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Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast

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Michael Taft has a new podcast on soundcloud.    First 3  (just posted) are conversations between Michael and Kenneth Folk.

RE: Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast
Answer
3/15/18 8:49 PM as a reply to elizabeth.
I listened to the one with Daniel Ingram and Michal Taft when it was first posted and found it fascinating, as they both always are.  However, I could not follow the logic of their agreeing that it doesn't really matter whether supernatural/ESP phenomena are actually true or not, and that the only things that mattered were subjective, etc.  It seems pretty straightforward that objective reality matters.  (I like the Philip K. Dick quote, "Reality is that which, when you stop believeing in it, it doesn't go away.")

Plus, if these things (magick, etc.) are true, and your goal is to reduce the suffering of all sentient beings, then you could spread the gospel of the Dharma more effectively if you could show it to be true.  You would probably win a Nobel prize while you were at it. 

RE: Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast
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3/15/18 5:43 PM as a reply to Hal.
You might want to read Daniel's take on magic with that (objective vs subjective) on his site.

RE: Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast
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3/15/18 8:10 PM as a reply to Hal.
For a better sense of integrating that kind of thing with/versus the sciences, I like the short accounts in The Chaos Protocols and also the book Star.Ships.

To float a couple fun ideas out there (people have been talking about objective vs subjective reality for decades):

Idea #1 - Objectivity

There is just one world, and history stays the same. Some kind of material history of the universe blah blah blah*, humans with minds and brains pop up at some point etc. People form ideas about the world, patterns are grasped but with imperfect fidelity, models developed, etc. 

The idea of learning about the world looks something more like applying richer and richer concepts against an underlying truth below the whole thing. Just one truth many people or beings could try to converge towards. A metaphor might be something like we repeatedly grind up our data and with better datapoints apply our Fourier analysis of the "objective" world again and again towards whatever N-dimensional vibrating shadow of unchanging fact is underpinning the delusory worlds of our perceptions.

(*I'm not coming from nowhere saying that, I'm an ivy-league educated engineer who used to work for an astrophysics lab studying the CMB looking for evidence of dark matter emoticon)

Idea #2 - Subjectivity

The world is mind, something like idealism, solipsism, or a shared and flexible dream. History can seem to subtly rewrite itself (Mandela Effect as/is real). Many truths and partial realities exist with varying degrees of anchorage or intensity. There are various layers of visible and invisible realities perceived by different watchers.

Beliefs about reality affect what people experience or even perceive, even on group levels - although not always in the way that you think. 

"Beliefs" themselves aren't clear-cut as there are only blurry differences between beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings, and your state as a person with body and mind in the world moment-to-moment all seen at once. So you could say people might have energetic, mental, or whatever kinds of barriers (or superior/lucky engines) and karma pushing them further away from (or closer to) these experiences. Groups and cultures do too.

When you get a lot more into these (magical) practices this kind of view tends to emerge rather naturally as your experiences get increasingly weird and you deal with lots of bizarre non-linear causality. Inner and outer, above and below, motif and materiality apparently start to map against each other in all kinds of mind-busting, fractal, profound, funny ways that may be too much to reflect on sometimes.  

Idea #3 - Interplay of Objective and Subjective

Miracle-seeking from an objective point of view is on average doomed to failure or frustration if the seeker is too closed-hearted or middling if they are only open so-so, and based on the context (or even culture) you're in. These things aren't always secret or highly individually subjective though. Go spend a lot of time hanging out in the right extremely non-materialist ritual and superstitious cultures (say correct corner parts of India, parts of Thailand, etc) and things can get interesting, like arbitrarily weird supernatural group experiences while sober interesting. That's what Michael was partly addressing. 

The people with objective views are trapped in objective views, and might see subjective views as a misguided but not exactly refutable impractical philosophical hypothesis. They view the experiences of those with subjective views to be delusory, or at least not replicable or verifiable under conditions by skeptical people. 

The people with a subjective view would see the objective view as just one more self-reinforcing subview, creating a reality around those people that tries to enforce illusions of objectivity. They find though that by playing more and more with subjectivity and shaping the dream in various ways (methods exist, and are invented) that indeed it can be powerful: not only can you seem to experience almost arbitrary things, you can also profoundly transform your life or even parts of the world (this is like ranging from minor probability manipulation to life and death stuff) through what might seem to be magical or superstitious methods. Maybe it doesn't matter if you believe in the dead or demons but if they believe in you? From the subjective point of view, other minds have resonances closer to yours or they don't, and inhabit mind-systems of reality that might be fewer or more steps away. This is part of why debating the "objectivity" of things doesn't matter so much if you don't live in the objective worlds but merely ripple out into them or intersect with them in limited areas. "What other people think" is just one more thing you perceive yourself thinking they think... if that makes snse.  

You can entertain lots of theories about what this could all mean together. We can imagine non-objective/alternative sciences, or parallel life-worlds (some more magical than not) that different minds float in with limited areas of interaction. 

Alternatively looking into a more blended, "open borders" view mixing the objective and subjective theories (closer to the state even most magical human world beings will live in most of the time) you can go the crazy pill route and assume these supernatural things all do exist then ask *why people in Western societies don't believe in them. Maybe we have a history of being led blindly by churches of all types. Maybe lots of people and beings already do and have been doing magic on/to the world for a long time. Maybe bad people try to stop some others from believing in magic. Maybe they're just not "built" for it (or for the strongest types of magic in the world), having thrown too many of their ancestors under the bus by alienating their relationship to the dead and place, and non-humans in general, and having committed too many great historical sins. Maybe it's a game we play of trying to pretend about the future while ignoring the past. Lots of fun ideas.

RE: Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast
Answer
3/15/18 5:45 PM as a reply to Hal.
It seems pretty straightforward that objective reality matters.

Can you explain how it is that you actually have contact with "objective reality?" Is there such a thing?

I'm being quite serious and playing devil's advocate to make you think about this more deeply. If you're a practitioner of buddhist meditation one of the major objectives of the practice is to investigate the very deepest nature of your experience. In pursuing this investigation you learn that all your experience is mediated by mind. We have no real contact with phenomena not mediated by mind. That is the essence of subjectivity. That is what Ingram and Taft are referring to in their converstation. We may choose to believe in magical pehnomena or choose not to believe in them, but in either case we're making a judgment based on subjective "evidence" and a priori belief - because that's all we have to go on.




RE: Michael W Taft - Deconstructing Yourself Podcast
Answer
3/16/18 3:11 PM as a reply to Hal.
Hal:
I listened to the one with Daniel Ingram and Michal Taft when it was first posted and found it fascinating, as they both always are.  However, I could not follow the logic of their agreeing that it doesn't really matter whether supernatural/ESP phenomena are actually true or not, and that the only things that mattered were subjective, etc.  It seems pretty straightforward that objective reality matters.  (I like the Philip K. Dick quote, "Reality is that which, when you stop believeing in it, it doesn't go away.")

Plus, if these things (magick, etc.) are true, and your goal is to reduce the suffering of all sentient beings, then you could spread the gospel of the Dharma more effectively if you could show it to be true.  You would probably win a Nobel prize while you were at it. 
I think they were saying that what matters is if its is causal or not. If the hallucination was strong enough to change your behaviour in some way, then thats what matters in terms of the legitimacy of putting time and energy into these type of "supernatural" practices, regardless of "objective reality". Even if you don't believe in the "objectivity" of the hallucination, its causal effects upon you don't go away.