What is "Mind?"


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Sport climber
Sonora Ca
Jul 13, 2014 - 07:14pm PT
Who wants to know?

Jul 13, 2014 - 07:19pm PT
"Deed, sah, dey ain't nobody hyah 'ceptin' us chickens."

Trad climber
Jul 13, 2014 - 07:27pm PT
MH2: . . . 4 different angles in his book, each of which contradicts the others, which is probably as close as you can get to trying not to try.

You may have misunderstood.

There was a vacillation back and forth in thinking about whether one could or should try from Confucius, to Laozi, to Mencius, to Zhangzi, to Xunzi. Confucius said trying was adhering to proper ritualistic behaviors on how to do anything and everything (e.g., how deeply one should bow to a superior, what kind of music is proper to listen to), whereas Laozi said that any ritualistic act would be artificial and not true. Confucius said that one could polish or hone oneself to wu wei. Laozi (and Michelanglo), on the other hand, said that perfection was inherent in any substance: one simply needed to get rid of what was unnecessary (mainly elaborations). The ideas of Mencius, Zhangzi, and Xunzi tried to find some middle ground back and forth, but they all ended up taking one side over the other. Hence, the apparent dilemma / paradox.

Look, you've probably experienced the essence of the idea of wu wei many times in your life, although you've not thought about it as such. You've practiced certain behaviors (manners, climbing, martial arts, standing up and walking to a door, riding a bicycle, playing a musical instrument), that became second nature to you (automatic, intuitive, unconscious) and hence you did it perfectly according to your nature when you needed to. But the more you begin to think about the very action, the more uncoordinated, inelegant, the less ease you experience while doing whatever it is. You can't "try" to do it perfectly. Perfection shows up when you are centered, when your mind is at ease, when you have the right attitude (as it were).

It's only when a person tries to explain, define, or document how such "perfections" can show-up that they lose access to authentic expressions (otherwise known as "presence"). It is being itself that becomes expressed--the perfect expression, or the perfect action that is the expression of being.

All sensations (qualia), movement, and even thinking itself as thinking that are like that. It is experience as experience, without the content. It can't be said.

The objective of all these writers (to include Slingerland) was to find the basis for ethics--a basis for virtue that is self-validating and self-verifying: The Tao.

Trad climber
Jul 13, 2014 - 07:45pm PT
I should also add, . . . .

It seems to me that all rituals (to include all religious rituals) are properly seen and experienced as meditations. And we all have and use them. We use rituals to clear our minds of everyday useless chatter to prepare for something significant. Look at what you do before you climb, before mow the lawn, before you cook a good meal, before you have one of those talks with your children, before you write something important, before you meet for a performance review . . . you're getting yourself ready for what's coming. And the best way to get ready for what is coming (or what you think is coming) is to clear your mind of irrelevant chatter and errant emotions. You focus. That focusing is meditation.

Boulder climber
Jul 13, 2014 - 08:00pm PT
. . . became second nature to you (automatic, intuitive, unconscious) and hence you did it perfectly according to your nature when you needed to. But the more you begin to think about the very action, the more uncoordinated, inelegant, the less ease you experience while doing whatever it is. You can't "try" to do it perfectly (ML)

I'm recalling gymnastics from 55 years ago when I worked the still rings. It's true of course that when you begin a routine your mind clears automatically and your "second nature" takes over. When I didn't perform as well as expected I would think about correcting an error or slip, then I would will myself to do better, right before getting back on the apparatus - at which point there was no logical thought, but the willing - just prior to getting on the rings - was very important and usually led to success. I had the same experience when preparing for the Art of Dreaming: I would will that a certain thing happen before relaxing into the state, at which point I would become pure will and execute that for which I had prepared.

That's why I don't believe my "I" is an illusion - it is the essence of will.

Tyson: good reply re:dying

Jul 13, 2014 - 09:40pm PT
Thank you, Mike. It is likely that I misunderstand. In my defense, I don't expect to get tested on the subject, and I feel that I am better off not trying to understand the inexplicable.

Wu-wei, though not understood, is no stranger to me or to other Westerners. In life one learns that some things come to you rather than you going to them. Keep the eyes open to opportunity.

[1642 G. Torriano Select Italian Proverbs]
I have got it at last, everything comes if a man will only wait.

"Science" is on that one, too:



Jul 13, 2014 - 10:00pm PT

I am calling time. Clear the floor. Scientists don't say.

The data says.

There. OK. As you were.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jul 13, 2014 - 10:35pm PT
Per my Caltech friends - while AI is not my field of study....

Nor obviously any aspect of computer science. Again, you should really drop the whole programming / computer thing as it's working against you.

Per my Caltech friends...it it their field of study and the idea that the fundamentals would be lost on them is a bit of a howler.

Well, again, if you are accurate in describing their goal as "programming sentience" (which is a howler in its own right), then they are delusional - "fundamentals" don't even enter into it.

What they are saying, in short (I just talked to one of them) is that most of if not all the stuff written about creating a sentient or self-aware are connected or directly associated with the common errors we see presented and defended by people on this thread. One is thy myth presented by Healje, a very common one I am told, and that is that sentience is best understood - or perhaps can ONLY be understood in terms of tasking, in terms of DOING something.

Pretty good, except nowhere have I once presented sentience or self-awareness being "best understood in terms of tasking, in terms of DOING something", but rather I was simply pointing out that "no-tasking" is easy to reproduce in any computer. You on the other hand prattle on endlessly about 'no-tasking' and 'DOING nothing' as if it were the veritable grail of understanding sentience - i.e. you seem utterly obsessed with understanding sentience in terms of "tasking" and that the secret sauce is to be found in 'no-tasking'. Which is it? The Zen road to understanding sentience according to you is rooted in tasking and your efforts to control, suspend and "observe" it. Maybe it's just me, but you seem intent on having it both ways here; consider more conversations with your friends.

Not that the poor sap chides anything that does not directly conspire with doing, tasking, and what the computer will do with content. This is the stimulus response model I mentioned earlier and it pays no dividends per providing any kind of starting point for what is required to program self-awareness.

And yet again, if "programming self-awareness" is what your friends are about then they are delusional but possibly living high on the academic hog selling that line.

...but which I am told is not remotely backed up by any actual science.

Here again you display a peculiar 'have it both ways' when it comes to science not knowing something. You seem to think science not knowing something like how life began undercuts science as a whole (as if science not knowing something is some unusual state of science); next thing you know you're all about science not knowing something supports your argument. Again, which way is it? Hell, the claimed existence or 'indescribability' of qualia is not backed by any actual science either; BFD. So on that basis, I'm as equally supported saying both red and the experience of red can in fact emerge from biological systems as opposed to reifying them into the woo.

...hear the same old crapola about people pimping silly mysteries and ignorant distortions of simple terms like no-mind.

Well, "simple" is as simple does and so far you seem to be completely unable to state your proposition in "simple" terms which, from my perspective leaves you as the principal pimp of "silly mysteries" here.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jul 14, 2014 - 07:57am PT
Of course Tyson was replying on the fly to an unexpected question, but I believe the more enlightened answer would be to first have every usable organ donated to the benefit of living humans (corneas, kidneys etc) before the rest is buried for the benefit of insects, plants and bacteria.

As for will versus no mind, I will say again, that the purpose of achieving no-mind is not to lose the will but to change the will so that it works for the benefit of other beings and not just oneself.

Some people have called the unconscious our slave mind because it can be programmed so easily. We all have had the experience of saying to ourselves, "I must wake up at such and such a time and I hope I don't sleep through my alarm", and then waking up spontaneously a few seconds before the alarm goes off. Slave doesn't mean stupid.

The unskillful use of the conscious mind is to let it run around like a monkey and the unskillful use of the unconscious mind is to let it indulge in negative emotions. Both can be transformed into a happier, more functional mind through multiple means including meditation. Meditation in India is called the royal road because it is faster and more difficult than the other methods.

In the East one starts meditation with work on the unconscious as most people have so much negativity in there, they can't possibly think rationally let alone unselfishly with the will. In the West we have focussed on dealing with the will first and ignoring or repressing the unconscious until recently. I think the number of enlightened masters in the East compared to the West, demonstrates working on the unconscious first is more efficient.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Jul 14, 2014 - 10:28am PT
re: the mind of Neil deGrasse Tyson on tabletop physics (aka engineering physics) and Superconducting Super Collider (SSC)...


"the beginning of the end of America's leadership"

Where America drops the ball, other countries or consortiums will pick it up. There is the consolation. Onward Civilization!


What (more) is mind?

Keeper of bronze-age superstitions (of one's ancestors) that corrupt a belief system and in turn lead to the kind of psychological/behavioral dyscrasia we're seeing in today's news out of the Middle East.

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 14, 2014 - 01:00pm PT

In the West we have focussed on dealing with the will first and ignoring or repressing the unconscious until recently. I think the number of enlightened masters in the East compared to the West, demonstrates working on the unconscious first is more efficient.

Spot ON!

i believe alot of americans are filling their subconscious with drama and violence infused TV shows and games. And won't admit it!! And they wonder why all the outbursts in children.


Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 14, 2014 - 01:24pm PT
Read these two paragraphs from Wikipedia under “The Age of Enlightenment”. In the end, Largo is a Romantic…not the worst but not the first.

The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in late 17th-century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition.[1] Its purpose was to reform society using reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and to advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange.[2] The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This new way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles in the light of the evidence.

Later in the article…
The Scientific Revolution is closely tied to the Enlightenment, as its discoveries overturned many traditional concepts and introduced new perspectives on nature and man's place within it. The Enlightenment flourished until about 1790–1800, at which point the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, gave way to Romanticism, which placed a new emphasis on emotion; a Counter-Enlightenment began to increase in prominence. The Romantics argued that the Enlightenment was reductionistic insofar as it had largely ignored the forces of imagination, mystery, and sentiment.[4]

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 14, 2014 - 01:52pm PT

As for will versus no mind, I will say again, that the purpose of achieving no-mind is not to lose the will but to change the will so that it works for the benefit of other beings and not just oneself.

i meant to ask JGill if he ever practiced Will "training" in a group.
When i was in Crew at ucsb training for the olympics. Our young coach was very progressive. He looked worldwide for training techniques for the body and mind. We used to do this thing called The East German Circuit. Wow! when we got done, you were to pooped to poop. We also did alot of work on Mind Engrams(Ingrams?), like short movies in ur head. He'd have us all 9 of us sit on the floor just like we were sitting in the boat. Put our right hand on the man's shoulder in front of you and close ur eyes. For six minutes he would very intensely go through an imagined race scenario. It was the coxswain's job to just as intensely talk us through each scenario. The coach would put us behind in the race. While we 8 rowers would swing back and forth with precise unison as if stroking water, the coxswain with positive reinforcement would paint a picture in our heads of what it would take for us to win. i would say we were "Will Building", we weren't practicing to try harder. Heck, we were always trying as hard as we could at the time. No, we were going beyond that. We were put in situations where we were behind and we HAD to do WHATEVER it took to get back out in front! Beyond Trying! YOU MADE IT HAPPEN, in your head! And muscle followed suit.. Big difference! And VERY powerful!
Needless to say we never lost a race.

BTW; now that coach is at ucsd coaching football make'in the big bucks!

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 14, 2014 - 02:12pm PT

emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition.

These two words seem to contradict each other

Anyone can reason to the fact that it's better for an individual to be in a structured group.

History is going to get even harder to imagine the more we get used to having TV's, computers, cell phones and other communication devices.
They had nothing but traditions to relay their reason..

Trad climber
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:03pm PT

What is will, anyway? Saying that you have something will be difficult to support unless you can say what it is that you have. "Will" is a pretty slippery thing, I'd say. It's unlikely to be any different than a thought, a feeling, or maybe even a sensation. But what are any of those? Can't say.

Jstan: Scientists don't say. The data says.

I'll argue with this. Scientists Do say. They must, for the data do not provide interpretations of themselvews, but only ground one interpretation or another. Although you don't argue with the data, you argue with interpreters of the data.

HFCS: What (more) is mind?

Answer your own question. That's the topic of this thread. Lama Tsong Kapa said mind is *like* space. (He was serious.) What do you think it is?


Sometimes Wikipedia just doesn't provide enough "there" there. I think that characterization of The Enlightenment is not so good.

The Enlightenment was not one thing, but many ideas that sort of hung together. Science as you know it today did not exist then. Research suggests that science as you know it began to emerge around 1860 when measurement devices started to be developed.

The Enlightenment (French, not the Buddhist one) revolved around three interconnected notions. Much of the conversation occurred in the Salons in Paris, not among scholarly intelligencia.

First, progress was pretty much continuous. Things would always get better. This was in opposition to many scholars who thought Man's best efforts were behind him. That idea was referred to, I think, as "The argument of the ancients," which said that the Greeks and Romans showed us the best Man had to offer (his golden age). The Renaissance was oriented to that ideas (the past, not the future).

Second, education was the basis for progress. With better and more widely available education, Man and his societies would get better and richer (not materially).

Third, the basis for both progress and what education had to offer was the honing of reason, and reason was juxtaposed to the passions. Passions were bad, reason was good according to The Enlightenment (but reason was not yet equated with rationality). Romanticism (ala Rousseau and others) was a response to what some thought was a sterilization of humanity by reason, and there were many (especially German thinkers) who thought that what was creative, innovative, and god-like emerged from the workings of the passions.

Scientific thought as we know it today was not available to the minds of its day who were interested in the study of Nature. Their studies tended to be largely philosophical speculation supplemented or supported by a great deal of personal observation. Indeed, it was pretty much only the wealthy who could spend their time observing and documenting Nature.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:13pm PT
I suggest we play this out by proxy. I nominate Ed Hartouni to represent the Enlightenment. I imagine that he can represent the likes of jstan, HFCS, healyje, jGill, MH2, Ward Trotter, myself ... many others (like Benjamin Franklin, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson...).

Largo is as good as you can get for a Romantic philosopher (Rousseau, Nietzche, Hegel...). As he has so emphatically emphasized, he is not in to "the supernatural". That's perfect, as somebody with obvious religious affiliation would be, um, compromised for this role, IMO. Largo is like Rousseau. I imagine he can represent Jan, BlueBlocker, WBraun, MikeL, and others.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:19pm PT
Largo, is as good as you can get for a Romantic philosopher.


Not that I'm hiring mind you...


Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:28pm PT
They ARE good salesmen, as a rule.

So, if everybody is with me, this means that only Ed and Largo can post to this thread from now on. I suggest you email your personal champion to make your views felt.

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:45pm PT
I think the problem with trying to draw up two sides is that the science side has a fairly unified world view while the other is much more diverse.

Largo is not a scientist but he is much too scientific to be a romantic philosopher. Rousseau he is not. There is nothing more disciplined and structured than western philosophy and Zen. Noble Savage doesn't work at all there. Mike L would be closer to Rousseau than Largo in my opinion.

I'm more like the Chinese than any westerner - a little Confucianism, a little Taoism, and a little Buddhism all thrown in. Werner is solidly rooted in the Indian tradition and while he personally may be more attracted to the devotional aspects of that tradition he also has a foundation in Indian rationality.Blueblocr is a true American original.

I think it is the diversity of world views on the non science side that drives the scientists mad from time to time as they are used to a more structured world view. And from their side, jgill can play it both ways when he chooses.I don't know if this is the usual relationship of math to science or not, but he does it often.

Trad climber
Golden, CO
Jul 14, 2014 - 03:47pm PT
Well and good, Jan, but I'm thinking that you're not Largo or Ed. Clearly, my suggestion is not likely to work and I rescind it.

Seriously Jan, that is a very thoughtful and measured response, but are you telling us that jgill goes both ways (I'm pretty sure he's married and all)?
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