Talk about your long posts
[ delete ] Inner Knowledge
Limits on Meaning
We all live within an inner world of images, thoughts, and memories, that shift continually, evoking a rich texture of feelings, emotions, and moods. Sometimes images arise vivdly in our minds and spark a chain of thought; at other times we can sense our minds bringing an idea into focus. At first we may simply sense that we are seeing images or thinking thoughts, but soon thought becomes more substantial; we are aware of the actual words in our minds as we think or express them in speech or in writing.
The words expressing images and thoughts are concepts, linked together in strings that clarify their relationships. Concepts are the building blocks of our language, and their meanings are the substance of our knowledge. Many concepts we use today had their origin long ago. Throughout human history, one concept has grown out of another, branching and proliferating like vines in a jungle.
Concepts may be simple identifiers like tree and house or more abstract notions like freedom, love, or justice. They are built up through a process of distinctions, following a logical pattern that contrasts 'this' and 'not-this'. Green is distinguished from not green, tree is distinguised from all that is not tree. These distinctions depend upon each other...tall takes its meaning in comparison with short, big has meaning in comparison with small.
As we continue to meet with new objects, we can label them by distinguishing them from what we know. An elephant seen for the first time is 'not-anything-I-have-seen-before", not-dog, not-cat, and so forth. Then we can adopt the name 'elephant.' These simple distinctions form the foundation for more complex concepts that draw upon the meanings of many other concepts. 'Freedom' has meaning because we can define what it means to be 'not-free'. We can form an idea of 'love' by contrasting all we associate with love with what is 'not love'.
At some point in our childhood, we found ourselves thinking and speaking, using and reacting to concepts. From parents, friends, and the other influences in our complex social conditioning, we absorbed our basic conceptual framework. As infants, we were fascinated by moving forms and patterns of light and shadow; we learned to recognize our parents, as well as to distinguish objects. We were already making associations between what we saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and sensed through our bodies. We may have developed a sense that our associations had significance, but we had no words to express their meanings.
Listening to the spoken sounds around us, we learned to name the forms and qualiteis of our world. This process unfolded by trial and error; the words we first linked to the objects around us may not have always matched the words used by others: Two objects completely different in size and color were both named 'dog'; two others, nearly identical, were 'dog' and 'cat'. Corrected and recorrected many times, we shaped our early impressions to fit adult concepts and began to associate forms and sounds 'correctly'.
Eventually, we did not have to listen to the sound as sound....the sound touched our concepts immediately, and we 'heard meaning' directly. Concepts became a kind of shorthand, a convenient way to refer to familiar objects without having to describe precisely what we were seeing or exactly what we meant.
Simultaneously, we were taught how to react to there concepts: what we could and could not touch, what to value, what to desire, and what to reject; we even learned what to be happy and sad about. According to the customs of our culture, we were taught the proper way to categorize, use and think about everything in our experience.
Gradually, many associations began to accumulate around concepts. They could touch memories and evoke complex reactions. We could, by uttering the word 'home', evoke a wealth of feelings and associations that gave this concept a special meaning to us. Perhaps many words took on a deep private significance just as certain sights, fragrances, sounds, and sensations sometimes seemed to resonate with rich, unexplainable meaning.
But whatever had significance to us personally had to be expressed within the concepts available in our language. We had to accept the meaings we were given, and leave unspoken the meaings and feelings we could not communicate. The concetps we learned reflected back to us, and we began to think with the words of our language. The words that now form so spontaneously in our minds are all concepts transmitted to us by others. These concepts now condition how we view ourselves and our world, how we think, and how we respond to what happens around us. They create our everyday reality, and we use them to interpret alll our experience.
[ report ] Ummm..
[ report ] maybe
We should be thankful to history for providing us with this extensive range of words, concepts ideas etc, as well as providing us with the ability to develop new ones.
That said i disagree that they create our reality. What is, is.
With regards concepts like freedom, the 'what it is not' argument still gets us no nearer understanding what is essentially a meaningless term.
[ report ] pawn
can you repeat that?
[ report ] I think he said....
.... it's nuture over nature.
[ delete ]
Concepts begin as fluid and flexible, but become more fixed as we mature. When we are first learning a concept, such as 'space' or awareness', we are most receptive to nuances around it; we may play with it for a while, questiong it, and explore its possibilities. Once we feel we 'know' it, we tend to lose interest. Our willingness to reexamine, discard, or expand the scope of the concept decreases; the word is no longer alive, subject to modification in light of new knowledge, but frozen into an item of information that we possess. We rely on it automatically in our thinking, which becomes more a matter of recollection than a creative activity.
Relying exclusively on our conceptual patternings, we slowly constrict the natural openness of our minds. It becomes more difficutl to perceive the subtle nuances of the changing moment. At the moment of perception, our minds grasp and interpret sensory information, and suppy us with prepackaged concepts that have specific associations and emotional tones based on past experience. These associations arise simultaneously with the concept, projecting a past situation ontuo the present and conditioning how we view an experience. We do not necessarily respond to the immediate experience, but to the expereience as it is filtered through concepts, memories, images, and associations.
Seeing a present situation as similar to a past one, we tend to react automatically, decreasing our ability to assess the present situation freshly. Bound to the past in this way, we cannot perceive the vast range of alternatives available in the present and so diminish our options for actions. This tendency obscures awareness; losing touch with the open dynamic of the living moment, we live in a deadened world.
When concepts become this fixed in our consciousness, we can perceive nothing new. Unable to perceive the subtleties of each changing situation, we even repeat the same gestures nd the same comments in situations that appear the same. When our minds become habituated to such automatic responses, they grow lazy and inattentive, expecially in familiar surroundings. Our fixed views give us a sense of security. We feel we 'know' the objects in our world; we feel we know people and other living beings. We count on things to stay the same and to fulfill our expectations of what they are supposed to be and do.
The more we reinforce this passivity by relying on deadened concepts, the more our minds resist reexamining what we know. As we force our experience into rigid molds, our inner world can become smaller and more limited, rather than enriched by our daily experiences. Confined to concepts that limit our expressions of feeling and insight, we can only dublipcate the patters we have learned, like our parents, grandparenteds, and ther parents before them. All the knowledge we gain from our formal education and from our experience may only be an increasingly complex association of concepts that have little meaning to human life. Such concepts are too frozen, too particularized, too distant from the realm of living things to express our deper levels of experience.
Until we question, analyze, and reassess the concepts we use to express ourselves, we are restricted to only one set of interpreteations for our experiences. Whether they accord with the reality of what is happening or bring us unnecessary pain, we leave ourselves no choice but to live in this limited realm. Even if our mental world is lonely, and we gain little plaeasure from our experiences, our thoughs are familiar and give us an illusion of security and control that binds us to them. We may see no alternative to this way of understanding ourselves and our world. But when even such thoughts as these depend upon concepts we have never deeply examined, how would we know there are no other possibilities?
Can we even think about something for which we have no concept? If we had no concept of love, could we form expectations of what love is like, becoming disappointed when our experience did not match these expectations, or fantasize about people we love? If we had no notion of love, could we hate? What if we had no concept of 'I', or of ourselves as somehow separate from others? Then what would we love or hate? Could we become attached to people or things, experience insecurity, or fear rejection? If society could not present us with ideals that did not match the reality of our situation, would we feel guilty that we could not live up to them? How might the quality of our lives be different if we had no 'should' or 'would' in our language?
If we look carefully at our experiece, we can see that many things that seem substantial and real are actually notions formed by our minds, thinking about them and using them daily, we tend to forget that they are mental formulations and relate to them as real. Thus happiness, for example, is not inherent in the objects we desire, but grows out of the way we interpret a certain kind of excitement. However much we value happiness, it too is only a concept, a name that we learn to apply to certain types of situations or feelings.
Without our idea of happiness and the many related notions concerning what makes us happy, would we know if we were happy? Could we be unhappy? Would we have the same feelings if we lacked a word to express them? How could we spend time thinking about whether we were happy, or feel deprived if we were not?
It is nearly impossible for us to imagine what life would be like without such familiar concepts. We have come to trust our present conceptual patterning as a reasonably reliable reflection of truth, and see no reason to question it. But does our conceptual patterning increase our options for being and acting in the world, or is it too limited to serve our needs? Are our present concepts able to accommodate all the knowledge possible for us to gain, or have they become too rigid to sustain a more comprehensive perspective on knowledge?
When we depend automatically upon concepts, whether in thoughts, speech, or writing, we can actually decrease our ability to communicate. We all live in our own mental realm; our individual experiences have conditioned the specific connotations of the concepts we use. Although our mental worlds overlap those of others, they are never completely identical. Depending on knowledge filtered through concepts, we cannot wholly communicate our intended meaning; instead, we are subtly isolated from one another. Although we all use the same words daily, there is a gap in our communication that cannot be fully closed.
When we translate the concepts of one culture into those of another, this gap in communication is widened. The meaning of each concept may appear the same, but the connotations associated with it may vary greatly. Today, as English and other western languages are increasingly used in worldwide communication, the peoples of the world seem to be moving toward a shared body of concepts. Yet what is shared may only be superficial; the same words may have different meanings within different cultures. Even the structure of different languages may greatly influence the ability to express important nuances of meaning. Thus there is great potential for confusion and misunderstanding. We may unknowingly lose valuable knowledge in translation. Or the world's peoples may come to behave like partners in a bad relationship, exchanging talk and reassurances, but lacking a basis for real communication.
Are our current conceptual patterns necessarily the best basis for increasing our understanding of ourselves and our world? Have we explored the assumptions underlying our concepts? Had conditions in our past been different, other mental patterns might have evolved just as easily; then we would be living in another mental landscape, just as confindent in our sense of reality as we are today. What we now consider to be unquestionable, self-evident truths might not even exist; we woudl have no way to think about them, yearn for them, suffer over them, or fight for them
[ report ] Pawnshop.......
that's a good piece of writing .....well i think so anyways as it confirms my views of mental life
to a large degree. Did you write it yourself or is it sourced from somewhere?
Given that our cerebral architecture is largely adapted to survival and the need to filter vast
amounts of sensory experience to guide or actions......such organising strategies being hard
wired is probably highly adaptive.....that said I'd argue that a PART of what makes good
education should be developing an awareness of how sometimes these processes DON'T serve
us. The exploration and unpacking of assumptions for instance whilst often leading to
uncertainty rather than certainty must surely be a good " cognitive flexibility" (my words)
excersise whilst awareness of the "recency effect" (mainstream psych term) where recent
events have more weighting when arriving at beliefs than less recent (eg buying houses will
make you rich).
[ report ] oops.....
sorry pawntificator....i got your name wrong in the previous post.
[ delete ]
If we reflect on the nature of concepts and how uncritically we accept the reality they create, it may seem that we are caught in the midst of some elaborate computer program that is operating without our conscious decision. And yet we tend to feel that we are in charge of our thinking. Are we running the program, or is the program running us? Can we separate ourselves from the program and allow our thoughts and actions to be informed by a more comprehensive and trustworthy knowing intrinsic to our whole being?
In the light of greater understanding, could we retain our minds into a more satisfying way of seeing? Is it possible to see through our conceptual patterning? Might there be a way we could open up our concepts and revitalize them with meanings that allow us to communicate our ideas more completely? Could we find concepts that are closer to the immediacy of our experience and more in tune with our insights and feelings?
There may be ways to glimpse a more subtle side of our consciousness that could allow us to examine the fixed patterns of our mind more clearly. When we relax the body, we can slow the flow of thoughts and images, and observe more directly the thought process itself.
Such relaxation need not involve any special technique. It is simply a matter of observing the thoughts that come, without comment or interpretations. When we try this way of observing the mind at work, what we see may not be quite what we expect...it may not appear to be very important. But over a period of time, we can begin to observe with an unforced, relaxed concentration that may be a new experience in itself. This way of looking inward might lead to important insights into the nature of thought, as well as a new awareness of the connections between thougths and feelings.
Left to themselves, thoughts tend to carry on to a point where they pause, almost as if they have converged at a blank wall. We might have experienced such a pause when rigorously following a particular train of thought or when we found ourselves 'stuck' on a problem. At any time the mind may be silent for a moment. If this pause is noted, we usually consider that we have reached the end of a train of thought. If no new thoughts arise to continue it, we turn our attention to another subject.
But that seeming 'dead end' where thoughts melt into a single point could also be a gateway to new knowledge. Focusing on this point with a balanced concentration, we might see possibilities for a way of knowing that lies beyond our accustomed pattern of thinking.
If we can remain relaxed and aware, we might sense a feeling of brightness, as if light were shining through the silence. Our usual flow of thoughts and our habit of fixing attention on the content of thoughts give us few opportunities to sense the presence of light in our mental imagery. If we relax our hold on the content of thought and are attentive to the thoughts themselves, we might sense thoughts arising from within this brightness just before they form into words.
The process may occur so fast that we immediately identify thoughts with words or perhaps whole strings of words that begin an inner dialogue. As more interpretations follow, involving combinations of concepts that evoke strong emotional tones, we may become aware of feeling burdened by a sense of heaviness that appears to be dark and serious. What thoughts contribute to this heaviness? What has happened to the qualities of openness and light with which the process began?
Perhaps as we ask these questions, the flow of thoughts again briefly pauses. But almost at once, a new flow of thoughts is in motion, lasting a long time or perhaps only a few moments before another sequence begins. Where are these strings of thoughts coming from? What happens when we take possession of the thoughts and consciously guide them in a specific direction?
Perhaps there does not seem to be a pause in the flow of thought: We are caught up in one sequence that has a theme or 'story line', when suddenly the content shifts, and we find ourselves in the middle of another story. How did we get from one story to the other? Does each one have a beginning and an end, or are they continuous? Do they overlap, influencing each other?
Questioning thoughts in this way, we can relax our fixed hold on the content of thought and gain new insights into our mental processes. Every thought is an opportunity to observe and learn from our mind. With experience, we can begin to see how thoughts can actually create confusion and prolong unpleasant states of mind. Eventually it will become more obvious how one thought generates another, and how the momentum of thoughts tends to build on itself, cycling and recycling impusles through the mind.
Just as a weaver creates a tapestry by establishing the basic threads of a fabric and embellishing it with pattern after pattern, our minds seem to weave thoughts and images in endless replications. When we catch the beginning of a thought, we can observe how it begins with a simple pattern that is open and spacious, growing more dense as images intertwine in ever more complex patterns.
Stimulating memories and associations that evoke universes of feelings and emotions, thoughts lose their openness as they proliferate and intermesh. Simultaneously, we can sense our critical faculties at work, labeling our experience as hapiness, depression, ecstasy, boredom, or anger, as noble or blameworthy.
As each experience is sealed and witnessed by the mind, our thoughts about it become more substantial and 'real'; we then identify with the experience and react to it according to our conditioning. Out of all the possibilities for viewing a particular experience, we may choose to call it 'pleasure'. Then we project the experience outside of ourselves, and decide that we want to have that experience. Reaching out for things we associate with pleasure, we encounter our own image of what pleasure 'should be'. Grasping for an object, expecting to experience pleasure, and wanting to prolong it, we feel pleasure for only a short time. Almost immediately, we feel it slipping away.
Observing the ebb and flow of thoughts allows us to see how the mind attaches labels to perceptions, feelings, and emotions, and how it then produces commentary after commentary on what we are experiencing. Seeing these patterns of thoughts being woven together before our eyes, we may ask whether they actually create a solid cloth. Perhaps it is possible to view ourselves-not just our personality, appearance, and activities, but the very root of our being-in a different way. Such a fresh and open view could relieve the mind of the tendencies that freeze experience and make us vulnerable to confusion. Once we know it is possible to loosen the hold of concepts that entangle us in emotional pain, we have taken the first steps toward a new understanding that could transform the quality of all our experience.
With greater insight into who we are, what we are, why we perceive, feel, understand, and interpret in the manner we do, everything we know might be considered from an entirely new perspective. Then we could analyze our assumptions more deeply, deciding for ourselves what it is possible to change or not to change, which ways of thinking are healthy and valuable, and which involve us in needless suffering. As we continue to question, our thoughts may grow more vital and clear, opening up new possibilities for self-understanding and more control of the direction of our lives.
[ delete ] markallen
I wish I could claim these expressions of thought as my own. My thoughts agree with these words, for the most part. But I lack the consistency to write in this manner. I always seem to end up coming across as bitter or sarcastic. But I wanted to share this because it has some value. It was written by Tarthang Tulku.
[ delete ] The I as King
Once our planet was a great kingdom at the center of the universe, encircled by the sun, the moon, and the stars that gave it light. Man, ruler of the earthly sphere, conceived the play of the cosmos as a performance enacted for his instruction, and read his destiny in the movements of the stars and planets. Human movements were timed and guided by natural phenomena in an intimate drama of form and space, encompassed by divine presence.
In recent centuries, this view has changed. Earth has now taken its place in the vastness of space, a spinning body circling an average-sized star, which in turn is but one of millions of stars within one of many galaxies in our known universe. This view of the world was once considered revolutionary, but quickly became supported by an ever-growing accumulation of data, and has now been long accepted.
When the belief in the centricity of the earth gave way to this new view of the cosmos, the relationship between human beings and their universe changed. People began to lose their sense of felt participation with natural and divine forces. At the same time, new explanations of cause and effects created a new sense of order in the universe: The laws governing the natural order seemed no longer beyond human understanding, but discoverable by the intellect of man.
Although at first diminished by the revelation of the earth's relative insignificance in the cosmos, human beings eventually developed new confidence in their ability to gain supremacy over the known universe. The role of human being in the world began to seem even larger than before. New vistas opened for exploration by the human intellect. The heavens, once the realm of the divine, joined the natural world as the province of the human mind.
Despite a new vision of the vastness of the universe, the view that the cosmos exists for the benefit of man thus largely persists. But the sense of close interconnection between human beings and the rest of the cosmos has fallen into decline. Today a sense of the spiritual as a counterbalance to secular concerns no longer guides our vision, and human beings seem to stand apart from all that exists in the realm of nature as well.
As the range of human knowledge continues to expand to the far reaches of the universe, we may well marvel at the human mind and its capacity for knowledge. Were we to explore our mind with the same intensity that we have now explored the world around us, what new frontiers might we discover? What interconnections between human being and other forms of life? Between form, being, space?
What do we now know about the nature of human being? Collectively, we have recorded histories of human activities, documented human ideas, and probed the origins of man. Still, there is little consensus as to what human being is. In one view, humanity began as a unique creation, endowed with a consciousness capable of knowing and responding to a creator; in another view, human being arose from a long chain of forms that began in a kind of primordial stew, sparked into life by chemical interactions. A combined view suggests that evolution gave rise to the specific human form, which at one point became uniquely able to understand its divine origins.
On one point everyone seems to agree: Human being is the most advanced form of life we know. Human being is still king, supreme among all living things, subject only-according to one's belief-to the will of a creator, the play of destiny, or the limitations of human intelligence.
Our quest for the origin of human being seems to end in belief or theory. We can believe in a creator, but how can we be certain? We can theorize about evolution, but our knowledge is incomplete and vanishes in the obscurity of time. Though science measures the brain capacity of early man, analyzes his bone structure, and studies his environment and culture, it can still only speculate as to how a truly human consciousness arose.
We cannot know the thoughts, feelings, or concepts of early man prior to written records. We cannot even be certain that our ancestors a thousand years ago knew their world as we know ours. How might the human mind have developed in the interim? What changes in percetiopn or patterns of action might have occurred? What evolutionary development might even now be taking place?
Biological and medical sciences have analyzed the body in the same way that we have analyzed other objects in our world. In recent years, observation has reached more and more microscopic levels-we are now acquainted with the structure of genes and the metabolism of cells. We know how to alter heredity and can fertilize human cells in test tubes. Some day we may be able to construct a human cell and bring it to life, or foster embryos to maturity outside a mother's body.
But our technology has not brought us closer to understanding the nature of human being. Definitions of human life seem less certain than ever before. For example, a generation ago, human life was thought to persist as long as the heart continued beating. Now that hearts can be restarted, like automobile engines, or even created artificially, a living brain is considered the essential criterion for life. But even this definition is problematic, for we can sustain brains that show no sign of conscious activity.
What if the brain is functioning, but the body is dependent upon artificial stimulation? If the brain is impaired and the level of consciousness is dulled, at what point can we say human being no longer exists? Despite what we have learned about human biology, knowledge of our intrinsic nature remains elusive.
The mind is the last frontier in the study of man's uniqueness. But what is the human mind? Is it the brain, or located within the brain? Vital to human life, central to the functioning of the body, the brain seems to be our most distinguishing feature. But what makes the human brain human? We can trace the activities of the brain to some extent, but how does it learn and think? What exactly directs its functioning? Do all human brains function alike? If not, what makes one human brain think differently from another? Answers to some such questions are currently being sought in the study of neural patterns and brain biochemistry. Although certain connections have been discovered, our understanding seems far from complete.
Observation of human behavior has provided another approach. Over the past one hundred years, theories developed from such observation have given us numerous explanations of human behavior. Neuroses and instability are said to be due to family interactions or social conditions or to various combinations of cultural and biological factors. Yet our theories rely upon definitions of normal human needs, desires, and behaviors derived from social standards and convventions; since the full range of human consciousness has not yet been ascertained, we have defined 'normal' as equal to 'average.'
When deviations from standards of normality become social problems, or when human beings become unable to cope, therapy and drugs can 'normalize' their states of mind and enable them to return to society. But our knowledge and techniques appear insufficient: Psychological and emotional disorders seem to be increasing in number and variety. We continue to look for more effective ways of controlling abnormal behavior and dealing with symptoms of emotional dis-ease.
In spite of our research, human patterns of thought and action remain essentially unpredictable. We have no consensus on the specific causes of human actions; lacking this consensus, we find it difficult to determine who should be held responsible when actions cannot be controlled. Though we have studied behaviors and emotional patterns, examining the mind from the outside, our investigation of the self and mind is far from complete. Can we develop new forms of self-inquiry? Can we investigate more directly how the mind functions and how the self is established?
[ delete ]
As individual human beings, what do we really know about ourselves? However we came into being , do we question the fact that we exist? Form, feelings, perceptions, conceptualizing abilities, and consciousness verify our existence as living beings. Our own experience appears to confirm our existence.
We appear to exist, but how do we KNOW we exist? We think, we remember, we have a body, we have a mind, personality, adn something we call 'I'; we have knowledge; we have skills; we have needs and wants; we have aspirations, hopes and dreams; we have emotions, views, and attitudes; we are happy, sad, loving, or angry. We are the center of our experience. We are the decision-maker, the judge of what has value. Can we even conceive of not existing?
When we say 'I' exist, what do we mean by 'I?' Do we mean the physical body, together with the senses that enable us to perceive our world and experience thoughts and feelings? But we tend to say "I have a body," not "I am a body;" 'I' exert control over 'it.' 'I' also have a mind, although it is open to question how much of this mind is always under 'my' control. What is this 'I' that organizes, thinks, experiences, and controls? Where is the personality that makes 'me' different from all other human beings, from all other forms of life, and from everything else in 'my' world?
Is 'I' 'my' individual, eternal soul that survives the death of the body? If so, why am 'I' so reluctant to let go of an aging, suffereing body? Are we afraid of what might happen to this 'I' once it has lost the protection of the body? Are we concerned that this 'I' is not so substantial as we want to believe? If 'I' is the soul, how can it be eternal and unchanging, if at one point it feels strong and in control, and at another threatened with humiliation, embarrassment, or fear?
Is 'I' necessary for the body to function? We have no proof that this is so. In fact, the body may well act more efficiently without the interference of 'I'. 'I' seems to have little control over metabolic processes and much of the nervous system; heartbeat and breath, though most vital to our life, do not require monitoring by 'I'. Direct human responses to emergencies are often most effective when we are not conscious of an 'I' at work. Perhaps we know of impossible feats performed under duress, as when a mother has lifted a car to free a child trapped under it. In such cases, it seems we can act before the 'I' has a chance to htink: " 'I' cannot do this." What is it that responds in these instances? Perhaps our notion of 'I' is insufficient to describe the whole of our being.
What do we really know about this 'I' that is so pervasive, that owns our bodies, feelings, perceptions, ideas, concepts, and possibly souls? Can we set aside all our assumptions of what 'I' might refer to and ask it to prove its existence? Can we ask it "what are you?" and receive any answer other than "I am"?
We can question every other kind of knowledge, including the nature, even the existence of a divine creator, but we are curiously unable to question this 'I'. 'It' just is-impenetrable, mysteriously inaccessible, unseen. Like a great King protected by his army, the 'I' is at home in its castle. The supremely confident 'I' can well afford to disregard our questions.
What would happen if we decided to consider ourselves separate from this 'I' for a time; if we issued a challenge to the 'I'? For example, when 'I' responds to a desire, we could say no. What happens? Does the desire intensify? What thoughts arise? What anxieties or emotions? Can we maintain our decision, or do we feel driven to respond? How many reasons arise to convince us that we have to respond? What images come to mind, what fears of loss? If we can remain unmoving, perhaps we will note a shifting quality to the thoughts and feelings that play on our desires, uncertainties, and fears. Is there an 'I' directing this inner scenario?
At times when we feel hurt or insecure, and our confidence is shattered, we can again set ourselves apart and simply watch what arises. When 'I' wants reassurance, we can try depriving it as if it were a child that needed to learn a very important lesson. Whatever happens, we can just be quiet, without response, and simply watch the 'I'. Listen to it rationalize what happened; note the blame it assigns, the threats, the 'second thoughts', the feelings of guilt and fear; listen to it pick and nag for company; listen to it cajole with promises of a good time; listen to it pity itself; note the sad mourning for what could have been; feel its rage. In this shifting, chaotic inner realm, where is our solid, stable 'I'?
If we have been able to remain quiet and watch the Thoughts that arise, we may have observed that it is possible to separate part of ourselves from what is happening. We can simply observe our thoughts, feelings, mental imagery, and urgings; we do not have to act on them. Who is this observer? Who is exerting influence over whether 'we' respond? Perhaps we are more complex beings than we though.
[ delete ] Woo Hoo
I just finished the end of this book, finally....I've been busy, don't make fun of me for being a slow reader. I just wanted to post the last chapter in here...but I don't feel like it right now. So I brought the thread to the front so I can find it later tonight or tomorrow.
[ report ] Pawn...
I'll look forward to reading the rest.
Yeah, you don't have to read it
>But our technology has not brought us closer to understanding the nature of human being. Definitions of human life seem less certain than ever before. For example, a generation ago, human life was thought to persist as long as the heart continued beating. Now that hearts can be restarted, like automobile engines, or even created artificially, a living brain is considered the essential criterion for life. But even this definition is problematic, for we can sustain brains that show no sign of conscious activity.
What if the brain is functioning, but the body is dependent upon artificial stimulation? If the brain is impaired and the level of consciousness is dulled, at what point can we say human being no longer exists? Despite what we have learned about human biology, knowledge of our intrinsic nature remains elusive.<
Our thinking about " brain death " was once again challenged only a couple of weeks ago.
A patient, considered to be in a vegetative state, was examined using new techniques of brain scanning. By scanning her brain, they discovered she could understand spoken commands and even imagine playing tennis. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to record the woman's brain activity. While her brain was being mapped, the researchers asked her to imagine simple tasks, such as walking around her home and playing tennis, when the scientists compared her brain activity to that of healthy patients, who had been asked to carry out the same task, they discovered the patterns were "indistinguishable ". They said their findings, published in Science, were "startling", but cautioned this could be a one-off case.
In an accompanying article in the same journal, Lionel Naccache, of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit in France, said: "Despite the woman's very poor behavioural status, the FMRI findings indicate this existence of a rich mental life."
If I may...
1) Think, before you speak(write).
2) Know your audience.