Mountains are mountains

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vinceschubert
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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Mon May 10, 2021 10:33 pm

Good morning Seldom,
Thank you, Vince, for being willing to work with me.
You're welcome. ..and thank you for the opportunity to 'dig deep' here.
I feel quite clear about there not being an actual self, running the show,
Yes, reading your posts, i get the same impression. So what is it to be 'awake'?
When i 'woke up', it wasn't at LU, and it wasn't through the portal of no-self, but on coming to LU (soon after) and being asked about a self, it was immediately obvious that a Self was a story that had been a lifetime of creative writing.
I have seen what happens to my "self" in the context of meditation and retreats.
What about in your normal daily living?
Give me your take on decision, intention, free will, choice and control. How does your culture see them? What are they actually?
Please give me examples of each from actual experience.
Operating out of self (delusion) allows me to navigate the kingdom of delusion, rather like being able to speak the native tongue of the country in which you are existing. I love traveling to places where I can't speak the language partly because losing language allows me to drop "self" much more easily.
These are not "examples from actual experience". It is a story about it.
One of the main aims here is to develop the facility to differentiate between what is actual and what is a story.
Being 'awake' is knowing when you are responding to a story.

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Tue May 11, 2021 4:19 am

Hi Vince,

Where are you, if I may ask? I am in Reno, Nevada.
So what is it to be 'awake'?
I should note that I often feel language gets in the way of true understanding, both within us and between people. The word "awake" in this context is a good example, as it can mean many different things to different people (also why the word "enlightenment" is problematic for me). But I'm not avoiding your question, just thought you might want to know that about how my mind works.

For me, I am awake most often when I'm in nature, skiing down a mountain or sitting under a juniper tree watching my little girl nap, her little breaths pushing against me. I feel the most awake when I'm not thinking, just feeling my senses interwoven with the natural world. I have had some "transcendent" experiences in meditation retreats, sometimes even in my daily practice. Actually I often feel awake when I'm sitting in meditation. Basically when I stop responding to my egoistic/self-oriented narratives.
What about in your normal daily living?
Give me your take on decision, intention, free will, choice and control. How does your culture see them? What are they actually?
That could be a book-length response! In my normal daily living, I feel awake often when I sit to meditate. I often feel awake when I take a break from my work and look out the window at the garden, watch the trees moving in the breeze. Little moments here and there. My daily life feels like a dance between awareness and autopilot. Like I'm going along operating out of self, with moments of stepping out of self to "pull back the lens" and see myself in a larger context.

Free will, choice, control? These are challenging for me to consider, as in the past in my Buddhist study I have struggled with the notion that we don't have free will, mainly related to human behavior that is harmful to others, even violent or brutal. Thus far I suppose I have rejected the idea that people aren't responsible for their actions, as it seems too much of a green light for people to behave exactly as their worst "aspects of self" orient them. My culture sees them as concepts that orient humanity toward the "self" having control. What are they actually? They are words, ideas, concepts, constructs. I get that free will requires a self to exercise it. If there is no self, there can be no free will. Yet...if someone were to murder someone I love, the self (my self) would grieve and likely reject that the murderer had no choice.

I see what you mean about my examples of actual experience being only stories about the actual experience. This is another place where I find language problematic for navigating these concepts, as language is metaphor, and was essentially created by humans to help us tell the stories of our selves/our world. My direct experience feels very much outside of language.

You wrote that being "awake" is knowing when we are responding to a story. Aren't we nearly always responding to a story, except when we stop all the writing, the talking, the thinking, the doing? When I think about writing a haiku, for example, it seems the actual experiencing is in the moments prior to and after putting pen to paper.

Thank you,

Seldom

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Tue May 11, 2021 11:38 pm

Good morning Seldom,
Where are you, if I may ask?
i am in Australia.
The word "awake" in this context is a good example, as it can mean many different things to different people (also why the word "enlightenment" is problematic for me).
i also use the descriptor of 'asleep' to indicate those still deluded into thinking that there is an actual self running the show, and 'awake' for those that have had an epiphany and are operating with the illusion of a self.
Totally agree about language. When i use the word awake in this context I will put it in single quotes. i avoid the use of the E word, as it is totally corrupted by pop zen stuff.
just thought you might want to know that about how my mind works.
It seems that we are similar in this regard.
For me, I am awake most often when I'm in nature, skiing down a mountain or sitting under a juniper tree watching my little girl nap, her little breaths pushing against me. I feel the most awake when I'm not thinking, just feeling my senses interwoven with the natural world. I have had some "transcendent" experiences in meditation retreats, sometimes even in my daily practice. Actually I often feel awake when I'm sitting in meditation. Basically when I stop responding to my egoistic/self-oriented narratives.
This is a great start. Have you ever imagined that you could take that awareness out into the everyday, 'normal' world? (please quote then answer every ?
Basically when I stop responding to my egoistic/self-oriented narratives.
Am i reading you accurately when this statement informs that in normal daily life, you are triggered into these narratives all of the time?
My daily life feels like a dance between awareness and autopilot
Ah, yes. Autopilot is very useful. Like overdrive, it keeps things going with minimal effort. ..but the sad thing here is that the conditioning has been to reinforce the "egoistic/self-oriented narratives."
A story about re-wiring the neuronal pathways in the brain, is useful here.
When awareness occurs, i want you to consider that you have recognized that you were involved in the narrative.
The emphasis is on the recognition.
This will become a trigger.
In the brain, the neuronal pathways (created by synaptic connections) that are used repeatedly are enhanced. They are made stronger and more efficient by frequent use.
When we become aware that they are no longer useful, there are two ways that they can be decommissioned.
They can be pruned or they can atrophy from lack of use.
Neither of these seem to be able to be consciously controlled, but we can indirectly affect change.
Firstly, observe an intent to change.
Secondly, when awareness of that recognition occurs - laugh. Anything from a loud guffaw to a smile, or even a mental chuckle. This thwarts the completion of the old behavior and robs it of the satisfaction factor. It also floods the body with feel-good hormones.
& thirdly, imagine the new neuronal pathway being established that replaces the undesirable one.
On the second point.. the awareness of the habitual response. You will come to recognize triggers. Usually, some intense emotion will arise in response to a situation.
In a fairly short time, you will come to recognize that a trigger has happened but the response to it is short-circuited by the awareness of it. It simply won't eventuate and you will see the new response (a chuckle) happen instead.
I get that free will requires a self to exercise it. If there is no self, there can be no free will.
This is a logical conclusion. (a mental exercise) There is no free will but that neither is life deterministic. Observe and investigate this from the perspective of your actual experience for the next 24 hours and tell me what is noticed.
Aren't we nearly always responding to a story,
Yes, yes. Absolutely. Can you differentiate between useful stories and maladaptive ones? Give me an example of each.

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Wed May 12, 2021 2:28 am

Hi Vince,

You are speaking my language, I love it! I am a psychotherapist and use neuroscience a lot to help clients understand how their negative mental habits are formed and how they can shift them. Also the neuroscience of mindfulness practices.
Have you ever imagined that you could take that awareness out into the everyday, 'normal' world?
Yes, and not just imagined but I experience it as well. I am often experiencing the world with what might be called a "dual awareness." I think others also call it meta cognition. Operating out of self while simultaneously witnessing.
Am i reading you accurately when this statement informs that in normal daily life, you are triggered into these narratives all of the time?
No, that's not really what I meant. More like what I wrote above for the previous question: dual awareness. Yesterday, for example, someone cut me off in traffic: my immediate knee-jerk response was cortisol-driven anger toward the driver; but that was almost immediately followed by an awareness of that part of me that was angry, really an awareness of my limbic system responding to threat. Over the years I have rewired my brain to respond less reactively in threat situations. I feel the remnants but my default setting habits have changed by creating new neural pathways (I have clients imagine themselves walking over an untouched alpine meadow, making tracks through the long grass. This is the beginning of a path. Every time the path is traveled, it becomes easier to follow the next time, until the path becomes a well trod trail.)
This is a logical conclusion. (a mental exercise) There is no free will but that neither is life deterministic. Observe and investigate this from the perspective of your actual experience for the next 24 hours and tell me what is noticed.
Can you please say more here? I struggle with directions that ask me to be both intellectual while having actual experience. The question of free will versus determinism is highly intellectual (or, as you say, "a mental exercise"), so how to engage in that way while being in my direct experience?

Best wishes,

Seldom

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Wed May 12, 2021 9:44 pm

Good morning Seldom,
Operating out of self while simultaneously witnessing.
This is excellent, but it is a pretty objective description. You previously said "I am really working on trying to move through the world without so many negative judgmental thoughts dominating my inner dialogue. It's hard work.". When you say "witnessing", this implies an opinion free awareness, but when you say "hard work", it seems that there's a 'shouldn't' operating somewhere? Is this accurate?
my immediate knee-jerk response was cortisol-driven anger toward the driver; but that was almost immediately followed by an awareness of that part of me that was angry, really an awareness of my limbic system responding to threat. Over the years I have rewired my brain to respond less reactively in threat situations
This is excellent. You are well ahead of the curve here. This begets a question of expectations.
Are you insisting on perfection before you use the label 'awake'?
After almost 10 years since 'waking up', this triggering still occasionally happens here, and like you, it usually dissipates within seconds or minutes once recognition happens. It is an ongoing training exercise and one that is simply observed without any measurement (of success)
So tell me why do you think that you're not 'awake'?
Can you please say more here? I struggle with directions that ask me to be both intellectual while having actual experience.
Haha, can they be separated?
Ok, i want you to take a happening that most people would consider that they are using free will to do, say, crossing the road, and investigate what is happening as far as labels of 'free will' or 'deterministic' apply.

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Wed May 12, 2021 9:44 pm

Good morning Seldom,
Operating out of self while simultaneously witnessing.
This is excellent, but it is a pretty objective description. You previously said "I am really working on trying to move through the world without so many negative judgmental thoughts dominating my inner dialogue. It's hard work.". When you say "witnessing", this implies an opinion free awareness, but when you say "hard work", it seems that there's a 'shouldn't' operating somewhere? Is this accurate?
my immediate knee-jerk response was cortisol-driven anger toward the driver; but that was almost immediately followed by an awareness of that part of me that was angry, really an awareness of my limbic system responding to threat. Over the years I have rewired my brain to respond less reactively in threat situations
This is excellent. You are well ahead of the curve here. This begets a question of expectations.
Are you insisting on perfection before you use the label 'awake'?
After almost 10 years since 'waking up', this triggering still occasionally happens here, and like you, it usually dissipates within seconds or minutes once recognition happens. It is an ongoing training exercise and one that is simply observed without any measurement (of success)
So tell me why do you think that you're not 'awake'?
Can you please say more here? I struggle with directions that ask me to be both intellectual while having actual experience.
Haha, can they be separated?
Ok, i want you to take a happening that most people would consider that they are using free will to do, say, crossing the road, and investigate what is happening as far as labels of 'free will' or 'deterministic' apply.

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Wed May 12, 2021 10:14 pm

Hi Vince,
When you say "witnessing", this implies an opinion free awareness, but when you say "hard work", it seems that there's a 'shouldn't' operating somewhere? Is this accurate?
Even as I wrote "hard work" I realized it was inaccurate. I think I'm pretty immune to self-generated shoulds, but as I read your question I realized that the "should" is that I should not be judgmental and don't feel great when I am.

After almost 10 years since 'waking up', this triggering still occasionally happens here, and like you, it usually dissipates within seconds or minutes once recognition happens. It is an ongoing training exercise and one that is simply observed without any measurement (of success)
So tell me why do you think that you're not 'awake'?
Great question! It's similar to my discomfort with the words "liberated" and "enlightened." To define oneself as "awakened" seems to require a self/ego defining itself in such a way; which somehow feels paradoxical to me. I have often felt (even this word seems inadequate to describe what is ultimately beyond language) awake, even liberated; but these feelings have always been followed by a narrative negation that goes something like this: "To be awake can't even be recognized by the awakened," as language lives within the realm of self and ego.

This may sound strange, but it's hard for me to imagine defining myself as "awake," because doing so seems to support a duality that assumes others are "asleep," and I don't feel comfortable placing myself in what seems to me a position of determining (judging) who is awake and who is asleep.

Thus I read books like "The Power of Now" with a high degree of skepticism, because to advertise one's liberation seems like a form of self idolatry. Of course I realize that ending the suffering of all beings is the expressed intention, but is it really?
Ok, i want you to take a happening that most people would consider that they are using free will to do, say, crossing the road, and investigate what is happening as far as labels of 'free will' or 'deterministic' apply.
Thanks for adding more here. I will practice this over the next day and report back.

Gratefully,

Seldom

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Thu May 13, 2021 10:03 pm

Good morning Seldom,
To define oneself as "awakened" seems to require a self/ego defining itself in such a way; which somehow feels paradoxical to me.
Yes, it is paradoxical. To define oneself is to identify, which embeds us back in a delusion.
Is it possible that to use such a term (here in the context of this conversation) as a description of a 'shift' (in perspective) that happened without believing that it 'owned' by a Self?
i also use the word 'asleep' to describe behavior that emanates from within the delusion that describes a self as autonomous. (eg Self-induced suffering - did you get the immensity of this phrase?)
Hmm, here is an interesting segue.
Just as vibrating air becomes sound when the ear mechanisms stimulate the brain, just as our experiencing of the entire (apparently) objective world happens in the brain, so too it is our interpretation of (apparent) others that we respond to.
Another way to say this is that we project the world and the people in it, according to our own experience. Certainly, there is something out there that we use as a screen for our projections, but what exactly is a mystery.
In 'normal' daily living, it would take a trigger to even think in these terms. My friends and relatives (except my wife) have no notion that I come from this perspective. (and my wife thinks that I am mad)
the "should" is that I should not be judgmental and don't feel great when I am.
An alternative to not feeling great when you are judgemental, is to celebrate that you recognized that you did. (with a laugh)
I don't feel comfortable placing myself in what seems to me a position of determining (judging) who is awake and who is asleep.
Having an opinion (judging) is always fraught with danger. A danger that we might believe that this story is accurate.
When it is seen here that a story arises, if it doesn't already exist, i append "..or not" to it. (the acknowledgement that it may or may not be somewhat accurate. That it IS a mental fabrication from the perspective of vince.)
because to advertise one's liberation
Is this imputing a particular motivation?
Of course I realize that ending the suffering of all beings is the expressed intention, but is it really?
Is it possible to know?

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Thu May 13, 2021 10:56 pm

Hi Vince,
Is it possible that to use such a term (here in the context of this conversation) as a description of a 'shift' (in perspective) that happened without believing that it 'owned' by a Self?
Sure, that sounds good.
An alternative to not feeling great when you are judgmental, is to celebrate that you recognized that you did. (with a laugh
)

Thank you, I like this shift.
Is this imputing a particular motivation?
Yes. I'm just thinking in terms of the ego's need to be acknowledged, to feel "special," to reassert its existence through specialness.
Is it possible to know?
Probably not.

Best,

Seldom

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Sat May 15, 2021 12:05 am

Good morning, really busy at the moment. Will probably get to respond this evening or in the morning.

love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Mon May 17, 2021 1:03 am

Good morning Seldom,
Yes. I'm just thinking in terms of the ego's need to be acknowledged, to feel "special," to reassert its existence through specialness.
This is worth investigating to a deeper level.
i can report that every time these descriptors (awakened/liberated) are used, they are accompanied by the question about whether there is a sense of specialness or superiority.
Whether or not a 'shift' has occurred is not a matter of opinion, but to consider it is to enter storyland.
Now, this is a big one... As we have agreed, story is a companion to every experience, and (almost) every experience is a response to story.
Among the many seekers that i have worked with on this forum, there have been some that i would describe as awake in every way but one. That is that they didn't believe that they were.
Consequently, they were responding to a different story, so, many of the new behaviors that would have been instilled by the brain rewiring eluded them.
What are the criteria that determine if a 'shift' has happened? (rhetorical question)
Well, most people would like to have had an epiphany type experience. They see bells and whistles as proof that it has happened, but for many it doesn't happen this way.
There was a time when even on reflection it was believed that the stories about ourselves were actual. That we were in control. That truth was a thing. That we were inherently good or bad.
There was also a belief in seekers, that if we were to 'awaken', that these things would change instantly and completely.
If, on reflection, these things are recognized as fallacy, then a 'shift' has happened.
This is usually accompanied by an experiential component, but without doubt it takes time to re-condition many years of habitual responding.
So, Seldom, has a 'shift' happened for you?

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Tue May 18, 2021 3:11 am

Hi Vince,

Apologies for the delay in replying. About once a month I unplug from technology for a long weekend. Next time I will try to let you know.

Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful words. I read your entry quite a few times to digest it.
So, Seldom, has a 'shift' happened for you?
I would say I have had numerous shifts over the last thirty or so years. Perhaps the shift has happened slowly enough that it hasn't felt like a shift as much as a slow evolving (my mind also says "devolving" here). I never expected bells and whistles (not my style anyway, ha!), but perhaps there was a time in my twenties/thirties when I could have gone for some light show from the heavens.

When you write about some of the seekers being awake in all ways except believing they were, I get stuck on the word "belief." I don't believe in belief! I know I sound crazy, and I swear I'm not trying to be difficult for you. Belief seems to me one of the major problems of being human, so I'm kind of stuck there.

I once saw a bumper sticker that seemed to me...awake: "Don't always believe what you think."

I had a cool moment this weekend that did feel awake, if I can share it. I was mountain biking in Lake Tahoe, and while riding I came across a group of motorcyclists riding on a trail where they are not allowed (no motor vehicles). I felt my blood pressure rise, my limbic system spray cortisol, and for one moment felt a surge of righteous indignation. Then I breathed, looked around at the juniper trees and granite boulders, and smiled and waved to the motos as they rode by. It felt...like another small shift.

I'm not left believing anything different about myself. I was a guy on a bike who didn't yell, big deal!

Those guys on the motos, me, the junipers, it's all gone. That was another day that doesn't exist anymore. Here I sit typing some words to you about it, and the funny thing is I can't even guarantee the story is accurate!

Did I even come close to answering your question?

Thank you, Vince.

Colin

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Wed May 19, 2021 6:26 am

Good day Colin,
Apologies for the delay in replying.
No need for apologies as I'm not taking anything personally.
I get stuck on the word "belief." I don't believe in belief! I know I sound crazy, and I swear I'm not trying to be difficult for you. Belief seems to me one of the major problems of being human, so I'm kind of stuck there.
Ok, this is a big one. Is it possible to know anything?
Give me one example of something that you know for sure.
Is that one thing sensations from direct experiencing, or is that one thing thoughts about it?

i had an experience as a child where my mother woke me up in the usual manner with instructions to get dressed for school.
As I was walking out of the bedroom to get breakfast, my mother woke me saying "get up and dressed".
The first time was so 'real', so normal that is was a shock to realize that i had dreamt it.
Then the realization that we can only know that we are dreaming when we wake up (except for lucid dreaming) So how do i know that I'm not dreaming this?
i would even go as far as to say that being liberated (from some culturally-induced delusions) is akin to lucid dreaming. This acknowledges that we are all dreaming.
Oh, and one really significant feature of dreaming, is that it is entirely created by the organism.
I once saw a bumper sticker that seemed to me...awake: "Don't always believe what you think."
Ha, i would supersede that with "Everything that you think is a belief. What do you believe about your beliefs?"
It felt...like another small shift.
Yes (he said smiling) Any recognition that new responses are being hard-wiredin is great. A big shift.
I was a guy on a bike who didn't yell, big deal!
It's a practical display of a perspective shift.
The first one is big. The tenth one is ordinary. After that, it isn't even noticed. Chop wood, carry water.
That was another day that doesn't exist anymore.
Every experience changes us. Yes, the day is gone. Experiencing became experiences. ..but whatever we are, has evolved because of it.
the funny thing is I can't even guarantee the story is accurate!
Yes, good one. ..but aren't all stories a loose account about something?

with love

vince

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby SeldomSeen » Thu May 20, 2021 3:58 am

Hi Vince,
Is it possible to know anything?
Give me one example of something that you know for sure.
Is that one thing sensations from direct experiencing, or is that one thing thoughts about it?
Some things seem knowable to me. I know I'm tired right now after a long day of work, because my body tells me so in its heaviness. I know I won't exist in this body forever. I know I am breathing in this moment.
Then the realization that we can only know that we are dreaming when we wake up (except for lucid dreaming) So how do i know that I'm not dreaming this?
I love 'The Matrix' and sci-fi in general; but I also have a bit too much understanding of the neuroscience of consciousness and the science of sleep to accept the simplicity of the dichotomy you are presenting. Dreaming is a brain activity, a biological adaptation to help us process, filter, and store memory. Just because the monsters in the dreams of my 5-year-old daughter seem vividly real to her, does not mean these monsters exist.

Maybe I am totally missing your point here?
Ha, i would supersede that with "Everything that you think is a belief. What do you believe about your beliefs?"
I believe that most of my beliefs appear meaningless in the context of time and space. Programmed over 2 million years of evolution. Utter nonsense in the context of eternity.
...but aren't all stories a loose account about something?
Yes. And isn't all language, with which we communicate stories, in and of itself illusory? I have never been so aware of the fragility of language as I am in this conversation. It's a house of cards, except the house is not a house and the cards may as well be flowers.

Goodnight, Vince,

Colin

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Re: Mountains are mountains

Postby vinceschubert » Thu May 20, 2021 10:11 pm

Good morning Colin,
Some things seem knowable to me. I know I'm tired right now after a long day of work, because my body tells me so in its heaviness.
So the description of the sensations of heaviness are encased in a label called "tired". That particular label is used because of the logic that it is a reasonable one, given the memory of a long day of work.
"knowable" is a concept that points to a feeling of certainty that the above story is accurate.
If somebody were to sit beside you and say "boy I'm feeling heavy because of the covid vaccination that you and I got yesterday, What would happen to the knowing?
The tiredness is the same.
The certainty about the tiredness remains. ..but the reason for the certainty changes. Does the original knowing transform into a belief, to be replaced by a new knowing. Is this new knowing also amenable to change if new data arrives, thus also a belief?
I know I won't exist in this body forever.
Another story with many stories to confirm it's accuracy.
What would happen to the knowing if medical science announces tomorrow that they have discovered a 'cure' to aging.
Would this knowing be transformed into a belief to be replace by a different belief?
I know I am breathing in this moment.
Look closer. There is breathing. There is a pause of not breathing. There is breathing again.
Well, actually there is chest expanding. A sensation in the nostrils (&/or mouth) There is chest/stomach contracting.
There is a concept called breathing that describes this. A concept that includes stories about oxygen and continues existence.
logic gives it certainty. Knowing is a concept applied to that.
Just because the monsters in the dreams of my 5-year-old daughter seem vividly real to her, does not mean these monsters exist.
That particular dream that i had as a kid had no monsters. It was so normal that i was convinced that it was real. Just as now, i'm convinced that THIS is real. If it weren't for that memory then the possibility that THIS might also be a construct of my brain wouldn't exist.
understanding of the neuroscience of consciousness and the science of sleep
i agree that this points us in a particular direction, but my knowing is disturbed when I read the literature on Quantum physics.
And isn't all language, with which we communicate stories, in and of itself illusory?
Absolutely. ..but we live with illusions continually. (Especially the illusion of knowing) ..and yet we have a connection. Something happens in this organism when reading your squiggle on this screen. Amazing. Fucking lovely.

with love

vince


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