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A three-agent model that explains enlightenment

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A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/15/18 7:42 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Anna L 1/15/18 5:54 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/16/18 5:51 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Anna L 1/16/18 11:43 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 10:10 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Anna L 1/18/18 3:12 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/22/18 12:15 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment seth tapper 1/17/18 10:18 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 10:19 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment seth tapper 1/18/18 3:59 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Yilun Ong 1/18/18 7:09 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/20/18 2:10 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment seth tapper 1/20/18 2:48 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Yilun Ong 1/20/18 8:25 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment seth tapper 1/20/18 11:53 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 10:15 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/23/18 1:46 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Andromeda 1/16/18 5:57 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Yilun Ong 1/16/18 4:09 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 7:51 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Andromeda 1/18/18 5:34 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 7:40 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Nicolas G. 1/16/18 7:15 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 9:32 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment neko 1/17/18 4:57 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/17/18 11:10 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/26/18 1:19 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Sat Chit 1/28/18 6:25 AM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/30/18 2:41 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment jonjohn 1/30/18 4:08 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 1/30/18 7:16 PM
RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment Frank Heile 12/1/18 12:17 AM
I recently released a video that describes a three-agent model of the brain (and consciousness) that purports to explain spirituality in general and spiritual enlightenment in particular. The website www.SpiritualityExplained.com has much more information about this model and links to many videos, including PDFs of the PowerPoint slides used in those videos. 

The latest video that gives a complete and up-to-date description of this model is here. For those of you who don't like to watch videos, you could instead read (or download) the PDF of the PowerPoint slides presented in that video here. This PDF contains additional blue text to summarize what I said verbally during the talk and it also has a few small improvements and corrections that are not in the video.

If you prefer to start with a much shorter "executive" summary of the model before you dig into the video or longer PDF, read this three page PDF. This is the (reformatted and slightly modified) contents of a poster presented at the Stanford University Neurosciences Institute Symposium in October 2017. You can see an image of the original 1-page poster about halfway down on the first page of the website.

I am also about to release a beta version of an audio guided meditation based on this model. Click here for information about getting a beta copy of this guided meditation

I welcome any questions, comments or discussion of this model in this thread. FYI, Daniel Ingram started another DhO thread about this model here.

PS: I am in the process of writing a book about this model. To receive very infrequent emails about new content on the website and about the publication of this forthcoming book, please click on "Sign up now" on the website.

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/15/18 5:54 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Hi Frank, I have two questions regarding your model:

1. Can you explain in more detail what the "fully enlightened" person would exerience? I.e. Is it a state where one is 100% conscious and never identifies with, but only observes, the Doer or Thinker? Or is it something more than this?

2. Can you explain how morality fits into this model?

Thank you! Anna

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/16/18 5:57 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Thanks for the new model to play with and for posting on the forum. Let's see if I'm understanding it correctly...

So on the path to enlightenment, there is a sort of decoupling of the thinker and doer that allows the agent to partially identify with the experiencer consciousness. Then, over time, the thinker engages in progressively less "I/me/my"-making as the agent identifies and removes the self-referential loops that are like bugs in the system that slow things down. As the bugs get rooted out, the ones that remain as annoying little glitches in the system get increasingly difficult to find.

Hopefully, training in virtue/morality continues throughout the process, so the thinker and doer continue but identify the agent's place in the world model more objectively, as one data point among many. The thinking/doing become other- and community-directed rather than selfish, which is more efficient, and these activities seem to do themselves and are just something else for the experiencer to observe. The illusion of a separate self as a locus of control dissolves.

Since one is constantly consuming new data with which to update one's world model, the thinker/doer not only does itself but has the capacity for infinite optimization which is why training in morality continues to be critical beyond "full enlightenment" if one's purpose aligns with traditional spiritual goals.

From the Buddhist perspective (cribbing here from Bikkhu Analayo's discussion of an Madhyama-agama discourse), one must have not just penetrative wisdom (aka insight into the four noble truths), but also a vast or wide wisdom which is motivated by the intent to benefit both oneself and others and ideally based on all four noble truths. Increasingly skillful compassionate action is based upon models of the conditions leading to dukkha that become more sophisticated over time, as the ways for the root causes to manifest in variably-conditioned individuals is practically infinite. And so they say there are 84,000 Dhamma doors.

As a "fully enlightened" and highly functional agent of compassion, one's purpose becomes shoving people through those Dhamma doors when they get close enough. The more doors one knows about and the better one understands one's fellow humans, the more effective one can be. Thus it isn't just training in morality that tends to continue but some combination of all 3 along with a full engagement with the human condition. These days, many masters even train in multiple traditions; sincere practice is a continuous evolution. Learning doesn't stop until death for an individual and from a broader perspective it simply continues, so long as we do as a species (and perhaps beyond if we extinct ourselves and something else evolves down the road).

I totally just hijacked your model and used and abused it for my own purposes... That was fun! =D

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/16/18 4:09 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
I totally just hijacked your model and used and abused it for my own purposes... That was fun! =D

Me too! I have been playing with the 3 actor model as an off-the-cushion modifier to Satipatthana (4 Mindfulnesses). I have to say that it makes it easier and more relaxing to detect and chalk the 'blame' to the thinker - a looser form of mindfulness for everyday living. so it makes me form the opinion that it will be very useful for those starting out that already have a deep urge to get enlightened or see the thinker as source of suffering and thus want to murder it quite badly... hahaha. At a certain point, I think the sensitivities to mental phenomenon needs to be sharpened and refocused though.

Very interested to see how this goes! Thanks for the good work... emoticon

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/16/18 5:51 PM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna L:
Hi Frank, I have two questions regarding your model:

1. Can you explain in more detail what the "fully enlightened" person would exerience? I.e. Is it a state where one is 100% conscious and never identifies with, but only observes, the Doer or Thinker? Or is it something more than this?


Based on this model (not on my personal experience) the "fully" enlightened human would have their Human self-model exactly (and only) equal to the Experiencer self-model. The Experiencer's self-model is just the Attention Schema - which is also simply "Awareness" according to the Attention Schema Theory by Prof Graziano.

This, I think, is the no-self state that Buddhism refers to - since there is no identification with I/Me/My (the Thinker's self-model) and no identification with the body or body model (the Doer's self-model). The human would still know that they have a body, a Thinker, and a Doer, but there would be no identification with any of them. So, yes, the Human/Experiencer would still observe the Doer and Thinker in action.

The Human/Experiencer would not experience attachments and aversions since it is only the Doer and Thinker that have goals equivalent to attachments and aversions. The only goal of the Experiencer is to build a model of the world and to share that model appropriately (using the attention mechanism) with the Doer and Thinker. Thus the Human/Experiencer is always 100% successful at achieving their goals. Whereas the Thinker and Doer goals are either to obtain something (attachments) or avoid something (aversions) and they are never able to 100% achieve their goals - this causes suffering. In fact, their goals are often contradictory ( to not be selfish and self-centered and to simultaneously be very rich ).

Since the Doer and Thinker are not conscious, they cannot experience anything; so they also do not experience attachments and aversions. However, to an external observer, the Human/Experiencer may not seem at all enlightened since they (via the externally visible Doer and Thinker) certainly seem to have attachments and aversions. That is why the 4th training (in morality) needs to continue after enlightenment.  I will talk more about morality in your next question;

Anna L:
2. Can you explain how morality fits into this model?

Thank you! Anna
To me, morality is about being less selfish and self-centered. My latest video does not have much on this, but some of my older videos talk about this more. If you look at a list of spiritual vices versus a list of spiritual virtues, you see that the vices cause a lot of friction in social relationships, whereas the virtues cause social relationships to go more smoothly. 

In the video (at Part 4: Ordinary Spirituality Explained - this is the "morality" part of my video), I listed these virtues and vices:

Spiritual Virtues: Love, Altruism (or Selflessness), Forgiveness, Humility, Compassion (or Empathy), Fairness (or Justice), Acceptance, Patience

Spiritual VicesHate (or Hatred), Selfishness, Resentment (or Regret or Blame), Arrogance (or Pride or Self-centeredness), Indifference, Unfairness (or Injustice), Rejection (or Judging), Impatience
You see that all the vices are basically selfish and self-centered whereas the virtues are more selfless and humble.

The dominant agent in animals is the Doer - the animal Thinker is much weaker than in humans. When the human Thinker because dominant (~100K yrs ago) the humans would have noticed a large increase in suffering since the Thinker is much more selfish and self-centered than the Doer.

The reasons the Thinker is more selfish is:
  • Its self-model of I/Me/My is almost the definition of self-centeredness.
  • The Doer has very strong prosocial goals programmed in by evolution whereas the Thinker has to try to imperfectly copy those goals from the Doer. So the prosocial goals are not as strong as in the Doer.
  • The Doer can act selfishly when its body is threatened, but the Thinker is much more thin-skinned - it treats any criticism of I/Me/My as a threat and it then defends itself by verbally attacking the person criticizing.
So, when the Thinker became dominant, the increased suffering caused by the more selfish and self-centered Thinker could have been the reason why spirituality and religions were developed - as an antidote to the Thinker's selfishness and self-centeredness. (Of course, many religions then got co-opted by the Thinker and eventually strayed far from their original purpose.)

As I say in the video, the "Wise Intuitive Attention Mechanism" can help solve addiction problems by having the Experiencer direct less attention to the addicted substance. Similarly, I consider that many modern (non-spiritual) humans have an addiction to self (mostly the I/Me/My). So this mechanism can help with this self-addiction too. If the Experiencer notices the very strong goal to not be selfish and self-centered and that there are also many (old Thinker) goals that are selfish and self-centered, the wise intuitive attention mechanism would solve this problem by just directing less attention to the I/Me/My self-concept - this could help break the self-addiction - this will decrease the attachments and aversions caused by these old Thinker selfish goals. I believe this is how AA helps heal addiction to alcohol.  I identify the Experiencer with "God," and in AA they ask God/Experiencer for help - this might help trigger the wise intuitive attention mechanism.

Hope that helped...

- Frank

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/16/18 7:15 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Hi Frank,

Thanks you! I find your three-agent model very exciting and clear.
Maybe, could be interesting to add a chapter with the possible relation between the Thinker & the Default Mode Network.

There are some interesting papers of how the meditation affects the DMN, i.e.:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529365/

I will definitely buy your book! emoticon

Leandro

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/16/18 11:43 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Thanks Frank!

I really like your model because it fits with what I am currently reading in cognitive psychology (I'm writing a research paper on meditation and psychology). 

A couple of ideas based on this theme:

- Could your Experiencer also be described as a state of 100% meta-cognition?
- If so, is suffering then caused by the Doer and Thinker "fusing" with experience? i.e. Suffering would not occur for the Experiencer, who is not able to fuse with experience, but only observes. 

If morality is defined as being less selfish, then it makes sense that someone who is spending more time in the Experiencer state would be behaving morally merely due to the fact that he/she is experiencing fewer episodes of self-referential thought and more episodes of present-centred awareness. 

Which brings me to my last question:

Is Full Enlightenment according to your model something that a human being could feasibly achieve, or is it an ideal reserved for the Buddha figure? emoticon I.e. Could anyone ever feasibly spend their whole life operating in a state of meta-cognition, never truly "fusing" with experience, but merely observing everything unfold? 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 10:18 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
I think the use of "agent" at all is pointed in the wrong direction.   Nothing is happening to nobody and there is no agency in all of existence.  That is just the obvious, logical, rational truth. 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 4:57 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Frank, many people seem to believe that enlightenment might be something about the relationship between right and left hemisphere*. In your model, if I understand correctly, it seems to be more about the frontal lobe vs. the other lobes. Do you have any comments on this?

* e.g. My stroke of insight | Jill Bolte Taylor

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 7:40 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Thanks for the new model to play with and for posting on the forum. Let's see if I'm understanding it correctly..

So on the path to enlightenment, there is a sort of decoupling of the thinker and doer that allows the agent to partially identify with the experiencer consciousness..

...snip...

I totally just hijacked your model and used and abused it for my own purposes... That was fun! =D
I am glad you had fun. :-)

Regarding the first sentence, ( "So on...." ) quoted above, the way I would say it is:

There are 4 agents, Human as a whole, Thinker, Doer, and Experiencer. All 4 of these have self-models. The Human self-model changes from being a mixture of Thinker, Doer, and Experiencer self-models to only containing the Experiencer self-model.

I did not follow exactly what you said in the rest of the post, but I did not see anything that I strongly disagree with. 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 7:51 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
I totally just hijacked your model and used and abused it for my own purposes... That was fun! =D

Me too! I have been playing with the 3 actor model as an off-the-cushion modifier to Satipatthana (4 Mindfulnesses). I have to say that it makes it easier and more relaxing to detect and chalk the 'blame' to the thinker - a looser form of mindfulness for everyday living.
...snip...
Very interested to see how this goes! Thanks for the good work... emoticon


I am glad my model is useful!  That was my hope.

Regarding "blaming" the Thinker - the Experiencer does not "blame" anything, however, the Experiencer can note that the Thinker is not who I am, that is what is required for enlightenment! :-)

Thanks
Frank

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 9:32 PM as a reply to Nicolas G..
Nicolas G.:
Hi Frank,

Thanks you! I find your three-agent model very exciting and clear.
Maybe, could be interesting to add a chapter with the possible relation between the Thinker & the Default Mode Network.

There are some interesting papers of how the meditation affects the DMN, i.e.:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4529365/

I will definitely buy your book! emoticon

Leandro
Thank you.

I know about some of the work with the DMN, but I consider that to be at a very low-level neural circuit explanation; whereas I am really talking about a very high-level description - dividing the entire brain into just three buckets (agents).

DMN changes could certainly be involved in the transition to enlightenment. If it somehow is involved in the "I/Me/My"self-concept, it would certainly be activated less often since the overall Human self-model in the enlightened state would not contain any of "I/Me/My."  The other possibility is that it could be part of the Thinker's "find a problem to solve" network.  I don't know!

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 10:10 PM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna L:
Thanks Frank!

I really like your model because it fits with what I am currently reading in cognitive psychology (I'm writing a research paper on meditation and psychology). 

A couple of ideas based on this theme:

- Could your Experiencer also be described as a state of 100% meta-cognition?
I don't think so.  The only metacognition mentioned in my model would be being aware of awareness - in terms of Experneicer self-awareness, this results in the loop of Attention Schema which I interpret as "presence."  In terms of Experiencer being aware of awareness of an object, that gives the "Presence Awareness object" interpretation.

But there is nothing that requires the Experiencer to be doing this 100% of the time.

However, the Thinker and Doer are not capable of this kind of "self-less" metacognition. The Thinker self-awareness just gives "I am aware of me" and Thinker being aware of awareness of an object give "I am aware of being aware of an object."  So, Experiencer definitely has a different metacognition than Thinker.
Anna L:

- If so, is suffering then caused by the Doer and Thinker "fusing" with experience? i.e. Suffering would not occur for the Experiencer, who is not able to fuse with experience, but only observes. 
I am not sure what "fusing" means, so I cannot answer this...

Anna L:

If morality is defined as being less selfish, then it makes sense that someone who is spending more time in the Experiencer state would be behaving morally merely due to the fact that he/she is experiencing fewer episodes of self-referential thought and more episodes of present-centred awareness. 

Which brings me to my last question:

Is Full Enlightenment according to your model something that a human being could feasibly achieve, or is it an ideal reserved for the Buddha figure? emoticon I.e. Could anyone ever feasibly spend their whole life operating in a state of meta-cognition, never truly "fusing" with experience, but merely observing everything unfold? 
I think that having the Human self-model being 100% Experiencer self-model would be possible some, or maybe most, of the time.  I am not sure if it is possible to be 100% Experiencer 100% of the time. When triggered, people could drop out of 100% Experiencer if the Thinker got too triggered or activated (by anger?).

But even with 100% Experiencer 100% of the time, the training in morality would have to still eliminate all attachments and aversions of both the Thinker and Doer.  That might be impossible (except for the Buddha) - I don't know...

Thanks for the questions!

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 10:15 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Angra Mainyu:
Based on this model (not on my personal experience) the "fully" enlightened human would have their Human self-model exactly (and only) equal to the Experiencer self-model. The Experiencer's self-model is just the Attention Schema - which is also simply "Awareness" according to the Attention Schema Theory by Prof Graziano.

Wouldn't not being tied to any agent, not even experiencer or even brain/nervous_system as a whole, be more logically and intuitively true for enlightenment?
I am a physicist and I don't see how consciousness can exist without a brain. 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 10:19 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I think the use of "agent" at all is pointed in the wrong direction.   Nothing is happening to nobody and there is no agency in all of existence.  That is just the obvious, logical, rational truth. 
I am not at all talking about the philosophical concept of "agency."

An agent is an engineering term meaning some kind of a system that has goals, can sense the world and can make changes to the world.  This has nothing to do with agency, as far as I can tell. 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/17/18 11:10 PM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Frank, many people seem to believe that enlightenment might be something about the relationship between right and left hemisphere*. In your model, if I understand correctly, it seems to be more about the frontal lobe vs. the other lobes. Do you have any comments on this?

* e.g. My stroke of insight | Jill Bolte Taylor
Yes, I am aware of Jill Bolte Taylor and the left brain/right brain enthusiasts.

I don't think the left/right brain dichotomy makes sense.  I don't believe there is any significant function which is 100% confined to the left brain or right brain.  When people talk about a certain function being a right brain function, it might be 40% left brain and 60% right brain (for example). 

Language is often said to only be a left brain function, but my point of view is that it is really only the language input (Wernicke's area) and language output (Broca's area) that are confined to the left brain (usually). However, I think that a lot of the rest of the left brain and right brain are involved with language processing. An analogy with a desktop computer would be that the keyboard input port and the display output port are on the back plate of the desktop box, therefore the entire computer input to output processing must be confined to the back plate of the computer.

I think Jill's stroke could have disabled the Thinker or at least disabled the Thinker's inner voice, so that could account for her (temporary) enlightened state. The Thinker's inner voice may be a direct neural connection between Broca's and Wernicke's area. However, strokes on this neural path are not a recommended way to get enlightened!

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/18/18 3:12 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Hi Frank, thanks for your response. 

To explain further, in cognitive science the term ‘meta-awareness’ is used to describe the cognitive function of being aware of the processes of consciousness (Experiencer self-model?). In the absence of 
meta-awareness, we become experientially ‘fused’ with what we experience. We may be aware of the objects of attention, yet unaware of the processes of thinking, feeling,and perceiving (Thinker and Doer self-models?). 

E.g. In the case of watching a movie; one moment, you might be experientially "fused" with the movie, to the point when you are no longer consciously aware that you are sitting in your living room. In the next moment, you might suddenly become aware of your surroundings and the fact that you are viewing images on a screen. In both moments, you may be attentive to the movie, but only in the second moment are you also aware of the process of watching the movie (meta-awareness). 
I feel like this fits with your model, but I need to watch your video again to really understand the subtleties of what it would be like to only have an Experiencer self-model. (Clearly I am not fully enlightened yet! haha)

I like your use of the word "trigger". I think that is a very common contemplative challenge - it's easy to be the Experiencer self when conditions are perfect. Other times, not so much! ;)

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/18/18 5:34 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Frank Heile:
Yilun Ong:
I totally just hijacked your model and used and abused it for my own purposes... That was fun! =D

Me too! I have been playing with the 3 actor model as an off-the-cushion modifier to Satipatthana (4 Mindfulnesses). I have to say that it makes it easier and more relaxing to detect and chalk the 'blame' to the thinker - a looser form of mindfulness for everyday living.
...snip...
Very interested to see how this goes! Thanks for the good work... emoticon


I am glad my model is useful!  That was my hope.

Regarding "blaming" the Thinker - the Experiencer does not "blame" anything, however, the Experiencer can note that the Thinker is not who I am, that is what is required for enlightenment! :-)

Thanks
Frank

In my opinion, the utility of a model lies not just in its explanatory power, but in how easily I can install it into my brain in order to tinker with it and combine it with all the other models that are in there. If we're able to riff off it so easily, that speaks well of it! I will be looking forward to the book. 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/18/18 3:59 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
I was being a dick.  Sorry. 

I think enlightenment is a state of understanding about reality and not a condition that the human mind can get into.   It doesnt mean your model is an ineffective tool or is inaccurate in some way.  I dont know why internet message boards bring out the obnoxious in me sometimes. 

Seth

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/18/18 7:09 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
  I dont know why internet message boards bring out the obnoxious in me sometimes. 

Seth
Metta & Karuna to you and all, Seth...

When dolphins with two thumbs get access to a keyboard, the tendency to do that is overpowering. They are not to be blamed... emoticon

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/20/18 2:10 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
seth tapper:
I was being a dick.  Sorry. 

Thanks, but I was not offended by your previous comment.
I think enlightenment is a state of understanding about reality and not a condition that the human mind can get into.   It doesnt mean your model is an ineffective tool or is inaccurate in some way.  I dont know why internet message boards bring out the obnoxious in me sometimes. 

Seth
I actually agree. The understanding of reality changes when the Human realizes that they are really only the Experiencer. The Thinker understanding (or awareness) of reality is about "me" versus "everything else". The Experiencer awareness is a self-less awareness so there is no "me" vs "other." 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/20/18 2:48 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Glad I didnt offend.  It felt like a glib comment that dismissed your thinking, so offense could have been taken. 

My deepest understanding is that everything is always free and perfect.  One Love.  I think a model that starts there, which every human has an intuition is true, and then deconstruncting the mental fabrication of the human experience is likely a safer and faster model than one which starts with human experience and then tries to deconstruct it to arrive at just being or This.  Lots of people seem to get lost along the way. What do you think? 

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/20/18 8:25 PM as a reply to seth tapper.
I would love to see what Frank has in store to address this, hopefully in a highly optimized way! emoticon 

IME, I have to burn the candle from both ends. The Direct Path of knowing is only achievable to a certain level of  understanding through experience: stuff like low levels of pain already integrated and when reasonably calm and unaffected. Trying to force true understanding with this path when met with greater challenges, ends in naught and a lot of frustrations for stuff e.g. rage/depression, not known to be true to experience as aware emptiness. Neither the experiencer nor the thinker can accept the ultimate reality at such a level - would be wiser to switch to investigating from ground up, breaking things down to bite-sized chunks. Forcing the top-down method down the throat will throw up more problems.

Everyone's mind is different and conditioned to such a large varying degree that I think the most efficient way is to understand intellectually the truth from both angles and use the right tools at the right situation, eventually ariving at the point where the 2 meets - enlightenment (presumably).

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/20/18 11:53 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
I think anyone who has ever looked at reddit/aww or listened to Bob Marley or seen a sunset or held a child they loved has direct understanding of the truth.  It is right there in our hearts.  Buddhism is a pretty long fancy practice to strip away our delusions to discover what we already always knew to be true in our deepest heart of hearts.  We are love.  

Has to be a better way to teach that with out relying on faith.   I think buddhism is way too fucking hard for almost anyone to get to the end.  

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/22/18 12:15 AM as a reply to Anna L.
Anna L:

To explain further, in cognitive science the term ‘meta-awareness’ is used to describe the cognitive function of being aware of the processes of consciousness (Experiencer self-model?). In the absence of 
meta-awareness, we become experientially ‘fused’ with what we experience. We may be aware of the objects of attention, yet unaware of the processes of thinking, feeling,and perceiving (Thinker and Doer self-models?). 
If you consider the Thinker, Doer and Experiencer as completely separate agents, only the Experiencer is conscious. For the Thinker and Doer to be "conscious," they need to be combined with the Experiencer.  So, if we consider the Thinker and Doer as being combined with the Experiencer, then all three agents COULD be capable of meta-awareness.  The difference is that the Experiencer would have a self-less meta-awareness, but the Thinker would have an "I/Me/My" meta-awareness and the Doer would have a "{body}" meta-awareness.

Meta-awareness requires attention directed at the Attention Schema and simultaneously having attention also being directed at the other "object" of attention.  "Object" could be an external perception, the inner voice or an emotion - this would give you meta-awareness or a perception, thinking and feeling respectively.

Thus, it is difficult to maintain meta-awareness since it requires simultaneous attention to two things, the Attention Schema and the Object.  


Anna L:

E.g. In the case of watching a movie; one moment, you might be experientially "fused" with the movie, to the point when you are no longer consciously aware that you are sitting in your living room. In the next moment, you might suddenly become aware of your surroundings and the fact that you are viewing images on a screen. In both moments, you may be attentive to the movie, but only in the second moment are you also aware of the process of watching the movie (meta-awareness).

I think the Experiencer only consciousness would have a much better chance of maintaining meta-awareness for a sustained period of time. The reason for this is that the Experiencer has no attachments and aversions, so it won't be "distracted" from maintaining meta-awareness.  Whereas the Thinker and Doer have attachments and aversions so they will have lots of triggers that could distract them from maintaining meta-awareness. 

So, the Thinker and Doer are much more likely to "fuse" with the movie (or whatever is being experiences).

Anna L:

I feel like this fits with your model, but I need to watch your video again to really understand the subtleties of what it would be like to only have an Experiencer self-model. (Clearly I am not fully enlightened yet! haha)

Yes, I think it does fit.  When you experience being only an Experiencer, please let me know what it is like! :-)

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/23/18 1:46 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Angra Mainyu:
Frank Heile:
I am a physicist and I don't see how consciousness can exist without a brain. 

I was not suggesting that

......snip.....

Your models need to go deeper in to nitty gritty details of dukkha, source of dukkha, cessation of dukkha and path leading to path of cessation of dukkha to imho deserve title 'expain enlightenment' is all that I am sayin.
Sorry that I misunderstood you.  Thanks for the clarification.

The mechanism I hypothesized that decreases suffering is the "Wise Intuitive Attention Mechanism."  This mechanism is described from about 5:40 in this video to the end of the video (8:40 -- about 3 minutes total time).  In these three minutes, I mostly talk about recovery from alcoholism, but, as I say, it could apply to any attachment or aversion. So, I think this mechanism can explain the cessation of dukkha.  I will certainly go into more detail about this mechanism in the book. 

I hope you have the time to watch those 3 minutes and I hope you will let me know if you have any questions or feedback.  Or let me know if you think this mechanism does not explain cessation of dukkha.

- Frank

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/26/18 1:19 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Hi Will,

Thanks for the positive feedback.

I agree with you, this is a simple model which therefor makes relatively simple predictions; so it cannot possibly explain the incredibly complicated experiences reported in the various meditation traditions. Therefore, there must be additional things that need to be added to this model to explain the complicated results reported.

- Frank

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/28/18 6:25 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
I really like this model as I can relate to it experientially. As a model goes I also think it does a pretty good job of explaining spirituality without the dogma and ritual. I have some questions though:

1) How can the experiencer self-model also be an agent? Isn't an agent not also in some way in charge of behavior? How can a no-self or pure-experiencer be in charge of anything? 
2)  Isn't perhaps the fully enlightened state not one of only one self-model, but in fact one of only ephemeral self-models? Self models serve a purpose. Without purpose there need not be a self-model. But when there is purpose there needs to be a self-model that is a bit more than just a no-self. I would not suppose you are conteding that the full enlightenment means that one has no purpose ever any more? Also I can imagine that in the case of flexibility and control around self-models the fully enlightened being perhaps does not even create and delete each self-model tailormade for the purpose that needs executing, but simply keeps a bunch of self-models around for whenever they are deemed of practical value. 
3) Could it perhaps be a step towards full enlightenment that one does not have one self-model anymore for, for example, the thinker, but self-models become more fragmented?  
4) Why is in the first stage the self-model a thinker self-model and not a doer self model?
5) Why does the doer self model become more prominent in the partially enlightened stage?
6) Is it your contention that a non-enlightned, but spiritual human, has two illusions: one around being a thinker and one around being a doer?
7) Why does the doer self-model fall away in the fully enlightened stage? And why does it not exist in the first stage? Does one not simply need a doer self-model in order to do anything in the world as per control theory?

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/30/18 2:41 PM as a reply to Sat Chit.
Sat Chit:
I really like this model as I can relate to it experientially. As a model goes I also think it does a pretty good job of explaining spirituality without the dogma and ritual. I have some questions though:

Thanks!  Explaining spirituality without dogma and ritual is my goal!

Sat Chit:
1) How can the experiencer self-model also be an agent? Isn't an agent not also in some way in charge of behavior? How can a no-self or pure-experiencer be in charge of anything? 
The definition of an agent requires that the agent has goals.  The Thinker and Doer have numerous goals about the external world, (some of these are basically attachments and aversions).  They use body behavior and language behavior to achieve those goals.

The main Experiencer goal is to create a good model of the world - a model that can predict future states of the world as accurately as possible. Thus, the Experiencer does not produce any actions or behavior in the external world. As far as constructing the internal model goes, the Experiencer just uses all the data that comes in from the senses to produce the best model it can.

An additional internal "action" the Experiencer takes is to direct attention. When directing attention the Experiencer "actions" include things like increasing the intensity of some signals, decreasing other signals and making more information about the attended object available to the Thinker and/or Doer. The model of how those "actions" are performed is exactly the Attention Schema (the model of attention). Therefore the self-model of the Experiencer is the Attention Schema. 

Now, Attention Schema Theory (AST) says that the Attention Schema is, in fact, Awareness itself!  That is why Awareness is the self-model of the Experiencer (at least according to AST).  Is that clear? If not ask some more questions.

Sat Chit:
2)  Isn't perhaps the fully enlightened state not one of only one self-model, but in fact one of only ephemeral self-models? Self models serve a purpose. Without purpose there need not be a self-model. But when there is purpose there needs to be a self-model that is a bit more than just a no-self. I would not suppose you are conteding that the full enlightenment means that one has no purpose ever any more?
In the enlightened person, the Thinker and Doer agents still have the same self-models they have always had (the I/Me/My and the Body Model respectively). So those agents can continue to act in the world using those self-models.

What is different in enlightenment is that the overall Human self-model becomes just the Experiencer self-model.  So the self-model of the Human is just Awareness itself - this gives us the no-self state (or the non-dual state).  So the Human ends up being an observer of the Thinker and Doer acting however they are going to act in the world.  I have heard enlightenment described that way - that there is no sense of agency about things that the Human body does - it just happens.

Sat Chit:
Also I can imagine that in the case of flexibility and control around self-models the fully enlightened being perhaps does not even create and delete each self-model tailormade for the purpose that needs executing, but simply keeps a bunch of self-models around for whenever they are deemed of practical value. 

It is sort of what you say - there is flexibility around the self-models in the sense that the enlightened human still has a Thinker with its I/Me/My self-model and a Doer with its Body self-model. Thus, in a sense, these self-models are kept around as needed by the Thinker and Doer, and these self-models are not deleted from these two agents.  The only place where they are deleted is from the overall Human self-model.

Sat Chit:
3) Could it perhaps be a step towards full enlightenment that one does not have one self-model anymore for, for example, the thinker, but self-models become more fragmented?  
There are 4 agents: the Human overall agent, plus the Thinker, Doer, and Experiencer.  Each agent ALWAYS has a self-model, it is just the overall Human self-model that can be more dynamic, but I don't think it has to change. In the fully enlightened state, it could always be the just Experiencer's self-model of Awareness.

Sat Chit:
4) Why is in the first stage the self-model a thinker self-model and not a doer self model?
Well, the Thinker self-model does include a primitive very rough body model. The Doer's body self-model is much more detailed and exact. 

The reason I say the normal-non-spiritual human is only the Thinker is that most non-spiritual modern Humans say they are the Thinker.  Ask them who they are and they will give some answer equivalent to the "I/Me/My." They also act as if that is who they are - defending their ego against any criticism.

Sat Chit:
5) Why does the doer self model become more prominent in the partially enlightened stage?
Because the Doer is more enlightened than the Thinker.  The Doer will only defend itself if it's body is attacked, the Thinker will defend itself whenever someone implies some slight criticism of the I/Me/My.  Also, some part of spiritual awakening is to become more aware of the body and even emotions (such as during the noting meditation practice).

Sat Chit:
6) Is it your contention that a non-enlightned, but spiritual human, has two illusions: one around being a thinker and one around being a doer?
Yes, the illusion that they are I/Me/My or that they are The Body.

Sat Chit:
7) Why does the doer self-model fall away in the fully enlightened stage? And why does it not exist in the first stage? Does one not simply need a doer self-model in order to do anything in the world as per control theory?
The Doer ALWAYS has the Doer self-model; even when the Doer self-model is not included in the Human self-model.

Thanks for all the interesting questions!
-Frank

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/30/18 4:08 PM as a reply to Frank Heile.
Hallo Frank Heile 

Did you ever come across as to why thinking process causes suffering? I mean aside of any negative proliferation or body contraction etc, just as a neural process. Because perceiving without thinking  has a lot of processing too but it is not connected with such suffering.

Thank you

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
1/30/18 7:16 PM as a reply to jonjohn.
jonjohn:
Hallo Frank Heile 

Did you ever come across as to why thinking process causes suffering? I mean aside of any negative proliferation or body contraction etc, just as a neural process. 

Below is my description of why the Thinker causes suffering.  This text is from page 33 of the PDF here.  This text and much more about the suffering and the cure for that suffering using "ordinary spirituality" is described in the 9-minute video here:

The Thinker is great for science & technology, but it is not good at living a happy life.  To a hammer, everything is a nail. To a problem solver, everything looks like a problem – this leads to a negative critical attitude towards life. If there is no problem, that is a problem, so the Thinker will need to find a problem. If there is no problem here and now, it will find a problem in the past which often leads to a resentment, or it will try to fix a problem in the future which can trigger fears. So, the Thinker is always rehashing & rehearsing – by having conversations with people who are not in the room. Negative emotions are a problem – how do I make sure this doesn’t happen again? Positive emotions are a problem – how do I make sure this happens all the time? Thus, a positive emotion can generate a negative emotion such as fear, due to an inability to sustain the positive emotion.

All of this Thinker problem finding and complaining causes negative affect - it triggers negative emotions like fear, sadness, anger, and resentment. Basically, the Thinker is almost always arguing with reality.

You ask about "neural processes," but unfortunately this model is a high-level functional model, not a low-level neural model, so I cannot answer that question. 

Because perceiving without thinking  has a lot of processing too but it is not connected with such suffering. 

Thank you

On the other hand, the Experiencer accepts everything it perceives. It never argues with reality. That is why perceiving does not cause suffering.

Is that clear?

RE: A three-agent model that explains enlightenment
Answer
12/1/18 12:17 AM as a reply to Frank Heile.
For any DhO members who happen to be in the SF Bay Area on Thursday, Dec 6th, 2018:

I am giving a 90-minute talk at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm on that date.

The abstract and exact location is here!