Understanding and communication

This thread started on energy practice, then went off in other directions.
An interesting journey for me – into the depths of despair and back again.

Question of the Day March 23, 2011 “energy Practice”

Do you have an “Energy” Practice?

I wouldn’t mind a definition of what ‘”energy” practice’ means.
I eat food, that metabolises into energy. I do that probably about a dozen times a day, though 3 large meals and many snacks.
I try and exercise regularly, a minimum being walk the dogs a mile or so, a bit more being a round of golf (about a 5 mile walk), a bit more being out on the bike and getting aerobic. I often do stetches and push-ups.
I often do a few yoga stretches.

I suspect something else is intended in the question.

I suspect it is an interpretation of the experience of being. Something that adds to the experience of creativity and awareness. As such, I do not believe it is directly related to the concept of energy, except through analogy. This idea of “energy” seems to my understanding to be more about practices which quieten the “noise” of consciousness, and allow the deeper subconscious intuitions.
In my understanding, this effect is not energy as such, and it is definitely an access to power and creativity within the mind.

In terms of such practices myself, I tend to simply practice focused awareness in what I do. And often I do spend a lot of time watching TV, or doing other things that might be considered of marginal utility in the quest for a creating planetary peace and sustainability – and it is what I am doing.

[followed by]

Hi Kathy

As I see it you misunderstand what is actually going on.

I do not pretend to understand all that is happening, my understanding has definite limits, and those limits are in the sub atomic realm.

The distinctions matter and energy that you use from science are very real, and are interchangable forms of the same stuff – as defined by e=mc^2

It seems very clear to my understanding that life is not an energy as such.
Life is a series of systems.
Life is systems that respond to stimuli in various ways.
Often these systems are recursive at many levels.
Life has evolved these systems over billions of years of replicating systems, with occasional errors in the replicating process, leading to variations on a theme, and occasionally whole new themes.
It has evolved many layers of systems able to respond to events outside and inside the system that is life.

This is not an “energy” as such, it is much more like a pattern for a fountain that gives structure to a flow of matter and energy in action.

Our ability to “feel” is very interesting.
It seems to be an emergent property of the very complex systems that are human beings.
We can certainly create resonances between these very complex systems, through many levels of interaction. These interactions share many quantum characteristics with energy, and it is a very different sort of organisation – a new level of pattern within pattern.

I can understand why people call it energy, but it is not energy in the sense a physicist would use, and it requires the physicist’s energy to exist.

[followed by]

Hi Kathy


You said “If there is some sentence I wrote that is not fully understood, please ask me to clarify and give examples and I am happy to prove it out.


You wrote four sentences early on:

Life is an energy of a very special kind, obeying certain laws different from what we normally consider energy (such as leectricity). But life is an energy and it has some peculiar properties.


Life is able to collect and organize matter and energy in space and time and animate it. Life takes some matter and energy and makes an organism such as a monocell, a tree, a polar bear or a man.

The third sentence “Life is able to collect and organize matter and energy in space and time and animate it” is quite demonstrably not how it works.


It is more like, life is what we define as matter able to replicate (replication) by using energy to maintain an internal structure that is different from the surrounding environment (metabolism).


Those two functional aspects of life, replication and metabolism, have lead, via punctuated gradual change, to the vast diversity of life we see.


Life is not an “energy” that infects matter.

It is an arrangement of matter that allows for the possibility of replication.

In all organic life forms that we know this is based around the ability of the long chain molecules (RNA and DNA) formed from strings of the bases adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine (and sometimes uracil).  And the fact that these bases form up in pairs, allowing replication as complementary strings.

It is the ability of atomic matter to replicate in this fashion that animates and creates life, not any sort of “life energy” animating the matter.

This has been proven “beyond all reasonable doubt”.


Later on you say of the biologist “He gazes at these intricate and careful entities, these microscopic units of life forms, and even he cannot believe that it is all an accident” which is true in a sense, but not in the sense you seem to mean it.

Life is not an accident.

Life is the result of evolution by natural selection.

Life is the result of selection, through the process differential survival in the diverse environments provided by reality, between variations on patterns that have been replicated into existence.

For about 4 billion years of evolution on this planet (many billions of generations of replicators, with billions of individual replicators alive in each generation), this process has played out.

It is not accident, but survival in the face of all the accidents, that has lead to the complexity of life we see around us, including ourselves.

I am a biologist, and I gaze at life in awe of the power of such a simple replication process, in combination with the diversity of environments found over time on earth, to create the life that we see, from this essentially simple, and ultimately subtle, process.


Our awareness is an example of a new form of replicator, based upon the biological replicating machinery that is the human body, containing the human brain.

That human brain is able to create and replicate a new form of replicator, called a meme.  A unit of transmissible behaviour or information.

These transmissible units form together into clumps, just as cells of matter do, and have all sorts of ancillary stuff that travels with them, serving all sorts of purposes relating to the survival of the bodies that are their carriers (generally termed “culture”).

The main transmission vehicle is language (an abstract set of symbols relating to a model of a model of something – pointers to pointers to something).


The ability of our brains to store and retrieve and transmit these massive amounts of data, in appropriate contexts has led to the development of something else – our self awareness – a pattern in language running on the hardware of brain.

In the few sad cases where children have been raised without exposure to language, they are little more than animals, little different to a wild dog – no sign of the self awareness or language we normally associate with being human.


The ability of the deep levels of the subconscious brain to deliver intuitions and abstractions of amazing power is profound – most people hide it with conscious level chatter and clutter, but it is there, real, and amazing when accessed.   It is based on the same principles as LASER holography – the storage and retrieval of information as interference patterns.  It is very sensitive to context.  A small change in context can totally reorganise all the relationships between all of the vast base of experience in an individual mind.


Further on you say in relation to death “Life has been there, has organized and has then withdrawn from the organism“.  This is clearly, beyond all reasonable doubt, not how it works.

What we call life is a series of levels of organisation of matter.

When any one of those levels of organisation is interrupted beyond the ability of the lower levels of organisation to re-establish the higher level of organisation, that higher level of function is said to be dead.

Thus our brain activity may die, but our body may live on (in some form of coma).

Similarly, if you have ever gone under general anesthetic, you know that the higher level function can be disrupted by drugs, and all experience of being ceases, and then slowly re-emerges as we “wake up” from the anesthetic some time later, after the supply of the disrupting drugs has been withdrawn, and normal function allowed to re-establish.


Our mammalian brains have evolved averaging and integrating systems we experience as pleasure and pain as things which have helped our ancestors to survive (on average over time).   Our experience of the ancient systems is pleasure and pain.  They are amongst the possible drivers in life that one may choose to follow or ignore (and the default mode is to follow).


Certainly we have evolved in systems where the birth rate is far greater than the normal need for replacement – leading to conflict within the species – expressing as war, famine, cannibalism, genocide, pestilence, subjugation or any of a number of other variant strategies.

We now have the ability to to choose to control our numbers, and to choose to avoid those old, and once necessary strategic options.


Many of us seem to be so choosing.

Some seem to still be holding on to ancient commandments to “go forth and multiply” – without regard to the necessary consequences of such a strategy.

If we want peace, the first thing we must do, is learn to control and restrict birth rates to at or below replacement.


So for me, it is very clear, beyond all reasonable levels of doubt, that there is no such thing as “life energy” in the sense that you seem to have written about it.


It is clear to me that such a belief is an understandable mistake, stemming from ignorance of the actual processes involved in life, and the evolution of life over billions of years of geological time and hundreds of billions of generations of replicators.


[followed by]

I align totally with your practice, but the explanation you give to it has been demonstrably falsified in my experience.

Respect and the common good are two great contexts within which to choose to focus intention.

Any mantra, or practice which brings focus of intention creates a powerful context of mind, which effects the subconscious processes of brain.

The vast bulk of communication between individuals is subconscious. We send out many signals on many levels.

The crystal theory is highly unlikely to have any significant reality to it. There are other mechanism of connection and alignment, far stranger.

The practices, I certainly align with, the explanations are far short of my reality.

[followed by]

Hi Dawn

To me it is about the reality that we all share, and finding ways of getting billions of people to live together, with all the other life forms, and explore as much of their creative potential as they feel inclined to.

In a sense, OM is clearly correct, all of our stories are just that – stories.
Some stories have greater alignment with what works than others.
I have seen videos of someone from a non-technical tribal culture praying to cell phones, as they consider them messengers of the gods.
That is certainly a valid response within that tribal culture.
Yet it is not the sort of response that allows for the development of technology like cell phones.

There are many aspects to this.
Some people say it is a crime to destroy cultures, yet I am very glad that the culture of my grandparents is now essentially destroyed within me. Very little of the explanations that they had for things, that they taught me in early childhood, are now anything other than of historical interest to me – as they have been proven inaccurate by experiment and logic.
Do I think any the less of my grandparents for it?
Would I have told them straight up that in my understanding it seemed to me that their understanding was inaccurate?
Absolutely – and did, until they died.

I do my best to be straight with folks.
I do not pretend.
I think everyone is capable of understanding science, and what it has to teach us.
I think there is a lot that old cultural practices can teach us, about relating to each other, and about using what we have powerfully. And I am also clear that most explanatory frameworks that are more than a few decades old are going to be seriously lacking in their explanations of what we are and what we are capable of.

It is not my goal to invalidate anyone, or their experience.
It is my goal to encourage everyone to question everything, including everything that I say.

Very few people are in the habit of questioning very much at all.
Most of what controls us in society are unquestioned assumptions.

It is not an “utter disregard” that I have.
I hold all people in high regard, high enough to believe that they are able to handle anything that I say.

I am not claiming that anything that I say is in any way any sort of ultimate answer.
I am claiming that what I say is the best set of answers that I have encountered to date.

I am not doing any sort of PC shielding.
I am that I am.
This is me – open, unshielded, as vulnerable as any human being can be, and almost as far from the herd as it is possible to get and still maintain any sort of meaningful communication.

To paraphrase one of my favourite quotes – Safety is an illusion – life is a daring adventure, or nothing.

[followed by]

Hi Kathy

My understanding comes from many thousands of observations and tests.
I have never seen any body form in front of me, with a fully aware consciousness installed – materialised by the power of a creative mind alone.
I have seen many children grow from birth.
I have observed my own children within the womb (via ultrasound), and I have examined many animals in dissection at all stages of development.
I have seen people lose consciousness when their systems have been disrupted, by a blow to the head, and from anesthetics, and from too much alcohol, and from lack of oxygen, and from lack of food, and from getting too hot, and from getting too cold. I have experienced all but the too cold one myself (though I did get very close a couple of times).
I have studied all levels of the chemistry and physics of life, including neurophysiology.
I have built a computer from component parts, and have programmed in binary, hexadecimal, assembler and about a dozen languages. I have written an operating system, a language, and many hundreds of programs, including a couple of very large ones. My largest manages several hundred million dollars worth of transactions every year (and has done so for over 20 years).
For me, I have a great deal of evidence that systems increase in complexity and capacity the more layers are added to the system.
For me, it is clear that life has built up, from simple replicating molecules, to simple cells, to more complex cells, to multicellular entities, and eventually to complex organisms like ourselves.
It is also clear to me how our minds are organised, and how language has evolved over time from simple gestures, and eventually leading to the complex abstract languages that we use now.
It is easy for me to see how having complex language operating in complex brains has lead to the emergence of the complex beings that are our “spiritual” awareness (our non-material being).

I have no evidence at all for it going the other way.
Everything I see has a simple gradient, from the simple to the more complex, via a process of evolution by natural selection, operating over vast periods of time, and the space of this planet.
I see no evidence at all for the “theory of the life force or spirit creating the physical universe”, yet I can see how it seemed probable to people who were completely ignorant of concepts like evolution by natural selection, and who had no experience of dealing with electronic computers; and thence why it has formed the basis of most of the religious texts and most cultures in human history.

And to me, the notion belongs to history, as do ideas of family or tribal or racial or national superiority.

For me it is clear that we are all members of the same human family, and evidence is overwhelming that every human alive today shares a common ancestor as recently as 60,000 years ago (a mere blink of an eye in evolutionary time).

This is my reality.
Aspects of it change, in detail, most days.
I read a lot.
Nothing in my understanding is beyond questioning, or beyond test.
Most days I learn something that requires me to revise some understanding about some aspect of reality.
Should I be fortunate enough to live a billion years I expect that would still be so.

[followed by]

Hi All,

This is extremely difficult for me, for all of us I suspect.

@Dawn – yes sometimes I have slipped into “Telling” as has everyone here – we are all human. And I suspect not nearly so frequently as you think. For those times it has happened, I apologise.

@Deb – many things in what you write. I grew up on farms, and at one stage as a teenager kept mice – a little over 100 at peak, as well as many other pets (cat, dog, ferret, birds, chooks, pea foul, guinea foul, …). Like your tank experience, most mammals do reach steady state, in mice, as densities increase, it is the females that eat their own young, in cats it is the males that eat the young of other females. Human history is replete with examples of cannibalism in all cultures; and it is not something I wish to encourage for a wide range of reasons (despite what Donald Kingsbury investigated in his book “Courtship Right” – also released as “Geta” in the UK). We need to go beyond our cultural heritage, at all levels, if we are to be able to survive with freedom and security, of that I have no reasonable doubt left.

There is a huge distinction between capability and actuality. Most cars these days are capable of being driven at over 200km/hr, but few are. Yes scientists often disagree, which just goes to show how complex reality is, and how close to the boundaries of uncertainty many of the experiments are, and how much statistical analysis comes into understanding evidence.
There are many levels of understanding of science within the profession of scientists. I have met “Straight A” graduates who had never questioned anything, and while they could parrot huge volumes of data, were (in spite of their exam results) completely useless as scientists (far better as librarians or technicians).
And it is interesting to explore what the notion of “prove” means to a scientist. Usually, what they are talking about is, does the evidence of this experiment disprove any of the alternative hypotheses we have available to explain this particular phenomenon of interest? In evaluating the answer to that question, one has to explore the levels of uncertainty involved in all instruments used, and all measurements made. One then has to go to the next level and look at the distribution of results, and the likelihood that that form fits any of the alternative probability distributions proposed. Thus any “proof” is usually in the form of at least two sets of probabilities within probabilities, and is not a proof in any sort of mathematical sense, but rather it is, at best, an elimination of one or more of the explanations that had fitted all the data prior to the performance of the last experiment, or more likely, simply a shift in the acknowledged balance of probabilities.

In respect of bones, yes they certainly have a kind of crystalline structure, but they do not have any electrical structures to allow them to work as radio transmitters.

It takes a great deal of discipline to be willing to question everything, and a great deal more to actually do the questioning, to ask the hard questions of one’s self, and to do all of the experimental design, execution and analysis for one’s self. To do the reading of the work of others, and to perform some of their experiments for one’s self.

I have read the bible from cover to cover, and some of it many times over. I have also read Kant, Hume, Mill, Bentham, Rand, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Russell, Einstein, Darwin, Dawkins and many others.

I studied hypnosis with Brian Head for 6 months – one of the best in NZ; I studied magic with “The Sisters of the Silver Star” for a year or so; I studied energy healing including Applied Kinesiology with Sharon Sjeie for a couple of years; Reiki and Zen do kai for a year or so; Tai chi for several years with Alan Jeffery and so much more. I have belonged to the rationalist and humanist societies, and to the theosophical society, to Mensa, to service clubs, sports groups, political parties. I have met people at the extremes of most continua. I have not confined myself to the investigation of one discipline or even one class of disciplines. I have done my best to give them all a go, to investigate what they seemed to have to offer, and how the promise aligned with the delivery. At the same time, I was seeking to understand the systems that delivered what they did, within the framework that was available to me (all the time refining the framework).

In terms of being fair – I seek to get my stories to align with reality, with all the tests I have performed and those of others that I have checked out. And I acknowledge the limits that I have gone to, and beyond which my confidence degrades rapidly. I have no “ultimate answers” nor do I ever expect any such to be found.
Life is the journey, the exploration.
If you consider it logically, if we do all have the power to create, then the future must contain the unpredictable influence of those creations.
The future cannot be predictable in any tight sense, yet we can predict trends, and we can create things that operate with amazing accuracy (like computers that perform more than 10^17 calculations without a single error).

Most people are very happy to say that they have no real idea how a cell phone works, yet for some reason most think that they have a real idea how life works.
Cell phones, while complex, are vastly more simple than even the simplest single cell life form. Given a few years, I could probably build a cell phone from scratch. At present I would estimate that it would take me several centuries to build even the simplest of cellular life forms from scratch.
Reality is my ultimate arbiter – I have no other “authority”, no “revelations”. I certainly have intuitions, things which seem to me to be so, and like everything else, they require testing when the opportunity presents.

What I ask of people is to be willing to question everything (including everything that culture has taught them).
I also ask that they be willing to trust their own intuitions, at least enough to test them when circumstances allow.

You speak of your experiences with death, I have had some also. I have seen people declared dead, who looked dead, felt dead, bought back to life, by re-establishing low level function, and higher level function over time. A good friend of mine crashed his mini cooper at high speed, and ended up under water. His injuries were horrific. The team working on him tried something that had never been done in this country before, they packed him in ice, hooked him to a heart-lung machine, then three teams of surgeons took turns stitching him back together for almost three days. It was several weeks before Colin woke up, metal plates replacing much of his skull, and several months before he remembered anything of his past. He was definitely altered by the experience, no longer the high pressure executive type, and some of the old Colin remained. My uncle Ross had an argument with a train in his Chevie at a level crossing in the fog, and they sent some of his skull and brain off in the ambulance in a cigar box. He lived, another 50 years. Changed certainly, in his case much of his compassion left for a long time, and he was able to become a millionaire.

When you say “though I allow for an “added layer” of complexity and capacity, than you are able at this time to acknowledge the existence of”, it lands as a sort of arrogance. If you think that in all that I have done, that I have not allowed for the possibility of the thing you describe, then I say you are mistaken.
I have pushed that boundary a long way, and find it subject to Ockham’s Razor. In the ultimate it seems that it is not something that can be either proven or dis-proven. I have gone to the limits of that inquiry with various Jesuit friends, and they are able to accept all that science delivers, and claim something else – while also admitting that there is no proof, nor disproof possible. That I can live with, and at the same time, William of Ockham gave us his famous razor, to neither simplify beyond necessity nor to complexify beyond necessity, translating to KIS in today’s parlance. If adding the extra bit at the end adds nothing, then why do it? I understand how and why it appeals to the mind, and I still ask – why do it?
Is life really about just “feeling good” at that simple level?
That just doesn’t “do it” for me, somehow.

This is probably going far further than most people are comfortable.

I spent a couple of hours this morning thinking about what I have been doing here these last few years (and a few more hours composing this reply).
It has been useful for me, and fun much of the time.
I hope it has been interesting for others.
I have enjoyed the friendships and many of the interactions.

It seems that my mere existence is a threat to many; when they start to get a glimpse of what my existence might be, what it might mean.

I am definitely a threat to culture, all culture, even the one that birthed me – not in any sense that is personal to the individuals within any culture, but to the form of the culture as a system.

As such, I am possibly beyond the terms of service.
I may take a little time to ponder that notion.

[followed by]

Hi Dawn
When you said “no one partaking of a service is beyond its terms” I think you misunderstood my use of the term “beyond”.

What I meant was that it may be that my mere existence means that I am not “within the terms of service” – so I was using “beyond” in this “not within” sense; and not at all in the sense of “somehow exempt from”.

[followed by]

Hi Deb
I understand much of that paradox, at the systems level.
Science to me is really very simple.
It is the willingness to question everything (no exceptions).
Unless I misunderstand, it seems have already declared that you have exceptions (that which you are not willing to question).
It is a delicate balance.

[followed by]

I probably needed to be more explicit.

The thing that is difficult to question is faith itself, for by definition, if it is questioned, it is not present.

One of those paradoxes of life.
It’s a bit like superstition – Superstition is only a superstition when it is not a superstition. (Meaning that if you believe it, it is not a superstition to you, it is truth; yet if it is seen by others to be a false, they see you as holding a superstition. Thus to be a superstition, it has to not be a superstition to the person that holds it. – Another of those logical conundra. Equivalent to – can you have faith and question it? To which I guess it is possible to answer – Yes, No, Yes, No, …….).

I guess that most often, what is immediately obvious to me is not at all obvious to most others.


[followed by]

Hi Deb

I linked the two “faith” and “superstition” because they are of the same logical type. Each has a logical quality of looking one way from within, and looking the inverse from without. That is the only linkage I was implying at the time – the systemic similarity of the two concepts. (I tend to view everything in systemic terms – I have trained my mind to deliver me intuitions about underlying relationships, which it does many times a second – a bird flies across my field of vision and it is likely to leave a trail of intuitions to things like Reynolds numbers of vortices off the wing, and the evolution of flight, and avian metabolic systems, …. – there and gone again in a fraction of a second.) That is just who I am.

I wonder if someone with faith can even conceptually grasp what science might be?

To be a scientist, one must be willing to question everything, and to acknowledge that all knowledge is bounded by probability functions. Thus one is left with no absolute certainty about anything, except perhaps just one thing – “cogito ergo sum” – I think, therefor I am.

What am I? That is a different matter – one bounded by probabilities on all dimensions, but that I am, some sort of something – that I can actually hold onto as something unchangeable (as least so long as I am thinking). What I am may (does) change, but that I am (at the instant of thinking) does not.

Beyond that, a scientist has no absolute knowledge – no absolute truth, the word “proof” loses its childhood meaning and comes to mean something else entirely – something more like “on balance of probabilities”. Beyond that everything a scientist knows has a question mark or 5 within it.

A scientist does not have the luxury of life without doubt that children and people of faith have.
I suspect that is one of the greatest appeals of faith to the human mind (there are many) – that echo of childhood certainty.

When you start to talk about recursive belief you are getting close to one of the deepest rabbit holes in existence. I have spent a few thousand hours down there exploring, and have barely explored a tiny fraction of some of the main branches to the burrows that I saw.
One cannot enter that burrow, and expect to come out with any certainty in tact – I am happy to enter with you, and I wish to be clear with you, as Morpheus was with Neo, about the effects.

As to the results you see in daily life; Consider:
Our conscious awareness is very slow, and can only process a very small fraction of the data entering our minds.
Our subconscious systems process hundreds of times more data than we are consciously aware of.
Perhaps it is the case that there is far more in our reality than any of us are capable of being conscious of, and it is very much the case that we see what we “wish” or “expect” to see most of the time (with a few notable exceptions). Our context of expectation largely determines what we see of what is already there.
Mostly our brains are tuned to inform us of things outside the normal, or threatening, unless we are very focussed on a particular task, in which case even those things will be ignored.
Mostly, most of us see only what we look for – which is a very useful thing, because otherwise we would be completely overwhelmed by what is there.

What is interesting for me, is how you have interpreted what I have written, which is not at all what I intended in the writing.

It seems that what I intended was so foreign to your mind, that it instead saw something that seemed more familiar to it, and went off down that interpretation.
That is what brains/minds do.
It has been the cause of so much chaos in history, and also much creativity.
It the world of memes, it is the most common source of copying error (mimetic variation).
For some of the more abstract memes, it is the greatest problem they face, it is almost impossible for them to replicate.
Sometimes they can lay dormant in written words for generations before another mind sees them for what was intended by the transmitting mind.

In my world, I pointed this conversation in one direction, and then you took it off in another, and you think that I took it there.
And there is some truth in that, just not what you think it is.

I did my creative best, to transmit a series of abstract concepts in normal speech, and failed.
What we see recorded here is the result.

If one relaxes too deeply into the self evident, it tends to become a self fulfilling prophesy, right up to the moment it is overwhelmed by some un-noticed aspect of reality that has been building up behind the dam of the self reinforcing “self evident”.

That is why science is such a hard discipline. It demands of the practitioner that (s)he question everything, and leave no “self evident” untouched. And even further, it requires that whenever one experiences a paradigm shift, that one starts the whole process over again – examining everything once more, from the perspective of the new paradigm.
The joy of the vision available from a new paradigm is tempered by the knowledge that the journey must now start anew, much more work to be done, going back over everything again, while also going forward – ever forward.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

My apologies.
One could almost say we are speaking different languages.
We use the same words, but they seem to have such different meanings.

You say I did not answer your question directly – but actually I did.
The answer is, I do not have beliefs.
I now operate from a different set of principles.
I started out operating from a set of beliefs, as we all do.
Over time I learned to question those beliefs.
Over more time I learned to question the concept of belief itself.
I no longer have anything that fits into the standard definition of a belief.
I have certain operant principles which I use, which I am more or less confident of in different situations.

The definition of faith, is a belief in something that is not open to question or argument.
If it is open to question and invalidation by some experiential test, then it falls under the definition of science, not faith.

The reference I made to going down the rabbit hole was from Alice in Wonderland, and is also referenced in the movie “The Matrix”. Both of them refer to consenting to learning something that will alter the way in which you see everything from that point on.

There are many things that are like that.

There are many layers and levels of abstraction possible that alter how we view things. They do actually alter the structure of our brains when we make these abstractions.

It appears to me that there is a potentially infinite series of such things.
I am only familiar with the ones I have made, and it seems logical, by extension and analogy, to assume that there may be infinitely more of them possible.

It does not seem possible to understand understanding unless one has at least an awareness of probability theory and application. That doesn’t mean one has to be interested in doing it, or that one is familiar with the details of doing it, but just that one understands the general principles.

You are accurate in a sense, that it is not necessary to know how a car works in order to drive one.
However, if you are intending to go places where there are few people, no phones or communication, and little traffic, it is probably a very good idea to know enough about a vehicle to be able to diagnose and fix most common problems.
From a different angle, many of the winners of formula 1 racing are engineers. They may not be the best drivers, but they are very good drivers, and the edge that they bring to technical development, in being able to relay things to their design and engineering teams, result in their car being sufficiently superior to rival drivers that they out compete them on the track.

In a similar way, it is not necessary to understand how we work to engage in “spiritual development”, and if one intends to push the boundaries of the spiritual (to step off the well trodden path), it is a very good idea to be as aware as possible of all the systems that underly it – the biological, the social, the logical, and all grades in between.

I joined Zaadz, because of conversations I had with Michael Skye, who met Brian Johnson in the Austin self development community. I had a few email conversations with Brian, and have been engaged ever since.
My purpose is to push the boundaries of “spiritual development”, and bring as many people who want to come along with me. That was aligned with Brian’s purpose for creating Zaadz.
When one does anything like that, it is definitely safest to know as much as possible about all related and implicated systems, so that it is possible to detect potential system failure or system instability long before it manifests as total system failure.
Hence I attempt to share as much as possible about as many of the disciplines I have studied, with anyone who seems interested.

Unfortunately, when using words, it is not possible to judge easily how many layers of abstraction are involved in the words being presented.

If I make a reference to something like “going down the rabbit hole” I assume that people understood the abstract reference to embarking on a journey that will forever alter the way that one sees things (as in The Matrix, or Alice in Wonderland), unless they question me.
You have questioned, so I have gone back a level of abstraction.

There is no shame in ignorance, we are all profoundly ignorant of far more than we are aware of. The biggest problem we have is that many are not willing to admit ignorance, for fear of “looking bad”, and therefore miss the opportunity to learn. I am very rarely afraid to ask questions, it is how I have come to learn so much about so many different things. I have been asking questions since I first learned to speak.

I know that by most people’s standards, I know a lot, and I also know that what I know is way less than 1% of what I know that I don’t know, and I suspect that all of that is way less than a trillionth of what I don’t know, and don’t know that I don’t know.

Most children think that adults know it all, and have no concept of infinity, they only have a vague idea of large.
To really start to come to terms with just how profoundly ignorant we are, it takes quite a bit of work in the realm of mathematics, and infinities.

So – I am happy to try and share what I have learned on my journey, and I make no claim that any of it is any sort of ultimate “truth”, they are just sets of operating principles that have stood up to all the tests I have given them. Most are not of my invention, but are taken from the creative works of others.

I’ll leave it at that for now.

If you want to go further, I am happy to share, and if not, then I am happy to leave it at that also.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

I am one individual.
I am quite smart, IQ about 160, but I know a lot of people a lot smarter, and I have seen a lot of very smart people do very stupid things. Seems like being smart just lets us make more mistakes quicker.
I know that almost anyone could be like me, but they aren’t. I’m like me, and they’re like them.
I know that.
I don’t think I have invalidated anyone by intent and I have certainly challenged a lot of what people say.
There is a distinction.

We all contain the shadows of every belief we have had, every distinction we have made, and there will exist contexts that will trigger such shadows into expression. It will happen from time to time – for all of us, it is a part of being human, part of the machinery.

I spoke of both recursive belief and rabbit hole in the same sentence.
Recursive belief is belief that folds back on itself, and forms a potentially infinite chain of influence and consequence.
Abstraction can be similarly recursive, like a multidimensional mobius loop.

It seems that we have reached an area of discussion where communication is almost impossible.

We seem to have little or no common ground on which we can agree here.

From my perspective, I have responded to your requests respectfully, and truthfully, and yet you seem not to have understood much of what I said.

I can see where it is extremely difficult.
I have said many times, that I want everyone to question everything, which includes everything I say.

Several here have said that I have a certain perspective, and little or no idea of other perspectives. I listed some of the things I have done in my journey to date merely to demonstrate that perhaps I have more idea of those perspectives you think – and for no other reason.

It is extremely frustrating for me, when, as in my last post, I spend three hours crafting a response that I thought had a good chance of being understood, only to find that it seems to be misunderstood.

I do value my time, and that of others.
I value diversity.
I value life.

There are lots of probabilities stacked against me at present, which makes my choice of how I use my time even more important to me.

My apparent failure to communicate on this issue has had me reconsidering many things.

Abstraction is essential to understanding.
Speaking plainly of common things can only get anyone so far – it is extremely limiting to the range of topics able to be communicated.

I appreciate so much of what you are doing here Deb – I really do, and at the same time, you said you have asked me simple questions, and I respond with abstracts. That is true.

What do you think of questions like “Have you stopped beating you husband yet?” ?

I could ask you for a simple yes or no answer to a simple question. And you might quite rightly claim, the question is not simple, it contains at least one invalid assumption.

Many of the simple questions you have asked me are like that. They contain assumptions that may seem perfectly normal to you, but have no logical equivalent in my understanding. In my world, the assumptions are beyond invalid, they simply do not exist. So I cannot answer the questions in any simple fashion. I need to try to establish some agreed frame of reference that will allow us to distinguish and examine the underlying assumptions.
In much of this thread, that has proved beyond my abilities.

I have been accused of many things I have not done, and yet I have not as yet found a way in which to let you see that.
The reason seems to be, that from the paradigm that you are using certain things I say have a certain meaning, yet from the paradigm I am using, the meaning is very different.

Some of what you say is extremely interesting.
You said “The world needs both kinds of people; and all the more mainstream “average” sorts as well, to do the mundane work. Doing service by doing simple mundane tasks that make life better for others, is a highly-valued role in my perspective.”
To which I respond by saying that that has certainly been the case in history, and it need no longer be so.
It is now technically possible to empower everyone to become fully aware of what they can become. No human being need be restricted to the mundane.
This, to my understanding, is the greatest challenge facing humanity at this time.
Is it ethical to have an education system that produces mostly cannon and factory fodder, when it could just as easily empower everyone into their infinite creative and awareness potential.

Is it ethical, in such a world, to allow people to remain in the depths of ignorance that culture assigns to them, when we know so much greater freedom and empowerment is available?

When one has discovered an abundance of something, that others desire, is it ethical to dispense only sufficient of the abundance to keep others doing what is wanted? Particularly when one knows that there is abundance sufficient for all?

It has been 20 years since I first published the essence of http://www.solnx.org and in all that time, only one person that I am aware of clearly got it, and he is now dead (that was Milton Friedman). I phrased it for him in an economic context, and he understood instantly. He had obviously spent a lot of time in the outreaches of abstract thought.

Do you understand now something of my comment – that I am not at all certain that my existence falls within the limits defined by the Ning TOS. It is arguable that simply by existing I breach the terms.

That thought has seriously troubled me these last few days.

[followed by]

Hi Deb


I have huge respect for you, for what you are doing here and have done here.

I hope that has never been in doubt.


My issue is not with you, or about respect.


My issue, the most frustrating thing, is about communication.


It is not that I believe you are incapable of ever understanding what I have been trying to say, it is just that it seems that you do not currently.

Another of those English concepts where the time sense of something is indefinite, and may be read many ways with many different implications.


I certainly respect you, respect your intellect, and respect what you seem to be trying to achieve here in the sense of the outcome you seem to desire, and the concept of service to others embodied in who you are being.

At the same time, it seems that there are ideas that are in my head, that simply will not transmit.

Each attempt at transmission seems to end up with something very different in your head – at least judging by the words you write (which is all I have to go on).


You wrote:

Ted, much of the “work” I do from passion (not my revenue producing work), which has no valid existence in your reality, is precisely for that reason, to help people discover their freedom and empowerment, arising from the depths of their very soul” which shows the depth of misunderstanding.

It is not that the work that you do “has no valid existence” in my reality.

The work that you do is great.

What does not work for me is the explanation you have for why you do what you do.

There is a huge distinction.

What you do is great.

What you say about what you think is at cause in the matter of you doing it does not work for me.

That is so for many people.

I acknowledge and understand and commend passion (and it has limits, and it certainly beats following orders, in all but emergency situations).

Where things really fall apart is around ideas like “soul”.  For me it only has any meaning as a sort of shorthand for a very complex system that includes all of reality in a broadly distributed sense of that which gives us being and is the source of our perceptions, and our entire bodies in a more restricted sense, and all of our experience in a tighter sense, and all of our choices and abstractions and intuitions in another sense, and the systems that give us the ability to abstract, intuit and choose in another sense.


In my understanding, we have the potential for “abundance for all”, but we tacitly support systems that deny the majority access to that abundance.   There are problems in the systems.   Most people do not experience abundance, and they could, if we altered the systems.   Money and economics cannot ever do it alone.


In respect of common ground, we have a lot of it on many issues.

Where we seem to lack it is on the specific issue of the abstract nature of the understandings around the nature of knowledge, and how any of us get to be how we are – which seems to be at the core of this whole misunderstanding surrounding concepts of “respect” and “rights” and “culture”.


For me, it feels very dangerous to go anywhere near those concepts while the obvious areas of misunderstanding around understanding itself are present.   All I can see resulting is chaos.


I can maybe give you a little bit of a flavour of what it is like to be a Ted by following just one chain of consequence that took something less than a second to play out in my mind.  It went something like this:

How can I discuss a concept like “rights” without being in integrity myself?

If I say something, in the full knowledge that it is likely to be misunderstood, and taken to be something other than what I intended by the receiving mind, is that integrity?


That is what many politicians do.   It destroys trust.

Is it even possible for me to engage in some conversations and maintain integrity, when I am aware of the conceptual gulf in understanding?

Does my failure to resolve this have consequences for the survival of humanity?

If I cannot resolve it, will humanity as a whole be able to resolve the systemic issues facing society while avoiding collapse?

Is it sufficient for me to point out the systemic issues, without also providing a set of possible solutions?

Do I trust that others will see solutions if they can distinguish the issue?

What is the most powerful use of my existence?

My wife is already dealing with severe anxiety problems, that seem to be related to chemical imbalances in her brain resulting from menopause chemical changes; how can I even broach these issues with her?

Is my desire to find a solution that works for everyone actually working against me and my relationship with Ailsa in the present?

Should I stop spending this time on ANG, or do I continue until I achieve breakthrough?


While it often takes me well over an hour to write a post like this.   What appears on paper is often way less than 1% of the ideas that have flashed through my awareness, yet failed to make it through the layers and into expression (simply because my fingers are far slower than my thoughts).


I suspect that everyone else is similar, but perhaps not quite so long range in their outloook.  I suspect most people have chains of thoughts that are far more immediate in nature, and don’t run off into the far future quite as quickly as mine do.


I can see how you do understand many aspects, and I can see how our intentions do align at some levels.

What I cannot see right now, is how I can explain myself, without destroying faith.


Almost 40 years ago a young couple came and knocked on my door, and tried to convert me to their faith.   As they had approached me, I thought it was a fair game, so I went in and dismantled their system.   Unfortunately, they did not stay around long enough for me to establish an alternative.   I heard a few weeks later that they were in a sorry state.   I have not heard of them since.   I have never gone that deep that quickly with another person since.   I do not wish to be a cause of harm.


It is a very deep ethical conundrum for me.

If I do not dismantle, it seems to me that the logical necessary consequence is long term societal collapse.

If I do dismantle, there is potential for short term instability and danger and discomfort.

Which is preferable?

For me it is easy, it is the long term needs that dominate, but there is an additional complicating factor.

Nothing is certain.

Everything exists as probabilities.

There exists finite probabilities that my projections are inaccurate.

In economic terms, this may be thought of as a discount rate due to future uncertainties, and is a major issue facing all long term planning and action.

There may exist the possibility that I may discover a way of transition that greatly reduces the short term risks.  [This has kept me in the question for the last decade, and all the time, the large scale patterns that I see heading toward a “crunch point” still seem to be heading there, and time to take action is getting shorter.]

What if I am wrong about all of it?

Are the ideas in my head really any better than the evolved systems of culture?


I have achieved so much, done so many things, and along the way have made many mistakes.


So I keep checking.


There are so many different possible strategies for creating change, each with their strengths and weaknesses.


So this is the mess you have become entangled with.

You can stop engaging at any instant, and I am more appreciative than you can possibly know that you are still engaged.


The battle is mine, the thoughts are mine, and sometimes it is helpful to be able to express them.


[followed by]

Thank you for your support.

I have had many similar thoughts myself.

You lead into one of the great issues, well stated by Edmund Burke in “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. If I say too hard for me, leave it to someone else, there must be some of them (and there are probably many), then it may or may not happen.
Part of me just wants to play golf, and go fishing, it says “come on, you’ve done enough”; and there is another little voice saying “if you don’t give it a try, you will never know”. To which there is the rejoinder, “but I’ve tried so many times, and failed”, then comes “the measure of a man is not how many times he falls down, but how many times he gets up”.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.
It seems that many people understand large chunks of it.
In a sense we are all “in it” – together.
I have read so many stories of others in history who had similar experiences, in different domains.
I don’t for a moment imagine that my experience is unique in the sense that no one else could ever have it; and there still remains a possibility that the time constraints may come into play.

In a very real sense, that I am here, doing what I am, is testament to that I am seeking allies, and am working at refining the mechanisms of communication to achieve as much as possible. My involvement with service groups, like Lions, is at another level, my involvement in politics and business different levels again. You might say I have been working at creating “credibility capital” in each domain.

And yes – sometimes there is “suffering” – frustration at my own inadequacies at many levels, and sometimes I “generate/create” past it.

Thanks again.

[followed by]

Hi Deb
Yep – the sun is a bit of a concern, at several levels.

As to the trains, what is needed is a double tunnel system. A large (Air filled) tunnel, and within that smaller evacuated tubes. The large tunnel needs to be at least 10m across (and perhaps bigger near plate boundaries) to allow the smaller inner tunnels to stay in the same place during earthquakes.
The engineering actually at the sheer points (faults) gets a bit interesting, and long term the tunnels have to be able to move through the ground to re-align after a shift in the plates. Not all plate boundaries are “strike/slip”, some are in near continuous motion (where the slipperiness of the rock allows it).
So yes – plate tectonics does make for some interesting engineering challenges.

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 www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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2 Responses to Understanding and communication

  1. holessence says:

    Hula Burgers! The first read through nearly blazed my eyebrows off there’s so much to take in. I’m going to digest this great food for thought and have another go-round for dessert later — once this course has settled in.


  2. Thanks Laurie

    Yeah – this one went off in several dimensions, and got a bit warm in places.

    Maybe all this reactor meltdown is catching 😉


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