Harri Aalto

Harri Aalto

Postby Sighclone » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:52 pm

An artist, Harri Aalto, has recently been interviewed on batgap dot com. Rick Archer said that this was his "best" interview, of 223. Harri also has a new website, harriaalto dot com. Seems like Harri was born awakened, or woke up at age 5 or so. The interview is fascinating -- covers lots of topics not common in nondual circles, like discrete levels of awareness. The website has some remarkable assertions. I get the sense that finally "going public" with his experiences was a large step for this normally very private man. Highly recommended. He will be as SAND in October.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby ashley72 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:02 pm

Hi Andy,

I watched the first 15 mins of the video as I was curious that Archer said it was his best interview of all of them. However, Archer says it before he really starts the interview that "Harri is an old friend and had an awakening at 5 years of age"... and that Archer believed that "Harri was more clear in his description of what awakening was than many if not all his interviews on Batgap so far" - big wrap.... but it's not really his best interview but rather one of his best candidate's for an interview. Just thought that was worth clearing up.

Personally I didn't feel Harri was any clearer or different, he uses all the same spiritual metaphors you've heard before spaciousness, come & go blah, blah, blah. The problem with nearly all spiritual assessments of Awareness/consciousness is they completely lack neuroscience.... which is a big problem if you want to talk about consciousness and how the Mind works.

Our Mind is made up of about 85 billion neuron units, which comprise of dendrites (inputs) and axioms (outputs). These neural networks are adaptive or have "plastisticity"... the quality to change or adapt with experience. Neural networks are not rigid or fixed. The job of neural networks is to process raw sensory data that comes thru the five senses as matrix of "vector points" [1.2345 5.77866 9.7766 98776.5 0.0000765 ]. Take for example greyscale 0-255 image via vision. Each one of the pixel divisions would be broken up on that scale from 0-255... and be processed as a vector point on a matrix by a neural network. Neural networks work by "chopping up" the continuum into units. Each neural connection than gets weighted by calculating the error or "gap" between the predicted (output) and the actual (input).

If we now think how "awareness" or "consciousness" might fit into a neural network... you realise that because neural networks layer levels of prediction on top of each other, it's a buildup of a conceptual model into one that finally includes the abstract concept of the neural network as a whole. But the predictive model doesn't really examine the individual firings of the neural network because that is hidden. It has a concept of the physical human being who is walking around having relationships with other human beings... In other words it's very distant from what is happening at the neuron level.

Therefore, any spiritual type talk about pure awareness using the layered neural metaphors is way off what is actually happening. To understand what is happening requires an "objective" approach not a subjective one.

If you keep listening to Satsangs and spiritual types you will continue to get the subjective spiritual metaphors that will never really explain the truth... because it is far removed from the objective underlying science.

Consciousness is not a function outside of neural networks, it is an emerging property that comes from layering, maybe ten's of thousands of layers if not millions of layers create subjectivity. Any understanding of Consciousness will come from a an objective bottom up approach, not a subjective top down approach.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Sighclone » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:47 am

Good points, Ashley. I agree about Harri's interview -- it was not that much clearer than many others, and it added all this subjective stuff about layers of experience in Being, subtle levels, astral planes etc. I also generally agree about there being a neurophysiological foundation for spiritual experiences, and consciousness. Just because I tend to speak about awakening in more general terms, and glowing terms, does not mean that I disagree with the neural basis for it. I haven't studied neuroscience in great detail and tend to look to the "default mode network" vs. the "task mode network" and the theta/alpha wave synchronies in meditators vs. average folk as "proof." Bold statements by Ramana Maharshi like "that which is not present in deep dreamless sleep is not real" merit more review.

Andy
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There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Onceler » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:37 pm

This is not a criticism, Ash, but an inquiry.....I wonder, given your strong reaction to spirituality and amorphous language, why you keep going to sites like batgap and this one. Surely there are places on the web that talk about a more neurological approach to consciousness. You must have an interest in spirituality as you keep coming back to it, if only to rail against it. I'm glad you're here, railing, by the way.......

I found Harria's blog posts indirect and rather maddening as well, as they didn't really say anything new, or say anything for that matter.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby ashley72 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:30 pm

Onceler wrote:This is not a criticism, Ash, but an inquiry.....I wonder, given your strong reaction to spirituality and amorphous language, why you keep going to sites like batgap and this one. Surely there are places on the web that talk about a more neurological approach to consciousness. You must have an interest in spirituality as you keep coming back to it, if only to rail against it. I'm glad you're here, railing, by the way.......

I found Harria's blog posts indirect and rather maddening as well, as they didn't really say anything new, or say anything for that matter.


It's a fair question. Overall my views have been "very progressive" during my time contributing here. In the early days I whole-heartily embraced all the new spiritual metaphors and pointers. But over time I've also come to realise a lot of major short-comings of those spiritual metaphors. Particular the idea that Consciousness is Universal and somehow unified & primary to everything.

In the past year I've steadily re-embraced more traditional psychology and neuroscience research.... But still haven't completely lost all interest in spiritual debate.

In the past I watched many of the batgap interviews... but haven't watch any more for some months now. I was only curious to check out the one Andy mentioned because it was suppose to be one if not the best ever... Which is obviously a big call given some of the others. As I said didn't find it any different could only manage 15 minutes before realising I was about to waste another two hours listening to the same stuff I've heard many times over. I'm surprised by Archer really, the guy strikes me as quite a bright fella, but his line of question isn't progressive... He almost could have stopped about 100 videos ago and he will still have gain the same insights... He's reach a dead-end in his spiritual seeking but doesn't seemed to have realised it yet himself.

I can just no longer accept the idea that Consciousness is so important. My own consciousness is very limited and seems to even change quality or state depending on the task.

These days my line of inquiry is objectively understanding neural networks as is evident from my recent posts.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby coriolis » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:44 pm

I watched the Harri Aalto interview and found it to be rife with bold assertions but a little thin in "fleshing out" some of those assertions in a way a mere mortal like myself could make any sense of them.

Of course this was the the first interview and Harri promised to elaborate further in subsequent interviews.

I'll watch later ones and see if he fulfills that promise.
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The ensuing failure is the true finding
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Sighclone » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:47 pm

Ash - Thank you for your clarifying comments. Life is odd -- I logged in just now to ask the same question that Onceler asked. And your answer was modest, frank and clear. It brings up an old question, probably discussed here several times in the last ten years: Is consciousness a product of the mind/brain or is the mind and everything else a product of consciousness. (Or are those the wrong questions and have they arisen together in some unmeasurable mysterious way.) The argument in favor of the primacy of consciousness includes the assertion that "What is there that doesn't change? Only he who sees that, truly sees." from the Bhagavad Gita.

But I believe you can support the other argument -- could you summarize for us?

Thanks, by the way for your many comments, well supported with research -- that has taken considerable time, and, in my opinion, added to the strength of the forum.

Most of the readers here are either seekers or sufferers or both, or regular contributors (yes, who could be both also.) I think the primary interest is in the experience of awakening. Does your emphasis on the empirical neurophysiological research deny that experience as expressed by so many?

Thank you again.

Re Harri Aalto -- I think there is more to come from/about him....

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby ashley72 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:04 pm

Hi Andy,

Most of my first year or so contributing here was mainly in support of Consciousness being Universal, I explored the ideas of Buddhist monks, Sages, New Age teachers.... Bhante G, Eckhart Tolle, Douglas Harding, Ramana Mahrashi etc.

I then started exploring evidence at the quantum physics or fundamental particle level and how Consciousness might be primary to all things... This took me to scholars like David Bohm, Amit Goswami', and many others.

I then started looking at scholars who counter the idea that Consciousness is Universal such as Julian Jayne and Douglas Hofstadter.

I then started looking at mental disorders more from a psychology perspective and exploring techniques like CBT and Exposure therapy. Started to unravel research about the Amygdala Hijack, Inattention Blindness, Stroop effect, perception Illusions and many other things about split brain research, the left & right hemisphere etc. Patients with left or right brain seizures, split Corpus Callosum, Savants with musical, language, mathematical, artistic genius.

These days I'm mainly interested in learning Machine learning, neural networks and AI. These new fields have a strong mathematical component, mainly around linear regression, logistic regression, non-linear regression.

I'm also studying behavioural economics at the moment, which looks at lots of irrational behaviours people tend to have. Loss Aversion, complex choice architecture, the pain of paying just to name a few.

All I can say is I've been very progressive in relation to my ideas and interest!
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Sighclone » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:29 am

We have benefited from your efforts, Ashley, and the path.

Thanks,

Andy
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Onceler » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:42 am

I believe I'm becoming saturated with the spiritual/non-dual bandwidth as well. Some of the abstract, conceptual stuff almost gives me a nose bleed.....I can't even pretend to understand it anymore. The dimming of suffering is all I care about, anything else is gravy.

Nice to hear about your changes, Ash, although neuroscience doesn't hold the juice for me the way it once did. There is mystery behind both the science and the spiritual that I feel cannot not be spoken......and never will be voiced.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby ashley72 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:56 am

Onceler wrote:There is mystery behind both the science and the spiritual that I feel cannot not be spoken......and never will be voiced.


Basically the problem is linear thinking against a non-linear reality... or order versus non-order.

These days I try and break up the brain into two distinct functions. The left side handles linear patterns and events.... in a sequential, serial and fixed way. Whilst the Right-side using neural networks is capable of "approximating" non-linear patterns and events.... in a distributed, parallel.... with local processing and adaptation. What our neural networks do is completely sub-conscious to us.... we have no idea the complex classifications that are being handled by billions of neurons every split second.... its not meant to processed by the conscious mind.

To compute something non-linear into the left-side you have to first classifier it into an object which can be processed by the left. This is what the neural network does it uses non-linear sigmoid-like squashing functions to approximate things like the features of faces which are basically non-linear pattern recognition. So the left-hemisphere's world including the linear story about us (Ego), has first been classified by the right-hemisphere.

The interesting thing about self-consciousness is it seems to have a "contextual" or "relative" flavour about it - a good term for this would be contextual framing. If I'm feeling self-conscious about myself it usually exists in some kind of contextual framing. The framing might relate to time, others, etc. - which is why self-consciousness seems to be processed by the linear side of brain.

This is why I'm much more inclined to think that Consciousness is an emerging feature... after a multi-layered neural classification process has taken place. In other words, we take all the non-linear data, including the non-linear data about our-selves....put it through a neural network machine.... and spit out a nice linear story about our-selves which we can think about in our conscious mind.

Generally our self-talk isn't non-linear... non-linear sequential thinking is incompatible.... if you try and do it....you usually get a thumping headache!

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http://notrehta.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/alan-watts-linear-thinking-and-nonlinear-reality/
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby peas » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:12 am

My summary notes from the interview:

  • 'Self realisation' ceases to have any meaning once it is achieved.
  • Harri went through hundreds, if not thousands, of experiences over the years, across which he realised the common denominator being an abstract unboundedness or a ground state of silence, which he has always had, always felt.
  • The witness state is subtle and hard to recognise.
  • Pure consciousness exists all the time and everywhere. As such, Harri has often wondered why people don't tap into it more often, for example, during sleep.
  • Understanding is integral to awakening. It's at least half the show. It means self awareness, self knowledge, self understanding. The self knows itself as being awake. Over time, Harri's self has become more aware of itself, bit by bit, like turning up the brightness of a light in a room and noticing more objects in the room.
  • The quietest level of the mind becomes the most active level after awakening. There's structure in consciousness and that structure becomes more known.
  • Running around at work can potentially overshadow pure consciousness, but equally so can the inertia of sleep, if there is no awareness.
  • When running around, doing things busily, you will eventually see the relationship between pure consciousness and the mind, the body, other people, and even the universe.
  • Harri describes pure consciousness as having a liveliness, some kind of wave function, quality to it. It is just like perception through our main five senses. You can describe its structure just like describing the features of a room based on sight perception. This outside perception or experience is actually the inside experience, and the inside experience is actually the outside experience. This tells you that unity exists. All the layers of consciousness, all the parts, are saying, "we are part of the oneness". Layers communicate and are related and express their knowingness of the oneness.
  • Everyone has the capability to see and experience and know more and more layers of consciousness.
  • The three main layers of consciousness are described as the relative gross layer, the subtle celestial layer, and the absolute layer.
  • Every time Harri thought he got somewhere in consciousness, he was actually nowhere. Something popped up to shatter where he thought he was, as if to say, "what are you going to do with that!" Afterward, he would experience the new part of consciousness, and the old parts previously experienced would also stay. So it has been like building a jigsaw puzzle one piece at a time. As if he is putting the universe together.
  • Harri can hear the hum of consciousness. That hum is knowing consciousness itself. It isn't one hum but trillions of reverberations.
  • Harri has opinions and beliefs. He often talks about this or that as an opinion and that some people may not agree but he knows with absolute certainty that he is right. He says toward the end of the interview that he has never been wrong about this knowledge, in his entire life, but he is sometimes wrong about other things, alluding to living at home with his wife.
  • World teachers, according to Harri, limit what they say because of the state of consciousness of their audience. Teachers and gurus have to talk like they are finished, but they are not. Nobody is finished. If you look at what they say over their life, you see that it changes, which reflects the different layers of consciousness being perceived.
  • Devotion is a wonderful experience because it's heartfelt. The feelings and emotion you get from acts of devotion are great. Harri meditates and will not stop, as long as he gets experiences from it. He sees it as honing the lens.
  • Whether your life is determined doesn't matter. Harri is still going to practise devotion, such as meditation, because he experiences something when he does it. Experience seems to be very important to Harri. He says he is not an intellectual, but rather an observer. He can not help people with advice about practical life experience, but he can describe his own experience. He was nervous about this interview before it took place but by the end he expressed how he was looking forward to the next one.
  • Harri has a 'teacher' desire. When he meets someone he likes to ask, "What can I say that will help this person get it?"
  • Harri is a firm believer in the individual I, existing at each of the three main levels of consciousness: gross, celestial, absolute. The individual self is bigger than the absolute.
  • We cohabit the same space as heaven. It is not a place 'over there'.
  • The body is infinitely more important to the process of awakening than is recognised.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby Onceler » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:43 am

Wow, good summary, peas. Now I want to listen to it!
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby peas » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:15 pm

Lol.
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Re: Harri Aalto

Postby runstrails » Tue Apr 08, 2014 2:47 pm

Wow, indeed! Thanks Peas! I found your summary more coherent than what I heard from Harry. He sounded like a spiritual savant. Muddled but refreshingly honest.

What was your take on the interview peas since you obviously spent time listening and transcribing?

What did you make of the sleep bit? He seems to say that he is actively conscious during sleep. I thought during deep sleep there is nothing to be conscious of.

He seemed comfortable with duality if I remember correctly-----talking of a God out there--that you can be devoted to.

Edited to add: I loved how he compared his state of 'presence' to a permanent runner's high. Great description!
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