What is "Mind?"

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jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Dec 5, 2017 - 12:21pm PT
Yanqui makes a good point. When Feynman introduced his path integral (although there were earlier similar ideas in probability theory) mathematicians attempted to place the concept in a rigorous setting, calling it a functional integral. That work continues to this day, with loose ends remaining.

A couple of months ago I got interested in this idea and googled it. Most results are related to either physics or probability, or both, and I was quickly out of my depth, having left all but a few fundamentals of physics behind sixty years ago, and having been away from advanced math for the last seventeen years.

So, I decided to take the basic definition as it appears on Wikipedia and create some examples of functional integrals using complex contours, with which I am familiar:


Playing with Functional Integrals

This won't mean anything to most of you (except Yanqui!) but I link it to demonstrate how, once again, physics leads the way.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Dec 5, 2017 - 12:50pm PT
It may be more devious than, "Physics leads the way," jgill.

A waypoint on the career of one of our daughters:


http://www.nccr-swissmap.ch/master-class-2015
jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Dec 5, 2017 - 01:14pm PT
Impressive, Andy. Actually, the Schramm-Loewner Evolution makes a little sense to me since it involves contours in the complex plane.

Where is your daughter now?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2017 - 03:00pm PT
As you step back per PSP the last feeling is the awareness feeling and when this goes you are likely either asleep, dreaming, anesthetized or maybe intensely focused?
-----


The problem with this is that it is based on speculation. It's also based on the belief that awareness is anchored to tasking - that is, processing a feeling, a thought, a sensation, etc. What happens when you stop tasking? Do you fall asleep, start dreaming. And in terms of "you are intensely focused," this too is wrong because the "you" is nothing more than another bit of content arising in awareness.

So far as "refuting" Damasio, the whole notion hinges on the initial assumption that Damasio has actually nailed what awareness is by fusing it to content, in his case, limbic output (feelings). As Searle was saying, 3rd person speculations can only posit awareness as something else. The fact that this doesn't pan out under close study makes it ludicrous as some "truth" that needs to be refuted. Man, that's not even intermediate level subjective adventuring.

The default position for some is to start saying that empty awareness is a "belief," that you only THINK this is happening, when in fact it's all machine output, or limbic output, or SOMETHING ELSE we can describe, grasp, and label.

There are presently an estimated 20 million people meditating on a daily basis in the US, and from what I have seen over the last few decades, at least half of those are science or tech types. Of that group, statistics would suggest at least 10 percent of that 5 million (50,000 people) are crusher scientists. Perhaps ten percent of those 50,000 (5,000) are fluent enough with no-mind or objectless meditation to know about empty awareness - and this is obviously a very conservative guess.

Ask these folks - which include ONLY high achieving scientists - how many of them would describe empty awareness as actually being in any way related to feeling, or in fact, awareness IS a feeling.

Thing is, Dingus McGee is speculating about terrain that lies totally outside of his purview, much as I would totally be winging it if I started riffing on engineering. A common retort is that science is not like "navel gazing," where the facts are anything but and all opinions are of equal value, where in the end, no one can REALLY say what is going on with any accuracy.

Why not find out for yourself, Dingus, instead of just parroting a systems theory take on mind. Damasio has made many excellent contributions to mind studies, but content AS awareness is a howler to anyone close to the work, or that we may be sure.
jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Dec 5, 2017 - 03:26pm PT
Perhaps ten percent of those 50,000 (5,000) are fluent enough with no-mind or objectless meditation to know about empty awareness

I'll ask the question again, Once you have achieved empty awareness where do you go from there? Do you return to that experience, swooning over and over because it feels so good? Like doing your favorite climb umpteen times?

If you say, that's where the adventures begin, then try describing those adventures.

PSP and Jan appear to have the most reasonable approaches to all this meditation.
WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 04:02pm PT
If you say, that's where the adventures begin, then try describing those adventures.


What happens is every moment is infinitely new and ever fresh, like the very first time.

In a sense, every moment becomes like this.

The gross materialists only has a beginning and end .....

The gross materialists can NOT understand this until transcending the limitations of the material realm.

Do NOT waste your time trying to understand this with your limited materially conscious mind but do the work and you WILL see

Until then one WILL only remain as a mental speculator ......

jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Dec 5, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
The gross materialists can NOT understand this until transcending the limitations of the material realm


Thanks for sharing this thought.

;>)

What happens is every moment is infinitely new and ever fresh, like the very first time

I hope this does not apply to driving an automobile.

;>(
WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 05:21pm PT
I hope this does not apply to driving an automobile.

Oh, it will!

But NOT how you think and see it in your mind.

Do the work and not guess ......
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Dec 5, 2017 - 05:30pm PT
Largo: The default position for some is to start saying that empty awareness is a "belief," that you only THINK this is happening, when in fact it's all machine output, or limbic output, or SOMETHING ELSE we can describe, grasp, and label.



If you were honest with yourself you would include, "or SOMETHING ELSE we can't describe, grasp, or label."

But you are fixed on a mistaken characterization of your opposition.
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 5, 2017 - 05:56pm PT
Largo

the non sense you introject amazes me ... it takes a sloppy mind to do this?

Largo,

And in terms of "you are intensely focused," this too is wrong because the "you" is nothing more than another bit of content arising in awareness.

First of all I never used the wording ...you are intensely focused... What text of mine did you use to convert my wordage to get the line of thought you then proceed to criticize as some how meaningless -- "you is nothing more... ??

It seems you have very little interpretive ability for reading & remembering so I will rewrite your miss quoting of what I think I might have meant.

...When your brain is intensely focused ...

The problem with this[awareness as a feeling] is that it is based on speculation.


Please tell us how you have arrived at this take [speculation] on Damasio's idea of awareness. Also you have used a quote of Searle that in no way addresses how Damasio has gotten the view he has. I see a lot of strawmen arguments out of what you create when you attempt to criticize.

You are so enamoured with your 1st person view of the mind through meditation & the phony Zen Narrative that you fail to see that 3100 years meditating has gotten us no where in how the brain makes a mind/awareness. Furthermore Damasio has a 1st person account of how he thinks his minds works and that view has given him something to show for it. With something other than narrow minded opinions please tell us how your view is correct and his is wrong.

You are hung up in the relation of content to awareness. You have given awareness a property you cannot substantiate nor tell of and one in which other well known meditating folks do not concur with your 1st person experience-- Metzinger for one. So take that 20 million meditators you boast of and ask them how many think Largo is right and how many think like Metziner? The data you advance alone is meaningless to support your claim. Further the correct placement of awareness is not a voting matter as I may have alluded to.

Dingus McGee is speculating about terrain that lies totally outside of his purview

Oh really? Mr Clueless. Try figuring this out: Am I quoting Damasio or telling you what I figured out through my 1st person account obtained through meditation with a lousy mind for details?

WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:02pm PT
or SOMETHING ELSE we can describe grasp, and label.

But that is exactly what you people do all the time.

And if he had said "can't describe"

You people would immediately sarcastically say since it can't be described, therefore, it doesn't even exist.

See the irony of your thinking.

Thus in an argument such as this, a person like Largo would be fuked if he did and fuked if didn't.

A catch 22 situation that YOU are creating and are projecting and not him.

Do the work and not keep guessing as life comes from life and NOT robots, machines and gmo's ......

Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:20pm PT
Smoking Duck,

a person like Largo would be fuked if he did and fuked if didn't.

You are correct as there is only one person like Largo, namely Largo.

But he is clearly fuked for a different netting. The vail he casts behind will have little evidence either way and that will make it unsubstantiatable.
WBraun

climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:23pm PT
The vail he casts with has will have little evidence either way and that will make it unsubstantiatable.

He has cast no such veil.

You are just plain blind ......
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 5, 2017 - 06:25pm PT
You are just plain blind ....

I C U R projecting ...

And I hear you are just plain deaf?

PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Dec 5, 2017 - 08:56pm PT
DM said" //I add intensely focused, experientially, because this condition of brain use is much different than meditation and when I am for example skiing moguls non stop the feeling of awareness vanishes as I am stuck in a task where I must let the subconscious perform the flow of muscle work. Absolutely no disturbing feelings arise while this muscle work is happening, almost all of which I have little or no awareness of in the conscious awareness experience sense. This state of mind has been called Flow.

Powerful therapy and opposite of meditation therapy in that it occurs while in action. Largo try getting into flow -- you will have to rid of the Lard. And get this: my experience while in Flow, Which is not Buddhism, holds equally valid 1st person experience of mind and awareness as you get of awareness while sitting."//

Your are touching something here Dingus. Maybe we are talking about a very similar thing!?

The koreans have a retreat called Yong Maeng Jong Jin (Yong Maeng Jong Jin" is a traditional phrase that means “to leap like a tiger while sitting.” ) for 2.5 days.

Zen Master Seung Sahn signature phrase was "only just do it" . This is not about buddhism it is about engaging life fully. Buddhism ups the ante by testing if you can engage fully while sitting doing nothing for hours on end for days. This particular style is designed to help the practitioner encounter non-dualism and experience egoless moments. These glimpses (if they happen) egoless/unconditional compassion slap you in the face with what the F### was that? It is different than skiing the knarl or doing the run out because you are just sitting there doing nothing and suddenly you are "leaping like a tiger while sitting" .

I fully agree that Zen has no monopoly on fully engaging in life; as a matter of fact many people practicing Zen are struggling with their practice experience and there is no "flow " happening. But they are making an effort to investigate; really nothing more than that. Similar to climbing sometimes it's a grovel or a sufferfest and sometimes effortless; everyday is new.


Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 6, 2017 - 03:09am PT
PSP,

great job on the tone of both your posts -- thank you!

The content was also pertinent. I started looking over Mihaly's book on Flow and will relate what I find and have experienced as to how meditation and flow seem to compare.

As for therapy both are great and I would hesitate to say which is better but as you point out some people may be better suited to only one of these therapies -- we all likely need some therapy. Their results do converge when we can achieve pleasantness doing the mundane tasks of life. You say chopping wood and carrying water. Chopping wood can easily become a flow like task. As for carrying water I will try to figure out a less burdensome method. A richer life likely has a mind that can both meditate and has the skills of doing some task(s) to get into flow.

Much like the difficulty of just jumping into meditation and achieving serenity one does not just step into any task and experience flow. If you choose to easy of a task it will soon get boring and if you lack the required level of skill for a difficult task you will get feelings of anxiety. Rock climbing may have roots in focusing from our ancestral past so as to easily get us into flow when on the rock. Rich Goldstone did some climbing with Mihaly.

Mihaly makes no mention of meditation in his book on Flow. Flow is about achieving serenity while in any task of waking life. He goes into many examples. He touches on some Eastern methods of flow in the chapter, The Ultimate Control: Yoga and the Martial Arts .


Jgill, Mihaly has some discussion about achieving flow while doing math and science. I suspect you know this experience quite well.. So do I and this is done often sitting.

But my final take is that neither Flow nor Meditation is brain science. Everyone of us has our expertise in 1st person mind experience of which virtually none of it makes science by itself. It does give us a direction where to look.

You say: Buddhism ups the ante by testing if you can engage fully while sitting doing nothing for hours on end for days.

I say to this if this sitting is to achieve something other than sitting in-its-self is there a way around sitting to get the same end state of mind? As you have also said Zen has no Monopoly on fully engaging in life. For what it is worth as a challenge in waking life that can be said to up the ante even more than sitting is finding a way to achieve what Zen does in waking life without any sitting. There is no road map for this task but getting into Flow may illuminate the path to the condition of mind as such.

But a worthy question: does Zen achieve anything?
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 6, 2017 - 06:55am PT
Largo,

As Searle was saying, 3rd person speculations can only posit awareness as something else.


I find the use of what Searle says by Largo rather amusing in relation to what & who Largo will use as evidence for his arguments and yet he does condemn others for using similar ideas with such underlying methods of assessment, namely 3rd person.

We all know Largo insists that only 1st person accounts are valid. In fact only his account. But the very act of Searle speaking philosophically is a 3rd person observation and should be subject to the same scrutiny by Largo as ...something else ... that is not 1st person. If only 1st person does matter than anything Searle says to bolster Largo is irrelevant.

Obvious to most of us is that this statement, As Searle was saying, 3rd person speculations can only posit awareness as something else is in fact itself a 3rd person observation! Should not that idea too be subject to being though of as ... something else ... based on its own declaration?

And in the end I may have to forgive Searle as Largo is very sloppy/slipshod/careless when quoting anyone.
PSP also PP

Trad climber
Berkeley
Dec 6, 2017 - 08:36am PT
DM said But a worthy question: does Zen achieve anything?"

This question gets to the crux of Zen and maybe true full engagement in everyday life.

The Heart sutra (a main doctrine of Zen) says "no attainment with nothing to attain" . This statement gets back to what is this "I" thinking it is attaining things? It is pointing to dualism as the limiting experience. To crack our attachment to the dualistic relationship is awkward because when in the dualistic view we are blind of the non-dual view. The endless sitting (with eyes open) is designed to open the non-dual view and experience " no attainment with nothing to attain".

It is the difference between self improvement and self realization. Zen is not about self improvement.
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Dec 6, 2017 - 09:58am PT
I have ask,

But a worthy question: does Zen achieve anything?

PSP,

It is the difference between self improvement and self realization. Zen is not about self improvement.

I have heard that after going thru the gateless gate nothing is changed.

Ward Trotter,

thanks for the link about dopamine -- I am going for some of that AM dopamine.

Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 02:09pm PT
Dingus McGee, I'm guilty once again of picking on you because you are such an easy target. All I need to do is assume the smug tone of those delivering pronouncements via quantifications and you lose your mind because that smugness does not belong to naval gazers. It's a silly game and I must abandon it.

You flatter me in a sense because you attribute common truths to me, when in act most of what I say per "the phony Zen narrative" is old news. And you're alone is believing that I consider only the 1st person to be the worm worm hole into knowing what mind is. That's al or nothing thinking - known as a thought distortion.

The long and the short of it is that each vantage has something to add to the whole, and no one field has an exclusive on the entire Gestalt. That is, every vantage has limits. Scientism believes the quantifications can fully explain anything - which is just a version of religious fundamentailism that insists that holy doctrine is the last work.

The limitation with measuring is demonstrating how objective brain function "creates" awareness. At best, brain studies disclose a high functioning machine but no clue, no concept, no conceivable model of how to even contrast objective brain function with our being aware of anything, including illusions. This leads to all kinds of dead ends. If you say that awareness is brain output, that means awareness is something above and beyond (and distinguishable as different from) objective functioning, and that violates the physicalists credo that there is never any more than a sum of physical parts. This leads some to declare that "we only think" we are aware (a logically incoherent statement) when in fact what is REALLY going on is simply brain function. If we say the brain IS aware, we have Identity Theory, and that's also a Gordian knot nobody can untie.

A common blind reach here is to lean on the computer metaphor and insist that awareness is "caused" by the interface of various objective factors, especially information, though no known or conceivable relationship is ever offered. Another angle is that brain structure creates awareness. Sure, electrochmical activity is found throughout much of Nature and it has no imaginable link to you being aware of anything. But when that activity is housed in a system like the brain, the results are different - though again, any causal link to awareness is entirely missing. Still another angle is that we just need more data - this also being based on the belief that the RIGHT objective information will show how he objective creates awareness.

And the beat goes on.

Now Dingus McGee is blubbering, but his arguments boil down to this:
Says Dingus: “You are so enamoured with your 1st person view of the mind through meditation & the phony Zen Narrative that you fail to see that 3100 years meditating has gotten us no where in how the brain makes a mind/awareness.”

Where, dear Dingus, did you ever get the idea that the “phony Zen narrative” was ever an attempt to vouchsafe the philosophical belief that the brain “makes a mind/awareness?” And if it fails to do so, it axiomatically is “phony.” It is you, Dingus, who are banking on the brain being the “real” fundamental driver of awareness, not me or anything having to do with Zen.

Arguing Damasio is pointless. Anyone who has read his books and watched his videos knows that sentience and awareness are points to which Damasio is so vague as to be nearly meaningless. Bringing in Metzinger (of whom I am quite aware of) is an interesting angle because contrary to Damasio – who has built an entire psychological structure on an imagined hierarchy of “selves” (Protoself, Core Consciousness, and Extended Consciousness), Metzinger is notorious for declaring that ALL selves are illusory. To his credit, Metzinger insists that any comprehensive take on mind must be wrought through both 1st and 3rd person inquiries. His take on the problems with Vipassana meditation (in his discussions with Sam Harris) are telling. Like any and all human organizations, meditation outfits are just as full of human shortcomings as any other groups(s).

Lastly, Dingus said that he heard that after going through the gateless gate, "nothing has changed."

The way this is posited it gives the impression that all the sitting was for nothing. But that's not what is meant. One slowly wakes up to the fact that our cognitive and sensory take on reality is like mistaking a shadow show for the real deal. It's the real deal that doesn't change. It was and is always just what it is. It's just that before we could shut up and quit evaluating, we didn't know as much.


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