Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I got it but lost it

Hey all, I love Justin's God posts & hope we can get some good talk on those. So I'm sorry to 'post over' them with this little thing:

I finally figured something out - endo would be proud.

progress...

9 Comments:

At March 23, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

I's say that 'me' is just a designation that a sub-system of the universe has for 'itself'. The self is only conventionally real, and our true identity is ultimately the universe/reality. If this is so, statements like 'I have freewill' 'I have no freewill' 'My actions are determined' have no meaning beyond a conventional one. If 'my' actions are determined by conditions, then is it those conditions that have the freewill, the power to act? No. Everything is interdependent.

 
At March 23, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

I read the entire post on the original blog about this subject and I would say two things in this regard.
1. Is that the big WOW that happens when thinking about these big questions never does last, in my experience. It only seems to last as long as I keep certain thoughts running through my head.
2. My guru has said many times that there is a point where something in us makes a decision or knows something. And that point is BEFORE or prior to our thought on the subject.

Meaning, possibly, that if we can become more aware of this chain of events, perhaps we can see that a part of us actually IS making a decision.

And this is exactly why intellectually reasoning this stuff out doesnt really provide relief. It is only through a direct experience of seeing that we are not making a choice, or seeing that we do make a choice--which will provide answers.

Not many people I know have actually paid enough attention to come up with the answer for themselves.

Aaron

 
At March 23, 2006, Blogger me said...

"We are conscious automata" - T. H. Huxley, 1910

I read more by this Dr. Wegner who has studied the illusion of free will...

He has been working on the free will question - I like his approach but he appears to leave out natural selection as the obvious causal agent. Agent of what? Of the illusion of free will. Why an illusion? How can an illusion be adaptive?

According to Wegner, and it makes sense to me, the sense of having authorship over your actions engrains the cause & effect event into your memory. OK, why is this adaptive? Well, if you could not REMEMBER your actions and their effects you could not modify your future actions to avoid detrimental effects or increase the chances of beneficial effects.

Of course it is the subconscious that is doing the 'learning'... But it is this sense of free will that makes the whole thing work. Consider the alternative - if we had a malfunctioning sense of free will - one that failed to give us a feeling of authorship over our actions... we would ascribe every action to some other force than ourselves. How could we learn what to do if we thought that we weren't doing anything?!

Thus natural selection has built in this sense of free will to trick us into learning. It is a mechanistic process in full agreement with natural selection....

This was all discussed earlier on the evolution post and I simply could not understand what endo and others were saying. Now I do. I swear it has changed my perspective on everything - but the change is so damn subtle...

What "one" does is a doing of the environment.

gniz - I agree, that is why regular zazen is so precious. It allows one to repeatedly see / feel that all we really are is consciousness riding inside bodies - all temporary and all changing and as justin said, all interdependent (bodies cannot exist without the planet's traits that we require).

 
At March 23, 2006, Blogger Brad said...

Thinking, thinking, thinking...

 
At March 24, 2006, Blogger me said...

Yes it was thought that got me there (on top of only two months of morning zazen & about 1hr/day of zen literature reading). Others have read Dr. Wegner's work on 'free will is an illusion' and understood it intellectually but they didn't feel their world had been turned upside down. I understood it too, sort of, but big deal? Just ideas... all fantasy...

But then I FELT it was true. I stopped walking, stunned, overcome by this odd feeling that my consciousness was just another part of everything else - it felt like nothing I've ever felt before. It felt like I had seen the 'man behind the curtain' briefly - A huge piece of the puzzle fell into place. I'm not 'me'... I'm nature itself...

but then the illusion of normal perception slowly returned...

 
At March 24, 2006, Blogger DB said...

Thanks for posting this. I've passed it along to a friend with whom I bat around the occasional "big" idea.

DB

 
At March 25, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

I think you'll be interested in this Me:

It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will. As Samuel Johnson said "All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience is for it." With recent developments in neuroscience and theories of consciousness, theory is even more against it than it was in his time, more than 200 years ago. So I long ago set about systematically changing the experience. I now have no feeling of acting with free will, although the feeling took many years to ebb away.

But what happens? People say I'm lying! They say it's impossible and so I must be deluding myself to preserve my theory. And what can I do or say to challenge them? I have no idea—other than to suggest that other people try the exercise, demanding as it is.

When the feeling is gone, decisions just happen with no sense of anyone making them, but then a new question arises—will the decisions be morally acceptable? Here I have made a great leap of faith (or the memes and genes and world have done so). It seems that when people throw out the illusion of an inner self who acts, as many mystics and Buddhist practitioners have done, they generally do behave in ways that we think of as moral or good. So perhaps giving up free will is not as dangerous as it sounds—but this too I cannot prove.

As for giving up the sense of an inner conscious self altogether—this is very much harder. I just keep on seeming to exist. But though I cannot prove it—I think it is true that I don't.


Susan Blackmore has been practicing zazen for 20 years or so now.

 
At March 26, 2006, Blogger me said...

Justin, Thanks for that Blackmore writing. What book is that from?

 
At March 26, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

It's from 'What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty' quoted here:
http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Chapters/Brockman2005.htm

 

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