What do we know about the self

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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby Ananda » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:45 pm

Hello rob,




Thanks for posting the short video. It is an interesting observation, and makes a good case for the unreality of the individual person (ego), but that is not the end of the investigation! Once the assumption of an individual personality inhabiting the body is done away with (this philosopher does so by pointing out the fact that an independent person cannot be found amongst the assemblage of component parts constituting the body), he then fallaciously equates the self merely with those very parts. The reasoning follows thusly;

1.The self is said to be an permanent distinct entity with a body, mind, memories etc.
2.This self cannot be found amongst or apart from those body, mind, memories etc.
3. Therefore the self is not an permanent distinct entity.
4. Therefore the self is nothing over and above the body, mind, memories etc, and there is nothing distinct from them that is permanent.

This is an old Buddhist argument, but the reasoning is flawed because 3. does not follow from 2. and therefore 4. cannot follow from 3.

Just because a distinct self cannot be found amongst the conglomeration of body/mind etc it does not therefore follow that such a self is non-existent. Rather, the opposite should hold true- if there is a self distinct from all these, there is no reason that it should be found amongst them. The philosopher, and the Buddhists, overlook the self-evident fact that there is an undeniable distinction between the self and the conglomeration of the body with which it is either associated with through identification or ownership.

This distinction takes the form of the Subject-Object dichotomy present throughout all subjective experience. The philosopher denies the existence of the permanent distinct self on the basis that it cannot be counted amongst the impermanent collection of objects constituting the body and yet he makes this denial with the aid of that very self! How so? Because it is through the existence of that permanent, distinct, self as the Subject of knowledge by which the impermanent objects constituting the body are known and comprehended as distinct objects. It is the existence of oneself as the Subject that makes objects knowable. In a previous thread, the question was asked 'is I (the self) a combination of the body, mental processes, and consciousness?', to this I replied, in part;

Is the "I" not the combination of the body, the mental processes and consciousness?



There is an invariable factor which is present through all of your experiences. When you say 'I' you are knowingly or unknowingly referring to this invariable factor and nothing else. Is the mind variable or invariable? The constituents and components of your mind are many, its condition is in flux, it has birth and cessation, it can be molded, thoughts arise and dissipate constantly, and it is experienced. The very fact that your mind is experienced should reveal to you that the mind is an object- it is known by another. What is the other? It is the Subject, the content of 'I' which knows and sees the mind as its object, including all of its variables. 'I am stupid', 'I am intelligent', 'I know little', 'I'm an expert', 'My mind was elsewhere', 'I remember it', 'I have no memory of that', 'I am thinking too much', 'my mind is silent'. All of these conditions which make up the mind are many but they are perceived by a unity- by an entity which is singular and distinct from them all.

Is the body variable or invariable? The body is just as fickle as the mind! All of the constituents of your body have been and are replaced during its existence, in fact the word 'body' denotes simply a large organism of shifting biological conditions. You know 'this is an old body', 'this is a young body', 'this is a sick body', 'I am hungry', 'I am thirsty', 'I am happy', 'I am tired', 'I am attractive', 'I lost a leg', 'I am blind', 'I am deaf'. 'my body is numb here', 'I looked this way as a child, but now I am older' . The Subject 'I' is the invariable factor which connects all of the experiences of the object, the body, together. The body is variable and subject to change all of the time- but the Subject is that which knows these changes because it perceives the body as something other than itself. Do you see?

Now, if the Subject, the 'I' is neither the body nor the mind, then, is it consciousness? Well, what do you mean by consciousness? Many people define consciousness as 'conscious experiences' as opposed to unconsciousness, such as in deep sleep. If that be so, then the Subject can not be consciousness either. When the contents of the experience of the waking state, such as your body, senses and the external world, are sublated by the dreaming state, then the Subject (dreamer) persists into the dream state, as the Subject of the dream world, and dream objects. In the dreaming state there is no perception of the external world, but the mind continues to be active, and it is the mind which, creating the contents of the dream experience, is perceived by the Subject as he dreams. When the dreaming state is sublated by deep sleep, then there is no external perception via the senses, and neither is there any internal perception via the mind. In that state there is nothing there to be experienced, and therefore there is no distinction between Subject and Object, or, knower and the known. When the deep sleep state is sublated by the waking state, the mind and the senses again become active, and so there arises internal and external perception, along with the knowledge of the absence of internal or external perception in the state of deep sleep, as when one says 'I was not consciousness of anything', 'I didn't dream'; this knowledge is inherent in the knower, the Subject. This whole process happens every night, thousands of times in your life. States of experience, therefore, are variable- but the thread which connects them all, which knows them all and by which they are known is invariable. That factor is the knower, the Subject. Whenever you say 'I' you are referring to this knower, because you are conscious, you are sentient, you exist and have the inherent capacity to know the presence or absence of other things, of objects, including your body, your mind, and your states of consciousness.

So, is the Subject, then, a combination of the mind, the body, and states of consciousness? If the mind, the body, and states of consciousness are changeful, then can a combination of these be unchanging? If the mind, body, and states of consciousness are objects, then, can the three of them together constitute a Subject?


If the self, then, cannot be found amongst the components of the body, can it be found apart from them? It cannot be found as another object (hence the basis on which the Philosopher's fallacious reasoning extended) but it can be recognised as the sole distinct Subject. In the other thread I mentioned that a thorough discriminative investigation is required in order to recognise it;

All that is known to you, all that is cognizable in your present experience as 'this' or 'that', that's graspable, concrete, tangible, all of this pertains to objects, and not to you, the subject. You are the seer of the concrete things, but you cannot see yourself amongst them. You cannot become an object of your own knowledge in the same way any tangible item presented to your senses or your mind can be. You have to recognise yourself through discrimination instead. You have to reject 'this' as 'this' and stop conflating it with 'I'. All of the things under the category of 'known' are tangible and concrete objects. These pertain either to your mind, your body, or the external world. The I is the knower of all of them, it stands apart from them, does not change, but becomes identified with the objects and this is why discrimination is needed to recognise the distinction between them.

What is it, in your whole life, in every single experience that you have, that is enduring? What is it that has stayed the same within you, even though everything else, inside or outside, has changed? What is the link that connects all of your experiences together? You have to find this thing out. You should reject everything that is transient, everything that can be designated as 'this' or 'that', every object available to sense perception, and every internal cognition pertaining to physical feelings within the body, emotions and the mind (such as memory, thoughts, imagination, and concepts). All that is transient in your life is so with reference to an intransient, stable basis. All that is known to change in your life is so with reference to an unchanging knower of it. This knower cannot be denied by anybody, it cannot be rejected, it cannot be removed, it cannot be sublated or negated, it cannot be dropped, lost, gotten rid of, changed, created, destroyed, hurt, cut, diseased or cease to be a knower. This knower is 'I', the real content of the word 'I' when all of the objects mixed in with it are removed through discriminative knowledge. Find it!



I hope this post can be of service to you, and check out my blog posted in my signature if you want to know more about discrimination of the self (I post irregularly on it lately due to other work commitments, but feel free to send me a private message or post a new thread if you have any questions).


My friend Ashley,

Thanks for relaying to us your experience!

But...

Apart from following these simple instruction no further intellectualization or mental pondering is required, in fact any kind of thinking will obscure the clarity of the Single Eye Seeing... which is an alignment with the Now or Present Moment. You could also call this seeing pure awareness or no-mind.


The seeing of the Self is never obscured, for it is by its seeing that all kinds of thinking is seen, including its capacity to obscure...

Pure awareness is both mind and no-mind, and there is nothing but Pure awareness in the past, future, or the Now.




:)
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby ashley72 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:54 am

Hi Ananda,

Thanks for your reply. My definition of Mind is all mental "things" which come and go. As used in this quote. I hope that clarifies.

It is the nature of the mind to wander. You are not the mind. The mind springs up and sinks down. It is impermanent, transitory, whereas you are eternal, To inhere in the Self is the thing. Never mind the mind, In the realized man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him.  Ramana Maharshi


Unfortunately, many teachers used the word interchangeably which causes confusion.

Do you agree?
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby snowheight » Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:49 am

There was one particular part of rob's initial post that lead me to some fun musing.

rob wrote:Their is more about conscious then we understand or can explain at the moment. For instance the results of global conscious project.
Why can the way people think and feel as a group influence the result of a random generator?


The experimental results of this group are quite remarkable and speak for themselves.

So, we can wonder, will some team of scientists somewhere eventually come up with a theory that will explain this and be able to replicate it?

To bet against that is to bet on a longshot.

The fun part about this is that what will emerge (whether this type of experiment drives the theory or not) will be some rigorous quantitative mental construct that is driven by contemplation of consciousness instead of form.

All of science is a deep and humble bow to our ignorance, and this particular exploration tips the hat to the ineffable instead of the tangible.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby abc123 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:32 am

Rob,
You will NEVER get any satisfying answer you seek from a materialistic Scientist. You can get off to a good start to find your own answers from the following ...
Bruce Lipton,Robert Monroe(Founder of the Monroe Institute), Dean Radin,Rupert Sheldrake, Russell Targ ,Charles Tart, Joe McMoneagle, Edgar Casey, Carolyn Myss,William Buhlman,Brian Weiss, Michael Newton and the most complete and scientific Thomas Campbell . Don't get caught up in the intellectual mind stuff by thinking about this too much, it gets you nowhere, trust me. Just go with the flow from a deeper place and the flow will carry you to where is good for you at this time.
Being serious and fully committed you will get the answers you seek for yourself by yourself as this is the nature of consciousness and the only way to truly 'know' not just read and believe.
Last edited by abc123 on Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby randomguy » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:40 pm

Thanks for the link to the Global Consciousness Project. That's a brilliant setup.
snow wrote:The fun part about this is that what will emerge (whether this type of experiment drives the theory or not) will be some rigorous quantitative mental construct that is driven by contemplation of consciousness instead of form.

Nice. That's why it can be worthwhile to explore the truth of mental constructs themselves.

Is it exclusive to science though? Seems to happen on the "spiritual path" too as in, "Ah, I've got consciousness figured out now, I get it."

Not that self investigation has to be labeled anything, "spiritual" or otherwise. I happen to think it can be approached in a scientific way as well. At the core of science is curiosity and interest. One can become interested in what is at the source of one's own knowing (the source of mind or source of one's self) and investigate with observation. Perhaps a significant difference from the classic scientific experiment to inward investigation would be that one relies only on what one absolutely knows and is observed first hand while all ideas and constructs are open for questioning.

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Einstein
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at the rapid's roar?
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby snowheight » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:50 am

Mark (aka, rg :)),

The vast depth and breadth of human experience and the corresponding myriad of roads that all lead to the nameless is one of those achingly beautiful things that we can observe just by looking at what is.

randomguy wrote:One can become interested in what is at the source of one's own knowing (the source of mind or source of one's self) and investigate with observation.


That's a great point: curiosity and intellectual seeking can open a person up, as by definition, they are trying to learn something. Of course, there are plenty of others who have the intellect closed off, either when they are young or based on some experience they have along the way. I used to feel a sort of self-satisfied pity for that type of perspective but that's long gone now, as the mind can see that these folks can know themselves just as well even without exposure to intellectual knowledge.

That open, honest and earnest questioning, that is a beautiful thing, and there seems a great similarity and resonance in the scientific perspective of skepticism with the practice of a person relinquishing belief along the way. The difference between the two of course is that the skeptic forms a non-belief while the self-inquirer will just witness belief and non-belief alike simply dissolve.

randomguy wrote:Is it exclusive to science though? Seems to happen on the "spiritual path" too as in, "Ah, I've got consciousness figured out now, I get it."


One of the things that's fun to notice and watch, perhaps even exciting ( :) :wink: ) is to see the apparent convergence of these vectors unfolding in our lifetimes. I wonder what the size of the "spiritual complex" of teachers and books and other materials outside of the mainstream was 50 or 60 years ago ... what drove the current explosion?

Namaste,

Bill

-----

abc123,

Thank WW for this link to a rather breathtaking Campbell talk. He explains the Monroe institute during the talk.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby rob » Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:32 pm

Hi All,

The video of cambell I saw it for 1/2 hour. For me he is not very scientific.

A video with a little bit more scientific value, but again statistiscally and we do not understand why. There is no good theory. The extended mind
google lectures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY

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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby snowheight » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:41 pm

rob wrote:The video of cambell I saw it for 1/2 hour. For me he is not very scientific.


rob, here is a ten-minute extract from that talk that's about 2/5's of the way into it. This part of the lecture is about as scientific as it can get in that Campell delivers the most cogent explanation of the double-slit experiment I've ever seen, and unlike other physicists he doesn't pull punches as to the implication.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby abc123 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:00 am

rob wrote:Hi All,

The video of cambell I saw it for 1/2 hour. For me he is not very scientific.

A video with a little bit more scientific value, but again statistiscally and we do not understand why. There is no good theory. The extended mind
google lectures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnA8GUtXpXY

rob


To be searching for an answer from the outside you will only get empty answers as you have. Although pointers in the right direction are always good as shared here.
The only way for a answer you seek is to search on the inside, you need to be the scientist with this, there is no other way.
Understand that most people just aren't ready to go inwards and that's ok.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby rob » Sat Apr 14, 2012 11:35 pm

Hi snowheight,

here is a ten-minute extract from that talk that's about 2/5's of the way into it. This part of the lecture is about as scientific as it can get in that Campell delivers the most cogent explanation of the double-slit experiment I've ever seen, and unlike other physicists he doesn't pull punches as to the implication.

Have seen an lot of double slit examples, personally i do not find this good. You do not see in the extract that campell is referring to
conscious observation. We know if we measure the single photons/electrons we do not have interference pattern. But can we say that measurement is the same as conscious observing it?
That is according to me not scientific.

But i am not an expert in this field, it is only mine opinion.

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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby snowheight » Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:59 am

Rob,

Did you catch his point about how if you leave the detectors at the apertures connected and powered-up, but don't take any data, that the interference pattern remains?

The reason that the experiment is so remarkable is this simple fact: we have a physical manifestation (whether we measure an interference pattern -- specifically in the case of one electron or photon through the slits at a time -- or a scattering pattern) that cannot be explained solely by physical means.

The most widely accepted model of what's happening resorts to this parameter of the "observer" and incorporates the event of "observation" into the explanation of the result. While the concept of the "observer" hasn't been investigated by physicists to the extent that there is a clear definition, It has led to some interesting metaphysical speculation.

Regardless of the model used to explain the phenomenon, the discovery implicates the fallacy of materialism as a fundamental assumption.
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby DavidB » Wed May 23, 2012 3:55 pm

If you are referring to the self as mind and body, then there is much we can learn about this human self.

If you are referring to the self as consciousness, then there is nothing at all we can know about this self.

Mind and body arise within consciousness and are then easily observable as divisible forms.

Consciousness however, can never be outside itself and can never become an object to be observed, especially if the attempted observation is from a singular perspective originating from a manifest form such as the human mind and body. Any attempt to do so only manifests more forms arising from within consciousness.
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
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Re: What do we know about the self

Postby rob » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:35 am

Hello Snowheight,

Sorry for the late reply. The double slit is more mysterious. If you do the measurement experiment after the slit, the interference pattern will not be observed.
This means that the photon is changed back in time to go through one of the slits.

What is data recording? A measurement is already implying a kind of recording, readable by humans or not.

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