Today I wrote a bit on my experience meditating and some views of meditation’s functionality and meditation culture: http://zarathustra.gitlab.io/meditation/
[New? Start here: http://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/articles/]
[Status: sort of poorly organized and poorly line-edited and ranty and TMI, but some good stuff in here]
A long-time reader and guest blogger here reports:
“Jeffery Martin, the Persistent Non Symbolic Experience guy, has put together a 15 week online course that summarises his 8 years of research into enlightened people, and claims to have developed methods to reach the state faster. In the first round 4/6 participants reached the state, with 2 others following shortly. Now it’s scaled up to 70 people.
Also, he believes he has methods to avoid the Dark Night.“
So I had forgotten about this guy; I haven’t touched on him in a few years. I’m really impressed by his persistence, ability to scale his research program, and his handling of an initially small and biased sample size. I skimmed an executive summary…
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I had a kinda cool start to a novel and then plunged it into nonsense and, err, didn’t finish it.
Did I watch more than 52 porn sessions? Might be pretty close, actually. But probably over. I noticed that I got better at some visualizations while not looking at porn, which had an effect of more vivid sexual dreams. I also note that with porn I tend to be quicker in the “wham bam thank you ma’am” style than otherwise. Hard to identify actual personal changes, however the sort of focus given to my mind seems different (on some sort of personal ideal or on some specific girl). Tempting to take the quick cum it is tho :p.
As to freeing my ass (not avoiding action in fear) and living my philosophy, I have ended up in quite interesting places :).
Where to start? What to say? As noted before, small steps are the heart of lasting change. (** However big change throwing many small steps at one does seem plausible too.) Even this year, I generally progressed with small steps. Small “hi”‘s or asking-out-on-dates. Encouraging myself to say X whenever/however/wherever rather than caring about doing it in a good way. For example, even if I’d rather express interest in a girl in person, doing it in person is good enough compared to waiting for the next chance in person and finding the right opportunity then, which then makes that meeting more stressful/confusing, and spirals me into oblivion! Somehow ended up with more experience than I’d really gotten in my life before this year — and yet not that much experience :0!
Another usual experience: finding it difficult to tell if one is shying away in fear or legitimately picky. Yet one doesn’t want to cop-out and accept everything either. An interesting experience there is this admittance of being in fear and not acting in fear. Somehow knowing you will act later, eventually.
There’s the problem of radical honesty: not always being completely honest is sometimes effective (especially in the short term). Moreover, there are numerous ways to be honest, to express oneself honestly. Shame can lead one to express oneself honestly in a way that is somehow less effective, that misses some crucial oomph and assertiveness. On this topic, I’ve settled for “communication trumps honesty”. Focus on what one wants to communicate, not on how true it is. And duh, if you communicate something others won’t view as true, well, be aware of how it won’t correspond to some fact they can observe (and if this observation is in your control) :D. (“Lie well, my dears, m’kay?”).
There’s the devil of hindsight: noticing opportunities one had but somehow avoided taking.
Another nice feature of gaining more experience is, say, the glow one can see around girls in kissy mode. Is it just how I experience noticing their pupils dilating? Perhaps.
I’ve actually ended up focusing on a sort of Free Ass Mode as State of Consciousness that doesn’t quite correspond with what I set out to become. It’s close, and in some ways more general :).
Part of what leads me here is a sort of positive-intention personal dystopic vision of “living one’s philosophy”. Of course, living one’s philosophy, one will take action regardless of fear. By definition (of my not-fully-defined personal philosophy). In some ways the world I inhabit (referencing that “my mind is my prison” meme) has been quite close to this already.
I don’t like “shoulds” for this reason too. Firsts because using should generally shoves the metric and reason under the rug and leaves one only with a command/rule. A “life of shoulds” is then a life lived like a puppet, training oneself to take right action as one should. Uninvestigated, one dances to the strings of society, being a good boy.
So then what does living one’s philosophy look like in this perspective? One becomes one’s own puppeteer! One looks under the rug of should and takes the lead. One (rationally?) investigates life and decides how one wants to act. Then one takes said actions. Rinse and repeat. This is life. This is the wet dream of self-discipline. One does exactly what one wants to. Perfect.
— Except, err, look at the emotionality here.
Does this feel “free” as in freedom, as in free ass. As in a free donkey dwarf?
The feeling is one of control, of bondage.
One is then fully bound.
When torn between one’s rational analysis and one’s ‘fear’ one is more free, as one hasn’t fully given way to rationality yet. This dystopia is a control-freak’s attempt at freedom without actually letting go. It looks like freedom, yet subtly isn’t.
So then, what does acting freely look like?
Does one impulsively do what one feels in the moment? Yes, more like that.
How does one corroborate fear and a desire to act? [Err, that one is simple: act in fear!]
Ok, cool. But can one guarantee one’s impulse in the moment will actually be to act in fear rather than feel the fear and desire and not act? To guarantee that is again to enpuppet oneself.
Can one live one’s philosophy without enpuppeting?
In the framework I set out in, of mustering courage to act according to one’s strings, perhaps not.
This is how I ended up somewhere not quite expected :).
In the past I mareveled at how I was a ball of contradictions. This year I’ve been moving towards coherence/unification of self (parts) instead.
One exists and acts at many different levels of detail and timescales. One lives in the moment — yet one lives on the timescale of minutes to hours when navigating anywhere. Having a child with awareness is living on the timescale of years. Going to college is too. Investing in your Roth IRA a timescale of decades. One can take an action to benefit only oneself — or an action that will potentially affect millions. Giving a man a fish has a quite local effect (unless by keeping them alive, you then influence all they influence throughout life). Teaching a man to fish and teach others to fish influences the rest of his life and perhaps the lives of many others.
In each moment one is aware of one’s designs for multiple timescales and multiple levels of abstraction.
This brings me to the question of coherence of one’s desires in multiple timescales. One can also say multiple levels of abstraction.
Being one’s own puppeteer is a polarization where one prioritizes a certain level of abstraction (that of beliefs/plans — a domain of rationality) over others.
Impulsive in-the-momentness is a polarization where one prioritezes a certain levle of abstraction (that of immediate desires/drives — a domain of intuition) over others.
What if one wants coherence of philosophy and intuition?
This is tricky, and I think priority be given to intuition — most of the time. Tricky as guarantees imply self-imprisonment.
To let go of the reigns, self-trust seems paramount. Trust that, even if not perfectly or immediately as if guaranteed, I will freely align with my philosophy in action. Trust that I will align hard enough so as not to be stuck behind any wall that needs serious forced effort to break through (as I was prior to this year).
This self-trust and being-in-momentness, diving into flowy focus and passion, point to acceptance that sometimes philosophizing about my own intentions/desires/designs for life is a high-priority desired activity :). Sure, I felt I do it too much and like taking action more…, but I do desire it nonetheless.
This style in some ways matches how I cooked. For the most part, I didn’t taste while cooking. Just at the end. I nonetheless honed my sense for how long to cook things, in what ways, etc. Lots of observation in the act and intuition. Some thoughts about things to try next time, even while mostly freeballing it. When I got new ingredients, I did look up some recipes. I read them to get the basic idea (so as to see how it’s generally cooked in an edible and yummy way), and then I went and did something like it.
Likewise, living one’s philosophy can become an educated, thoughtful guidance rather than strict puppeteering. Intuition is aligned with and calibrated with philosophy as one acts, not necessarily in perfect alignment at any moment, yet mostly there :).
And that’s more-or-less the answer to 2017.
What about 2018’s New Year’s Resolution?
I won’t make one. Not that I need take my resolute word seriously as a Jew. Bahahaha :D >:P ~ ~ ~
Presently a New Year’s Intention sounds better :). However, I want clear intentions to be a part of my daily mode of existence ;). Re-focusing or finding clarity to intentions, well, as needed :).
My New Year’s Resolutions have been awesome :D. And with love I pack them away :) <3
I’ve often discussed pan-species society.
I want to uplift other animals. However, I don’t want to force this on them. I want to include other animals into society as much as possible. I think we can to a fair degree gauge animal consent and, perhaps painstakingly, educate them on possibilities. VR may help with this — though the use of that’s ethical status and respect for voluntarism is debatable. Use of AI systems to both better understand animals and better communicate will likely be fruitful too: http://www.csc.kth.se/cvap/EquestrianML/.
One motivation for thinking about a pan-species society is thinking about post-human society. Once we can uplift ourselves, create fully-functional and conscious mind, etc, we can potentially have a society with greater mental functional diversity than we do now. Frankly, we could have a society with more functional diversity than a current pan-species society would [insert algorithmic information theory calculations]. We don’t necessarily have to, though. Moreover, various forms of mindplexes or higher level brains (like the global brain) also complicate matters.
I do want to do what I can to bias our future towards inclusivity, though I’m not sure how many minds will choose to stay, err, ‘stupid’.
What would such a pan-species society look like?
It’s not that easy, right?
Population is exponential. We can’t just let deer and dog fuck like rabbits and fill the Earth until even advanced tech resources are strained (never-mind difficulties in ecosystem management). Yet killing them when they fuck too much is abhorable and antithetical to Compassion. Abortion is also far from side-effect free. Advanced birth control, I guess. Currently our birth control technology for humans even is in a premature stage. I wonder what psychological effects this will have on them.
And if you think this sounds hard, wait until you hear about the Wild Animal Suffering problem and the Abolitionist Project to end all pain, including fixing predator species. Yet these are only simple conclusions of valuing Compassion.
Society with interdependent entities will involve restraint, whether this comes from within the individual or without. Without carefully engineering the members of the society, a la Pearce’s predator fixing, external restraint must be present.
I like viewing such a society as a Garden of Minds.
This emphasizes the subtle interplay of fostering creative mind growth and control for over-all growth and beauty. from colocation of minds to allowing minds to go crazy without monopolizing.
Lately I read a bunch of Wikipedia articles on abuse, a few focusing on trauma. I have in various ways been traumatized in my past.
I am also aware that it is likely impossible to discuss this topic, abuse, without triggering or offending someone. Someone may feel I speak too lightly of abuse, but veer in the other direction and I take it too seriously. Do I let evil sadists off the hook or do I vilify mere humans?
What is abuse though? Legal definitions, as they come with serious ramifications and punishments, must be more strict than pure philosophical ones.
In some regard, the laxness and openness of Wikipedia is helpful here. One can see a more full picture of the sociocultural understanding of the concept, rather than any particular group’s controlled view. (Ok, this isn’t perfect. Wikipedia editors can be quite opinionated .)
Abuse seems to include anything that can cause someone to be traumatized, to become emotionally/spiritually repressed, for a long period of time. Dealing with issues of causality, some assert that abuse must be intentional: accidentally kicking someone in the nuts is not abuse, even if the victim remains jumpity whenever there are kicking motions nearby.
What does this effect on one’s being mean?
I like to envision a person as some sort of flying sphagetti monster growing out and expanding its noodly appendages in directions of interest, exploring the Cosmos and intermingling with other flying sphagetti monsters. For the following analogy, I’ll compare to plants growing in some (pattern)space.
An interesting note that has often confused me is the difference, both moral and practical, between abuse and discipline. Is it ever really ok to control the growth of another living organism, at least beyond simply asserting your own boundaries (a la Mark Manson)? Spanking and other physical punishments seem to be being realized for what they are, nonetheless there seems to be an emotional primalcy in how one is actually affected by what happens.
If there is a clear, firm rule, a clear environmental punishment, then we grow around this like a pillar. And as in any garden full of coexisting lifeforms, such boundaries will exist.
Reasons seem important: with reason and understanding, the mind can find the exact nature of the boundaries.
Without these, a mind may learn restriction and discipline as the way of the world. Arbitrary barriers are placed, and then that is what the organism does too. The organism places retrictions on others for whatever the organism desires, and sees to it they are met with cold, strict precision. One can get a strange pathology (– or simply way of being –) of discipline for discipline’s sake. Culture for culture’s sake. Tradition for tradition’s sake.
Clarity seems important. Without clarity, punishment is hard to understand.
Take for example the following concept:
A COEX System (Systems of Condensed Experience) is a concept coined by Grof (1976) to describe the way the human brain organizes its experience. A COEX is basically a set of related experiences organized around a powerful emotional center. 
Minds seek concise understanding of the world. With clarity and punishment, you are a careful gardener and the bonsai can grow beautifully. Without clarity and harsh (emotionally at least) punishment, the mind knows not to expand and explore in this general direction but not exactly what to avoid. The mind may develop some condensed representation of this threat. The mind can become plagued with anxiety as it has a strongly charged COEX but doesn’t know how wide the barrier spreads — worse yet, the punisher may have been unreliable. Sometimes far out, sometimes close to center.
And then that horrible tragic trauma forms: a whole region of experience-space ends up blocked for the poor mind left in fear of an ambiguous punishment lurking in the dark unknown.
With clarity, some areas of experience-space are blocked yet the mind can grow around them and explore the general regions anyway.
Boundaries between concepts are generically fuzzy in reality though. Is the difference between abuse and discipline always clear-cut?
With this view, one can see why what exactly defines abuse is hard to pinpoint. The nature is subjective.
If an entity gets brutalized yet accepts such brutality as simply how the world is, the entity won’t wilt away from this part of experience-space the same. The entity may approach it with a willingness to fight or sneakiness. A caveat is the entity may, especially in the human case, be more likely to dish out brutality as well. But then this is how the world is, so Bob’s my uncle.
What if one regards wild, confusing, non-regular punishments from a specific agent or two as spcific to these two agents and not general features of the world. Children — and maybe humans in general — seem to have a tendency toward this generalization that the whole world may be like this. Moreover, in forming a COEX, this simplification is an easy one to make — even if harmful in the long run. Simple short term strategies often are. Viewing transgressions as specific to the perpetrators, one then gains a conceptual clarity in mapping out experience-space despite the lack of clarity in the violent acts: one may wilt around the perpetrator yet not in general ;).
Combine the above two perspectives: the violence is particular to some agents and that’s just how they are. Now one has fair conceptual clarity and choice to make around the violent entity: be cautious and not fully alive near them or risk and be ready for aggression.
This isn’t all good, but the mental state can be clear and trauma-free.
Abuse is in the eye of the beholder. (Which seems to have been used in a paper title.)
The way one emotionally/psychologically takes a situation can easily matter more than what actually happens. Alas, most humans are not enlightened to the point they can burn themselves with equanimity as monks. Worse yet, most humans can have composure beaten out of them. Thus with persistence, most humans can be abused — and this is where legal measures against abuse come in.
Hmm, on the matter of discipline and blocking regions of experience-space, there’s the issue of, for example, a parent teaching a child not to have sex before marriage (or any other cultural rule for its own sake). The child learns this rule of the world in a clear way and grows around it. If the topic is sufficently demonized, the child may experience an odd pain/pity seeing many people do bad things. The child can grow up and live a lovely, beautiful, enriching and fulfilled life :). Yet, the child will also completely miss a whole region of experience-space compatible with a freedom-respecting society as a consequence of this arbitrary rule benig taught. The end-result is quite similar to a traumatized individual, except without the negativity. Yet this option is, to some degree, available: choose and accept avoidance to the point it’s a non-issue.
What type of transgression is an ‘excessive’ limitation on a mind’s experience-space exploration, even if not accompanied by trauma? Even if internally welcomed as part of the world?
– – –
Rounding off, various statistics seem to indicate that mild abuse is fairly rampant. Perhaps 30% of couples will face (mutual) mild abuse if they last long enough. Children can easily find some way to form some broad fearful COEX. Or perhaps they’ll be bullied? After all, we’re still more raw animal than we like to admit.
Can one at least avoid abusing others?
Perhaps not. Perhaps standing up for one’s self with strong boundaries will be sufficient to wilt someone else. One can strive to not do so.
My stance here is to focus on recovery. Focus on clarification, understanding, reconsolidation of previous-learned maps/laws of experience-space.
Accept one will run into trouble and learn/master the process of overcoming :)
I tested the Lefkoe Method Natural Confidence program. Seems to work.