Spiritual is the new supernatural

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In another thread, polycarp2 posted:

Quote polycarp2:Part of it, Jason, is

"The spiritually dead, like those constantly recurring trolls who have no interest in any such things -- and that's why they are so easy to spot -- will fight any of the principles involved. The principles go deep, and for those who believe that technology and progress are the way for humans to continue expanding and controlling nature and eventually the universe, these principles are contradictory and deep to their own vision (if you want to give what goes on in their heads the credit of calling it vision), thus they reflexively will react to them and try to deny their introduction and any active play of those ideas in their world of rational ideas. Killing spirit is their métier. It's easy enough. Spirit is fragile in spiritually dead, violent and dominator institutional organizations, such as industrial civilization. They resort to any method to derail the principles' development in discussion. There's a deep understanding involved. That understanding is always at work in the mental sorting process. Why the spiritually dead fear it, I do not know. But they do and they reject it." - Dennis L. Merritt, PhD.

What do we mean by "spirit" and "spiritual"?

If we are going to disparage others as "spiritually dead", what are we talking about?

The quote above refers to "those who believe that technology and progress are the way for humans to continue expanding and controlling nature and eventually the universe." I would agree that the key words in that formulation add up to a fairly reductionist and ego-centric point of view. Is that un-spiritual?

Would the same negative tar apply to those who believe that the scientific method is the way forward for humans to better understand themselves and their place in ecology? How un-spiritual would that be? Does the word "ecology" make it more spiritual?

Many of my peers seem to have adopted a non-denominational post new age "spirituality" as a common device by which they can dodge having to scientifically and rationally defend any particular non-sectarian or "universalist" dogma or faith.

I'm not politely buying it anymore.

Isn't spiritual just the new supernatural? How is spirituality not magical thinking?

I don't doubt that there are vast domains of knowledge about consciousness and the world we have not yet dreamed of and which science has not scratched the surface of. If something exists that is non-material, ok - but as Carl Sagan famously said, extravagant claims demand extravagant proof. Where is the proof ? If spirituality is a domain of beliefs held without proofs, why would we respect it?

I understand that we have thousands of years of anecdotal "evidence" for spiritual and religious experiences, emotional states, "higher states of consciousness", mystical experiences, and many other subjective experiences. I think this is an exciting domain for scientific research, not faith.

But I am not actually a militant materialist.

I confess I am inclined to suspect that everything is material (including known forms of energy), but the point is far from proven. In fact, it isn't proven that anything is material. At some level of scrutiny it must be admitted that we don't actually know what material is. We only know how it behaves under certain circumstances. I think descriptions of the world might be created under multiple assumptions: all material, no material, and some mixture of material and something else. The latter two, however, face some serious evidence problems for those of us to whom evidence matters.

Science is often accused of disrespecting the authenticity of subjective experience, but that is largely a straw man. A few scientists may have taken that position, but they are a minority. On the other hand, its funny how many grudging acknowledgments of science from the "spiritual" community come paired with back handed insults about how science is uncool because it "disses" our bliss. If one's bliss is that weak...

There is more in heaven and earth than dreamed of at the National Science Foundation--yet. But in the Worldview Hall of Fame, Natural Science has the distinction of being the paradigm that most willingly and quickly corrects it's own reality. Second place goes to Buddhists for killing Buddha if they meet him in the road!

Why the American obsession with "god, religion and spirituality"? Where should I begin? I think Americans are poorly educated compared with other industrial nations. Our real history is so shameful that historical, social, and political studies have been filled full of bullshit. We also have the worst media in the civilized world. Therefore we have no idea how the world really works. Complacence has contributed to a segment of our population being indifferent to reality (not to mention obese).

A post new age brand of bland, generic spirituality is on the upsurge among our better educated demographics and it may be finding some sympathy within the progressive community. I recognize the importance of an inner life, too, but does it have to be full of superstition and magical thinking to be valuable and poignant?

Just how different can belief structures be and still motivate (or even permit) people to take cooperative action? Over and over, down through the ages, most people seem to have decided they would need to kill off much of their opposition before they could proceed with changing the world in their chosen direction. Have all those people been wrong? Does science offer a potential rosetta stone for multiple belief systems?

"Is motherly love just an oxytocin release?"

Do we know what anything is, in itself? They are not necessarily completely different things which are merely coincident, nor completely different things which merely proceed from a common cause. There could actually be some existential or ontological overlap. If they are always correlated, it certainly begs the question. How can we design an experiment to expand our knowledge on this matter? It is still early days in FMRI, mollecular biology and other objective lab measurements. No doubt even more subtle and more powerful methods are needed and are to come.

The question of knowing what another person's spiritual values are is also intriguing. It is not yet widely known, but it is nevertheless a proven scientific fact that most people do not even know what their own spiritual values are. See and/or participate in the Harvard study at implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/. It suggests that if we are looking for allies for changing the material world, a person's past behavior is a much better correlate with their probable future behavior than anything we can learn about their "values".

What we believe about ourselves is usually no better justified than what we believe about God.

In my opinion, there IS evidence that thoughts are material. They always seem to require the proximity of a physical brain. They seem to leave "footprints" we can see with EEG or fMRI or whatever. But even if there were no evidence of the materiality of thoughts, mind, self, enlightenment, etc., how would such non-evidence be transubstantiated into evidence of the contrary (non-materiality)?

It seems to me that the only evidence we have of anything being non-material is "thought evidence". The current body of evidence for materiality may sometimes be sparse, but its better than that. Excuse me for thinking that the case for materiality (with all the wormholes it may still include) is stronger than the case for non-materiality.

Like our senses, our emotions are an integral part of our authentic experience. They can be important guides and teachers. The trouble is, they can also mislead us. The mind can mislead as well. We can deceive ourselves. We can get lost and carried away. That's why we need our scientific methods to stay in touch with reality and stay on course.

Of course, you are right to be skeptical of science, as well. It certainly has its problems and shortcomings.

But there is no war between subjective experience and science. Science has revealed to us that the physical development of an infant's brain depends on love. But it has also begun to reveal ways that love and other feelings are intimately interwoven with physical processes in the human brain, such as oxytocin and dopamine pathways.

Faith and science are not enemies. Faith is expectation. That is where things like neurotransmitters and other hormones, and things like the placebo effect, come in.

Unfortunately, science just has little or nothing to offer at present about many important questions and experiences. It just hasn't got that far yet. On the other hand, I think many people would be way surprised what science has learned about human nature, emotions, and cognitive processes in just the past few years.

I recently read something like "Reality is anything that still exists when you stop believing in it."

I have not yet ever tripped over, bumped into, or choked on any "spirit". Therefore, I have not needed a definition for it (this relates to Occam's Razor). To be fair, I have experienced a number of altered states of consciousness that I cannot explain scientifically. In my world, however, these are "exotic" experiences rather than spiritual experiences, even though they sometimes have even contained religious imagery or content. In my opinion, the jury is still out on the origin and meaning of these experiences. I lean towards natural causes, even if those causes turn out to be very subtle and perhaps very surprising.

It can be stressful to live with unanswered questions and unexplained experiences, but you can't go wrong by admitting what you don't know.

Poor Richard

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Comments

Sprituality has little to do with religion Richard. It's more a connectedness to life...all of it. Spiritually dead people can't make the connection. Rather than plunging into dispair over the killing of a million people for oil...they'll just say, "we shouldn't do that"...or not. Spiritually dead people won't fill the streets with howls of protest.

"We shouldn't torture animals...pass the pork chop". No connection to life.

Spiritually dead people become uncomfortable discussing it. They'll throw in a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with spirituality...like the devil a religion or spirits to be tripped over.

They don't get it.

The movie Avatar comes to mind. It clearly shows the distinction between the two.

Spiritually alive people won't argue that giving a kid medical care or pulling an abscessed tooth is a socialist plot and an infringement on their rights.. The concern is life. They connect with the suffering of another...human or otherwise. They connect with the joy of another...human or otherwise.

Like in the movie Avatar, we are in a period of "The Great Sadness". I see few tears for the living planet and the beings upon it, human and otherwise, that we are destroying. There is no connectedness. We are becoming spiritually dead as a species...and digging our own graves..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

Sprituality has little to do with religion Richard.

Echos of DRC's insistence that FAITH has nothing to do with religion.... But I didn't make a case for spirituality being connected with religion. If you read my post, I correlated spirituality and the supernatural. Religion is only a common tangent.

Quote polycarp2: [Spirituality is] more a connectedness to life...all of it.

You don't get to make up your own definitions for controversial, highly charged words like spiritual.

What you are calling spirituality (connectedness to life) is adequately expressed by empathy, compassion, ecological awareness, enlightened self interest (utility, common good, golden rule, etc.), and many other terms that draw nothing from any supernatural reality.

Quote polycarp2:

Like in the movie Avatar, we are in a period of "The Great Sadness". I see few tears for the living planet and the beings upon it, human and otherwise, that we are destroying

I liked Avatar, but I couldn't stop wondering if that kind of money couldn't be put to better use. Note that in Avatar a natural explanation was given for the "interconnectedness" of all the life on the planet--a neural-net-like system of interlocking roots. Some kind of neural roots were also involved in the consciousness transfers under the sacred tree, and neural connections were made with the animals via the pony-tails. I guess Cameron is not a very supernatural guy...

I regularly weep for the suffering of all living beings and my tears have a 100% natural cause: empathy and compassion--nothing supernatural (or spiritual) about it.

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What do we mean by "spirit" and "spiritual"?

As far as I can tell, spiritual has everything to do with accepting what the subconscious creates and what our nature (evolution) as social beings and animals predisposes us to as true and as part of the real world. Of course people who are religious or at least consider themselves spiritual don't accept that.

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Quote jeffbiss:
What do we mean by "spirit" and "spiritual"?

As far as I can tell, spiritual has everything to do with accepting what the subconscious creates and what our nature (evolution) as social beings and animals predisposes us to as true and as part of the real world. Of course people who are religious or at least consider themselves spiritual don't accept that.

So spirit = human nature, and spiritual = following natural impulses?

That is an interesting naturalistic definition, but as I told polycarp2 I don't think we get to make up our own definitions of controversial terms. (Actually we DO get to make them up, we just don't get to expect anybody to pay them any mind.)

Instead of using the disputed term spiritual in your way, we could also just say instinctive, intuitive, spontaneous, or something like that.

Wikipedia's "Spirit" page says:

The English word spirit (from Latin spiritus "breath") has many differing meanings and connotations, all of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.

Anyone making references to spirit or spirituality should probably be aware of that connotation and choose other words if something non-material or supernatural is not intended. If something supernatural IS intended, they should probably be prepared for scientific skepticism in response. The nucleus of that skepticism is Carl Sagan's simple axiom: "extravagant claims require extravagant proofs."

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So spirit = human nature, and spiritual = following natural impulses?

That is an interesting naturalistic definition, but as I told polycarp2 I don't think we get to make up our own definitions of controversial terms. (Actually we DO get to make them up, we just don't get to expect anybody to pay them any mind.)

Instead of using the disputed term spiritual in your way, we could also just say instinctive, intuitive, spontaneous, or something like that.


Let me try to explain my position a bit better with a couple of examples of my own.

- I had a sleep paralysis experience that made me feel as though an evil surrounded me and screamed in my head. Had I been less objective, I may have attributed it to a) an alien abduction or (b) a demon.
- While in my basement, I saw a shadow streak across the room. Paying more attention, I noticed that the fluorescent light flickered. Had I not been as objective, I may have attributed the shadow to the supernatural.

So, what I mean is that because the brain creates context, such as interpreting an event (a shadow) as a threat thus creating fear for a flight response, a person is predisposed to accept an incorrect context as real. Therefore, I consider spirituality in a more fundamental manner precisely because many events, ranging from unclear visual events to magnetic fields to ultra-low frequency sound, result in the brain creating context. For example, it has been shown that ULF sound causes many people to feel sad or claustraphobic and magnetic fields can create visions of others. Therefore, I consider spirituality as simply accepting incorrect contexts as real, and then using that to create belief systems.

Also, I think that our being social animals provides us with a world view in which other people exist, which is extended to other "realms", such as heaven, through these incorrect interpretations that become cultural reality.

Anyone making references to spirit or spirituality should probably be aware of that connotation and choose other words if something non-material or supernatural is not intended. If something supernatural IS intended, they should probably be prepared for scientific skepticism in response. The nucleus of that skepticism is Carl Sagan's simple axiom: "extravagant claims require extravagant proofs."

I agree, but can't think of what words to use because fundamentally I the supernatural as nonsense because if something exists then it is natural; If ghosts exist, then ghosts are natural. It seems that supernatural is a construct from pre-scientific process days by default.

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I have little to add, right now, but to say, Richard, quite probably the most brilliant post I've yet read on this board. Thank you.

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Quote jeffbiss:

Let me try to explain my position a bit better with a couple of examples of my own.

- I had a sleep paralysis experience that made me feel as though an evil surrounded me and screamed in my head. Had I been less objective, I may have attributed it to a) an alien abduction or (b) a demon.

That waking from a wierd dream with sleep paralysis thing is a real bitch.

I appreciate your examples of experiences that might lead many to make up some supernatural or "spiritual" explanations.

I agree with your whole post.

Some people will form supernatural theories about experiences they don't understand because they lack the education to come up with more likely natural explanations. You, on the other hand, seem to have plenty of natural science words and concepts to draw from.

Thanks for your comments.

Poor Richard

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Quote reed9:

I have little to add, right now, but to say, Richard, quite probably the most brilliant post I've yet read on this board. Thank you.

From one who contributes some of the most rational, informed, and well-written posts on this board that is very high praise. I don't get much of that.

Someone else who thinks I'm brilliant are the birds in my yard. I can't whistle worth a damn but I've learned some of their body language and they tell me I'm the smartest human they've ever observed.

This is all very encouraging!

Poor Richard

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Many of my peers seem to have adopted a non-denominational post new age "spirituality" as a common device by which they can dodge having to scientifically and rationally defend any particular non-sectarian or "universalist" dogma or faith.

This seems to apply to me. Let's not forget that I consider myself to be arguing for an agnostic position. There is a certain necessity to make a case that something beyond the here in materialistic forms, but to suggest we are hiding from a question about denomination is really off topic to me. It would really stretch my agnostic fiber to defend some particular denominations belief. I understand that spirtually dead is not particularly flattering, but it does make a nice counter-assertion to the accusation of magical thinking that we seem to get so often

I'm not politely buying it anymore.

Isn't spiritual just the new supernatural? How is spirituality not magical ?

I'll be darned there it is. It is only magical according to your doctrine that feeling and experience arise from matter. Just as magical in my opinion

I don't doubt that there are vast domains of knowledge about consciousness and the world we have not yet dreamed of and which science has not scratched the surface of. If something exists that is non-material, ok - but as Carl Sagan famously said, extravagant claims demand extravagant proof. Where is the proof ? If spirituality is a domain of beliefs held without proofs, why would we respect it?

how about we start over a little. Do you claim matter has consciousness? Is there something distinctly different in matter that has consciousness attached to it? If so why is there now physical difference seen in the matter that feels? Material things do need location do they not? If feeling is a distinct phenemenon in some matter and not other then where is it. I do not see how brain mapping has done anything to answer either the locality question of consciousnessor the question of a qualitative difference in matter not imbued with consciousness and that which is imbued.

.

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Wow. Great thread. This is one of the few grey areas I experience.

What is science? What is education? Why do humans have a need to rationalize "odd" experiences? Why do these odd experiences have to fall under supernatural / superstition because our current knowledge says these things can't exist?

I am going to self disclose for a moment. I experience sleep apnea. I've experienced it since I was a kid. I've experienced sleep paralysis night terrors and I have experienced oddities that cannot be explained away by the sleep paralysis explanation. In most cases I can tell the difference.

Anyway, I am open to the idea humans can, (and most likely do), experience a much broader range of consciousness levels than most are willing to admit or that science can currently explain. Not to mention the socio-cultural taboo associated with verbalizing one's openness/acceptance of such ideas.

bonnie
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Quote PR: Many of my peers seem to have adopted a non-denominational post new age "spirituality" as a common device by which they can dodge having to scientifically and rationally defend any particular non-sectarian or "universalist" dogma or faith.

That was not a well written paragraph. I should have at least added "that they advocate" at the end. So if you are not advocating a vague undefined "spirituality" then it doesn't apply to you.

Quote mattnapa:I understand that spirtually dead is not particularly flattering, but it does make a nice counter-assertion to the accusation of magical thinking that we seem to get so often

I don't get many accustaions of magical thinking. If you do, why?

Quote mattnapa:PR: Isn't spiritual just the new supernatural? How is spirituality not magical ?

I'll be darned there it is. It is only magical according to your doctrine that feeling and experience arise from matter. Just as magical in my opinion

You think my assertion that subjective experience comes from brain activity is just as magical as spirit, soul, or ...I don't know what else?

Quote mattnapa:Do you claim matter has consciousness?

No. It may be possible that some kind of non-neural matter has some kind of consciousness but there is no data to support it yet.

Quote mattnapa:Is there something distinctly different in matter that has consciousness attached to it?

Yes. Neural critical mass and organization complexity threshold.

Quote mattnapa:If so why is there now physical difference seen in the matter that feels?

If you mean NO physical difference, that's wrong. Physical differences in brain matter do correlate to subjective experience.

Quote mattnapa:Material things do need location do they not? If feeling is a distinct phenemenon in some matter and not other then where is it.

In brains and some more primitive neural clusters...We don't know if individual nerve cells feel, because we don't know how primitive the subjective experience of sensation may be. Rocks don't feel (as far as we know). Although piezoelectric minerals do react to stimuli, we don't have any evidence that they "feel" anything. Its not impossible, though. If you want to know if rocks can think, however, I think they are dislike brains enough to say probably not.

Quote mattnapa: I do not see how brain mapping has done anything to answer either the locality question of consciousnessor the question of a qualitative difference in matter not imbued with consciousness and that which is imbued.

I answered both above very briefly. This is a big subject with many research tangents. But I think the clincher is that brain injuries/defects and stimulation of brain tissue correlate with very specific kinds of subjective experiences and cognitive abilities. There are many good reasons that most scientists firmly believe consciousness is IN and OF the brain.

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Although piezoelectric minerals do react to stimuli, we don't have any evidence that they "feel" anything.

Hmmm... ...to react and/or respond to stimuli - wouldn't something have to "feel"?

bonnie
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I do not see how brain mapping has done anything to answer either the locality question of consciousnessor the question of a qualitative difference in matter not imbued with consciousness and that which is imbued.

This reminds me of Bill Clinton's "plug" on the Human Genome Project. How can one "map" something that is constantly inconsistent? Viewing the concept of any one individual's mapped, (concrete "written in stone") genome code through the lens of gene expression seems kind of bass ackwards to me because it is anything but concrete.

Genes can be switched off an on like light switches based on what they are and how they respond to internal and/or external stimuli. Therefore, there is no way in hell the all applying/inclusive "genome" can ever be mapped.

Anyway...

I see brain mapping in the same futile manner. One can gain a very basic understanding of the human brains' most basic functions from observing the brain scans of stroke victims, socio-independent and/or psychologically "high-risk" types.

I don't really see mapping of any sort, (genetics, microbiological, biological, neurophysiological, and even environmental), as anything more than data collection trending.

And with most things that involve trending - everything tends to stay within the means and the medians.

bonnie
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Quote bonnie:
Although piezoelectric minerals do react to stimuli, we don't have any evidence that they "feel" anything.

Hmmm... ...to react and/or respond to stimuli - wouldn't something have to "feel"?

I doubt it. How a bout a vending machine?

PR

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All very interesting....and spirituality has nothing to do with the supernatural. It's more a cognitive view of the world by psychologically healthy individuals.

http://hubpages.com/hub/-Self-Actualisation--The-Maslow-theory

The supernatural is best left to witch doctors.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

All very interesting....and spirituality has nothing to do with the supernatural. It's more a cognitive view of the world by psychologically healthy individuals.

http://hubpages.com/hub/-Self-Actualisation--The-Maslow-theory

The supernatural is best left to witch doctors.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

A whole lot of argument here is over this question of semantics. Richard addressed this issue at the beginning. Spirituality derives from the latin meaning wind or breath. Dictionary definitions contrast it with physical or material.

The Online Etymology Dictionary puts it thusly

spiritual (adj.)

"of or concerning the spirit" (especially in religious aspects), c.1300, from O.Fr. spirituel (12c.), from L. spiritualis, from spiritus "of breathing, of the spirit" (see spirit). Meaning "of or concerning the church" is attested from mid-14c. The noun sense of "African-American religious song" first recorded 1866. Spirituality (early 15c.) is from M.Fr. spiritualite, from L.L. spiritualitatem (nom.spiritualitas), from L. spiritualis). An earlier form was spiritualty (late 14c.).

The word in inextricably bound up with notions of religion and the supernatural. You have chosen to appropriate the word for your own uses, but that it not what it means. DRC does a similar thing with the word "faith". Why you both choose to appropriate religious language to apply to your philosophy of life, I don't know. But you must understand that it fails to communicate your means and sows confusion amongst the rest of us who understand the common and dictionary definitions of these words. So if by spirituality you mean Malow's theory of a self-actualized person, why don't you just use the term self-actualization???

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Wind, breath are pointings...and aren't spirituality anymore than Christ is a door with a doorknob. "I am the door".

f you'd look at my previous posts on the matter, then look at Maslow's Self-Actualization...you'd see they are the same. If you look at Buddhist thought on "spirituality", you'll see they are the same. Buddhism can more aptly be called eastern psychology rather than a "religion". It has no diety.

Repeated: "It's acceptable to the spiritually dead for people to die from treatable disease....to kill a million foreign citizens for oil...to destroy the planet to have a larger house, to torture animals their entire lives because its the most profitable means to raise them (while destroying the environment), etc. Any exploration of the underlying ideas that allow and even encourage such things are stifled." (Which is precisely what is occurring here....a diversion from Dr. Merritt's presentation.}

"Socieities are becoming spiritually dead...and that isn't a religious reference."

It's a psychological reference...and has nothing to do with the supernatural which is best left to witch doctors, theologians and science fiction writers.

If you want to stand under a pyramid to enhance your spirituality or spend the day lighting candles, you can do that. If it works, let me know. We can construct our buildings like pyramids, fill them with candles and have an enlightened society.

Reed wrote: "The word in inextricably bound up with notions of religion and the supernatural. You have chosen to appropriate the word for your own uses, but that it not what it means. DRC does a similar thing with the word "faith". Why you both choose to appropriate religious language to apply to your philosophy of life, I don't know"

poly replies: Probably because both of us are trained in religion and have an in-depth understanding of theology. I have no problem with DRC's use of the word "faith". Pick up a copy of The Philokalia.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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I think its a safe bet that anyone who spends as much time posting on Message Boards as certain people here seem to do, probably don't have an incredibly good command of true spirituality.

And with that I am off to yoga, as I too spend far too much time on this board, and lately its become less and less informative.

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It's better than spending your life in a cave dwelling on your navel. That isn't spirituallity.

.When doing Yoga, merge the mental aspects with the physical. There is a benefit in that.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Science does not--and cannot--deal with all aspects of what it means to be human. As I see it, true science deals with explanations of 'objective facts'--the nature of which can be not all that 'factual' in some ways in which it is being promoted as the 'purveyor of truth'. Can science truly explain art for instance? The nature of the explanation will always fall short of the extent of the meaning that art can manage. So, 'factual nature' is not all of 'human nature'. Perhaps the highest order of human nature is 'creation of meaning'--in any way humans can communicate that between each other....

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Quote polycarp2:

Repeated: "It's acceptable to the spiritually dead for people to die from treatable disease....to kill a million foreign citizens for oil...to destroy the planet to have a larger house, to torture animals their entire lives because its the most profitable means to raise them (while destroying the environment), etc. Any exploration of the underlying ideas that allow and even encourage such things are stifled." (Which is precisely what is occurring here....a diversion from Dr. Merritt's presentation.}

This strikes me as little different from the all too frequent religious impulse to paint your opponents as sinful or evil, or, in this case, spiritually dead. People are people, most of us capable of both atrocities and sublime moments of love, and that has been true throughout history. We wonder at those who do not seem to see the wreckage of the environment, who lash out at gay and lesbian folk, who sleep untroubled by the carnage wrought in our name in the middle east. But these are not necessarily bad people, and I do not think it advances our cause to call them spiritually dead.

All of the things you mentioned are terrible problems. How to instill not just an intellectual awareness of atrocities, but an visceral and emotional awareness the compels people to take action, is a question I have no answer for. My suspicion is that primarily it takes exposure to diverse people, beliefs, and culture, to develop an appreciation for the other and to break us out of our insular lives. What I do know is that there are people from all different walks of life, religious, spiritual, and secular traditions who care about these things. I also know that for those living in poverty, struggling to feed themselves and their families, if hunting and selling an endangered species, or cutting down a bit of forest, means survival, it's difficult to expect them to do otherwise. Addressing poverty and hunger is to me a primary tactic to addressing environmental concerns. Rebuilding a middle class in the US is, I think, one of the best ways to advance social and environmental issues. I do not see that it takes pursuing a nebulous spiritual ideal, however.

Where has the discussion of these ideas been stifled?

poly replies: Probably because both of us are trained in religion and have an in-depth understanding of theology. I have no problem with DRC's use of the word "faith". Pick up a copy of The Philokalia.

While no doubt an interesting read, I'm not clear how pointing to a religious text supports your assertion that spirituality or faith has nothing to do with religion or the supernatural.

Philokalia is defined as the "love of the beautiful, the exalted, the excellent, understood as the transcendent source of life and the revelation of Truth." In contemplative prayer the mind is trained to become aware of God as a living presence as the source of being of all creatures and sensible forms. The writings of The Philokalia have been chosen above others because they "...show the way to awaken and develop attention and consciousness, to attain that state of watchfulness which is the hallmark of sanctity. They describe the conditions most effective for learning what their authors call the art of arts and the science of sciences, a learning which is not a matter of information or agility of mind but of a radical change of will and heart leading man towards the highest possibilities open to him, shaping and nourishing the unseen part of his being, and helping him to spiritual fulfilment and union with God."

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Oh, I wanted to note as well, I actually agree with Thom that monastic communities should be tax exempt and are beneficial. I would, however, like to see that extended to secular monastic-like communities who, rather than contemplate the spiritual or divine, engage in science, math, philosophy, and artistic pursuits.

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reed9
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Reed posted: They describe the conditions most effective for learning what their authors call the art of arts and the science of sciences, a learning which is not a matter of information or agility of mind but of a radical change of will and heart leading man towards the highest possibilities open to him, shaping and nourishing the unseen part of his being, and helping him to spiritual fulfilment and union with God."

------

Yep. The unseen part of one's being...one's mind. And it isn't a matter of feeding it with information written down in a book. Ever see a thought?

Union with God isn't union with an old man sitting on a throne...it's a union with life...all ot it...and loving it. God is love, Reed. Period. And it's all-encompassing...not an I love this being and don't love that one. One either loves or one doesn't. Union with God is love...nothing more, nothing less.

Nothing supernatural about it. It's psychological. One doesn't have to be religious to experience it...and probably if they weren't religious wouldn't call it union with God. The experience, however, is identical.

Reed wrote: I would, however, like to see that extended to secular monastic-like communities who, rather than contemplate the spiritual or divine, engage in science, math, philosophy, and artistic pursuits.

Poly replies: Just what is it you think monks do? Western civilization arose from the Dark Ages from learning held by monasteries. The father of genetics was a monk. Gazing at one's navel isn't the way to growth...engagement and "mindfulness" is. Becoming aware of one's own thinking processes..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote PR: Many of my peers seem to have adopted a non-denominational post new age "spirituality" as a common device by which they can dodge having to scientifically and rationally defend any particular non-sectarian or "universalist" dogma or faith.

That was not a well written paragraph. I should have at least added "that they advocate" at the end. So if you are not advocating a vague undefined "spirituality" then it doesn't apply to you.

Quote mattnapa:I understand that spirtually dead is not particularly flattering, but it does make a nice counter-assertion to the accusation of magical thinking that we seem to get so often

I don't get many accustaions of magical thinking. If you do, why?

Because I am on the other side of the argument I assume

Quote mattnapa:PR: Isn't spiritual just the new supernatural? How is spirituality not magical ?

I'll be darned there it is. It is only magical according to your doctrine that feeling and experience arise from matter. Just as magical in my opinion

You think my assertion that subjective experience comes from brain activity is just as magical as spirit, soul, or ...I don't know what else?

"Comes from" and "is" are not the same to me.

Quote mattnapa:Do you claim matter has consciousness?

No. It may be possible that some kind of non-neural matter has some kind of consciousness but there is no data to support it yet.

Quote mattnapa:Is there something distinctly different in matter that has consciousness attached to it?

Yes. Neural critical mass and organization complexity threshold.

That is an answer that referrs to the arrangement of matter, and not about a qualitative difference in the makeup of the matter. calcium is the same in the brain as it is in a rock. Complexity can only be seen in terms of an integrative unit, therfore the location of consciousness should correlate to the whole of the neural network, unless you can explain otherwise. Not sure what critical mass refers to.

Quote mattnapa:If so why is there now physical difference seen in the matter that feels?

If you mean NO physical difference, that's wrong. Physical differences in brain matter do correlate to subjective experience

No my question is physical differences as mentioned in the previous response

Quote mattnapa:Material things do need location do they not? If feeling is a distinct phenemenon in some matter and not other then where is it.

In brains and some more primitive neural clusters...We don't know if individual nerve cells feel, because we don't know how primitive the subjective experience of sensation may be. Rocks don't feel (as far as we know). Although piezoelectric minerals do react to stimuli, we don't have any evidence that they "feel" anything. Its not impossible, though. If you want to know if rocks can think, however, I think they are dislike brains enough to say probably not.

I don't get the point here, maybe you could summarize it. It does not seem to answer the question

Quote mattnapa: I do not see how brain mapping has done anything to answer either the locality question of consciousnessor the question of a qualitative difference in matter not imbued with consciousness and that which is imbued.

I answered both above very briefly. This is a big subject with many research tangents. But I think the clincher is that brain injuries/defects and stimulation of brain tissue correlate with very specific kinds of subjective experiences and cognitive abilities. There are many good reasons that most scientists firmly believe consciousness is IN and OF the brain.

With all due respect I think we have known since the beggining of time that our bodies and our consciousness are involved with one another. So I do not see that brain injuries and the like as especially impressive evidence that consciousness is the brain alone. Also I do not see scientists as any more qualified than anyone else to answer this question

.

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mattnapa
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Quote polycarp2:

Yep. The unseen part of one's being...one's mind. Ever see a thought?

Yep. Google image search: brain activity.

Quote polycarp2:Union with God isn't union with an old man sitting on a throne...it's a union with life...all ot it...and loving it. God is love, Reed. Period. And it's all-encompassing...not an I love this being and don't love that one. One either loves or one doesn't. Union with God is love...nothing more, nothing less.

I'm sorry, but God is love is a meaningless statement. What is love? There is no love with a physical, biological entity.

Poly replies: Just what is it you think monks do? Western civilization arose from the Dark Ages from learning held by monasteries. The father of genetics was a monk. Gazing at one's navel isn't the way to growth...engagement and "mindfulness" is. Becoming aware of one's own thinking processes..

I realize that monasteries were repositories of knowledge during the Dark Ages and preventing a lot of ancient works from being lost. I would gather that deep scientific research is not common practice in modern monasteries, however. But that is besides the point. They are still fundamentally religious. I would like to see an institution similar to monasteries without the religious bit. The writer Neal Stephenson presents something very akin to what I'm talking about in his book Anathem.

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reed9
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Mind/brain are two related and very separate things.

The brain provides the means for the mind to develop. The mind consists of each individual's own particular way of organizing thought.

Brains are pretty much identical in functioning. The mind isn't. If it was, we'd all have identical thoughts, opinions, beliefs, etc.

One can't watch the brain in action...can't see one neuron connect with another with a synapse. One can watch the thought processes form, create new thought, etc....just as readily as watching pictures form on a TV. A difference being, the invisible can only be perceived by the invisible. Thought doesn't have shape, color, etc. Everyone is aware of thought once formed...not all observe the process of its creation...and some of the absurdities they often develop from..

Many have no idea they can do that...others do it all the time. Brain and mind are two related and very different things.

Reed wrote: " I'm sorry, but God is love is a meaningless statement. What is love? There is no love with a physical, biological entity.

poly replies: That's why its in the "spiritual realm". Nothing supernatural about it. It's a thought process. Just like hate. Are you saying hate doesn't exist because it isn't a physical, biological entity?

If you experience hate you know what that is. If you experience love, you know what that is. And love isn't loving one being and rejecting another. Love isn't attachment because someone or some thing is fullfilling a psychological or physical need. Attachment is attachment. My dog experiences attachment...and will bark at a stranger. Human beings have a capacity to do better than that.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

Mind/brain are two related and very separate things.

The brain provides the means for the mind to develop. The mind consists of each individual's own particular way of organizing thought.

Brains are pretty much identical in functioning. The mind isn't. If it was, we'd all have identical thoughts, opinions, beliefs, etc.

Are they so different? Where is your evidence for such an assertion? Show me a mind without a brain. We don't think the same thoughts because each brain is unique in structure and each responding to different individual stimuli.

I think the evidence is that mind, brain, and body are all one and the same, inseparable.

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reed9
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Quote reed9:
Quote polycarp2:

Mind/brain are two related and very separate things.

The brain provides the means for the mind to develop. The mind consists of each individual's own particular way of organizing thought.

Brains are pretty much identical in functioning. The mind isn't. If it was, we'd all have identical thoughts, opinions, beliefs, etc.

Are they so different? Where is your evidence for such an assertion? Show me a mind without a brain. We don't think the same thoughts because each brain is unique in structure and each responding to different individual stimuli.

I think the evidence is that mind, brain, and body are all one and the same, inseparable.

Of course they are inseperable.. And one is invisible. One isn't. I can't observe the brain in action...the generation of synapses. I can observe the mind in action....the creation of a thought process from beginning to end....and often am aware of the root thought it was created from..

Some are based on absurd interpretations of a 5 year old. I chose a long time ago not to let a 5 year-olds intepretations run my life...and keep an eye out for opinions/thoughts being formed that are based upon them.

While psychologists get training in the physical properties of the brain...they focus on the mind.... The organization of thought. The same thing eastern psychology...Budhism does.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

Of course they are inseperable.. And one is invisible. One isn't. I can't observe the brain in action...the generation of synapses.

What? Of course you can observe the formation of synapses and see the brain in action.

Quote polycarp2:I can observe the mind in action....the creation of a thought process from beginning to end....and often am aware of the root thought it was created from..

Well, I fundamentally disagree with this. You can hypothesize about the formation of your ideas, but you cannot know in any meaningful or specific sense. Human cognition is far too prone to errors. Our memories are not recordings of the past, but reconstructions always under revision. It is also absurdly easy to get people to remember things that never occurred.

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reed9
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Human cognition is far too prone to errors.--reed9

Yet, are you saying that the institutionalization of such 'conjoined cognition' is not? How does 'institutionalization' of the 'description of facts' do any better than any one human thinking about its 'description of facts'? And, when it comes to the 'contention of facts' between one human thinking and an institution, how is any real 'theory of fact' ever proven? In fact, how does an institution 'think'--and with what? The whole point of the scientific endeavor from a political perspective is that the 'recognition of facts' and the 'understanding of the theory' so based IS NOT something that can be confirmed by a 'special position' or 'special knowledge' unavailable to the thinking individual. If it cannot be tested in every way from every perspective, it cannot represent an 'objective fact'--nor the 'theory' so based....

As far as 'consciousness' itself goes, unlike the 'factual believers' here that still cannot confirm their position in 'facts' with this (or, perhaps the first one that they should 'confirm' by such 'facts' is their own consciousness), I believe 'consciousness' to be more the 'artistic expression' of human thought that no 'scientific explanation' can completely contain.....or explain....and, if science tries, it's better to do so inductively than deductively as more accurately representative of the entity of 'consciousness'. However, 'inductive reasoning' is hard to 'prove' in a laboratory.....

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Kerry
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I can't help but add a bit of levity here. As my Zen teacher, Tenshin Zenki (aka "Reb" Anderson Roshi) said to me many many moons ago; "Zen is too important to take seriously."

Or ...in other words I picked up years ago, sitting in some church basement with some friends of a guy named Bill..."religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell; spirituality is for people who have aleady been there."

Good Folks, It's not about what's in your head or how eloquently you can express on page or otherwise; it's about what's in your heart and how you live it.

Pro-Liberate!

-OSR

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OneSmartRat
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Memories, false or not Reed, feed current interpretations of events and the creation of thought second by second. Memories themselves are subject to interpretation and revision. Particularly painful ones. The mind never shuts up.

It helps to be aware of what you are doing. Then a person doesn't give thought so much credence without a beneficial result of acting upon them. Assistance in the revision of memory/interpetation is a function of psychologists, is it not?

Sometimes shock therapy is utilized to empty a "filing cabinet" of memory that current thinking/consciousness builds upon. It destroys access to it. Unfortunately, it's a hit and miss sort of thing.

My own thinking is, people who live out of filing cabinets aren't really conscious. They look in the filing cabinet to see how to respond to current similar stimuli rather than reacting to each new event as it is. Phobias are a striking example of that. Others are more subtle.

While I can't observe synapses within my own body....I can observe thought processes. and the creation of thought from memory.. in some cases from nothing..... from no previous memory when a new process is required. It's called an "ahaa"....a requirement for what Maslow describes as a "peak experience". Something entirely beyond the internal "Known"....and there isn't a scientist yet who can prove or disprove it's existence.

Can't prove hate exists either...just observe the results.

OneSmart Rat wrote:"Zen is too important to take seriously."

Funny...and true. If you take it seriously, you'll never get the absurdity of it all. If you don't get the joke on ego, you'll miss the whole purpose of zen.

'Tis a pity to miss the excuse for rolling laughter that is life transforming...and not.

Zen is of no importance........and it is important. The truth lies in the middle of the statement.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:Assistance in the revision of memory/interpetation is a function of psychologists, is it not?...

Whether or not analytical psychology and processing memories actual helps people is of great debate and currently lacks a strong scientific foundation. From my own experience working in community mental health, and in the expert opinion of most all the psychiatrists I worked with, bringing up painful memories almost always negatively impacted the clients, even in a "therapeutic" setting.

Sometimes shock therapy is utilized to empty a "filing cabinet" of memory that current thinking/consciousness builds upon. It destroys access to it. Unfortunately, it's a hit and miss sort of thing.

ECT Therapy is, to my knowledge, primarily indicated for severe depression with psychotic features, which does not otherwise respond well to medications. It does not work by "erasing memories", though amnesia is sometimes an unfortunate side effect, due to physical damage. Again, supporting the idea that mind is a function of the brain.

Ad hoc psychology aside, I'm fully supportive of cultivating awareness, of striving to be open to new experience, of seeing life, as the famous saying goes, not as "a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."

Quote polycarp2:While I can't observe synapses within my own body....I can observe thought processes. and the creation of thought from memory.. in some cases from nothing..... from no previous memory when a new process is required. It's called an "ahaa"....a requirement for what Maslow describes as a "peak experience". Something entirely beyond the internal "Known"....and there isn't a scientist yet who can prove or disprove it's existence.

Eureka! Neural Evidence for Sudden Insight

A recent study provides intriguing information about the neural dynamics underlying behavioral changes associated with the development of new problem solving strategies. The research, published by the Cell Press in the May 13 issue of the journal Neuron, supports the idea of "a-ha" moments in the brain that are associated with sudden insight...
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I thought this is telling description of how 'science' understands this from reed9's connection:

Using sophisticated statistical techniques to study ensembles of neurons in the medial frontal cortex on a trial-by-trial basis as rats deduced a novel rule in a specially designed task, they found that the same populations of neurons formed unique network states that corresponded to familiar and novel rules. Interestingly, although it took many trials for the animals to figure out the new rule, the recorded ensembles did not change gradually but instead exhibited a rather abrupt transition to a new pattern that corresponded directly to the shift in behavior, as if the network had experienced an "a-ha" moment.

As 'sophisticated' and 'statistical' as that may be, that actually only says that it does happen--it really doesn't explain how it happens.

And, the psychiatrists that I knew that thought consciousness was all 'in the neurotransmitter interactions of the brain' were also the ones that like to dispense drugs as 'the answer' to all the 'psychological mishaps' of humanity--and, then, claim something about 'unmet dependency needs' being the main 'social description' of the disorder.

However, one of my favorite mentors was a psychiatrist--and a neurologist. He pointed out that schizophrenics, on the average, were smarter people--and many of them liked how it felt to have schizophrenia than to take the drugs to 'subdue them'. R.D. Laing made a similar point in his book, The Politics of Experience, when he claimed the stigma of the diagnosis of schizophrenia was part of the problem as to how the schizophrenic was approached in society--and explained that many with 'psychotic disorders' were most of the time functioning citizens that experienced periodic hallucinations and delusions that, in many cases, resolved with time. But, that's not the 'status quo' in medicine nowadays. Everyone has a niche to fill--and, if they don't do it 'right', well, 'authority' will rein down on them....

As far as 'shock therapy' goes, it was started as a treatment option for serious depression when it was noted that depressed people with seizures oftentimes had their depression improve after a seizure--the 'shock therapy' is just an induced seizure. But, with reed9's description, it doesn't appear that anyone feels like psychiatric 'treatments' are just a means of 'crowd control' like they did with such films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--making sure that 'psychiatric therapy' has people fall in line with the 'appropriate behavior'...drugged as they are, 'shocked' as they may be....

We had that kind of problem (of seeing 'psychiatry' as basically being used to 'control the masses'..) with 'Soviet psychiatry' when the Russians were Communists--but, apparently, we don't think that can happen with good ol' 'American psychiatry' and its prominent use of psychotherapeutic drugs. Maybe we need to look closer....find a 'statistic' on it somewhere....threaten anyone that doesn't 'believe it'.....

Bullshit....

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Kerry
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Reed, we have both tried to point out, to no avail, that the etymology and current use of the words "spirit" and "faith" carry heavy connotations of supernatural or non-physical phenomena.

Poly and DRC, you both insist that you refer to psychological and not supernatural phenomena, and yet you also assert that psychological phenomena have a non-material ontology. Therefore you do indeed intend an allusion to a non-material world (even if this association is somewhat unconscious in some people until they are pinned down on it). Then you assert that non-physical is not the same as supernatural.

I think this is an unalterable cognitive bias and it suggests a reason why so many people continue to use the word spiritual as they do. It is an attempt to sneak the supernatural/magical (non-material) under the radar of the user's own awareness and/or under the radar of the target audience.

It is also clear that there is a large audience that find the words "spirituality" and "faith" very comforting. These words and ideas have currency in the modern marketplace of ideas because so many are questioning the old religious doctrines and creeds and are looking for something that seems more compatible with modern culture. Thus a demand for a generic "spirituality" that each may define privately (perhaps secretly) for himself.

Matt seems to share the non-physical ontological view of consciousness but also seems to be less attached to the religious language.

However, Reed, we have both dealt with this non-material ontological issue and I consider it settled for the present. There is an apparent lack of familiarity on the part of those here with the most recent research on the neural correlates of consciousness (e.g. "you can't see a thought", etc.). These correlations have reached a critical mass where the indivisibility (non-duality) of mind and brain is the most tenable and productive scientific model of cognitive phenomena.

The Cartesian mind/brain duality is essentially defunct in the scientific community for now. That has not been some arbitrary choice or bias in the science world (where indeed about one third of all scientists call themselves "religious"), but the result of overwhelming evidence matching subjective experience with neural structure and activity. By the principle of Occam's Razor, non-productive, non-predictive theories of mind/body duality are being discarded.

Neural activity is considered to offer a broad enough explanation of the general principles of mental activity that AI experts expect to have conscious machines by 2050.

This doesn't mean the material/non-material issue is permanently settled, perhaps, but it is way on the back shelf for now. If and when some extraordinary new evidence of mental activity that is uncorrelated with neural activity is encountered, it may get renewed attention.

I can certainly understand the existential angst this may cause people whose stories about reality may be challenged by what they sense as an excessively reductionist view of the human being. I had to go through that angst myself and it took me about 20 years. Deep layers of inner narrative, symbolism, association, and identity are hard to change. They have often become literally hard-wired in the neural fabric of the mind and personality. The change takes many years of gradually rewiring ones neural model of reality and the only control we have over the process is the power and subtlety of our control of attention. What we pay attention to and what we ignore or dismiss gradually shapes our neural representations of reality. It is essential therefore that attention be directed as rationally and deliberately as possible and that one has the courage to follow any evidence wherever it leads. The possibility always remains that we may make ourselves into the wrong thing. Better if it is at least done with intention and with cunning rather than by accident.

I have found, further, that discarding magical, divine, and spiritual perspectives does not mean that human consciousness is less exceptional, beautiful, or awe-inspiring. Our dignity, self-esteem, and sense of freedom need not suffer as we discard our pre-scientific, supernatural narratives about what we are and where we came from. Those are baseless fears, straw men, boogie men, created by the pre-scientific imagination. Of course my saying so makes them no less real to those who still believe in them.

We must each make our own pilgrim's progress through the dark night of our own minds, from the old emotional and instinctive brain networks to the upper layers of the neo-cortex where our higher power dwells. (I mean that more poetically than literally, but it's not entirely metaphorical)

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Hey, Poor Richard and reed9, since you are the ones that believe that the neurotransmitter interactions are the be all and tell all to 'consciousness' and you both appear to have 'faith' that we are going to find all that out, I was wondering that once all that neurotransmitter interaction has been all mapped out, whose brain are you going to use as the 'normal brain'--the 'standard brain'? March on in your wonders and faith in the material descriptors of all things aesthetic and inductive there oh 'rational believers'.....I remember a story in high school English class that ended with 'we murder to dissect'....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

To the earnest folks who took the time to offer their knowledge in this thread: Thank you. Here are a few quotes from a book I hope each of you read someday:

"Your thoughts are as natural as the cells within your body, and as real. They intereact with one another. While you are in this reality there is no division between the mental, the spiritual, and the physical. If you think there is, then you do not sufficiently understand the spirituality of the flesh or the physical reality of thought." And: "The conscious mind exists before material life and after it. In corporeal existence it is intertwined with the brain, and during physical life your earthly perceptions - your precise and steady focus within your particular space and time system - are dependent upon that fine alliance." And: "There have been tyrannies propagated for various reasons by the race of man upon itself. One of the greatest, however, is the idea that the conscious mind does not have any touch with the fountains of its own being, that it is divorced from nature, and that the individual is therefore at the mercy of unconscious drives over which he has no control. Man therefore feels himself powerless. When a man or a woman feels no connection between personal reality and experience and the surrounding world, then he or she loses even an animal's sense of pure competence and belonging. Your beliefs form your reality, shaping your life and all of its conditions. All of the powers of your inner self are set into activation as a result of your conscious beliefs. You have lost a sense of responsibility for your conscious thought because you have been taught that it is not what forms your life. You have been told that regardless of your beliefs you are terrorized by unconscious conditioning. And as long as you hold that conscious belief you will experience it as reality."

ref: THE NATURE OF PERSONAL REALITY by Jane Roberts.

Peace

Dasavin
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Jun. 15, 2010 9:07 pm

DaSavin wrote:

Your beliefs form your reality, shaping your life and all of its conditions. All of the powers of your inner self are set into activation as a result of your conscious beliefs

-----------

It's unconscious beliefs forming the conscious beliefs that cause the problems.

Richard, following synapses on a machine....a pyhsical function of the brain...doesn't reveal the content of thought , nor the nuances, nor underlying thought processes that give them greater or lesser influence at the time.

Don't ever take up psychology. You'd be wacking out poritions of a person's brain rather than assisting your patients in re-organizing, re-evaluating, and re-interpreting thought processes of the mind.

They gave up on lobotomies a long time ago. Throwing a properly functioning portion of the brain into a hazardous waste bin just wasn't the way to go. The problems were in the mind....not in the brain. But hey, what does science know? Most mental illness isn't because of a brain dysfunction...it's a dysfunction of the mind....of thinking processes, interpretations, evaluations...and acting on those errors.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote Dasavin:

"The conscious mind exists before material life and after it.

ref: THE NATURE OF PERSONAL REALITY by Jane Roberts.

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." --Carl Sagan

PR

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Poor Richard
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Well, I could give an example of possibly being conscious before my present self...and can't prove it. I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I don't accept it....don't reject it.

Unexplainable deja vu down to one detail after another...knowing beforehand what I would see with each step, with each opened door.

Cellular genetic memory? Who knows?

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

It's unconscious beliefs forming the conscious beliefs that cause the problems.

We agree on that.

Quote polycarp2:Richard, following synapses on a machine....a pyhsical function of the brain...doesn't reveal the thought processes contained within them, nor the nuances, nor underlying thought processes that give them greater or lesser influence at the time.

You are not aware of current research and I don't have time to look up citations for you. However, you might be interested in studies which have mapped the thoughts and dreams of mice via various neural interface methods to a video monitor. The scientist knows when the mouse is dreaming of searching for food, etc. The neuronal activity revelas the thoughts and images of the mouse's mind.

There are many studies which correlate subjective reports of experience as well as detectable subliminal cognitive activity with neuronal activity.

I would agree that the specificity and resolution of the neural correlates of consciousness is unsatisfactory. We need much higher resolution and real-time continuous imaging to get to greater levels of subtlety. However, even with the imaging methods available now there is a huge backlog of work. New frontiers are being crossed weekly.

Quote polycarp2:Don't ever take up psychology. You'd be wacking out poritions of a person's brain rather than assisting your patients in re-organizing, re-evaluating, and re-interpreting thought processes of the mind.

They gave up on lobotomies a long time ago. Throwing a properly functioning portion of the brain into a hazardous waste bin just wasn't the way to go. The problems were in the mind....not in the brain. But hey, what does science know?

I majored in psychology and minored in physics.

I had a friend who underwent a lobotomy and several others who just got the shock treatment.

Brain surgery went through many years of development, like all technology. "Lobotomies" are largely an unsuccessful relic of the past, but many different organic cognitive disorders are now routinely improved by a whole catalog of surgeries, medications, radiation, magnetic pulse, deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, etc.that have FDA and Medicare certification.

Or don't you believe there's any such thing as an organic cognitive disorder?

Are all cognitive disorders simply "in the mind"?

If so, I think you need to alert the FDA, NIH, NIMH, Medicare, etc. immediately so they can stop all the quackery going on.

PR

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Poor Richard
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

As noted over and over, if a brain is functioning properly, it's a disorder in the thinking processes, and the brain has nothing to do with it. If you have psychological training, you should know this

Cognition: The act or process of knowing or perceiving.

And this:

Psychology: The study of the mind and mental processes, especially in relation to behavior.

http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=38858

Probably studies of the brain should be left to a neurologist.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease":

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:Probably studies of the brain should be left to a neurologist.

Hmm, from your own link

Mind: That which thinks, reasons, perceives, wills, and feels. The mind now appears in no way separate from the brain. In neuroscience, there is no duality between the mind and body. They are one.

(My emphasis.)

You are creating a false duality by insisting that "mind" is separate from its biological origins. As with any complex system, we can examine it on many different levels. Be it from the macro behavioral level or down into the cells and synapses. An individual brain cell doesn't perhaps tell us much about the content of thought or consciousness, as say a feather doesn't tell us much about the behavior of a flock of birds, but as the feather is nessary to a bird's flight, the brain is necessary to the stuff of thought.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

"In neuroscience, there is no duality between the mind and body. They are one."

-----------

That's why psychiatrists give you pills. They want to alter brain functioning...even though the brain may be functioning normally. Quicker, simpler. 6 months to shut down a portion of the brain or alter normal functioning vs. 6 years to resolve thinking processes.

I have a neice on pills. She's gone. Even her voice is different. Who she is is inaccessable.

And there is no duality between mind/body. Mind/brain. They function together as one unit. However, the functioning of each is as different as blood flowing through a heart is ....from the heart...that function as a unit to maintain the body.

The mind can make you sick....in the absence of disease...even if the brain is totally healthy. A dysfunction of the mind....thinking processes, can create dysfunctions in the body. Health of the brain has nothing to do with it.

Hysterical blindness comes to mind...or paralysis. Headaches are a bigee in our culture. Many headaches can be disappeared with a simple thought process.

Sorry about the bold print. Software won't let me get rid of it.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp2:

That's why psychiatrists give you pills. They want to alter brain functioning...even though the brain may be functioning normally. Quicker, simpler. 6 months to shut down a portion of the brain or alter normal functioning vs. 6 years to resolve thinking processes.

I have a neice on pills. She's gone. Even her voice is different. Who she is is inaccessable.

The mind can make you sick....in the absence of disease...even if the brain is totally healthy. A dysfunction of the mind....thinking processes, can create dysfunctions in the body. Health of the brain has nothing to do with it.

Hysterical blindness comes to mind...or paralysis. Headaches are a bigee in our culture. Many headaches can be disappeared with a simple thought process.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that mood and thought disorders do not have corresponding physical changes in the brain. Though our understanding is, at present, limited. Even without brain structure changes, emotions are chemistry, and a change in body chemistry changes brain function and, ergo, mind function.

I'm very sorry to hear about your niece, however the limitations and flaws of pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness is a completely different topic. The fact that chemicals can change personality and mood supports what I'm saying, though. I will say that in my experience there is a wide recognition of the difficulties of medication. I worked with severely mentally ill folks, primarily those suffering from schizophrenia, who had been years or decades in mental hospitals before state budget cuts put them into overcrowded private adult care facilities. The goal was always to give the best possible quality of life we could under the circumstances, and there was an acute awareness of the dangers and problems of inappropriate or over-medication. At the same time, for many, an appropriate medication regime is what allowed them to manage their disease and have any quality of life at all.

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reed9
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Quote polycarp2:

As noted over and over, if a brain is functioning properly, it's a disorder in the thinking processes, and the brain has nothing to do with it. If you have psychological training, you should know this

Your condescension is misplaced

If the brain is functioning properly...the brain has nothing to do with it? Your logic underwhelms me.

Whether the brain is functioning properly or improperly due to organic and/or psychological factors, the brain still has everything to do with anything concerning mind (under all known circumstances that meet minimum evidentiary standards).

Quote polycarp2:Cognition: The act or process of knowing or perceiving.

And this:

Psychology: The study of the mind and mental processes, especially in relation to behavior.

Didn't I tell you I majored in psych? Come off it....

Quote polycarp2:Probably studies of the brain should be left to a neurologist.

Meaning what? We laymen shouldn't bother our pretty little heads with science?

What kind of bug crawled up your bee-hime?

PR

Poor Richard's Almanack 2010

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Poor Richard
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

That's why psychiatrists give you pills. They want to alter brain functioning...even though the brain may be functioning normally. Quicker, simpler. 6 months to shut down a portion of the brain or alter normal functioning vs. 6 years to resolve thinking processes.

I second Reed's comments about the efficacy of appropriate medications, but I want to add that the abuses of medication in mental/emotional/behavioral disorders are largely a product of the corporate insurance industry and public budgets, not science.

Quote polycarp2:

The mind can make you sick....in the absence of disease...even if the brain is totally healthy. A dysfunction of the mind....thinking processes, can create dysfunctions in the body. Health of the brain has nothing to do with it.

Hysterical blindness comes to mind...or paralysis.

What you say of psychosomatic disorders is valid, but surely you must realize that the vast majority of properly diagnosed mental disorders are organic and not psychosomatic--don't you?

Are you a Christian Scientist or Scientologist?

PR

Poor Richard's Almanack 2010


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Poor Richard
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Richard wrote: Whether the brain is functioning properly or improperly due to organic and/or psychological factors, the brain still has everything to do with anything concerning mind (under all known circumstances that meet minimum evidentiary standards).

---

Are you back-tracking? I'd expect you to say the brain has everything to do with the brain...rather than mind. You're making a distinction between the two..

And of course some mental disorders have organic causes...who said they didn't?

We use the brain and its synapses to create thought...with combinations of thought as unique as a fingerprint. If you'd like to call those unique combinations of thought brought together as a cognitive whole.... brain... go for it.

Good luck treating phobias. Give 'em a shot and put 'em in a coma. Much easier than addressing unique combinations of thought processes.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The Cartesian mind/brain duality is essentially defunct in the scientific community for now

If you say so.

I have already expressed my perspective on challenging the assertion that this is significant. Philosophy has in some sense been a check on science, so science not agreeing is not necessarily significant to philosophy. Though I will admit modern philosophy is not especially focused on challenging science in the context to which you refer. Nonetheless the history of philosophical thoght does lay the groundwork for such a challenge. But to tell you the truth, I seem to have my own kind of bizzare framing questions beyond the classic arguments of Plato, Descartes. Berkely. Liebninz, and maybe even Heraclitus. I hope throwing out names does not seem pompous because the point I am trying t make is that I consider my analytical style on all of this quite unorthodox, and it shows.

Anyway my main response, and this is not unorthodox, is that duality does still exist is that experience is a fundamentally qualitatively obscure, if not absolutely foriegn, phenomenon in which the classic scientific frame has virtually nothing to say about other than the material conditions in which experience occurs. Tell me how the classic scientific frame, with its adherence to identifiable substance and the rules such substance follows, can explain in any way what "feeling" is like? Yes you can describe the physical conditions in which feeling happens, and you may be able to make absolute coorelations between contextual physical conditions and the description of feeling that is associated, but it says"zero" about the feeling itself.

I admit that just because feeling or consciousness in general has this absolute elusive character from the scientific frame, it does not prove that the phenomenon is somehow a "seperate and distinct" kind of stuff or spirit. But as to duality itself, I think the riddle itself remains unbroken regardlees of current scientific opinion

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mattnapa
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Richard wrote: Whether the brain is functioning properly or improperly due to organic and/or psychological factors, the brain still has everything to do with anything concerning mind (under all known circumstances that meet minimum evidentiary standards).

---

Are you back-tracking? I'd expect you to say the brain has everything to do with the brain...rather than mind. You're making a distinction between the two..

Sorry. I was so focused on making the point of the mind being a physical product of the brain that I may have glossed over some distinctions. Mind is a subset of brain, a product of the brain's activity, so in that sense the two are not fully identical.

Is that what you and Matt mean by mind/brain dualism? If so, I guess I'm down with it. But there is no evidence that mind comes from anywhere but the brain, and it is only different from the brain in that it is a subset of brain--the brain does other things besides generating mind. It coordinates the operation of all the electrical, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems and all the blue-collar personnel in the office building, and the mind is equivalent to the people sitting around the conference table in the boardroom and all the white collar personnel at their command.

Your heart/blood analogy was vaguely appealing...I imagined the brain pumping thoughts around through the neurons and axons...but the heart does not create the blood. The brain creates the mind (perceptions, thoughts, emotions, symbolic representations, etc).

Indeed, the brain also pumps blood around inside itself and the blood flow is one our newest means (fMRI) of imaging the level of local neural activity throughout the brain. It is an open question of how actively the blood also participates in transporting chemicals which may also mediate cognitive processes. But for the most part the cognitive processes are thought to be concentrated along the neurons, axons, and synapses as electrical and chemical signals. BTW it has recently been shown that the individual neurons are capable of fairly complex internal information processing.

Quote polycarp2:Good luck treating phobias. Give 'em a shot and put 'em in a coma. Much easier than addressing unique combinations of thought processes.

I should have thought you'd have stopped insinuating that my arguments are simplistic and one-sided by now.

PR

Poor Richard's Almanack 2010


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Poor Richard
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The Kavanaugh Scandal Goes Beyond Sex & Must Be Investigated

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