Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Eternal Void Tech: Going Deeper

This is a follow-up to The Eternal Void, which is required reading for everyone free of the delusion of self.

Realising the eternal nature of the void has had one specific effect on me. When I focus on the void to deepen my sense of it, it's as if I'm now in a video game where my progress gets autosaved. I focus, and I nearly instantly find myself at whatever depth of experience I managed to attain before. I don't have to spend time and effort working my way back. I don't have to claw my way towards it through morasses of intense emotion. I can just immerse myself in its depths at will.

This makes sense. It's a deep, instinctual knowing that the void is there at all times. That's what being eternal means. And if it's always there, it should always be there to access. So far so good.

So here's how I've managed to deepen it further. Basically, we already know that the void is there all the time. But where is it all the time? Everywhere, of course.

In short, what I've found is that whenever I become able to see the void in an area of my experience, my overall access to it becomes easier and deeper. Which means ever higher levels of emotional stability and inner peace, instantly available. And because progress gets autosaved, I don't have to painstakingly condition myself to see a particular angle of void - I just have to do it a few times and that's it.

Here are some examples of what I've got so far:

- Space.

I focus on the space in the room around me (or outside), seeing it as a continuous thing in itself rather than just the gaps between various objects. It's especially easy outdoors, where you can get a sense of all the objects on the Earth's surface being dwarfed by the vast expanse of sky that envelops them.

The interesting effect of this is that now I become aware of the void whenever I look at my surroundings - whatever my reason for doing so. Thus, it serves as an automatic reminder that the void is there for me to access when I need emotional stability. I'd have given my right arm to have this kind of near-constant reminder back when I was a Tolle fan trying to practise presence. (mind you, I'm left-handed)

- Motion.

When you're liberated and you investigate far enough, you notice that you're not actually controlling your movements - they're all happening on autopilot. The sense of controlling them is just that - a thought taking credit, an illusion. There is something beautiful about watching one's body move freely, smoothly, with no need for a controller.

Again, I have free access to this now. And, having watched other people with this in mind, it is also rapidly becoming my default mode of perception. When I go out into the street, it is immediately obvious to me that the people walking by are doing so automatically, like clockwork, and that their actions aren't being controlled by any entity. Curiously, this is harder to do when interacting with someone - I should look into that.

The curious thing, however, is that while I am seeing this, it becomes a lot easier to realise a natural implication of no-self: it is pointless to blame anyone for anything. No-one is actually in control, so moral condemnation means nothing. Sure, you can take practical steps to deal with things (pretending for the moment that there is a you to choose to do this), but morality goes out of the window as a framework for judging people's actions.

For now, this has limited scope -while I no longer react angrily to smokers polluting my lungs with second-hand smoke on the street, I don't think I actually have non-judgement of people at a deep level quite yet. It's deepening, though.

- Sensation.

We all know that the primary experience of the void, for practical purposes, is that it makes one aware of the space around emotions and pain (including physical pain), thereby preventing them from dominating our experience and granting a degree of freedom from them without reducing actual intensity.

Right now, I'm experimenting with space not just "around", but also "in front", "behind" and "within". Now, this is heavily tied to how I visualise sensations and the void, so it might not be of much use to those who process them differently. The general point is this, though: there are lots of angles from which the void can be seen to be involved in inner experience, and taking the time to experience them (rather than just acknowledging that they must logically be there) "locks them in", as per the progress-saving power of the eternal void.

This is very new, but I'm getting the best mileage out of "within" right now. Namely, I am examining sensations/emotions and seeing that they are not solid chunks of feeling. Rather, they are lots and lots of little bits, with space in between them. Seeing this dramatically reduces their impact on me, like an upgrade to the original effect of the void in the first place.

So anyway. Those are the three big void-deepening areas I've found so far. I have some ideas for further exploration, such as the space between thoughts, as well as the space within them (e.g. between sounds during verbal thought). So far, every bit of void I've discovered has deepened my liberation overall, and since I know intellectually that the void is around and within all things, there should be plenty more to find.

Over to you, ladies and gentlemen. Are you also finding your progress autosaved? Can you find any bits of void I haven't mentioned, and is doing so giving you a deepening effect?

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share
Tuesday, 16 August 2011

No-Self: A Few Extra Steps

Greetings, all.

I have not yet succeeded in solving the fundamental problem of human suffering, but I've had some neat advances that I feel are worth sharing with you fine people.

The model I'm using right now is that of perceptual filters and perceptual shifts. It's not a rock-solid model, and is subject to revision, but it's delivered some noteworthy results.

The key is a distinction between belief changes and perceptual shifts. Suppose I believe that the world was created 4672 years ago by the great Grathnaxor. Then a person with multiple brain cells comes along and points out all the evidence that the world existed long before that. I accept the evidence. I now believe that the world was not created 4672 years ago (though the great Grathnaxor can still claim credit).

Note what has changed and what hasn't. The content of my belief about when the world was created has changed. My thinking on the topic in the future will be different in some ways. There will be other such knock-on effects - for example, I may be more aware of the importance of evidence in general, or I may have to re-evaluate my belief that dinosaur bones are the great Grathnaxor's way of toying with the human race.

But what has not changed is anything structural. I still see the world exactly the same way on the level of perception. I still act exactly the same way, except where the exchange of beliefs now means I will make a different decision when presented with the same stimuli. If I were a computer, it is as if someone replaced X.txt with Y.txt in a storage folder. Outside the times when I am trying to access X.txt, there is no difference to anything whatsoever. And it is entirely possible to swap X.txt back in if there is some reason why this should happen.

Perceptual shifts are different. They are the replacement of software responsible for the running of the computer, like new drivers that let you make use of hardware features that were previously useless.

For example learning to read is a perceptual shift (more likely a series of shifts, since there is such a thing as partial literacy, but let's keep it simple for now). Once you can read English, you can look at a string of letters and words, and you will know what it says in the time it takes you to process all the symbols. The symbols themselves haven't changed in any way because you've learned to read, nor do they appear differently to your eyes. But suddenly they look completely different.

You can't undo this shift, at least not without brain damage or something equally rare and extreme. You can't see written English and choose not to know what it says. At best, you can think very hard about some other words so that you avoid subvocalising whatever is in front of you, or you can divert your attention so that you're not really seeing the words. But the words can't enter your brain without being understood.

Liberation is a perceptual shift. Once you see that there is no self, it is instantaneous, permanent and irreversible. It changes structure rather than content. With the exception of a few obvious points (e.g. the belief "the self exists"), content doesn't change automatically, which is why liberated people still find themselves being run by past conditioning which contradicts their perceptions.

As it happens, the conditioning does update over time - liberated people feel and act differently as they spend more time getting used to their new perception, just as one can get better and faster at reading a script one already knows. This is a broad topic, and one for another time. What is important to note for now is that just letting this passive updating process do all the work is a bad idea. There is no guarantee that the new conditioning will not be flawed or deluded in all manner of ways, which is why the active application of honesty to beliefs - what I call Laser Focus elsewhere - is important.

Now for the good stuff. The perceptual shift of liberation involves the removal of a perceptual filter - a filter that causes all perception to be interpreted in terms of a self. Remember how, when you were still deluded, it actually seemed like there was a you that controlled your thoughts and actions? Like there seemed to be a sense of self? Remember how didn't just think in your head "I exist", but actually took it for granted so deeply that it characterised everything you did?

Now that filter's gone. If you look, it's blatantly obvious that there is no self, no controller of thoughts or actions, no decider or observer. It takes no effort to see this, just the act of looking.

So here's the best part. Turns out there are plenty of other such filters, and they can all be removed. I've done this to quite a few, with some extraordinary results, and to my surprise have not destroyed my brain or impaired my ability to function or gone insane or anything. With this in mind, I'd like to share a couple that I feel particularly help in deepening the experience of liberation, as well as my current process for removing them.

This post will make what comes next a lot easier to follow, so I highly recommend reading it (plus, it's some of my best work on liberation so far).

First, the process. It is basically a specialised application of the same honesty we use to test our beliefs.

- Take a proposition about reality you believe to be true. I give you the ones relevant for this below.
- Do you in fact perceive reality as though this proposition were true? If yes, you're done.
- If not, look at reality thoroughly and attempt to see it as if it were true. This sounds iffy, but it's the best concise description I can come up with for what I do to remove a filter. Work through all the implications of the proposition being true. What would you be seeing? How would you see it? Where would you look to see it? How would you look to see it?

If the proposition is false, nothing will happen. I've tested this, and was rather disappointed that I can't do a number of cool things with my perception that I hoped I could. On the other hand, if it is true, this does work. I've not only used it on myself, I've also talked my liberated partner through achieving all of the perceptual shifts I have.

Now for the actual filters. I suggest you do them in order.

1) There is one single solid entity which, while not an "I", can be referred to by my name, and has consistency and continuity over time.

Look at yourself. Look at all your thoughts, beliefs, opinions, behaviour patterns and everything else that makes the character of Your Name Here that character. Is there anything binding them together other than the fact that they occur in the same body?

Scratch your ear while thinking about music. What connects these two actions apart from the fact that the brain thinking about music is part of the same body as the hand and the ear? Look at the mannerisms that are unique to you. Carry them out while doing other things at the same time. Is there a commonality? Is there any sort of you-ness that distinguishes them, or only the idea of one?

Think of the you of ten years ago. Some things have changed drastically. Others haven't. Are there some that are more you than others? What connects them all? Can you see such a thing, except as a mental concept?

The filter is gone when you can see, clearly and freely, that there is no solid core, only patterns. Lots and lots of patterns. Some coincide. Some trigger others. But there is no you-ness holding them together.

If this doesn't hit you with the force of liberation, or a ten-ton truck, you haven't seen it yet.

2) Apply the same principle to the body. It has an apparent solidity. Is it actually solid? Its cells are constantly dividing and dying, its molecules are constantly being swapped in and out. The patterns of cells we call organs are fairly stable, but is there anything keeping them in the same shapes and organisations apart from their individual DNA-determined structures? Do you see some higher controlling entity holding it all together, or just an endless series of patterns and feedback loops?

When I cracked this one, I realised something. We take for granted that our bodies must be perfectly organised, because we go about our daily lives without things constantly going wrong or falling apart. Bits that need to be connected stay connected. Bits that supply something to other bits keep supplying it. The heart keeps beating and the lungs keep pumping oxygen.

Except things do go wrong. It's just that when they do, we get ill or die. It is perfectly possible for the heart to stop pumping blood. It's just that then people die, and this really does happen. Or the heart can malfunction in any number of other ways, and they all really do happen. In real life. People do die because their lungs stop working (happened to me once, just not for long), to say nothing of other less deadly lung problems.

The body's remarkable degree of organisation isn't magic. It's not evidence for some kind of special solidifying quality that keeps everything together. It all breaks down to individual cells, individual combinations of cells and individual processes caused by combinations of cells, which natural selection has caused to always reproduce in very roughly the same ways because the ones that didn't died too soon.

The filter is gone when you see that the body is nothing more than another set of patterns and more patterns (in this case of molecules and cells, rather than of thoughts etc.), and that the dividing line between it and the patterns which form the external environment is purely imaginary.

3) You have seen that you do not exist. Not only is there no self, there is no single person, on any level, except as a mental label for a set of interconnected processes.

Now do the same for your perception of other people.

You may have to start by taking the original insight of liberation and applying it to other people first. Remember what you took a self to be and how you looked to see if it was there. Now do the exact same thing, but look for that self in the people around you. Is it there?

Once you've removed that initial filter, see if there is any more of a single solid person when you look at others than when you look at yourself.

The filter is gone when you see that there are no solid, coherent, consistent people any more than there is a solid, coherent, consistent you.

This tech is very new and unrefined, so I don't know how effective my instructions are. I cracked it on my own from scratch, and my partner was talked through it by phone, so whether I'm doing it right by text is as yet unknown. Hopefully, people will give this their best shot and report back.

What I will say is that, based on our experience, making it this far brings benefits comparable in scale to the original liberation itself. It still doesn't cure human suffering, but it does appear to significantly reduce the duration of negative emotional feedback loops, and has a variety of other interesting effects as well.

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share
Friday, 5 August 2011

What About an Invisible Self?

Possibilities for seeing the self break up into two distinct categories.

1) The self is available to perception.

This one is easy. Try to perceive it, and you will find that it's nowhere to be found because it doesn't exist.

2) The self is such a thing that it cannot be perceived by its very nature.

There's this thing that happens where I write a really long refutation of something, and only right when I finish do I see a much quicker and simpler way to do the same thing, and end up deleting the original post. That just happened.

So, turns out this one is easy too. If the self cannot be perceived, then there can be no such thing as self-awareness. Simple as that. Think it through, you'll find it holds up any which way.

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share
Thursday, 28 July 2011

No-Self and What It Really Means

There is no "I". We all know it (if you don't, check it out for yourself - can you find it anywhere in your experience?), but I've only just come to appreciate how far that goes.

When you realise that there is no self, all that is left over, all that's actually shown to be real, is the personality. Behaviour patterns. "Ego", according to some uses of the term.

Actually, even that is a fiction.

What is a human being? Just a set of patterns. A certain proportion of those patterns is physical, matter arranged in specific ways and interacting in specific ways. These patterns are organs, chemical exchanges, organ systems. Exactly where we draw the line between them is entirely subjective - for example, you could call the stomach a pattern, or you could separate it into its biological constituents, the various ways it interacts with other organs, and so on all the way down to individual subatomic particles.

It may seem strange to think of something physical as a pattern, but it works. Google gives one definition as "a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in certain actions or situations", and I think that's fair. At any rate, bear with me.

The essential thing is that although these patterns are interconnected, and some rely on others to exist or function at all, they have no inherent property of "being part of one thing" except insofar as we define them as constituting a single body. For example, suppose we introduce a pacemaker into the system. It is interconnected with the other patterns, and many will rely on it to function (the heart, for a start). We can even make a feedback loop so it relies on them as well (by having it detect the heart rate and adjust accordingly).

But this doesn't invest the pacemaker with a property of "body-ness". To take another example, try a dialysis machine. You could be hooked up to a big one outside your body, or we could somehow minimise it and make it ultra-efficient so it fitted inside you. It would effectively function as an extra organ either way, but we would not be magically making it cross a "you/not you" barrier just by making mechanical modifications.

We could even find out that a foetus had a lethal kidney problem, and implant our micro-dialysis machine in it before birth. There would still be no "you/not you" barrier being crossed.

The point I'm trying to make is that there is no objective criterion according to which the patterns which make up the human body constitute a single continuous thing. There is no "bodyness" attribute, any more than building a LEGO house gives a "houseness" attribute to the LEGO blocks. The decision to demarcate a certain combination of patterns as "Alexei", and to treat further alterations to that combination of patterns as "Alexei changing", is a mental one which doesn't reflect anything about actual reality.

Now we go from the hard part to the easy one. Behaviour patterns, that which we call "personality", work in exactly the same way. There is no fixed entity created by a particular combination of thought and behaviour patterns. There is no fixed "Alexei", only a load of tendencies encapsulated as neural patterns in the brain. Of these tendencies, only a few at a time are being expressed, and there is no inherent reason why those being expressed at one time should relate to those being expressed at another.

In other words, there is no such thing as "acting out of character". There is no objective reason why a person's thoughts or actions should be consistent. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't, depending on which patterns are being triggered when. If you know a person's dominant (i.e. most frequently triggering) patterns, and you know what their triggers are, you can predict their behaviour to a certain extent. But you're not actually predicting a person, you're predicting a pattern. There's no person there apart from the patterns that exist at any given moment.

Putting it another way, if a pattern is 1 and a person is 5, 5=1+1+1+1+1. There is no "fiveness", no special quality that makes the whole in any way WHATSOEVER more than the sum of the parts.

Yes, patterns interact, which is to say some trigger others and some rely on others to be triggered at all. The ways in which they do so are staggeringly complex - and remember, exactly where you draw the lines between different patterns is entirely subjective. But in the end, those patterns are all there is. The fact that a certain set of patterns is labelled "Alexei", and that a certain subset of them is labelled "Alexei's body", is just the activity of more patterns.

This is a Portuguese Man O' War jellyfish. It looks like a single living being. It's not. It's a colony of lots and lots of individual living beings called zooids. The zooids are highly specialised, and could not survive if they were detached from the colony, but they are very definitely individual creatures.

You look like a single living being. You're not. You are made of countless patterns. These patterns are highly specialised. Depending on where you draw the lines between them, most could not survive (or, in the case of non-physical ones, exist at all) apart from the rest. Yet they are very definitely individual patterns.

Sure, you could say "I am one very large pattern", and since the lines are subjective, that's a legitimate response. But it's no less subjective than the rest. Your thoughts are part of that pattern, right? But they're triggered by the environment, and could not exist without it. So is the environment part of the pattern too?

You would die without food. But food is just like thought - it might turn up or it might not, and this depends both on the actions of the organism and on the environment. So is food part of the "you" pattern?

And so on. The lines between the patterns are arbitrary. You can draw them around individual organs of the body, you can draw them around individual bodies, or you can draw one line that includes the totality of the universe. But no amount of drawing will change what's actually true.

And what's actually true is that there is an arbitrary number of individual patterns, interacting and interdependent, with nothing holding them together except those interactions and interdependencies. Some of these patterns give names and labels to other patterns, but that doesn't make the names and labels any more real.

A human being is a mental abstraction, a label given to a set of patterns. The patterns themselves are constantly changing, and the pretence of continuity or consistency is just that - a label that doesn't reflect reality.

Look again at the Portuguese Man O' War. That's what you are. A colony of patterns, a few of which are shouting "I exist as one distinct individual!"

There is no you. This is how deep it goes.

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share

On The Impossibility of Free Will

Today I would like to ask you to perform an experiment.

A word of warning, first. If you're not yet free of the delusion of self, or failing that particularly emotionally stable, don't do this one until you're free. If you think that its implications apply to a "you" that exists, it could be genuinely depressing, and your mental health matters to me. In a sense, its improvement is what this blog is all about.

So. The experiment. What I'd like to ask you to do is to look around your experience and observe your thoughts and actions. There are two questions you need to answer.

1) Am I consciously constructing any of my thoughts, or are they all arriving in consciousness ready-made?

2) Am I noticing my actions while they are still at decision level, or are they already beginning when I notice them?

Take some time. What you're trying to do is identify whether there is a gap between the state of "no thought/no action" and the state of "thought arising/action taking place", a gap in which you consciously cause the thought or action.

I can't find one. I'd already realised that thoughts always arrive in consciousness (so to speak) fully-formed as verbal sentences or visual images or physical sensations, and that therefore there is no room for "me" to be involved in constructing them.

Now I've come to see that the same is true of actions. By the time I notice an action taking place, it's already begun. That means even if there was an "I" capable of volition, there would simply be no room, no opportunity for it to exercise it. By the time something's happening, it is too late. All that can happen on a conscious level is a thought of taking credit.

Again, make sure you check this out for yourself. Be rigorous. Can you notice a thought or action before it's in progress? Or is it already happening by the time you become aware of it? Don't take your thoughts on the matter at their word. Check thoroughly.

For me, this has been the biggest realisation since no-self so far - realisation as in a thing that actually permanently alters how I experience the world, rather than an insight (which I use to refer to new intellectual understandings). Not only is there no me to be responsible for thoughts and actions, it isn't even theoretically possible for a me to do so if it existed.

One more thing. We often think that we have a thought, and then we act on that thought. This is not the case. Thoughts do not cause actions. Test this by performing actions without thinking about them first, such as scratching your nose, helping yourself to a snack from an open container or diving in front of a truck to push a loved one out of the way.

So. There is no gap in which thoughts are constructed or decisions are transformed into actions. Is this true?

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share
Monday, 25 July 2011

There Is No Self: Redux

OK, people. You already know (I hope) a really obvious truth: there is no self. If you don't, check it out in your own experience. Can you find an "I" as an actual thing anywhere, or are you just taking its existence for granted?

Now, there is something that people who have grasped that there is no self often trip up on. It is this: there is no self.

Yeah, really not where you'd expect to have a problem at this stage, is it? Here's how it works.

Many liberated talk about "the false self" or "the self constructed by thoughts" or "the concept of self". These things don't exist.

Really, check it out.

There is a belief, hopefully by now recognised as false: "the self exists". There are lots of other beliefs about the self, like "the self has free will", "the self observes reality", "the self believes that Pokemon is for kids", "the self despairs of British politics" etc. You can substitute "I" for "the self" to make these beliefs sound more familiar.

But notice this: they are all beliefs about the self.

There is no actual concept, belief or thought which is the self.

Compare angels. The concept of "angel" is made up of other concepts - person, wings, halo, white robe, Heaven, etc. But it is an actual concrete concept. You can imagine angels in and of themselves.

Or take a moral law like "stealing is wrong". It's abstract. You can't visualise it or anything. But it is an actual distinct concept. It exists as a concrete thought.

The self doesn't. It's not a concept the way angels and moral laws are concepts. It's a pointer to a thing which isn't there on any level, in any sense, like the "it" in "it's raining".

So whatever beliefs you have about liberation and the self, rethink them. There is no self. It is fully as true on the level of fiction as on the level of reality.

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share
Friday, 22 July 2011

Demolishing the Stairway to Heaven

A particularly courageous gentleman who is trying his hardest to find out whether there is a self even as we speak reminded me of a classic objection to no-self and the work of Ruthless Truth today.

Here it is:

"You claim that no-self is the highest realisation, when this is patently not true. There are higher realisations beyond it. No-self is not enlightenment, only the first step on the path."

I would like to address this objection in detail.

There is a simple reason why no-one in RT claims that no-self is the highest realisation. Here it is: truth is not hierarchical. It doesn't come in levels.

Let me repeat that: Truth Doesn't Come In Levels.

Truth can be discovered. You can discover how X works, or what Y really is, or whether Z actually exists or not. When you conceptualise that truth into a model, the model may have varying degrees of accuracy (never 100%, because the model is a separate thing from the truth to which it points), but the truth doesn't care about that. The truth just is.

The truth about X is as true as the truth about Y and the truth about Z. None is inherently deeper or more profound than the other - that only happens when an observer decides to rank them hierarchically according to their own beliefs about the truth.

This is what happens with the above objection. People imagine a hierarchical progression of insight, with True Enlightenment (cosmic wisdom, infinite serenity and bliss, unity consciousness etc.) at the end, and a ladder of increasing understanding in between them and it. To them, no-self is at best the first step on that ladder.

The problem with this is that the whole thing is a mental fiction. Truth doesn't work that way. Sure, when we teach things, we structure them into little truths that build up into bigger ones, but this is a teaching aid designed to fit the way our brains build connections and absorb information. It's a reflection of how we build conceptual structures and develop concrete skills, but it has nothing to do with actually seeing what is true in the first place.

No-self is not the final realisation. Nor is it the first realisation. It's just one of an infinite number of possible realisations. We at Ruthless Truth happen to value it particularly highly because its long-term effects on how people see the world are vast and ultimately positive. But on the level of reality itself, it is no greater or lesser a realisation than "water is liquid at room temperature".

And unlike the aforementioned True Enlightenment, it's an actual permanent realisation, immediately available in real life, rather than a story people tell themselves about an imagined state they have never personally experienced.

Spread this:
submit to reddit Share

Recent Comments

Widget by ReviewOfWeb

Subscribe by e-mail

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow me on Twitter

Google Chat


Powered by Blogger.