These videos may contain valuable instruction or confirmation for some Buddhists and FIML practitioners

There are other articles with similar videos in today’s Daily Mail. I watched three of the vids at the link and found they confirm the First Noble Truth in ways we can relate to today. They also show the value of having a stable ethical practice like the Noble Eightfold Path.

FIML practice can be described as a modern pair-work take on Buddhist mindfulness and concentration. FIML provides an objective way to clearly see yourself in real life while also helping your partner to do the same.

This world is rife with delusion. Many people lose their lives to it. Others crack up very badly. I make no judgement of anyone. Contemplating our own mistakes and excesses as well as those of others can be a sort of Buddhist Contemplation of the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering. ABN

Dual-Process Theories of the Mind as means to analyze real-world, real-time interpersonal data

…Despite their differences, dual-process theories share the common idea that thoughts, behaviors, and feelings result from the interaction between exogenous and endogenous forms of attention. Both types of attention can be applied to representations to increase or decrease their level of activation. As the activation level of a representation increases, so does its accessibility, which in turn increases the probability that it will influence behavior. In times of conflict [When a FIML query is initiated], accessibility can be managed (i.e., maintained or inhibited) during the stream of processing by the control of attention. In a sense, the “source” of attention (LaBerge, 2000), that is, whatever mechanism that applies the activation to the representation, can be thought of as the gateway of accessibility that is the essence of controlled processing.

Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity and Dual-Process Theories of the Mind

FIML practice is a form of mindfulness training with the addition of controlled attention processing which enables rapid gathering of real-world data followed by analysis thereof. This controlled attention processing is a learned behavior shared by both partners. The general concept of this learned/trained behavior is explained in How to do FIML. Individual partners adapt this learned/trained behavior to their own lives. In this sense FIML itself has no content. It is wholly a technique that allows rapid analysis of agreed upon objective interpersonal data. ABN

The human brain can process images very quickly: MIT reserachers

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — The human brain is capable of processing images viewed through the eyes for as little as 13 milliseconds, according to research conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientists.

That processing speed figure is significantly faster than the 100 milliseconds reported in earlier research, the MIT News Office reported.

The new MIT study appears in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. In the research, investigators asked subjects to look for a particular type of image, such as “smiling couple,” as they viewed a series of as many as 12 images, each presented for between 13 and 80 milliseconds

“The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates to us that what vision does is find concepts. That’s what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we’re looking at,” Mary Potter, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and senior author of the study, told MIT News.

Rapid-fire processing of images could serve to help direct the eyes to their next target, Potter said. “The job of the eyes is not only to get the information into the brain, but to allow the brain to think about it rapidly enough to know what you should look at next. So in general, we’re calibrating our eyes so they move around just as often as possible consistent with understanding what we’re seeing,” she said.

link

The paper is here: Detecting meaning in RSVP at 13 ms per picture.

FIML works with information rapidly entering the working memory, much of which is visual. Psycholinguistic auditory information can also be received and processed very quickly. Consider some tones of voice. FIML seeks to beneficially interfere in the processing of immediate interpersonal information in order to understand its deep psychological roots. The FIML technique is fairly easy to do if it is understood that the critical focus is on information that just occurred. ABN

Engineering Illusions of The Science

Much of what most people believe is science, is not science. A lot of people might agree with that sentiment, but there is a more important corollary that will make some scientists flip their lids, which is that most of what scientists believe is science, is not science.

We really are that far down the road of misunderstanding or totalitarianism or something.

The story I’m about to tell begins with a warm and fuzzy documentary, but spirals into threats made to a highly respected scientist who took his family into hiding. The tale begins with an essay I wrote many years ago (you can skip it…this is the better essay) that I believe displays something like the infection of science with a virus. This was a story for which I was particularly well suited to examine for reasons you will come to understand if you don’t know me already. Upon digging into this story, what I found was quite troubling as it points to the subtle presence of hard-to-identify corruption that is therefore likely more the norm in “The Science”™ than an outlier.

link

This morning my FIML partner told me an essay by Mathew Crawford (linked above) says exactly what I always say about FIML practice—that it just takes practice and that almost anyone can do it with not even that much effort. I am 100% certain Mathew could learn basic FIML in a few hours if he has a suitable partner or a good teacher. In fact, I hereby volunteer to teach him the “tricks” for free. You do not need to be really smart to do FIML. You do have to be willing to practice. Sadly, the hardest part of learning FIML is finding an honest partner who also wants to learn. While math tricks can get attention, FIML can open your mind to levels of conscious understanding you cannot even imagine today. I guarantee it. ABN

The Five Skandhas

The Buddha’s explanation of the five skandhas is intended to help us understand the emptiness of the self. It is a short explanation aimed at his most intelligent students.

The Sanskrit word skandha means “heap” or “aggregate” in English. Sometimes the Buddha compared the skandhas to heaps of rice. They are the “heaps” of psycho-perceptual data that comprise the “contents” of our minds. The five skandhas are conditioned dharmas (literally, “conditioned things”), which is to say that they are impermanent and empty, and when improperly understood lead to delusive attachments characterized by greed, anger, and ignorance. The purpose of the Buddha’s five skandha explanation is to help us see through the skandhas, or disentangle ourselves from them. In some Buddhist texts the five skandhas are called the “five covers” because they cover our minds and prevent us from seeing deep levels of reality. In others they are called the “five yin (versus yang)” because they cloud the mind and hide the truth from us. I will discuss each of the five skandhas in the sections below.

1) The first skandha is form. Form, in this case, means anything that leads to, or is capable of leading to, the next skandha. Forms can be visual, auditory, or sensory. They can be dreams, memories, feelings, or moods. Forms are often described as being “obstructions” because, though they may lead to complex thought and activity, they are also hindrances to mental clarity since the activity they lead to is essentially delusive. It is important to remember that the five skandha explanation is an explanation of the deluded mind and its thought processes.

The Abhidharma-mahavibhasa Shastra categorizes the skandha of form into three types:

a) Visible forms with a referent in the outer world such as color, size, length, position, shape, and so on.

b) Invisible forms with a referent in the outer world that are associated with the other sensory organs such as sounds, smells, tastes, and the sensations arising from physical contact.

c) Invisible forms with no referent in the outer world such as dreams, memories, thoughts, feelings, and so on. Though a dream may be “visible” to the dreamer, it is called “invisible” here because no one else can see it. This last category of forms is associated with what the Buddha called “mental dharmas.”

2) The second skandha is sensation. Following the appearance of a form, the mind reacts to it with a sensation that is either positive, negative, or neutral. We either like it, don’t like it, or are neutral about it. Though it is possible to become conscious of this skandha, most of us most of the time are not.

Sensations are generally categorized into two types:

a) Sensations of the body coming from the outside world through any of the sensory organs, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and so on.

b) Sensations of the mind which may or may not come from the outside world. These include moods, feelings, memories, dreams, thoughts, ideas, and so on.

Both kinds of sensation are, of course, based on the prior appearance of a form. Greed and anger have their roots in the skandha of sensation, for if we enjoy a positive sensation we are liable to become greedy about it, while if we do not enjoy it, we are liable to become “angry” or irritable concerning it. The deep meaning of greed is “excessive attraction” to a sensation that we deem to be agreeable or positive, while the deep meaning of anger (or hatred) is “excessive aversion” to a sensation that we deem disagreeable or negative. Neutral sensations often are the result of our ignorance or lack of understanding, though as we progress in Buddhist practice they may be the result of wisdom.

Positive and negative sensations associated with the body are generally considered to be weaker than those associated with the mind, though both types of sensations often are interrelated. An example of this mixture and distinction might be a light slap in the face. While the physical sensation is only mildly unpleasant, the mental sensation will be quite strong in most cases. And yet both are interrelated.

3) The third skandha is perception. This skandha refers to the deepening of a sensation. It is the point where the mind begins to latch onto its sensations. At this point conscious recognition of form and sensation normally begins. It is possible to become conscious of the first and second skandhas as they are occurring, but most of us generally are not. During the skandha of perception we begin making conscious distinctions among things.

4) The fourth skandha is mental activity. This skandha refers to the complex mental activity that often follows upon the skandha of perception. Once we have identified (perceived) something, long trains of mental associations become active. Our bodies may also begin to move and behave during this skandha. For example, the simple perception of a travel poster may set in motion a great deal of mental activity. We may begin recalling an old trip or begin fantasizing about a new one. If we are photographers, we may admire the composition of the photo, step closer to it, make an effort to remember it, and so on. All of these behaviors belong to the skandha of mental activity.

5) The fifth skandha is individual consciousness. It is a product of the first four skandhas and is completely conditioned by them. This is what we normally, more or less, think of as being our “self.” The Buddha taught the five skandhas primarily to help us understand that this “self” or consciousness is empty since it is entirely based on the conditions found in the first four skandhas.

The Ekkotarika-agama explains this point very well. It says, “The Buddha said that the skandha of form is like foam, the skandha of sensation is like a bubble, the skandha of perception is like a wild horse, the skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree, and thus the skandha of individual consciousness is nothing more than an illusion.” The trunk of a banana tree is made of leaves curled together. From the outside, it may look substantial, but if we examine it closely we will find that one leaf pulls away from the next, leaving ultimately nothing behind. The trunk looks substantial, but in truth it is “empty.” In just this way, our individual consciousness may look substantial to us, but if we peel it apart, we find that there is no self within—it is empty.

How to Understand the Five Skandhas

Though most of us are not normally aware of the first two skandhas it is possible to become aware of them through meditation and mindfulness practices. Though it is easier to begin understanding the five skandhas by thinking of them as being separate and distinct, it is important to realize that any of the last four skandhas can give rise to the skandha of form. Mental activity itself, for example, can generate whole new trains of forms, sensations, and perceptions.

Another important thing to understand about the five skandhas is that our minds move very quickly from one to the next. The five skandhas produce a snow storm of impressions and mentation, upon which rests our unstable conscious world. When we become overly attached to this snow storm or to the consciousness built upon it, we generate the karma that ultimately fuels the five skandhas in the first place.

The Explanation of Mahayana Terms (en 1212) says that the skandhas can be understood as being either good, bad, or neutral. The goodness mentioned in this explanation should be understood as being a relative goodness that arises within the phenomenal world—though it is “good,” it is not the same as an enlightened vision that completely sees through the five skandhas. For this reason, we will use the word “positive” in place of “goodness” in this discussion. The Explanation says that positive activation of the five skandhas can be of three types: activation by a positive form, such as a Buddhist image; activation by skillful means, such as a desire to help someone; and activation within a pure-minded person. The Explanation says that the three bad or negative types of activation of the five skandhas result from: simple badness within them, as may have derived from low motives or moodiness; contaminations within them, such as selfishness during an act of kindness; and negativity that is simply the result of bad karma. The Explanation says that the three neutral types of activation are: formal activations that result from the performance of rituals; activations resulting from the practice of a skill; and neutral changes among the skandhas themselves.

How to Contemplate the Five Skandhas

The second noble truth of Buddhism is the cause of suffering. Generally, this cause is explained as clinging to a false self. By contemplating the five skandhas, we learn to understand both that the self is empty and why it is empty. This contemplation appeals to the rational mind for it allows us to use reason to convince ourselves that the “self” we call our own is, in truth, an illusion.

In contemplating the five skandhas we should be mindful that we begin to generate karma during the skandha of perception. At the same time, it is important to realize that the very forms we see and the sensations that result from them are heavily conditioned by our past actions, by the accumulation of karmic “seeds” or influences that are already stored in our minds. Two people may see exactly the same form, but have very different responses to it because their karma is not the same. Since their karma is different, their sensations and perceptions, and especially their mental activity and consciousness will be very different.

The Numerical Teachings of Great Ming Dynasty Tripitaka says (en 1213) that the most important way to understand the five skandhas is to realize that each of them is empty. As we become familiar with the five skandhas, we will find it easier to identify each one and contemplate its emptiness. We can think about them from first to last or from last to first.

If we choose to think of them from last to first, our contemplation will consist of a series of questions, whose answers should be considered deeply. We begin by asking ourselves what the skandha of individual consciousness is based upon. The answer is the roiling mentation of the skandha of mental activity. The skandha of mental activity becomes apparent as soon as we sit down to meditate. Having identified this skandha and appreciated its fundamental emptiness, we can ask ourselves what it is based upon. The answer is the skandha of perception. First the mind seizes one of its impressions (the skandha of perception), then a long train of thought and emotion follows (the skandha of mental activity). Having appreciated this process, we then ask ourselves what the skandha of perception is based upon. The answer is sensation—of the many forms and feelings passing through our minds, one of them gave rise to either a positive or negative sensation (neutral sensations are usually ignored by the mind). It is this sensation that led to the skandha of perception. If we can appreciate this, then we can ask what the skandha of sensation is based upon. The answer is form—either an outer or inner form. Were it not for this form, none of the other skandhas would have arisen.

If we choose to contemplate from the first skandha to the last, we may choose a form and then carefully watch how our minds process it. We will see that form leads to sensation, then to perception, then to mental activity, and lastly to individual consciousness—a state of mind deeply colored by the skandhas below it. Bear in mind that when the five skandhas are simply happening of themselves and no one is watching them, we are normally unconscious of the activity of the first two skandhas. Before most of us are even aware of what we are perceiving, we have begun to react to it. It requires some skill to see that forms give rise to positive, negative, or neutral sensations before they give rise to the skandha of perception, but this is the case in a normally active mind.

The quotation cited previously from the Ekkotarika-agama can also be used as a very fine contemplation. The agama said, “The Buddha said that the skandha of form is like foam, the skandha of sensation is like a bubble, the skandha of perception is like a wild horse, the skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree, and thus the skandha of individual consciousness is nothing more than an illusion.” The skandha of form is like foam in a stream—at any moment scores of forms contend for our attention. The skandha of sensation is like a bubble—suddenly we react to a single bubble within the foam. The skandha of perception is like a wild horse—we can never be sure which way our mind will turn at this point. The skandha of mental activity is like a banana tree—it consists of many things wrapped together. And thus, the skandha individual consciousness is empty, an illusion.

ABN

UPDATE: FIML practice can be understood in terms of the five skandhas in this way: A FIML query begins at or interrupts the skandha of mental activity. Through training and prior agreement, partners learn to identify a fraught psychological response at the third skandha–perception–and thereby shift away from habitual mental activity to FIML mental activity. The FIML query at this points implicitly asks is my habitual perception based on fact? The FIML query should be made in as neutral a tone as possible to avoid influencing your partner. Your partner’s reply will either confirm or refute your habitual perception. FIML is a dynamic and very powerful form of mindfulness that allows partners to be much more objective about the granular workings of their minds. After hundreds of FIML queries, partners will establish a database of objective insight into their own (and each other’s) psychology that is much more accurate than what can be done alone or through general discussion with anyone. ABN

first posted NOVEMBER 2, 2021

Our brains take time to update unless we are shown the update

A clever experiment has shown how our brains ignore change or incorporate it into our perceptions only slowly through a “continuity field,” as described below:

Like our social media feeds, our brains are constantly uploading rich, visual stimuli. But instead of seeing the latest image in real time, we actually see earlier versions because our brain’s refresh time is about 15 seconds, according to new UC Berkeley research.

The findings, appearing today, Jan. 12, in the journal Science Advances, add to a growing body of research about the mechanism behind the “continuity field,” a function of perception in which our brain merges what we see on a constant basis to give us a sense of visual stability.

“If our brains were always updating in real time, the world would be a jittery place with constant fluctuations in shadow, light and movement, and we’d feel like we were hallucinating all the time,” said study senior author David Whitney, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology, neuroscience and vision science.

link

The study itself—Illusion of visual stability through active perceptual serial dependence—focus more on the illusion of visual stability:

Despite a noisy and ever-changing visual world, our perceptual experience seems remarkably stable over time. How does our visual system achieve this apparent stability? Here, we introduce a previously unknown visual illusion that shows direct evidence for an online mechanism continuously smoothing our percepts over time. As a result, a continuously seen physically changing object can be misperceived as unchanging.

If you watch the videos in the first link above, you can notice two things: 1) the slowness and blurriness of our perceptual change as we watch the video, and 2) that we can and do accept that change the moment it is shown to us in comparative stills.

I believe it is fair for me to extrapolate from this that our psychologies or, more precisely, our psychological memories do something similar on both points. Though the medium of memory is vastly less crisp than that of visual perception in real-time, a fruitful comparison can be made.

Many old movies are based on the two points mentioned above. The protagonist thinks someone is either bad or good and acts accordingly and then at the climax is shown indisputable proof that the opposite has been true all along. This plot is very common in movies predating WW2 but is still an undercurrent in many movies since then.

Humans like this plot and resolution because it mirrors real life in an ideal way. If only we could resolve similar problems in our own lives so quickly and easily!

This can be done in FIML practice. In fact this is the goal of FIML practice—to update our psychologies or psychological memories (almost the same thing) quickly and in real-time. In FIML practice “real-time” means analysis should begin quickly while the initiating percept is remembered by both partners. Rather than allowing us to proceed with our normal “continuously smoothing our percepts over time,” FIML stops us and forces the update immediately.

I was intrigued to see that the authors of the study notice the time-span of 15 seconds:

We find that online object appearance is captured by past visual experience up to 15 seconds ago. 

This is roughly the “speed” of our working memories. FIML works most of all with the working memory because when we correct a mistake in our working memory or upgrade the data of our working memory while it is still present, we are able to make large changes in our psychologies almost effortlessly. FIML leverages the working memory to make large changes in our whole brain memories. It works well because changing your working memory to fit the obvious reality staring you in the face is easy.

In contrast changing whole brain memories and psychologies through rumination and recollection only entrenches them further and deeper.

While it is very easy to see how this happens visually as in the linked materials; and while it is also easy to see that many old movie plots exploit this feature of our consciousness, it can be hard to see how to do this in real time with our complex psychologies as they are functioning in real-life.

FIML completely solves this problem and yet is still hard for many to see how and why.

The why is psychologically analogous to correcting the illusions produced by our brains “continuously smoothing our percepts over time.” This “continuously smoothing over time” causes most of our psychological problems, often making our lives dingy self-fulfilling prophesies or uninterrupted narcissistic fantasies.

The how is done by pausing real-life in real-time so you can compare your own mind’s percept with your partner’s percept of the same thing and make corrections as warranted. Easy-peasy, right? Actually it is once you see the point.

Do we have an inner child or an inner dog?

Inner child is a widely recognized term that implies the presence in adults of unresolved problems or underdeveloped traits rooted in childhood.

Inner child further implies that full development of the adult requires “reparenting” or “retraining” the inner child as a way of resolving juvenile problems and advancing to full adulthood.

My FIML partner has been studying dog training and last night told me how much she thought effective dog training resembled FIML practice.

In a nutshell, FIML practice trains your inner dog, not your inner child.

For example, to stop bad behavior in a dog—say, barking at cars going by—its human trainer has to know how to intervene as quickly and as calmly as possible the moment that behavior arises. Quick intervention ensures that the dog knows what the trainer wants them to do. If you wait too long (as little as a few seconds), the dog won’t know what you want them to do. They will have forgotten the precise source of their behavior and thus any corrections they try to make will not address the root problem, which is they have interpreted a signal in the world (cars going by) as something they must react to.

When the trainer is calm and friendly as well as quick to intervene, they will prevent the dog from reacting to their (the trainer’s) excessive emotion, be it anger, panic, or an unskilled flustered state of mind.

The same sort of thing happens in FIML practice. When one FIML partner queries the other, the first thing they are doing is stopping their (own) inner dog before it starts behaving badly. They are intervening as soon as they feel their inner dog stir and start to rise from the floor (but before it starts barking).

The second thing they are doing is calmly asking their FIML partner a question about a very specific and precisely identified moment. They are gathering good data on that moment from their partner and will compare it to what their inner dog thought it saw or heard.

A FIML partner is in essence asking, should I be reacting right now as my inner dog is telling me or has my inner dog misinterpreted a signal coming from you?

The dog for much of its life has barked at cars going by, while the person for much of their life has reacted with sadness or anger to their interpretation of certain signs or signals (semiotics) coming from other people.

When you query your FIML partner about a sign that you have been reacting to for much of your life and discover that the sign you received was not the sign they sent, you will be like the dog who comes to understand that there is no reason to bark at cars going by, no reason to rise from the floor at all.

People are semiotic animals more than dogs, so we react very strongly to social semiotics. But we are just like dogs in that most of our reactions to semiotics can be changed without much effort as long as we arrest those reactions quickly and replace them with a more reasonable response.

My partner remarked last night especially on how easily a great deal of bad dog behavior can be corrected if the intervention of the trainer is quick and the dog is shown a more appropriate response. Oftentimes, just a few good interventions will correct the bad behavior.

What are some classic mistakes bad dog trainers make? They try to comfort or calm the barking dog by holding it and telling it everything is OK. That is, they treat it like a child. But all that actually does is reward the dog for the behavior they want to stop.

So if you reward yourself (your inner child) by indulging in childish feelings of abandonment when you misinterpret or over-interpret a sign of rejection, you are actually rewarding yourself for being wrong, for having an erroneous (or neurotic) interpretation of communicative signs.

It is better to treat your rapid and unthinking “limbic” responsivity like a dog than like a child. And rather than reparent your inner child, it is better to use good dog training techniques to retrain the actual semiotic responses that are the real roots of unwanted behaviors.

first posted  

Working memory is key to deep psychological transformation, Part 2

Part 1

Part 3

In science, working memory is generally thought of as either:

  • …the sketchpad of your mind; it’s the contents of your conscious thoughts.”   (Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory)
  • Or “…a core component of higher cognitive functions like planning or language or intelligence.”   (Christos Constantinidis, a professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest School of Medicine) [Source for both]

Obviously, both versions are valuable and probably both are roughly true. Some “contents” of working memory are indeed sketchpad-like—a crack in the sidewalk or a passing bird—while others clearly are “core components of higher cognitive functions” and, I would add, long-term memory including all psychological factors.

Our psychology—be it “natured” or nurtured—functions in real-life in real-time because we remember it. It bears on us because it is in our minds, because it colors our minds, shades our thoughts and actions.

Working memory is key to understanding human psychology because it shows us how we really are functioning, thinking, acting, feeling in real-time.

Working memory is also fleeting. If you want to use working memory to understand your real-life psychology, you have to be able to analyze it in real-time. This means you have to capture its contents and examine them as near to their appearance in working memory as possible.

You can do this alone with good effect, but when you do it alone you are prone to self-referential bias and other mistakes. When you do it with another person, they can help you avoid self-referential mistakes as well as other less serious ones.

This is how FIML practice works and why it is done the way it is. FIML analyzes data discovered in the working memory.

So how do you do that? You do that by immediately noticing when something significant about the other person’s speech or behavior enters in your mind or arises in your working memory. Generally, that something will have psychological impact on you, though you might just be curious or notice it for other reasons.

Whether working memory is an independent sketchpad or a component of higher functions, analyzing whatever you feel like analyzing in it is valuable. Sometimes even very little things can have great psychological import.

Analyses of working memory through FIML practice are most productive when they entail what I have called “psychological morphemes.”

Psychological morphemes are the smallest units of human psychology. Metaphorically, they are a word or a letter as compared to a phrase, a paragraph, or even a book. They are the building blocks of larger psychological structures and also may occur as unique isolates.

Whenever a psychological morpheme appears in working memory, it is always interesting. Psychological morphemes almost always signal the onset of a larger psychological interpretation, one either stored in long-term memory or one arising just now.

By working with any and all psychological morphemes as they appear in your and your partner’s working memories and by working with them repeatedly, both partners will come to understand that some of these psychological morphemes have deep roots in their cognitive systems while others do not.

For example, a fleeting expression or tone you observe in your partner may cause you to feel jealous or disrespected. Do FIML immediately and find out what it was.

It’s either true or false or in-between. If you have a good and honest relationship with your partner, most of the time you will find a negative psychological morpheme that appeared in your working memory was false and that it is part of a psychological habit of yours that has deep roots in other cognitive functions.

A great benefit of FIML is repeated analyses of mistaken psychological morphemes leads to their extirpation, sometimes quickly sometimes more gradually. A second benefit of FIML is it makes all communications between partners much clearer and more satisfying. A third advantage is most of these gains lead to better understanding and competency with all people.

Part 3

first posted NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Covid politics is a macroscopic example of a psycholinguistic problem which occurs microscopically in all interpersonal relations

The ways we talk and don’t talk about covid are similar in kind to the ways we talk and don’t talk interpersonally. This fact is as painful in all important interpersonal relationships as it is painful on a national and global scale concerning covid.

Interpersonally, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine psycholinguistically important moments in real-time if they have not been trained or self-taught. Similarly, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine almost any aspect of covid if they do not share mostly the same conclusions.

Psychologically humans exist on a spectrum that grades from the unique microscopic moments of unique individual experience to the macroscopic landscape shared by many individuals belonging to a psychological collective. Just as a psychological collective can be created (or discovered) by naming it so individual moments can be defined by individuals naming them, often incorrectly.

Unique individual moments can also be predefined by a psychological collective. Many individuals perceive human life to be precisely that, something defined by a collective. It is very difficult for many individuals to see this and almost impossible for most individuals to be able to talk about this in real-time, real-world situations that are psychologically stressful and thus also psychologically important.

If you lament the disaster of our national covid dueling monologues, stop and consider that your important individual interpersonal relationships suffer similar problems. Dueling monologues arise when microscopic dialogues do not happen, which they rarely do anywhere in the world throughout all history. This problem is big and small, ecompassing the size of individual lives and entire human epochs. It is founded on the psycholinguistic difficulty of talking about talking as it is happening without being distracted by habits, customs, manners.

When talking about talking as it is happening happens, almost everyone becomes confused or angry or dismayed. You have to see this problem. Then figure out how to deal with it. You can do this in your own way (please report back to me if you are successful). Or you can do it through FIML practice which is described in many posts on this site. If you can see what FIML corrects, then the basic description of how to do FIML will be easy to understand. If you can do basic FIML many times, you will share a fundamental skill with your partner that will make your lives much better.

If FIML looks easy but you can’t do it, you probably don’t understand it. If you think you already are doing it, maybe but I doubt it. If you can’t make any sense of it, talk about it with your partner. Once you see what FIML is, you will love it because it frees you from a most basic and common form of human misunderstanding.

first posted NOVEMBER 24, 2021

A useful guide to understanding what FIML is

The Ethical Skeptic (TES) has written a very good essay: The Distinction Between Comprehension and Understanding. I want to use a schema presented in his essay to describe what FIML is, how to see it and understand it. Comprehending it requires doing it and reaping its benefits.

TES provides this illustration of the layers of thought and psychology that culminate in comprehension:

I might not use a hammer to represent comprehension but since we have a hammer, it would represent FIML’s ability to smash through the dogma of psychology, our ordinary understanding of psycholinguistics, the simplicity with which we view real-time speech, and our ignorance that there exists anything profound in being able to analyze real-time, real-world speech as it is happening.

FIML is a method, a technique. It has no content save what you bring to it. FIML works with and reveals the profound subjectivity of the individual. Since basic FIML cannot be done alone but only with a partner, it also reveals the profound subjectivity of your partner. In doing this, it smashes the dogmas of psychology and virtually all public/common notions about what the human mind even is.

The difficulties of FIML are fundamentally two: 1) seeing it at all and 2) doing it. FIML is not something people normally ever do. I have been writing, reading, and thinking about FIML for many years and have never seen any reference to anything like it anywhere in the history of the world. If you know of one, please tell me. I will be delighted.

FIML is probably hard to see because all languages everywhere contain a very strong proscription against questioning anyone in the moment in order to begin a sober analysis. People just don’t do that. Getting that close and personal about something someone has just said (or did) is instinctively perceived as disrespect, argumentativeness, stupidity, rocking-the-boat, etc. FIML 100% is not that, but since no one has cultivated the habit or acquired the training to do it, no one can even see it let alone do it.

Most of us can see moments of speech and change our minds quickly if we are ordered, instructed, or want to curry favor. I guess that is a starting point, but none of that is FIML. FIML begins with a subjectively felt (or comprehended) need to find out if you have interpreted something correctly. Very ordinary, right? Yes, it is in “slow-time,” but not in real-time.

When done in real-time, the emphasis is on the one asking the question because this one has noticed an interpretation arising in their mind that may be wrong. The interpretation could be completely new or more likely habitual. By frequently noticing these interpretations and then asking your FIML partner about them (using FIML rules) and listening to their reply, you will gradually begin to see a true picture of your actual profound and marvelous subjective mind as it moves through and responds to its living existence.

FIML is no more difficult to learn than playing a musical instrument, riding a motorcycle, or cooking. Once both you and your partner understand what FIML basically is and why it is so necessary, you will progress quickly and gain many insights into your behaviors and thinking processes. At some point, you will achieve a kind of mutual comprehension of each other that is very clear and beautiful and cannot be gained in any other way.

Covid politics is a macroscopic example of a psycholinguistic problem which occurs microscopically in all interpersonal relations

The ways we talk and don’t talk about covid are similar in kind to the ways we talk and don’t talk interpersonally. This fact is as painful in all important interpersonal relationships as it is painful on a national and global scale concerning covid.

Interpersonally, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine psycholinguistically important moments in real-time if they have not been trained or self-taught. Similarly, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine almost any aspect of covid if they do not share mostly the same conclusions.

Psychologically humans exist on a spectrum that grades from the unique microscopic moments of unique individual experience to the macroscopic landscape shared by many individuals belonging to a psychological collective. Just as a psychological collective can be created (or discovered) by naming it so individual moments can be defined by individuals naming them, often incorrectly.

Unique individual moments can also be predefined by a psychological collective. Many individuals perceive human life to be precisely that, something defined by a collective. It is very difficult for many individuals to see this and almost impossible for most individuals to be able to talk about this in real-time, real-world situations that are psychologically stressful and thus also psychologically important.

If you lament the disaster of our national covid dueling monologues, stop and consider that your important individual interpersonal relationships suffer similar problems. Dueling monologues arise when microscopic dialogues do not happen, which they rarely do anywhere in the world throughout all history. This problem is big and small, ecompassing the size of individual lives and entire human epochs. It is founded on the psycholinguistic difficulty of talking about talking as it is happening without being distracted by habits, customs, manners.

When talking about talking as it is happening happens, almost everyone becomes confused or angry or dismayed. You have to see this problem. Then figure out how to deal with it. You can do this in your own way (please report back to me if you are successful). Or you can do it through FIML practice which is described in many posts on this site. If you can see what FIML corrects, then the basic description of how to do FIML will be easy to understand. If you can do basic FIML many times, you will share a fundamental skill with your partner that will make your lives much better.

If FIML looks easy but you can’t do it, you probably don’t understand it. If you think you already are doing it, maybe but I doubt it. If you can’t make any sense of it, talk about it with your partner. Once you see what FIML is, you will love it because it frees you from a most basic and common form of human misunderstanding.

first posted NOVEMBER 24, 2021

Covid politics is a macroscopic example of a psycholinguistic problem which occurs microscopically in all interpersonal relations

The ways we talk and don’t talk about covid are similar in kind to the ways we talk and don’t talk interpersonally. This fact is as painful in all important interpersonal relationships as it is painful on a national and global scale concerning covid.

Interpersonally, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine psycholinguistically important moments in real-time if they have not been trained or self-taught. Similarly, it is extremely difficult for almost all people to examine almost any aspect of covid if they do not share mostly the same conclusions.

Psychologically humans exist on a spectrum that grades from the unique microscopic moments of unique individual experience to the macroscopic landscape shared by many individuals belonging to a psychological collective. Just as a psychological collective can be created (or discovered) by naming it so individual moments can be defined by individuals naming them, often incorrectly.

Unique individual moments can also be predefined by a psychological collective. Many individuals perceive human life to be precisely that, something defined by a collective. It is very difficult for many individuals to see this and almost impossible for most individuals to be able to talk about this in real-time, real-world situations that are psychologically stressful and thus also psychologically important.

If you lament the disaster of our national covid dueling monologues, stop and consider that your important individual interpersonal relationships suffer similar problems. Dueling monologues arise when microscopic dialogues do not happen, which they rarely do anywhere in the world throughout all history. This problem is big and small, ecompassing the size of individual lives and entire human epochs. It is founded on the psycholinguistic difficulty of talking about talking as it is happening without being distracted by habits, customs, manners.

When talking about talking as it is happening happens, almost everyone becomes confused or angry or dismayed. You have to see this problem. Then figure out how to deal with it. You can do this in your own way (please report back to me if you are successful). Or you can do it through FIML practice which is described in many posts on this site. If you can see what FIML corrects, then the basic description of how to do FIML will be easy to understand. If you can do basic FIML many times, you will share a fundamental skill with your partner that will make your lives much better.

If FIML looks easy but you can’t do it, you probably don’t understand it. If you think you already are doing it, maybe but I doubt it. If you can’t make any sense of it, talk about it with your partner. Once you see what FIML is, you will love it because it frees you from a most basic and common form of human misunderstanding.

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