Questioning Consciousness

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Sounder » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:52 am

No, not to transcend limited creation, but to transcend ignorance about what and who I really am in this creation.

Perhaps I have a poor understanding of what is contained in the word 'transcend'. I'm OK as long as folk don't try to abolish ignorance. Anyway, I'm happy to mitigate the effects of my ignorance and feel like it's a step too far to make claims about what and who I really am in this creation.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby BenDhyan » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:38 am

^ Fine, if the wellness model you've developed meets your needs to fulfill your destiny, go for it. In my case, understanding what and who I am in the context of eternal infinite existence is the goal and sole purpose of my life. My goal is not meant to mean your goal is either inferior or superior to mine, just our dharma differs..
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby chump » Mon Aug 20, 2018 10:37 am

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Cordelia » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:04 am

Odds are this has surfaced somewhere in the vast ocean of R.I..........

What are the chances of your coming into being?

Ali Binazir - June 15, 2011 @ 3:22 pm · Science, Spirituality

A little while ago I had the privilege of attending TEDx San Francisco, organized by the incomparable Christine Mason McCaull. One of the talks was by Mel Robbins, a riotously funny self-help author and life coach with a syndicated radio show. In it, she mentioned that scientists calculate the probability of your existing as you, today, at about one in 400 trillion (4×1014).

“That’s a pretty big number,” I thought to myself. If I had 400 trillion pennies to my name, I could probably retire.

Previously, I had heard the Buddhist version of the probability of ‘this precious incarnation’. Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere. The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water — in the middle of that life preserver. On one try.

So I got curious: are either of these numbers correct? Which one’s bigger? Are they gross exaggerations? Or is it possible that they underestimate the true number?

First, let us figure out the probability of one turtle sticking its head out of the one life preserver we toss out somewhere in the ocean. That’s a pretty straightforward calculation.

According to WolframAlpha, the total area of oceans in the world is 3.409×108 square kilometers, or 340,900,000 km2 (131.6 million square miles, for those benighted souls who still cling to user-hostile British measures). Let’s say a life preserver’s hole is about 80cm in diameter, which would make the area inside

3.14(0.4)2=0.5024 m2

which we will conveniently round to 0.5 square meters. If one square kilometer is a million square meters, then the probability of Mr Turtle sticking his head out of that life preserver is simply the area inside the life preserver divided by the total area of all oceans, or

0.5m2/3.409×108x106m2 = 1.47 x 10-15

or one in 6.82×1014, or about 1 in 700 trillion.

One in 400 trillion vs one in 700 trillion? I gotta say, the two numbers are pretty darn close, for such a farfetched notion from two completely different sources: old-time Buddhist scholars and present-day scientists. They agree to within a factor of two!

So to the second question: how accurate is this number? What would we come up with ourselves starting with first principles, making some reasonable assumptions and putting them all together? That is, instead of making one big hand-waving gesture and pronouncing, “The answer is five hundred bazillion squintillion,” we make a series of sequentially-reasoned, smaller hand-waving gestures so as to make it all seem scientific. (This is also known as ‘consulting’ – especially if you show it all in a PowerPoint deck.)

Oh, this is going to be fun.

First, let’s talk about the probability of your parents meeting. If they met one new person of the opposite sex every day from age 15 to 40, that would be about 10,000 people. Let’s confine the pool of possible people they could meet to 1/10 of the world’s population twenty years go (one tenth of 4 billion = 400 million) so it considers not just the population of the US but that of the places they could have visited. Half of those people, or 200 million, will be of the opposite sex. So let’s say the probability of your parents meeting, ever, is 10,000 divided by 200 million:

104/2×108= 2×10-4, or one in 20,000.

Probability of boy meeting girl: 1 in 20,000.

So far, so unlikely.

Now let’s say the chances of them actually talking to one another is one in 10. And the chances of that turning into another meeting is about one in 10 also. And the chances of that turning into a long-term relationship is also one in 10. And the chances of that lasting long enough to result in offspring is one in 2. So the probability of your parents’ chance meeting resulting in kids is about 1 in 2000.

Probability of same boy knocking up same girl: 1 in 2000.

So the combined probability is already around 1 in 40 million — long but not insurmountable odds. Now things start getting interesting. Why? Because we’re about to deal with eggs and sperm, which come in large numbers.

Each sperm and each egg is genetically unique because of the process of meiosis; you are the result of the fusion of one particular egg with one particular sperm. A fertile woman has 100,000 viable eggs on average. A man will produce about 12 trillion sperm over the course of his reproductive lifetime. Let’s say a third of those (4 trillion) are relevant to our calculation, since the sperm created after your mom hits menopause don’t count. So the probability of that one sperm with half your name on it hitting that one egg with the other half of your name on it is

1/(100,000)(4 trillion)= 1/(105)(4×1012)= 1 in 4 x 1017, or one in 400 quadrillion.

Probability of right sperm meeting right egg: 1 in 400 quadrillion.

But we’re just getting started.

Because the existence of you here now on planet earth presupposes another supremely unlikely and utterly undeniable chain of events. Namely, that every one of your ancestors lived to reproductive age – going all the way back not just to the first Homo sapiens, first Homo erectus and Homo habilis, but all the way back to the first single-celled organism. You are a representative of an unbroken lineage of life going back 4 billion years.

Let’s not get carried away here; we’ll just deal with the human lineage. Say humans or humanoids have been around for about 3 million years, and that a generation is about 20 years. That’s 150,000 generations. Say that over the course of all human existence, the likelihood of any one human offspring to survive childhood and live to reproductive age and have at least one kid is 50:50 – 1 in 2. Then what would be the chance of your particular lineage to have remained unbroken for 150,000 generations?

Well then, that would be one in 2150,000 , which is about 1 in 1045,000– a number so staggeringly large that my head hurts just writing it down. That number is not just larger than all of the particles in the universe – it’s larger than all the particles in the universe if each particle were itself a universe.

Probability of every one of your ancestors reproducing successfully: 1 in 1045,000

But let’s think about this some more. Remember the sperm-meeting-egg argument for the creation of you, since each gamete is unique? Well, the right sperm also had to meet the right egg to create your grandparents. Otherwise they’d be different people, and so would their children, who would then have had children who were similar to you but not quite you. This is also true of your grandparents’ parents, and their grandparents, and so on till the beginning of time. If even once the wrong sperm met the wrong egg, you would not be sitting here noodling online reading fascinating articles like this one. It would be your cousin Jethro, and you never really liked him anyway.

That means in every step of your lineage, the probability of the right sperm meeting the right egg such that the exact right ancestor would be created that would end up creating you is one in 1200 trillion, which we’ll round down to 1000 trillion, or one quadrillion.

So now we must account for that for 150,000 generations by raising 400 quadrillion to the 150,000th power:

[4×1017]150,000 ≈ 102,640,000

That’s a ten followed by 2,640,000 zeroes, which would fill 11 volumes of a book the size of The Tao of Dating with zeroes.

To get the final answer, technically we need to multiply that by the 1045,000 , 2000 and 20,000 up there, but those numbers are so shrimpy in comparison that it almost doesn’t matter. For the sake of completeness:

(102,640,000)(1045,000)(2000)(20,000) = 4x 102,685,007 ≈ 102,685,000

Probability of your existing at all: 1 in 102,685,000

As a comparison, the number of atoms in the body of an average male (80kg, 175 lb) is 1027. The number of atoms making up the earth is about 1050. The number of atoms in the known universe is estimated at 1080.

So what’s the probability of your existing? It’s the probability of 2 million people getting together – about the population of San Diego – each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice, and they all come up the exact same number – say, 550,343,279,001.

A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I’ve just shown that you are a miracle.

Now go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.

Think about it,

Image ... d-be-born/

The greatest sin is to be unconscious. ~ Carl Jung

We may not choose the parameters of our destiny. But we give it its content. ~ Dag Hammarskjold 'Waymarks'
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:04 pm

Via ... 016-1002-0

The intention of this paper is not to undermine the potential of using neuroimaging to measure information, but rather to make more explicit the assumptions that may lead us astray in that endeavor.

We will argue that most neuroimaging (implicitly) focuses on interpreting physical signals in the brain from the perspective of an external experimenter, whereas the key question for neuroscience should be how (or whether) those signals are used by the rest of the brain. In light of Shannon’s (1948) information theory, we will argue that information in neuroscience is often measured with an implicit ‘experimenter-as-receiver’ assumption, rather than thinking in terms of ‘cortex-as-receiver’.

For example, many studies report differential responses in the brain (from single cells, EEG, fMRI, etc.) as the discovery of ‘the neural representation of X’ or ‘revealing the neural code underlying Y’ without ever providing evidence that those recorded responses reflect differences in activity that can actually be used (received or decoded) by other areas of the brain. This is a problem because information is not a static property inherent to a physical response: It is only when physical responses can be shown to be used by the brain that we have positive evidence that a physical signal acts as information.

A neuron might fire vigorously every time an organism is presented with a visual object (for example), and as an external observer it is easy for us to assume that the vigorous firing of that neuron informs the rest of the system about that object. If, however, the rate at which that neuron fires never influences any other processes in the brain, then that firing rate cannot be part of the neural code underlying the representation of that object. It could be that the firing rate is an artifact or by-product, and that the actual information is contained in the phase at which that neuron fires.

Most importantly, the only way we can test this is by following the dynamics of what causes what in the brain, but this is quite different from the focus of most neuroscience and neuroimaging. We believe our understanding of what information is lies at the heart of a shift in emphasis that is needed in cognitive neuroscience.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:03 pm

Shi Ming talking tai chi. Maybe some things in here that a questioning consciousness sitting in front of a screen might take something from.

Question: Your taiji teaching is unique in that it does not begin with the taiji form or even much concern itself with formal movements at all. Your priority emphasis is on developing what you call the taiji state. And yet you have a graduated practice from beginning to advanced stages.

My taiji teaching uses Chinese philosophy, particularly the Book of Changes, to guide the entire process of training. This process includes three stages; study of the fundamental exercise (jiben gong) which develops one’s root, the taiji form, and advanced practices. These three stages can be summarized in nine words: piao, (uplift); zou, (movement); jie, (connection); hip, waist, shoulder; and dispersal, the void, and emptiness. Chinese think nine is the greatest number. It represents kong, emptiness, which is a Buddhist concept. Kong doesn’t mean nothingness, where nothing exists. It is an emptiness which produces all things and is attained through cultivation. So I teach taiji through these nine stages, culminating in emptiness.

The beginning stage concentrates on the fundamental exercises which include standing meditation, the spinal exercise tanhai, hip circulations, and the cyclic arm exercise. These prepare one’s ground. They are essential to taiji training.

In practicing the taiji form, there are five levels. The beginning level is the rote repetition of a form; this constitutes the level of most taiji today. The second level is called double-weightedness, shuang zhong, form. Most people don’t know about this stage. In fact, they think double-weightedness is a mistake. But it’s essential to master this stage, otherwise you can’t understand how to direct jin, internal force. Using strength and directing jin are skills of double-weightedness. The taiji principle, “qi, mind, and body all manifest simultaneously,” is really the idea of double-weightedness. When we develop the hips, waist and shoulders in the fundamental exercises, this is work on the level of double-weightedness. It’s all external, you can see it. The inner process you can’t see. In standing meditation, we study piao, uplifting, floating. In the spinal exercise tanhai, we learn zou, change. In the arm exercises we learn jie, connection.

The third level is stillness/movement. There’s a saying, “in movement, it separates; in stillness, it fuses.” Here we enter the taiji state.

The fourth level is to seek stillness in movement. In my movements, there is stillness. When doing hand-pushing, in the midst of swift changes, I am still and quiet.

The fifth level is complete emptiness. There’s no form, nothing. Practice on this level relies solely on the mind. I myself haven’t reached this level. The stage of emptiness is the highest level, which is only attained after long inner work. I’m only at the fourth level.

Q: You’re being too modest.

No, I’m not. I’m just at the fourth level. When doing hand-pushing, the difference between me and my opponent is that I seek stillness in my movements while my opponent loses himself in movement. When we say “in stillness, it fuses,” this means the solidity of stillness allows you to be unconcerned about attack or injury. This is what makes taiji, taiji. You totally forget about yourself, abiding in a state of stillness. We said, “Forget your self and follow objective conditions.”
This idea extends to every facet of life. You invite me for dinner, if you eat meat, I’ll eat meat. If you eat vegetarian, I’ll eat vegetarian. It doesn’t matter. If it does, then there’s a self. If there’s a self, there’s direction, predictability. So that’s why the highest level is emptiness. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. It’s called no-mind.

Q: What’s the most important elements in your system? What leads to progress in taiji?

The most critical practice in taiji, no matter what the family style, is standing meditation, tanhai (spinal exercise), and the hip exercises. Without these you cannot develop the inner competence necessary for taiji. The body won’t know what to do.

Q: Why is standing meditation so essential?

Standing meditation teaches piao, floating, uplifting. As with swimming, if you don’t know how to float, you can’t learn technique. In taiji we say, “Walk like a cat; as if on this ice.” This is piao. The idea is to have no resistance anywhere. If you resist the ground, you’ve created an opposing force which will generate a vertical thrust. A push will easily topple you. So you must learn floating, which is the first principle of standing meditation.

The second principle is to learn to experience movement in stillness through standing meditation. The mind centres in the dantian and the qi disperses and radiates from the dantian. This is called qi san dantian. The qi should not gather in the dantian. Why? If both the mind and qi dwell in the dantian, there’s stagnancy, hardness. This is not good. When the mind arrives, the qi should radiate out. Otherwise, it’s double-weighted, stagnant. In taiji the body becomes a surface of qi, without break or holes. Otherwise, it’s stagnant. In the beginning, when you’re just learning, the qi concentrates in the dantian. This is because you have no cultivation. But later it radiates out. This is a process.

So when both mind and qi are in the dantian, there’s double-weightedness. You’ll feel it get hot. When it does, let the qi radiate out. Like throwing a stone in a pond, the rings roll outward. The stone is your mind, your consciousness. The waves are qi. The body becomes a single surface of qi, of yuanqi. There can be no break, no defect, no interference. This is the state standing meditation creates. The experience is absolutely essential to taiji. When there’s no thought, then there’s relaxation. Then you’ve truly forgotten the self. Real relaxation means there’s no self, which means kong, emptiness. Standing meditation is the most basic; it’s also the most important. That’s why I say, all you need to practice to master taiji is standing meditation and tanhai.

Does tanhai aim at attaining the same state?

Tanhai uses the same principle, but applies it through movement. When movement occurs in tanhai, it begins in the tailbone, moves through the undulation of the vertebrae, and ends at the top of the head. At the same time, the hips, waist, and arms are integrated, creating a whole body movement.

Today, a lot of people who practice Chan sitting, don’t practice donggong, moving practices. They just practice stillness, but I think this is not good.

Q: Why isn’t it?

Because it’s easy to straightjacket the body. The body becomes too stiff and hard. Taiji and other donggong practices stimulate the musculature and inner organs. Still practices don’t do this. If the inner organs have a problem, it will manifest in the spine, as American chiropractors know. Tanhai exercises the spine with such power and subtlety, that it surpasses chiropractic techniques in medical efficacy. That’s why I say, if you practice diligently, you can cure any disease. Just through tanhai you effect the entire body. Don’t worry about heart rates and breathing rhythms.

The inner organs are connected with the spine; the spine is their base. If we were to crawl instead of walk, the organs would swing freely, benefiting from this freedom. But, as it is, they just slump together. So tanhai, this meticulous undulating movement of the spine, benefits the inner organs immensely.

If you are just concerned with giving yourself a good workout, standing meditation and tanhai are enough. The taiji form extends and applies what you learn from them. The taiji form is lovely in its execution, but it doesn’t add anything to inner technique. That’s why all this talk of 24, 48, 84 postures is beside the point. If you master standing meditation and tanhai, no one can defeat you. “Through non-struggle, no one can beat me.” I don’t need to attack or struggle; therefore no one can compete with me. This is real taiji.

Q: In practicing standing meditation, do you teach ‘caiqi’, absorbing qi from the outside, as is common in qigong teachings?

No, don’t worry about that. If you practice that, then you add more thinking to your practice. “Where there’s thought there’s stagnancy.” Daoism says our bodies are empty, devoid of substance. The Taiji Classics say: “The mind is the monarch, the body the minister. The minister follows the monarch’s bidding.” Our bodies are an insubstantial form. What we see before us is insubstantial. The mind which is unseen. Is the substantial form. This is the real form. In training, your mind must be able to leave the body, forget the body, and roam the universe freely. People can’t understand this point. If you don’t study Buddhism or Daoism, you can’t make head or tails of this. Whether you practice sitting or standing meditation, if you’re thinking about yourself, it’s not good. We say, “Forget all things and be natural.” Through this forgetting, you become natural. If you attain this naturalness, ziran, you enter Great Nature, da ziran. What is there to be proud or arrogant about? If you think of a self, you’ll never become a Buddha.

Q; Why don’t you include sitting meditation in your system?

Sitting meditation and standing meditation are the same – just with different postures. The same effort is necessary: you must know how to cause the insubstantial body to coincide with the substantial mind. What does emptiness mean? What does song, relaxation, mean? These are important questions. If you think, I’ve reached a high level of relaxation and emptiness. . . sorry, big mistake. You haven’t forgotten your self. If you say this or that, it’s wrong, because there’s no forgetting. If you really forget, you don’t know what to say. If I ask you, there’s nothing you can say. There’s a suspension of habitual sensory functioning. Zhuangzi says, “When the eyes don’t see, something beyond the senses knows.” The senses are suspended. If you stand for a couple of hours in this state, your sense of time is altered. It seems like a few minutes.

An old saying goes, “One day in the mountain equals a few thousand years in the world.” There’s a good point here. If you’re always worrying and unable to sleep, eight hours is a long time. If you sleep well, eight hours goes like nothing. But that’s sleeping. Sitting or standing meditation is for inner cultivation. If you experience a few hours passing like a few minutes, that is impressive.
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Iamwhomiam » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:01 am

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Thu Aug 23, 2018 12:32 am

Yes. Although I selected that part of the interview because I was reminded of it when looking over the last few pages of this thread. The content tone and direction of the posts recently stirred up the memory, I guess.

But by all means, check him out. Decide what you think about his funny youtube videos, too.

What I get from him is that a tai chi master takes chapter 64 of the tao de jing to heart:

Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.

Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.

A tree as great as a man's embrace springs from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.

He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does no act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.

Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He helps the ten thousand things find their own nature,
But refrains from action.

A tai chi fighter in a martial arts contest would be a fool. A real tai chi master avoids the fight. Lives smart, unassuming, almost invisible. That's invincibility. Simply being aware of your environment, melting into it, being one with it. Seeing the big picture.

And that reminds me of chuang tzu:

CHUANG TZU WAS WALKING in the mountains when he saw a huge tree, its branches and leaves thick and lush. A woodcutter paused by its side but made no move to cut it down. When Chuang Tzu asked the reason, he replied, "There's nothing it could be used for!" Chuang Tzu said, "Because of its worthlessness, this tree is able to live out the years Heaven gave it."

Down from the mountain, the Master stopped for a night at the house of an old friend. The friend, delighted, ordered his son to kill a goose and prepare it. "One of the geese can cackle and the other can't," said the son. "May I ask, please, which I should kill?"

"Kill the one that can't cackle," said the host.

The next day Chuang Tzu's disciples questioned him. "Yesterday there was a tree on the mountain that gets to live out the years Heaven gave it because of its worthlessness. Now there's our host's goose that gets killed because of its worthlessness. What position would you take in such a case, Master?"

Chuang Tzu laughed and said, "I'd probably take a position halfway between worth and worthlessness. But halfway between worth and worthlessness, though it might seem to be a good place, really isn't - you'll never get away from trouble there. It would be very different, though, if you were to climb up on the Way and its Virtue and go drifting and wandering, neither praised nor damned, now a dragon, now a snake, shifting with the times, never willing to hold to one course only. Now up, now down, taking harmony for your measure, drifting and wandering with the ancestor of the ten thousand things, treating things as things but not letting them treat you as a thing - then how could you get into any trouble? This is the rule, the method of Shen Nung and the Yellow Emperor.

"But now, what with the forms of the ten thousand things and the codes of ethics handed down from man to man, matters don't proceed in this fashion. Things join only to part, reach completion only to crumble. If sharp-edged, they are blunted; if high-stationed, they are overthrown; if ambitious, they are foiled. Wise, they are schemed against; stupid, they are swindled. What is there, then, that can be counted on? Only one thing, alas! - remember this, my students - only the realm of the Way and its Virtue!"
Both his words and manner of speech seemed at first totally unfamiliar to me, and yet somehow they stirred memories - as an actor might be stirred by the forgotten lines of some role he had played far away and long ago.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby BenDhyan » Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:51 am

A favorite piece of mine from Chuang Tzu...Rambling in the North.

Knowledge had rambled northwards to the region of the Dark Water, where he ascended the height of Imperceptible Slope, when it happened that he met with Dumb Inaction. Knowledge addressed him, saying, 'I wish to ask you some questions:-- By what process of thought and anxious consideration do we get to know the Tâo? Where should we dwell and what should we do to find our rest in the Tâo? From what point should we start and what path should we pursue to make the Tâo our own?' He asked these three questions, but Dumb Inaction gave him no reply. Not only did he not answer, but he did not know how to answer.

Knowledge, disappointed by the fruitlessness of his questions, returned to the south of the Bright Water, and ascended the height of the End of Doubt, where he saw Heedless Blurter, to whom he put the same questions, and who replied, 'Ah! I know, and will tell you.' But while he was about to speak, he forgot what he wanted to say.

Knowledge, again receiving no answer to his questions, returned to the palace of the Yellow Emperor, where he saw Hwang-Tî, and put the questions to him. The Yellow emperor said, 'To exercise no thought and no anxious consideration is the first step towards knowing the Tâo; to dwell nowhere and do nothing is the first step towards resting in the Tâo; to start from nowhere and pursue no path is the first step towards making the Tâo your own.'

Knowledge then asked the Yellow emperor, saying, 'I and you know this; those two did not know it; which of us is right?'

He replied, 'Dumb Inaction is truly right; Heedless Blurter has an appearance of being so; I and you are not near being so. As it is said, "Those who know do not speak of it; those who speak of it do not know it;" and "Hence the sage conveys his instructions without the use of speech."
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby chump » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:19 am

Most Teens Worry They Spent Too Much Time on Their Phones

The Pew Research Center finds that 54 percent of teens ages 13 through 17 worry they spend too much time on their mobile phones; 52 percent have already cut back.

Around half (54 percent) of teens ages 13 through 17 worry they spend too much time on their mobile phones, while around 52 percent of the 743 US teens polled by Pew in March and April have already taken steps to cut back on their phone use.



Forty-four percent of teens said they "often" check their phone as soon as they wake up, Pew found. Some 57 percent "often" or "sometimes" feel like they need to respond to messages from other people immediately.

The report also found that "teens encounter a range of emotions when they do not have their cellphones, but anxiety tops the list." Forty-two percent of teens feel anxious when they are phoneless while 25 percent feel lonely and 24 percent feel upset. Girls are more likely than boys to feel anxious or lonely without their phone.

[... con'd] ... ir-phones/

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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:32 pm

Music theory is a good place for consciousness to do some questioning. In the western system, we have the seven modal scales - major, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, minor, locrian. If you play the notes of a c major scale, but begin and end on the second note, 'd', you have a d dorian scale. If you play the notes of c major scale but begin and end on the third note, 'e', you have an e phrygian scale. And so on. As well, if you play the notes of a b flat major scale, but begin and end on the second note, 'c', you have a c dorian scale. The modes fit together mathematically, it's an elegant mathematical cycle.

In the Carnatic Indian system, there are seventy-two ragas. These are 'spelled' like western scales, with notes that are sharp, flat, or natural. Seven of them consist of the same notes as the seven modes of the western system. However, a raga is not just the scale, the scale of a raga is like a skeleton. Ragas also include certain embellishments; certain notes are to be 'presented' before others, some notes are to be bent, others used in passing. Learning the spelling of the ragas is only one aspect of the Carnatic system.

Also, there are scales in Persian, Turkish, and Egyptian music that are 'spelled' the same, yet there are subtle differences in tone. I guess the difference might be measured in 'cents' which are very small semi-tonal increments. A trained musician will be able to bring out the difference between the scales, and yet the difference might be lost on a listener without a trained ear.

But let's leave aside these 'scales of subtle differences' for now, and look at Carnatic music. With the seventy-two ragas, there is good reasoning behind why certain notes are introduced before others, and why some notes are to be bent, others used in passing. It isn't arbitrary, there is an inner logic, been developed over quite a long time. Probably much experimenting, trial and error was involved before settling on the current Carnatic raga system. But the western mind searches for some sort of systematic mathematical logic to wrap its head around, like the western modal cycle.

What I do in my practice, is to break the seven note scale into two note groupings, and apply the permutation method. The first note of a scale is always 'one,' ('saam' in Carnatic music). It can't be sharp or flat, or it wouldn't be 'one.' Saam is always saam. Then there are three groupings to permute - notes two and three, notes four and five, and notes six and seven. The permutations are done by making the notes sharp, flat, or natural.

This would make an awful lot of permutations, spelling out way more scales than seventy-two. So I make a rule, to give the system some form. In my system, notes two, three, five, six and seven can be flat, or natural. Note four can be sharp or natural. Also, there is a basic limitation built-in to all twelve tone music: when using the twelve tone system like we are, a sharp fourth note is the same as a flat fifth note. Therefore when spelling a seven note scale using my rule, if the fourth note is sharp, the fifth note must be natural. Conversely if the fifth note is flat, the fourth note must be natural.

Now, using the permutation method, we get a manageable forty-eight unique scales. Less than seventy-two, but still a fairly large system, one which uses mathematical logic, something for the western mind to grasp.

If we keep the 'notes two and three' block natural - not sharp or flat - there are ten permutations of 'note four, natural or sharp,' 'note five, flat or sharp,' 'note six, flat or sharp,' and 'note seven, flat or sharp.' The western modes of major and mixolydian will be found among the permutations.

Keeping the 'notes six and seven' block natural, there are ten more permutations. The major scale can also be found among these permutations, as well as the ascending form of the melodic minor scale. (descending form of melodic minor is the natural minor scale.)

If the middle block stays static as 'natural four and flat five,' there's another ten permutations. The western mode locrian is among them.

Middle block 'sharp four, natural five,' another ten permutations. Lydian mode among them.

And finally, if the middle block is static at 'natural four, natural five,' there are ten more permutations. The major scale among them, as well as the dorian, phrygian, and minor modes. Also the harmonic minor scale.

So forty-eight unique scales. (major scale happens three times in the permutations.) Some of them the ear will recognize, some will have slight variation to what the ear is accustomed to. Others will sound 'exotic,' or quite dissonant, and some sound like scales for making space alien music. But there's an underlying math to it all for the western mind to see, so that even the dissonant-sounding scales make sense, giving even dissonance a logical framework, letting the strange sounding things be applied in scientific, mathematical ways. After a while, what is dissonant and what isn't may change for the ear.

Of course there are many other ways to look at music, and many concepts of what 'dissonance' even means. Within a system like this, there is room for 'harmonic dissonance,' but no room for 'chaotic dissonance.' Personally, I think it's very helpful to learn the difference between the two.
Last edited by dada on Fri Aug 24, 2018 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:12 pm

I know many of you here are familiar with Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy. It's a fantastic book, he uses many far-reaching quotes to make his case for a unity underlying the world's varied philosophies and religions. A 'godhead,' behind the many gods, a fountain which is the source from which they all spring.

But I think he may have made his case too well. Because while there is unity, there's also diversity, variation. Making his case too well glosses over this, and something essential is lost in the gloss.

The tendency is to combine all the systems, make the parts interchangeable, to 'put it all together.' Context becomes lost in the shuffle, though, and confusion becomes an unwanted side effect.

For an example here, I'll use the Indian Chakra system, and the Qabbalistic Tree of Life. In the chakra system, we have the seven chakras ascending the central sushumna column, with the ida and pingala intertwining around them like the snakes on the caduceus. On the Tree of Life, four of the sephirot (the ten circles on the tree), are on the central column, the middle pillar, along with the 'no-sephirot,' da'ath.

The Huxlean tendency would be to combine the systems, say the base chakra, muladhara, is the same as the first sephirot, malkuth. But these two are not the same, they are categorical constructions within a system, which have different functions in the total system they're found in. Same for trying to make the second chakra, svadisthana, serve the same function as yesod, the second sephiroth, and the heart chakra anahata be the same as the middle sephirot, tiphareth. These centers all serve different functions in the overall systems they're found in, the centers function in relation to their respective systems as a whole, the entire system defining what's in the specific categories.

Instead of combining, which leads to conceptual confusion, if we layer the systems on top of one another, like they're on transparencies, we can make an expanded system, and see what happens. The chakras and the sephirot are placed between one another on the central column, giving us eleven centers. There are two gaps towards the bottom that are wider than the other spaces. What's in the gaps? I borrow the Chinese 'dan tien,' the power generator below the navel, and place it in the first gap, and the 'wish tree' found in some Chakra schools fits nicely in the second gap.

So now we have a middle pillar of thirteen centers. It's a denser column, has more integrity. An interesting side effect of using the transparencies is that we can still see the twin snakes of the caduceus, with the chakras in the normal places they're found (where the snakes are making circles,) and the sephiroth are in the places where the snakes cross. This gives the impression that the left and right pillars of the tree of life don't represent 'arms,' but now they appear as if they're the 'wings' of the caduceus, usually found at the top, now moved to the middle, where angel wings would be.

Of course the tree of life isn't just made of sephiroth, there are the twenty-two 'paths' between them, representing the hebrew letters, or the major arcana of the tarot. But now that we have the layer transparency method, we can layer on other systems without worrying about blending them all together, trying to make everything fit and be interchangeable. There are twenty four runes, there are twenty glyphs of the mayan calendar. We don't need to do numerical mental gymnastics trying to correlate the systems, we just look at the interplay between the systems. Some mayan glyphs are similar to some runes are similar to some major arcana cards, but they are essentially different categories defined by the systems they are found in. We're avoiding confusion, and don't need to contort our brains, when using the layer transparency system.

This is especially helpful when things seem to fit together very well. The temptation to blend it all together pulls strongly. Twenty-two paths and ten sephiroth give us 32, and there are 64 hexagrams in the i ching. But I find that putting the hexagrams on another transparency and watching how the systems interact is a more fruitful exercise than trying to mix them together.

I should add, I gave all this shit up awhile ago. I just don't need the systems, not on paper, or transparencies, or in my head. If I could guess, I'd say that when I finally stopped doing it wrong, I had no need to figure it out anymore. The systems became unnecessary, so I threw them all away, put away the toys. But I figure that maybe what I learned might be useful for others who puzzle over these matters, and wish to be free of them, as well. Not being subconsciously bogged down with symbols systems can have the added benefit of freeing up a lot of energy.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Sun Aug 26, 2018 11:40 pm

Dead reckoning is determining the course of your ship. This is done by taking fixes of known positions of your vessel at intervals, and projecting into the future by taking into account speed, time, and heading.

Once determined, the dead reckoning position can be adjusted by factoring in the set and drift of the currents. For dead reckoning in the air, the wind triangle is used to calculate the effects of wind currents on heading and air speed.

There are many different ways of plotting your dead reckoning position. You can go old school, use a sextant to get fixes, calculating your position by the heavenly bodies.

Dead reckoning is also used in networked games. Wiki sayeth:

"Networked games and simulation tools routinely use dead reckoning to predict where an actor should be right now, using its last known kinematic state (position, velocity, acceleration, orientation, and angular velocity). This is primarily needed because it is impractical to send network updates at the rate that most games run, 60 Hz. The basic solution starts by projecting into the future using linear physics."

"the problem is that there are now two kinematic states: the currently estimated position and the just received, actual position. Resolving these two states in a believable way can be quite complex. One approach is to create a curve (ex: cubic Bézier splines, Catmull-Rom splines, and Hermite curves) between the two states while still projecting into the future. Another technique is to use projective velocity blending, which is the blending of two projections (last known and current) where the current projection uses a blending between the last known and current velocity over a set time."

Can the course of your consciousness be determined by dead reckoning? Maybe, if you think of your consciousness like a ship. Or an actor in a network game.

If you can determine the course of your consciousness by dead reckoning, though, so can others. Then they can head you off at the pass. Try to sell you stuff. Predict your behavior with Catmull-Rom splines and Hermite curves. A consciousness determined by dead reckoning and his money are soon parted, as they say.

What if consciousness be the dead reckoner. Not your ship, but the one determining the course. Not an actor, but the network game. The simulation tool.

But if consciousness is the dead reckoner, what is the ship, the body? Who is the actor? I can see this being useful in warfare, but not much else. Holding out baits to entice the enemy, things of that nature. Leading others into thinking that the course of your consciousness can be determined by dead reckoning. But really you're the dead reckoner, you can change course anytime. Teams of dead reckoners, messing up the demographic calculations. Marketing companies burning through advertising executives, hiring and firing on a weekly basis. Things are starting to get serious, these dead reckoners are effecting the bottom line.

Fun, I guess, if you're into that sort of thing. What if consciousness is the dead reckoner, and the ship/actor, though. Consciousness, determining the course of consciousness. With adjustments for wind triangle calculations, of course.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby dada » Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:48 pm

dada » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:52 pm wrote:When I go to work at the press, I start off in the dark room shooting the layout onto page-sized negatives on an old contraption. A wet/dry vac creates the suction that holds the negative in place above a camera lens, the layout being photographed goes under glass in a box with lights below. Nothing like twenty minutes of vacuum noise in a dark room to get you started.

I notice when I put the negative up, the vacuum works harder. As is natural when something gets in the way of a vacuum.

But I also notice that when I turn on the lights, the vacuum doesn't have to work as hard. Why is that? Light is going up through the lens, making a negative print on a piece of plastic. How is the light making the vacuum's work easier?

When I'm in the dark room with the vacuum noise, I give this some thought. I figure that it must have something to do with the light working on the plastic. As the light creates the negative print, the plastic is changing. Perhaps this is displacing particles from the plastic, which the vacuum is drawing in.

In other words: the vacuum works harder when it is trying to suck in air, but is blocked by the plastic. This creates the suction that holds the plastic in place. When the negative is being created, the plastic gives the vacuum more particles to draw in, making its work easier. Of course you can't see the negative print on the plastic until it is put in the developer. But something happens when the light passes through the lens and hits the plastic, obviously. Otherwise there would be no negative to develop.

But no. I try an experiment. While the vacuum is on, I turn on the light without putting the plastic in the way. The vacuum still does less work. In fact, judging by the sound of it, the vacuum is doing the least work here. I don't have time to fully compare the sounds of 'light off, no plastic' 'light on, no plastic,' 'light off, plastic,' and 'light on, plastic,' though. But my ear is pretty trained, so I settle with this hypothesis for now.

Of course the lady I work with looks confused at first, why I'm turning the light on and off without a plastic sheet in the contraption. I explain to her what I'm wondering about so she doesn't think I'm having a stroke or something. She gets it, thinks about it, says, "Oh. You know, I have no idea what that's about." I say I don't have any answers for this either, I just ask the questions.

I think about it some more, decide that the experiment is too sloppy, I need to establish some controls if I'm going to draw any conclusions. It's possible that the old contraption is pulling current from the wall that is interfering with the current going to the wet-dry vac. I think it's highly unlikely, though, because the lights and camera in the contraption are just not that much of a power draw. Is an old contraption, though, so I can't rule this out.

So I think about controlled experiments. I could run an extension cord from a different line, so I can be certain that the contraption and the wet-dry vac are not sharing current. A better, simpler way would be to block the camera lens so the light doesn't pass through when I turn the lights on. But this is a delicate lens, I'm not going to touch it. So I'll need to rig up something, tape a black sheet up inside the box. But again, I don't have time for this.I'm not playing in a laboratory, I'm working, printing a newspaper, here. I'll have to go over to the press at night if I want to do the experiment with some controls.

I can do this, but I wouldn't recommend anyone else going over to the press at night, unless you've already become king or queen of ghostworld. Place is haunted like a motherfucker. Crawling with ghosts. And not just because of the thousands upon thousands of photos developed there, and the obituaries, the emotional energies this small town has sank into the articles, or the hundred plus years of yellowing papers archived in the stock room, but also because the back of the building where the offices and the dark room are used to be a doctors office from about 1900 to 1950. The dark room was the examination room. You don't go to this place at night, unless you're ghost king.

Or maybe you don't believe in ghosts. Neither do I. I don't have to, I have experience.

The guy I work with who taught me how to run the press, he's like that. Says "I don't believe in ghosts, or ufos, none of that shit." Although I think he doth protesteth too much. Just last week, he started talking about Skynyrd out of the blue, going on about how great a band they are. And then he says he's got a skynyrd cd in the car right now, but it's sticking, won't play. Next day King, the skynyrd guitar player died. I told him this, I could see the gears turning as he struggled to write it off as a coincidence.

Interesting guy. Black guy, loves real rock n roll, Sabbath, Zep, Cream. Watches western movies all the time, all the time, his favorite genre. Seventy-four, but you'd swear he was in his fifties. A healthy fifties, too. That lady I work with is like that as well. In her nineties, but you'd think she's in her seventies, at the most. Healthy. I think she could probably go to the press at night, the ghosts probably don't know what to think about her. Shit, I don't know what to think about her. Like vampires or something. But just your regular, everyday average vampires.

Of course I'm like that, too. People always guess I'm ten, fifteen years younger than I am. Bottomless energy reserves, running around like a kid half my age, sprinting up stairs three at a time, no aches and pains in the joints.

Some people age so fast. Get old before they're old. How is that? Why is that? Guess there are a lot of factors involved. Or maybe they put something in my water bottle, some average, everyday vampire blood, and now I'm one of them. meh, I shrug. That would be just fine with me.
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Re: Questioning Consciousness

Postby Sounder » Wed Aug 29, 2018 7:49 am

dada wrote...
Some people age so fast. Get old before they're old. How is that? Why is that? Guess there are a lot of factors involved. Or maybe they put something in my water bottle, some average, everyday vampire blood, and now I'm one of them. meh, I shrug. That would be just fine with me.

My opinion is that the Alchemists, like Nicholas Flamell, constructed a system similar to that of Dan Seigel. That is, they were trying to differentiate and integrate their way to mental health and/or a longer life.

We embrace Thantos in so many ways in this culture. Odd behavior on the surface, until one is yet again reminded how pervasively programmed we are to accept that we are victims and non-actors on the larger stage.
All these things will continue as long as coercion remains a central element of our mentality.
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