More thoughts on what we are

Been doing a bit of posting in Ning the last couple of days, and ignoring this blog.
This series started with

Hi Star, Darrell, Torch, Nahnni, Mark, Mike and others

Some really great stuff in this thread, and it seems to me that Darrell is holding an unnecessarily limiting context in respect of the modern mind, and the separation between mind and spirit.

It seems to me that we are each multi level entities.
The levels do not all emerge at once, each on is contingent upon those that have gone before.

In a sense, each of us is part of an unbroken continuum of biological life that extends back at least 3 billion, and probably closer to 4 billion years.
For each of us our specific cellular existence started with the fusion of a sperm and an egg, that initiated a series of developmental sequences.
After about 9 months of cooking in the very controlled environment of a womb, at constant pressure and temperature, in a constant chemical environment, we got born into a world containing other such individuals and were immediately immersed in a culture.

From that point, our biological development intersected with our cultural development.
At some point, a year or two later, our brains started to language. We each developed ever more complex skills at languaging, with ever more relevance to the nuances of context available in our environments.

At some point, each of us learned a concept of right/wrong, or good/bad or some equivalent simple binary distinction of valuation. Shortly thereafter, each of us found ourselves in a situation where, according to the relevant cultural rules of right/wrong, what we were being was “wrong”. This presented our brain with a problem, which it solved with a declaration in language of the general form “Being x (where x is how we were being) was wrong, so I am going to be y (where y is some culturally acceptable alternative)”. The specifics vary from individual to individual, and the general form is common to all.
This declaration is the “bootstrap” routine that starts the next level of awareness into being, and that being comes with an awareness that there is something fundamentally wrong out there – because it was birthed in that “wrongness”.

It takes quite a bit of experience for most of us before we get to see this for ourselves.
During that time, being right, and looking good, will be the most important things to us (both stemming from the initial declaration of being wrong).

Once we gain the next level of awareness, where we can start to distinguish things outside of the realm of culture, and can see existence simply in terms of being, without the judgement of right and wrong, then a whole new realm of existence and experience is available.

However, the brain is not simply a distinction machine, it is also a habit machine.
It takes a lot of time, discipline, and practice to bring this new realm of existence into being as the dominant mode of existence, and no matter how trained and aware any of us is, we will each have moments when we are not our highest self, but one of the lesser habits of self that we have acquired in a lifetime of experience.

So it is possible to have instantaneous transformation of experience, and to have new distinctions available to us; and it is not possible to immediately discard the habits of a lifetime. It takes a lot of effort to transform the habits of being at all levels to the highest of the new levels of awareness.

Stepping beyond good and evil is a major paradigm shift, and is profound; and it appears from my personal explorations that there are no limits to the number of such paradigm shifts that are available to be experienced. It seems that there may be an infinite series of such recursive shifts in awareness.

There appear to be many factors in our society that work against most people having the time and the will to make such explorations for themselves.

Money is a major problem. Each group is trying to make more of it. Teachers think people need more teaching, and most find it difficult to accept the reality that most students only require about 100 hours of tuition in reading, writing and mathematics, and after that will learn far more effectively by being engaged in whatever takes their interest than by being fixed in any classroom situation or following any course of instruction.

Politically, those who currently make vast sums of money by means that most would consider corrupt, have no interest in the majority (or even a significant minority) becoming aware of just how and what they do; so they have institutions that fill the void with distractions.

It is a very complex situation in which we find ourselves. Far beyond such simple notions as good and evil, requiring levels of acceptance and forgiveness that few are demonstrating at present in their everyday actions.

This is the very short form of what I see as the reality in which we find ourselves.

Spirit very definitely tied to mind and body, and linked to everything else in existence in many deep and profound ways. Each individual potentially infinitely creative, and potentially on a path to unbounded awareness, it is one possible end state for all paths.



hi Torch

I can only agree with you that it is required to bring “beginners mind” to all situations, so that we fill the cup from the present rather than have it overflow from the past; and there is something else available also.

It is possible to mix strategies, simultaneously.
Just as in exercise, it is possible to have awareness on both the muscle groups being exercised, and the breath and the posture and to maintain counting; so it is also possible to maintain simultaneous and parallel awareness of beginners and expert mind, and maintain a context of open possibility.

While I disagree with Ken Wilber on many issues, there is one on which we are in profound agreement – the requirement to “transcend and include”. Each level builds upon those preceding, and each level creates something entirely new in the transcendence. Bringing acceptance to the reality of the both the birthing process (and all of its history), and to the transcendence ( and the possibilities and responsibilities implicit therein) is (in my experience) an essential step to gaining equilibrium and maintaining access to the new level.

It is hard to appreciate how much we don’t know, if we maintain any sort of active ignorance.
It seems to me that the most effective strategy is to pursue knowledge and be open to possibility at the same time. To explore what we don’t know, and don’t know that we don’t know.

On this journey one cannot forget, and one can re-contextualise. One can see what was a binary truth from one’s past, as simply being a small part of some infinite spectra. It seems to me that context is king – always.

One cannot explore any infinity fully, let alone an infinity of infinities.
Once one has reached any level of infinity, the choice of path appears to me to be a purely personal one.


Also been engaged in two other threads:

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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1 Response to More thoughts on what we are

  1. Hi Ted! I really enjoyed reading this post. I loved when you said, “…the brain is not simply a distinction machine, it is also a habit machine.” Oh boy howdy, that’s the truth!


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