already assuming what you want to conclude; you say "suppose a ball falls in the ground". Just by saying it, you are already using and asking me to use an apparatus that interprets that sentence and imagines what that would be like. I can only understand what you mean because we have that in common.

There is no fact in itself, isolated from it having reached someone's eyes and/or minds, and being recognized as such. This is not to say that nothing is happening without that recognition, but it's nothing you could possible call a fact. You actually couldn't call it anything, for there would be no-one to do so. The fact --- the ball is falling, as opposed to some nameless, unperceived event --- depends essentially on there being someone/something there interpreting it as such.

Here's where we disagree. Interestingly, you do agree that something is happening absent recognition. What is that something? It's true that it can only be called a fact because there are humans around that sense it and have cognition and are capable of understanding what facts are. My point is that, absent humans, the same things (minus human perception & cognition) are happening. If a tree falls in the forest, it falls regardless of whether anyone is around to hear or see it. Whether it can be said by anyone that the tree fell does indeed depend on a human using sense apparatus in some way - be it seeing the tree fall, or seeing a tree there yesterday and seeing a fallen tree that looks the same in that spot tomorrow.

There are thus two components:

1) unrecognized stuff happening in the world
2) recognition of stuff

What I am calling a fact is #1. What I am calling a recognition of the fact is #2. I disagree that #2 *makes* the fact. Recognition of something isn't what made it occur. To put it differently, fact is a word used to point to something that actually happened or is actually the case. It's true that in order to be able to use this word, you need both #1 and #2, but even if #2 doesn't happen and nobody can call it a fact, #1 still did occur. Or do you disagree? To be more clear, when #2 happens, then there are two facts: it's a fact #1 occurred same as it was before #2, and it's also a fact that #2 occurred. So right now it's a fact that there's a monitor here, and it's also a fact that I recognize that there's a monitor here. But even if I was in the other room, it would still be a fact that there's a monitor here - unless someone stole my monitor in the meantime, in which case it wouldn't be a fact and I would mistakenly think it is.

What this means is that #1 occurs independently of #2 - things do happen outside of perception and recognition. They just aren't known as such without perception and recognition. What is useful and beneficial is to be able to match up one's perception and recognition with the facts. This allows you to make predictions about the world and apply intelligence to skillful outcomes.

Bruno Loff:
Hence your sensory and perceptive apparatus is an essential part of what is seen. When you look at a tree, and see that, in fact, "it is a tree", your are completely and unavoidably involved in this process.

Of course - #2 requires a body capable of perception and cognition. But #1 does not.

Bruno Loff:
Perhaps a more ambiguous example will illustrate what I mean: there is a psychological condition called amusia, which has many variants, but generally speaking is an inability to understand music. Some sufferers regard music as simply "noise", often compared to drainpipes or drills, or other forms of background noise. Vocal singing can be understood, but is simply seen as "odd tone of voice".

Now make the following conceptual experience: suppose that because of some virus or something that everyone in the universe suddenly suffers from amusia. Let a generation or two go by, but suppose that some recordings of musicians playing are preserved. Question: is there still such a thing as music?

Now, if you play some of the old recordings, people will indisputably agree that there is sound --- that will be a fact. But is there music, and they simply can't see it? I would say that there is no longer any music, but I would predict that you might say: well, there is music, and that is a FACT, in the universal, independent-from-any-observer-who-can-recognize-it-as-such sense that you are promoting, it is simply that these people are defective in their recognition of facts, and don't see it.

I disagree because in this case, what is considered music does depend on a subjective judgement. It depends how you define music. I see two possible definitions:
1) The experience that a set of sounds follows certain subjectively pleasing characteristics.
2) A set of sounds categorized by certain rules and structures (e.g. rhythm, frequencies of the tones, harmonies, etc).

In the world you described, there is no more music in the sense of #1, since the capacity to have that experience has been removed, but I would say there is still music in the sense of #2, since those are objective measures.

Consider the facts of whether there is sound. This would indisputably be so. Now what if everybody on earth became deaf? Would there still be sound? Again, it depends what you consider sound. There would be no sound in the sense of #1 - the experience of sound - but there would be sound in the sense of #2 - vibrating air molecules.

Bruno Loff:
OK, let's now start from there, and suppose that the virus, instead of making people amusical, would cause the opposite effect: people would hear the vast majority of sounds as being musical. Actually I have the personal experience that the set of sounds that I am able to interpret as music can vary widely, and my favorite musicians are so in part because of their ability to extend the range and type of sounds that I consider musical. So suppose that this virus makes that range much wider than it currently is.

Then, when listening, for instance, to the clatter of dishes while washing them, they would find the experience to be quite musical, and if you would ask these people, they would all say: well, the clatter of dishes is musical, and that is simply a FACT. Then, from your former stance, you are forced to conclude that, somewhat absurdly, the clash of dishes IS musical, and that you are simply defective in your recognition of this simple fact.

And if that sounds implausible, then I can tell you that I personally find washing the dishes can be quite a musical experience, actually emoticon Particularly after listening to some free improv.

Sure, I can see that - the range of what I consider music has changed over time as well. Though I still don't like atonal stuff. But as per the explanation above - the vast majority of sounds would factually be music in the first sense, but the same things as before would factually be music in the second sense. E.g. if before the virus spread you had an mp3 considered music and an mp3 not considered music inscribed on a hard-drive, the bits comprising those two mp3s would be the same after the virus spreads.

Bruno Loff:
However, no contradiction or absurdity arises if, instead, you accept that facts are part interpretation, perhaps a sensory, very raw, non-intellectual interpretation, but an interpretation nonetheless, that depends on your sensory apparatus. And that this is always the case for ANY AND EVERY fact.

No contradiction or absurdity arises if you distinguish facts that are subjective according to experience and facts that aren't. The same thing might be factually pleasant for one person, and factually unpleasant for another. But I distinguish this sort of fact vs. others such as whether sound is still occurring at all in that world - which you said people would indisputably agree to. How do you figure the fact of whether sound is occurring is dependent on interpretation? If you're deaf you can still measure and feel vibrating air molecules. If you can't feel them you can set up a device to give a visual indicator. If you can't see, hear, or feel, maybe the device can give off different tastes or smells and you can learn to interpret that. If you can't see, hear, feel, smell, or taste, then you are pretty much dead.

Bruno Loff:
So the reason people disagree is not simply because some are seeing it right, and some are not, but instead because some have learned to see certain things in a certain way, and others in a different way.

Yes, and in some cases that's legitimate, for example in the case of what music one considers pleasing. In other cases it's not legitimate, for example in considering whether balls fall or sounds occur.

Bruno Loff:
As soon as one accepts that, then the question of "what is true or false" becomes much less interesting than the question of "which interpretations lead to what". Then you can think of modes-of-interpretation, or ways-of-seeing, as being part of a toolbox, rather than believing that one particular mode-of-interpretation is correct and others are incorrect.

I do not believe that one particular set of structured sounds is objectively, factually pleasing and none others are. What music you like is up to your tastes and not mine.

Bruno Loff:
Except for the tea-party, they simply got the facts wrong emoticon No, seriously, their interpretation leads to global warming, income inequality, and bad news reporting emoticon But also... great jokes in Colbert report!

Hah. Bad politics is bad.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

I disagree because in this case, what is considered music does depend on a subjective judgement. It depends how you define music. I see two possible definitions:
1) The experience that a set of sounds follows certain subjectively pleasing characteristics.
2) A set of sounds categorized by certain rules and structures (e.g. rhythm, frequencies of the tones, harmonies, etc).


Lol, that's what you say. Take John Zorn's "The classic guide to strategy".

Now, as far as I allow myself to come close to make statements of fact, and with the same weight that I give to the factuality of "the ball falls", I am equally certain that this album is one of the greatest musical solo performances that has ever been recorded. And although I do find the sound pleasing, I did not find it pleasing the first time I heard it, and I have reasons that go way beyond that to be confident in the statement I just made. If you don't see it, well, the ability to come to see it can be trained (it requires openness, clarity and sensitivity he he emoticon ).

This piece follows neither rules or structures. As any half-decent free improv sax solo, it is the result of a mix of woodwind technique, and sheer musical sensitivity and spontaneity. But this piece is not subjectively pleasing for most people. Indeed, most people would not even call it music (pity for them), not just because they don't find it pleasant (it is a tough listen), but because indeed the sounds can not be "categorized by certain rules and structures".

And yet, there you go, one of the greatest musical pieces in recorded history.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

I disagree because in this case, what is considered music does depend on a subjective judgement. It depends how you define music. I see two possible definitions:
1) The experience that a set of sounds follows certain subjectively pleasing characteristics.
2) A set of sounds categorized by certain rules and structures (e.g. rhythm, frequencies of the tones, harmonies, etc).


Lol, that's what you say. [...]

Ok let me re-phrase. Two definitions for music:
1) The experience of a set of sounds as subjectively pleasing in certain ways.
2) The very set of sounds (i.e. vibrations in the air) that leads to #1.

By definition, #2 depends on #1. So, state of the world pre-virus: each person P has a set of sounds S(P) (#2) which they experience as music (#1). State of the world post-virus: each person P has a set of sounds V(P) (#2) which they experience as music (#1).

What is factual is that post-virus, S(P) != V(P) , however S(P) == S(P). That is, the set of sounds a person would have considered music pre-virus is still the exact same set of sounds post-virus - they just aren't experienced as music anymore. Or, in terms of the music-enhancing virus, the set of sounds considered music post-virus would not have been considered music pre-virus. What is experienced as music is indeed factually different in these three cases. But in all three cases, the sounds haven't factually changed.

Bruno Loff:
Take John Zorn's "The classic guide to strategy".

Now, as far as I allow myself to come close to make statements of fact, and with the same weight that I give to the factuality of "the ball falls", I am equally certain that this album is one of the greatest musical solo performances that has ever been recorded.

This seems a pretty dangerous and self-serving view, sir! (ha). But seriously, one is an objective fact - the ball falls - the other is a subjective judgement - this set of sounds being one of the best musical solo performances that has ever been recorded. They are pretty different. What you should be equally certain is factual is that "I consider this album to be one of the greatest musical solo performances that has ever been recorded". But there is no objective set of "greatest musical solo performances". However there is an objective set of "sounds occurring" or "balls falling". See the difference?

And yes, likewise, you can always be as certain or more certain of the fact "I perceive that a ball is falling" than the fact "a ball is falling". However the ball falling doesn't depend on your perception at all - either it does or it doesn't - whereas what is considered musical does depend on your perception since it's a subjective aesthetic judgement.

Bruno Loff:
And although I do find the sound pleasing, I did not find it pleasing the first time I heard it, and I have reasons that go way beyond that to be confident in the statement I just made. If you don't see it, well, the ability to come to see it can be trained (it requires openness, clarity and sensitivity he he emoticon ).

And this ironically borders on narrow-mindedness (lack of openness, clarity, and sensitivity) since it implies that if someone doesn't agree with your taste in music - your sensibilities as to which sounds can be considered pleasant - they are closed-minded, befuddled, and insensitive.

Bruno Loff:
This piece follows neither rules or structures. As any half-decent free improv sax solo, it is the result of a mix of woodwind technique, and sheer musical sensitivity and spontaneity. But this piece is not subjectively pleasing for most people. Indeed, most people would not even call it music (pity for them), not just because they don't find it pleasant (it is a tough listen), but because indeed the sounds can not be "categorized by certain rules and structures".

And yet, there you go, one of the greatest musical pieces in recorded history.

Yes, you gave a good example as to why my definition #2 of music was deficient. But it was not central to my argument. Hopefully my updated argument reflects it better without even having to get into what is considered music today and why.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Off-topic to this thread, true, but I think it's a point worthy of discussion. I can split the thread at my 7:20pm post if you and John both want. Or maybe it's slightly on-topic: ideally the "right practice" would entail being in accordance with whatever is factual.


It's fine either way from my pov, thanks.

I don't know whether you guys are talking past each other or if I'm not grasping the subtleties of it (in which case, please ignore), but here's my two cents:

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

(...) There are thus two components:

1) unrecognized stuff happening in the world
2) recognition of stuff

(...) #1 occurs independently of #2 - things do happen outside of perception and recognition. They just aren't known as such without perception and recognition.


The way I understand the statement "there are no facts, only interpretations", it isn't meant to be taken as a denial of #1 (although sometimes it can be). Usually people mean it in the sense that, by the time we recognise and ascribe meaning to anything, to the point where it's thinkable and speakable, there has already inevitably been an act of interpretation. The very recognition and ascription of meaning to something is an act of interpretation.

It doesn't mean that there's nothing happening independently of experience/interpretation, it just means that there's no such thing as knowledge apart from interpretation. In a sense, even experience itself is interpretation.... it's conditioned by something/someone (minimally by senses, nervous system, conditioned mind...... and, somewhere in there, purpose).
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
John Wilde:


Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

(...) There are thus two components:

1) unrecognized stuff happening in the world
2) recognition of stuff

(...) #1 occurs independently of #2 - things do happen outside of perception and recognition. They just aren't known as such without perception and recognition.


The way I understand the statement "there are no facts, only interpretations", it isn't meant to be taken as a denial of #1 (although sometimes it can be). Usually people mean it in the sense that, by the time we recognise and ascribe meaning to anything, to the point where it's thinkable and speakable, there has already inevitably been an act of interpretation. The very recognition and ascription of meaning to something is an act of interpretation.

It doesn't mean that there's nothing happening independently of experience/interpretation, it just means that there's no such thing as knowledge apart from interpretation. In a sense, even experience itself is interpretation.... it's conditioned by something/someone (minimally by senses, nervous system, conditioned mind...... and, somewhere in there, purpose).


Going back to BCDEFG's example, though, if a ball drops on the floor, while it is true that we interpret the visual sensations of light bouncing off a particular cluster of molecules as a "ball," it would not be a correct interpretation to say that the ball didn't drop. That part isn't just a matter of interpretation.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
J C:

Going back to BCDEFG's example, though, if a ball drops on the floor, while it is true that we interpret the visual sensations of light bouncing off a particular cluster of molecules as a "ball," it would not be a correct interpretation to say that the ball didn't drop. That part isn't just a matter of interpretation.


I'm pretty much of the opinion that something's happening, and some ways of describing it are more reasonable and useful for certain purposes than others.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
I'm pretty much of the opinion that something's happening, and some ways of describing it are more reasonable than others.


Yes. And maybe you agree that there can be multiple, sometimes even contradictory ways of describing the same thing, and both can be useful / reasonable in their own way, with pros and cons.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
John Wilde:
I'm pretty much of the opinion that something's happening, and some ways of describing it are more reasonable than others.


Yes. And maybe you agree that there can be multiple, sometimes even contradictory ways of describing the same thing, and both can be useful / reasonable in their own way, with pros and cons.


An example that comes to mind is 'I' exist / 'I' don't exist.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 613 Join Date: 3/20/12 Recent Posts
If all these interpretations and conceptualizations are so meaningless then why are you talking??
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Adam . .:
If all these interpretations and conceptualizations are so meaningless then why are you talking??


(because knowing when and why they are meaningless is not)
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Hmmm. I'm not getting the sense from Bruno's response that he thinks all interpretations are meaningless, far from it. He seems to be pointing out that meanings are contextually generated within experience and even seemingly 'obvious truths' like 'the ball dropped' are meanings, i.e., contextually co-arising within a given perspective/interpretation. I don't see this at all as negating meaning, rather, it situates meaning within the context of an actual perspective, with all the conditioning-- physiological, cultural-- that actually pertains within that perspective.

For me, this sort of question becomes more clear when I introduce the distinction between representational artifacts and self-organizing things. So for example the difference between a chair and a tree.

A 'chair' is clearly an artifact, in at least two senses. 1) it's an artifact in that it is materially constructed by humans for a purpose. 2) it's an artifact in that it is socially constructed by a particular culture of humans as something to sit on, which would not be 'true' outside of that context, as even if a member of another culture could see that it was materially constructed they might think of any number of other uses for it besides sitting on it. Clearly these two forms of artifactuallity inter-are, they are co-determining.

A fly that comes in the room with different sensory aparatus and different socialization (if any) will not see the chair, because the chair does not exist objectively but is partially co-constituted by various intersubjective matrices (both physiological and social).

Now take a tree, or an organism. The tree is not 'put together', it is not an artifact, it is a self-organizing system. Nevertheless, it can't exist in isolation, it depends on being embedded interactionally in an indeterminate number of other self-organizing systems, a web of systems-- meteorological, atmospheric, ecological. Yet the tree has an integrity that the chair doesn't (in that the tree will maintain itself against entropy to some extent, by exporting entropy in the form of waste products).

A human who looks at the tree may see it through various artifactual lenses; for instance, the human in question may be a chair-maker. Or a conservationist. Or an investment banker.

Now, notice I haven't denied that there is stuff happening beyond my personal consciousness and beyond my cultural context; however, it seems evident from the way in which both the chair and the tree are 'empty of essence' that what is going on "out there" is not a bunch of unrecognized facts, as facts are artifacts of particular ways of relating to things which are co-constituted by the (conscious) contexts in which they arise.

And in fact, what I find so interesting about this line of reflection is that the 'tree itself' is not actually 'outside' of my personal experience, or outside my cultural reference; in truth, it comes all the way into my experience as the impressions it makes on this bodymind. It's just that, when seeing clearly the 'tree itself' its emptiness is also seen-- that it is completely empty of its own essence but inter-is with a vast multiplicity of other contexts. This emptiness can emerge clearly in experience without negating the sensory concreteness of the tree, or of the various things I might want to do with the tree which might condition how I relate to the tree. Because that same emptiness applies to those various interpretations which I might bring to the tree.

Emptiness/openness is not one interpretation among many that I may apply to the tree, it is the nature of all the experiences I have. This emptiness erupts in experience when my mind stops compulsively attributing solid seperate essences to things( whether thoughts, feelings, perceptions, impulses or sensations). The eruption of openness in the field of phenomena is accompanied by a sense of vastness and inter-being, which most practitioners have tasted at some point, which seems as if it applies equally to my experiential impressions and to the swirls of matter-energy which are incompletely displayed in my unique perspective.

Personally , I don't see how this openness of phenomena is incompatible with Actualism, as Claudiu seems to insist, as it doesn't deny that Universe exceeds my perspective; in fact, it points out that Universe IS my perspective, in that my whole being, body, mind and energy, is an open-ended self-organizing system that IS Universe. The tree is universe, the (mostly imaginary/socially constructed) chair is Universe, etc. Universe is open. (Oh, and it is clear and sensitive lol). But this goes to a different point, which is the way in which many actualists reify the teaching-pointers that Richard has put out there. In my opinion this is due to the way Richard has put out a very dogmatic metaphysic of experience in an authoritarian way, but that's definitely another story.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Hey Jake,

. Jake .:
Personally , I don't see how this openness of phenomena is incompatible with Actualism, as Claudiu seems to insist, [...]

Well it's pretty straightforward. Without getting into which one is correct or incorrect, you say:

. Jake .:
what I find so interesting about this line of reflection is that the 'tree itself' is not actually 'outside' of my personal experience [...]
when seeing clearly the 'tree itself' its emptiness is also seen-- that it is completely empty of its own essence [...]
This emptiness erupts in experience when my mind stops compulsively attributing solid seperate essences to things [...]

A fair summary would be that your understanding and occasional experience is that trees and things do not have their own, solid, separate essences.

Yet the understanding and occasional experience of one on the actualist path is that trees and things *do* have their own, solid, separate essences.

Hence: incompatible. In fact, each one is a negation of the other. What you can argue is that no, Actualism is wrong - trees don't have their own solid, separate essences. But you can't argue that that is compatible with Actualism.

What is not incompatible is a partialActualism + emptyEssence, where partialActualism is Actualism without this notion that things have a separate essence. However, that is not an optional part of Actualism: this partialActualism is not, in fact, Actualism. It is intrinsic to it, because it's intrinsic to what a PCE is, and the PCE is what informs actualism. I know this from the PCEs I have had myself. If they did not have this component to them then they would not have been PCEs, they would have been a different experience.

. Jake .:
But this goes to a different point, which is the way in which many actualists reify the teaching-pointers that Richard has put out there. In my opinion this is due to the way Richard has put out a very dogmatic metaphysic of experience in an authoritarian way, but that's definitely another story.

It is dogmatic and authoritarian to describe your experience accurately and to point out that things which do not fit that description are not the same as the experience you are describing?

A: So I have a thing I'm calling a Blurmgob.
B: What's a Blurmgob?
A: It's an X with a Y and a Z put together.
B: Oh look, I have one of those!
A: No that's not a Blurmgob: that's an X and a Q without any Z at all.
B: I don't see how that's incompatible with what a Blurmgob is, because it has an X.
A: No, really, by "Blurmgob" I mean a thing with an X with a Y and a Z put together. You realize I coined the term to describe something in particular?
B: You are being dogmatic and authoritarian.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

It is [not] dogmatic and authoritarian to describe your experience accurately (...)


It's not dogmatic and authoritarian to describe your experience accurately, and it's not dogmatic to carefully distinguish between different types of experience.

But an actualist doesn't just do that.

An actualist doesn't just say "I experience this, this and this......"

Or "of all the ways to understand the universe, I regard the PCE as the summum bonum because...."

He says: The universe is this way.

There's a kind of circularity in it. The PCE is conceived as the ultimate experience because it's considered a direct experience of the way things actually are. And how do we know that the universe actually is that way? Because the PCE reveals it. And what's so special about the PCE? It's a direct experience of the way things actually are...
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


A fair summary would be that your understanding and occasional experience is that trees and things do not have their own, solid, separate essences.

Yet the understanding and occasional experience of one on the actualist path is that trees and things *do* have their own, solid, separate essences.



Could you elaborate? How can this be tested or verified? What would things look like if a tree did or didn't have a separate essence?

I'm not clear how the word "essence" is being used here. A tree is an individual biological organism, but determining this would require cellular biological analysis, and I don't see how a PCE would help with that -- but maybe that's not what you mean.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


A fair summary would be that your understanding and occasional experience is that trees and things do not have their own, solid, separate essences.

Yet the understanding and occasional experience of one on the actualist path is that trees and things *do* have their own, solid, separate essences.



Could you elaborate? How can this be tested or verified? What would things look like if a tree did or didn't have a separate essence?

I'm not clear how the word "essence" is being used here. A tree is an individual biological organism, but determining this would require cellular biological analysis, and I don't see how a PCE would help with that -- but maybe that's not what you mean.

No, by essence I mean existence independent of perception. That there is a tree - made up of matter - existing independently from anyone perceiving that tree. The experience of the PCE is that you are your sensory input and that this sensory input is a result of things that are actually there, independent of that sensory input. The "direct access" that Richard talks about is this - sensory input. By "direct" he means "not mediated by the affective faculty".

Jake is essentially making the same argument that Bruno & John are making, yet Bruno & John at least realize that that point of view is incompatible with actualism.

As to how to verify it, I suppose that's what we've all been debating this entire time.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:


A fair summary would be that your understanding and occasional experience is that trees and things do not have their own, solid, separate essences.

Yet the understanding and occasional experience of one on the actualist path is that trees and things *do* have their own, solid, separate essences.



Could you elaborate? How can this be tested or verified? What would things look like if a tree did or didn't have a separate essence?

I'm not clear how the word "essence" is being used here. A tree is an individual biological organism, but determining this would require cellular biological analysis, and I don't see how a PCE would help with that -- but maybe that's not what you mean.

No, by essence I mean existence independent of perception. That there is a tree - made up of matter - existing independently from anyone perceiving that tree. The experience of the PCE is that you are your sensory input and that this sensory input is a result of things that are actually there, independent of that sensory input. The "direct access" that Richard talks about is this - sensory input. By "direct" he means "not mediated by the affective faculty".

Jake is essentially making the same argument that Bruno & John are making, yet Bruno & John at least realize that that point of view is incompatible with actualism.

As to how to verify it, I suppose that's what we've all been debating this entire time.


I don't understand how you can experience with sensory input that things are there independent of sensory input. That seems contradictory. We can say that the tree is almost certainly there independent of perception because it stays in the same place, looks the same every time, appears basically the same to everyone who looks at it, can be photographed, and so forth, but that still leaves the possibility that Descartes's evil genius is tricking us, right?

I haven't heard Jake or anyone else deny that the tree is actually there, just that our language is shaped for human perception and subject to human sensory limitations.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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. Jake .:
Hmmm. I'm not getting the sense from Bruno's response that he thinks all interpretations are meaningless, far from it. He seems to be pointing out that meanings are contextually generated within experience and even seemingly 'obvious truths' like 'the ball dropped' are meanings, i.e., contextually co-arising within a given perspective/interpretation. I don't see this at all as negating meaning, rather, it situates meaning within the context of an actual perspective, with all the conditioning-- physiological, cultural-- that actually pertains within that perspective.

For me, this sort of question becomes more clear when I introduce the distinction between representational artifacts and self-organizing things. So for example the difference between a chair and a tree.

A 'chair' is clearly an artifact, in at least two senses. 1) it's an artifact in that it is materially constructed by humans for a purpose. 2) it's an artifact in that it is socially constructed by a particular culture of humans as something to sit on, which would not be 'true' outside of that context, as even if a member of another culture could see that it was materially constructed they might think of any number of other uses for it besides sitting on it. Clearly these two forms of artifactuallity inter-are, they are co-determining.

A fly that comes in the room with different sensory aparatus and different socialization (if any) will not see the chair, because the chair does not exist objectively but is partially co-constituted by various intersubjective matrices (both physiological and social).

Now take a tree, or an organism. The tree is not 'put together', it is not an artifact, it is a self-organizing system. Nevertheless, it can't exist in isolation, it depends on being embedded interactionally in an indeterminate number of other self-organizing systems, a web of systems-- meteorological, atmospheric, ecological. Yet the tree has an integrity that the chair doesn't (in that the tree will maintain itself against entropy to some extent, by exporting entropy in the form of waste products).

A human who looks at the tree may see it through various artifactual lenses; for instance, the human in question may be a chair-maker. Or a conservationist. Or an investment banker.

Now, notice I haven't denied that there is stuff happening beyond my personal consciousness and beyond my cultural context; however, it seems evident from the way in which both the chair and the tree are 'empty of essence' that what is going on "out there" is not a bunch of unrecognized facts, as facts are artifacts of particular ways of relating to things which are co-constituted by the (conscious) contexts in which they arise.

And in fact, what I find so interesting about this line of reflection is that the 'tree itself' is not actually 'outside' of my personal experience, or outside my cultural reference; in truth, it comes all the way into my experience as the impressions it makes on this bodymind. It's just that, when seeing clearly the 'tree itself' its emptiness is also seen-- that it is completely empty of its own essence but inter-is with a vast multiplicity of other contexts. This emptiness can emerge clearly in experience without negating the sensory concreteness of the tree, or of the various things I might want to do with the tree which might condition how I relate to the tree. Because that same emptiness applies to those various interpretations which I might bring to the tree.

Emptiness/openness is not one interpretation among many that I may apply to the tree, it is the nature of all the experiences I have. This emptiness erupts in experience when my mind stops compulsively attributing solid seperate essences to things( whether thoughts, feelings, perceptions, impulses or sensations). The eruption of openness in the field of phenomena is accompanied by a sense of vastness and inter-being, which most practitioners have tasted at some point, which seems as if it applies equally to my experiential impressions and to the swirls of matter-energy which are incompletely displayed in my unique perspective.

Personally , I don't see how this openness of phenomena is incompatible with Actualism, as Claudiu seems to insist, as it doesn't deny that Universe exceeds my perspective; in fact, it points out that Universe IS my perspective, in that my whole being, body, mind and energy, is an open-ended self-organizing system that IS Universe. The tree is universe, the (mostly imaginary/socially constructed) chair is Universe, etc. Universe is open. (Oh, and it is clear and sensitive lol). But this goes to a different point, which is the way in which many actualists reify the teaching-pointers that Richard has put out there. In my opinion this is due to the way Richard has put out a very dogmatic metaphysic of experience in an authoritarian way, but that's definitely another story.


Jake, setting aside how this relates or doesn't relate to actualism, I just wanted to say this post expresses with real clarity and subtlety things that I can relate to, but can only think and express in a most ham-fisted way, compared to this. Really great stuff.

As so often happens, the thread has got bogged down in controversy, and it looks like if we're going to resolve it, all parties will have to step back and make more basic, unambiguous, unambitious-verging-on-idiotic statements -- which I'm willing to do in case there's something really interesting or unexpected at the root of it -- but I don't want to let this one pass without saying thanks.

<Cheerleader skirt off>
<Shorts back on>
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
John Wilde:


Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

(...) There are thus two components:

1) unrecognized stuff happening in the world
2) recognition of stuff

(...) #1 occurs independently of #2 - things do happen outside of perception and recognition. They just aren't known as such without perception and recognition.


The way I understand the statement "there are no facts, only interpretations", it isn't meant to be taken as a denial of #1 (although sometimes it can be). Usually people mean it in the sense that, by the time we recognise and ascribe meaning to anything, to the point where it's thinkable and speakable, there has already inevitably been an act of interpretation. The very recognition and ascription of meaning to something is an act of interpretation.

It doesn't mean that there's nothing happening independently of experience/interpretation, it just means that there's no such thing as knowledge apart from interpretation. In a sense, even experience itself is interpretation.... it's conditioned by something/someone (minimally by senses, nervous system, conditioned mind...... and, somewhere in there, purpose).


Going back to BCDEFG's example, though, if a ball drops on the floor, while it is true that we interpret the visual sensations of light bouncing off a particular cluster of molecules as a "ball," it would not be a correct interpretation to say that the ball didn't drop. That part isn't just a matter of interpretation.


Wrong: the very sentence "the ball has dropped" only makes sense for our specific type of intelligence, our specific way of perceiving the world and making categorizations (such as ball, movement, up, down...).

There would be nothing contradictory if an alien would come to earth and would not be able to understand the same events in the same way. For instance, maybe the alien was raised in a world made of turbulent gas streams, and then even the idea of an isolated "ball" is absurd, for in his way of perceiving, there is nothing but a flux of fluids. Their language might even not be suitable for isolating elements in the environment (such as "ball").

The same event would have entirely different meanings.

Of course, in such a scenario as a ball dropping, there is little room for subjectivity. But this is NOT because "the ball drops" is the only correct interpretation to whatever is happening, but rather because humans have very similar mechanisms of perception, at least in the case of this simple scenario.

I think that "the ball is falling" It is not a "fact" in the ontological sense that Claudiu defends (and which is essential to actualism, it seems). In my view, "common sense" is a more adequate name to what is happening in this falling-ball scenario. (but I am not claiming that all that is called fact is common sense, only that it depends on an act of interpretation)
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:
J C:
Going back to BCDEFG's example, though, if a ball drops on the floor, while it is true that we interpret the visual sensations of light bouncing off a particular cluster of molecules as a "ball," it would not be a correct interpretation to say that the ball didn't drop. That part isn't just a matter of interpretation.


Wrong: the very sentence "the ball has dropped" only makes sense for our specific type of intelligence, our specific way of perceiving the world and making categorizations (such as ball, movement, up, down...).

There would be nothing contradictory if an alien would come to earth and would not be able to understand the same events in the same way. For instance, maybe the alien was raised in a world made of turbulent gas streams, and then even the idea of an isolated "ball" is absurd, for in his way of perceiving, there is nothing but a flux of fluids. Their language might even not be suitable for isolating elements in the environment (such as "ball").

The same event would have entirely different meanings.

Of course, in such a scenario as a ball dropping, there is little room for subjectivity. But this is NOT because "the ball drops" is the only correct interpretation to whatever is happening, but rather because humans have very similar mechanisms of perception, at least in the case of this simple scenario.

I think that "the ball is falling" It is not a "fact" in the ontological sense that Claudiu defends (and which is essential to actualism, it seems). In my view, "common sense" is a more adequate name to what is happening in this falling-ball scenario. (but I am not claiming that all that is called fact is common sense, only that it depends on an act of interpretation)

Alright, clearly we aren't getting through to each other. I will take a more succinct approach this time with one question.

Earlier you said:
Bruno Loff:
It sounds like the kind-of meaningless happy thought one might indulge in simply because it's pleasurable to do so, with no concern over its accuracy or verifiability.

My question is: How can you have any notion of verifiability if there is no notion of facts absent interpretation? No interpretation could be said to be more accurate than another one, because there is no objective basis to compare them to - it's just one person's interpretation vs. another's.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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And a second question. Your stance that "all that is called fact [...] depends on an act of interpretation"[1] - how is it not one of those non-falsifiable ideas you talk about? As in, how is it not one of these:

Bruno Loff:
It sounds like the kind of abstract, unfalsifiable statement that there is nothing I could possibly do to argue against.

Bruno Loff:
I suspect that there are certain statements, postures and attitudes, which are --- to speak by way of analogy only --- undecidable. Things like "everyone is good deep down" or "god loves us" or "the world is perfect" or "each moment of our lives is precious" or "it is possible to have direct access to facts". I would rather discard these whenever I come across them, it seems to me that it is safer to do so.


[1] I think this is an accurate rendering of what you said here: "but I am not claiming that all that is called fact is common sense, only that it depends on an act of interpretation"
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Claudiu:
Earlier you said:
Bruno Loff:
It sounds like the kind-of meaningless happy thought one might indulge in simply because it's pleasurable to do so, with no concern over its accuracy or verifiability.

My question is: How can you have any notion of verifiability if there is no notion of facts absent interpretation? No interpretation could be said to be more accurate than another one, because there is no objective basis to compare them to - it's just one person's interpretation vs. another's.


Well accurate here is with respect to repeatability, consistency, testability. utility, or other standards. It is not with respect to "truth". Even in the philosophy of science has ruled out the notion of "truth" or "what is actually happening" as being too naive (in exchange for something closer to "what can we say about what is happening that is useful/consistent/repeatable/etc") --- and hopefully we agree that science is one of the most accurate means of knowledge available to human beings.

And it IS simply a matter of one person's interpretation vs another's. Unless God is writing down "the way things are" in his little Book of Facts, and decides to come down to earth to settle disputes... It would be hilarious, if I would suddenly hear a voice in my head: ACTUALLY, BRUNO, IT IS LIKE CLAUDIU SAYS! emoticon Instead, we've been at it for hours!

Claudiu:
how is it not one of these: (...)


In many ways. For instance, in certain situations, such as when doing mathematics, or trying to understand more about a given concrete situation, I find it highly convenient to think of things in terms of true or false. If I were to constantly check to see how my conclusions about the situation might be affected by me not having direct access to the events, but rather an access that is mediated and transformed by my sensory-cognitive apparatus, then that might well require many times more mental horsepower than I have available, and, most often, I would gain very little from it.

I would say, even, that I adopt the perspective that things are either true or false and that I can either see it right or wrong in the vast majority of contexts. This is useful, convenient, and given that our perception IS often accurate (repeatable, testable, etc), it is a good heuristic.

It is only in certain scenarios that I think it is a dangerous way of thinking. For instance, in situations when I have the greatest power. Or when I am reaching excessively positive or excessively negative conclusions. Or when I have something to gain, personally or mentally, from a given conclusion. In these situations the stakes are high, and it's worth spending the extra effort to relativize your perspective, trying to see from someone else's perspective, asking a friend for a different perspective, empatizing with someone's position, etc, instead of acting as if it was a world of true and false. Not doing so has gotten me into trouble.

So for me, even the there-is-no-truth (truth = fact existing in itself) perspective is something I make use of depending not on its truth or falsity, but rather on its utility.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:


I would say, even, that I adopt the perspective that things are either true or false and that I can either see it right or wrong in the vast majority of contexts. This is useful, convenient, and given that our perception IS often accurate (repeatable, testable, etc), it is a good heuristic.

It is only in certain scenarios that I think it is a dangerous way of thinking. For instance, in situations when I have the greatest power. Or when I am reaching excessively positive or excessively negative conclusions. Or when I have something to gain, personally or mentally, from a given conclusion. In these situations the stakes are high, and it's worth spending the extra effort to relativize your perspective, trying to see from someone else's perspective, asking a friend for a different perspective, empatizing with someone's position, etc, instead of acting as if it was a world of true and false. Not doing so has gotten me into trouble.

So for me, even the there-is-no-truth (truth = fact existing in itself) perspective is something I make use of depending not on its truth or falsity, but rather on its utility.


Why is it worth spending the extra effort in those situations? Seems to me those are situations where you may be unknowingly introducing biases (more than usual), and you're trying to eliminate those biases or reduce them as far as possible to get a more accurate understanding of the world.

I don't understand why adopting the perspective that things are true or false is dangerous, in light of this; rather, I think it's helpful in recognizing that we may not have a fully true perspective of the world, we may not be able to get one, but we can get closer to the truth by comparing our perspectives with other people and trying to correct for biases. The danger is thinking your perceptions must be true. But if you reject the idea of truth, why bother trying to correct for biases? Acting as if this was a world of true and false means acknowledging that perceptions are not reality. Just because truth exists doesn't mean we are capable of knowing it perfectly accurately.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
I don't understand why adopting the perspective that things are true or false is dangerous, in light of this; rather, I think it's helpful in recognizing that we may not have a fully true perspective of the world, we may not be able to get one, but we can get closer to the truth by comparing our perspectives with other people and trying to correct for biases. The danger is thinking your perceptions must be true. But if you reject the idea of truth, why bother trying to correct for biases? Acting as if this was a world of true and false means acknowledging that perceptions are not reality. Just because truth exists doesn't mean we are capable of knowing it perfectly accurately.

Nicely put.

I do agree that facts cannot be known without sensory input. I think calling this "interpretation" is a bit of a stretch, since that word generally means a more thought-based cognitive activity, but of course what senses we have and how they operate affect which facts can be known and how. For example, we can know via vision that red light is emanating from somewhere, but we can't know so for x-rays : for that we need a measuring device.

Bruno Loff:
Well accurate here is with respect to repeatability, consistency, testability. utility, or other standards. [...] And it IS simply a matter of one person's interpretation vs another's.

Ironically, Bruno, it seems your view is the one that is the more dangerous one, that can actually lead to exactly what you seem to think the view of facts does, which again ironically doesn't do that at all.

Because your view would allow for a perfectly valid perspective of, say, experiencing everything as molecules of solidified joy, feeling that everything I say is a precious word-drip of Ultimate Wisdom, and that everyone I interact with becomes immensely purified and enriched because of my very presence, which I make sure to share by slapping people. They say that they aren't, but that's because they don't want to admit the truth. This is a repeatable and consistent view. You can't call it wrong because it's just my interpretation. You can't call it deluded because it's just my interpretation - yours is different, ok. Testable? Other people can test it but if they disagree that's just their interpretation. Or I can interpret their disagreement as actually, they are really agreeing with me. And there'd be no reason to correct for whatever bias this might have because there's no notion of facts outside interpretation.

Yet this would be delusional of course. How would you determine that? If there's no way to determine it then it's perfectly valid, in your world view - and that seems awful to me as it leaves you wide open to deluding yourself in many varied and various ways.

On the other hand, if one does accept that there are facts and one can know what they are or not... a simple way out of this delusion is to pay attention to the facts. The fact is that joy isn't something that can be solidified so that doesn't even make sense. And also that it's extremely unlikely that everybody would lie about not being enriched when they in fact are, or that slapping indeed has any causal mechanism that leads to "enrichment". Plus this "Ultimate Wisdom" can also be compared with the facts and one could see whether it is indeed correct or not - likely not, in this case.

But it seems this is something you cannot do because there are no facts outside interpretation for you. You can only say, this fact-based approach is "just another interpretation", and none would be more right or wrong than the other. Which, as I said, seems awful to me.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
I don't understand why adopting the perspective that things are true or false is dangerous, in light of this; rather, I think it's helpful in recognizing that we may not have a fully true perspective of the world, we may not be able to get one, but we can get closer to the truth by comparing our perspectives with other people and trying to correct for biases. The danger is thinking your perceptions must be true. But if you reject the idea of truth, why bother trying to correct for biases? Acting as if this was a world of true and false means acknowledging that perceptions are not reality. Just because truth exists doesn't mean we are capable of knowing it perfectly accurately.

Nicely put.

I do agree that facts cannot be known without sensory input. I think calling this "interpretation" is a bit of a stretch, since that word generally means a more thought-based cognitive activity, but of course what senses we have and how they operate affect which facts can be known and how. For example, we can know via vision that red light is emanating from somewhere, but we can't know so for x-rays : for that we need a measuring device.

Bruno Loff:
Well accurate here is with respect to repeatability, consistency, testability. utility, or other standards. [...] And it IS simply a matter of one person's interpretation vs another's.

Ironically, Bruno, it seems your view is the one that is the more dangerous one, that can actually lead to exactly what you seem to think the view of facts does, which again ironically doesn't do that at all.

Because your view would allow for a perfectly valid perspective of, say, experiencing everything as molecules of solidified joy, feeling that everything I say is a precious word-drip of Ultimate Wisdom, and that everyone I interact with becomes immensely purified and enriched because of my very presence, which I make sure to share by slapping people. They say that they aren't, but that's because they don't want to admit the truth. This is a repeatable and consistent view. You can't call it wrong because it's just my interpretation. You can't call it deluded because it's just my interpretation - yours is different, ok. Testable? Other people can test it but if they disagree that's just their interpretation. Or I can interpret their disagreement as actually, they are really agreeing with me. And there'd be no reason to correct for whatever bias this might have because there's no notion of facts outside interpretation.

Yet this would be delusional of course. How would you determine that? If there's no way to determine it then it's perfectly valid, in your world view - and that seems awful to me as it leaves you wide open to deluding yourself in many varied and various ways.

On the other hand, if one does accept that there are facts and one can know what they are or not... a simple way out of this delusion is to pay attention to the facts. The fact is that joy isn't something that can be solidified so that doesn't even make sense. And also that it's extremely unlikely that everybody would lie about not being enriched when they in fact are, or that slapping indeed has any causal mechanism that leads to "enrichment". Plus this "Ultimate Wisdom" can also be compared with the facts and one could see whether it is indeed correct or not - likely not, in this case.

But it seems this is something you cannot do because there are no facts outside interpretation for you. You can only say, this fact-based approach is "just another interpretation", and none would be more right or wrong than the other. Which, as I said, seems awful to me.


Hmm you seem to be straw-maning me. I didn't say that facts didn't exist, I said that they didn't exist in the ultimate sense you seem to ascribe them to.

Let's say, when (something which we would describe as) a ball falls into the ground, there is no book anywhere where it is written "the ball fell to the ground". Before someone looks at it and thinks "the ball falls to the ground", or considers that hypothetical scenario (like you are doing now) and classifies it as "the ball falls to the ground", there is no such a thing as the fact "the ball falls to the ground".

Indeed, your position seems akin to me as the following: facts exist and happen independently of any observer being there to witness them. Then, when something happens in the universe, to that event corresponds an infinite list of sentences, which are "the facts that happened". So when a ball falls, the sentences would be:
- the ball has fallen
- the ball is red (, say)
- the ball has fallen at an average of 5 km/h
- the ball is 30cm in diameter
- 1 second after the ball began falling, there are 1283213823 atoms on the ball
- the atoms in the ball at that instant could be ordered in the following way: (list of atoms here)
- the first atom on that list is a, say, carbon atom, and the level of excitation in that carbon's atom's 14 electrons is ....
- the second atom on that list is, say, an oxigen atom, and ....
...
- another way of ordering the atoms in the ball is (another list)
- the first atom on this list ...
... insert all possible orderings of all atoms on the ball here ...
- etc, list containing every single fact with respect to that incident

Now by extension, such an infinite list could be considered for every single event that happens in the universe. We could call it "god's list of facts".

Your stance is that, when you utter something, then it is either something ON this list, or something NOT ON this list. Ah, and, furthermore, when you become actually free, you only see and think things ON this list. Is that it? (I do perfectly understand that you do NOT claim that an AF person sees everything on the list, but you seem to claim that whatever an AF person sees, is part of that list)

Just trying to push your stance to its natural limit, and see how far you go.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:
Hmm you seem to be straw-maning me. I didn't say that facts didn't exist, I said that they didn't exist in the ultimate sense you seem to ascribe them to.

Hmm maybe I am, I'm not sure. Maybe I don't get the nuance. If facts are dependent on interpretation and there are no facts outside of interpretation, what makes one interpretation any more valid than another? If nothing, then what is to prevent you from living in a delusion, an example of which I gave?

Bruno Loff:
Let's say, when (something which we would describe as) a ball falls into the ground, there is no book anywhere where it is written "the ball fell to the ground". Before someone looks at it and thinks "the ball falls to the ground", or considers that hypothetical scenario (like you are doing now) and classifies it as "the ball falls to the ground", there is no such a thing as the fact "the ball falls to the ground".

Indeed, your position seems akin to me as the following: facts exist and happen independently of any observer being there to witness them. Then, when something happens in the universe, to that event corresponds an infinite list of sentences, which are "the facts that happened". So when a ball falls, the sentences would be:
- the ball has fallen
- the ball is red (, say)
- the ball has fallen at an average of 5 km/h
- the ball is 30cm in diameter
- 1 second after the ball began falling, there are 1283213823 atoms on the ball
- the atoms in the ball at that instant could be ordered in the following way: (list of atoms here)
- the first atom on that list is a, say, carbon atom, and the level of excitation in that carbon's atom's 14 electrons is ....
- the second atom on that list is, say, an oxigen atom, and ....
...
- another way of ordering the atoms in the ball is (another list)
- the first atom on this list ...
... insert all possible orderings of all atoms on the ball here ...
- etc, list containing every single fact with respect to that incident

Now by extension, such an infinite list could be considered for every single event that happens in the universe.

Yes, this seems an accurate way to portray what I mean when I say that things happen outside of anyone's perception or interpretation. Obviously those words are dependent on human meaning, but as they are commonly understood, they point to events that occur outside of anyone's perception.

Bruno Loff:
We could call it "god's list of facts".
We could, but I wouldn't. It's not "God's list", it is just - what happened. And they also weren't described by anyone so the list of knowledge doesn't actually exist anywhere.

Bruno Loff:
Your stance is that, when you utter something, then it is either something ON this list, or something NOT ON this list.
Yes. Taking into account of course that words can mean different things to different people. e.g. an item on the list might be "the ball has risen, where 'risen' is being incorrectly used to mean fallen". And also considering that it might be impossible to determine whether something is on the list.

Bruno Loff:
Ah, and, furthermore, when you become actually free, you only see and think things ON this list. Is that it? (I do perfectly understand that you do NOT claim that an AF person sees everything on the list, but you seem to claim that whatever an AF person sees, is part of that list)

Not necessarily. I still see it as a possibility to misunderstand some things and/or be misinformed about others. Indeed, I have witnessed a simple example of this myself: Richard thought the "chi" in "[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T'ai_chi_ch'uan#Name]tai chi" meant "qi" as in "energy", when in fact it means "ji" as in "ultimate/extreme". When I told him this, he did not believe me - he said he didn't see any reason for it to suddenly mean something else. Which I think is fine - I could have been misinformed and I'm certainly no authority. I am sure if he were to look it up in a reliable source he would change his mind.

Bruno Loff:
Just trying to push your stance to its natural limit, and see how far you go.

Neat, I like it. I think it is a good way for us to understand each other's stances better.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
Hmm you seem to be straw-maning me. I didn't say that facts didn't exist, I said that they didn't exist in the ultimate sense you seem to ascribe them to.

Hmm maybe I am, I'm not sure. Maybe I don't get the nuance. If facts are dependent on interpretation and there are no facts outside of interpretation.....


I still think you guys are talking past each other, and what seems to be a controversy about whether facts exist independently of interpretation is really a controversy over what the word fact refers to.

1) World

2) Statements about it.

Where is "a fact" located?

Claudiu seems to be using the word "fact" as synonymous with "world" or "reality" that exists independently of any human perception of it, and seems frustrated with what seems to be subtle denial that there is such a thing.

I associate the word "fact" with ideas and statements about the world, not the world as it is beyond human discourse. And it's these ideas and statements that are acts of interpretation / interpretation-dependent / inextricable from some kind of interpretative process. [And I'd further argue that high level cognitive interpretations are dependent on more rudimentary perceptions which are in themselves acts of interpretation, but that's a different matter. This attempt to resolve the controversy doesn't depend on it].
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
I still think you guys are talking past each other, and what seems to be a controversy about whether facts exist independently of interpretation is really a controversy over what the word fact refers to.

1) World

2) Statements about it.

Where is "a fact" located?

Claudiu seems to be using the word "fact" as synonymous with "world" or "reality" that exists independently of any human perception of it, and seems frustrated with what seems to be subtle denial that there is such a thing.

Oh, perhaps. Here is what I mean without using the word "fact" - perhaps Bruno can do the same.

1) The world exists and things happen in it.
2) There are perceptions that result from interacting with the things that happen in the world.

Some perceptions more closely match the things that happen in the world - these I call accurate. Others do not match the things that happen in the world - these I call inaccurate. It is beneficial to have accurate perceptions vs. inaccurate ones.

Further: there cannot be two contradictory perceptions that are both accurate. Where they contradict, one or the other or both must be less accurate. Of course, there can be two perceptions that seem to contradict, but are perhaps just referring to different things.

Also: things that happen in the world don't depend on the perceptions of it. Unless the thing that is happening in the world entails a perception, e.g. the thing that happens in the world is that somebody has a certain perception of something happening in the world.

John Wilde:
I associate the word "fact" with ideas and statements about the world, not the world as it is beyond human discourse. And it's these ideas and statements that are acts of interpretation / interpretation-dependent / inextricable from some kind of interpretative process. [And I'd further argue that high level cognitive interpretation are dependent on more rudimentary perceptions which are in themselves acts of interpretation, but that's a separate matter. This attempt to resolve the controversy doesn't depend on it].

Perhaps it does. I do agree that perceptions of what happens in the world ultimately depend on one's sense apparatus. I would not call these rudimentary perceptions "acts of interpretation", though. Sensory apparatus works mostly on its own.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
(...) Sensory apparatus works mostly on its own.


True enough, but it's also strongly influenced by purpose. For example, have you ever seen this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
(...) Sensory apparatus works mostly on its own.


True enough, but it's also strongly influenced by purpose. For example, have you ever seen this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo

Yuss I have. Does your purpose while watching the video affect the fact of what happens in the video? Nope!
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
(...) Sensory apparatus works mostly on its own.


True enough, but it's also strongly influenced by purpose. For example, have you ever seen this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo

Yuss I have. Does your purpose while watching the video affect the fact of what happens in the video? Nope!


Of course not. But does your intent while watching the video filter what you see, regardless of your sensory apparatus being in sound working order? Yep.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
(...) Sensory apparatus works mostly on its own.


True enough, but it's also strongly influenced by purpose. For example, have you ever seen this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo

Yuss I have. Does your purpose while watching the video affect the fact of what happens in the video? Nope!


Of course not. But does your intent while watching the video filter what you see, regardless of your sensory apparatus being in sound working order? Yep.

Right. That is why having an intent of sticking to the facts is useful. Because this is verifiable. You can look back at the video again and see if what someone said about there being a gorilla there is true. If you didn't care about the facts you could say there wasn't a gorilla there and you just wouldn't look at the video again. Personally the first time I saw this video (this wasn't the first time), I thought when the video was replayed that it might have been a different one, so I re-watched the original just to be sure.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Right. That is why having an intent of sticking to the facts is useful.


Observing carefully is useful.

A person whose intent is to count the white players' passes has every intention of sticking to the facts, but the observations they make aren't conducive to noticing the gorilla. It isn't the intent of sticking to the facts per se that reveals the gorilla.

On the other hand, a person whose intent is to investigate whether a gorilla is present will see the gorilla (but probably not notice how many passes were made) ;-)

I think we'd agree that interpretation, ascription of meaning to a situation, is flexible but not arbitrary. It's constrained by what's actually happening, and it's also constrained by our ability to know it, which is conditioned by lots of factors, including intent. Do we differ fundamentally on that?

In terms of significance for life and practice, I have a few ideas about this that I'll write up later.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
I think we'd agree that interpretation, ascription of meaning to a situation, is flexible but not arbitrary. It's constrained by what's actually happening, and it's also constrained by our ability to know it, which is conditioned by lots of factors, including intent. Do we differ fundamentally on that?

If I understand your paragraph correctly, I don't think we differ on this point, no.

I think we differ on the point of why interpretation is not arbitrary. This is what I was asking Bruno about in my most recent posts. My reason is that things happen and that perception involves sensing things that are actually there and actually happening. Sensory input gives us information about what is there, which we can reason about to determine what goes on even outside of sensory input. Thus, there are "what"s that can be said to happen - we just can't know everything on "God's List" because we aren't Gods.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
I think we'd agree that interpretation, ascription of meaning to a situation, is flexible but not arbitrary. It's constrained by what's actually happening, and it's also constrained by our ability to know it, which is conditioned by lots of factors, including intent. Do we differ fundamentally on that?

If I understand your paragraph correctly, I don't think we differ on this point, no.

I think we differ on the point of why interpretation is not arbitrary. This is what I was asking Bruno about in my most recent posts. My reason is that things happen and that perception involves sensing things that are actually there and actually happening. Sensory input gives us information about what is there, which we can reason about to determine what goes on even outside of sensory input.


I'm scratching my head wondering exactly where is our point of divergence.

As for why interpretation is not arbitrary, do you think that anyone in this thread is saying:

1) Things are not happening?
2) Perception doesn't involve sensing things that are actually there and actually happening?
3) Sensory input doesn't give us information about what is there?
4) We can't reason about it to determine what goes on (...)?

I really don't see anyone saying that, but you seem to be responding as if they are.

So in what way do you think we differ on why interpretation is not arbitrary?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:

I'm scratching my head wondering exactly where is our point of divergence.


Or, just a thought, maybe we'd get further by figuring out what, if anything, is important in this conversation, and why.

Does the apparent difference in our views have any consequence? Perhaps shifting attention from what our differences are to how they work will yield more useful stuff than how we're currently going about it.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
I think we'd agree that interpretation, ascription of meaning to a situation, is flexible but not arbitrary. It's constrained by what's actually happening, and it's also constrained by our ability to know it, which is conditioned by lots of factors, including intent. Do we differ fundamentally on that?

If I understand your paragraph correctly, I don't think we differ on this point, no.

I think we differ on the point of why interpretation is not arbitrary. This is what I was asking Bruno about in my most recent posts. My reason is that things happen and that perception involves sensing things that are actually there and actually happening. Sensory input gives us information about what is there, which we can reason about to determine what goes on even outside of sensory input.


I'm scratching my head wondering exactly where is our point of divergence.

As for why interpretation is not arbitrary, do you think that anyone in this thread is saying:

1) Things are not happening?

No, looks like this is not the case. You even said it yourself. I misspoke.
John Wilde:
2) Perception doesn't involve sensing things that are actually there and actually happening?
3) Sensory input doesn't give us information about what is there?

It looks to me like you, Bruno, and Jake are all saying this. That the only fact is in the interpretation. That is, it seems to me that you guys are saying sensory input doesn't give you information about what is actually there, because you can't say what is actually there, since any way of knowing what's actually there depends on ... sensory input ("interpretation").
John Wilde:
4) We can't reason about it to determine what goes on [even outside of sensory input]?

Same applies here. It seems like you guys are saying any reasoning will not tell you what's actually there, since it's all an act of "interpretation". Bruno says: "Indeed we can say many things about the objective world, and in fact we do say many things about it. For instance, we say: the ball has fallen. That does not mean that this saying is itself objectively so."

So correct me if I misunderstood. Or maybe you and Bruno differ in your views so I shouldn't address you both at once. You & Bruno saying that "interpretation" is constrained by what's actually happening, but you can't use that "interpretation" in order to know whether something is objectively true or not because it's an "interpretation".

Yet the very fact that what's actually happening constraints "interpretation" means exactly this: that "interpretation" *does* allow you to figure out whether something is objectively true.
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Superkatze one, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 33 Join Date: 11/5/11 Recent Posts
maybe this video could be of some relevance to this discussion

Interface theory of perception
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
I think we'd agree that interpretation, ascription of meaning to a situation, is flexible but not arbitrary. It's constrained by what's actually happening, and it's also constrained by our ability to know it, which is conditioned by lots of factors, including intent. Do we differ fundamentally on that?

If I understand your paragraph correctly, I don't think we differ on this point, no.

I think we differ on the point of why interpretation is not arbitrary. This is what I was asking Bruno about in my most recent posts. My reason is that things happen and that perception involves sensing things that are actually there and actually happening. Sensory input gives us information about what is there, which we can reason about to determine what goes on even outside of sensory input.


I'm scratching my head wondering exactly where is our point of divergence.

As for why interpretation is not arbitrary, do you think that anyone in this thread is saying:

1) Things are not happening?

No, looks like this is not the case. You even said it yourself. I misspoke.
John Wilde:
2) Perception doesn't involve sensing things that are actually there and actually happening?
3) Sensory input doesn't give us information about what is there?

It looks to me like you, Bruno, and Jake are all saying this. That the only fact is in the interpretation. That is, it seems to me that you guys are saying sensory input doesn't give you information about what is actually there, because you can't say what is actually there, since any way of knowing what's actually there depends on ... sensory input ("interpretation").

That which is actually there has no classification in itself. It does exist, but, in itself, it is not a ball, it did not fall, it is unclassified and undistinguished.

Then a brain enters stage left. It is affected by the events and interprets what is actually happening. Now the events have been classified, distinguished, categorized, modeled, etc. The classification of what is happening as "a ball falling" is not the ball itself falling. But it IS sensing things that are actually there. That sensing requires a perceptive apparatus (eyes, brains, etc), so that sensing is NOT what is actually there, but rather a SENSING of what is actually there.

Claudiu:

John Wilde:
4) We can't reason about it to determine what goes on [even outside of sensory input]?

Same applies here. It seems like you guys are saying any reasoning will not tell you what's actually there, since it's all an act of "interpretation". Bruno says: "Indeed we can say many things about the objective world, and in fact we do say many things about it. For instance, we say: the ball has fallen. That does not mean that this saying is itself objectively so."


Indeed, the classification of the events into "ball" "falling" etc requires a subjective viewer to make that classification. That classification is not there apriori. Nonetheless, we can reason about what is actually happening, in fact the reasoning IS the very act of classifying, distinguishing, predicting, etc.

Claudiu:
So correct me if I misunderstood. Or maybe you and Bruno differ in your views so I shouldn't address you both at once. You & Bruno saying that "interpretation" is constrained by what's actually happening, but you can't use that "interpretation" in order to know whether something is objectively true or not because it's an "interpretation".


Dude, we use that interpretation all the time. It is our means of reading the world... No-one here every said that it couldn't be used. We can and do reason about what these things are, and this reasoning depends on the effect that things have in our perception, but this reasoning itself IS NOT how the things it reasons about actually are. It is something extra, because (repeat) things in themselves don't have the results of that reasoning.

Claudiu:
Yet the very fact that what's actually happening constraints "interpretation" means exactly this: that "interpretation" *does* allow you to figure out whether something is objectively true.


Things are not true or false independent of interpretation. What we call a ball, in itself, is primordial and unclassified, until we come along and call it a ball. The events we call "a ball falling" are, by themselves, undistinguished and unintelligible, until we come along and interpret them, label them, organize them as "a ball falling".

But indeed: (1) things happen, (2) perception involves sensing these things, (3) sensory input puts us in contact with these things, and (4) we can and do reason about what these things are.

That which actually happens has, by itself, no description, no truth, no falsity. Truth should be a convenient way of saying "a way of looking that works".

I hope that my position is clearer now. I think I understood yours.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Claudiu, I see this pretty much the same way as Bruno. There is something happening independently of interpretation, and we can know something about what's happening, but and that very knowing constitutes an act of interpretation.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
2) Perception doesn't involve sensing things that are actually there and actually happening?
3) Sensory input doesn't give us information about what is there?

It looks to me like you, Bruno, and Jake are all saying this. That the only fact is in the interpretation. That is, it seems to me that you guys are saying sensory input doesn't give you information about what is actually there, because you can't say what is actually there, since any way of knowing what's actually there depends on ... sensory input ("interpretation").

Well this is getting interesting. I think we're getting closer.
Bruno Loff:
That which is actually there has no classification in itself.
Agree.
It does exist, [...]
Agree.
[...] but, in itself, it is not a ball, it did not fall, [...]
Disagree.
[..] it is unclassified and undistinguished.
Agree.

Bruno Loff:
Then a brain enters stage left. It is affected by the events and ["interprets"] what is actually happening. Now the events have been classified, distinguished, categorized, modeled, etc. The classification of what is happening as "a ball falling" is not the ball itself falling.
Agreed.
But it IS sensing things that are actually there.
Also agreed!
That sensing requires a perceptive apparatus (eyes, brains, etc), so that sensing is NOT what is actually there, but rather a SENSING of what is actually there.
Yes, and yes.

So we agree on all that, but we disagree on whether the ball is, in itself, a ball. Interesting no? I think I know what the reason for this disagreement is but it's a bit subtle & nuanced. Bear with me here.

So there is something that's actually there. In and of itself it doesn't have a classification - classifications only exist in the minds of sentient beings. However, the matter that it's made of does have a particular structure and arrangement to it - even though this structure and arrangement isn't known by anything yet. That is, what is actually there is one thing and not another thing, even if nobody is around to classify it.

Now a PCA comes along, senses what is actually there, and declares it to be a "ball". The reason he declared "ball" and not "horse" is because of the very previously-unrecognized structure and arrangement of what was actually there.

This label, "ball", is information about the actually-there thing. It is a pointer to that which is actually there. It says that the matter is structured in a particular way and not in another way. And yes, it does actually tell you this.

All I'm saying is that the label "ball" accurately reflects an aspect of the actually-there thing. The label isn't the thing, no. But the thing is that which the label "ball" references. So: any sentient PCA capable of understanding what the label "ball" references, and capable of sensing that actually-there thing, will agree that the label is accurate. If the PCA is defective or deficient or has a different set of sensory apparatus that can't sense the actually-there thing, then it won't be able to, of course.

Put another way: if "ball-thing" means "unrecognized actually-existing thing which a certain set of PCAs will use the label 'ball' to describe", and "ball-label" is that label, then: a "ball-thing" is not, in itself, a "ball-label". But, a "ball-thing" is, in itself, a "ball-thing". Further: "ball-label" points to "ball-thing", so a "ball-thing" is, itself, that which "ball-label" points to.

The rest is mostly repeats on this theme.

About what's true and false: it is false to categorize an actually-there thing as something which it isn't. "ball" and "horse" both refer to specific, very different things. If two PCAs which understand both terms sense an actually-there thing, and one says it's a "ball" while the other says it's a "horse", it is impossible for them to both be true. Either one is false or both are false.

Bruno Loff:
That which actually happens has, by itself, no description, no truth, no falsity.
I'm not sure how you can say this while at the same time agreeing that things actually happen. What does it mean for something to actually happen? It means some matter was rearranged in a certain way. That means it wasn't rearranged in a different way. What's true is that it was rearranged in that certain way. What's false is that it was rearranged in that different way. Whether PCAs recognize and describe this is a different issue.

The difficulty you seem to have is in understanding the relation between the "interpretation" to what information that "interpretation" gives about what's actually there. At least, the difficulty when we're describing these things. You have no difficulty in actually doing this since you're a functional human being and member of society etc.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Right. That is why having an intent of sticking to the facts is useful.


Observing carefully is useful.

A person whose intent is to count the white players' passes has every intention of sticking to the facts, but the observations they make aren't conducive to noticing the gorilla. It isn't the intent of sticking to the facts per se that reveals the gorilla.

True, but what I was getting at is that having the intent of sticking to the facts makes it easy to verify that there is indeed a gorilla if someone draws your attention to that. Whereas, for example, an intent of sticking to your interpretation, or sticking to your beliefs, would make it difficult for you to verify that there's a gorilla if it went against your beliefs. However, if your "worldview" is actually (and not just self-describedly) one of sticking to the facts (figuring out whether something is on "L1"), you don't get to choose what you accept as true or not - [but your ability to determine what is true or not is] subject to the constraining factors, some of which you listed.

John Wilde:
On the other hand, a person whose intent is to investigate whether a gorilla is present will see the gorilla (but probably not notice how many passes were made) ;-)

Heh true. But via repeated viewings you can end up knowing both.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 501 Join Date: 10/26/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

True, but what I was getting at is that having the intent of sticking to the facts makes it easy to verify that there is indeed a gorilla if someone draws your attention to that. Whereas, for example, an intent of sticking to your interpretation, or sticking to your beliefs, would make it difficult for you to verify that there's a gorilla if it went against your beliefs.


Open vs closed?

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

However, if your "worldview" is actually (and not just self-describedly) one of sticking to the facts (figuring out whether something is on "L1"), you don't get to choose what you accept as true or not - [but your ability to determine what is true or not is] subject to the constraining factors, some of which you listed.


Dunno man. As an aspiration it sounds good. But given that those constraining factors are influential and unavoidable, what you walk away with is always going to be an interpretation, IMO. And maybe the belief that it's "sticking to the facts" is itself a problematic interpretation. That's pretty much the conclusion I've come to, despite having been interested in the possibility of an unconditioned understanding, seeing things "as they really are", in various ways ever since I was a teenager. What seems a better option to me now is openness and receptivity to new info, flexibility of interpretation / modeling, and an emphasis on the consequences of views rather than, say, the notion of absolute, unconditioned fidelity to an independent reality.

Having said that, I'd definitely agree that it's a better aspiration / intent than intending to cling stubbornly to an existing belief
regardless of anything.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
Hmm you seem to be straw-maning me. I didn't say that facts didn't exist, I said that they didn't exist in the ultimate sense you seem to ascribe them to.

Hmm maybe I am, I'm not sure. Maybe I don't get the nuance. If facts are dependent on interpretation and there are no facts outside of interpretation.....


I still think you guys are talking past each other, and what seems to be a controversy about whether facts exist independently of interpretation is really a controversy over what the word fact refers to.

1) World

2) Statements about it.

Where is "a fact" located?

Claudiu seems to be using the word "fact" as synonymous with "world" or "reality" that exists independently of any human perception of it, and seems frustrated with what seems to be subtle denial that there is such a thing.

I associate the word "fact" with ideas and statements about the world, not the world as it is beyond human discourse. And it's these ideas and statements that are acts of interpretation / interpretation-dependent / inextricable from some kind of interpretative process. [And I'd further argue that high level cognitive interpretations are dependent on more rudimentary perceptions which are in themselves acts of interpretation, but that's a different matter. This attempt to resolve the controversy doesn't depend on it].


Oh, I don't think it is a different matter. I think that is where the core of our difference lies. I agree with you, even low-level perceptions are acts of interpretation. A nerve signal is created when a ray of light hits the eye, and that nerve signal is not the ray of light, nor is it an objective fact about the ray of light, nor is it a direct access to the ray of light. It is instead (what I have been calling) an interpretation of the ray of light; ... by a perceptual-cognitive apparatus.

That interpretation is its own thing. That kind of response is what makes up list L2. Without it there are no facts. There might be stuff happening, but there is no "what" in the stuff that happens.

Put another way. There might be an objective world, and in fact I do believe there is (occam's razor comes in handy at this point), but ultimately there is no "what" in this world. Whenever there is a "what" it comes with an interpretation.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:
John Wilde:
[And I'd further argue that high level cognitive interpretations are dependent on more rudimentary perceptions which are in themselves acts of interpretation, but that's a different matter. This attempt to resolve the controversy doesn't depend on it].


Oh, I don't think it is a different matter. I think that is where the core of our difference lies. I agree with you, even low-level perceptions are acts of interpretation. A nerve signal is created when a ray of light hits the eye, and that nerve signal is not the ray of light, nor is it an objective fact about the ray of light, nor is it a direct access to the ray of light. It is instead (what I have been calling) an interpretation of the ray of light; ... by a perceptual-cognitive apparatus.
Yes, but it is legitimate to conclude, as a result of that "interpretation"[1], that there was indeed a ray of light.

Bruno Loff:
Put another way. There might be an objective world, and in fact I do believe there is (occam's razor comes in handy at this point), but ultimately there is no "what" in this world. Whenever there is a "what" it comes with an interpretation.
To prod at this a bit. Can you say anything at all about this objective world, in that case? Does it have any relation at all to the "what"s that are determined as a result of a PCA "interpreting"[1] it? If yes, what is the nature of this relation? If not, then doesn't that mean the objective world as you describe it cannot be said to have any effect one way or another on anything?

________
[1] I'm using scare quotes cause I still don't agree with the word. Can we use another? None of the definitions of interpretation in wiktionary, or merriam-webster.com, or oxforddictionaries.com or google define:, cover your use of interpretation to mean "a nerve signal [being] created when a ray of light hits the eye". But I am flexible and am fine using that word with scare quotes if you like.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
Put another way. There might be an objective world, and in fact I do believe there is (occam's razor comes in handy at this point), but ultimately there is no "what" in this world. Whenever there is a "what" it comes with an interpretation.
To prod at this a bit. Can you say anything at all about this objective world, in that case? Does it have any relation at all to the "what"s that are determined as a result of a PCA "interpreting"[1] it? If yes, what is the nature of this relation? If not, then doesn't that mean the objective world as you describe it cannot be said to have any effect one way or another on anything?


Indeed we can say many things about the objective world, and in fact we do say many things about it. For instance, we say: the ball has fallen. That does not mean that this saying is itself objectively so.

I think that there is a relation to the "what"'s which our specific PCA come up with. They happen as a result of other things; they, too, are part of that world; they allow us to categorize and organize experiences; these categorizations are often extremely useful, repeatable, recurrent; I would guess it has some frequency analysis happening somewhere, some filtering, some energy minimization process, ...

If I didn't think that there was any relation between this world and people's interpretation of what was happening... well, let's just say I would never trust a plane to fly :-)

But taking up John's cue with regards to practical implications, let me say this: There are clearly contexts when our categorizations are more arbitrary than others, because our PCAs are very flexible. There are many self-consistent ways of interpreting events, including ways that contradict one another.

But one feature of our PCA stands out: once you adopt a specific interpretation / way of looking, it will seem that events around you start to conform to the interpretation you came across. While feelings have a role to play in this, I do not think that this is an exclusive property of feelings, but rather a general feature of how (our?) perception works.

It is not clear to me, but I am even open to the possibility that this particular effect coordinates in some non-trivial way with the events that unfold (see our recent discussion on magick). Of course it could all be, like sawfoot_ believes, confirmation bias. Perhaps it is simply a matter of paying more attention to the features you already recognize, though that would seemingly not explain the weird things that happen when you play around with this level of the mind.

In any case, the phenomenon is there, it seems to me, and the very belief that there is something like an "objective world" and that meanings can be divided into true or false (as in "being on the list" vs "not being on the list), that belief has its own set of magickal consequences. For instance, it allows for radical categorizations of the 180º type, because something is either on the list, or off the list. It allows for endless argumentativeness, because if we work at it enough we are bound to find the sentence on the list. But it also provides a sense of energy and worthiness of purpose --- indeed, if I believed such a list existed, figuring out what is written in it is a quite valid "ultimate purpose", if you will --- as well as a sense of self-assurance --- because if one believes one is supported by something as solid as an ultimate fact, then one can turn the dial all the way up, so to speak.

I have had a bad experience with that kind of outlook --- and it was the subtly nasty kind of bad, the kind you don't see from the inside --- I discovered that, in the grip of believing I'm right, I could be quite cruel and self-righteous (and do so with the nicest of smiles, convinced and convincing that it was all well-intended caring for one's fellow human being).

So that's not for me, ta. But maybe it works for you somehow differently, who knows?
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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So if I'm understanding correctly, you're saying that a real world exists, but we can't say anything about it or know anything about it because we have perceptual filters that mean we can't directly experience it, but only interpret it? I think Kant had a similar position, saying that, for instance, we're hard-wired to see things in terms of cause and effect.

It seems to me that this might be more of an issue with language than with perception; that is, perhaps the words we use are tinged by subjectivity to the point that anything we might say doesn't directly correspond to a specific state of the world.

Would you say that all humans have similar perceptual filters, to the point where we could say things about the world as seen through our common perceptual filters that would be true or false? Even if we can't talk about "the world" maybe we can talk about "the world as seen by humans" and make lists of statements about that.

I agree that the belief in truth can make people self-righteous and cruel, and I'd be curious to hear more specifics about what happened with you. Are you saying you rejected that belief because of its emotional effects on you? Seems like there should be better ways of dealing with that problem, such as being aware and trying to correct it, rather than wholesale rejection.

As far as the magic discussion, I just haven't seen any evidence that there is anything other than confirmation bias going on, and it shouldn't be hard to get such evidence if magic is real. (Were you going to PM me regarding the colored paper experiment? I never got your PM.)
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
(Were you going to PM me regarding the colored paper experiment? I never got your PM.)


I did PM you, and the other two "J C"'s that appeared in the DhO message name box. If you send me your email I can re-send it by email mine is <first name> dot <last name> @gmail.com
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Thicket of views? emoticon

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
As §195 states, this clear knowledge is based on knowledge of the four noble truths. These truths are best understood not as the content of a belief, but as categories for viewing and classifying the processes of immediate experience. In §51, the Buddha refers to them as categories of "appropriate attention," a skillful alternative to the common way that people categorize their experience in terms of two dichotomies: being/non-being, and self/other. For several reasons, these common dichotomies are actually problem-causing, rather than problem-solving. The being/non-being dichotomy, for instance, comes down to the question of whether or not there exist actual "things" behind the changing phenomena of experience. This type of questioning deals, by definition, with possibilities that cannot be directly experienced. If the things in question could be experienced, then they wouldn't be lying behind experience. Thus the being/non-being dichotomy pulls one's attention into the land of conjecture — "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views" [MN 72] — and away from the area of direct awareness where the real problem and its solution lie [§186].
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Thicket of views? emoticon

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
As §195 states, this clear knowledge is based on knowledge of the four noble truths. These truths are best understood not as the content of a belief, but as categories for viewing and classifying the processes of immediate experience. In §51, the Buddha refers to them as categories of "appropriate attention," a skillful alternative to the common way that people categorize their experience in terms of two dichotomies: being/non-being, and self/other. For several reasons, these common dichotomies are actually problem-causing, rather than problem-solving. The being/non-being dichotomy, for instance, comes down to the question of whether or not there exist actual "things" behind the changing phenomena of experience. This type of questioning deals, by definition, with possibilities that cannot be directly experienced. If the things in question could be experienced, then they wouldn't be lying behind experience. Thus the being/non-being dichotomy pulls one's attention into the land of conjecture — "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views" [MN 72] — and away from the area of direct awareness where the real problem and its solution lie [§186].

Yes, speaking of pragmatism - your view leads to things like Buddhism, solipsism, etc., while mine leads to things like scientific materialism and actualism. (Not to equate Buddhism with solipsism, or scientific materialism with actualism.)
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
Thicket of views? emoticon

Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
As §195 states, this clear knowledge is based on knowledge of the four noble truths. These truths are best understood not as the content of a belief, but as categories for viewing and classifying the processes of immediate experience. In §51, the Buddha refers to them as categories of "appropriate attention," a skillful alternative to the common way that people categorize their experience in terms of two dichotomies: being/non-being, and self/other. For several reasons, these common dichotomies are actually problem-causing, rather than problem-solving. The being/non-being dichotomy, for instance, comes down to the question of whether or not there exist actual "things" behind the changing phenomena of experience. This type of questioning deals, by definition, with possibilities that cannot be directly experienced. If the things in question could be experienced, then they wouldn't be lying behind experience. Thus the being/non-being dichotomy pulls one's attention into the land of conjecture — "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views" [MN 72] — and away from the area of direct awareness where the real problem and its solution lie [§186].

Yes, speaking of pragmatism - your view leads to things like Buddhism, solipsism, etc., while mine leads to things like scientific materialism and actualism. (Not to equate Buddhism with solipsism, or scientific materialism with actualism.)



I don't think that I have misunderstood or misconstrued your perspective. Your last post is entirely in accordance with what I expected you would write. You insist on arguing from the basis that there is a list L1, and I can simply deny it in every instance.

For instance, here I would just repeat myself by saying that the "information about" the thing is not in the thing, or part of the thing, or somehow irrevocably associated with the thing, but rather it is something which arises as the thing and the PCA come together both doing what they do. Before the thing interacts with a PCA, that information is nowhere, it simply does not exist.

But this is just more of the same. Maybe if you look at the definition of list L2 again; then my statement is merely that anything that can be called a fact is part of L2. I have expressed this in numerous ways. I understand you disagree. I understand how you disagree (list L1 = list of facts, which are true though not always accessible).

I am completely satisfied with this discussion, because I think I genuinely understood where you are coming from, and what your view is, and despite knowing we disagree, that is OK, since your view has some merit, some range of applicability, and (in my opinion) some dangers which I have nonetheless already pointed out.

I don't think my view leads to buddhism or solipsism, I don't think it is even compatible with it. But by seeing you force something which is actually more subtle into something rough which you can conveniently reject, I get an all-too familiar feeling that you are doing the 180 degrees thing again. For instance: in case you didn't notice, the view exposed in the text above is not the view I am expressing in this thread, nor is it your view. The text above basically says that the discussion we are having is futile towards solving the problem of suffering.

I actually don't agree, but my view of this particular fact is being horribly distorted by a strong feeling of futility emoticon
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
I don't think that I have misunderstood or misconstrued your perspective. Your last post is entirely in accordance with what I expected you would write. You insist on arguing from the basis that there is a list L1, and I can simply deny it in every instance.

For instance, here I would just repeat myself by saying that the "information about" the thing is not in the thing, or part of the thing, or somehow irrevocably associated with the thing, but rather it is somethoutsideing which arises as the thing and the PCA come together both doing what they do. Before the thing interacts with a PCA, that information is nowhere, it simply does not exist.

I'm not sure you have understood. I even agreed with you that "information about" the thing is not in the thing. Yet, even agreeing with that, I disagree with your premise. Why is that? It seems my explanation didn't do much to clarify that point.

Here's a vital question. You agree that things exist and happen. Do you agree that when a thing exists, it exists in some manners, and not in some other manners?

[EDIT: Actually one more: why can you say that things exist? In what way is that fact - that a thing exists things exist - fundamentally different from the other facts - like a thing exists that is shaped like a ball? Doesn't it also depend on a PCA to know that a thing exists things exist?]

---

Bruno Loff:
I don't think my view leads to buddhism or solipsism, I don't think it is even compatible with it.

You are saying that nothing can be said about anything's actually existing nature - that it's all based on perception. Hence solipsism: nothing can be said to exist except your own perception of them. To be fair, you do say that things actually exist outside of your perception. But you also say that nothing can be said about them in and of themselves. So, indeed, anything about the world is just your perception/interpretation of it - there are no facts outside of that, as you have said many times. It at least trends towards solipsism does it not?

[EDIT:
Wikipedia:
Epistemological solipsism is the variety of idealism according to which only the directly accessible mental contents of the solipsistic philosopher can be known. The existence of an external world is regarded as an unresolvable question rather than actually false.
Yes, you do say that the external world exists - but that led me to my "Actually one more" question. As it stands now, I am not sure how your position is practically different from not being able to say whether the external world exists - some clarification would be helpful.]

As to Buddhism, it seemed to me that Jake's point of view was entirely in accordance with your own, and he wrote from a decidedly Buddhist perspective. I would be interested in you pointing out how what he said isn't.

Bruno Loff:
But by seeing you force something which is actually more subtle into something rough which you can conveniently reject, I get an all-too familiar feeling that you are doing the 180 degrees thing again.

Ok. Does my above explanation shed any light as to why I said that?

Bruno Loff:
For instance: in case you didn't notice, the view exposed in the text above is not the view I am expressing in this thread, nor is it your view. The text above basically says that the discussion we are having is futile towards solving the problem of suffering.

Ya I got that. It reminded me of the discussion on pragmatism, since Thanissaro was discussing the pragmatism of this view. I didn't mean to say that he was espousing your view and that that's why your view leads to Buddhism.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
I don't think that I have misunderstood or misconstrued your perspective. Your last post is entirely in accordance with what I expected you would write. You insist on arguing from the basis that there is a list L1, and I can simply deny it in every instance.

For instance, here I would just repeat myself by saying that the "information about" the thing is not in the thing, or part of the thing, or somehow irrevocably associated with the thing, but rather it is somethoutsideing which arises as the thing and the PCA come together both doing what they do. Before the thing interacts with a PCA, that information is nowhere, it simply does not exist.

I'm not sure you have understood. I even agreed with you that "information about" the thing is not in the thing. Yet, even agreeing with that, I disagree with your premise. Why is that? It seems my explanation didn't do much to clarify that point.

Here's a vital question. You agree that things exist and happen. Do you agree that when a thing exists, it exists in some manners, and not in some other manners?


Yes, I agree, that is a fact. Indeed --- that is how I see things, as existing in some manners, and not in others. I make distinctions all the time. Are these "manners" which I see in things independent of how I look at them? No. Are these "manners" which I see in things part of the things (in the sense of being irrevocably associated with the things), in an ultimate, absolute sense? I don't think so.

I understand that you disagree: corresponding to the thing there is that which could correctly be said & thought about the thing, and that which, if said or thought about the thing, would be factually incorrect. Essentially, that there is something called truth (and this is not the specific set of sentences which spiritualists label Truth with capital T, I gotcha and agree, I don't mean to imply that it is the same thing).

Like I said: I think that view is very useful sometimes, in some contexts. Of course, I imagine that to one possessed of that view, this view of mine is unacceptable (for things are either correct or incorrect, rather than some flimsy "sometimes useful").

[EDIT: Actually one more: why can you say that things exist? In what way is that fact - that a thing exists things exist - fundamentally different from the other facts - like a thing exists that is shaped like a ball? Doesn't it also depend on a PCA to know that a thing exists things exist?]


I can't say it ultimately, but it seems like the simplest, most reasonable explanation. For instance, at any given moment, it seems consistent with experience to believe that my brain appeared, despite astronomically small probability, in some soup of random atoms that momentarily shifted into the form of my brain with all its memories, connections, present-time signals etc, like some sort of cosmological-miracle-fart. But that explanation is not the simplest possible, hence we can apply Occam's razor.

Of course, you may believe that PCEs prove that things actually exist, and facts about them are actually true, and when I was having those experiences I thought likewise, but I did so at the expense of intellectual rigor, just because the experience was pleasurable, and this conclusion had been suggested to me quite strongly by Richard.

Rigorously speaking, like it says on Wikipedia, solipsism can not be refuted, as it is entirely self-consistent. Though, I must say, I disagree with solipsism. I seem to be quite sure others exist, and equally sure about many things that happen outside my mind (and guess what: that certainty is part of how I interpret the world!).

Perhaps if I find it of some, indeed any use, I will adopt a solipsistic mindset now and then. During masturbation, maybe? emoticon


Bruno Loff:
I don't think my view leads to buddhism or solipsism, I don't think it is even compatible with it.

You are saying that nothing can be said about anything's actually existing nature - that it's all based on perception. Hence solipsism: nothing can be said to exist except your own perception of them. To be fair, you do say that things actually exist outside of your perception. But you also say that nothing can be said about them in and of themselves. So, indeed, anything about the world is just your perception/interpretation of it - there are no facts outside of that, as you have said many times. It at least trends towards solipsism does it not?


No, your use of language is introducing a confusion, but that's great because maybe it will lead to the clarification of exactly where our difference lies, and can put the matter to rest. Notice the following; when you say "You are saying nothing can be said about anything's actually existing nature" you seem to be assuming that such an actually existing in-itself nature is actually-in-itself there.

Because the word "nature" can be used in two senses: a weaker sense, which is something like "set of distinctions about what something is or is not", and a stronger sense, when the use of the word "nature" assumes that these distinctions are necessarily implicit in the thing itself (because they are the thing's "nature" lol). But what is under dispute here is whether such ultimately-absolutely-true-distinctions exist or not. I claim no. You claim yes.

So let's use "ultimate nature" to denote the stronger sense of the word, and "perceived nature" to denote the weaker sense of the word.

My claim is that there is no such such thing as ultimate nature. My claim is that the only nature of things that exists is perceived nature. I.e. there is no truth as god would see it.

That is not to say that "nothing can be said" about things. In fact things can be said, and are said, and this is useful, etc. But whatever we say about things is always the result of us classifying, distinguishing, naming, etc what happens, by way of the means we have available to do so. It is never the result of us directly perceiving a distinction/classification/etc that "exists in itself entirely outside of our minds". I.e. we never see things as god would see them, not only because we can't, but because there is no ultimate nature, it is simply not there to be seen.

[EDIT:
Wikipedia:
Epistemological solipsism is the variety of idealism according to which only the directly accessible mental contents of the solipsistic philosopher can be known. The existence of an external world is regarded as an unresolvable question rather than actually false.
Yes, you do say that the external world exists - but that led me to my "Actually one more" question. As it stands now, I am not sure how your position is practically different from not being able to say whether the external world exists - some clarification would be helpful.]

As to Buddhism, it seemed to me that Jake's point of view was entirely in accordance with your own, and he wrote from a decidedly Buddhist perspective. I would be interested in you pointing out how what he said isn't.


Hmm, when I write "there is no ultimate nature", it does sound like something I've heard some so-called buddhists say. But you can pretty much take your pick with those guys: some say that there is no ultimate nature, some say that the ultimate nature is empty, some that there is an ultimate nature, called buddha-nature... Though I don't think that Gautama's buddhism endorses this view.

In fact, the only references (that I know of) of, with respect to things existing in themselves or not in the cannon is one that states that when one is possessed of right view (= 4 noble truths), this issue doesn't even arise.

SN12.15:
Kaccāyana: 'Lord, "Right view, right view," it is said. To what extent is there right view?'

The Buddha: 'By & large, Kaccāyana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world with right discernment as it has come to be, "non-existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world with right discernment as it has come to be, "existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one.


Hence taking a stance on the matter seems to be a non-buddhist thing to do. We all seem to agree that things exist, so we all seem to take the same stance in this matter. Our debate is on the "nature" of these things, or, more precisely, whether an ultimate nature exists, or whether there is only perceived nature.

Bruno Loff:
But by seeing you force something which is actually more subtle into something rough which you can conveniently reject, I get an all-too familiar feeling that you are doing the 180 degrees thing again.


Ok. Does my above explanation shed any light as to why I said that?


As for the 180º thing, I could be wrong, it's hard to say. Perhaps I should put it like this: I noticed that Richard had a specific lack of finesse when it came to classify things as being "close to actualism" vs "far from actualism", in that he always had to frame existential/epidemiological/metaphysical positions as being either actualism or 180º opposite to it. I myself picked up this habit when I was an actualist. I think it leads to bad places.

Now, perhaps your insistence on framing my point of view as solipsism was unrelated to this particular actualism bug (it was number 8 in our list, remember?), and it is the case that when people are arguing for their points they will sometimes be blunt about the other person's position, sometimes for argumentative value, and sometimes simply because they genuinely still didn't get the other person's POV. I myself do this, and that's OK as long as it doesn't end there. But, for what it's worth, when you did it, it did raise flag #8 for me, and this may have been unfair.

However, I am sure your own best interest is to be as attuned to nuance as you possibly can, and so this might serve as a pointer for you to investigate this 180º matter... at your discretion, of course.

Bruno Loff:
For instance: in case you didn't notice, the view exposed in the text above is not the view I am expressing in this thread, nor is it your view. The text above basically says that the discussion we are having is futile towards solving the problem of suffering.

Ya I got that. It reminded me of the discussion on pragmatism, since Thanissaro was discussing the pragmatism of this view. I didn't mean to say that he was espousing your view and that that's why your view leads to Buddhism.


Ah, OK. Yes, it does seem to be a form of pragmatism. It is basically saying: don't argue about these things, because it doesn't solve the problem that the noble eightfold path is meant to solve. But then I say: OK, Geoffrey, but that is not the only problem in this world, even if you did decide to dedicate your life to it..

Well, I have the hope that by framing it as ultimate nature vs perceived nature we have pinpointed the precise point of divergence of the two views here exposed. If you agree that this is where we differ, then we seem to have gotten somewhere. I do love it when an disagreement reaches the point of turning to a fine distinction. So, actually, thank you for disagreeing emoticon
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Hmm yes, I think two points you mentioned here potentially resolve our discussion into a clear-cut disagreement.

I'm still not 100% sure you get my point of view entirely. Whether you do or not, it is correct that I think there is an ultimate nature, as you defined the term (and not in the "Ultimate Nature" sense of course). Note that I agree that there's no way to perceive ultimate nature except via a perceived nature. That is, I agree there is the human way of seeing a ball, the dog way of seeing a ball, the gas-alien way of seeing the ball, that they are all different, and that there's no "God way" of seeing the ball, since "God way" implies that you don't need a sensory apparatus to see the ball... which is false. There's no way to know anything without a sensory apparatus.

I just go a step further than you to say that sensory apparatuses give you information about ultimate nature, even though they are only perceived nature. Are you familiar with Bayesian probability? If so, simple description: Each experience of the perceived nature adjusts your probabilities of what the ultimate nature is.

If we had different sensory apparatuses - say vision that lets us see xrays instead of the current visible spectrum - our experience would be different. But we'd be experiencing the same ultimate nature - just different aspects of it.

Bruno Loff:
[EDIT: Actually one more: why can you say that things exist? In what way is that fact - that a thing exists things exist - fundamentally different from the other facts - like a thing exists that is shaped like a ball? Doesn't it also depend on a PCA to know that a thing exists things exist?]


I can't say it ultimately, but it seems like the simplest, most reasonable explanation.

This also helped resolve things as it makes your view consistent. If you could ultimately say that things exist, then you would have to also be able to ultimately say that they exist in one way (a certain configuration of matter) instead of another (a different configuration), and then from there you would have to ultimately say that some perceptions accurately reflect that configuration more than others. But as you can't ultimately say that things exist, then you can't say the rest.

So it seems your point of view is actually one of epistemological solipsism:
The existence of other minds and the external world generally is regarded as an unresolvable question, although this doesn't negate the probability of its existence.
Indeed, isn't the following your very argument?
[...] assuming there is a universe that is independent of the agent's mind, the agent can only ever know of this universe through the agent's senses. How is the existence of the independent universe to be scientifically studied? If a person sets up a camera to photograph the moon when they are not looking at it, then at best they determine that there is an image of the moon in the camera when they eventually look at it. Logically, this does not assure that the moon itself (or even the camera) existed at the time the photograph is supposed to have been taken. To establish that it is an image of an independent moon requires many other assumptions that amount to begging the question.

Even so, it seems in all practical matters you act as if things and people do exist which is a healthy approach. I think solipsism has some negative connotations and also that the word is thrown around a bit too lightly around here. Now you do say:
Bruno Loff:
Though, I must say, I disagree with solipsism. I seem to be quite sure others exist, and equally sure about many things that happen outside my mind (and guess what: that certainty is part of how I interpret the world!).
But how can you be quite sure others exist if you can't ultimately be sure whether anything exists? You take it as extremely likely that others do exist - you don't negate that others exist - but you don't actually know it for sure. This is epistemological solipsism - as distinct from metaphysical solipsism:
Metaphysical solipsism is the "strongest" variety of solipsism. Based on a philosophy of subjective idealism, metaphysical solipsists maintain that the self is the only existing reality and that all other reality, including the external world and other persons, are representations of that self, and have no independent existence.
If you do actually know it for sure, act in all ways and respects as if it's true, and make all considerations as if it's true, except when having a discussion about it, then your view is inconsistent and indeed you must be able to say that things ultimately exist - which then leads to the rest, and to you actually agreeing with me. So which is it? Or: is the dichotomy I just made wrong and, if so, why?

Bruno Loff:
Of course, you may believe that PCEs prove that things actually exist, and facts about them are actually true, and when I was having those experiences I thought likewise, but I did so at the expense of intellectual rigor, just because the experience was pleasurable, and this conclusion had been suggested to me quite strongly by Richard.

Well alright, but there are people who are intellectually rigorous and don't share your view that you can't ultimately know whether anything exists.

Bruno Loff:
Hmm, when I write "there is no ultimate nature", it does sound like something I've heard some so-called buddhists say. But you can pretty much take your pick with those guys: some say that there is no ultimate nature, some say that the ultimate nature is empty, some that there is an ultimate nature, called buddha-nature... Though I don't think that Gautama's buddhism endorses this view.

In fact, the only references (that I know of) of, with respect to things existing in themselves or not in the cannon is one that states that when one is possessed of right view (= 4 noble truths), this issue doesn't even arise.

SN12.15:
Kaccāyana: 'Lord, "Right view, right view," it is said. To what extent is there right view?'

The Buddha: 'By & large, Kaccāyana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world with right discernment as it has come to be, "non-existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world with right discernment as it has come to be, "existence" with reference to the world does not occur to one.


Hence taking a stance on the matter seems to be a non-buddhist thing to do. We all seem to agree that things exist, so we all seem to take the same stance in this matter. Our debate is on the "nature" of these things, or, more precisely, whether an ultimate nature exists, or whether there is only perceived nature.

I see. So, taking a stance either way is not actually Buddhist. However, you said ultimately you can't say whether things exist. So your ultimate stance is that you can't say one way or another - which is in accord with this right view here. However, you say it's most likely that things do exist, so - see above about that being a contradiction.

Bruno Loff:
Bruno Loff:
But by seeing you force something which is actually more subtle into something rough which you can conveniently reject, I get an all-too familiar feeling that you are doing the 180 degrees thing again.


Ok. Does my above explanation shed any light as to why I said that?


As for the 180º thing, I could be wrong, it's hard to say. Perhaps I should put it like this: I noticed that Richard had a specific lack of finesse when it came to classify things as being "close to actualism" vs "far from actualism", in that he always had to frame existential/epidemiological/metaphysical positions as being either actualism or 180º opposite to it. I myself picked up this habit when I was an actualist. I think it leads to bad places.

Now, perhaps your insistence on framing my point of view as solipsism was unrelated to this particular actualism bug (it was number 8 in our list, remember?), and it is the case that when people are arguing for their points they will sometimes be blunt about the other person's position, sometimes for argumentative value, and sometimes simply because they genuinely still didn't get the other person's POV. I myself do this, and that's OK as long as it doesn't end there. But, for what it's worth, when you did it, it did raise flag #8 for me, and this may have been unfair.

However, I am sure your own best interest is to be as attuned to nuance as you possibly can, and so this might serve as a pointer for you to investigate this 180º matter... at your discretion, of course.

Sure. I agree it is a bad thing to misapply this - to say it when the other POV isn't fully understood. Perhaps I said it too soon, with too much certainty, when it was more of a good hunch - which after a bit of back and forth seemed well-founded enough, and maybe still is, pending some further discussion here.

Bruno Loff:
Well, I have the hope that by framing it as ultimate nature vs perceived nature we have pinpointed the precise point of divergence of the two views here exposed. If you agree that this is where we differ, then we seem to have gotten somewhere. I do love it when an disagreement reaches the point of turning to a fine distinction. So, actually, thank you for disagreeing emoticon

Ya disagreeing can be fun and informative.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
I just go a step further than you to say that sensory apparatuses give you information about ultimate nature, even though they are only perceived nature. Are you familiar with Bayesian probability? If so, simple description: Each experience of the perceived nature adjusts your probabilities of what the ultimate nature is.

If we had different sensory apparatuses - say vision that lets us see xrays instead of the current visible spectrum - our experience would be different. But we'd be experiencing the same ultimate nature - just different aspects of it.


If we had different perceptions of time (slower or faster in addition to microscopic vision), we could even be able to see change going on everywhere and hence, no ultimate nature to anything.

Or if we just had microscopic vision, what would that ultimate nature be? Would there be a ball if that were to be the case?
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
I just go a step further than you to say that sensory apparatuses give you information about ultimate nature, even though they are only perceived nature. Are you familiar with Bayesian probability? If so, simple description: Each experience of the perceived nature adjusts your probabilities of what the ultimate nature is.

If we had different sensory apparatuses - say vision that lets us see xrays instead of the current visible spectrum - our experience would be different. But we'd be experiencing the same ultimate nature - just different aspects of it.


If we had different perceptions of time (slower or faster in addition to microscopic vision), we could even be able to see change going on everywhere and hence, no ultimate nature to anything.

You conflate "ultimate nature" with something that never changes. The nature of things is that they are constantly changing and rearranging themselves. This doesn't mean they don't exist as those things that are changing. Boil some water, and it goes from liquid to gas - yet the water exists when it exists as liquid, and then exists as it's transforming into a gas, and then exists as that gas.

Change A.:
Or if we just had microscopic vision, what would that ultimate nature be? Would there be a ball if that were to be the case?

It would be the same. We just would not be able to see the entire ball at once. Consider that the Earth is round, yet it took people quite a while to figure that out. The fact that people thought it was flat did not change the fact that the Earth is round, though.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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You conflate "ultimate nature" with something that never changes. The nature of things is that they are constantly changing and rearranging themselves. This doesn't mean they don't exist as those things that are changing. Boil some water, and it goes from liquid to gas - yet the water exists when it exists as liquid, and then exists as it's transforming into a gas, and then exists as that gas.


Particles are rearranged to things we call "liquid" or things we call "gas," and maybe if you froze them in the right shape you could call it a "ball." If the ball was really big we might not call it a ball, but if we were far enough away from it we might call it a ball again. I feel like people are arguing from arbitrarily different positions here... and i question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life. But regardless, if this is an entertaining conversation then carry on ;)
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Adam . .:

I feel like people are arguing from arbitrarily different positions here... and i question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life.


Our experiences are essentially the same, but it's amazing what wide gulfs can open up around the stances that are taken.
Adam . ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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who are you referring to when you say "our"?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.

Well, you & Bruno's views preclude you from actualism, so... that's more than just a philosophical difference. Or maybe you and/or Bruno adopted these views in order to preclude yourselves from actualism? Clearly Bruno did not think this way until he was put off actualism by some unnamed person who supplied him with some unspoken about evidence.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.

Well, you & Bruno's views preclude you from actualism, so... that's more than just a philosophical difference. Or maybe you and/or Bruno adopted these views in order to preclude yourselves from actualism? Clearly Bruno did not think this way until he was put off actualism by some unnamed person who supplied him with some unspoken about evidence.


I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.

Well, you & Bruno's views preclude you from actualism, so... that's more than just a philosophical difference. Or maybe you and/or Bruno adopted these views in order to preclude yourselves from actualism? Clearly Bruno did not think this way until he was put off actualism by some unnamed person who supplied him with some unspoken about evidence.


I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.

Well, you & Bruno's views preclude you from actualism, so... that's more than just a philosophical difference. Or maybe you and/or Bruno adopted these views in order to preclude yourselves from actualism? Clearly Bruno did not think this way until he was put off actualism by some unnamed person who supplied him with some unspoken about evidence.


I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.


I don't understand how that's possible, unless you define a PCE as including ontological beliefs. I thought everyone had experienced a PCE before? How do these abstract ideas prevent the experience?
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.


I don't understand how that's possible, unless you define a PCE as including ontological beliefs. I thought everyone had experienced a PCE before? How do these abstract ideas prevent the experience?

Part of the PCE is that everything you are experiencing is actual, i.e. actually existing in and of itself. This is not an ontological belief or something that comes in the form of thoughts during the experience, rather, it is part of the experience. If you have an experience that you call a PCE yet part of the experience isn't that everything you are experiencing is actual, then it is not a PCE, it's simply a different experience, perhaps resembling the PCE in many ways.

If one has the ontological belief that nothing exists in and of itself outside of interpretation then one would argue the PCE is at best a viewpoint and at worst a delusion - thus one would of course not follow it to see where it leads.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.


I don't understand how that's possible, unless you define a PCE as including ontological beliefs. I thought everyone had experienced a PCE before? How do these abstract ideas prevent the experience?

Part of the PCE is that everything you are experiencing is actual, i.e. actually existing in and of itself. This is not an ontological belief or something that comes in the form of thoughts during the experience, rather, it is part of the experience. If you have an experience that you call a PCE yet part of the experience isn't that everything you are experiencing is actual, then it is not a PCE, it's simply a different experience, perhaps resembling the PCE in many ways.

If one has the ontological belief that nothing exists in and of itself outside of interpretation then one would argue the PCE is at best a viewpoint and at worst a delusion - thus one would of course not follow it to see where it leads.


Everything is actual... experiencing that everything is actual... doesn't preclude everything from actually being empty of solid-seperate essence that defines it as what it is. Every actual thing could as easily be defined as a particular way that Universe interfaces with itself.

Also, the distinction between artifacts and self-organizing systems is really significant I think, both to be able to critique classical buddhist notions of 'emptiness' and contemporary forms of realism, becuase there is no way that cars and other artifacts exist 'out there' beyond experience *at all*, although, some aspects of them do (i.e., the non-cultural, purely material aspects), and not seeing this is actually kind of funny, especially in a conversation about what actually exists and how.

So... who says that the experience of things actually existing necessarily means that they exist as solid seperate essentially defined things and when you admit that things are ever-changing and exist contextually in relation to other things, what makes you think your view is so different from that of emptiness?/ Unless you are just committed to the notion that you indeed have a very very differenmt view, 180 degrees different...?
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.


I don't understand how that's possible, unless you define a PCE as including ontological beliefs. I thought everyone had experienced a PCE before? How do these abstract ideas prevent the experience?

Part of the PCE is that everything you are experiencing is actual, i.e. actually existing in and of itself. This is not an ontological belief or something that comes in the form of thoughts during the experience, rather, it is part of the experience. If you have an experience that you call a PCE yet part of the experience isn't that everything you are experiencing is actual, then it is not a PCE, it's simply a different experience, perhaps resembling the PCE in many ways.

If one has the ontological belief that nothing exists in and of itself outside of interpretation then one would argue the PCE is at best a viewpoint and at worst a delusion - thus one would of course not follow it to see where it leads.


I commented on this earlier: I don't understand how you can experience with sensory input that things are there independent of sensory input. That seems contradictory. The experience itself can't tell you whether or not everything is actual: it might seem actual, but it remains to be determined whether that perception is correct or not.

How do we distinguish between the following two experiences:

1. A PCE, in which, by definition, everything you experience is actual.
2. An experience that seems exactly like a PCE -- we can call it PCE' -- except that what you experience isn't actually actual. It just seems like it. The PCE feels the same, every perception and sensation is the same, but the truth of the matter is that what you experience is not actual.

Or, in other words, how do you know you're not dreaming about having a PCE?

The experience of perceiving things as actual is just that, an experience. What you do with that experience or how you interpret it is a separate question. And regardless of your beliefs, an experience like either of those is intriguing enough that I'd expect many people would of course follow it to see where it leads. Nothing prevents someone from having a genuine PCE but incorrectly thinking it's a PCE', or not being sure whether it's a PCE or PCE'.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Part of the PCE is that everything you are experiencing is actual, i.e. actually existing in and of itself.


If that were to be the case, then everyone who has a PCE should describe the universe in the same way because they experience the actual.
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. Jake ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
J C:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
John Wilde:
Adam . .:
who are you referring to when you say "our"?


I mean us, the people who have contributed to the thread. Like you said, I'd "question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life". I think we'd experience things like trees and tennis balls and selective attention video clips in pretty similar ways, so whatever is driving a wedge between us is more philosophical than experiential.

Well, you & Bruno's views preclude you from actualism, so... that's more than just a philosophical difference. Or maybe you and/or Bruno adopted these views in order to preclude yourselves from actualism? Clearly Bruno did not think this way until he was put off actualism by some unnamed person who supplied him with some unspoken about evidence.


I don't understand how it's these views that preclude them from actualism. There are many offputting factors regarding AF and Richard, but simply asking how you're experiencing each moment shouldn't be precluded by ontological beliefs.

This ontological belief precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.


So you think neither Bruno nor John have experienced a PCE?Or just that harboring this view, they no longer will? If so, I wonder what they would say about that.

Also, JC, the method of Actualism isn't asking how one is experiencing this moment.

And, it is certainly possible for a view to condition the significance one attributes to a given experience such as the PCE, and thus the view conditions the path one is likely to follow, or the way in which one is guided by what is apparently revealed in given experiences.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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. Jake .:

Also, JC, the method of Actualism isn't asking how one is experiencing this moment.


It's not? That seems to be how it's generally described. What is it then?
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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. Jake .:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
.
This ontological belief [which Claudiu later specifies as: "the ontological belief that nothing exists in and of itself outside of interpretation"] precludes one from experiencing a PCE and using that experience to guide one down that path.

So you think neither Bruno nor John have experienced a PCE? Or just that harboring this view, they no longer will? If so, I wonder what they would say about that.


What I'd say firstly is, I don't have an ontological belief that nothing exists outside of interpretation. What I've been saying is more about epistemology than ontology: that knowing is an act of interpretation. (Which doesn't mean that nothing can be known, either). In practical terms, this way of thinking about experience and knowledge doesn't preclude, or necessitate, any particular kind of experience. I'm surprised that it's even controversial.

As for whether I've had the experiences that actualists call PCEs: Yeah, definitely. It's the main reason why actualism had a significant place in my world every day for 10 years, regardless of how I thought and felt about other aspects of it. Those experiences have shown me [speaking in terms consistent with actualism] that, when everything that constitutes psychic/ psychological/ affective-intuitive-imaginative 'being' evaporates, the universe, experienced apperceptively, is utterly immaculate and amazing. Those experiences have shown me that this whole human drama, inward and outward, is happening against a backdrop of utter peace and perfection. Knowledge of this is what made actualism interesting to me in the first place. It's not something I've forgotten, not something that I reject, and not something that I find meaningless or insignificant, by any means.

Nevertheless, I'm an amphibian. I live in the human psyche, the human mind and heart, as well as the world.

I guess one way of thinking of this is as spectrum with absolutes on either side:

Self-with-no-world <-------------------------------- life as I know it ------------------------------> World-with-no-self.

or

Spirit*-with-no-flesh <-------------------------------- life as I know it ------------------------------> Flesh-with-no-spirit*.

['spirit' == 'psyche']

I understand the attraction to one or the other extreme, and have done plenty of sliding up and down along that scale without permanently popping out one end or the other. And at present, I'm not interested in heading toward either end. (Nor in limiting myself to thinking in those terms).

So if my view precludes me from actualism (as an aspiration with its associated views, culture and personnel), so be it. In fact, I'd much rather see things afresh without having to drag the whole Richard/actualism thing into everything I think. I don't want to drag the actualism vocabulary into everything I write, or have to position everything I think or say in relation to actualist terms and concepts. Basically, how anything (or anyone) stands in relation to actualism is something I don't intend to make my problem any more.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
You conflate "ultimate nature" with something that never changes. The nature of things is that they are constantly changing and rearranging themselves. This doesn't mean they don't exist as those things that are changing. Boil some water, and it goes from liquid to gas - yet the water exists when it exists as liquid, and then exists as it's transforming into a gas, and then exists as that gas.


So what is "ultimate nature" according to you?

Also, what would you say about Adam's 2/6/14 2:16 PM post?
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
You conflate "ultimate nature" with something that never changes. The nature of things is that they are constantly changing and rearranging themselves. This doesn't mean they don't exist as those things that are changing. Boil some water, and it goes from liquid to gas - yet the water exists when it exists as liquid, and then exists as it's transforming into a gas, and then exists as that gas.


So what is "ultimate nature" according to you?

I don't really like the term but I'm using it as Bruno defined it: "[...] the use of the word 'nature' assumes that these distinctions are necessarily implicit in the thing itself [...]". Basically that things exist outside of our perception of them. Of course they're constantly changing.

Change A.:
Also, what would you say about Adam's 2/6/14 2:16 PM post?

Adam .:
Particles are rearranged to things we call "liquid" or things we call "gas," and maybe if you froze them in the right shape you could call it a "ball." If the ball was really big we might not call it a ball, but if we were far enough away from it we might call it a ball again.

Indeed. Does this mean, when we call something a ball, that there's nothing there which would be there even if we didn't see it or call it a ball? No.

Adam .:
I feel like people are arguing from arbitrarily different positions here... and i question whether these differences have any operation in a persons daily life. But regardless, if this is an entertaining conversation then carry on ;)

See my 2/7/14 9:21 AM post.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
I don't really like the term but I'm using it as Bruno defined it: "[...] the use of the word 'nature' assumes that these distinctions are necessarily implicit in the thing itself [...]". Basically that things exist outside of our perception of them. Of course they're constantly changing.


What kind of things exist outside of our perception of them? Different atoms arranged differently? What exists where there is nothing? What exists in atoms?

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Adam .:
Particles are rearranged to things we call "liquid" or things we call "gas," and maybe if you froze them in the right shape you could call it a "ball." If the ball was really big we might not call it a ball, but if we were far enough away from it we might call it a ball again.

Indeed. Does this mean, when we call something a ball, that there's nothing there which would be there even if we didn't see it or call it a ball? No.


What would be there even if we didn't see it or call it a ball? What if our microscopic vision ability keeps on getting better and better? What will happen to the "ultimate nature"? What will happen to the distinctions that are necessarily implicit in the thing itself?
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Claudiu:
But how can you be quite sure others exist if you can't ultimately be sure whether anything exists? You take it as extremely likely that others do exist - you don't negate that others exist - but you don't actually know it for sure. This is epistemological solipsism - as distinct from metaphysical solipsism:
(...)
However, you said ultimately you can't say whether things exist. So your ultimate stance is that you can't say one way or another - which is in accord with this right view here.



The reason why you can't distinguish it from solipsism might be because you are still trying to see my POV from your POV.

I do know for sure that others exist. You see, if I believed, like you do, that there was truth, in some ultimate sense, with which my own knowledge could be compared, then it might make sense to say "I am sure of X" only if when I believe that X is in list L1.

But I don't even believe that list L1 exists (not even in principle, of course neither of us believes it has been written down), I only believe that list L2 exists (in principle). Hence my definition of certainty must be different, you see?

So for me, I am "sure" of something for reasons of practicality, functionality, simplicity, etc, and that is what constitutes being sure of something. So yeah, I am sure that others exist, that the world exists, and so on. Being sure of something is NOT, from my pov, to believe that this something is true in some ultimate sense.

So there is no contradiction in the two sentences of mine: I am sure things exist, but ultimately, I can't say anything about it.

You might say "oh, but then you are not sure sure", and I think that is because you are comparing this notion of certainty with your own. From my POV, the "sure sure" you would be referring to does not even exist, for things have no ultimate nature. From my POV, your "sure sure" has the status of "something you can say, and think about, if you adopt a certain perspective". But my own "sure" is good enough for most purposes (such as science).

---

As for the buddhist take on the matter, I think it is basically the following:
(1) The question we are asking and attempting to answer is an INVALID question.
(2) The RIGHT question to ask is: what leads to what? What is X dependent on for its appearance? What, if it were to cease, would cause Y not to arise? and so on. Understanding what leads to what when it comes to suffering and its causes is equated with the entire path.

Apparently, in buddha's time, it was all the rage to talk about self vs no-self, inherently-existing vs world-of-appearances, and so on --- people, at least within the religious circles, were very preoccupied with what things and people ARE. His stance on the matter is that not only this doesn't matter, worse than that, thinking in these terms leads to people clinging to views, which the cannon claims is one of the forms of clinging (that's really BAD for buddhists).
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Bruno Loff:
Just trying to push your stance to its natural limit, and see how far you go.

Neat, I like it. I think it is a good way for us to understand each other's stances better.


Lol OK emoticon At least it is settled. Quite remarkable, your position. And quite incompatible with my own.

It rests my mind a little that you, at the very least, believe that what an AF person says and thinks is not necessarily in the list of facts. *phew!*

As for the rest, I assume you are still interested, so let me make an analogy with "god's list of facts". Let's call that list L1. The reason why "god's list of facts" is appropriate is because only an omniscient creature, if one existed, could compile that list. I am not claiming that you believe that there is a god with such a list.

So let me think of an analogous list, let's call it L2.

Here is the way I see it: stuff happens, for sure, and it does happen regardless of someone or something being there to observe it.

Up to this point there is absolutely no "what" in that which happens.

Now it is possible for a given perceptual-cognitive apparatus (PCA, for short) to pay attention to it, and work in order to discern what is happening. This is akin to asking "what is happening?" The ability to pay attention in this way, let's say, is the defining characteristic of a PCA.

This very same PCA answers the question. The answer to the question is however the PCA interprets what happened, or, in other words, the transformations that happen to the PCA (changes in the brain, blood flow, gene expression, etc) as a consequence of paying attention.

Hence one could think of an infinite list, if one were to choose every presently existing PCA, have it pay attention to the event, and record somehow its answer to it. Each answer would be an item in the list. We could call it "the list of facts, as seen by currently existing observers". Let's abbreviate it by L2.

There would be many items in this list which we humans could not derive, other items which would be in contradiction, and so on. For instance, in the list we might find: "the falling ball is of the same color as a rose"; but also, "the falling ball is of a different color as a rose".

Now, in this list you will find items that are similar. For instance, 99.9999% of humans' PCA's would have something akin to "the ball has fallen". Corresponding to 99.999% the hypothetical aliens I previously mentioned, if they existed, you would find instead "the flux of whatever has morphed in whatever human-ununderstandable-concept way".

And there is one such list for each possible event.

Now, some PCA's would result in entries in these lists that would permit them to stay alive and multiply in whatever context they exist, and some other PCA's would not result in such useful interpretations (and they will likely die sooner and become extinct). This is not about true or false, but merely about how functional the PCA is, where the criterion is of an evolutionary type. Other criteria are possible. For instance, "accuracy" would have something to do with the ability to predict future events, or the ability to manipulate the world in order to cause desired future events.

And that's it.

Do you see what I mean, now, that I don't see facts as being independent of interpretations? I hope, at least, that we have pinned it down.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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These lists L1 and L2 remind me of the brilliant short story Ask a Foolish Question, by Robert Sheckley.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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lol I did see the gorilla!

By the way, list L2 is inadequate. Upon further reflection, I do not wish to claim that everything in L2 is facts. It would be more sound to call L2 a "list of impressions" or some such, and then, according to some criteria, choose some impressions to call facts. (repeatability, verifiability, utility, evolutionary utility, etc)

So I do still claim that, whatever a fact may be, it is part of list L2.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:
I think that "the ball is falling" It is not a "fact" in the ontological sense that Claudiu defends (and which is essential to actualism, it seems). In my view, "common sense" is a more adequate name to what is happening in this falling-ball scenario. (but I am not claiming that all that is called fact is common sense, only that it depends on an act of interpretation)


Exactly.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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(I replied to an earlier post to keep the nesting level from overflowing.)

Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
I don't really like the term but I'm using it as Bruno defined it: "[...] the use of the word 'nature' assumes that these distinctions are necessarily implicit in the thing itself [...]". Basically that things exist outside of our perception of them. Of course they're constantly changing.


What kind of things exist outside of our perception of them?
Trees and snow and buildings and computers and rivers and stars and planets and light and electricity and stuff.
Different atoms arranged differently?
That is another way to describe it.
What exists where there is nothing?
There's never nothing. Even the vacuum of space has hydrogen in it. But if there was really nothing in a certain area of space, then what would exist in that area of space? Well... nothing!
What exists in atoms?
One way to describe it is protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Adam .:
Particles are rearranged to things we call "liquid" or things we call "gas," and maybe if you froze them in the right shape you could call it a "ball." If the ball was really big we might not call it a ball, but if we were far enough away from it we might call it a ball again.

Indeed. Does this mean, when we call something a ball, that there's nothing there which would be there even if we didn't see it or call it a ball? No.


What would be there even if we didn't see it or call it a ball?
The very same thing as if we did see it and call it a ball.
What if our microscopic vision ability keeps on getting better and better?
Then you'll see the thing better.
What will happen to the "ultimate nature"?
Nothing. You will perceive it differently.
What will happen to the distinctions that are necessarily implicit in the thing itself?
I've heard this argument before. At some point it gets hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins. This doesn't mean there is no distinction between one and the other, it means that at the border between the two it is hard to tell. If you uproot a plant and let it sit there, at what point is it dead? It's clearly not dead the moment you uproot it. And it's clearly dead when it's completely dried up and withered away. At what point did it die? Hard to say, but that doesn't mean there's no inherent difference between dead-plant and alive-plant, and it doesn't change the fact that it did die at some point between those two obvious instances.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
There's never nothing. Even the vacuum of space has hydrogen in it. But if there was really nothing in a certain area of space, then what would exist in that area of space? Well... nothing!


So in space there is something and there is nothing.

Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
At some point it gets hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins.


So the distinctions that are necessarily implicit in the thing itself boils down to something and nothing?
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
There's never nothing. Even the vacuum of space has hydrogen in it. But if there was really nothing in a certain area of space, then what would exist in that area of space? Well... nothing!


So in space there is something and there is nothing.

Yes?

Change A.:
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
At some point it gets hard to tell where one thing ends and another begins.


So the distinctions that are necessarily implicit in the thing itself boils down to something and nothing?

No, it boils down to nothing + a wide variety of possible somethings.
Change A., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
No, it boils down to nothing + a wide variety of possible somethings.


I was talking about at the microscopic level, so it would be just elementary particles. But who knows if they are composed of something else. These elementary particles then give rise to a wide variety of possible somethings but even then, they have lot of nothing in them.
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:

I have added yet another bug to the list. Though I admit at this point I don't really see a way out. How am I to convince you that something which can not be falsified is not universally true? At the end of the day, if you want to believe that a perception where the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and you are having fun all of the time, makes you understand the world somehow better, how could I possibly deny you?

This, funnily enough, was exactly the problem with what I thought John was saying.


Look, I will never hesitate to say that AF is an Actual Fraud and Richard is less of a saint and more of a psychopath... but that doesn't negate the practice of being present at all times, aka Kenneth Folk's 3rd gear. Also, I don't understand your emphasis on falsifiability here: we're talking about people's perspectives as opposed to scientific statements. I'm not sure we are in a domain where falsifiability applies.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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J C:
Bruno Loff:

I have added yet another bug to the list. Though I admit at this point I don't really see a way out. How am I to convince you that something which can not be falsified is not universally true? At the end of the day, if you want to believe that a perception where the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and you are having fun all of the time, makes you understand the world somehow better, how could I possibly deny you?

This, funnily enough, was exactly the problem with what I thought John was saying.


Look, I will never hesitate to say that AF is an Actual Fraud and Richard is less of a saint and more of a psychopath... but that doesn't negate the practice of being present at all times, aka Kenneth Folk's 3rd gear. Also, I don't understand your emphasis on falsifiability here: we're talking about people's perspectives as opposed to scientific statements. I'm not sure we are in a domain where falsifiability applies.


I have not and will not negate the practice of being present at all times. I might do it myself at some point emoticon

Why the emphasis on falsifiability?

Well, I have found that the most dangerous kind of mental masturbation is the kind which includes the most safeguards. For instance you somehow find the idea that "god loves everyone" enticing, and you are the kind of modern Abraham that will never doubt this no matter what evidence might be presented to you, then you can basically masturbate without restraint on this idea, and let it gain a magnified importance in your life, simply because it is pleasurable.

And whatever conclusions you may derive from this idea will be set in stone, simply because you are not willing to give up the pleasure that you get from it. Whatever evidence may come against it, you can simply learn to refuse. Whatever may fit as evidence for it, you will reinforce, because it's pleasurable to do so. Those who disagree, simply do not understand... and so on.

As with ideas so with philosophical systems, political doctrines, "that" meditation practice, "that" spiritual teaching/teacher, etc.

I personally am prone to this kind of thing, and I have seen first-hand how utterly not-worthwhile such a thing is (for me). So I have adopted this attitude as a sort of protection.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:

Perhaps "this moment of being alive" et al can likewise be read and heard with different tones, one of which triggers a gag reflex, another of which is actually pragmatic and beneficial, eh?


And everywhere in between, yes.
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:
Bruno Loff:
John Wilde:
And most importantly of all: daring to understand that every moment of my time and everyone else's time, [our time] [this time], is priceless. Concerning that: cynicism is cowardice.


I didn't expect you to write this kind of sentence. I personally avoid this kind of thing like my hand avoids the fire, for I have been burned before.

It sounds like the kind-of meaningless happy thought one might indulge in simply because it's pleasurable to do so, with no concern over its accuracy or verifiability. Not too different than Richard's "everything is perfect" or the more typical feel-good-buddhism "people have a good nature deep down, they are just confused" or some other feel-good statement that's impossible to falsify or verify.

If you think it enough times, and with the right persistence, and fueled by a powerful mental practice as you are capable of, I'm sure you will come to believe this thought and feel it to be so (or "see it is so", if you go to the point of believing its universality... a dirty trick reserved for the greatest wankers...).

Wouldn't you prefer to focus on accuracy and pragmatism over mental masturbation? Aren't you forgetting the enormous potential for self-delusion that these practices entail? Isn't this a bit careless of you, given your close acquaintances? Are you sure you want to live in your little world where everyone's time is priceless and cynicism is cowardice?

From a pragmatical POV, say, what's important is not whether cynicism is true or not, courageous or not, but rather what does it lead to? When is it useful? When does it just get in the way? When does it protect you from expending fruitless effort, for instance? When does it stop you from doing something worthwhile? etc

Perhaps I'm being overly dramatic, but it serves as a reminder to myself as well, just as I am about to embark on a 5 month retreat! So hopefully it's the useful kind of dramatism that leads to worthwhile things emoticon


Wow. If I read it over again, I can hear the tone in my words that I think you're responding to. It isn't where I was coming from (I'm almost sure), but I can hear it coming across that way.... and in light of that I'm not too surprised at your reaction.

Rather than it being a kind of feel-good or schmaltzy pep-talk kind of thing, it actually came from sadness, reflecting about the imminence of death, the amount of time wasted already, and the failure to properly appreciate certain people as much as I'd like to, as a result of being unable to see my way clear of confusion for so many years. The "cynicism is cowardice" thing was meant to be a safeguard against being too afraid to feel the poignancy of mortality. In other words, an essential part of my practice has to be not allowing other people's time and presence to be eclipsed by self-absorbed struggles.

I can hear it the other way though. I can even hear it delivered in a smooth Days-of-our-Lives, Young-and-the Restless kind of voice-over, or like a line in Gone With The Wind. (Which, incidentally, is how I always hear "this moment of being alive....") ;-) Heard that way, I'm not surprised it'd trigger the gag reflex.

On a related note -- ie. perhaps more relevant to where I think you thought I was coming from -- I'm coming to see the value in taking a pragmatic approach toward the ultimate nature and/or value of life, universe or self: If you take the stance of X, it has these consequences; if you take the stance of not-X, it has these consequences; if you stand with neither-X nor not-X, it has these consequences (...)


Ah, you knew just the right thing to say to put my uneasiness at rest emoticon Though in fairness, my interpretation was quite legitimate.

But when you described fully like you just did, I find it quite remarkable in how well it reflects my own thoughts and concerns.

We are remarkably in-tune, for two people who have never actually met.
John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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Bruno Loff:

Ah, you knew just the right thing to say to put my uneasiness at rest emoticon Though in fairness, my interpretation was quite legitimate.


Yep. I was kind of touched and amused at the same time by the passion of that response. :-)

I think attributions of tone and intent are fuzzy and error prone, but they can usually be sorted out pretty quickly, if both people want to. Paying exclusive attention to denotation at the expense of connotation definitely has its place, but it's hardly without problems of its own..... especially when it comes to understanding tone and intent, naturally enough.

Are feeling tones and affective attitudes communicable information that might be valuable in themselves, or are they only obscuring/distorting factors? I can only say I've had better experiences relating to people on both those levels, error prone as it can be, and sorting out misunderstandings as they arise.
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: Finding the right practice

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John Wilde:

Haven't done this yet, but I'm thinking about it, and here's a quick sketch off the top of my head:
[blah]


Actually, I think I can simplify this a little bit.

Clarity and well-being.

That's what I want.

From that, the rest seems to follow.

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