Mittakali: No Time for Heedlessness

Going forth through conviction
from home into homelessness,
I wandered this place & that,
greedy for gain & offerings.
Missing out on the foremost goal,
I pursued a lowly one.
Under the sway of defilements
I surrendered the goal
of the contemplative life.

Then, sitting in my dwelling,
I suddenly came to my senses:
I’m following a miserable path.
I’m under the sway of
craving.
Next to nothing, my life —
crushed
by aging & illness.
Before the body breaks apart,
I have no time
for heedlessness.

After watching, as it actually was,
the rising & falling of aggregates,
I stood up with mind released,
the Awakened One’s bidding
done.

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A psycholinguistic “process philosophy” combining both theory and action

I just learned the term “process philosophy” and am happy to say that FIML is “a psycholinguistic process philosophy combing both theory and action to both understand and improve what we are.”

Process philosophy is based on the premise that being is dynamic and that the dynamic nature of being should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality and our place within it. Even though we experience our world and ourselves as continuously changing, Western metaphysics has long been obsessed with describing reality as an assembly of static individuals whose dynamic features are either taken to be mere appearances or ontologically secondary and derivative.

Process Philosophy

Another fundamental point is FIML is super objective within an area of cognition, perception, and belief that has traditionally been inaccessible to objective assessment and measurement.

first posted APRIL 23, 2021

How to understand why Buddhist rebirth does not require a self or soul

The basic reason no self or soul is reborn is neither exists independently of the mental universe that gave rise to our illusion of selfhood.

The mental universe within which we all exist is dynamic and so are we. In Buddhist terms, this dynamism is action or karma.

Buddhism does not say we do not exists. It only says that our selves are empty, that they do not ultimately exist. When we die our karma, the mental activity of this life, reconstitutes as a new being ensconced within the larger mental universe.

No one explains this better in modern terms than Bernardo Kastrup. In his essay Making Sense of the Mental Universe, he does not write about rebirth but rather about the conditions of our existence within the mental universe.

Nonetheless, his explanation of a “mental universe” shows precisely how rebirth can occur without there being any soul or pudgala or anything else that flies from the body upon death to transmigrate to another one.

I highly recommend reading the essay linked above. I have no idea if Kastrup is a Buddhist thinker. It’s even better if he is not, if his thinking arrived independently at a place consonant with original Buddhist thought.

Most Buddhists know that even Buddhists have trouble understanding how someone can be reborn without having a soul, self, or pudgala. What did the Buddha even mean by that? I know more than one university professor of Buddhist studies who explains Buddhist rebirth by saying, there is no such thing and neither is there such a thing as karma.

Those professors explain away karma and rebirth by claiming those fundamentals of Buddhist thought are nothing more than the Buddha “using the concepts of his day” to teach his moral doctrines and what amounts to his “atheistic Stoic” philosophy.

I mean no disrespect for the professors. It is hard to understand how something can be reborn and yet be empty of any perduring self or soul.

The essay linked above provides an excellent explanation of how that happens. I strongly encourage Buddhists or people who teach Buddhism or are interested in it to read Kastrup’s essay when you are in a good mood and want to learn something new and really interesting.

This essay can give you another angle on Kastrup’s thinking: Matter is nothing more than the extrinsic appearance of inner experience.

And here are some of my comments on Kastrup’s essay Making Sense of the Mental Universe.

first posted APRIL 2, 2020

Ethical Skeptic’s Take on the Preliminary Assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

Ethical Skeptic does a fine slap-down on phony skeptics as does the Preliminary Assessment itself. ABN

From ES:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has issued its long awaited Report on the UAP phenomenon. Sorry UFO skeptics, but you lost this round of the argument. In addition, you were implicated by government and military officials for oppressive anti-science sociocultural impacts surrounding the issue. This Report was a spanking. Better get used to this happening over and over again.

…Despite what may be spun on the part of oppressive voices regarding the conclusions of this Report, nonetheless its implications are rather astounding and merit particular attention on the part of science. Although the document was deemed ‘preliminary’ in its release title, it also unequivocally identifies eight monumental disclosures within its structure – indeed six of an observational and two of an ontological nature.1

From: Ethical Skeptic’s Take on the Preliminary Assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

From the report:

Disclosure #7: ‘Sociocultural stigmas’ (exempli gratia Social Skepticism) constitute a main obstacle to UAP research science. Risk of ‘disparagement and reputational’ harm ‘serves to keep many observers silent’. The Report stipulated that this suppression is waning, but also needs to be ended by means of formalizing a ‘recognized UAP reporting process’.

Meta-Q vs IQ

We need the term meta-Q which means “general meta cognitive ability,” or the ability to see the meta levels of several arguments at once including nuance and branch arguments.

IQ generally connotes being good at taking a test of reasoning, language, and some sort of abstract thinking.

People with high IQs probably also have high meta-Q. The advantage of adding this term is it distinguishes how arguments are presented and considered, how they are analyzed.

For example, mainstream medicine has usurped the meta-Q of virtually all covid reasoning. Fauci at the top either determined or became the spokesperson for what “the science” of covid is and no other view has been allowed. Literally hundreds of millions of people have been forced to agree with the irrational dictates of an irrationally narrow covid meta-Q. Big Tech aided and abetted this mockery of reason by censoring and deplatforming anyone who brought complexity and nuance into the prison yard.

The covid example is roughly the same with other issues of the day, such as election fraud, the January 6 “insurrection,” Critical Race Theory, equality of outcome, and so on. The country is divided because the meta-Q of public discourse is so low there can be no mixing of ideas, no synthesis, no rapprochement.

Magnates of meta-Q usurpation are most of the famous public “thinkers” in USA: Michael Shermer, Cass Sunstein, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Bill Maher, Fauci, Lakshmi Singh, famous actors, etc. These people are supported by editorials, talking-heads, politicians, terrible academics (most of them), and so on.

In private conversations, discussions always go badly when there are too many voices with low meta-Q training or ability in the room. Arguments become simplified and nuance is rarely acknowledged. Meta-Q is the ability to “see over” a problem, to see beyond the words, to what an argument is, how it was formed, what it will result in, how it moves through time, and what alternatives there are.

I am pretty sure most people could be trained to increase their meta-Q considerably and surely to at least know when it is called for and who is doing it well.

Free will and divine intervention

Action in the physical world is a smaller set of options than action within the mind.

Thus, the locus of free will is the mind not the body or its actions.

We always have many options in the mind. Many choices are available for what we choose to think or how we choose to frame something.

A related idea that is not necessarily part of the above is if God or Dharma Protectors or some other being in a higher realm wanted to influence us, they would be most likely to do so by influencing our minds.

This influence could be a subtle guiding of our thoughts, actual channeling of their thoughts, or even a vision when we are alone.

When we are alone because in those moments the influence will be primarily on our minds not our bodies. Our eyes may see and our ears hear, but if no one else is there the influence will ultimately occur in our minds and remain in our minds as memory.

When we are alone because if another person is present and they see or hear the same thing, the influence will impact the physical world to a much greater extent.

It will not be contained within one human mind. Two people will be astounded by it, talk about it, share it with others. This extends the influence well into physical reality causing it to have a much wider impact.

Visions influencing more than one person have happened, but these should not be the standard of proof that events of that type do happen.

Indeed, it makes sense to assume that interventions into human affairs from higher realms happen to individuals far more often than to pairs or groups of people.

This also makes sense from the point of view that the locus of free will is in the mind.

A higher being can influence the mind and the will in this way without causing major distortions in the physical world.

first posted as Free will: its locus is the mind on JUNE 8, 2017

Karl Friston & the concept of free energy

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The following sections are from an article on Karl Friston. Be sure to read the full article, which is here: The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI.

The quotes below provide a loose overview of the article.

,,,Friston’s free energy principle says that all life, at every scale of organization—from single cells to the human brain, with its billions of neurons—is driven by the same universal imperative, which can be reduced to a mathematical function. To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or, in Fristonian terms, it is to minimize free energy.

That’s the most basic idea. It comes from and further explains that:

…Over time, Hinton convinced Friston that the best way to think of the brain was as a Bayesian probability machine. The idea, which goes back to the 19th century and the work of Hermann von Helmholtz, is that brains compute and perceive in a probabilistic manner, constantly making predictions and adjusting beliefs based on what the senses contribute. According to the most popular modern Bayesian account, the brain is an “inference engine” that seeks to minimize “prediction error.”

A “Markov blanket” is that which keeps life forms separate from each other. This allows them to act on individual variables different from those contained within the Markov blankets of other life forms.

…Markov is the eponym of a concept called a Markov blanket, which in machine learning is essentially a shield that separates one set of variables from others in a layered, hierarchical system. The psychologist Christopher Frith—who has an h-index on par with Friston’s—once described a Markov blanket as “a cognitive version of a cell membrane, shielding states inside the blanket from states outside.”

In Friston’s mind, the universe is made up of Markov blankets inside of Markov blankets. Each of us has a Markov blanket that keeps us apart from what is not us. And within us are blankets separating organs, which contain blankets separating cells, which contain blankets separating their organelles. The blankets define how biological things exist over time and behave distinctly from one another. Without them, we’re just hot gas dissipating into the ether.

Living organisms seek to minimize the difference between their predictions and what actually happens.

…Free energy is the difference between the states you expect to be in and the states your sensors tell you that you are in. Or, to put it another way, when you are minimizing free energy, you are minimizing surprise.

According to Friston, any biological system that resists a tendency to disorder and dissolution will adhere to the free energy principle—whether it’s a protozoan or a pro basketball team.

And this is how they do it.

…When the brain makes a prediction that isn’t immediately borne out by what the senses relay back, Friston believes, it can minimize free energy in one of two ways: It can revise its prediction—absorb the surprise, concede the error, update its model of the world—or it can act to make the prediction true.

Human interpersonal optimization parallels or aligns with psychological optimization. Both minimize “free energy” as defined above, thus allowing us to use our brains and energies more efficiently.

For readers with suitable partners and inclinations, FIML practice is designed to optimize human psychology, brain function, and energy use.

first posted NOVEMBER 22, 2019

The Nine Features of Great Philosophy: The Ethical Skeptic

The Ethical Skeptic has become one of my favorite blogs and Twitter accounts. Today he posted a must-read: The Nine features of Great Philosophy. The image below provides a clear summary:

This kind of thinking works across all domains of rational endeavor, including psychology, psycholinguistics, communication, and semiotics. It also fits perfectly with Buddhist thought and practice.

I am happy to also say that FIML practice as explained on this site is well-characterized by these nine features. I tend to think of FIML as practical psychotherapy that can be used by almost anyone. At the same time, I am well-aware that FIML took many years to fully develop and that fundamentally it is a way to think.

FIML is a theory of communication that yields a method for much better communication. You could also say that FIML is a method of communication that also yields a theory of why we now communicate mostly badly; how to fix that and why fixing that leads to a much greater understanding of life.

Since FIML is a method of thinking or communicating, it has no content of its own. FIML does require honesty and the basic human virtues of self-examination, self-correction, willingness to learn and share, and the desire for wholesomeness or integrity. But other than that, FIML has no ideology, credo, belief system, or cultural envelope. It can be used by anyone anywhere to optimize interpersonal communication and individual psychology.

In fact, even non-humans could do FIML if they use a self-conscious communication system to convey subjective meanings that may be ambiguous.