What is experience?
It seems very probable that there are at least two very distinct aspects to experience.
One is what we, as conscious entities perceive.
It seems that all of our perceptions are of a subconsciously created model of reality, and it is this model, rather than reality itself, that we consciously experience.
The other aspect is that of our bodies in reality.
Our bodies seem to exist in a physical reality, that we are more or less aware of some aspects of most of the time. And that reality seems to be far more complex than we could ever consciously appreciate, yet our bodies get to be in it and experience all that reality is, in a physical sense.
So there is a distinction between what our bodies experience, and what our minds experience, and often the two are quite closely related, and sometimes not so much.
Beyond those two basic aspects, there seem to be an infinite set of possible levels of experience available to any conscious entity. How far anyone goes in experiencing those levels seems to be very much a matter of individual choice and determination.
Hi Mendy Lou and Judi
I am a kind of yes to all you describe.
That sense you describe Judi – the sense of being, existing, is something experientially very real, for those of us who take the time and make the effort to go there – no argument with that.
Where we clearly differ is how we relate that to the rest of existence.
For me, it is easy to see how that thing doing the experiencing is a software entity residing in a software model of reality, running on the squishy hardware that is an enculturated human brain.
And the firm lines between hardware and software that exist with the current generation of digital computers are far more blurred in the case of human brains, where we have many levels of hardware and software systems that are more or less tightly coupled to each other.
And I’m a geek, who has been fascinated by evolution and systems for over 50 years, has been programming computers for over 40 years, and has been running a software company for 30 years. So I don’t expect many other people to see things anywhere near as I do, and I am what I am.
For me, the general levels of understanding are clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.
I have no shadow of reasonable doubt that any and all explanations for what human existence is that are more than about 40 years old contain serious flaws, however much they may capture that has practical value.
At the same time I am clear that we are far too complex to ever be fully understood or predictable.
Such seems to be the nature of reality.
You’re not giving much away Bhatta!
What is you experience of experience?
How about sharing something significant to you?
I can read and interpret expert opinion (do that every day – many times a day).
I listened to expert opinion 6 years ago tell me I had a 2% chance of living 2 years.
I long ago adopted the habit of listening to experts, and not necessarily believing them.
I listen and ask myself – where does what that person is saying align with my experience and where does it not?
If there are places of non-alignment, what alternative explanatory frameworks am I aware of?
If there is an alternative explanatory framework that fits all datasets I have available, then I use that.
If more than one, I choose the one that intuitively seems best.
If none, then I use the best available, and keep an active brief looking for a better one.
In terms of altered states of consciousness referred to in the wikipedia article I have direct personal experience of:
very high fever, infections such as meningitis, sleep deprivation, fasting, oxygen deprivation, nitrogen narcosis (deep diving), and traumatic accident, as well as others of a more intentional nature and of more random natures.
One of the odder “spiritual” experiences was in the early 80s, hacking. Spending many hours with a debugger and a Z80 based TRS80 Model 3 trying to break the copy protection on a game I had bought so that I could make a backup copy. Took me a long time (about 4am about 2 months after I first started trying – not continuously). A friend of mine (Olaf Skarsholt – also a computer geek) who was with me at the time was trying to make sense of what I was doing and why. He kept asking me, but he simply didn’t see the patterns I was seeing.
I cracked it. It was a beautifully creative piece of work, involving many levels, the final one of which was loading a picture into display RAM, then switching execution of code to a part of that picture, then switching back out again, and changing pictures. The code was only present as code for a few machine cycles. It took me quite a while to find it, to follow the hints, see the deeper patterns present.
That was the last time I intentionally cracked any code.
It all seemed like such a massive waste of time and creativity.
Made much more sense to disinvent the entire concept of money that led to such insanity – (also much more of a challenge).
So what is one of your “experiences” of life that has been important to you in some key aspect?
What does experience mean to Bhatta, rather than to “La goutte de pluie” et al?
It is a “kind of” thing.
Yes sort of.
And for me the word “silence” comes close to capturing something of an experience I have had that seems somewhat like what you have had, and silence doesn’t quite do it for me, for me it is more like stillness.
In my years of training for deep diving I have trained my awareness to be conscious of heartbeat and respiration, so I “hear” those things. Even in the “silence” between heart beats I can hear the change in blood flow in the arteries of my ears. Even as I get the time between heartbeats out to 20 seconds, the very faint traces of movement of blood persist. So it is difficult for me to experience silence in that sense – too many levels of awareness.
When deep diving most people experience silence, but as a trained marine biologist, and a hunter and fisherman I can usually hear marine life around me, even if it is a shrimp 100 meters away (shrimps can be very noisy for something so small).
When I have been deep underground, in caves and tunnels, I have usually still been able to hear things, even if only water trickling somewhere in a crevice.
So I very rarely experience silence in that sense.
And I have experienced a stillness that was profound. I liken it to being at sea, in a small boat, on a calm day, over the horizon from land – much like the picture of a chair on a calm lake you posted. A profound stillness.
I first had this experience in a room full of people, where I had been in semi meditative experiential enquiry into the nature of my experience of the person I was looking at, and had been doing so for about 20 minutes.
There was a sort of instantaneous transition and an experience of being in a place without borders or even dimensions, or limits on dimensions, or content.
A very interesting experience.
One I repeated quite a few times, and performed numerous tests on in the years following.
I doubt that our explanatory frameworks around the nature of the experience have very much in common.
And it was a very interesting experience like and unlike many other experiences I have had.