Problems in Enlightenment

Discussion of the process in the “Fully Engaged Enlightenment” group

For me, enlightenment consists of many things:
A realisation that all meaning is given by stories we either inherit from culture or create for ourselves.
A realisation that we can rarely, if ever, be certain about anything – all information being bounded by probability functions – and thus, while truth may exist, we can rarely, if ever, be certain we have it.
A choice to enjoy the moment, whatever it brings.
A choice to participate in the cosmic dance of choice and consequence, where-ever the dance leads.

[followed by]

Andrew – Shhhh – don’t give the game away (LOL!)

Hi Mike

In terms of stories, it seems to me that we only have the stories we have. Some people have stories that posit that there are other story tellers, with other stories (god/creation). This seems to be intuitively appealing to many, as it is modelled on the experiential reality of experiencing existence through story. To me, there is no such appeal, as I have a clear distinction between story and that which it is that we experience (whatever it actually is). It seems that “that which we experience” we build models of in our minds/brains, which models are informed by layers of intermediate activity.

To me, it seems much more accurate to assume that here is no lower level story, and that the story only comes after language has evolved (there is a certain logical coherence to the idea which is very appealing to me).

In terms of certainty, it does not appear to me that we can be certain of very much at all in “reality”, though we can be very certain about things in abstract realms that we create. In terms of reality, the only thing that I am certain of at this time is “cogito ergo sum” – I think therefore I am. I am certain of my own existence, and I am confident (but not certain) of the form of that existence.

As most are well aware, I don’t do God. As Tom Hanks put it “God has not given me the gift of belief” (LOL).
To me, all ideas of God seem like childish attempts to put consciousness at the base of the pyramid of existence – which to me is a logical nonsense.
If there is a God in this universe, then it or one its precursors much logically have evolved in some matrix at some “time” (acknowledging that time is a very slippery concept in this context – more like some beforeness).
Thus, while I acknowledge that it is logically impossible to either prove or disprove the idea of God, it seems to me, based upon my experience to date, to be far simpler to explain things without reference to the concept of God, other than as a social construct in language in the history of a particular species of naked ape.

The games need not be about ego, and certainly, in practice, in most cases they are.
The games can be about other things, like creating systems and technologies that support the greatest diversity of life, in the greatest security; and doing that seems to me to require that we dis-invent a couple of myths that have been very useful in society to date that are unconditionally accepted by most people – “money” and “work”.

We do not need to be restricted by the historical reality that most games have been about ego.
Possibility seems to be infinite.

[Good enough Andrew ??? 😉 ]

[followed by]

Hi Mike,

you said:

Ha! What other possible way is there to express the experience of “reality” than through “stories”?

True enough, and it is powerful to be clear that what we are doing is telling stories, not dealing in truths, however much (or little) or stories point at the possibility of truths.

Really? I would assert that the moment you posit an assertion on the nature of reality, you do nothing more than tell a story.

Agreed – and the point is?

Albeit a complex and believable story (by majority agreement), but a story nonetheless.


That story may aggrandize sensation as ‘knowledge,’ but still…no proof outside sensation, so just another story. So how do you distinguish between which story is more true than another?

One tells by designing experiments and testing them in reality.

One amasses sets of results, in many different contexts, each with is sets of probabilities of error.

Over time, one builds operational confidence, based upon failure to falsify particular assertions.

But, as an extremely intelligent species of “naked ape,” it should be clear that man will never jettison the absolute. Therefore, wouldn’t it more more advantageous to seek an inclusion?


What makes you say it is clear that man will never jettison the absolute?

That is not at all clear to me.

I have personally observed thousands of people jettison the absolute.  Certainly, for most it returned soon enough, and it also seems to be the case that it was jettisoned.

It seems to me that it is a matter of context.

Certainly there is much work to be done to create a context that will maintain most people in a “jettisoned” state.



Indeed, but egocentricity is bound by finite parameters and, hence, is not open to considering the infinite.


Mmmm – sort of, yes and no, more no.

Ego seems to be contained in a context, which context is supported by both habit and culture.

It is very possible to get people to glimpse the infinite, it is far more difficult to create and maintain a context that supports that awareness ongoingly.



However, God may have value in opening that possibility, as long as the ego can find a way to transcend limiting stories.


Again, yes and no.

Certainly that has been the case through most of history.

Certainly I have considered many such possibilities, at length.

And it seems to me that the “technology” has moved on.

Yes, it is a possible way of proceeding, and to me it seems to be far more limiting than empowering in the larger context.

It seems to me far more powerful to bring people to a full awareness of the power of emergence, as an access to infinite possibility.


Just saying though…


Mmmm – me too …….

[followed by]

Hi Mike

Certainly all experience is an inside job, and there is the test of repeatability in reference to the outside “reality”.

I recall one day when out fishing, and the fishing had been so good for 3 days that we hadn’t stopped to sleep. I saw a large eel on the deck and jumped over it, then looked back and it wasn’t there. I’d say that one failed the test of repeatability.

We can take photos, and other sorts of measurements, and check them, repeatedly.

So certainly, no absolutes, only probabilities, and there does appear to be a “reality” out there, which follows a set of probabilistic rules.

If you’re going to redefine God to mean nothing more complex than a consistent probability distribution, then there’s no “blood sport” from me. And that is all that is required for “emergence” to happen.

That’s part of the problem when arguing about things like Gods, there isn’t anything to measure, so there is no consistency of definition; so we end up with a lot of people using the same word but meaning something very different.
I find it simpler to not use the word; and deal with things that are measurable.

[Sorry Andrew – blood-sport seems to have gone away. 😉 ]

[followed by]

Hi Mike

You said:
but what your measuring with (body) may also be an inside job.

Did ya ever stop to think of that?

Yeah, I have contemplated that.
Given the amount of agreement there is around things like bodies and matter; then if there is some entity that put this whole thing together as an “inside job”, it doesn’t seem to be very “nice”.
All such contemplations I have tried failed Ockham’s Razor, very early on in their lives.

If one goes down that class of speculation, without any evidence, one can disappear forever – it is infinite – definitely a case of “the halting problem”.

If you want to play there, that’s up to you – I’m not going there (read on map “there be dragons”!).

[followed by]

Hi Bill, Mike & Torch,

Certainly, there is a sense in which we each play out our scripts, and there is no denying that we are able to transcend our scripts. We are able to use the “bubble of creativity” to create new scripts, and new contexts for scripts.
I agree with Mike, that the first step to creating something else, is to accept that, yes, that is the trap we are in.

It seems to me, that in that acceptance, there is a space, in which it is possible for a new level of abstraction to emerge – a new level of context and awareness. And sure, in another sense, this level will develop its own meta scripts, and then comes the next with its meta meta scripts, and …….. The process appears to be potentially infinite, with each new infinity ever stranger than the last.

Any single infinity is impossible to explore completely.
When faced with an infinitude of infinities, one becomes rather spoiled for choice.

Have fun!
Choose a path!

Why not?

I for one am heartily sick of the stories and paths that have been the mainstay of humanity for the last few thousand years.

To me, the idea that our “spirit” survives after death of the body seems, at this point, most probably pure wishful thinking. I have no evidence to support the idea, and a great deal of evidence against it. However appealing it might be to the notion of purpose (which in the external sense seems to be an illusion); and however much it appeals to the mind steeped in cultural stories.
It may become technically possible at some point in the future, but unless there is some friendly alien out there preserving us with some technology we are not yet aware of in detail, it doesn’t appear to be an option right now.

So, for me – the best option seems to be – keep on living, keep on having fun, build networks and relationships, develop technologies, encourage individuals to explore the infinitude of levels of awareness to the limits that they choose, explore possibilities.

Play with that “bubble”.
It seems to be a very interesting “bubble”.

[followed by]

Hi Mike,

Have you experienced a change of context that changed the way you view all of your scripts? [I am confident that you have.]

How many times has that happened for you? [For me, I think the count is at 8, perhaps 9, depending on definitions.]

How many memories do you have of these changes of context?
Sometimes it is really difficult to recall the old contexts, as the newer contexts completely alter the way in which we recall things (that seems to be a physical aspect of the process within brain).

For me, I have no reasonable doubt.
I have observed the scripts changing so often, observed the meta scripts develop in the same sorts of ways, yet with variations, both subtle and not so subtle. I have watched and worked on meta-meta-meta-scripts. And I also spend a lot of time simply going with the flow.

There are always tradeoffs, like using a zoom lens on a camera; we can see ever smaller bits in ever greater detail (but we lose the big picture) or we can stay with the big picture, but the resolution is grainy, with an infinite spectrum of possibilities in between. With an infinite stack of realms within which to focus the attention, and intention, it becomes a very interesting thing this thing called choice.
Exactly where and when does one direct intention and action?
How confident does one need to be of the model?
Where is the point that one can achieve maximum effect for minimum action?
Where are the “rate limiting steps”?

Questions without end….
And always accompanied, moment by moment, with the opportunity to choose and to act.

Choice and consequence.
The intermingled ripples of consequence, sometimes building to massive waves, sometimes cancelling each other out, just a matter of phasing, coordinating.

There are no exact reruns, there are always new subtle and not so subtle variations. Certainly there are similarities, that, from the grainy “big picture” may seem identical, but are actually unique.

Suffering only occurs when we resist what is, at some level.
Acceptance removes suffering (and leaves only pain).
Pain can be lived with.
Suffering is a waste of mental space.

Most pain goes, when it has done its job of informing.

[followed by]


In the realm of the personal, we can only really ask questions of another.
We each only have the experiences we have.

You have a “truth”, “responses are scripted as all responses are”.
For you, it seems that, for the present, no evidence or logic that challenges that “truth” can get past that “truth”.

From my perspective, your “truth” is so obviously and self evidently false, that I find it really difficult to get any handle on how you can possibly believe it. Hence I asked questions of you.

It seems to me, that each of us has our personal understandings, nothing more.
I have mine, you have yours.
In so far as they are shared, language is a useful tool for communication.
In so far as they are different, language is of marginal utility in communication.

[followed by]

OK Mike

Let’s take a look at science.

It seems to me that science is, in essence, a willingness to question everything, and to design and develop and perform tests of things in reality, looking for repeated and repeatable observations.

It seems that science is an ongoing process of refinement of hypotheses, each one providing successively more accurate explanatory frameworks.

It seems that science does not deal in proofs, it deals in supporting evidence and probability functions, and in evidence and probability functions that falsify (disprove) particular conjectures. No absolutes either way, just balance of probabilities stuff. Most probability distributions have “long tails” to the ends of the bell curve (ie small but finite probabilities of seeing events well out on the ends of the distribution curve – even if the vast majority are tightly clustered in the middle).

One of the things that I have written about many times in this ANG and the old Gaia and the older Zaadz fora (and many others over many years) is the effect on thought of the way brain stores and retrieves information as interference patterns distributed across wide areas of the brain, and the impact this has on us.
Certainly there are many aspects to brain function.
Certainly the brain has habits (scripts in a sense).
Certainly there are patterns of behaviour (scripts in another sense) that trigger in certain contexts.
Certainly there are higher levels of context that can alter the contextual triggers of lower levels of context (scripts in another sense).
Certainly language itself contain “structions” (to borrow a term from Jaynes) which are scripts in yet another meta sense.

And beyond all of these scriptings, the brain has this “holographic” ability, to recontextualise patterns based upon functions which include aspects of both the stored information and the context of the recall.
It is possible for these “holographic” “recall” processes to “recall” something that has never been distinguished before. To see a pattern never before seen.
It is possible for such distinctions to recontextualise all previously held contexts (and thereby triggers and behaviours).
In some measure aspects of the pattern needs to be present in the data itself, and other aspects need to be present in the context of mind; and the combination of these two functions, has a sort of quantum aspect to it.

New stuff can happen, stuff beyond any previous “script”, in any normal meaning of the word “script”.

This new stuff can be in the realm of distinctions, intuitions or abstractions.

Such infinite creativity does, in fact, seem to be present in every one of us; and the major thing that seems to be in the way of most of us seeing and experiencing it is our attachment to ideas like “being right” or “making others wrong”.

It seems that it is difficult (bordering on impossible) to make that distinction from a context that is firmly rooted in notions like right/wrong, and “Truth”. Those ideas need to be cast into doubt first.

Having a personal understanding does not invalidate science.
It is a part of the body of science.
Science has many aspects to it.
In part it is the hypotheses, and the experimental results obtained in respect of the hypotheses.
In part, it is the particular understanding that each individual brings, the specific perspectives.

We each only get to judge what it is that another means by our interactions with them, usually in terms of words.

We each only have our own experience set with which to reconstruct a model of the other person, or the experiences they describe.

In so far as there is commonality of experience, the use of language can create remarkably good correlation between the model in one mind and the model in another mind.

In so far as there are gaps in the experience sets, the gaps in the models can become so great that communication (as in a concept in one mind being replicated in another mind) is almost impossible at the level desired.

After all I have written on the subject of the ability of the process of storing and retrieving information as interference patterns to be able to create novelty, how do you think it feels for me, to have you say “NO its all scripts”?

I am not denying that there are scripts.
There are scripts, at many levels.

I am most emphatically denying that it is all and only scripts.
There is much more.
Infinitely more.
All connected, holograpically, via our perceptions and experiences.
All connected by the way in which our subconscious mind stores and retrieves information in reality.

Of that, I am confident beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.
It is right up there with evolution, and logic, and infinity.
It is fundamental to the paradigm of understanding that has been with me (with many subsequent modifications) for about 35 years.

To understand it like I do, one must become familiar with information theory, with LASERs, with computer programming, with neural anatomy and physiology, and with quantum theory. I do not intend to provide primers on those topics in this post – it is big already.

Enough for one post.

[followed by]

Then not for your benefit Mike, because there is no point in attempting further communication with you, but for anyone else following this; it certainly does matter.

It seems to me that Mike has gone too far, and lost it.

It seems to me that there is a sense in which the world of our experience is a world that is based upon a model of the real world that is in our brains.
So there is a sort of sense in what MikeS says, but it is only a part of the picture, and MikeS is ignoring the largest part of the picture, in focusing on the interface to personal experience.

To me, it seems that the situation in which we find ourselves is structured like this:

There is a reality in which we exist.
The universe of space, time and matter in which we find ourselves seems to have started some 14 billion years ago.
The planet on which we find ourselves seems to have formed almost 5 Billion years ago.
Simple life seems to have formed on this planet about 3 Billion years ago.
Multi cellular life seems to have started about 1 Billion years ago.
Our last common ancestor with chimpanzees seems to have been about 6 million years ago.
The last common ancestor of all human beings alive today seems to have been about 60 thousand years ago in Africa.
Our complex language and cultural structures seem to have been evolving rapidly over the last 15 thousand years.

Each of us carries within our very complex bodies traces of all of this history, in our genetic and cultural histories.

In terms of our awareness, each of us as individuals seems to be isolated from this external reality by several layers of systems.
Our sense organs interact with the photons of matter, and pass this information on as sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, heat, electric and magnetic information to our brains.
Our brains have a very complex structure, with some 23 different processing centres, processing all of this information to create a predictive model of this external reality.
Our awareness is born into this model, and initially takes the model as the reality.
The way in which our brains store and retrieve information as interference patterns connects us at yet another level, holographically, with all of that external “reality”.

So in this very limited sense, Mike has a sort of point, in that what most people take as reality really isn’t, it is just a model of reality within their heads. And in that limited sense, there can be a certain amount of restructuring of the model that can be done.

However, there is a major mistake in going from that discovery, to claiming that there is no reality, and that it is all in our heads.
There is a certain degree of flexibility in the model that is our interface between our awareness and reality, but reality itself is not nearly so flexible (though it does allow for certain modes of influence and creativity).

This is a layman’s summary of the best available science that I am aware of at this time.

[followed by]

Sorry Mike,

The statement you made “Science has absolutely no thought as to the nature of thought. Only the electrochemical firing of neurons.” is just plain false.

There are many different aspects to the science of thought.
Firing of neurons is certainly one part of the picture, and it is just one of many parts.
Nero-anatomy is getting very complex these days.
Biochemistry, and the structures that underlie the firing of of neurons is another part – a part about which we know some of the general principles, but the detail will forever escape human understanding.
[Just to put that in context – the average human body has about 2 by 10^27 molecules in it – a very big number. To put that big number in perspective, there seems to have been about 4 by 10^17 seconds, since this universe of ours started. So if you had been around that long, and had been looking at a snapshot of all the molecules in your body, for all that time, at 100 molecules per second (about the limit of human comprehension), then you would be about 1 100 millionth of the way through looking at that one single snapshot.
If gets worse, because a second to a molecule is a very long time. In order to make some sort of sense of the world of molecules, you would need to take about a billion billion snapshots per second.
There are about 50 thousand different types of molecules in the soup that is us, and they all interact with each other in very complex ways.
So, while we can have some idea of the general form of the processes that underlie our being, there is no possibility, ever, of us being able to know those processes in detail.
Then there are disciplines of number, mathematical theory, games theory, probability etc.
Then there are disciplines of computation, cybernetics, computational theory, systems theory, software design, etc.
Then there is evolutionary theory – a multidisciplinary field that works at understanding the different scales of the evolution of the ability of atomic systems to interact with other system to produce this amazing thing we call life.
Under all these is physics, and the substructure of matter – which is again, an intense interdisciplinary field, heavily reliant on mathematics and very advanced technology.

Thought, as we know it, seems to have emerged on this planet in the last few thousand years.

To claim that reality is based upon thought appears to me to be hubris in the extreme.

I do not see any anomaly that you hint at (without being at all specific as to what you were referring).

What I see is a history of life on this earth that has faced thousands of extinction events, where most individuals of most species have been destroyed, and dozen of extinction events where all individuals of many species have been destroyed.
The relative calm of the last 8 thousand years, with almost steady sea levels, very few impact events, very few large volcanic events, and few pandemics is the exception on a geological timescale not the norm.
We have been exceptionally lucky to have had this calm period in which to develop our technology and civilisation.

We would be insane to rely on it continuing.

To my way of thinking, the only sane path is to create technologies which allow us to mitigate the effects of these things.

This can be done. shows one set of technologies that could potentially mitigate all of the major threats to continued human survival; and there are no guarantees, of anything in this massively complex universe of ours.

It is a very big, and very dangerous universe out there.
Any number of cosmological events are capable of sterilising one side of the surface of this planet, we just have to hope that none of them happen before we get a very large array of very large telescopes studying every visible star and every visible galaxy. And we need technologies to allow us to move everyone to one side of the planet in under 2 hours (doable with what I have proposed in solnx).

We are so very fortunate to have a large dust cloud between us and the centre of our galaxy, which shields us from the worst excesses of the sets of massive black holes collected in that region. There seems to be only one that is significantly off the central galactic plane that could be a serious threat to us at some stage in the future. Chances of life like ours surviving on a planet near the centre of any galaxy is remotely small, there are just far too many energetic events capable of sterilising whole planets – no real chance for life to evolve. If there is to be other life like us anywhere, it is likely to be out on the outskirts of some galaxy – much as we are, with similar protection to that which we enjoy, and a good dose of luck besides.

So – no – I don’t see anything particularly and unusually threatening at present, most of the threats have been around a long time, and we are certainly very vulnerable to them right now.

This mad notion of yours, that everything is controlled by thought is a threat – if it ever takes any sort of serious hold in the population. No recovery for most from falling in a “rabbit hole” that deep.

I have no shadow of reasonable doubt that thought is an emergent property of levels of organisation of matter. And once it has emerged, it has many ways in which it can feed back and influence matter – in infinite recursive loops if it so chooses. And it is also subject to influence by matter, in many ways that thought alone cannot control.

So No – your assertion that “it’s the relationship of atoms that determine reality not the atoms themselves and that relationship is always a product of THOUGHT” is beyond all shadow of reasonable doubt, false, and seems to me to clearly trace its origins strictly to religious dogma, and has no basis in science (except in so far as religious dogma has penetrated the fringe areas of science – particularly standard model quantum physics and some of its hangers on).

[followed by]

Hi Mike

What gives you the idea that a thought is any sort of anything, other than the apex of a collection of systems starting with sub atomic stuff, and building up though levels of atomic, molecular, cellular, multicellular, neuronal, various sets and levels of contextual, cultural, language, and thence through a potentially infinite series of systems and abstractions to new logical levels ….

Thought seems to be the entire system of things in action.
Remove any part of the pyramid and thought fails above that level.
It is the entire system in action, and not any thing separate from it.

As to proof – that abounds.
We have billions of examples.
Disrupt the system, and thought stops.
It can be done permanently (through death) by any number of means, blunt trauma, projectiles, drugs, radiation, lack of nutrients, lack of oxygen, ….
It be be done temporarily (with less energetic forms of all of the above mechanisms and many others).

Intentional disruption of systems has major ethical implications, and is deplored by most people (including myself), but accidents happen, and we have many thousands of examples to study. People with specific injuries to specific parts of the brain, that show particular sorts of disruptions to normal patterns of activity. My uncle Ross was a case in point (one of my dad’s younger brothers) who had an accident at a level crossing in the fog in his car, was hit by a train, and lost most of the left hand side of his brain. He lived a further 50+ years, with some disabilities in terms of locomotion; but was otherwise mostly functional, and became a multi-millionaire after the accident.

So in terms of “proof” (in as much as anything can be proved) then there is no shortage.

What seems to be lacking is a sufficient level of abstraction to be able to entertain the possibility.
Most people are stuck with the idea that there must be a separate sort of thingness (because that is what most cultures teach).

An analogy is with computers, and software.
I can write a set of symbols, on this keyboard, that if directed to an appropriate program could, without any further human input, become a functioning program in a computer, doing some sort of task.
Is there any sort of program “stuff” outside of the symbols and computer that is doing the task?

Why should we be any different in principle?

Sure, we are far more complex than any computer yet built.
Sure, our neural processors operate on very different principles from the serial Von Neumann devices we have inside our computers; and at a certain level of abstraction, there is a direct analogy between them.

One major difference, is that our “code” has not been “designed” by anyone; it seems that it has, in the first instance (at the levels of language and culture), evolved, by natural selection, just like our processors. Then we came along, self declared entities, declared in language, and we grew, abstracting ever more complex abstractions as we did so- layer upon layer, level upon level (pattern within pattern within pattern …….). All hinging on that magical boundary, at the edge of the probability curves that seem to define all lawful action in this universe, and at the same time give room for freedom to show up.

To me, with my experience set, this is just so self evident, that it is hard for me to appreciate why others don’t see it; yet it seems to be the case that most others don’t see it.

[followed by]

Hi Mike

You’re just running the same script brother, either not willing or not able to get the import of what I am writing.

Proof, in the area of experience, has to be personal.
I have been knocked unconscious.
I have had general anaesthetics.
I have performed a great many experiments on my own awareness.

Everything I said about consciousness and thought is proved to me beyond all reasonable doubt.

If you insist on wilful ignorance that is your perogative.

I’ll play if you really want to, but not with the crap your giving out now.

Look a little deeper.

[followed by]


Science is about asking questions, seeking better hypotheses, designing better experiments, repeatable ones.

It is not, and cannot be, about proofs.

In the realm of the experience of being, the only tests that any of us can perform is on ourselves, for we only have our own experience.
As Andrew said – I don’t get to be him or you, I just get to be me.
I do not get your experience of being, just mine – that’s how the game works.

I am confident, beyond reasonable doubt, that I understand the general form of how that experience is generated (and I freely admit to my profound ignorance of the detail, and of many of the subtleties of the process, and the the requirement for that always to be the case – we are just that complex); and in the final analysis, it is my experience – and that is all.

I don’t know what ideas you have about science, but they obviously have really bad emotional connotations for you – and appear to have little relationship to what I call science – which has nothing to do with dogma, and everything to do with a willingness to question – everything.

[followed by]

Hi Mike

I am confident, beyond reasonable doubt, that I know the general form of Mount Everest. It is a big mountain, on the boundary between Tibet and China, that has resulted from the tectonic collision of the Indian and Asian plates, yet I have never explored it. I am almost completely ignorant of it’s specific form, and could spend many lifetimes simply exploring its surface features in some sort of detail (forever actually, as it keeps weathering away).

I know the general form of many things, yet the specific forms are overwhelming in the detail avilable to be studied.

One could easily spend a lifetime studying a single drop of sea water (the life within it is that complex).

So there is a vast gap between knowing the general form, and knowing the specific form, like the gap between taking a snapshot of earth from a space ship, and studying its geology and life processes in detail.

I have no reasonable doubt that my experience of being results from the many layers of processes that are happening in by body, in similar fashion to the way that computer software I write ends up being patterns of flow of electrons and photons in machines.

As to the details of what I am, I am certain that those will be forever beyond my comprehension, for the reason of the numbers that I gave several posts back. We are simply too complex, too many parts, too many patterns, to know in detail.

What is so difficult to grasp about that ?

[followed by]

Hi Mike

I’ll give it another go.

Have you ever written software?

I write a set of symbols – something like

Local aMinutes := {}
Field processed, MinsOnTask, TaskType, Client

open taskcharges index taskcharges
open chargeout
open timelog new exclusive
do while ! eof()
if .not. processed

That set of symbols is part of a program to take times recorded on a cellphone and put them into a billing system.
It is a set of symbols that translates to a set of numbers, that translate to a set of electrical patterns flowing from the memory of a computer to the CPU, that controls the activity of that CPU, and produce a desired outcome in reality.

If you look at the operation of the CPU, you do not see any symbols or numbers, you just see patterns of electrical activity.
To be able to turn those patterns of electrical activity back into symbolic logic of the form written above, you have to know a lot about the form of the patterns.

Look at the computer in action, you see only electrical activity.
Look at the code above, you see only symbols on a page.
There are many layers of pattern required to change one to the other, and it all exists and it all works.

Similarly with us.
When we simply look at the brain, we see patterns of chemical and electrical activity.
These patterns are our awareness in action.
This is the form that our being takes in the realm of matter.

In the realm of our experience, the form is something else entirely.

The complexity of the patterns happening in any single human mind is vast beyond the capacity of any human mind to follow in detail.
Yet in just the same way that any Von Neumann processor can be described as a collection of 7 basic circuits (even if there are millions of those basic circuits in different arrangements to each other) so a human mind can be described as a collection of patterns of different types. Vastly more types than the 7 basic circuits of a modern digital computer, and still a much smaller number than the vast number of replicated elements within a brain.

The thing that is different between us and most computer systems, is that our systems have the ability to alter their own function, at many levels. Not only can we alter the patterns on the hardware, but through those alterations of patterns we can alter the hardware itself. It is a truly fascinating system.

We can prove that these physical patterns are the physical existence of our thoughts by designing systems that alter those patterns, and experiencing those alterations in our experience. Most people do it in fairly gross manner through the use of “recreational drugs”. Alter the brain chemistry, by imbibing some drug, and experience the altered state of being.
We can do it in more subtle ways, through altering our patterns of activity, and thus the function of our brains, and thus our experience of being – with things like runner high, or meditation highs, or magneto-cranial stimulation or ……

Some of us try large numbers of different experiments upon ourselves, to prove to ourselves, beyond all reasonable doubt, that this is actually what is happening. I am one of those, which is how and why I can and do make the assertions that I do.

Why is that so hard for you to grasp?

Why is it so difficult for you to accept the possibility that consciousness has no physical form other than the patterns of chemical and electrical activity in the brain.
Our experience is not that.
Our experience is the outcome of pure software, and all software requires some sort of hardware to execute.
Our hardware platform just happens to be biological in origin, and our initial operating system is similarly bio-cultural in origin.

I have interrupted and altered my patterns with physical agents many thousands of times, sufficiently to take me beyond all reasonable doubt. I have similarly experiment with various software agents.

How is it that you have not noticed this in yourself?
Have you ever been intoxicated?
Have you ever enjoyed (or felt repelled by) any food or drink or image or smell or sound?
Have you ever enjoyed (or felt repelled by) any physical sensation or pattern of activity?

What do you think is happening in these situations?

Isn’t it obvious – from this context?

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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2 Responses to Problems in Enlightenment

  1. Gil says:

    Hi Ted thanks for putting this discussion in one easy to read format. I am bookmarking this.


  2. holessence says:

    “A choice to enjoy the moment, whatever it brings.”

    CHOICE — ah yes, that’s the key.


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