…is the contemplation of the goodness of others. It doesn’t wane, doesn’t require new fixes, quietly improves the self.
The term idiotics means “the idiosyncratic agglomeration of the semiotics of a single individual.”
An individual’s idiotics indicates the agglomeration of public and private semiotics that comprise the unique signaling system of their mind; this signaling system is what we normally call a person’s mind.
Each individual brain has an idiotics that is unique to it. The signaling system that employs and organizes this unique idiotics works internally within the individual and externally as a system that signals to other people.
Problems in signaling—both internal and external problems—occur when the signaling systems of two (or more) people are not in good accord. That is, when two (or more) people misunderstand the signals they are sending to each other or the signals being sent to them. Obviously, mistakes in signaling can and frequently do compound, or snowball, leading to very large errors.
To control for error, human beings have probably evolved master semiotics that provide general ways for people to comprehend (pretty badly or well-enough, depending on your perspective) the signaling of other people.
Let’s call these general semiotic categories that allow for crude comprehension between people sociotics.
Sociotics is a compound of the words sociology and semiotics. It means the “public semiotics,” or socially agreed upon and accepted semiotics, of just about any group you can think of.
Most sociotics is emotional. A good deal of it is very emotional. The beliefs of a religion, the stories of an ethnic group, the values of a community can be extremely emotional.
In this respect, a great deal of sociotics binds very deeply with human emotion to form an intoxicating blend of meaning and feeling.
Most people do not see any choice but to adopt a sociotics. Without one, they feel lost, empty, undefined. Even the sociotics of science can be very emotional, to say nothing of the sociotics of political, gender, or ethnic identities.
FIML partners will surely find that their idiotics have strong sociotic components. Rather than accept their inherited and often mindless and emotional sociotics, partners would do well to analyze them and transfer their emotional allegiance away from them and toward rational bonding with each other based on FIML principles.
FIML has much greater power to organize the sociotics and idiotics of FIML partners than does any other traditional communication system. This is so because FIML practice provides a means for partners to understand each other without resorting to thoughtless extrinsic sociotic categories for mutual definition. FIML practice helps partners form wholesome bonds with each other without becoming entangled in the emotional and irrational sociotics of large groups.
Another way to say this is FIML is a sort of “operating system” for the mind/brain, while sociotics are broadly shared public references that are fairly static and not too complex.
Ideally, good scientific practice is also an operating system rather than a static sociotic. The scientific method deeply informs FIML practice, but since FIML is an interpersonal operating system, it cannot be the same as science. FIML can be investigated by the scientific method and it can be confirmed or falsified by the scientific method, but this is not strictly (in the sense of formal science) the job of FIML partners. FIML partners, however, if they are doing FIML correctly, are engaged in a practice that is fundamentally rational and objective and that removes mistakes from partners’ signaling systems, including sociotic mistakes.
First posted April 24, 2013 ~ ABN
The three essentials of any sentient communication system are:
- its rules
- awareness of those rules
- meta-awareness of how those rules are working
Culture is fundamentally a communication system.
Individual sentient beings require communication within themselves (the bodily system, individual subjectivity).
Humans also require communication with other sentient beings, especially humans. This could be called the instinct to be in or to form a culture.
We see this instinct in its rawest form in children as they learn language and behavior.
We also see it in raw form in adolescents and young adults as they seek out communication systems in art, political ideology, religion, ethnicity, career and community alliances, and so on.
Psychologically, humans are most fulfilled when they:
- are in a culture with good communication rules
- are aware of those rules
- are able to achieve metacognition of those rules; that is, how they are working within themselves and in relation to other humans
This satisfies the instinct to be in or form a culture.
The instinct to be in or form a culture can be super-satisfied if the culture has:
- really good rules
- same as #2 above
- metacognition of those rules has great explanatory power and is gratifying psychologically
Related: Buddhist practice can be divided into Three Trainings:
- Sila or ethics, morality
- Samdhi or concentration
- Prajna or wisdom
To me these Three Trainings look very much like the three points made in several ways above.
Until very recently, I had never thought of this but FIML practice can also be understood in terms of these three basic approaches to cultural and psychological communication.
- fulfills our instinct to form or be in a culture
- harmonizes our psychologies
- provides a metacognitive vantage that explains (or enlightens us to) many things.
Since FIML rules are simple and open to infinite input, partners are able to form a super-satisfying culture based on their own needs and desires.
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.
Unless the person is depressed, contemplation of death is considered a good—even essential—practice for Buddhists.
“Analysis of death is not for the sake of becoming fearful but to appreciate this precious lifetime.” —Dalai Lama
I had an experience with this contemplation recently.
A bad sign made me decide to see a doctor. She said, “Full disclosure, this could be serious.”
I was calm because I already knew that. The clinic took blood and did some other tests.
I went home and thought about what might happen. My ensuing contemplation of death had not been planned but it did “concentrate the mind wonderfully.”
In doing so, it relieved me of all of my usual worries and fears. For days I was able to float above my life and look upon (almost) every moment as unique and valuable.
I loved this state. Everything I don’t like about myself went away.
Then my symptoms disappeared and I realized I was not going to die soon, at least not from what I had thought.
And almost immediately my concentration changed and the stuff I don’t like about myself (almost all) came back.
The worst thing you can do is trick someone into using their conscience to cause harm.
This not only causes said harm but also undermines the person’s moral sense, their trust in their own moral feelings. To say nothing of their trust in others.
This sort of mental jujitsu attacks the victim in the most important part of their mind, the part that guides them forward in a good direction.
Our ability to tell the difference between wholesome and unwholesome mental states is one power we never want to lose and never want to harm or undermine in others.
Examine closely all appeals to your conscience. Each one must be analyzed for hypocrisy, mendacity, who really benefits, and what the long-term consequences would be.
Very pleased to read about a study on psychedelics and religion: Religious leaders get high on magic mushrooms ingredient – for science.
I am not at all surprised that of the lucky people chosen for this study, “So far everyone incredibly values their experience. No one has been confused or upset or regrets doing it.”
I call them lucky because where else can you medical-grade psilocybin?
If anyone hears of another study like this one, please let me know! I want to join.
More on Buddhism and psychedelics can be found here: Are We Misunderstanding the Fifth Precept?
Edit: 3:30 PM: Research Shows Magic Mushrooms Can Offer Real Benefits in Depression Therapy. Quote:
A review of the research on combining therapy with the psychoactive component from magic mushrooms has concluded it’s not only a safe and effective way to treat conditions related to anxiety, depression, and addiction, it could be better than many existing forms of treatment.