Saturday, 17 December 2016

Introspection - 5 : Illusion of a Material World


Goal

We will attempt to experience the illusion of a separate material world directly.

Prerequisites

Same as that for introspection - 1. Note that the word "World" is used with a philosophical meaning. Whatever that surrounds us here and now. So its not the globe or the "cruel world".

This is probably the easiest of all introspections. You don't need to keep the mind out of the way. It stops on its own. But it is always good to start with a clear mind.

Question

Ask yourself - What is this world made of?
 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Introspection - 4 : Identity and Ignorance


Goal

We will attempt to experience the illusion of identity and Ego (aka person) directly.

Prerequisites

Same as that for introspection - 1.

Question

Establish yourself in the usual tranquil state. Take a look at the names and forms. You can now ask - who is aware of the world or objects or thoughts?

You will notice that there is no “who” initially, there is just awareness of contents. If there are any thoughts, the awareness overshadows those thoughts. Ask it again with a twist, inserting memory or space-time invoking words – who is sitting here and watching? Or who had dinner last night?

And the Mind wakes up and responds this time. There can be recalls of some experiences of coming and sitting or having a dinner at some place etc. Still there is an awareness of those recalls. Now start describing the events and now a doer appears – the “I” or the identity. Note that an “I” appears in the thought which are correlated with a place or event in the near past or somewhat distant past, and it is created only when language kicks in.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Introspection - 3 : Mind and World


Goal

We will attempt to experience the creation of duality or plurality out of oneness.

Prerequisites

Same as those for introspection - 1. I will now skip directly to the questions. The state you need to be in is described in detail in previous introspections.

Question - what is experienced? 

Start with the neutral state of awareness of everything with no unneeded mental activity. Once you are steady ask this question - what is experienced?

You will find that the mind starts instantly like an engine and begins presenting things one by one. Your attention will now be on patterns. You will encounter Contents. These are the usual objects, people, sense perceptions, thoughts, memories, feelings etc. The one has become many in response to that question. It is now expressing itself as our old friend - the Mind. Mind is a process that creates divisions, provides an illusion of multiplicity. This is the familiar experience of waking consciousness, the Self being conscious of Contents.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Introspection - 2 : Experiencing Change


Goal

We will attempt to experience change directly. We will try to see where this change happens and how it gets interpreted by the mind.

Prerequisites

Everything as before, plus it is best seen where there is some activity, such as a public place, but not too crowded or noisy.

Question - what is happening? 

Simply observe everything in an inclusive way, as was done for the previous introspection. There is Presence and there is Self as usual. Since the enquiry is formulated in a particular way, your attention will be drawn to differences in the experiences or activity. Do not name or describe them, just observe neutrally.

This introspection shows you something extraordinary - there is Change. The experiences are never the same. Some things change slowly such as your house and some change quickly such as the traffic outside on the road.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Introspection - 1 : Experiencing the Self


Goal

We will attempt here to gain a direct experience of the Self. It takes only a few minutes. It will answer the questions such as – who am I or what am I or what is this whole existence. The knowing is instantaneous but when the mind comes back, it finds it hard to accept it, at least in case of some people. The reason can be presence of beliefs, beliefs such as it cannot be so simple. And doubts like – its all fine, but …. (insert a question based on some random belief).

Prerequisites

Just an open, sharp, peaceful and intelligent mind. Absence of distractions, at least for a few minutes. Brutal honesty. Deactivation of beliefs, if any, at least for a while. Avoid making anything up, assumptions, hypotheses, guesses and all. It has to be very direct and self-evident.

Read the last article on The Art of Introspection for details on how to do it without getting lost or confused. Your gains will totally depend on these prerequisites, else its all just gibberish.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Art of Introspection


The best teacher is the Self, your own essence. Even when you have the luxury of a great master teaching you or an amazing book that answers all the questions, you will need the Self because without it nothing can be known. Ultimately, one needs to get the direct experience pointed towards by the teachings, and the Self is the ultimate receiver of those experiences. In the end, the teachers and books are merely forms of Self, just appearances.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Path of Books


If for some reason a student does not find a suitable teacher, he need not lose all hope. Most of the teachings are available in written form. These days the teachings are also available in audio or video form, which is as good as being with a teacher and is perhaps better than books in terms of sensory satisfaction. There is tons of material on the internet in various formats. Some teachers are also available via emails or other communication apps. The information is widespread, in fact, there is an excess of it. It all appears voluminous but most of it is repetition of the same few ideas, interpretations, and reinterpretations, commentaries and perspectives.

This was not the case in past, when such information was held secret. The world has changed and the teachings are no more hidden in secret places, meant for special people only. Most of them are freely available to anyone who is interested. So why don't people simply read those books etc. and get rid of their ignorance and suffering, why are the majority not free? Because just like a teacher, books only point towards the knowledge, they do not transmit knowledge, they transmit only information, written symbols. Knowledge requires a direct seeing, an experience. We have seen that merely gaining knowledge does not do much either, the clouds of habitual ignorance cover up any faint light of knowledge gained via reading very quickly.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Qualities of a Student

Alex Grey - Metamorphosis

After discussing the matter of teachers, its time to turn to the students. For an effective teacher-student interaction, student’s own abilities and qualities are of prime importance. If a student possesses the required qualities, he benefits from any teacher. We stand firmly on the formula of - fix yourself, do not try to fix the other. The other being a teacher in this case. It is of no use spending all your life trying to get an ideal teacher or running from one teacher to another, if you have not cultivated yourself as a good student.

So who is a "good" student? For our purposes, he is any seeker who has an immense desire for knowledge, happiness and freedom, firstly, and secondly, can learn from anything and anyone in as less time as possible. Thirdly, he also implements the learning practically, i.e. converts himself into a living example of the teachings.

Apart from these three essential qualities, there are many more such as high intelligence, open mindedness, curiosity, patience, attentiveness, logical and critical thinking etc. All these qualities were discussed in fine detail in previous blog articles, so please refer to past articles, if you haven't read them yet. There are ways to sharpen these tools, some of them, and some are innate. These qualities are desirable for anyone, not only for students in particular. But then everyone is a student anyway. Here, we are going to discuss these qualities and some more, especially as applicable to a student, a newbie student in particular. As a newbie student, I've already done most of the mistakes they do, so I will mostly share what not to do.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Gurulogy


It seems there is a natural evolution from the depths of ignorance towards knowing. This is often called Ripening. I do not really know why it happens, but I can sense it faintly. It also seems that the human experience is an important milestone on this path of evolution, at least that’s what is seen in this world. From time to time some humans realize their true nature and emerge out of this deep ocean of ignorance like a bubble. This happens irrespective of place, race, gender or time. It also appears that this process is speeding up, but it can be an illusion because human population is growing rapidly, there are more people and so more wise people. Some people out of these few come out in open and try to tell others what they have realized. We call such a person a teacher or a Guru.

The literal meaning of the word Guru is "remover of darkness", it also means great, mighty or giant. The former meaning is implied when its about teaching. Darkness implies ignorance. Note that it is not "bringer of light" or something like that because as we know, the light is always there. It is occluded by ignorance. So such a person does nothing but shows that you are in a dark pit and often suggests a way out. A teacher does not and cannot pull an ignorant out of the pit, he merely hints at it, maybe gives a helping hand. The student pulls himself out. The teacher acts as a trigger.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Acting without actions - Donation


Greed revisited

As long as one is in a body there are needs and it is wise to accumulate resources to meet those needs. The tendency to accumulate is an Egoic tendency and is necessary for survival. However this useful behaviour sometimes gets out of control and turns into the affliction of greed and hoarding. We have already studied that in depth in previous articles on Ego. Here we will discuss a corrective action that can be employed in case one falls into such behaviour. Donation is an action to obliterate greed and restore peace and detachment.

It seems most of humanity is afflicted with greed, especially in this materialistic and consumerist era. So much so that it is considered a good thing to be greedy and to hoard as much stuff as possible. Those who consume more are the high class and those who survive on crumbs, bare basic, are peasant class. Obviously , greed results in a mad pursuit of money and objects, and these are never enough. A greedy man attracts other greedy opportunists around him, who are actually after his money. Such a life soon turns into major suffering. Its an unfulfilled life, meaningless and full of fake people.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Acting without actions - Forgiveness

 

The world is beautiful. There is abundance. The body is well adapted to it. There is so much to do, learn and explore here. But then there are other people, with their huge Egos, they spoil all the fun. A lot of suffering is caused by retarded behaviour of others. In their ignorance and under the influence of wild Egoic tendencies, these people cause great harm and suffering. Sometimes a persons invites trouble by his own actions. Whatever is the cause, a majority of our suffering comes from others. Even seekers find themselves dealing with ignorant people who destroy their peace of mind routinely. Fortunately, one need not throw all those people out of the world, one can shield himself from their harmful effects. Realize that suffering is a state of mind, your own mind, and even if someone else is responsible for your messed up state of mind, you are fully capable of restoring it back to happiness. We all are free to do so, the choice is always there. This trick is called forgiving. It is useful when your suffering originates outside, usually from other people.

Forgiving is a mental action which is aimed at clearing negative programs. It is an action that results in non-action. Negative programs are mental structures that cause negative thoughts, desires and actions, which in turn lead to suffering and even more negative programs. This vicious circle continues. Negative or harmful programs are formed due to Egoic tendencies of anger, hate, envy, etc. The programs enforce these tendencies and cause more negative actions, and hence more suffering. Usually other people that are themselves under the influence of harmful programs are responsible for implanting those negative tendencies in their victims. In simple words, bad behaviour of bad people turns a person with otherwise healthy mind into a person full of mental afflictions and suffering. This happens because people are usually unconscious of their own tendencies and get easily influenced by other’s behaviour.

What is the cure? Forgive. The vicious circle needs to be broken at some point. One needs to do it by consciously terminating the programs or thoughts or actions. This needs to be done repeatedly because the mental structures are formed and strengthened via repetition and erasing them also requires repetition of corrective action. In simple words, not allowing and acting on the negative thoughts, which come up again and again, will slowly make the bad actions and suffering go away. This is the act of forgiving essentially.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Acting without actions - Service



We have discussed throughout this blog, some preventive measures one can take to remain in a state of happiness. These mostly involve preventing actions arising out of Egoic tendencies, mental afflictions and ignorance. Usually nothing else needs to be done in order to remain happy and free. However habits die hard. People continue to behave in old ways that cause bondage and suffering, sometimes even after made fully aware of various pitfalls. Many seekers also get entangled in the web of actions simply because of habit or partial knowledge.

It is almost impossible to not to act once you are in a body which lives in a world. Non-action would simply mean an end of human experience. In other words - death. One must act if one desires to continue in a body till its natural end. Great masters have recommended some tricks to achieve a smooth and happy ride in a body. These are - Service, Forgiveness and Donation .These can also be used as corrective measures, if one fails to choose correctly and unknowingly invites suffering. We will discuss those now.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Happiness and Freedom




Acting in the World 

Having checked what the world is about we are now in a position of asking an important question. Given this world, and a body made up of worldly stuff, what is the optimal way to act here?  In simpler terms, how should one live his life in the best possible way? The short version of the answer is - actions must be such that they lead to more and more happiness and freedom. The long version is the following article. As long as there is a Mind, there will be worlds and bodies, and actions will follow. Our actions determine the quality of our worldly experience. So it is imperative to learn how to act here. Needless to say that our actions must be aligned to our goals, namely - happiness and freedom.

Why happiness and freedom? 

I'm glad you asked. Never accept blindly whatever they feed you. Question the teachings and then question the questions. What else you'd want, if not happiness and freedom? If you dig a bit here, you'd find that every human being or the Self having human experiences wants nothing but happiness and freedom. This is a necessity, not a choice. In other words, whatever you do, you do it for happiness and freedom. You are incapable of doing anything else. Lets examine more.

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Illusion of World

A typical realistic virtual real time game environment

Lets explore the world more and dig into some crazy ideas. And also see how a seeker experiences a world, and of what use a world is for seekers.

Virtual world 

The advent of virtual worlds generated via computers has rekindled an interest in theories that propose non-existence of a material world [1]. These days the simulated worlds look as real as the real world, especially when high end hardware is employed. Total sensory immersion into a simulated world is not a fiction, it is inevitable. As we know, these extensive, rich and life like worlds on our screens are nothing but numbers. What makes us suspect that our everyday world is also nothing but numbers? There are many reasons. Quantum description of the matter immediately suggests that there are no actual entities, only values. In other words, the matter is just numbers.  Strangely, the physical universe satisfies many requirements of a simulated world. A short list of such requirements is as follows [2]:

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Experience of the World


The story so far - the Presence acting as Self has a universal Mind which has instances of individual minds that are interfaced via structures known as brains to vehicles known as bodies. The bodies find themselves among other structures that are less connected to individual minds. These are far less complex compared to the body or the brain and are governed by algorithmic rule sets. When interpreted via senses these appear in various shapes, sizes, textures, smells etc. localized in space. We will call them Objects and a collection of objects is a World [1].

Objects are experienced and so is world. And like everything else these are subjected to Experiencing - the changing attribute of the Presence. The Experiencing results in a dynamic world that is impermanent. Everything in this world changes, appears and disappears. Some objects change faster than others and some change slowly. Some are complex and some are simple. But all objects are merely forms created out of fundamental structures, that are very simple and do not change much. We see only the forms and label them with names. This creates the familiar representation of a world of names and forms in the Mind.

The world appears on the screen of the Self. The change appears as experiences. The Mind neatly organizes the change into experiences of objects and their interactions. This is all there is as far as direct experience of the world is concerned. It exists and the Self witnesses it, and that’s the full story. Its a game, a play, nothing more.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Brain vs. Mind



While we are on the topic of body, lets discuss some interesting stuff about the most interesting and mysterious organ in the body - the brain. As usual, I won't attempt to conclude too much and will leave the file open, since it is beyond my pay grade to talk on this fascinating subject. All I can do is, if you give me some statements about the brain, I can find out if they make sense based on my own experience and a bit of logical and critical thinking. I can also theorize about it but it may not be the whole truth. But I can surely dislodge some beliefs and take you to the stage of uncertainty - the "I don't know" stage, where all the real answers lie.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Living Dead



We have seen that how the concept of death is only a concept, an illusion. Somehow death refuses to die. We will venture into some controversial cases of death-like experiences and un-dead people. I don't intend to settle the case of death and close the file. I'll just throw opinions, as these experiences are of others, not my own and are mostly subjective.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Illusion of Death


No one has witnessed their own death, however almost all of us are totally convinced that we will die someday. Without a direct experience of death, one can say that that death is only a belief. Of course we see many others who die every day, its all very common and obvious. What's not so obvious is that we see only their bodies dropping dead. The rest is mere extrapolation of same event in our own case.

Fantasies of Death

We see that a body is destroyed after death, and we actually ensure that it is destroyed by cremating it. So it is fair to conclude that our own body will be destroyed, and since our body is no different than all those dead bodies, there is no reason to conclude otherwise. Anyhow one cannot witness the destruction of one’s own body. It is just an assumption.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Dreaded Four Ds





Disease

The body being a structure, an object, is subjected to impermanence and decay. In addition to the gradual weathering (aging, as discussed), a body suffers damages suddenly due to various agencies and reasons. The harm can come from external agents such as microbes or from internal causes such as organ failures or from mental influences such as stress and anxiety.

These days it is easy to cure the diseases caused by external agencies, because of their purely physical nature. There is a good understanding about the nature of microbes and medicines that kill them. Still people die from pathogenic infections in millions. The reasons are social and Egoic, not a lack of knowledge and resources. Anyhow the progress in this regard is extraordinary, when you compare the situation today with ancient days, when an infection meant a certain death. The body has built in defences against microbes, else it wouldn't survive for even one day, but sometimes the pathogens find a way in. Needless to say that it is of prime importance to keep this immune system in good shape, all one needs to do is not to damage it intentionally. One can damage it by the means of substance abuse or a shabby and unhygienic lifestyle or by maintaining too much cleanliness. By too much cleanliness, I mean the indiscriminate use of chemicals that kill microbes inside or outside the body. Immune system constantly needs stimulants in order to maintain its defences, and in the absence of any microbes it becomes inactive. So a good rule of thumb is to avoid dirty surroundings, stale food, harmful substances and operation theater quality cleanliness.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Bodies and their Drivers

By H R Giger

We talked about this weird thing called body that possesses us and we are seemingly incapable of controlling it much. However we do perceive ourselves as drivers of this biomechanical biodegradable monkey suit. It seems, that we can command it and it takes us wherever we want. In return it demands fuel and rest. It comes with an auto pilot installed - the Ego, which takes care of most of the driving tasks. Its so efficient that people are hardly aware of it and think they are doing all the driving, because it fools us into thinking we are the Ego. The huge colony of cells takes care of most of its functions from growth, repair and fighting invasion of other colonies of cells. The auto pilot ensures preservation, defence and copying of it. The higher mental functions provide it an overall direction. The journey of a body is presented to the Self in its full glory and with all the bells and whistles in Technicolor 3D. The Self merely witnesses this experience, that we call a human experience.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Experience of a Body

By Alex Grey
We will descend down into a body and its experience. This article presents a crazy perspective on it. This is intentional and brutally honest, just because normal is boring.

The waking body

The body is a structure that appears on the screen of the Self just like any other structure. The mental patterns and the world also appear on the same screen. In the state of deep sleep, all these disappear. In the state of dreaming or imagination, a different body or different worlds may appear. In some exotic states of the Mind, the corresponding bodies and worlds may appear as solid and real as those of normal waking state. That’s all I can say about the body as far as my experience goes. Anyhow I will go ahead and note some details about the body and try to draw some clear inferences, whenever possible. In this article we will discuss the body that we experience during waking state of the Mind. This is the most frequent of my experience and hopefully yours too.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Afflictions of the Ego : Part - 3


11. Love and Hate
 
First of all, we have nebulous terms here, so let’s define them. Love and hate are emotions, i.e. internal actions. The internal act that simulates pleasure and security is seen and felt as love, and the internal act that simulates pain and insecurity is hate. Love results in external actions that show attraction or attachment towards the agent causing love, while hate results in repulsion or fear or anger and ultimately in violence. So we can base them on the now familiar pleasure/pain and reward/punishment mechanisms of the Mind. The actions originating from love or hate aid in survival and also add spice to the human experience. All actions of love and hate are perfect, nothing needs to be done about them, however, if one wants to lessen the suffering they eventually cause, one needs to know them intimately. These, like other Egoic tendencies, can turn into afflictions when not controlled consciously. There is no doubt about extreme hate being an affliction of the Ego, but some people may not like to call extreme love an affliction because of it being a positive emotion. Note that any activity of the Ego can go out of hand and become an affliction, including positive ones.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Afflictions of the Ego : Part - 2

Sathariel, Angel of Deception - by Peter Mohrbacher


5.    Sloth

The Mind often tries to save energy and effort by instructing the organism to relax or sleep. This tendency is also seen in humans as an Egoic process. Whenever there is no need to act, no urgency or threat, a slowness takes over the mind and the person loses all desire to act. This is laziness or sloth. Such a person is letting his primitive energy saving programs to take over him. It is alright once in a while, we all need downtime once in a while, but soon this becomes a problem as it becomes a habit. The laziness starts showing up in everyday acts.

A lazy person often covers up this behaviour by making up excuses and sometimes lying. Needless to say, the inactivity and intentional avoidance of actions results in failure to accomplish anything significant. A lazy person achieves nothing most of the time. This has a secondary effect of throwing the person into depression. Sloth makes a person suffer sooner or later. Not only the person suffers himself but also makes others suffer, especially when others depend on him for work, such as his employer.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Afflictions of the Ego : Part - 1


Ego being a part of the Mind, gets afflicted with certain disorders, just like the Mind. It does whatever it does naturally and perfectly, but these operations may not be desirable if you wish to progress on your path. If they stop your progress or retard you, they are seen as afflictions. Many people live their entire life afflicted with these disorders, and suffer or cause suffering for others, but it may not matter if they have no goals. They are on the path of evolution through suffering.
If one is consciously and deliberately trying to walk a path, it becomes necessary to identify and remove these afflictions. It depends how deep one is into the pit of Ego, but sometimes its easy to get out of it. Usually the suffering caused by these afflictions is enough motivation, because the suffering inflicted by the Ego is huge and brutal when compared to the suffering caused by dysfunctions of the higher Mind.

The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.
- Bertrand Russell 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Ego and its tendencies


The Animal Inside by Olympia Altimir

Ego

Ego is a popular term, and therefore, has acquired many meanings. It means “I” or “myself” and it also means something that one owns (e.g. in “my ego is weak” etc). It also means a sense of self-worth, self-esteem (for some odd reason). In Psychology/Psychoanalysis it has been adopted in a more formal way. For the purpose of this discussion, we will define it as a structure in the Mind that deals with survival directly and in a primitive and mechanical fashion. It is also called Mammalian Mind, Lower Mind, and Primitive Mind etc. 

There is also a Reptilian Mind, which is even more primitive and is seen as control system for basic actions. It takes care of some very basic self-preservation activities. E.g. when you are about to fall from your chair, the fear, the feeling of urgency and the actions you take to save yourself or to minimize the damage, all come from reptilian mind. There is often no time to think, or even for primitive strategies to fire up, you must act mechanically and automatically. We can see some physical structures corresponding to these various mental structures. The reptilian part corresponds to the brain stem and spinal cord, the mammalian part corresponds to the limbic system. The cortex and the neo-cortex correspond to the newer and more developed human Mind.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Afflictions of the Mind: Part-6 (Stupidity)


Who's The Fool - by Susanne Clark


Stupidity


Stupidity is a less than optimal functioning of various mental faculties. We have seen the numerous extraordinary gifts a Mind has, and if most of them are not functioning properly, that Mind is afflicted with stupidity. Its symptoms are a general dullness of the Mind, inability to learn new things, new skills,  to understand, comprehend and analyse, and also, inability of logical and critical thinking. In extreme cases a stupid person fails to talk coherently, performs irrational actions, displays a total lack of self control or control over emotions, and can become violent and harmful to others. Stupidity worsens when in a group. A group (such as armies) behaves in extremely stupid ways compared to the individual stupidity. You don't want to be near a mob of stupids.


Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.     
- George Carlin

How would I know if I’m stupid? Probably you won’t know. Stupidity comes with added inability to properly judge one’s own intelligence and also the intelligence of others. A stupid person usually holds himself in high regard and thinks of others in inferior terms. He is incapable of estimating other’s intelligence and is incapable of understanding actions and speech of an intelligent person. When his stupidity is pointed out or some advice is offered, a stupid will often take offense and can turn violent. This makes things very difficult indeed, as there is little that can be done to improve a stupid person.


Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
- Euripides, (480-406 BC)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Afflictions of the Mind: Part-5.2 (Suffering)


Suffering v/s Pain


Sometimes people confuse the two. Pain is a physical process, where the peripheral nervous system is communicating a situation of damage to the central nervous system. This is a healthy occurrence. The body takes proper actions (such as avoiding the damage causing agent, or protecting the damaged parts) and it helps the organism to survive. It is a primitive, yet very effective strategy of the Mind.


When does pain become a suffering? When the person identifies with the pain. The pain happens, it does not “happen to” the person. It is the ignorance of the person that makes him perceive the pain being inflicted on his whole being, when the pain should have been seen only as an uncomfortable sensation happening in the body. It is wise to take action and minimize the pain, than to cry about it, curse the situation, fall into self-pity or hate the agent causing the pain. These are all signs of immaturity and stupidity.


Once there is knowledge that the pain is a physical occurrence, and the damage has been already done, one can take proper action to end the suffering as well as the pain. Pain takes some time to go away, but one need not suffer from it.


Afflictions of the Mind: Part-5.1 (Suffering)


By Fadia Afashe

Suffering - what, why and how.


We have briefly discussed suffering in previous articles. Here, as usual, we are going into the details of it. Suffering is a state of the Mind, characterized by the presence of thoughts, feelings, emotions, internal actions, memories and such mental objects, that are negative in nature. By Negative, I mean, having harmful or destructive consequences [1]. This state of the Mind is quite repulsive, the Mind wants to get rid of it. It is unwanted, unnatural. A person in this state is incapable of thinking correctly, acting wisely or speaking coherently. Such a person is often rendered inactive, but sometimes can also become violent or sick. 


The sensations and reactions caused by suffering are similar in nature to those caused by physical pain [2]. The body and the Mind tries to avoid it, run away from it. Often the Mind gets caught in suffering for days, months and even years. The suffering becomes habitual if not cured and one can spend his whole life in the grip of one or other kinds of suffering. Actually, the current state of humanity is mostly that of suffering, irrespective of classes. This is mind boggling. Man, being the smartest and most capable animal, should have solved this problem within minutes. But we see the exact opposite. The state of the suffering is seen as “normal” by the society, and unless it becomes violent and destructive, nothing is done about it. In extreme cases, the suffering becomes a recognizable mental illness and the person is thrown into isolation or is kept under sedative drugs. So, mostly people have no clue how to solve the problem of suffering.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 4.5 (The Prison of Beliefs)


4. 5 Resistance

We have gone through the broad kinds of beliefs. This is not a textbook classification, just my own understanding from my own experiences with beliefs. So I must have left out a few kinds or created a few new kinds. But classification is not important, the important issue is to be free from all beliefs. We have already seen how this can be a difficult goal. One can encounter some difficulties when one tries to force the beliefs out of his Mind. They are integral part of a person, his life and perhaps many lives. The essential task on the path to freedom is to destroy all beliefs and let the Self shine as it is, in its purest form. It all starts from getting rid of beliefs that are superficial and then slowly digging them out of the depths of the Mind. It can take a lifetime or perhaps many lives.


The first difficulty one may find is that people don’t know that they have beliefs. Many people are often surrounded by others with same/similar beliefs. That’s how one gets a major portion of beliefs – via indoctrination, socio-cultural brainwashing. It helps to question everything, helps to explore new ideas and contradicting beliefs, and to remain open minded but critical of all indirect knowledge.


The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 4.4 (The Prison of Beliefs)



4.4 Scientific Theories and Mathematical Models

Milton Visiting Galileo by Granger, 1638

Scientific Theories

Scientific theories (henceforth just theories) are beliefs about physical phenomena [1]. These beliefs try to explain the hows, whats and whys regarding the phenomena. For example, the theory of gravity tries to explain the attraction of masses. The belief here is that there is something called gravity that is pulling objects with some property called mass. The concepts - gravity and mass are mere assumptions, beliefs.


Obviously, theories are very useful. Once we have the concepts of gravity, mass etc, say, we can deduce equations, relations, behaviours from experimentation and mathematics and can build buildings, airplanes, boats, send people to the Moon and what not. So why would any sane person call theories an affliction? They become an affliction only when we forget that they are just beliefs, and take them as fact and nothing but fact. I’m sure most of the “educated” folk think that the ideas like gravity, electromagnetism, fundamental particles etc are nothing but truths. After all that’s what their textbooks taught them.


Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 4.3 (The Prison of Beliefs)


4.3 Indirect Knowledge, Delusions, Doubts, Attachments and Myths


Indirect Knowledge


These are the most common type of beliefs and when one says the word belief, this is what is mostly meant. Indirect knowledge is any knowledge that is not based on first hand direct experience. Indirect knowledge is just information, not real knowledge. So why do we call it knowledge at all? Firstly, the information can be converted into knowledge most of the time (if the seeker is willing to take that trouble) and secondly, some of the information originates from the direct experience of another person. It is up to the knowledge seeker to trust (have faith) on that person. Traditionally indirect knowledge has been a recommended method for gaining knowledge on the path of knowledge (includes scriptures and teachers). However, one need not be content with such knowledge, ideally speaking, and should go ahead and gain a direct experience of the matter. Until that is done, one needs to clearly understand that the indirect knowledge is just a belief.


I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

- Richard Feynman, The Making of a Scientist, p. 14

Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 4.2 (The Prison of Beliefs)


  
4.2 Cognitive Biases, Gross Generalizations, Superstitions and Faith

Cognitive Biases

Or simply biases, they are aberrations in the Mind that prevent a person from thinking correctly. These are so universal that one can call them inherent. These have deep roots in evolutionary history of the Mind, and also are caused due to socio-cultural indoctrination [1]. What a bias does is, makes one reach illogical or incorrect conclusion by injecting a belief in the thinking process. This is often fully automatic and the person is not even aware of his bias. Sometimes even when the presence of a bias is shown, the person refuses to accept it, reason – justification of belief – "I cannot be wrong", aka stupidity.

There are hundreds of biases, and surprisingly (or not!) not many people are aware of them. Many psychological and social studies have been done on them and exotic names are assigned to them. Here is an extensive list of biases if you are interested and unbiased towards reading them: List of cognitive biases.


One need not memorize the list, just knowing that one can have these biases helps to remain uninfluenced by them. However, I recommend doing a small exercise – read them and see them if you are afflicted by some of them, or most of them. This alone will raise your awareness sufficiently, if you are open minded, it will start a process of cleansing them from your Mind. Awareness is the key. Once you know, you don’t have any excuse to be biased again.


I’m going to mention some of the common ones, because we all suffer from them. Here is a short list:


Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 4.1 (The Prison of Beliefs)

4. The Prison of Beliefs

Plato's Cave by Lalita Hamill

4.1 What is a Belief?

We have already discussed beliefs previously in brief. Here I’m going to peel the onions, do hair splitting and perform surgery on them. This is needed because beliefs are one of the most dangerous afflictions of the Mind. A belief is an assumption, an unfounded idea. It masquerades in the form of knowledge. It is a partial or false knowledge, a structure in the Mind, that lacks solidity of experience to support it. A belief is an epitome of ignorance. These will serve as some definitions for the term belief [1].

A belief is a poor substitute for knowledge. If I tell you a story, which is beyond your experience, you have only two options, either to believe it or disbelieve it. Any of them are not going to take you anywhere. I want you to know.
- Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (Paraphrased)


If you look at beliefs via the microscope of self-observation, you will find that they are mental structures called Concepts. So a belief is not a new entity, it is just an idea, a concept, a higher level abstraction. So why do we need a new word, a new definition? Because a belief is a concept that is erroneous. It is an assumption that takes the form of knowledge. It does not come from experience. A concept that is firmly founded on direct experience is knowledge. When you see beliefs, you will find no solid experiences, no impressions, no memories, no logical chains of thought there, they just simply hang in air.A belief is never founded on experience, it is derived from other sources. It can also be an erroneous interpretation of an experience, which again means that the interpretation is unfounded. A belief can be based on other beliefs, which makes the matter more convoluted, because the person may believe that it is based on a fact, and so is a fact. It is easy to get lost in the jungle of beliefs. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Afflictions of the Mind : Part - 3 (Impulses and Desires)



The Announcement by Luis Royo

 

3. Impulses and Desires

As we have seen in the article on Intentions, there are certain activities of the Mind, certain processes that incite action. This is an extraordinary gift, to be able to act and cause a change in one’s surroundings merely via non-physical processes. Actions produce consequences and the Mind learns from them, it evolves and progresses further. As I’ve said, everything starts with an intention. It is very important that one sees how intentions arise and cause actions. This can be done by conscious observation, and the actions can be stopped in many cases by the act of choice. 


Intentions arise as Experiencing, a continuous motion in Presence, they are mostly automatic. They arise out of the vast store of impressions in the Mind [1]. In my opinion, it is not possible to consciously stop an intention from appearing, but it is possible to either ignore it or to act on it once it is already there. An untrained Mind has very little capability to see and choose whether to act or not on an intention, and it is here that these uncontrolled processes take the form of an affliction. Uncontrolled intentions take hold of the person and make him do things of which he is barely aware, causing a lot of negative consequences, suffering and pain for himself and also for others.


Monday, 15 August 2016

Afflictions of the Mind : Part -2 (The Trick of Time)



Persistence of memory - Salvador Dali

 

2. The Trick of Time

We have already seen how the Mind employs a neat trick to put all the experiences in an easily accessible sequence. It uses an axis called time and marks the events on it. Experiences happen, they don’t come with a time stamp attached to them, the Mind adds the stamp. It makes the experiences more organized and their recall (simulation via impressions) easier. Whenever there is a change, there is an experience, or we can as well define an experience as Change (which we have already done, see Experiencing). So change is more fundamental. Some changes happen at seemingly regular fashion, such as change of a day into night, orbit of the earth around the Sun and vibrations of atoms. This allows us to compare an irregular change with regular one, and we can express the irregular change in terms of regular one. Thus the Physical Time is born, which is just a regular change, it is not an entity, as it does not exists as such, its merely a concept. We use devices, clocks, to count the regular changes. Comparing an irregular experience with the counts of a clock immediately gives more information about the change, and the concepts of slow or fast are created. Now we can stamp a number on an event, making it even more structured. Physical time is derived from physical changes that happen around us, but there is another time – the Subjective Time, which is based on mental changes, and has no correspondence with physical one [3].


Monday, 1 August 2016

Afflictions of the Mind : Part-1 (Deception of the senses)




We will now begin a series of articles on afflictions of the Mind. Afflictions are undesirable side effects produced by the highly complex processes that occur in the Mind. While bearing in the mind that the afflictions are also perfect, there is nothing wrong with them and there is no natural law that compels anyone to remove them, we will still try to see what are the possible ways to see them clearly and in case of extremely dysfunctional ones, how one can eradicate them effectively. There are certain tricks that I learned from great masters, that I found work nicely in my experience, however, everyone has a unique Mind and these may or may not work for all. This is not an article on medical/psychological matters, so those who are crazy beyond repair will not find it useful. These afflictions are seen as "normal" by the human society, and are good examples of socially accepted madness. Those who are on the path, know them very well and strive to stay uninfluenced by them.

How can I know that I'm afflicted? Everyone is, don't worry. The telltale sign of afflictions is suffering and bondage. That is the main motivation behind hunting them down. It is not really important to completely cure them, in most cases, simply being aware of them is enough.


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-10


Continued from Part-9

26. Ethics

There are certain actions that enhance structure and lower the entropy or help to maintain the structures intact. These actions (internal or external) gain favour over others and are marked by the Mind as Good or Right. Usually such actions are rewarded by the Mind with pleasure, and evoke pleasant feelings and positive emotions. The actions that are destructive and increase the entropy in the Mind are marked as Bad or Wrong. These are punished and evoke unpleasant feelings and negative emotions. We are again in the duality here as usual. The spectrum of actions is coloured entirely, ranging from extremely bad to extremely good.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-9






Enso (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D)


 Continued from Part-8

25.    Aesthetics

Being a creator of the structure, the Mind has an affinity for structure, organization, elegance and meaningfulness, all these being indicators of low entropy. Whenever it recognizes a highly organized formation, it is pleased, it effluxes pleasure and agreement. We perceive this reaction of the Mind as Beauty. Mind is instantly attracted towards beauty, which it attributes as a quality of the internal or external contents. The object invoking beauty is perceived as beautiful, a quality now externalized and projected onto the object itself. It seems that the appreciation of beauty is purely an internal act, unconnected to the contents, more to do with how the Mind recognizes the structure. There can be degrees of beauty, from a mildly attractive object to a mesmerizing one. Interestingly, and it should be no surprise, the degree of beauty goes into negative scale as well and something that is highly disorganized or lacking any harmony is perceived as Ugly, a feeling resulting in a repulsive action. Clearly we are dealing in duality here, like most other aspects of the Mind.


Friday, 8 July 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-8



Continued from Part-7

By Alex Grey


23.    Pleasure and Pain

We have seen in the previous articles that the Mind has an ability to perceive. It organizes the experiences gained via external and internal senses into knowledge. This is an evolutionary process, and is biased towards a certain goal, namely, the sustenance of the Mind. Anything that is unnecessary for the existence of the Mind is simply not organized or is organized very weakly. The goal of the Mind to remain in existence is auto-set, it is by necessity, because any other goals that may appear are destroyed sooner or later by the impermanence (continuous change, the Experiencing). This goal biases the perception process and almost all actions of the Mind and results in a reward/punishment system, that rewards (enhances) favourable perceptions/actions and punishes (diminishes) the non-favourable ones. Such a system is at the core of any evolutionary algorithm, as AI/AGI programmers/researchers know very well [1].

The rewards cause the behaviour/actions/perception helpful in sustenance and preservation of the Mind to repeat often and strengthen the structures, while the punishments cause the unhelpful or damaging behaviour/actions/perception to diminish and destroys the structures that cause these or creates new structures to prevent the damages. The reward and punishment are also perceived, they are the familiar perceptions of pleasure and pain. They appear as qualia, a distinct experience that cannot be shared with others (such as the experience of seeing colors), but can only be inferred. Why is there a need to perceive the rewards and punishments as “flavours” of pleasure and pain? This is same as asking why is there a need to perceive colors and why do they look like the way they look like, or in other words – why is red, red? These are just structures, non-physical ones, a result of unique experiences, created to help organize the experiences (As we have seen in the case of time and space). The pleasure and pain provide a useful tool for biasing the Mind towards continued existence. Their perception is a meta-process that aids in their recognition and memory formation. One tends to remember the experiences that cause extreme pain or pleasure. These cause very effective learning.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-7




Stairway to the sky by Megatruh

Continued from Part-6.

20.    Planning

The Mind, being the creator of the time, can extrapolate the events in future. Mind can imagine events and can tag them as happening in the future. The Mind can estimate the likely sequence of events, it can predict them. Also, it can estimate the consequences of an action. Certain events, such as physical processes, follow neat mathematical laws and their outcome can be determined more accurately. Certain processes follow statistical laws and their outcome can be estimated as probabilities. Sometimes the Mind relies on intuition to get a guess-estimate of the outcome. Some events, like the behaviour of a stranger, are unpredictable, and the Mind uses some thumb rules to deal with such situations, the rules being a result of its experiences with such situations.

Given the above set of abilities, it is possible to organize one’s actions so that a certain outcome is achieved. This is the process of Planning. It is deliberate, intended and often a conscious process. As we know, intentions or desires are a result of mental activity, an outcome of experiences, they are the trigger for actions, and so are triggers for planning too. Planning is delayed action.


Monday, 27 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-6


 
by Vladimir Kush


Continued from Part-5

17.    Creativity

The Experiencing results in novelty, or creation, which the Mind can detect and express. This is the creative power of the Mind. As such the Mind cannot create, it merely organizes the experiences. That itself can be seen as a creative ability, but it is a result of auto-processes like the Fundamental Process. The Mind discovers novelty, understands beauty, produces combinations of old and new, and sometimes whimsical distortions which appear novel.


Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there's no particular virtue in doing things the way they always have been done.
- Rudolf Flesch

Some people are exceptionally good at it. Such as, the artists in the areas of fine arts. Some amazing examples of creativity are seen in the areas of science and technology, where the creative ability is also useful in addition to being beautiful. Creativity is closely linked with aesthetic ability, so a creation not only needs to be novel but also beautiful and elegant. The ability of being creative and original is recognized as primary in order to gain material success. One can be successful in worldly pursuits via hard work and drudgery or can be a little creative and need not work much. So we see that creativity is a major component of intelligence.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-5



Continued from Part-4


15.    Intuition

 
When there is insufficient information or knowledge, or confusing situations/uncertainty, the Mind sometimes comes up with solutions, scenarios or answers without conscious effort, thinking or logical analysis.  This is intuition or a hunch. It comes up mostly as a feeling, which shows that it is a result of some deep processing, usually inaccessible for the ordinary thought process. It also has a distinct flavour of unreliability, since it seems it is not well founded. How reliable is it? It ranges from very useful and meaningful to useless and nonsensical.


Intuition is a suspension of logic due to impatience.
- Rita Mae Brown

Should we take decisions based on intuitions and act on them? It depends on what other options are open. If there is an option where something can be done about the lacking knowledge or information, then it is better to seek that first. If there is no sufficient time to do it, then there is no option but to act on the intuition. If there is sufficient time and its still not possible to get the required knowledge, it is better to wait anyway and let the Mind come up with alternatives, or sometimes it can reveal the foundation on which the intuition was based. 


Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-4


Continued from Part-3


13.    Learning
 

The Mind can form new structures and new programs via interactions with its environment. Learning is a result of action and perception engraving new structures in the Mind. Learning results in new knowledge, and also affects subsequent actions and perceptions. Learning happens all the time, conscious/deliberate or unconscious/automatic. Better learning takes place if a particular experience is repeated frequently, because repetition strengthens the mental structures. Impermanence ensures that less frequent exposures erase the impressions and knowledge formed, if any (aka Forgetting).

All experiences result in some kind of learning, however, novel experiences cause more learning, obviously. When there are no structures, everything will tend to form a structure, and that becomes the base. When a baby is born, all his experiences are novel and an immense amount of learning happens, most of which is automatic. So now we can appreciate why it is necessary to learn things at an young age that cause positive outcomes. The experiences gained in childhood form a foundation, and that can result in anything from a sage to a criminal [1]. 


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind:Part-3




Continued from Part-2

11.    Attention

 
The Mind has an ability to selectively present just one experience to the Self out of many possible. It can attend to one input out of many or can shift the presentation from one to the other successively. This can be done by devoting more resources of the Mind to one particular experience and withdrawing the processing of others momentarily. It is also known as Concentration. A great ability, without it intentional learning is impossible. The Mind has some control over it, although not much, and like many other abilities, attention also needs to be sharpened by practice.

There are special structures that allow attention and we can see their physical counterparts in the brain (inferred from the books, I can’t really see it). So like any other mental structure, this one can also be built up stronger and better. It is perhaps the most important ability, if you wish to manipulate the Mind and improvise it. The attention is mostly directed outwards (via senses towards the world), but with practice it can also be directed inwards (towards the mental contents). This is beneficial when you need to “watch” what is happening inside the Mind. One must pay attention inwardly in order to become conscious of the contents and processes.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind : Part-2





Lost-Identity - Artist: Tomasz Alen Kopera

 

We have explored some basic capabilities of the Mind in Part-1 of this topic. We continue onward and explore some more of the extraordinary abilities and peculiarities a Mind has.

6.    Identity and Personality

Contents appear in the experience, they belong to no one, no one owns them. Yet the Mind has a feature that tags many contents as strongly relating with an entity called the Identity or a Person or an Individual. A person is the sum total of the experiences, a large collection of knowledge in the Mind, abstracted as a container (or owner) of those experiences and their structures. The Person or the individual is thus nothing but a Content, a structure in the Mind. It is also experienced.

Does a person has a Mind or does the Mind has a person? Very interesting question. There is no trace of any personality when a child is born, but the Mind is fully present. It takes some time to develop a personality, as the collection of experiences grows. Initially the child does not even own a name, he has to be told and reminded often, what he should answer when someone asks for “his name”. With more and more experiences, the Mind learns to separate the experiences into two – “I” and “not-I”, “mine” and “not mine” etc. Structures are formed which are strongly related to other structures depending on the importance of those structures for the sustenance of the Mind. More important a structure is for its sustenance, more is the “I-ness”. For example the knowledge of one’s name and one’s gender gets strongly related to his all other experiences, and is seen as “I – the name” or “I – the male” etc. This I is a container of the Contents, and the container is also a Content, since the container/I is also experienced.