Consciousness as reality itself

In Buddhism the idea that consciousness is reality and reality is conscious is called “mind only” or Yogachara.

David Ray Griffin, a process theologian, has come to similar conclusions—that reality is fundamentally conscious.

As has Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine.

Hoffman came at this subject from a mathematical angle, but arrived at a similar conclusion to Yogachara Buddhism. Hoffman says:

As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. (The Case Against Reality)

I tend to reach similar conclusions when I think about everything in terms of signals.

The advantage of thinking in terms of signals is we get a good picture of “reality” without needing to say what is real beyond the signal itself.

This kind of thinking is helpful for metaphysics but it is also extremely practical when it comes to human psychology.

Rather than posit personality types and what goes wrong or right with them, we analyze how people send and receive signals instead.

In thinking along these lines, I have come to the conclusion that most psychology as most people understand it uses “arms-length” language, the language of meso and macro signals rather than the much more precise language of the micro signals that actually comprise our shared “realities.”

The difference can be illustrated in this way: Rather than explain your most recent signal (sent or received) in terms of personality, explain it by accessing the micro-signals of short-term memory to find its true antecedents.

If you do this again and again by using a game such as FIML, you will probably come to conclusions similar to the above—that there is no deeper substance to psychological reality than your consciousness of it.

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first posted 08/05/17

Christianity in the U.S. is quickly shrinking and may no longer be the majority religion within just a few decades, research finds

new report by Pew Research Center and the General Social Survey published on Tuesday found that the large numbers of people in the U.S who practice Christianity are declining. The religion’s demographic has been dwindling since the 1990s, the report said, as many adults transition to an identity of atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” 

In the early ’90s, about 90% of people in the U.S. identified as Christians, the report said. In 2020, Christians accounted for about 64% of the U.S. population, including children. Meanwhile, those who are not affiliated with a religion has grown from 16% in 2007 to 30% in 2020, according to the research. All other religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, accounted for about 6% in 2020. 

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This image is profoundly misleading because it leaves out a major factor

A major cause of anger and all other emotional reactions during interpersonal communications is mistaken interpretations, either wrong or distorted. This can also include positive interpretations.

For Buddhists, the second skandha (sensation) is the proximate cause of how we perceive (third skandha) forms (first skandha). The fourth and fifth skandhas (mental activity and consciousness) are how we consolidate or more often reconsolidate the original mistaken or distorted sensation. For more on this see: The Five Skandhas.

For non-Buddhists, if you watch your mind closely you will notice there is a short delay between receiving an impression and reacting to it, interpreting it.

For everyone, if you can be mindful of the second skandha (sensation) as it occurs and then interrupt the habitual firing of the next three skandhas by doing a FIML query, you will begin to truly observe how your mind (and your partner’s mind) really works. Each interruption of this type improves your mental and emotional functioning because you will observe an objective bit of reality and correct toward it. For more information see: Disruption of neurotic response in FIML practice and How the brain processes new information. ABN

Brett Sutton provides a good example of a really bad apology

This “apology” feels wrong. We sense the speaker is doing several things so badly he may be insincere. Sutton is the Chief Health Officer of Victoria, Australia. From a Buddhist point of view, which I think can stand for a universal ethical point of view, an apology should: 1) clearly recognize fault and state specifically what it was; 2) explain why the fault occurred without excusing it in any way; 3) apologize for the fault and accept full responsibility for your part; 4) make amends where possible or pay forward; 5) vow to never do it again. ABN

The limits of general semiotic analyses as applied to human psychology

Much of the work done in human semiotics involves analyses of semiotic codes.

Semiotics and semiotic codes are often treated like language or languages for which a grammar can be found.

One obvious problem with this sort of approach is semiotics indicates a set that is much broader than language. Stated another way, language is a subset of semiotics.

Human semiotics also include music, imagery, gesture, facial expression, emotion, and anything else that can communicate either within one mind or between two or more minds.

It is very helpful to analyze semiotic codes and it is very helpful to try to figure out how cultures, groups, and individuals use them. We can compare the semiotics of heroism in Chinese culture to that of French culture. Or the semiotics of gift-giving in American culture to that of Mexican culture. We can analyze movies, literature, science, and even engineering based on semiotic codes we have abstracted out of them.

We can do something similar for human psychology.

Analyses of this type are, in my view, general in that they involve schema or paradigms or grammars that say general things about how semiotic systems work or how individuals (or semiotic signs themselves) fit into those systems.

This is all good and general analyses of this sort can be indispensable aids to understanding.

General semiotic analyses are limited, however, in their application to human psychology because such analyses cannot effectively grasp the semiotic codes of the individual. Indeed general analyses are liable to conceal individual codes and interpretations more than usefully reveal them.

This is so because all individuals are always complex repositories of many general semiotic codes as well as many individual ones. And these codes are always changing, responding, being conditioned by new circumstances and many kinds of feedback.

Individuals as repositories of many codes, both external and internal, are complex and always changing and there is no general analysis that will ever fully capture that complexity.

For somewhat similar reasons, no individual acting alone can possibly perform a self-analysis that captures the full complexity of the many and always-changing semiotic codes that exist within them.

Self-analysis is far too subject to selection bias, memory, and even delusion to be considered accurate or objective. The individual is also far too complex for the individual to grasp alone. How can an individual possibly stand outside itself and see itself as it is? Where would the extra brain-space come from?

How can a system of complex semiotic codes use yet another code to successfully analyze itself?

Clearly, no individual human semiotic system can ever fully know itself.

To recap, 1) there is no general semiotic analysis that will ever capture the complexity of individual psychology, and 2) no individual acting alone can ever capture the complexity of the semiotic codes that exist within them.

Concerning point two, we could just as well say that no individual acting alone can ever capture the complexity of their own psychology.

We are thus prevented from finding a complex analysis of human psychology through a general analysis of semiotics and also through an individual’s self-analysis when acting alone.

This suggests, however, that two individuals acting together might be able to glimpse, if not grasp, how their complex semiotic codes are actually functioning when they interact with each other. If two individuals working together can honestly observe and discuss moments of dynamic real-time semiotic interaction between them, they should be able to begin to understand how their immensely complex and always-changing psycho-semiotic codes are actually functioning.

An approach of this type ought to work better for psychological understanding of the individuals involved than any mix of general semiotic analyses applied to them. Indeed, prefabricated, general semiotic analyses will tend to conceal the actual functioning of the idiosyncratic semiotics and semiotic codes used by those individuals.

The FIML method does not apply a general semiotic analysis to human psychology. Rather it uses a method or technique to allow two individuals working together to see and understand how their semiotics and semiotic codes are actually functioning.

first posted APRIL 16, 2015

A perfect moral, dramatic, pragmatic, linguistic, psychological, spiritual, and emotional act…

…is a proper FIML query.

It is perfect (in no special order) morally because it seeks truth and goodness between two people; dramatically because it uses our innate dramatic instinct to question our own deep sense of live drama in the moment; pragmatically because it is eminently practical; linguistically because it is an extremely good use of language, possibly the best use; psychologically because it benefits both the self and other in profound ways while also revealing deep behavioral patterns painlessly; spiritually because it stimulates the spirit and spiritual metacognition, bringing both partners closer to their ideals; and emotionally because it forestalls false negative and destructive emotional responses, replacing them with joyful understanding. FIML is a pursuit of truth shared by two people. It is a technique, a method, that can be used in any religion, philosophy, world-view, or lifestyle. In the beginning, FIML does not even depend on scrupulous truthfulness because the practice itself will reveal the value of truthfulness, which ultimately will require almost no effort. Truthfulness is an instinct or inkling of deepest consciousness. Once seen, it calls forth itself.

ABN

first posted NOVEMBER 5, 2021

do your best

You have fully experienced seeing through the illusion of self. You made that decision at such a young age it can hardly be considered your decision, but that’s what happened and you are the one who has to live with it now. Having myself experienced a different but extremely serious trauma at almost exactly your age (I was 13), I can fully relate to your sadness. The success that can be derived from experiences like these is the success of seeing beyond the worldly ego. You can’t possibly go back, so accept it. From now on always do your best. Use your deepest mind to understand your conditions as deeply as you can, and then do your best based on that understanding.

If the person who wrote the above sees this, I hope she will understand and feel some comfort even if it seems hard to do. Deep trauma and huge mistakes can and do make us stronger and realer. There is no external consolation prize for trauma and no gain to be had by playing the victim, but there is a profound inner payoff. ABN

Wise compassion

The highest virtue in Buddhism is wisdom, not compassion.

Unwise compassion—that is compassion that brings harm rather than good—is bad.

I think the Pope’s talk as described in the following article is an example of unwise compassion.

Francis reprimands European leaders, forcefully asking continent: ‘What has happened to you?’

The Pope tried to highlight Europe’s “strengths” with his lofty rhetoric, but I think he revealed some of its deepest weaknesses.

Identifying a temptation to “yield to our own selfish interests” by “putting up fences here and there” to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, the pontiff said: “I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being.”

I probably shouldn’t say any of what I have said and what I am going to say next: Each of the major Abrahamic religions suffers from the flaw of holding some word or law or ideal above human wisdom.

first posted MAY 6, 2016

Another victory for RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Judge rebukes Department of Defense and Marine Corps for refusing to grant religious accommodation requests to service members

(The Center Square) – U.S District Court Judge Steven Merryday issued a blistering rebuke of the Department of Defense and Marine Corps for refusing to grant religious accommodation requests to service members.

Merryday did so when issuing a 48-page ruling Thursday in which he granted class action status for all active and reserve U.S. Marine Corps service men and women in a lawsuit filed against the Secretary of Defense over the department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

…In his order, Merryday points out that 3,733 Marines had requested religious accommodations and only 11 were granted to those who’d already put in for retirement. He then asked, “Is it more likely than not – in nearly all 3,733 cases – that no reasonable accommodation was available?

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