Panpsychism, pansignaling, and Buddhism

Panpsychism means “all mind” or mind in all things, with an emphasis on cognition being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

Pansignaling means “all signaling” or signaling in all things, with an emphasis on signaling being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

I like the term pansignaling because it gets us to look at the signals, without which there is nothing.

Another word that is close to these two is panexperientialism, which connotes that “the fundamental elements of the universe are ‘occasions of experience’ which can together create something as complex as a human being.”

These ideas or similar can be found in the Huayan and Tiantai schools of Buddhism.

Highly recommend giving these ideas some thought and reading the links provided above.

I  tend to favor thinking of this stuff from the signaling point of view. A signal can be found, defined, analyzed, and so on. A signal is a fairly objective thing. When we consider signals and consciousness, it is very natural to consider that signals are parts of networks and that networks can be parts of bigger networks.

As I understand it, panexperientialism holds the view that atoms have experience, and that molecules have experience as do the atoms that make them up… and so on till we get to cells, organs, brains, human consciousness. Human consciousness, which is fundamentally experiential, is what humans mainly think of as experience. At all levels, the “parts” of human consciousness also are conscious or cognizant and thus capable of experience. Thus, there is no mind-body problem. Cognition or awareness is part of nature from the very bottom up. For example, a single bacterium can know to move toward something or away from it.

Life is “anti-entropic signaling networks” that organize, self-organize, combine, cooperate, compete, eat, and change constantly. From this, we can see where impermanence and delusion as described in Buddhism come from.

The signal may be wrong and it cannot but change, as must you.

A very small irrational thought

A very small thought can show how irrational thinking operates.

Recently, I have been putting more salt in food I make. I have some good reasons for this and one bad one.

The bad one wrongly believes that my partner does not at the table salt food I make enough, so I have to use more to counter this.

This thought comprised about 10% of my reason for using more salt when I cooked. This thought was subliminal, meaning it almost never rose to consciousness. And when it did its appearance was fleeting and went unquestioned.

It is a selfish thought or at least not fully considerate. As soon as I examined it I realized it is a dumb thought and discarded it completely.

This thought was wrong and irrational for obvious reasons. But it still had a small effect on my conscious behavior.

I noticed it while washing dishes and watching my mind at the same time.

This thought has an element of reason in how it is constructed: i.e. “because my partner does not do this, I will do this.”

But not much else about it is reasonable. I have no idea how or when this thought formed. Did it form subconsciously or in a dream? I don’t know.

I believe it stayed in my mind as a weak but partially operative “reason” because it is selfish (and thus less likely to be examined) and because it has a reasonable construction when put in words.

Alcohol abuse graph

Look at this graph. Notice how deaths from “alcohol poisoning” correlate with murder, suicide, and all other causes.

This shows the immense secondary harm of alcohol abuse. These deaths are not just the deaths of alcoholics, but of all people. So accidents, suicide, murder, etc. all go up when deaths by alcohol poisoning go up. It’s more than just correlation because when alcohol consumption was controlled, deaths in all categories fell.

This graph come from the article Dying Bear Still Not Dead by Anatoly Karlin, well-worth reading.

God Exists, the Rest Is Speculation

Kevin Barrett

David Ray Griffin is one of the world’s most important thinkers. I first encountered his work in the mid-1990s while preparing a Ph.D. on Moroccan Sufi legends. It quickly dawned on me that Griffin’s analysis of postmodernism was more sensible than most of the trendier literature on the subject, while his work on such empirical topics as the scientific evidence for psi showed him to be an uncommonly flexible yet rigorous thinker who followed logic and evidence wherever it led. So while most contemporary Christian theologians were not terribly relevant to my Islamic Studies related Ph.D., Griffin and his mentor, John Cobb, the two biggest names in Process Theology, could not be ignored. (Source)

Ideological tribalism

Do people like the one in the video below and celebrities like Ashley Judd not realize that they are demonstrating the raw tribalism that all but forced Trump’s victory?

Many other celebrities have done the same. Meryl Streep’s rant was based on an appeal to emotion that has been debunked many times. Robert De Niro used his acting skills to simply swear at the then president-elect on camera.

Do these people not understand the violent history of the left and the fear they engender with their abandonment of reason for tribal emotions?

Communist regimes killed so many people, you can’t even count the number. Communists came to power on the backs of emotional people who felt that their idealism was better than all others.

Often, those people were among the first the communists killed, along with the journalists who had cheered them on. These people were killed because once communist power was consolidated, they slaughtered anyone who questioned them.

The weakness of the American system is it respects individual rights so much it unwittingly allows groups to undermine it.

Sometimes those groups are corporations or secret societies and sometimes they are ideological and highly emotional—the tribe redefined as an abstraction to scream and cry about.

The vid mentioned at the top:

Misjudgement and misinterpretation are the fabric of human “reality”

Besides misjudging other people’s intentions (People suck at judging others), we also misinterpret our presents and pasts.

  • For example, for many decades few people in the West understood how severe mass murder was under communist regimes. Indeed, the first mass murderers of modern Europe were communists. That many of them were also Jewish is usually also scrubbed from the story. Here is a meme illustrating that simple point.
  • An article published just yesterday—Why Readers Shouldn’t Trust Staff Reporters—does an excellent job describing how and why US MSM is so bad. The writer focuses on newsprint, but TV is the same.
  • Interpersonally, we make mistakes about each other constantly. FIML is the answer to this problem for small groups of adults, but how many will make the effort?

I think that what is described above is a big piece of the modern version of what the Buddha meant by delusion. In Buddhism, delusion is the core reason for human suffering. End delusion and you end suffering.

Many people have the idea that Buddhist practice is all about being minimalist, feeling good, and letting stuff go. This ignores the fact that the Buddha was mainly described as an “analyst” and that diligence and perseverance are central to the analytical path of Buddhism.

It is through analysis that we free ourselves from suffering. If your sincere analysis shows you that MSM is lying to you, that the history you learned in school is distorted, and that most if not all of your interpersonal relationships are fraught with misunderstandings or alienating simplifications, you are probably seeing a big part of what the Buddha meant by delusion.

Delusion makes us suffer because it is wrong and because it leads us to make more and worse mistakes. We extract ourselves from deluded “reality” by using “truth,” insofar as we are able, and the Dharma as tools. Once a bit of delusion is seen for what it is, it is usually fairly easy to eliminate it from the mind. If you have never identified with it, this will be very easy.

If you have identified with it, this could be very hard to do. Why is that? The reason is identifying psychologically with something is a form of what the Buddha called “clinging” or “attachment.” Suffering is the First Noble Truth. Clinging (to the delusions that cause suffering) is the Second.

The struggle against entropy

Life is “anti-entropic” signal organization.

FIML practice is “anti-entropic” (signal) information (re)organization between two people.

If two people converse and never do FIML, their conversation will be entropic (become less organized). Psychologically, this means there will be less understanding.

If two people do FIML, their conversation will (re)organize information shared between them. In this sense it is “anti-entropic.” Psychologically, this means there will be more understanding.

The above applies to those aspects of the conversation that can be accessed by FIML practice. Other aspects of the conversation will require other “anti-entropic” strategies, which generally relate more to non-psychological information.

For example, two people talking about a place they have both visited might share information about the place that has little or no psychological import on one level but may have considerable import on others.

Over time, FIML partners will engage in many conversations. If FIML practice is done regularly, psychological entropy (confusion, alienation, hurt feelings, etc.) will be greatly reduced.

(See this for more on the subject of information and entropy.)

Consciousness as signal interpretation

Consciousness can be defined as “that which interprets signals” or “that which can discriminate and choose between signals.”

A single cell that can distinguish light and darkness and choose one or the other is conscious in this respect.

(I wonder if the choice needs to be “better” in some way, evolutionarily or even subjectively even if wrong. Seems that if most choices are bad, the chooser will not survive for long, yet in the interim could still be conscious.)

A dog that smells food has a more complex interpretation of many more signals than the single cell above. Additionally, the dog can choose between these signals, though not without confusion sometimes, just like us.

As humans we experience our consciousness in many ways. Few of us doubt its importance.

This makes sense based on the definition of consciousness as “that which interprets signals” or “that which can discriminate and choose between signals.”

It is emotional to be conscious in the sense that we must care about our decisions, our choices.

Surely that is much of the reason we have emotions. They are the chemistry that accompanies choices. Chemicals in the body are most definitely signals, very strong ones.

For more on this topic: Life is self-organizing signals.

Life is self-organizing signals

Life signals can be biological and unconscious or biological and conscious.*

If conscious, signals can be variously interpreted by the sender, the receiver, or both.

If unconscious, signals are interpreted in only one way or in a limited number of ways.

Consciously organized signals make up such things as psychology and sociology, both of which have many variations.

Human beings generate, learn, send, receive, and interpret signals.

All signals have valence. If conscious, valences (like signals themselves) can be variously interpreted.

It is very beneficial when thinking about any complex matter to pay attention to the valences of its individual signals and signal networks.

For example, if you want to buy or rent a home the various factors that you may consider can all be thought of as signals with valences.

A “small place” is a signal that may have positive valences because it is cozy and easy to keep clean. And it may have negative valences because it is cramped and has no room to store stuff.

With some degree of rationality, we can asses these valences and decide which ones are important to us. If you are going to share the place with another person, you can both do assessments and compare.

Your conclusions won’t be perfectly rational but they will be clearer to you than if you did not do assessments like that.

Besides the size of the place, you will also want to analyze in a similar fashion its location, floor plan, cost, what’s nearby and so on.

The same is true for how to asses your own psychology or the sociology of your group, company, or nation.

If you do this often enough, you may decide to replace the idea of having a personality or identity with the idea of having an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals.

Notice that interpreting yourself (the signal of self) as an operating system that employs these few rules is a kind of self-organization. As such, it is concise (Occam’s razor), accounts for all data, has clearly identified parts, has explanatory power (you can use it as we did above), can be applied to all life including human psychology.

This is not the only explanation or description of life, but it is a good one with many uses.


A few notes:

*Surely there are other bases for consciousness than biology as we know it.

Life self-organization is “anti-entropic.”

Politics runs on simple signals because they are readily grasped by large numbers of people. Importing simple political signals into your operating system and keeping their strong public valences is not a good idea.

Politics teeters between left and right and there is no good middle. The middle is no good because the true middle needs to be a middle of complexity against two extremes.

Reason and rational thought are in many respects organizing principles, maybe that’s all they are. Same can be said for logic.

Personality and identity are also organizing principles, here applied to self and others.  Seeing yourself as “an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals” is also an organizing principle, but the data is clearer and more useful than that which goes into identity and personality.

Is America finished?

Good essay, well-worth reading—After the Republic. An excerpt:

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents. (After the Republic)

I tend to agree with the author, Angelo Codevilla, that we are toast. Our inalienable rights are long gone and there is little chance they will return.

In their place, we have an “empire” with a deeply networked ruling class that hates ordinary Americans.

I doubt Trump will be able to stop the slide, but I know for certain that Hillary will accelerate it. And Trump might do something.

Codevilla again:

Because it is difficult to imagine a Trump presidency even thinking about something so monumental as replacing an entire ruling elite, much less leading his constituency to accomplishing it, electing Trump is unlikely to result in a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction. Continuing pretty much on the current trajectory under the same class will further fuel revolutionary sentiments in the land all by itself. Inevitable disappointment with Trump is sure to add to them.

We have stepped over the threshold of a revolution. It is difficult to imagine how we might step back, and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about. Donald Trump did not cause it and is by no means its ultimate manifestation. Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation. [emphasis added]

WTC 7 Evaluation Concludes: Fire did not cause WTC 7 collapse

The money quote is at 29:20.

“Did Building 7 collapse from fires? The answer is no.”

—Dr. Leroy Hulsey , the University of Alaska Fairbanks


From YouTube: Dr. Leroy Hulsey presents the findings of his WTC 7 Evaluation study at the Justice in Focus 9/11 Symposium in New York on Sep 10, 2016. The WTC 7 Evaluation is a study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks using finite element modeling to evaluate the possible causes of World Trade Center Building 7’s collapse.


Anyone who has followed this issue knows that NIST’s explanation of thermal expansion of a floor beam causing Column 79 to become dislodged leading to the symmetrical collapse of the entire building, including 2.2 seconds of free fall, is unscientific.

Thanks to Dr. Hulsey for his detailed analysis of why this is so. We need more analyses like this that use real data and that do not treat weak hypotheses as scientific conclusions.