First- and second-order awareness

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First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:54 pm

Okay, so there's this low-level knowing of stuff received by the six senses (mind/thought included as a sense) that we call awareness.

I see two flavors of awareness: first-order and second-order.

First-order awareness is simply knowing. When you read this with first-order awareness, you know = are aware of the succession of words, the way they sound in your head, your interpretation of their meaning, etc.

Second-order awareness, awareness of awareness, is knowing that you are knowing. When you read this with second-order awareness, you are aware of the first-order awareness = you know that you know.

We engage in first-order awareness pretty much all the time, even when we're asleep. Second-order awareness is much rarer and tends not to come naturally to us, must instead be learned and cultivated.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:57 pm

A question that keeps rearing its ? for me is:

What, if anything, is the "value added" (to the human experience) of second-order awareness?

It's clearly not a key survival strategy of evolution, or it would come more naturally/often to the 99% of us who are not trained in formal meditation or other practices that nurture second-order awareness.

And yet many of the self-inquiry philosophies maintain that awareness of awareness is the highest form of waking consciousness.

For me, second-order awareness sometimes feels utterly right (as in: Why don't I do this all the time?), and other times feels like a middle-man that separates me from the immediacy of pure experience.

Whatchas think?
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Baba Bozo » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:27 pm

Using the proven principles of bloviational science and bombastic mathematics, we could perhaps hypothesize the following mechanical explanation of awareness to a high degree of arrogant certainty, assuming of course that we have accounted for flatulent distortion in our calculations.

Thought is inherently divisive. It operates by a process of division. All else flows from this fundamental property of the medium of thought.

Awareness is just one thought stream dividing from the other thought streams and looking back upon them. I am thinking. I is one thought stream, thinking is another. It is this "multi-threaded" ability of thought which is the source of all our power, and most of our personal, and thus social, problems.

Tolle students may learn to create a second "I" which observes the first "I". Or hey, how about a third, and then a fourth too. Who knows how far the division could go?

Some great sages might opine that they already have one "me" whose messes they have to clean up, why create any more? :-)
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:45 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:Awareness is just one thought stream dividing from the other thought streams and looking back upon them. I am thinking. I is one thought stream, thinking is another.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe awareness is not a thought stream, but the open mental space in which thought streams arise and can be seen.

Either way, what comes of aware-ing that you are aware-ing that does not come when you simply aware?
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby dijmart » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:00 pm

First order, is mind/emotion states and most are at that level and know nothing else. Where second order is the witness of those states and the space between them. Can the witness be witnessed? If the witness has interest in what is seen or self interest in it, then that is not the pure witness, but a form of the mind still and that itself is seen by the pure witness.

Or that's what I think and my musing for this Saturday morning.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Baba Bozo » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:17 pm

rachMiel wrote:Maybe awareness is not a thought stream, but the open mental space in which thought streams arise and can be seen.


Seen by who? Any "who" is made of thought, so the moment of seeing returns us to that realm.

Of course, "we" can never leave the realm of thought in the first place, as "me" is made of thought. There isn't a "me" which can step outside of thought, and escape the inherently divisive properties of that medium. "I am observing" still includes an "I". I is a thought, or rather, a complex collection of them.

Meditation is a form of death. Many of us are trying to capture and cage that death and keep it as our own personal property. But of course, at the very moment we attempt to capture death, we are alive again, and so it slips from our grasp.

Because we are drenched in thought, and thus our egos are obsessed with glorious becoming trips, we are making all of this far too complicated.

When we are hungry, we eat something. And this never permanently ends the need for food. Simple. We accept this simpleness.

When we are tired, we lay down and rest. And this never ends the need for sleep. Simple. We accept this simpleness.

When we are crazy, we can take a break from thinking. And this never solves this problem forever either. Simple. And we can accept this simpleness too.

All these complications are part of a greedy becoming trip which pursues a illusory permanent solution to our psychological pains.

Not going to happen.

Again, even Tolle still feels the need for money, power and fame.

We should be grateful that we can indeed become more skilled at managing the inevitable price tag of thought. That's a true gift, enough in itself. Why should we demand more?

If we hand a hungry man a sandwich he will have the sense to say "Thank you!" The hungry man is not so greedy as to demand, "You should feed me every day for the rest of my life."

rachMiel wrote:Either way, what comes of aware-ing that you are aware-ing that does not come when you simply aware?


More self obsession? :-)
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Rob X » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:25 pm

I'm getting the sense that there are really (at least) three levels going on here.

The first of these levels might be thought of as unconsciously aware. By this I mean the type of awareness that's the case when we have driven ten miles to get home without having any recollection of the journey, negotiating traffic, stopping at lights etc. Perhaps many animals have this level of awareness.

The next we might call consciously aware: when we are awake to our experience we are consciously aware. Things just happen as they happen and are registered in awareness in real-time. When we are out walking we are present with what is occurring - we are not lost in internal narrative, we are not missing stuff and we have a high level of recollection of our activities.

I think that it's a further subtle step to be conscious of a subject of consciousness as this is happening. This we might call, consciously self-aware. Here there is a subtle narrative that reminds me 'I am aware'. It's here where a sense of a middle-man might arise. I don't see any value in a continual reflection that I am aware. I think that it is already the case in a weak sense anyway when we are simply consciously aware - it just doesn't need to be explicit.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:53 pm

I'm not sure I fully fathom the difference between your unconscious and conscious awarenesses. Is it:

unconscious awareness = first-order awareness = I am aware of the traffic signal, I act on this awareness (stop), but I am not aware (i.e. I don't know) that I am aware of it.
conscious awareness = second-order awareness = I am aware of the traffic signal, and I am aware of (know) this awareness as it is happening.

?
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:58 pm

dijmart wrote:First order, is mind/emotion states and most are at that level and know nothing else. Where second order is the witness of those states and the space between them.

Does the witness add anything "of value" to the experience?

I realize that asking about the value of something is grounded in judgment and dualism ... but I'll let it stand. :-)
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:14 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:
rachMiel wrote:Maybe awareness is not a thought stream, but the open mental space in which thought streams arise and can be seen.

Seen by who? Any "who" is made of thought, so the moment of seeing returns us to that realm.

Not seen by any who/subject ... just seen. Is this possible, seeing with no see-er?

Meditation is a form of death. Many of us are trying to capture and cage that death and keep it as our own personal property. But of course, at the very moment we attempt to capture death, we are alive again, and so it slips from our grasp.

It's like Krishnamurti's River 2. River 1 is the explicate river, the one we can see as it flows along (and us with it), the world of consensual reality. River 2 is the implicate river, forever invisible to us, the underlying reality. The moment you think you see or understand River 2, you are not seeing or understanding River 2. And yet, to paraphrase my Buddhist teacher: River 2 is all there ultimately is.

All these complications are part of a greedy becoming trip which pursues a illusory permanent solution to our psychological pains.

This happens quite a bit, I'd guess. But not always.

Either way, what comes of aware-ing that you are aware-ing that does not come when you simply aware?

More self obsession? :-)

Again, a definite possibility, but not an inevitability.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:45 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:Seen by who? Any "who" is made of thought, so the moment of seeing returns us to that realm.


Is it? Or is it merely the 'ego self' that perhaps that you're confusing with (I AM), and that ego self is certainly made of thought.

Self Reductionism is a limited approach in my opinion and can lead to a belief that there is no 'I AM'. Yet, amongst it all, I AM is still what is.

I AM....is not a thought, until I start trying to analyze I AM and give it properties. I AM is the only truth I know if. I AM.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Rob X » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:00 pm

rachMiel wrote:I'm not sure I fully fathom the difference between your unconscious and conscious awarenesses. Is it:

unconscious awareness = first-order awareness = I am aware of the traffic signal, I act on this awareness (stop), but I am not aware (i.e. I don't know) that I am aware of it.
conscious awareness = second-order awareness = I am aware of the traffic signal, and I am aware of (know) this awareness as it is happening. ?


I'm not too sure either. I think I just replaced your original concept with mine. :D

When we do things unconsciously it's like we are on automatic. Awareness almost doesn't come into it - but it must be there on some level.

Consciousness awareness is simply being present with events as they unfold. But there is no explicit sense that I am conscious of being conscious. That sounds like a further reflection to me.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Rob X » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:43 pm

rachMiel wrote:Not seen by any who/subject ... just seen. Is this possible, seeing with no see-er?


For me, the question, who sees? is no different to the question, who pees? And it can be answered on one of two levels; the consensual/everyday/relative level or the ultimate level.

Ultimately it's the Universe/Absolute/Source. Relatively it occurs through a body mind.

Seeing (and all else) can be described/analysed by thought but is not (as E2B points out) thought only. To say otherwise takes us into the territory of metaphysical idealism.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:49 pm

Rob X wrote:I'm not too sure either. I think I just replaced your original concept with mine. :D

May the best concept win! ;-)

When we do things unconsciously it's like we are on automatic. Awareness almost doesn't come into it - but it must be there on some level.

Yes, especially for that last part. You're not unaware when you're driving on autopilot, you're just not consciously aware ... aware of being aware ... or something like that.

Consciousness awareness is simply being present with events as they unfold.

But you're always present to some extent with events that you're aware of, right? Even if you're not conscious of that presence.

Maybe it's not a toggle switch kind of thing: You are first-order aware, you are second-order aware, etc. Maybe it's more like: degree of awareness, a fader instead of on/off switch.

When on autopilot, the fader is turned down to its minimal functional level. When you're very present, the fader is turned way up.
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Re: First- and second-order awareness

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:50 pm

Baba Bozo wrote:Tolle students may learn to create a second "I" which observes the first "I". Or hey, how about a third, and then a fourth too. Who knows how far the division could go?


Former poster KeyMaster used to talk about the 'split mind', and it's similar to what you're saying, and might be relevant for some people.

Yet, self realization does not, in any way, require a creation of a separate 'I'. If I may explain....

There is only 'I AM'. What I choose to identify that 'I AM' as, is entirely dependent on my level of awareness. If I choose to focus my attention on one aspect of my experience and in turn, create a belief about that part of my experience through thought, then I, become a more limited 'I AM', and in turn, the 'ego' perspective. I AM' is no longer just 'I AM'. It is now.....'I AM......THAT'. (Nisargadatta didn't like the name of his book and wanted to change it to simply 'I AM' which likely would have made more sense)

But, when I start to allow and allow and allow all to be in my experience as it is, anxieties, suffering, happiness and all and just hold it all, in the space that I AM, then, I stop identifying with a single aspect of my experience, and there is simply.....I AM. I realize....there is no separation and nothing that is not I AM. Because I AM, is not merely just an aspect of my experience (unless I perceive it to be), but I AM, through allowance, is just I AM. Unconditional, non-judgmental Being is all there is.

So, as you see, there is no separate 'I' that we are creating. The 'I' is entirely dependent on what I (as I AM, experiencing itself as a perceived separate aspect of itself) to believe that 'I' to be. At times, I can see clearly that 'I AM' is all there is. Other times, 'I AM.....this body/mind and all of it's problems'.

Initial awakening, is an identification process or de-identification process as I see it. The ego perspective (while having a very valuable purpose, which is for another thread), is not who I AM ultimately. It is only who I believe myself to be through thought. When I awaken, I realize that......I simply AM.

Regardless, no matter how unlimited I, might realize myself to be, I'm still limited on some level, while experiencing via this body/mind.

The real meat of spirituality after awakening, is understanding how we can enact our free will as I AM, to consciously experience the life most aligned with our nature. I feel we all come here on a path. Once that path to awakening happens, the choices are endless potentially.
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