Isn't ego a chemical construct?

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James
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by James » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:54 pm

Yes it is everywhere.. thanks for the video Andy.

lord12, It may be helpful in the beginning to see oneself as a witness to the mind, or so called egoic patterns, body and objects, but that is a step along the way, a partial glimpse of truth; and there may be many more glimpses or deepening realizations, until it becomes clear that the observer and the observed are one and the same. So If we are dividing reality into separate components (such as consciousness and neural chemical patterns) then it is an incomplete glimpse. This quote comes to mind: "As long as there is a distinction between nirvana and samsarsa, it is still samsara."
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

18andlife
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by 18andlife » Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:28 pm

gen6 wrote:But as far as science has advanced, considering evolution, it's very likely that everything that happens to you is a product of your brain.
Kutso said something interesting in one of the threads the other day - what if some skilled scientist could take your brain out of your head still connected with wires and place your brain on the table in front of you? How would you see it? Would the image of your brain which you see with your eyes be a product of your brain, if so, how could it see itself?

The other thing I wanted to add was a very pivital quote from The Baumann Institute's "DISCOVERY OF AWARENESS" study which featured extensive interviews with the likes of Loch Kelly, and Adyashanti:

"There was another experience that I had in deep sleep – it’s close to indescribable if at all describable­ ‐ where I could see that awareness doesn’t depend on the brain, which was one of the things that I still held to, that there must be a connection between awareness and the brain. But I knew that my electronical (brain) pattern wouldn’t allow for awareness in that very moment because everything was just dead asleep, and yet I was having the experience of spacious awareness. That just showed me that it’s exactly the same awareness in all states."

..

BTW: that was an awesome dialogue eariler in the thread Ananda! One of the best I have ever seen on this site.

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gen6
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by gen6 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:56 pm

18andlife wrote:
gen6 wrote:But as far as science has advanced, considering evolution, it's very likely that everything that happens to you is a product of your brain.
Kutso said something interesting in one of the threads the other day - what if some skilled scientist could take your brain out of your head still connected with wires and place your brain on the table in front of you? How would you see it? Would the image of your brain which you see with your eyes be a product of your brain, if so, how could it see itself?

The other thing I wanted to add was a very pivital quote from The Baumann Institute's "DISCOVERY OF AWARENESS" study which featured extensive interviews with the likes of Loch Kelly, and Adyashanti:

"There was another experience that I had in deep sleep – it’s close to indescribable if at all describable­ ‐ where I could see that awareness doesn’t depend on the brain, which was one of the things that I still held to, that there must be a connection between awareness and the brain. But I knew that my electronical (brain) pattern wouldn’t allow for awareness in that very moment because everything was just dead asleep, and yet I was having the experience of spacious awareness. That just showed me that it’s exactly the same awareness in all states."

..

BTW: that was an awesome dialogue eariler in the thread Ananda! One of the best I have ever seen on this site.
what if some skilled scientist could take your brain out of your head still connected with wires and place your brain on the table in front of you? How would you see it? Would the image of your brain which you see with your eyes be a product of your brain, if so, how could it see itself?
What do you mean how would I see it :lol: That's a lol question. If my brain is taken out of my head and still connected with my eyes with wires of course I'm gonna see the brain, the brain is going to see itself, so what? You think that when a patient is having surgery with half skull cut off he can't see himself in the mirror? Of course he can. I just don't get the point of the question. I really don't see what's the problem with the brain seeing itself. Am I missing something here...

For this guy with the story, as I said he cannot FEEL that awareness is separate, that's a trick. On the other hand, brain has many sides, many that we don't about, I personally have experienced things that nobody else that I know or read in internet has experienced and I know things about my brain that others do not about their brain. I've experienced countless of odd states that are not not typical for a healthy brain and mine was not healthy as well, that's why I had this chance, you will be surprised of how many things can change for you just with a little change in your brain, some chemistry, some region of the brain. The awareness, the bliss, the consciousness, the self-consciousness...I mean.....I've had more than enough time to see that those are all product of my brain! Simple logical proof from my experience.
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by Ananda » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:15 am

The problem with the materialist assumption of awareness is that it does not resolve or adress the inherent problem of ego and yet nor does it offer any sort of alternative explanation either. It essentialy consolidates awareness into a category of the body and then does not touch it again, nor does it even explain it. The issue here is that awareness is beyond any type of philosophical meandering or speculation, it is not an idea to be accepted or rejected, it simply cannot be put away in the recess of one's mind. It is the basic fact of life, it is the fact before others facts can be known. That materialists would slot awareness into the brain as some after-effect object is alarming to say the least, because awareness is the very sense of what one is. The assumption comes by putting the cart before the horse. Simple, basic ignorance.

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by gen6 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:08 am

Ananda wrote:The problem with the materialist assumption of awareness is that it does not resolve or adress the inherent problem of ego and yet nor does it offer any sort of alternative explanation either. It essentialy consolidates awareness into a category of the body and then does not touch it again, nor does it even explain it. The issue here is that awareness is beyond any type of philosophical meandering or speculation, it is not an idea to be accepted or rejected, it simply cannot be put away in the recess of one's mind. It is the basic fact of life, it is the fact before others facts can be known. That materialists would slot awareness into the brain as some after-effect object is alarming to say the least, because awareness is the very sense of what one is. The assumption comes by putting the cart before the horse. Simple, basic ignorance.
Well awareness has nothing to do with the EGO but still is a product of your brain I don't know why should it resolve or address the inherent problem of the ego or offer any sort of alternative explanation, why do you try to connect those two ?
And all the other words that you speak...you just decided that this is it, you just accepted this. It looks to me like the god believers. They just believe it. Don't question it, don't want any proof, they just believe it, for a human the easiest thing is just to believe, the hardest thing is to be a real skeptic, because you have to know the other point of view and find arguments to prove it's wrong or at least if not wrong that it's not provable. And just to believe in something, this seems more like simple basic ignorance to me.
That materialists would slot awareness into the brain as some after-effect object is alarming to say the least, because awareness is the very sense of what one is.
What you say is true may be, but it doesn't oppose the fact that this is a product of your brain. Awareness is the very sense of what one is but I'm sure at least 80% that is a product of your brain.

And again, your brain can produce what you call mind, what you call awareness, what you call self-consciousness, your brain is multilayered, you don't have to connected all these things, they can be produced together all at the same time from a different regions of your brain.
Even when you feel the deepest of peace and silence and some bliss with it, it means that you've unlocked your brain in a way that you can feel this, but this still is in your brain.
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by Ananda » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:49 am

I don't know why should it resolve or address the inherent problem of the ego or offer any sort of alternative explanation, why do you try to connect those two ?
If one's sense of self is understood to be awareness, then the assumption of ego must be false. Your theory does not adress the assumption of ego, and instead simply relegates the Self as a by-product of the brain. It offers no further enquiry, no evidence, nothing testable or provable. It is actually a theory that comes from the assumption of ego; it assumes that it is true that one is a body in time and space and therefore seeks to place awareness within the body in a neat and tidy manner.
you just decided that this is it, you just accepted this. It looks to me like the god believers. They just believe it. Don't question it, don't want any proof, they just believe it, for a human the easiest thing is just to believe, the hardest thing is to be a real skeptic, because you have to know the other point of view and find arguments to prove it's wrong or at least if not wrong that it's not provable. And just to believe in something, this seems more like simple basic ignorance to me.
Irony is apparent here. It is not I that is asserting a baseless claim. Self enquiry involves questioning, doubting all assumptions (including the much held assumptions that I am a body!), discrimination and discernment, throwing out all beliefs, dropping long held concepts or speculations and being skeptical of every experience you have in order to understand the nature of things. Perhaps you weren't aware of that?
What you say is true may be, but it doesn't oppose the fact that this is a product of your brain
You haven't provided any evidence that it is a fact, you assume it is a fact and then base your positition on that assumption.
Awareness is the very sense of what one is but I'm sure at least 80% that is a product of your brain.
And the other 20%? By the way, awareness if formless, it has no parts so it cannot be split into percentages.
Even when you feel the deepest of peace and silence and some bliss with it, it means that you've unlocked your brain in a way that you can feel this, but this still is in your brain.
The silence of samadhi is when the mind comes to rest, it's like a recouping time for the brain. It is the same silence that comes in deep dreamless sleep.

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by gen6 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:07 am

I don't know why should it resolve or address the inherent problem of the ego or offer any sort of alternative explanation, why do you try to connect those two ?
If one's sense of self is understood to be awareness, then the assumption of ego must be false. Your theory does not adress the assumption of ego, and instead simply relegates the Self as a by-product of the brain. It offers no further enquiry, no evidence, nothing testable or provable. It is actually a theory that comes from the assumption of ego; it assumes that it is true that one is a body in time and space and therefore seeks to place awareness within the body in a neat and tidy manner.
I really don't understand you, I don't know if one's sense of self is awareness, I don't even know why do you need to know one's sense of self, you cannot know that for sure, ever. Ego? Assumption of Ego? Ego is just thoughts produced by your brain in a certain way, you brain gets more effective so to speak when you realize the falseness of those thoughts but still I don't see what that has to do with awareness?! Why should my theory address the assumption of ego? Self is product of brain, ego is product of brain, everything is product of brain, can't you imagine separate departments for everything. Awareness is produced in the HR's office, EGO is produced from the main thought factory, in some other office in the building. HR's office never meet the other office but they are all there.
If we have to set priorities , most important would be the HR's office because without it you wouldn't have other things. You seem to have wrong idea about what your brain is,, your brain seems to have locked into it's own schemes, which is quite normal, I'm also locked so far in my schemes until further information from somewhere, however I'm opened and prone to change, you don't seem to be. However just to clarify something, information doesn't bring happiness, no matter we're locked in thought schemes, we don't need that to be happy. Info is just a tool, the thought factory is needed very much but it doesn't bring happiness, it's just part of you. So, no matter what we both believe in, we can be equally happy. :D That's good news, right?
you just decided that this is it, you just accepted this. It looks to me like the god believers. They just believe it. Don't question it, don't want any proof, they just believe it, for a human the easiest thing is just to believe, the hardest thing is to be a real skeptic, because you have to know the other point of view and find arguments to prove it's wrong or at least if not wrong that it's not provable. And just to believe in something, this seems more like simple basic ignorance to me.
Irony is apparent here. It is not I that is asserting a baseless claim. Self enquiry involves questioning, doubting all assumptions (including the much held assumptions that I am a body!), discrimination and discernment, throwing out all beliefs, dropping long held concepts or speculations and being skeptical of every experience you have in order to understand the nature of things. Perhaps you weren't aware of that?
Yep, I've done all that, check what I write below. I don't know how you did it though....
What you say is true may be, but it doesn't oppose the fact that this is a product of your brain
You haven't provided any evidence that it is a fact, you assume it is a fact and then base your position on that assumption.

Well , logically thinking, you have more ,,evidence, that it's a product of your brain than anything else. I can only conclude that from evolution theories and in particular evolution of our brain( I don't have time now to paste materials about that here, it's not a direct proof and I don't think there is going ever to be a direct proof, but it's very acceptable that this is the truth), furthermore I can add up my experiences as I said in a post above, all states that I experienced and everything that happened when my brain was very unhealthy in regards to my left hemisphere. When you are in such states and the things that happen to your brain, you can see many things more clearly and say, Hm, I never knew that I would feel that way if my brain is that way, hmm I never knew this is possible, hm strange bliss, it's the most pure state I have ever experienced in my life and it happened like snap, hmm and hmm and hmm and many more of those. I don't have the time now to formulate and logically prove why those experiences speak for themselves and why everything is in your brain. But mainly that's why I'm prone to believe this than your theory which doesn't have anything for support. It just is. You just speak the words, can you tell me why? Because you like it? Or...why not? Or, why not get fancy...everything being product of the brain is too simple, let's make it fancy, yeah. Why? Because let me tell you, if I haven't got my experiences I wouldn't be able to know that and to feel that so clearly, if my brain was healthy all the time , it just wouldn't show me part of it's structure and many of it's layers and how everything is there. So what I mean is that you cannot FEEL your theory just like that. You just believe it.
I have science of evolution + my experiences which do fit perfectly, what do you have?
Awareness is the very sense of what one is but I'm sure at least 80% that is a product of your brain.
And the other 20%? By the way, awareness if formless, it has no parts so it cannot be split into percentages.
If you read carefully, I didn't say 80% awareness, I"m not trying to split it, I said I'm almost 80% sure, that awareness is product of your brain, the other 20% I leave for your theory or some other, I just never believe something in 100%, never.
Even when you feel the deepest of peace and silence and some bliss with it, it means that you've unlocked your brain in a way that you can feel this, but this still is in your brain.
The silence of samadhi is when the mind comes to rest, it's like a recouping time for the brain. It is the same silence that comes in deep dreamless sleep.
Yes true, it's when the mind comes to rest, but the mind does not equal brain, it's just one part of the brain, the brain is made in such a way that when the functions you call mind take a rest(or at least it seems like rest to you) you feel...samadhi....
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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by Ananda » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:45 pm

I can see this is going nowhere as you are failing to understand me and merely reasserting your claims in order to rationalize non-duality in your mind.. I'll leave you to it.

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by runstrails » Sun Jul 11, 2010 7:13 pm

This is an interesting thread

If non-duality could be completely proven through science --then this would not be an issue.
However, it is critical to remember that science has its limitations. (I say this as someone who is immersed in science).
Science has not yet solved so many fundamental questions: How did the big bang come about, what is the unifying theory and whether consciousness resides outside the body.
In the past, 'science' allowed for the world being flat, the planets revolving around the earth etc.. Scientists who dared go against the grain were called heretics.

So, to expect modern science to solve this dilemma for you is pointless.
However, the quantum experiments that Andy linked to and other experiments in neuroscience (such as some of the work on mirror neurons, libet experiments) may begin to point to non-duality. Whether this can be conclusively proven in our lifetime, is not clear. Its critical to remember that most scientists do not think of philosophical issues when they are conducting their experiments--their results are often interpreted by philosophers in seemingly elaborate ways.

However, one of the basic principles of science is that of 'careful observation'. This is how Darwin came to document evolution. What I am struck by are the similarities in description of awareness/consciousness by prominent teachers in all religions, across the centuries. Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Shankaracharya,
Krishnamurthy, Ramana Maharishi, Miester Eckhart, Nisargdutta etc.. to name a few (as well as so many people on this forum). This co-incidence is remarkable and in itself is a noteworthy scientific observation.

So, its entirely possible that awareness is a product of the human brain, but its equally possible that the human brain is capable of accessing reality (i.e., pure awareness) as non duality suggests. Given these options, use your own experiences to guide you. What I 'feel' in presence is likely an alteration of brain chemistry (if we could study it with brain imaging), but why should that mean that reality or pure awareness is not being accessed via my brain/body. Why should these two options be mutually exclusive?

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by James » Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:08 am

Good post Runstrails

The brain certainly has a role to play in awareness, it seems to be what makes perception and experiencing possible in this dimension what we call the world. But the rhetorical questions is "what is the reality behind the brain, that makes it possible?". I agree science seems incapable of answering the deepest questions. Yet quantum physics can begin to disrupt our belief systems that keep us asleep, dreaming that we are something that we are not. I've reflected a lot on this subject over the years, at one time I was an atheist and believed that the body and brain were entirely bio-mechanical processes, until I began having awakening experiences, insights and realizations beyond the mind.

One of ideas I pondered was the question: Is it possible for matter to have an intelligence of its own? and through contemplating the workings of the universe it became clearer and clearer that there was a vast intelligence that permeated everything, appearing as planets rotating around a sun, ocean tides shifting, plants growing, animals and people exchanging elements with the environment, the list goes on and on of the miraculous and interconnectedness of all phenomena. The answer became obvious, matter has no intelligence of its own. But intellectual knowing of this is not sufficient, it is the realization, seeing or glimpsing beyond mind that confirms reality, the knowing Presence itself revealing itself to itself. Up until that point it sounds theoretical, and mind has many ways to doubt. And if there is a doubting mind involved then the personal center or separate sense of self is still interfering and distorting reality. This whole thing is like trying to explain what strawberry ice cream tastes like to someone who has never had it. One must taste it first hand.

For those that are still doubters, that's fine, it's better not to take on a new belief of a non-dual universe, or non-duality just becomes another religion; but instead in gentle humility be open to any and all possibilities, it starts with the attitude: "I don't know, but I'm willing to open to reality and allow it to reveal itself." A certain amount of skepticism can be helpful, but too often we cling hard and fast to our concepts, that is one way in which the personal center (separate self), is perpetuated, it loves its opinions and ideas, because that's how it knows itself.

One thing I found to be helpful early on was the writings of the well known analyst Carl Jung (C.G. Jung), he was mentored by Sigmund Freud but then branched off into his own work. Particularly of interest to me was his research into the collective unconscious, I found it to be very convincing proof that the mind was not a closed, separate system. Since somehow information, images and ideas could be found in persons minds, in different ages and different cultures, without them having prior knowledge or exposure to it. I saw this in my own experience, especially in a series of profound dreams. That recognition was a beginning for me, but it turned out to be only the tip of the ice berg. So I would recommend Carl Jung's writings to those that believe the brain is the seat and origin of consciousness. Read with an open mind. Not all of what he wrote resonates with me, but I think it's an important pivotal point between conventional science and the transcendent. Jung is no longer living, but about a year ago or more, a large collection of his writings and journals were published under the title The Red Book, I have not read it but saw that it received many good reviews, and that sales were brisk.
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by runstrails » Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:09 am

James, thanks for the reminder about Carl Jung. Time to dust off those books again :)

Here is an interesting article on the neurobiological bases of the 'god' feeling but I think that it applies to non-duality/oneness as well.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/20 ... rain.shtml

Basically it implicates the temporal and parietal lobes in our experiences of sensed presence or god (perhaps oneness too?).

Particularly interesting is the quote by VS Ramachandran (a big time neuroscientist) towards the end of the article:
Prof Ramachandran denies that finding out how the brain reacts to religion negates the value of belief. He feels that brain circuitry like that Persinger and Newberg have identified, could amount to an antenna to make us receptive to god.

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by great2be » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:04 am

This thread has moved away from it's original question so i'll address that first.
Ego is a construct of erroneous thoughts which when believed lead to illusion.

To answer the question of awareness, I ask you all to explore the following questions:
1. Where is awareness in the middle of dreamless sleep?
2. Where is awareness when under the influence of general anesthetic?

Please answer these questions from your own level of awareness, not quoting the so-called experiences of others.
An imaginary seeker, seeking an imaginary goal.
Realise the nature of imagination and the fallacious effort ends.

Have you ever seen a dog chasing it's tail?

What happens when the dog runs faster?

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by HermitLoon » Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:23 pm

Nowhere and everywhere.
"Awareness" - the "witnessing presence" - is.
Peace

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by James » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:39 pm

great2be asked:
1. Where is awareness in the middle of dreamless sleep?
2. Where is awareness when under the influence of general anesthetic?
Those are good questions, they often come up in the minds of truth seekers. I'll first ask you a question although initially it may sound absurd, but if you ponder it, it may result in clarity: How would you know that awareness was not present in those scenarios unless something was present and aware to notice the lack of awareness?

I've had anesthesia twice in the past few years and found it to be a amazing, there was never a point at which I did not feel present, in other words awareness was a seamless continuum. However what was different was that it was not a self conscious, thinking awareness that we usually associate with waking states, it was completely impersonal. The experience of time and space seemed to collapse so that were no memories and no experiences; yet it was a non experience beyond mind that can't really be described.

The same can be said for sleeping although it's different in many ways. I sometimes sleep knowingly, slightly aware that I am sleeping, but after deep sleep there is only the thought in the morning: "I must not have been present since time appears to have passed, look at the clock, the sun has risen." But again, how do I know that I was not present unless I was present to notice that? It is just thinking that constructs a reality of time and space and uses that as a benchmark for reality to judge experiences. There is a continuum of Presence, but there is a gap in the stream of experiencing life in this dimension. It seems to me that all this is a set up so we are moving in the direction (actually in the absolute sense we are not even moving anywhere), but seemingly moving in a direction of an impersonal, non experience of reality, but to do so one must first have a very personal, seemingly self conscious experience of a relative reality, in time and space.

Hard to explain, and I suspect that none of these answers will give you satisfaction, and will only result in more questions, but I'll leave it at that and let you explore your own experience. Thanks for the questions.
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Isn't ego a chemical construct?

Post by Tara » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:49 pm

great2be wrote:
To answer the question of awareness, I ask you all to explore the following questions:
1. Where is awareness in the middle of dreamless sleep?
2. Where is awareness when under the influence of general anesthetic?

Please answer these questions from your own level of awareness, not quoting the so-called experiences of others.
Haven't had dreamless sleep lately, but I can't pinpoint awareness

One particular time that I was put under has always stayed with me as an undescribable experience. I remember the first shot, speaking with my relative and being wheeled down the hall-and then waking up. Nothing in between, no time,no memories, nothing. When I wake up from night sleeping I can "remember" back to a dream or maybe a point where I woke briefly or being hot/cold etc.

So what does this mean 1. Where is awareness when under the influence of general anesthetic? No where...or if it was there "I" didn't know it. That makes me feel upset that this might be how death is, of course if it is, then once it happens I won't know the difference...lol. BUT here and now it bothers me to think that this may be the way of it...

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