Why We Hide From Ourselves | Nietzsche

Our “true self” or, as I prefer, “authentic being” can be revealed through FIML practice, which requires two people each of whom provides a check on the other’s beliefs about what they are thinking or feeling. Personas are for people who have never experienced their authentic being. Without FIML the individual mind is plagued by doubt, suspicion, error, fantasy, conceits and delusions both pleasant and unpleasant. All of us are raised in conditions like that. Our parents, families, caregivers all were like that. FIML will fix all of it and show that your “true self” is not scary. It is simply not known to you. It is also not a self but a state of being, a dynamic state of being. It is much more complex and also much simpler than any persona. The hardest part about FIML is finding a partner to do it with. FIML is something you do. It is not a static doctrine. I am coming to the belief that the West is failing because Westerners see the emptiness of personas but cannot see the fullness of authentic being. It’s quite possible FIML practitioners are the “philosophers of the future” that Nietzsche wrote about, the “free spirits” who go not beyond good and evil but beyond confinement within fallacious personas. ABN

Lokavipatti Sutta: The Failings of the World

“Monks, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. Which eight? Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions.

“For an uninstructed ordinary person there arise gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. For a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones there also arise gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. So what difference, what distinction, what distinguishing factor is there between the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones and the uninstructed ordinary person?”

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These “eight worldly conditions” are often referred to as the eight winds. Contemplating these eight conditions is a beneficial Buddhist practice. Contemplation prepares us for them and informs us how to respond. ABN

How Lamborghini-driving grifter posing as a weed mogul swindled $35 million out of LA’s elite from his Calabasas mansion – once owned by Kylie Jenner – to fund his lavish lifestyle before it all went up in smoke

The handsome international sportsman, who represented UCLA and the Philippines in the decathlon, roared around Los Angeles in his yellow Lamborghini, returning home to his wife – a former model – and daughter – a model – for lavish parties in the mansion once owned by Kylie Jenner.

To his friends he was a jet-set businessman who generously included them in his lucrative deals and was involved in California’s booming marijuana business.

The pristine image fell apart when friends learnt to their horror that Bunevacz’s seemingly-gilded existence was indeed a sham – after he was arrested and charged last year over a $35million fraud. 

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The eight winds of Buddhism formed a cyclone around Bunevacz and many were blasted and battered by the turbulence. ABN

Making Sense of the Mental Universe

Try reading the following paper while keeping the Mind Only Buddhist interpretation of our world in mind.

In 2005, an essay was published in Nature asserting that the universe is mental and that we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things. Since then, experiments have confi rmed that — as predicted by quantum mechanics — reality is contextual, which contradicts at least intuitive formulations of realism and corroborates the hypothesis of a mental universe. Yet, to give this hypothesis a coherent rendering, one must explain how a mental universe can — at least in principle — accommodate (a) our experience of ourselves as distinct individual minds sharing a world beyond the control of our volition; and (b) the empirical fact that this world is contextual despite being seemingly shared. By combining a modern formulation of the ontology of idealism with the relational interpretation of quantum mechanics, the present paper attempts to provide a viable explanatory framework for both points. In the process of doing so, the paper also addresses key philosophical qualms of the relational interpretation. (Making Sense of the Mental Universe)

Edit: The explanation offered in the linked paper, without saying as much, provides a very reasonable way to see Buddhist rebirth occurring without there being any soul or pudgala being reborn. Nothing need fly out of the body or transmigrate anywhere.

Instead, the classic Buddhist description of karma alone giving rise to a new life works perfectly. Rather than conceive of ourselves as fundamentally material beings, we can conceive of our personal individuality as being (a part of a “mental universe”) enclosed within a Markov blanket.

If there is still karma, a new Markov blanket or bodily form will be “reborn” or rearise after the extinction of its prior existence. In Kastrup’s way of putting it, our physical bodies are themselves Markov blankets causing or allowing us to arise as forms separate from the wholeness of the mental universe.

I suppose we might venture to say that enlightenment occurs when the karma, or reason for our separation in a Markov blanket, is gone and “we” remain the whole (of the mental universe) without being reborn (in a body).

first posted JANUARY 29, 2020

Contemporary Hermits: A Developmental Psychopathology Account of Extreme Social Withdrawal (Hikikomori) in Young People

Although it is widely accepted that human beings have an ingrained ‘need to belong,’ there seem to be a substantial subset of young people who seclude themselves for most of the time at home and no longer engage in education or work, ultimately withdrawing from participation in society. In Japan, this phenomenon has been labeled as ‘hikikomori,’ but given its global presence it may be preferable to use the term ‘extreme social withdrawal’ (ESW). In this qualitative review, we provide a description and definition of ESW, provide figures on its prevalence, and discuss a number of associated concepts, including loneliness and “aloneliness,” school absenteeism and dropout, the ‘new’ developmental stage of adultolescence, and the labor force categories of freeter (‘freelance arbeiter’) and NEET (a young person not in employment, education, or training). The core of the paper is focused on the origins of ESW in young people and provides a narrative overview of relevant etiological factors, such as aberrant brain processes, unfavorable temperament, psychiatric conditions, adverse family processes including detrimental parenting, negative peer experiences, societal pressures, and excessive internet and digital media use, which are all placed within a comprehensive developmental psychopathology framework. We will close with a discussion of possible interventions for young people with ESW and formulate a guideline that describes (the temporal order of) various components that need to be included in such a treatment.

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I have only read the abstract linked above but am posting this paper because it may be of interest to readers of this site. From a Buddhist point of view, there are many legitimate reasons to withdraw from society or reduce one’s participation in it. I am not encouraging that but am saying asceticism is a major form of Buddhist practice as are long silence retreats. This is not the same as what’s known as hikikomori and for the most part I do not think Buddhist asceticism is pathological in any way. Since I haven’t read the paper, I have no more to say than that. ABN

The importance of analyzing tone of voice

Tone of voice is difficult to define clearly or control. It can also be very seriously misunderstood.

Nonetheless an algorithm designed by researchers has succeeded in predicting the outcomes of marital counseling with 79% accuracy, which is better than what human counselors predicted.

The study shows that tone of voice is measurable with decent accuracy and thus is an objective aspect of language to a point. I qualify that statement because tone of voice can also be misunderstood and misunderstandings can become habits and/or become serious hindrances to understanding if they are not properly analyzed.

One of the researchers had this to say of the study:

Psychological practitioners and researchers have long known that the way that partners talk about and discuss problems has important implications for the health of their relationships. However, the lack of efficient and reliable tools for measuring the important elements in those conversations has been a major impediment in their widespread clinical use. These findings represent a major step forward in making objective measurement of behavior practical and feasible for couple therapists. (Source)

Note the line: “…the lack of efficient and reliable tools for measuring the important elements in those conversations has been a major impediment in their widespread clinical use…”

This is good news for clinics, but what do you do at home years before you need to seek counseling for a rocky marriage?

What you can do is analyze at home using FIML techniques.

When FIML partners focus on analyzing tone of voice long before they are experiencing problems in their relationship, I am confident most of them will not develop problems, and surely most will never develop problems related to tone of voice.

Tone of voice is accessible to rational analysis and understanding if partners make FIML-type agreements to do so. Besides avoiding marital discord, FIML analyses provide many other insights into the idiosyncrasies of partners’ unique relationships and circumstances.

The study can be found here: Still Together?: The Role of Acoustic Features in Predicting Marital Outcome.

An article about the study can be found here: Words can deceive, but tone of voice cannot.

first posted NOVEMBER 26, 2015

Why you can’t fix it with generalities

Psychological, cognitive, emotional, or communicative problems cannot be fundamentally corrected by using general analyses or generalized procedures. You can teach someone to think and see differently, even to behave differently, by such procedures, but you cannot bring about deep change by using them. The reason this is so is change through generalizations does little more than substitute one external semiosis for another. The person seeking change will not experience deep change because all they are essentially doing is importing a different explanation of their “condition” into their life.

This happens with Buddhists who remain attached to surface meanings of the Dharma as well as to people seeking mainstream help for emotional problems. Any change will feel good for a while in most cases, but after some time stasis and a recurrence of the original problem, or something similar to it, will occur. You cannot become enlightened by importing someone else’s ideas. You cannot achieve deep transformation by replacing one inculcated semiosis with another. You cannot find your authentic “self” by using the static ideas of others.

The way around this problem is to use a technique that is at its core entirely dynamic. Buddhist mindfulness, which stresses attentiveness in and to the moment, is a dynamic technique. The problem with this technique in the modern world is it is not well-suited to the cacophony of signs and symbols that surround us almost all the time. Mindfulness too often entails being mindful of a cultural semiosis that is itself a tautology, a trap that does not contain within itself an obvious exit.

Mindfulness coupled with FIML practice overcomes this problem because the interactive dynamism of FIML gives partners a tool that strengthens mindfulness while at the same time affording them the opportunity to observe in the moment how their habitual semiosis operates, and why it operates that way. FIML gives partners the means to create a rational leverage-point that they can both share and use to grapple with neurotic issues that have always eluded generalized treatments.

FIML does not tell partners how to be or what to think. It describes nothing more than a technique that gives partners access to their deep “operating systems.” If you hack your “operating system” with FIML practice, you will find that you are able to eliminate neuroses (kleshas in Buddhist terms) and replace them with a semiosis (subculture) of your and your partner’s own choosing. To do FIML, partners must have a deep ethical, emotional, and intellectual commitment to each other, but it is important to recognize that these are not static or generalized ideas. They are dynamic principles upon which the transformational behaviors of FIML are built.

first posted APRIL 26, 2012

Philosophical psychology

Are your thought patterns valid? Are your premises true? Is your mind sound?

Buddhism further asks are your mental states wholesome? Are they conducive to enlightenment, wisdom, freedom from delusion?

There are many things we can do while alone to clean up our thought processes. And there are some things we can only do with the help of another person.

Only another person can tell us if our premises, thoughts, and conclusions (however tentative) about them are true, valid, and sound.

Buddhism has a concept of a “spiritual friend,” a “good friend,” a noble friend,” or an “admirable friend.” All of these terms are translations of the Pali Kalyāṇa-mittatā, which is well-explained at that link. (Chinese 善知識). That link is well-worth reading in full.

From the link above and from many years of working with Buddhist literature and people, my sense is that a Buddhist “good friend” is someone who is to be admired and emulated. They are similar to what we mean today by mentors or “good role models.”

I deeply respect the concept of a Buddhist good friend, but find it lacks what I consider the preeminent virtue of philosophical psychology—real-time honesty based on a teachable technique.

Indeed, I cannot find anything anywhere in world philosophy, religion, or literature that provides a teachable technique for attaining real-time honesty with another person.

I also do not quite understand how this could be.

For many centuries human beings have thought about life but no one has come up with a technique like FIML?

How can that be?

I do not see a technique like FIML anywhere in the history of human philosophy nor anywhere in modern psychology.

The importance of a “good friend” who does FIML with you cannot be overemphasized because it is only through such a friend that you can discover where your premises about them are right or wrong, where your thoughts about them are valid or not, and through those discoveries where your mind itself is arranged soundly or not.

first posted MAY 30, 2017

UPDATE 12/14/23: Buddhists can and should make Buddhist practice their own, update or improve the practice with new ideas that are sound, valid, and true. This is a very positive and excellent side of Buddhism, which is not written in stone. Buddhism is preeminently a mind-to-mind teaching. It does not depend on ancient texts or the absolute interpretation of words. It depends on fulsome understanding of the deep truths at the core of all Buddhist thinking—impermanence, emptiness, and nirvana. Anything that is consonant with those three truths and conforms to Buddhist morals is good Buddhism. Anything that contradicts those three truths and/or Buddhist morals is not Buddhism.

The Buddha encouraged teaching the Dharma in people’s native languages. He discouraged writing his teachings down because he did not want them to become sacred texts that people worshipped rather than understood. FIML practice is an efficient, detailed, sound, and accurate way for “good friends” to deeply share mind-to-mind communion/communication with each other. In this sense, it is excellent Buddhist practice. FIML has no other teaching than how to communicate really well with a good friend. FIML does not tell you what to think or believe. Anyone can do it. ABN

Is Christianity a Hoax? | Dr E Michael Jones vs Adam Green

I watched more than half of this last night. It is quite interesting for the first one-third or so, especially if Green’s ideas are new to you. Around the halfway point it declines into a spat over the existence of God. I stopped five minutes into that; may watch more of it later because the topic is interesting. Better to stage this kind of thing as a discussion rather than a debate. ABN

Fabula and semiotics

Fabula are “the raw material of a story or narrative.”

I want to borrow this term to denote the raw material of a purposive conversation. For example, if I say to my partner that I want to have a salad for dinner, the notion or idea of that salad is a fabula that we can now discuss.

Our discussion of this as yet non-existent salad, this salad fabula, will include particular items, acts, and visualizations. For example, I may want sliced tomatoes in the salad, my partner may mention some olives in the refrigerator. We may both visualize our salad bowl and kitchen while we decide who does what.

Before the salad is made it is a fabula. The particular elements that go into getting the salad made while they are still only in our minds are semiotic elements.

In this sense, semiotics can be defined as the units or parts of a conversational fabula. We use these semiotics to discuss how to make what kind of salad.

We do the same thing with virtually all other conversational subjects. That is, we declare or grope toward determining what our fabula is and use semiotics to further clarify our vision of it. While doing this, ideally, we will remain open to real-time alterations and misunderstandings about both the fabula and the semiotics.

In these terms, most reasonable (and many unreasonable) conversations can be understood as two (or more) people negotiating* the “meanings” of their imperfectly shared fabula and semiotics. The fabula is a sort of context that defines the semiotics used in the discussion of it.

When the conversation is about salads, much of the process of going from a salad fabula to a real salad is straightforward and unproblematical.

When a conversation is about matters that are more ambiguous, subjective, emotional, or existential, there may be more problems because the fabula often will not be as clear as a salad to both parties. Or if it is, it may lead parties to quickly cleave to cliches or obvious explanations, thus limiting fresh responses or creative insights.

FIML practice can fix these problems by getting partners to clarify their fabula while also allowing them to alter it, or even change it entirely, as their discussion progresses.

The same is true at a different level for the semiotics they employ in their discussion. With FIML practice these semiotics often can be adjusted and clarified as soon as diverging understanding is noticed in either person’s mind.

Even if diverging understandings persist for some time, experienced FIML partners will be better prepared notice them when the opportunity arises.

A more complex example of this is an ongoing discussion my partner and I have had for several years. The basic discussion involves a strong reaction I sometimes have to cosmetic surgery. I admit that my reaction can be irrational and I can’t quite explain it. My partner frequently makes the point that I do like cosmetic surgery as long as I don’t notice it and/or like the results. We have gone back and forth on this quite a few times without ever getting a really good resolution, until a few days ago. The core problem had been that I do dislike the idea of cosmetic surgery, period. And also, I do recognize that it can be necessary and that if I like the results, I may be able to accept it even when it is not necessary.

We had never been involved in a simple dichotomy—like versus don’t like—but we both had been speaking as if we were. This was mostly my fault as I sometimes expressed revulsion at some forms of cosmetic surgery, but it was also not true that I actually liked the surgery if I liked the results or didn’t notice it.

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*I mean the word negotiating not so much as making a deal but more as negotiating a narrow foot bride across a stream or negotiating a turn in an automobile. Negotiation in this sense is an effort between two or more people to make many small adjustments to arrive at a mutually satisfying result, the “meaning” of which is understood in roughly the same way by all parties.

first posted JANUARY 8, 2014

UPDATE 12/12/23: Wow, did I have a huge misunderstanding of a conversational fabula last night. I had trouble falling asleep over it and woke up ruminating on it. My partner is a genius and all I did was bring it up and describe exactly what I had thought and within minutes, everything was cleared up. I can’t go into it because it is too complex. But I can say that this kind of mistake is what causes neurosis, emotional agony, even mental illness. This is the kind of mistake FIML was designed to correct. Usually, FIML mistakes are small and involve semiotics but a huge fabula mistake is always possible, as I saw very clearly over the past 12 hours. I cannot thank my partner enough for having such deep understanding of me, herself, and what we had been talking about and how we generally talk. FIML is a profound training exercise. If you have ever gotten anything from this site (or not), please try FIML. It is by far the best unique thing I have to offer. ABN

The Buddha and mindfulness

UPDATE: I originally had a video on mindfulness in this spot but decided to take it down because it is not very good. ABN

The biggest mindfulness bang for the buck you can get is FIML practice because FIML shows you through your own effort how to listen and speak realistically and accurately with your partner. When you do FIML, both you and your partner will discover many mistakes in how you speak and how you hear. This will provide many insights into how both of you use your minds and how your minds work. At the same time it will greatly improve your relationship and give you many insights into it. FIML practice will also greatly inform and improve your other relationships.

All Buddhist practice can be placed at least in one of three categories. These are: 1) morality or ethics; 2) concentration, mindfulness, or meditation; and 3) wisdom or insight. FIML practice is extremely valuable for Buddhist practice because it prevents solipsistic understanding, unrealistic idealism, ungrounded thoughts and behaviors. FIML practice provides each partner with an accuracy check on what they hear, say, and think. It provides a kind of intellectual or spiritual parallax that helps us locate ourselves much more accurately in reality — however you conceive of that — than when we do mindfulness practice without this kind of input.

FIML practice is an excellent model for all mindfulness. It may even be the best model possible. The reason for this is when you do FIML you are working with your closest friend, your best friend, the person who trusts you the most in all the world and whom you trust the most in all the world. This is the best person in all the world to help you become more mindful, more ethical, more insightful and wise. I might add that in the Buddha’s day, monks traveled together in pairs for most of each year. FIML can be fully explained by using the Buddha’s Five Skandha explanation of how the mind works. See the note at the end of that link for how to apply it to FIML. ABN

Sophiology

Sophiology (Russian: Софиология, by detractors also called Sophianism Софианство or Sophism Софизм) is a controversial school of thought in Russian Orthodoxy which holds that Divine Wisdom (or Sophia) is to be identified with God’s essence, and that the Divine Wisdom is in some way expressed in the world as ‘creaturely’ wisdom.[1] This notion has often been understood or misunderstood (depending upon one’s point of view) as introducing a feminine “fourth hypostasis” into the Trinity.[2]

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A mass exodus from Christianity is underway in America. Here’s why

While the trend toward atheism and agnosticism in Europe has been a slow but steady decline, Bullivant said, the increase in Christians dropping the faith didn’t really take off in the U.S. until the early 2000s, and the decline since then has been steep and quick.

For people who study such trends, there was kind of this feeling in the ’90s that if a rise in secularism hadn’t happened yet in America, there was no reason to think it would. “Even the most dramatic historical examples of religious growth or decline tend to occur over many generations,” said Bullivant. “But then it was as if in the early 2000s, something was released.”

And it’s important to note, said Bullivant, that it wasn’t about an influx of secular immigrants or nones raising throngs of nonreligious babies. It was about Americans deciding they were not tied to any religion. Interestingly, while a third of Americans that identify as nones say they are atheist or agnostic, Bullivant notes in his book, the rest have varying degrees of belief in God — Christian or otherwise.

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Those who want to save or reconstruct Western civilization must not ignore to the rapid decline of Christianity. Western civilization is much more than one religion. Civilizationally, a religion is an agreed upon moral, intellectual, and linguistic standard. It provides a backbone or reference point for laws, behaviors, and societal goals. Buddhism could fill that role very well. Buddhism is closer to ancient Greek and Roman philosophies than Christianity. Buddhism is rational, ethical, and teaches spiritual wisdom above all else. Buddhism has zero problem accepting science or evidence-based reason. It also has zero problem accepting other religious traditions. Christians can be Buddhists and no Buddhist will ever have a problem with that. Same for all other religions if they have an ethical basis, are able to change as new truths are discovered, and respect the ineffable primacy of the unnamable, which you are free to name in your own way. ABN

We do not experience our world continuously but in discrete snapshots, a Buddhist therapeutic interpretation

This report — Brain oscillations reveal that our senses do not experience the world continuously — supports the core activity of FIML practice, which entails noticing the first instant(s) of the arising of an emotional sensation (that is typically tied to a much more involved “mistaken interpretation” within the brain). By interfering with the first instant(s) of arising, FIML practice forestalls the habitual wave of neurotic interpretation that normally follows. Instead, new information — better data obtained from the FIML partner — is used to replace the cue that led to the initial sensation, thus redefining that cue.

Professor Gregor Thut of the University of Glasgow, where the study was conducted, says of its results: “For perception, this means that despite experiencing the world as a continuum, we do not sample our world continuously but in discrete snapshots determined by the cycles of brain rhythms.”

I would further hypothesize that the same holds true for our “perceptions” of inner emotional states. In this context, recall the five skandhas of Buddhism — form, sensation, perception, activity, consciousness. A form can arise in the mind or outside of the mind. This form gives rise to a sensation (which is the first initiation of a FIML query), which gives rise to perception, followed by activity (mental or physical), and lastly consciousness.

In Buddhist teachings, the five skandhas occur one after the other, very rapidly. They are not a continuous stream but rather a series of “discrete snapshots,” to use Thut’s words. In FIML practice, partners want to interfere with what has become a habitual “firing” of their five skandhas based on (neurotic) learned cues. FIML practice strives to prevent full-blown neurotic consciousness (the fifth skandha) from taking control of the mind by replacing the source of that consciousness with a more realistic interpretation of the neurotic cue. The cue corresponds to form in the five skandhas explanation while our emotional reaction to it begins with the second skandha, sensation. The more realistic interpretation of that cue is based on the true words of the partner.

The five skandhas can also help us understand how FIML is different from more or less normal psychological analysis. In normal, or traditional, analysis we use theories and schema to understand ourselves. In FIML we use a specific technique to interfere with habitual neurotic “firings” of the five skandhas. FIML partners are encouraged to theorize and speak about themselves in any way they like, and it is very helpful to do this, but the core FIML activity cannot be replaced by just theorizing or telling stories.

Here is a link to the study itself: Sounds Reset Rhythms of Visual Cortex and Corresponding Human Visual Perception.

slightly edited, first posted MAY 14, 2012