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.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Extraordinary Gift of the Mind : Part-1

Presence in its activity of Experiencing gets bound by the Fundamental Process which results in organizing of the experiences, which we call knowledge. The Fundamental Process shapes this activity in many ways, like running water shapes the land. It takes the form of an entity where we can lump together activities of organizing. This entity has already been introduced as the Mind. It feeds on itself creating more organization, more structure, more meaning and more activity. This is by necessity, because an entity which does not do this will surely not be there to be experienced as a structure, given the force of impermanence. If you are wondering what these sentences mean, then probably you jumped into the middle of it all, so please read previous entries to make a head and tail out of this text.

The self sustaining mega structure, the Mind is truly an extraordinary thing. I think the Presence is proud of it, it is the beloved child of the Presence. The love is so deep that in the form of the Self, Presence thinks it is one with the Mind. It is all good, until the suffering begins. Well, how come suffering just appeared here out of nowhere in this pure love of the mother and the child? Did Mind come with a built in suffering generator? Did the Fundamental Process left it there as a bug, while calling it a feature ;-)?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Creating the Experience

We have seen in the previous articles, some strange property of the Presence is responsible for the birth of the Self. By "property" I mean its ability to be either as a static witness or just as existence. When it assumes the form of a witness, it experiences itself as Self, otherwise it remains as Experiencing. It means, it can become two, while being only one, quite paradoxically. The two being the experience and the experiencer. But it does not stop there, it wants to become many.

We now explore this even stranger aspect of the Presence, which is the Experiencing. Its not merely a random process of modulations happening in the Presence, it has some interesting properties. Not only does Experiencing form impressions on the Presence, it also self-organizes itself in the form of various structures [8]. It’d be equivalent to say that the Presence self-organizes itself. Or in other words, it creates. The structures thus created are the Creation.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Secret Life of the Self

By Android Jones

This is the secret of spiritual life: to think that I am the Atman and not the body, and that the whole of this universe with all its relations, with all its good and all its evil, is but as a series of paintings - scenes on a canvas - of which I am the witness.
-Swami Vivekananda

We have seen in the previous article that the Self arises as a result of the process of Experiencing that is taking place in the Presence. Experiencing is just modulations of Presence, so the Self is nothing but one such modulation. In essence, Self is Presence, like everything else is…. although its much more pure form of Presence compared to other forms. One can say that it’s just one step away from the Presence.

Self can be experienced, just as anything else can be. The act of experiencing the Self is truly wonderful. It’s the knower knowing itself. A blissful feeling. Presence likes to do it. This experience is also called self-awareness or self-consciousness. Nowadays, it’s a fashion to call it simply as Consciousness. It literally means to know together. The problem with this word is that its being used as a noun, verb and adjective all in one! This causes confusion. As a noun, its same as the Self (the experiencer or the knower). As a verb it’s the act of experiencing (as in, to be conscious of a thing), and as an adjective, it’s a quality that something has. Its also called the Witness consciousness or simply, the witness.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Presence, Experience and Knowledge

By Salvador Dali

Experiencing as being

I'm very very sure of one thing - something exists. Actually that's all I'm sure of. I have no other knowledge, no other experience of which I’m so sure of. I'm going to define that "something" as Presence. Its merely a term I'm going to use for something that I'm so sure of. The Presence is going through a process, which I'm going to call Experiencing, and an Experience is then defined as an arbitrary slice of Experiencing. I can’t deny that there is Experiencing of Presence, however hard I try, and no one can. Denial or falsification is also an experience, and that makes it absolutely undeniable that there is Experiencing and/or Presence. What can be so convincing, so solid, so self-evident? So we are on a very firm ground here, it’s a good place to start, perhaps it’s the only place to start.

The modulations in Presence give rise to Experiencing. That's all there is, rest is merely details. Don't ask me what this thing called Presence is, and why are there any modulations or changes in it at all, how and why is this happening.... I have no idea. Grab a good book on Metaphysics to know what the great masters think about all this. I can assure you that nobody knows. Its paradoxical that something so evident and intimate is absolutely unknowable ! Well, welcome to the country of mystics, this is not your first surprise....

The Path of the Heart

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुर्गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः
गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary.

This question is one that only a very old man asks. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”
― Carlos Castaneda,The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

I was introduced to the phrase "The path with a heart" many many years ago via some books by Carlos Castaneda about his teacher Don Juan. I didn't understand much, the books appeared mostly cryptic and went over my head. Anyhow, the phrase made some impression on me, as later on, it became clear what he was talking about, it was something that I was searching for since the beginning. I have readopted this concept as "The path of the heart" [1]. This version of the phrase is somewhat more clear but less poetic, and we will now discuss what it actually is and why it is so important.