Ep. 9 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Insight

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Book: Michael Polanyi’s books
Book: The problem of pure consciousness (Mysticism and Philosophy) by Robert Forman
Meditation practices: Vipassna, Metta, Tai Chi Chuan
Where to get the training that Vervaeke has in various meditations?

type of states for insight

  1. Pure consciousness (scaling down)
  2. Resonant at-onement (scaling up)
  3. Prajna (balance)

post meeting notes

Is well being purpose of life? If attachment leads to suffering then does being attached to meditation as cure for suffering will lead to eventual suffering?

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my notes

  • Scaling down a problem can improve your insight ability by removing a bad frame.
    but it can also mess up your problem-solving by focusing on yourself and choking.
    Scaling up a problem can improve your insight by giving you a broader frame to view the problem through.
    But it can also mess you up by locking you into a frame that inhibits the solution to the problem.
    So what do you want to do? you want to train people in both of these skills so that the two are working against each other to get you the right point of engagement with the world.
    scaling all the way down leaves you without any awareness OF anything, simply awareness
    scaling all the way up brings you to a point of understanding the world at large.
  • There’s a third insight that can be gained when having a deep understanding of the grammar underlying both. Where your pushing to the depths of knowing the agent, and the depths of knowing the arena, and the relationship shared between the two.
  • When asking Siddhartha of what identity he has, he instead answers with the way of being that he embodies. ‘I am awake.’
  • Sometimes people after having gone through a state of consciousness say that their previous state was more real than this one, for it gave them a broader grasp of even this world. and they wish to remember that feeling and modify themselves so as to achieve that
  • This is an important phenomenon that is important and widespread. Where those that have regular experiences of flow relate their lives as being more meaningful.

my notes

  • Study of mindfulness is misleading because it starts with feature list and leaves out the eidos: the structural functional organization
  • present, not judging, insightfulness, increase equanimity
  • Traits can cultivate.
  • part/whole relationship
  • Replace the language of trining with language of explaining
  • Ask what does it mean to be present. Concentration.
  • Noted that took us into paying attention, tuning optimization]
  • Attention not very well served by spotlight metaphor
  • attention: optimizing different focus
  • Understanding of attention that could capture that its an optimization strategy linked to a response to modal confusion and alleviate suffering therein
  • Cognitive unison: investigate more concretely what that might mean.
  • Attention has a structure: Polanyi
  • Tapping experiment:

(Cool effect, attention shifting, can feel things didn’t feel before. Similarly in meditation can suddenly hear the ticking of a wall clock, sound was always there, but never heard it)

  • important structure. Not completely unaware of probe, but not aware of it, but aware through it. Through the probe, aware of the cup.

  • Aware through this, aware of this. Like probe is transparent. Cup opaque.

  • Analogy: glasses are like framing. Transparent. Looking through them, but can redirect my awareness to look at them. Transparency to opacity shift.

  • Transparency to opacity shift: implicit awareness of probe, aware through probe, of focal object: focal awareness vs. Explicit awareness

  • Attention is structuring phenomena; from to, from subsidiary awareness to focal awareness, but can shift, step back, and back, from probe, to fingers, to sensations, stepping back,

  • Whole time was looking at cup looking through all that. Spotlight metaphors missing all that layered recursive stuff going on.

  • Can go back and forth: opacity to transparency shift

  • Attention doing that all the time, shifting.

  • What you’re seeing is how many processes being coordinate, integrated together to optimize and prioritize this particular object, scene, situation.

  • Tend to use in out metaphor for this.

  • When I was knowing cup through probe, indwelling the probe. Participating in how the probe is being with respect to the cup. Not knowing the probe, knowing through the probe, integrated with it and through it.

  • Like vision integrated with the glass lenses.

  • Also works with technology and psychotechnology. Literacy: don’t look at it much, look through it.

  • 16:00: THE CAT: read first one as H and another as A - fits in one

  • Letters are the feature, the word is the overall structure

  • Problem: in order to read the word must read each letter, but to figure out the letter must read the word

  • Attention is simultaneously going up from the features to the structure (eidos) and down from the words to the letters -

  • (is it attention though? Or unconscious? )

  • Mindfulness has to do with making use of all this complex dynamical processing - mindfulness optimizes them in some way.

  • Transparency to opacity shifting: always direction that matters - stepping back and looking at, indwelling and looking out into the world

  • Can also go up and down from features to gestalt

  • Nothing is inherently a feature - letter is feature in the word, word is feature in the letters

  • Operating in highly integrated fashion

( IIT)

( Reminds me of that meme where so long as the first and last letter are correct the other letters can be mixed up and can still read it.)

  • break up the whole finger into parts, scaling up and scaling down of attention

  • Vipassina:

    • pay attention to breath but tell them pay attention to feelings in abdomen - what they are doing is trying to maintain and renew interest and make it salient to themselves
    • Not looking through sensations looking at them.
    • Stepping back and looking at, breaking the gestalt into its features, that’s what do in meditation
    • Meditation means to move towards the centre
  • Why does this help cause insight.

  • Contemplation

    • In the west often confuse meditation and contemplation - not synonym
    • root is temple, latin word from part of the sky look up to see signs from the gods
    • Theory: try to see more deeply into reality - meditation is scaling down, contemplation scaling up
  • 27:45: 9 dot problem: have to break up the gestalt, and also de-automotize cognition. Take stuff that normally happens unconsciously and bring it back into the conscious: do that by making a transparency opacity shift.

  • Normally automatically sensing through probe but can shift and be aware of the probe

  • Break up the inappropriate frame, deautomatise cognition by scaling down.

  • Can improve ability to insight if can do chunk decomposition (breaking the gestalt) and constraint relaxation (deautomatising cognition)

  • Scaling down helps to break up chunks, and deautomitse - but not enough. Have to break up the gestalt but also make a better frame: have to take what’s in the background and look for deeper broader patterns - scale back up.

  • Have lots of evidence that one of the ways to improve ability to be insightful if can complete patterns in a kind of leaping. Take picture out of focus and refocus them mentally

  • Both make better, but both make worse: if just scale up: immediately project square and lost. If just scale down choke oneself.

  • ( See this a lot in discussions: you have people who focus mainly on the micro level and people who focus on the macro level - but for a well-rounded analysis you need to look at both the tree level and the forest level. Often people don’t reconcile the two: they have their forest view and don’t adjust when the trees don’t align. The layers of abstraction must be consistent with one another - if they aren’t we have to rethink it. )

  • have to do both: don’t want the strings too tight or too loose. Want to train people in both skills and to flow between them. Coordinate and get the right degree of attentional engagement most fitting to the world.

  • Mindfulness not just with meditation

  • 8 fold path: trained in meditation and contemplation and flow between them.

  • When scale down making mind less representational, less inferential. Gaining awareness of problem framing, making more insightful.

  • What if just scaled down and scaled down: get a mystical experience: pure consciousness event.

  • Meditation like doing reps: building ability.

  • Went back in layers - work back to just being conscious not conscious of anything

( This is an interesting suggestion and I’m curious as to what this experience is. What does it mean to be conscious but not OF anything? Consciousness tends to imply having an experience. He still calls it an experience. So SOMETHING is being experienced.)

  • what if really scale up: see everything as interconnected and permanent…feel at one. Super flow state, deeply at one with everything. Resonant at-onement.
  • Explains why people get into these mystical experiences
  • We want both at the the same time.
  • Third state: the state that matters: the state of non-duality.
  • As inhale scale up - trying to get onement, as breathe out trying to get to pure consciousness event: often have to do that for years
  • What can happen is can have the third type of mystical; includes both at the same time, awareness deeply to depths of consciousness and reality, all at once. Prajna state: state of non-duality wisdom

( But is it true, does it matter?)

  • this is what can lead to insight: the guts and grammar of agent/arena relationship. So can see connectedness between the two. Capacity for insight into existential modes of being. This is how can remember the being mode. Can have fundamental insight.
  • This is what buddy experienced: his innovation was to join vipassina and meta together: experienced enlightenment. Awakening.
  • Walking down the road: visage has changed. In the flow state. I am awake.
  • Sati: remembered the being mode. Not an insight about this or that problem, but fundamental insight into what it means to be a human being. Optimizes entire being. Fundamental transformative experience.
  • Why do people pursue altered states of consciousness, psychedelic. Why so powerfully important.
  • Awakening metaphor: in contrast to sleeping. Dream state: seems real but when wake up realize it wasn’t real. Normally when have an altered state wake up point at it and say that’s not real. Sometimes people have experiences and say that was more real. And this is less real

( does that mean its real? Does it matter? What if its just our brain functions temporarily remapping, producing really cool experiences. Does it matter if that’s all it is?)

  • access to the real world: but why is it more real. Back to the cave.
  • Going to change myself and change my world to try and recapture, remember that really real. Start to transform their whole lives.
  • Quantum change theory; bad name, good theory

(Should look this up)

  • how is it that these experiences have such authority
  • At the core of world religions

( Is this evidence that its not real? That religions have sprung from cool brain states)

  • had an significant increase in meaning of life

( if meaning of life improved, does it matter if its not real? What does real mean?)

  • experiment work

( Should look up Vervake’s work)

  • doesn’t matter what the content of the experience is: but somehow optimizing capacity to make sense - both inwardly and outwardly
  • Similar claims in all mystical traditions
  • Seem to be deep truths about the nature of mindfulness and attention, can significantly alleviate existential stress

( This is why it may not matter if its true. Allevaites anxiety.)

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