Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 13881 - 13900 of total 22344 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 12, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Having had a one and a half hour long experience of no mind, that is, no discursive verbal thought possible for an hour and a half, I have to say that it was both subjective and objective.

It was subjective because it had never happened before and was novel. However, even though I could not form the thought in words, I knew that it resembled what I had read about. Therefore it belonged to an objective category of subjective experiences.

Beyond that, the fact that my autonomic nervous system kept functioning since I was still breathing and heart beating and able to walk up and down a beach and register what I saw as it gradually got dark, means that it was a small part of a larger, still functioning brain.

The question for me is not whether the Buddhist or other masters were correct about their experiences, nor the value of getting the mind to that condition, but what is the ultimate meaning of such experiences? Are they simply a reversion back to an earlier state of evolution, or are they part of a vast consciousness that pervades the universe? That is the question.

The objectivists are certain it was simply an experience of the meat brain and the subjectivists, that it was an experience of universal mind or cosmic consciousness. Myself, I can not say. Anything that requires years of effort, takes on significance, perhaps greater than what it is. The experience however was significant and impressive enough to keep me looking for answers.

TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
May 13, 2013 - 02:44am PT
well, Ed, please share your evaluation of this movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMhAIdqH0Cs&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Nikola Tesla unlimited free energy forever THEY dont want you to know about
MH2

climber
May 13, 2013 - 12:28pm PT
Jan quietly asks about the meaning of experience. Although experience itself can be attributed to information processing in the brain, where does the meaning come from?

Information theory sets aside the question of meaning and looks only at the signal. How many bits does it take to represent a signal, what noise exists in the transmission line, can noise be overcome by redundancy, etc?

Information can be translated into the abstract realm of mathematics and this is a powerful way to look at the nature of information.

The meaning we attach to the information we experience may derive from its relevance to our biological needs, or it may not. The world is a big and mysterious place. When we smell food we like, the meaning of the experience is relatively basic and obvious, but a host of feelings may be conjured up by the smell, feelings not simply explained by our need to eat. Perhaps our biological needs are more complicated than we usually give them credit for, or perhaps our brains (or spirits) can look beyond the biological. It is decidedly strange that under certain conditions we experience a sense of immanence.




The dragonfly study was great. I have been a fan of dragonfly neuroscience since 1974. Insects and birds are good subjects because when you fly you must keep weight to a minimum and you can expect to see nervous systems stripped to the essentials.


Probably people here are also aware of the recent study of prediction in the human visual system. Using a test called the Flash Drag Effect and doing fMRI on people, a part of the brain was identified where our vision predicts the position of a fast-moving object. In the milliseconds it takes for information to get from our retina to our visual cortex a tennis ball, for example, may have moved a meter or more. Our brain takes that into account and we see the ball where it is going to be, not where it is. I will look for it later, but I have a paper from the 80s which talks about this process of prediction already evident in the retina, though probably not fully developed there.

People no doubt vary in their ability to track moving objects. Ed's baseball career comes to mind.

In an interview one of the authors of the study mentioned that there are cases of people who, usually because of brain injury, do not have any ability to see motion. They see the world as a series of still images. When they pour coffee into a cup they have to just take a guess on when to stop pouring.

The study made me think about hearing, too, and whether people's sense for rhythm and dance, as in following a beat, also requires prediction on the audio side.



The Flash Drag Effect

jogill

climber
Colorado
May 13, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
Our brain takes that into account and we see the ball where it is going to be, not where it is

This is very interesting, MH2. I wonder what the relationship this phenomenon has with the ability of the brain to subconsciously calculate the probabilities of various responses to a very abrupt change of environment (or action) and trigger an appropriate response from us, all in a very, very short span of time, inadequate for deliberation. Certainly instinct plays a role here, but where instinct is not sufficient some sort of subconscious calculation may take place.

Or maybe not.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
May 13, 2013 - 03:37pm PT
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23532-early-hominins-couldnt-have-heard-modern-speech.html

Our australopith ancestors heard their world differently from modern humans....
jstan

climber
May 13, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
I was once at a conference attended by Dirac. What was my impression of the man?

More than anything else, he just wanted to be left alone.


Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
May 13, 2013 - 11:41pm PT
I just real like hearing how simple this is…
A 10 year old can take on the argument.

jogill

climber
Colorado
May 14, 2013 - 12:58am PT
I was once at a conference attended by Dirac

Mathematicians have certainly had fun generalizing the Dirac delta function in distribution theory and generalized functions. But the nascent functions they use are a far cry from what one imagines of the DDF when displayed graphically.
MH2

climber
May 14, 2013 - 01:21am PT
The brain estimating probabilities? No doubt it can, but we need an example.


Neurons readily do derivatives. That happens early in the visual system in so-called edge detectors.

In the vestibular system a "second integration" is done on the angular velocity signal found in the semicircular canal primary sensory neurons. The second integration provides a position signal for eye muscles to use to compensate for head rotation so the eyes can track a target when you are moving.

Trying to predict abrupt changes would be more difficult than predicting the position of a baseball moving in a nearly straight line.



I know from personal experience that it is hard to track dragonflies. I will need to pay more attention next time to whether my brain is predicting where the dragonfly will be rather than where it is. Perhaps there will be some weird edge effect I can perceive when the dragonfly stops to hover.








BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
May 14, 2013 - 06:50am PT
Largo's insistence that we know nothing of mind if we haven't followed his "2500" years of experience, cannot be completely true. I don't believe that he is tapping in to anything that we all already share.

We all have minds. Most of us are curious enough to ponder it, the mind itself. The idea that studying the brain to get at mental function, response, and ability, will lead you nowhere, is just foolish. JL himself often refers to left brain/right brain thinking and the "limbic system." These are all anatomical discoveries of neuroscience, so I assume that he bothers reading up on it a little bit.

I did change my opinion on subjective experience. I pointed out long ago that we can do objective study, but only in a rigorous way designed to strip away subjective biases. This is baby 101 stuff. While it is true that our senses receive information in a subjective way, there are many ways to objectify this experience and make it completely useful in an objective way. You just have to follow your critical thinking skills and dare I say Some Method such as the Scientific Method, which is designed to remove subjective bias from empirical information or thought.

I'm a geologist, and I easily think in an objective way. I work with a lot of objective data. I can also work in a subjective way, the creative way, by using my familiarity with information gathered over the past 27 years. I can take an idea, hold it up at arms length, turn it over and critically examine it, as if ideas were actual empirical objects. After lots of experience understanding the relationship between mathematics and matter, I assume that Ed can do the same thing. I don't have to pull out my calculator to daydream. I do when I finally want to write it down and prove it. I can see my data. Ed cannot. Both of us use instruments that extend our physical senses far beyond anything that they can see.

As for meditation, I see its use as a tool for finding happiness. No more.

The Buddha said that life is suffering, and the effort was to releave this suffering. Nothing more.

It may be useful in allowing the "back chatter" in the mind to reveal new ideas, because my best ideas have come out of nowhere. I can forget a problem for 10 years and then have a flash of inspiration in the shower. Somehow I am unconsciously processing information.

Do others experience this? I doubt that I am unique.

Why do whales sing? I have read that Humpback Whales sing songs with whales on the other side of the Pacific; their song travels that far. The songs evolve and change throughout the year, and it is obvious that the whales are singing to each other. We call it "song," but what are they singing?

I will say it again and again. Neuroscience is in a Golden Age, and none of us know jack about it, so the topic of the mind is coming from a bunch of amateurs and others who follow ancient methods.

Why do the Buddhists have prayer wheels? Everything I have read says that The Buddha (the first one) was a man and not a god. He achieved enlightenment, but so can anyone. That is what I have read in the first page of every book on Buddhism that I've read.

jstan

climber
May 14, 2013 - 08:50am PT
Largo's insistence that we know nothing of mind if we haven't followed his "2500" years of experience, cannot be completely true.

Complete truth is too high a standard to set. More directly our sitting here arguing about this stuff says 2500 years of arguments have not even got us anything even vaguely close to something that "works".

As we type people are learning how the brain actually does work. That this kind of dialog still goes on is weird. The answers are are coming in.

The existence of this thread points to an underlying flaw in our makeup. Trying to identify that flaw might actually prove of value.


cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
May 14, 2013 - 09:26am PT
It could also be argued that Largo's efforts, at best, illustrate precisely the reason why Zen has traditionally been considered a non-proselytizing belief system.
jogill

climber
Colorado
May 14, 2013 - 01:34pm PT
It may be useful in allowing the "back chatter" in the mind to reveal new ideas, because my best ideas have come out of nowhere. I can forget a problem for 10 years and then have a flash of inspiration in the shower. Somehow I am unconsciously processing information. Do others experience this? I doubt that I am unique

Happens all the time to mathematicians, but usually on a much shorter time scale. I recall starting a project for my thesis many years ago, not penetrating a dilemma for a few days, then waking up in the middle of the night with a complete resolution.

On the other hand, I've had flashes of "insight" while slumbering that when exposed to critique at full consciousness proved absurd.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 14, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
I've had the same experience as jogil's many times. I've had dreams where brilliant and eloquent sentences tumbled out as I was lecturing on a topic i was writing a paper on, but when I woke up, I could remember none of it or only a few phrases. Other times I've been able to reconstruct most of it. So far I haven't found any meditation techniques to enhance this process while awake.

One process that I am able to engage sometimes, is lucid dreaming, whereby I am dreaming as though the subject of a movie, while I am conscious enough to also be the director of the movie and change the direction of the plot or imagine alternative endings. The meditative purpose of this kind of dreaming is to convince one that the self is illusory and many different selves could be imagined (travel and living in foreign cultures will do this too).

Now I'm wondering if the stages of consciousness between discursive thinking and no thought aren't the ones where we will learn the most about the structure of the mind and how to use it productively?
jstan

climber
May 14, 2013 - 10:19pm PT
Seems to me we are onto something. The quantum is telling us nature takes all paths to get from point A to point B.

Possibly, we are doing the same thing.

While sleeping we do not have to make time critical decisions affecting survival. So while sleeping maybe the brain takes all paths on the problem we were working on before bed time. Only a small portion of them become "dreams". The brain is designed and experienced in living. Taking input signals in real time and comparing them to remembered experience. The brain may be taking each of these paths and playing them out as if they were real time experiences. Because that's the way it was designed to work.
MH2

climber
May 14, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
nature takes all paths to get from point A to point B


It often looks that way.

I find it odd that 'discursive' has quite different meanings:

a. passing aimlessly from one subject to another, rambling
b. proceeding by reasoning or argument rather than by intuition

and that it comes from a Latin word that means to run about.



I wonder what state of consciousness I am experiencing when I do photography? I am not aware of any inner voice or words. If quieting the mind for meditation is tricky, how about trying to take pictures of dragonflies in flight using a zoom lens?





Dragonflies are easy compared to butterflies.






I have spent hours without getting a good shot or having a worthwhile insight afterwards. Maybe it is closer to lucid dreaming than to meditation. Except that now I have a strong conviction that nature takes all paths to get from A to B.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
May 14, 2013 - 11:32pm PT
As for meditation, I see its use as a tool for finding happiness. No more.


I would like to hear about your direct experiences with meditation that led you to this conclusion. My sense is that you are looking at meditation as something that you do, as opposed to where you momentarily forgo doing anything. This is akin to John S. looking for something that "works." These are all artifacts of the discursive mind grinding on bits and pieces of what it perceives as the issue. As they say at the beginning, just shut up and listen - not to me or anyone, but to the silence between thoughts. Once the discursive mind gets sufficiently fatigued at trying to recon or calibrate the terrain, Mind with a big M becomes accessible even as the discursive mind begs to know "the point."

The discursive mind is itself a tool, and we are so hard-wired to fuse with it that until you can learn to disidentify with thinking, there is no way to actually see what your mind is beyond the processing of content. This is a challenging idea for the discursive mind, which can never understand what the deeper questions really are. Most of all, that it cannot be the arbiter of IT ALL.

JL
WBraun

climber
May 14, 2013 - 11:56pm PT
As for meditation, I see its use as a tool for finding happiness.

That's very good. Excellent.

The soul by its true nature is always blissful.

Once purification is perfected by proper meditation one will become truly happy.

Not that one becomes only in some phony warm fuzzy feeling projected by those in poor fund of knowledge.

One becomes clear in all activities and thus true happiness manifests.

Thus even in anger it must be precise and clear with out false ego .....
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 15, 2013 - 12:16am PT
While sleeping we do not have to make time critical decisions affecting survival. So while sleeping maybe the brain takes all paths on the problem we were working on before bed time. Only a small portion of them become "dreams". The brain is designed and experienced in living. Taking input signals in real time and comparing them to remembered experience. The brain may be taking each of these paths and playing them out as if they were real time experiences. Because that's the way it was designed to work.


I like the idea that the brain in sleep is taking each of the experiences and playing them out. In terms of evolution though, one has to ask how that works in animals that do not have the cerebrum associated with discursive thinking. Their brains are geared to helping them survive, so wouldn't the alternative pathways have preceded the discursive? If so, how do they make sense of the cacophony?

Maybe each brain innovation or major new network of neurons has brought about a different pathway that superceded the others and that our present discursive mind is only the latest master of the others and could theoretically be superceded by yet another if we survive that long?



jogill

climber
Colorado
May 15, 2013 - 12:43am PT
These are all artifacts of the discursive mind grinding on bits and pieces of what it perceives as the issue

Grinding is actually good. It leads to enlightenment. You should try it sometime.

Oh, but you do . . . isn't that what your posts are about?
Messages 13881 - 13900 of total 22344 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews