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David Weiskopf

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Everything posted by David Weiskopf

  1. I really want to emphasize what I think is implicit in the others’ responses and that is kind and full acceptance of disliked traits in yourself as distinct from some sort of resignation. Those traits were not chosen by you out of malice but were the result of a wide net of causes and conditions. So, it is like embracing and protecting a wounded child, puppy or kitten—guiding it not to lash out and at the some time nurturing and transforming it. Repression and self-aggression don’t work. I suggest turning the self-critic on its head by kindly telling it: “Of course I see those traits, but far from ridiculing myself for them I applaud my recognizing them because it affords me opportunities for healing and growth.” You still can firmly resolve not to act them out again. That can be a good thing as long as you aren’t harsh on yourself if you fail in your resolve; with kindness you begin again. That is my thinking anyway.
  2. We have 3 dogs who wake us up anywhere between 4 and 5:30 a.m. I love the routine of taking them out, feeding them, and then making coffee. It’s my fault they get up so early, because when I worked I would set the alarm for 4 or 4:30 so I could sit and quietly sip coffee and pet dogs for an hour before meditating and readying for work. Ha, ha, I wake up as a completely deluded and groggy person. Slowly I orient myself toward the day. The a.m. sit usually has its fill of wonder—I’m here, I’m breathing, and the world is teeming with energy. Too bad much of mankind is set on poisoning it. Wonder and poison. I am still like an awed, awkward and bewildered child in some respects who simply cannot make sense of it and lives outside of it. Yet, formal meditation practice fills me with confidence and resolve.
  3. Rick Hanson’s newsletter just addressed how important one’s waking moments are in an essay entitled “Lean into Good on First Waking.” https://www.rickhanson.net/lean-into-good-on-first-waking/
  4. Daniel, I have not encountered any uniformity among Buddhists about these issues (something I actually find distressing, to be honest). Not that it matters, because it is your exploration of them that is important. What struck me as being especially wise in your reflection was your emphasis on compassion. Sean teaches the importance of balancing insight and caring/compassion, balancing the “head” and the “heart.” My teacher basically says something similar—that if your practice is not opening your heart, something is lacking. Of course, an open heart might not guarantee skillful means in conversing with others, but it surely helps! Part of developing the heart in Buddhism is supposed to be about giving other sentient beings no reason to fear you. I think that is such a lovely notion—that loving-kindness, compassion, and joy for others’ successes and happiness not only protects you but protects others...from you. I think that notion was apparent in your reflection.
  5. Your comment, Gillian, reminds me of a book about skiing. It said that skiing powder is simpler than skiing anything else and requires only a few of the basic skill sets from skiing other types of snow, but it requires having progressed through the other types of skiing to some significant extent. The “mindfulness” Of Ajahn Sucitto’s talk is not the same mindfulness as at early stages of formal practice. Perhaps we could think of the qualities of mindfulness as occurring on a spectrum with simple but skillful attention of present-moment experience being on the weakest end and penetrating mindfulness being on the other. In all cases mindfulness is dependent on the presence and development of other factors. Its development also is dependent on temporarily letting-go of patterns that get in the way. Fortunately, with the help of a little guidance, those things tend to unfold naturally and, as you suggest, simply over the course of practice. Would you agree?
  6. My sense is that emotions are primarily physical, are somatic, are embodied. The mind tries to interpret them and explain them. It tries to devise strategies to avoid unpleasant ones and to seek and encourage pleasant ones. This goes back to the consciousness question. We might not be aware of the physical feeling and sensation triggered by some event, but it colors or affects how we relate to it. Basically the body orients us to seek what feels good to it and to avoid what doesn't. Because we have the capacity of long-term memory, recalling events can also elicit the feelings and emotions. My guess is that so much of our ruminating arises from our brains subconsciously planning how to seek out pleasant and gratifying experiences and to avert unpleasant ones. We can get carried away with anticipated pleasant events or even fantasies and conversely become anxious or hostile about potential lurking dangers. One of my teachers sums it up with the phrase, "seeking opportunities and avoiding threats." We start forming patterns for how we think and relate to certain triggered feelings and sensations from infancy. They become our "personalities." These patterns often are not well adapted for the complexities of modern social interactions and cultural pressures, or even developmental changes of growing up for that matter. So, to some degree I think we all develop and experience problems. The talk by Ajahn Sucitto just included in Sean's 5 Mindful Musings addresses this and how mindfulness practices can work to free us from these patterns. https://mindfulnessexercises.acemlna.com/lt.php?s=6038f5f1bae17d46a57132e295de1401&i=827A1130A2A13864 Ajahn Sucitto makes it sound so simple, but I would say for most people it is anything but. Still, the work toward it holds many rewards along the way. It's not like everything is drudgery until one reaches the promised land. I don't pretend to have done so, but I find the journey much more enjoyable than I did when I started. I know this is not the same as sharing how I notice particular feelings in my body, but it is my way of explaining that I feel them with a lot more particularity and a lot more deeply now than previously. This is not always a fun thing; many of my dreams seem to be revisiting painful occurrences from my past so that the emotions can be fully received. Although that in some ways is painful, there is a certain joy in it too. It's like being able to open all the doors and windows to air out the house and let in the sunshine and fresh air.
  7. That is a fantastic article! Thanks so much, Gillian. I have long thought that anyone professing to favor acceptance and compassion should at least attempt to maintain them when facing anger, outrage, or the like from others. I pretty much have given up on that (except I try to teach it to my small meditation group) and I do agree with the article that insisting on only non-harsh speech is, quoting your article, a way of: "subtly creating a coercive environment in which there is pressure on the person who has just experienced immense pain to immediately choose a form of response that requires commitment, awareness, and some degree of healing from trauma in order to be accessible in the best of times, let alone in those circumstances when one is reeling and in shock. It can easily become yet another occasion in which the needs and norms of the dominant culture are prioritized over care for those people who have borne the invisible brunt of such norms." I would go farther and assert that such insistence is a way of asserting oneself by exercising dominion over the other. It is a way of shifting the topic from one which makes the listener uncomfortable to blaming the "victim" for how he or she presented it. Many parents do this to kids all the time and then wonder why they grow up to be resentful toward them. When I receive continued treatment in that way, even after swallowing my hostility and attempting to readdress my concerns in a much more modulated manner, I do tend to chose withdrawal from further contact to the greatest practicable extent just as the article suggests might happen. Let me observe one other thing, people who seem most intolerant of anger in others seem to display a great deal of righteous entitlement to their own, be it expressed aggressively or passively. I get it that anger is scary, hurtful and challenging to be around. So, if we have the means, we generally should try to modulate it. At the same time, it is a primary human feeling or emotion that should be accepted, respected, and understood--things your article does extremely well. Thanks again. I'm saving that one. Maybe I'll send it to Gil.
  8. This is not to say, Gillian that I don’t greatly appreciate what you are offering. For me this nevertheless is a bad time, in the midst of this election turmoil here in the States, to bring up forgiveness. I finally am getting pretty good at knowing that bitterness and ill-will hurt me and can harm others in counterproductive ways. I too loved the Kurt Vonnegut quote about not letting bitterness steal your softness. The teacher I regularly listen to, Gil Fronsdal, makes a point of frequently saying, “Don’t make things worse.” We may lack the wisdom and discernment to achieve resolution, but we can say, “No,” to impulses to act out in ways that clearly will make things worse. At least this is his teaching as I understand it. It drives me crazy! It’s not that I don’t appreciate that perspective, which I think goes to forgiveness and very practical reasons for it. I think, however, that it too much ignores other important perspectives. If, after pausing and carefully examining one’s own motivations and available information, one is convinced another’s actions are unduly harmful, then what? How does one act or an organization act so as not to acquiesce and thereby become complicit? So, to me another important perspective to consider is when to speak truth to harming or the distortions and misinformation used to justify it. Taken even further this consideration can entail another perspective of what would be appropriate accountability. I am concerned that there often might be a lot of spiritual bypass going on to preserve “peace” among close associates and neighbors by people who convince themselves they are admirably taking the morally and spiritually higher ground. All they really might be doing is avoiding the discomfort of the conflict, difficulties and risks inherent in standing up for their true higher spiritual and moral values. This cedes authority to fanatics who act as though any means justify their ends because they are conferred with a higher authority that holds little regard for those deviating from it. (Implicit in this is the need to avoid behaving as though oneself were so invested, which can be very hard when one’s passions become stirred.) It’s one thing to find equanimity within oneself that excludes no part of one’s experience, which is very possible and worth cultivating. It is completely another to believe and act as though one can project and impose it on the world at large, which is completely deluded. At least, among other possible actions, one can set an example by one’s outward composure, thoughtfulness and commitment to greater moral and spiritual objectives than just fitting-in or reaping benefits from belonging to a close network of people with mutual self-interests. I should add this seems to be one thing Tim DeChristopher, whom Sharon mentions in the interview, understood well.
  9. Because I tend to be coldly rational and judgmental, my practice nearly always focuses on "bottom-up" processes starting with awareness of bodily sensations, then resting attention on the breath, and then moving into global awareness of the body. For me, this progression serves gradually to admit awareness and acceptance of feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, or neither-pleasant-or-unpleasant) and then thoughts and emotions. It really releases the grasping aspects of disembodied thinking and judgment and results in a pleasant abiding with whatever affective states arise in the body/mind. Depending on what seems called-for, I either emphasize mindful awareness and investigation or abandon the breath and the substantial body for a more open awareness. Either way, I find formal meditation often reboots my system from being somewhat hyper-vigilant and tense to being much calmer, flexible, and openly present. For many weeks before the election, I had been emphasizing loving-kindness practice after briefly settling as described above. I have found this hard to keep up while doomscrolling election results, so I'm taking this week off. My consistent intention is to find refuge in the flow of natural conditions as they manifest in the constantly changing experience of this body and then to broaden it to include an interconnectedness with all manifestations such that my "top-down" process of evaluative and creative thinking are well-integrated and aligned with the "bottom-up" and greater external processes. During the day, I try to do a lot of brief pauses and checks with how well integrated mind and body are (which is not to say they are well-integrated). On rare occasions, I will listen to music--usually Deva Premal. I do not journal although from time to time I will do brief essays sometimes to myself and sometimes to others to organize my thoughts. For myself, there is danger in journaling and even "noting" in meditation practice. The danger is reinforcing the tendency to take too seriously the stories and views projected in my mind to explain experiences. For me, this just increases the rift between my mind and my body including heartfelt emotions. It tends to cause me to contract around a somewhat narcissistic sense of myself and of being separate from everything and everyone else. I don't dislike the storytelling aspect of my mind and attend to it with interest with its arisings and passings. I simply have learned not to trust it without much investigation and even then to hold it lightly. The fact that it generally does not appear during formal meditation and is much less salient during daily activities tells me the ordinary tendency is to give it undue authority. (This is a longwinded way of confessing I tend to be a "head-case" and have had a history of lending the storytelling mind way too much authority in the past.) Isn't it interesting how different we can be?
  10. I'm not sure you are offering a different perspective. I am not talking about people who started "there" a long time ago and sine have experienced significant growth. I don't think a one-size-fits-all approach is either effective or trauma-sensitive. Actually, I think a lot of the glorification of activism oftentimes IS a projection of conceit (The greater universe of conditionality doesn't give a #%&! what one thinks anyone ought to do and how accomplished one displays his or herself to be at it). I think a lot more people are basically operating from places of trauma and great pain and fearfulness than we realize. I think they try to put on a bold face and make a good go at it, but it's taking a huge toll they cannot bear to acknowledge. You don't have to accuse me of projecting, I'll own to that being so in my case, except I have come to know it intimately. I really like one activist's take on finding a balance of kindness toward oneself and toward others that bears in mind the dangers of burnout, greed, or fanaticism. http://www.mushimikeda.com/blog/2017/11/15/one-activists-oath-first-vow-not-to-burn-out She is a dedicated practitioner, trainer, and activist who has seen a lot of burnout! I am not discouraging people from becoming involved in community activism or service until they are fully actualized, I'm just not saying it is a human duty for everyone regardless of their circumstances. I'm saying simply being kind toward oneself and others with whom one necessarily comes into contact is of great benefit itself. For some people that is challenge enough. Part of being available to others is being able to bear grief, loss, and suffering with compassion, dignity, and resiliency. I don't think mandated service projects and demands of social activism necessarily promote that, although they might in some cases. In others, they might seem overwhelming and trigger much more stress and woundedness. People are vulnerable and some not only have scars, they have deep, open wounds, but we live in a society where needing help, let alone admitting our vulnerability, is greatly discouraged. Given the crazy orientation and values of society, even getting good help, should one seek it, can be difficult. I don't think you can make people have the kind of transformations certain hospice workers and caregivers have had, many of whom received skilled guidance and support along the way. Additionally, I think there is a risk that people will displace into trying to "fix" in others what they have not faced and healed in themselves. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
  11. Well, my feelings fall somewhere in what is discussed in this interview of Sharon Salzberg by David Treleaven. They run the gamut, wildly oscillating between hopelessness, particularly amidst the election uncertainty, and joyful presence. I recommend the interview, which might have been posted previously. https://davidtreleaven.com/tsm-podcast-episode-16-sharon-salzberg/ Anything else I might want to say might simply be construed as my being judgmental. But I will risk saying the following. I have had the sense that there has been a lot of pressure on people, consistent with American individualism and exceptionalism, to get out there and "do something"--become an activist engaged in constructive social change, actually help people where help is needed, or what have you. Well, there are a lot of traumatized people out here who, on top of everything else, have been continually triggered by 4 years of the most despicable display of bullying, lying, and polarizing. They neither deserve nor need to be made to feel shame that they are not doing enough. If everyone simply would be responsible for behaving compassionately and somewhat decently, toward themselves and others, the world would be a very different place. My deepest bows to anyone and everyone starting there.
  12. I told you there are a lot of different doors! I am a qualified huge fan of Pema Chodron (qualified because she was silent about the sex abuse of the leader in her lineage and an apologist for him)), but I don't think she is the best place to start. Again, it depends on your inclination. Bhante G, as Henepola Gunaratana is popularly known, is great too. The reason I suggested Jack Kornfield's book is because he is a great story teller while Bhante G is more concise. Everyone's recommendations are good as far as I am concerned. My guess is is that Jeff is less inclined to Jack because Jack is more involved in the popularization, dilution, and corporatization of "Mindfulness." In my opinion there is some truth in that, although not nearly to the same extent as with Jon Kabat-Zinn. (I am one of those crazy folks who think bona fide teachers in the Buddhist tradition should be offering their teachings free and relying on the generosity of donors; if they have to work a day job to get by so be it, but they should not charge for teachings.) To me, Jack simply has a gentle and seductive way of inviting the movement toward peace and ease which might be a good place to begin. All of the above are teachers in Buddhist traditions which may or may not be your cup of tea. The internet is a great resource to read about these folks and sample some of their offerings. And don't forget Tara Brach, suggested by Gillian, as a possibility. She has a lot online now too and is perhaps more secular although she and Jack collaborate quite a bit. The founder of this site, Sean Fargo, also has a lot of great offerings online that are suited to beginners (and an ample amount of them are freely offered). Please don't take my suggestions as being authoritative because I'm no expert. I'm simply a fellow journeyer. My basic home-base is not even on the list! Oh, by the way, I like the new avatar too.
  13. Ha, ha. Already you can see how there are different doors for different people. I shutter at the mention of Jon Kabat-Zinn. For all the good he has done by making people aware of mindfulness practices he also has robbed those practices of some of their essentials. At least that is my view. I have known other people for whom his books and guidance have been invaluable. Still, to me he is the founder of McMindfulness. I nevertheless enjoyed reading his books. I would be more inclined to recommend Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart, but there are so many different places to begin.
  14. I am very settled in my own path and am reluctant to make suggestions. I think people have to find their own paths. Doing so was really difficult for me. Like you, I felt really alienated, alone in any crowd, and thought we all must be missing something really meaningful. I too am familiar with often feeling despair as though "nothing works." When I was 19, I had a bad experience with a meditation group and dismissed any form of meditation from my consideration. I was in my 50's and pretty desperate myself before I heard an interview on the radio that sparked interest in it again--this time in the way it is presented in certain Buddhist traditions. I have been immersed in a formal practice and studying teachings for nearly 15 years now. I think what you said there probably would sum up a lot of people's experience. One of the first teachings in any mindfulness tradition is to accept that as a part of being human with kindness and compassion. That is sort of the place from which we begin. Every trick the mind plays to bring us down, we can simply acknowledge and greet as an honored and familiar companion or aspect of our being whose urgings we know better than to act out. There is no need to be cruel to him or her. If we forget, we try not to judge ourselves harshly and simply begin again. Better to commend ourselves for coming to our senses than to judge ourselves harshly. If we need help, we seek help just like you are doing here. If you are at all like me, you'll find yourself doing quite a bit of beginning again. All I can do is offer you support and I'm sure there are lots of people on this site who join me in doing so. Best Wishes.
  15. Daniel, what do you mean when you say "mindfulness is just attention?" I'm sure those sharpshooters are being very attentive to their breath, posture, and bodily sensations too.
  16. Let's just say you do have an unusually florid writing style. I had to do a quick check of NASA, NIH, and other websites to confirm the science of what you discussed. I vaguely remember it having been in the news many years ago, possibly near the 1989 event, but I also remember dismissing it as something that I could not do anything about. I'm sure the super-rich have a contingency plan for a catastrophic CME. For example, I saw an article online about hoarding gold for just such an event. I also found articles reporting that at least some governments are investing in research about this prospect and ways to reduce its impact if at all possible. Your article seems to focus on the worse-case scenario from the perspective of human survival. I enjoyed the article very much. Please provide us with a link to the finished work. You know I always wondered why the Buddha suggested that human presence had arisen and ended previously and would do so again. I guess his ideas were not so unusual after all. I am convinced that there are a lot of people who would view the possibility of such cataclysmic events as being good reason to acquire as much for oneself as one can. I have come to suspect that an appreciation of interconnectedness and impermanence is not necessarily sufficient to turn a heart toward caring and kindness, which may be one reason why so much of the Buddha's teaching begins with and is rooted in sila or virtuous conduct. Ever the pragmatist, the Buddha linked it to one's wellbeing by pointing out that it leads to the bliss of blamelessness without which spiritual progress would be impossible. Thanks for sharing.
  17. Leanne, your question is really a good one. I think your workbook was only talking about attending to the conditions that sustain your life. There are minimal baseline requisites or nutriments for sustaining life that we naturally seek and concern ourselves about. Perhaps the suffering suggested by the workbook is that a healthy and nourished state is not permanent; it continually is changed by internal metabolizing and other conditions, internal and external. This can be a cause for anxiety or even alarm. We might think, "It shouldn't be this way," or some other thought that portrays "me" as something separate from the continual flow of natural conditions who deserves better treatment. Right there we are well down the road to greater suffering because of an unrealistic view that pits our "self" as a separate and enduring entity against the way things are. So, getting that you still say, "What if the existing conditions aren't good?" The teachings are not that you should submit to the flow of existing conditions in a submissive way, but that you apply skillful effort to change them or affect them where such effort can be fruitful, from the perspective of alleviating suffering of yourself and others. This sort of discernment does not come so easily but the Buddha sets out a path toward cultivating it. I think the benchmark for skillfulness laid out by the Buddha is brilliant because it is flexible and dependent on presenting conditions and circumstances as opposed to being absolute edicts about how one should and should not act. This is another way conditionality appears. It is a constant theme in the Buddha's teachings. Even the most sublime states of peace and tranquility are taught to be impermanent and subject to the flow of conditions. If it were otherwise there would be no joy! There only would be one monotonous tone of experience for a lifetime. Does that go to your question?
  18. Hi, Jeff. I'm pretty much with you. I don't give mindfulness such a major billing as you do, believing it is only one component of a Path. Moreover, as you said, the term "mindfulness" has been appropriated and distorted in recent times. In the ancient teachings mindfulness arose from wise attention and was cultivated in combination with other Path factors along a spectrum culminating in a power and an awakening factor (mindfulness is the first of seven). Moreover, it was mentioned as working in tandem with sampajanna or clear comprehension. All of these contribute to liberating insight. At least that is how I understand the Pali Canon which more or less is the map to which I refer frequently. I especially agree with you about the misplaced value placed on individuality and I basically believe powerful sociopathic "individuals" exploited extreme shaming and punishments to impose such value on societies. Enough learned helplessness and forced cravenness can generate a lot of followers who wouldn't recognize freedom if it opened wide in front of them.
  19. I am becoming a fount (I should have said "font") of malapropisms. I had at least 2 in my last post: "immanent" in place of "imminent," but best of all was "spiritualism" in place of "spirituality." The interesting thing about that last one is that in the 19th Century seances were very popular social activities as were Ouija boards when I was a kid. It is though many of us long for greater connection--to others and to something larger and more mysterious than ourselves--and we are willing to invest credulity in pseudoscience or the supernatural to fulfill that longing. Since Gillian introduced the Rick Hanson video into this thread, I want to draw attention to his recent book NeuroDharma that relates Rick's understanding of no-self, from his perspective both as a neuroscientist and as a practitioner of formal Buddhist methods, in chapter 8. The book is the topic of a bookclub on this website, but no one as of yet has really commented on this chapter. In my experience, nothing is harder to discuss with people than this topic even among people who are purported followers of Buddhist teachings in which anatta, variously translated as non-self, not-self, or no-self, is a major tenet. Moving from egocentrism to what Rick terms "allocentrism," goes to the heart of what I think Jeff has been saying. What I have observed is that people interpret this concept in accordance with other broader metaphysical beliefs, which are so varied among people and usually held with such moral conviction that it is hard to have a discussion about this topic. So, I offer Rick's book as at least one vehicle for arousing curiosity in it, investigating it, and maybe loosening a little our unquestioned clinging to our own beliefs. It is hard to get along with others in such a multi-cultural world that technology has made smaller and more accessible if we have to be right but have not sufficiently examined the basis for our beliefs.
  20. Wow, I have to acknowledge that when I read a couple of Gillian's foregoing entries the first word that entered my mind was "privilege." That said, I think Gillian does a fabulous job of supporting and inspiring participants in this forum. This is not to say I am critical of Jeff, because I don't think he means any disrespect. I very strongly believe it is immensely important to speak truth to power and/or complacency, not just to speak truth but to be present for and supportive of people struggling with it. Jeff can correct me if I am wrong, but his message did not strike me as a condemnation of people in this forum but as a clarion call to attend to immanent and extreme dangers. Unfortunately, the ordinary tendency of people facing overwhelmingly frightening dangers seems to be some form of avoidance and denial. To the extent Jeff is suggesting the leaders of spiritual movements, particularly here in the west, seem to be engaged in some sort of spiritual by-pass I voice my agreement. I don't think that is a projection even though I acknowledge the same tendency in myself. Bourgeois Spiritualism! Well, I really enjoyed reading the discussion, laughingly announcing to myself, "Welcome to the Smackdown featuring Bourgeois Spirituality vs. The Bodhisattva Ideal!" It is not a prize fight however, it is an important dialectic.
  21. Your experience, Ali, reminds me of a story that goes the rounds in meditation circles. I cannot locate where I have read it, but it involves a very bright and confident man who learns about meditation in whatever spiritual tradition and becomes convinced there is something very valuable to be attained through meditation. So, he starts going to meditation sessions at a monastery. After a couple sessions he asks the master, "If I keep coming and meditating regularly, how long do you think it will take me to become enlightened?" The teacher, perplexed, responds, "I don't know, maybe 10 years?" The student explains, "No, I am a very smart, organized, and disciplined person and can easily master subjects when I put my mind to it...So, if I really apply myself, how long do you think it will take?" Unhesitatingly, the teacher says, "In that case, at least 20 years!" There is no question that energy, dedication, and discipline are important factors in meditation, as are aspirations. How often do we act without any expectations? But, they easily can be overdone. It is not task-oriented learning for sure. Best wishes with your practice.
  22. I am not trying to throw cold water on this conversation, but being the resident skeptic I thought it fitting to note the passing of James Randi, a storied magician who among other things had established a $1 million prize for anyone who could prove paranormal abilities. No one ever could demonstrate any. He is featured in a fabulous film called "An Honest Liar." He also was an atheist. What will happen if mankind comes to develop robots possessing consciousness? Mankind already has created computers that can beat world chess and go champions with programs that allow the machines to "think" moves as opposed to simply executing preprogrammed ones. For more, see: https://thinkml.ai/top-5-ai-achievements-of-2019/ Here is an interesting article that speculates on models for conscious robots. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2002.05652.pdf What I especially like about this article is that it finds parallels with spiritual practices that correspond to Buddhist and Advaita Vedanta ones. Meanwhile, AI is being used to manipulate our behavior in ways and on scales that would make any of the fraudsters that Randi aimed to demystify extremely jealous. This is not to opine that there is not some substrate or dimension of consciousness, but it is to say other possibilities certainly exist. Again, I mean no disrespect by this.
  23. I will not even make such an attempt! As for consciousness being the ability to be aware, I would differ and say that consciousness has the characteristic of being aware of awareness, a reflective quality. There obviously are simpler examples of neural responses to stimuli or chemically mediated responses in plants and inanimate things. But, as far as we know, those things lack awareness of the fact and cannot reflect on them or their qualitative impact. I like thinking about the subconscious or unconscious that might still meet a definition of consciousness except that we are not conscious of them! I prefer a definition of consciousness that deals with what of which we are aware from a phenomalogical perspective. Just me.
  24. Great bows to you both, Gillian and Daniel. I am in retreat now and the teacher, as though privy to this thread, just read this poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46545/eagle-poem
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