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Everything posted by StephenK

  1. Reality is fundamentally information. What is information? Information is the relationship/s between different states of consciousness. Those perceived relationships are consciousness. Fundamentally, information is pattern recognition within consciousness, and pattern recognition allows us to anticipate future states of consciousness. The question of there being an 'external reality' is another question all together, and one that I believe can never be answered. There are relationships; that is all that can be said in my opinion.
  2. I'm finding that every time I get find a passion, within a few weeks there comes a time where suddenly it dawns on me that it is completely pointless. That I am chasing a dream that will ultimately mean nothing. Suddenly that passion disappears. After that a strong desire to meditate and liberate myself of worldly desires arrives. This seems to be a recurring, cyclical pattern. Can anyone relate?
  3. Under 'wants' I would add: Social-Rank (status seems to be a big driving force for primates) Sexual-Opportunities (ties in with social-rank) Resources for humans this has turned into the modern consumer society To not die To be fair, the points I made seem to apply to pretty much all species that are configured to work in groups. As for what a chimp does not want, that is just the opposite of what he does want.
  4. @Telepresent Yeah, the thought experiment can be extended to any number of objects -- we can 'nest' objects within other objects to create higher order objects. Pretty cool, huh? Continue with this thought experiment, but now include your body: imagine your hands and the keyboard you're typing on is a single object! Hell, go further: imagine that your your entire body and the universe around you is a single object! -- this one is hard though, because we, as humans, have a visceral feeling that our bodies are 'me'. But think of it this way: the only reason your body and mind are able to function as they currently are is because of the strong and weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravitation. People often say that they 'are' their body (including brain) and their genetic code -- however, without the strong nuclear force, the very material integrity of our bodies would collapse. So 'I' am as much my body, mind, and genetics as I am the atomic forces that keep my very DNA together! Crazy! Break down the notions of where your body ends and identify the entire universe as 'your body', working in tandem to allow this thing called a brain to generate your awareness! Think of your entire body and brain as a tiny organ in your 'real' body, which is the universe. I think what readily becomes apparent is that the notion of a separate "I" that exists is absurd! This kind of thought experiment can become experientially real on psychedelics: people often talk about 'oneness' and the ability to see how objects are just things created by the mind. Seeing all this, all this beauty in the universe, I always ask myself one question: "Why am I relating to the world in a negative way, when there are so many positive ways to interact with this beautiful machine called the universe?" Relating to the world (hate/compassion, anger/love, sadness/happiness, fear/trust, etc) are merely perceptual modalities. Which ones have experiential utility for you? We intuitively understand that kicking our foot against a wall is going to cause pain, so in terms of experiential utility, doing that serves no purpose -- we don't really need to think about it. Now, getting angry at someone/something is like kicking your foot against a wall -- what utility does getting angry have for you? For me, I've realized getting angry is as crazy as kicking your foot against a wall -- so I try to let go of anger. This can be done for various other unpleasant emotions. The brain or mind needs to see for itself that these negative experiences (hate, anger, blood-lust, fear, loneliness, etc) are causing it harm -- once this happens, the thirst for spiritual liberation hits hard. I think one of the hardest pills to swallow is this: Our biology and evolution and society itself is not primarily concerned with our well-being. It is largely up to us to navigate our biology and society. @Friend Protect your double-tumble, you only have one!
  5. Reality, or the universe -- whatever you wish to call it -- truly has no objects. The universe is a dynamic, flowing mass of energy and matter: nowhere do we find true separation. Here's another thought experiment to think about: 1) Imagine that you're holding the same mug in the previous example. 2) You place that mug on a table. 3) You now declare that the mug, together with the table, form a single object called a "mugetable". This seems silly, right? A person can come along and say: "Hey man, that's clearly a mug and a table, not a mugetable. A mugetable? That's absurd!" However, you can validly respond with: "Hey man, you arrived here in this thing called a 'car'. But a 'car' is just 4 wheels, an engine and a chassis! A car? That's absurd!" We can create objects out of anything. I can declare that my two thumbs together form an object called a 'double-tumble'. The only thing that is relevant is: "Does this way of relating to the world help me in any way?" Talking about mugetables and double-tumbles to your family and friends really isn't going to help you that much, haha. Reality is like a continuous, flowing fluid of energy and matter. Objects are the mind's attempt at finding patterns in this flowing field of energy. What we call a 'mug' is not so much a real object, but a group of patterns in reality that the mind has identified. The brain is great at seeing patterns in this continuous reality field we live in.
  6. The ability of the brain to create objects within awareness from raw data (sight, smell, touch, etc) is so fundamental to truly understanding the breadth and scope of awareness itself. As an experiment, do the following: 1) Pick a mug 2) Now describe the mug using as many adjectives as you can (hard, shiny, smooth, etc) 3) Now, ask yourself: "Are any of the words I used to describe the mug an objective description of the mug?" Most people would agree that a mug is hard, but that is not objectively true -- from the perspective of someone that works with titanium drill bits all day, a mug is soft. From the the perspective of someone that makes disco-balls, a mug is rather dull in its appearance. Notions of soft/hard, shiny/dull, smooth/rough, light/heavy are all dependent on your frame of reference (and how your brain is currently wired). In fact, you can easily adopt the view that a mug is soft: imagine it just crumbling under the weight of a 10 tonne steel block. This view is no more false than the idea that a mug is hard! But here is where the interesting part comes in... Since a mug can be described as hard or soft, which is it? Both? Neither? What starts to emerge is that there are an infinite amount of ways to describe a mug. At the same time, the mug is objectively none of these things -- that is, the mug is in reality 'empty', only taking on characteristics once a mind comes along and gives it 'life', so to speak. To truly understand this is to see nothingness and infinity in a flower -- it is the ability to hold paradox in ones mind without cognitive dissonance. To truly understand this is to see how your own mind is sitting in a particular frame of reference to the world. Hard mode: Is the object you call a mug, really a mug? What is the purpose of a mug? To a young child, maybe it is a cave for a toy dinosaur? Which one is true? Play.
  7. @Dodoster It's good to hear that you have had these important insights. It's unfortunate that you can't afford to go to a psychologist at the moment -- do you have any family and friends to talk to? I think that a lot of people drawn to spirituality have traumatic or unpleasant pasts (myself included). I can only offer advice based on my personal experiences though. I don't know your personal story, so I can't really offer more suggestions than: keep the fire for spiritual growth burning inside of you; stay optimistic; learn to love every moment you have.
  8. In the beginning of spiritual development and self improvement, the ego is still largely running the show. The quest for enlightenment is much like giving up smoking: in order to overcome a desire for nicotine, one must desire to be without nicotine. As such, we need to desire in order to relinquish desire -- kind of a paradox. The human being is always desiring something: acceptance, love, revenge, suicide etc. Even depression is a desire of sorts: it's like a heavy gravitational well, tearing apart positive emotions, perpetuating its own existence with excuses and rationalizations as to why it must remain. In Buddhism the desire for spiritual growth is considered a good thing, and something to be cultivated. As for your suicidal ideation though, that is an unhealthy form of desire and must certainly be let go of. If you are able to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, please do so. Mental health needs a holistic approach and only focusing on 'Enlightenment' can be very damaging in the long run if you haven't got your fundamentals in order. Your desire for spiritual liberation is good though -- hold on to that flame and cultivate it.
  9. Meditation is a slow purification of the mind -- everyone sees results at different rates. Unfortunately in my experience, the portrayal of meditation on the internet can really give you a warped and romanticized perception of what it really is. My personal experience when starting meditation was that it was meant to be this mystical, transcendental practice that brought deep insight -- when none of this happened, and meditation started bringing up difficult feelings, I started having doubts and self-critical thoughts. I started labeling my experiences as "bad meditation" and "good meditation" -- I now realize that doing so was incredibly destructive to my meditation practice in general. These overwhelming enlightenment experiences in meditation can arrive at any moment -- but don't think that just because you haven't had any profound experiences that you are doing meditation 'wrong'. No one ever told me that it is okay for meditation to be a difficult experience. I realize now that, for certain people, meditation is much like disinfecting a wound -- to clean a wound, the puss needs to be drawn out (into awareness) and disposed of (letting go). This process can be painful -- and there is nothing wrong with that. So for me, I see meditation as a form of therapy. I only really saw results after several weeks -- some people see results after 1 day (everyone is different). The most important thing is, in my opinion, to have a strong meditation schedule: set aside an amount of time per day for meditation and stick to it. As for personal benefits I've experienced: calmer mind, clearer thoughts, less anxiety, elevated mood, fewer negative opinions of myself and others, general increase in optimism (I can be quite a pessimistic guy).
  10. Impossible? No Unlikely? Yes, but there is always a bit of hope : )
  11. @Salaam Your explanations do make sense, but I feel I need to hear more about your model before I attempt to integrate it into my own. Are there any people out there that are aligned with your views? Please share more about your Capability Circuit Model.
  12. The problem is that various frameworks for 'personal development' have no quantifiable utility -- by utility i mean their ability to satisfy a given goal, when compared to one another. How do we test which models work, and to what degree? Anecdotal evidence is really the best we can do at the moment, absent any kind of rigorous scientific studies. Our goal can be status, security, food, sex -- whatever. Personal development makes no sense outside the context of what we wish to attain. All too often our frameworks are decided by their emotional appeal, given our current state of consciousness. Being a rationalist myself, I have always been drawn to models that are rationally consistent. As far as I am concerned, if happiness is a variable 'x', I'd like to find the model of personal development that is able to sustain a high value for 'x'. Unfortunately, we must rationally acknowledge that our brains have evolved in highly turbulent environments in which feeling such as anger, fear and hunger had great utility in terms of survival and propagating our genes. One daunting fact of life is that our biology is not primarily concerned with our emotional well-being. The fact that the rationalists have to face is that a rational solution might require an irrational framework to address our biological and psychological needs-- it needs to be acknowledged that a model with logical inconsistencies might very well be more effective than one without -- and this scares the living shit out of many people. We must rationally acknowledge that sometimes irrational frameworks might be effective in addressing our biological needs. Unfortunately, the implication of this is that ignorance, dissociation, irrationality might have great utility for certain people. For me, it is not relevant whether this guy is dissociating or not -- whats more relevant is: is he happy in doing so? Is he happier than you? Is he happier than me? If so, he's winning imo. If you know how to address this uneasy state of affairs, please share, because I don't fully know how to integrate this into my world-view. It boils down to the question of : "If someone is happy in their ignorance, is it morally justified to break their ignorance?" Without factoring in an individual's biology and aptitude for psychological adaptation, how can we effectively propose a single model of self-improvement? Ultimately, what is the goal of self-improvement besides an attempt to live a happy life? As for your response to the video itself, I do disagree with some of your objections, but perhaps that is for another post.
  13. Psychedelics can be a great eye-opener when it comes to the ego and personal development. However, a lot of people are all too easily fall into the 'romance' period with psychedelics (myself included) -- I like to call this the "Why isn't everyone doing this?" phase. I see psychedelics as a rite of passage; it's a path that needs to be walked by some. In fact, psychedelics very often get people (particularly in the Western World) into meditation and personal development. But they can set you off-track for a while (which is not necessarily bad thing, but it is a thing). Although largely safe for the majority of people, psychedelics can be profoundly damaging to certain individuals. There can sometimes be a blurry line between curiosity, recreation and escapism -- I found that after several psychedelic experiences, it started becoming a deeply escapist experience for me, and it was not helping me in any way. But that was my experience and also what I happened to observe with those around me.
  14. I developed depersonalization when I was 16 years old -- I'm 26 at the moment and it is still with me. I spent years trying to figure out the "what/why/how/when" of the situation with little success until recently. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Over the years, there are definitely a few things that I am certain of (in my case, at least): 1) Depersonalization is definitely the byproduct of an anxiety disorder. 2) Depersonalization is not a form of ego-death -- it is the opposite. I remember when my depersonalization first started: I was going through a really traumatic time in my life: self esteem issues, abandonment, emotional trauma, bullying etc. I remember lying in bed one night with my eyes closed, trying to escape the hell of my situation. I searched in the empty void of my mind for something that was 'me' -- I couldn't find it -- all I saw was emptiness; there was no 'me' to be found. This is when an utter dread filled my mind and when the depersonalization started its engines. I want to reiterate one thing though: depersonalization is not the result of the death of the ego -- in fact, its the complete opposite: its the ego recoiling and contorting itself in the face of the majesty of non-self. Generally, two things can happen when faced with non-self: either ones' ego gives in and accepts its void nature (this is healthy spiritual development), or the ego begins to falsely assign 'fear/dread/depression/anxiety/hopelessness' to the void. In depersonalization, the ego falsely turns emptiness into a monster and lives in a perpetual state of running away from this contorted perception of emptiness. I'ts kind of like a child running through the woods, thinking that shadows are chasing him/her. The most important thing that I have personally learnt is that depersonalization is just the result of a really sick, ill, suffering ego that does not accept its true nature. So when I meditate, my depersonalization is as much an object of meditation as my breath is -- its all just mind-stuff that is in a constant state of flux. As for dissociative disorders in general, I think that the issue is that one believes that somehow a 'self' has been lost, while the reality is that it (the ego) has just become contorted and sick.