Discussing the Emerging Paradigm on the SSE Forum

Closely Related Articles:

The Objective Information Process & Virtual Subjective Experiences Hypothesis: A bottom up reformulation of the virtual reality hypothesis and the philosophical foundations of science without the distortions of naïve realism and all the problems and paradoxes that it entails.
System Science of Virtual Reality: Toward the Unification of Empirical and Subjective Science: A book that describes the core mathematical and conceptual principles that underlie this entire work. Provides a detailed overview of the mathematics of information system theory and a re-derivation of quantum mechanics. Also discusses naïve realism and the hard problem of consciousness.
What is Consciousness? : discusses some of the main rammifications of this paradigm on our understanding of ourselves and the nature of the world that we experience.
Changing How we think for the sake of all: Distilled essence of my input to a conversation on the Global Mindshift forum. It has been arranged and minimally edited to express the emerging vision within that conversation.

This is the distilled essence of my input to a conversation on the forum of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) and by email with SSE members.

9th April 2009

The aspects that are directly relevant to the topic have been distilled and most of the conversational aspects and individual advice have been omitted.

Within the latest SSE newsletter there is an article called "Signs of an Emerging Paradigm Shift", which is about naive realism. The newsletter can be read at: http://www.scientificexploration.org/explorer/explorer_22_3.pdf

The relevance of these issues for SSE is that naive realist assumptions are the foundation of the wall of denial that is maintained by established science. Thus by overcoming these assumptions that wall is falling apart. This has profoundly revolutionary consequences for the whole of civilisation, and SSE is in a prime position to be at the vanguard of the paradigm shift if it chooses to be.

Warning: This discussion explores an alternate paradigm that is radically different from the established paradigm. For many people the established paradigm is intrinsic to the familiar world that they have known most of their lives and within which their ego has found its comfortable and secure niche. So be warned that this subject matter can elicit an unconscious irrational ego defence mechanism within your mind. To keep an open mind one must exercise self-awareness and from this much can also be learnt.

What is Naïve Realism?


See this article!

> Anyone like to define "naive realism" for me ?

Naïve realism can be characterised as the acceptance of the following 5 beliefs:

  1. There exists a world of material objects.

  2. Statements about these objects can be known to be true through sense-experience.

  3. These objects exist not only when they are being perceived but also when they are not perceived. The objects of perception are largely, we might want to say, perception-independent.

  4. These objects are also able to retain properties of the types we perceive them as having, even when they are not being perceived. Their properties are perception-independent.

  5. By means of our senses, we perceive the world directly, and pretty much as it is. In the main, our claims to have knowledge of it are justified.


The wikipedia article provides a good introductory overview:


There is a wealth of information available via a search engine, e.g:








See also:



















Quantum physics provides incontrovertible evidence that naive realism is a false philosophy and a cognitive habit that leads to erroneous perception and interpretation.

Interpretation is often considered to be a conscious act that is performed on conscious experiences, however there is also subconscious interpretation involved in the process that produces the conscious experience. Hypnosis and subliminal suggestion indicate the existence of this subconscious level of interpretation and its power to influence conscious experience.

Thus when a person consciously perceives something, e.g. in their visual field, they call this perception, but it has already be interpreted subconsciously. Naive realism isn't just a consciously held philosophical belief, it is also a subconscious cognitive habit that influences the process by which phenomena emerge as conscious perception.

This means that most of what we have believed to be true is now brought into question. Most of the meanings of words are also brought into question (however the formal definitions of 'exist', 'real' and 'reality' are adequate for now). Most of common sense is brought into question. And many avenues of scientific research that were previously considered unscientific may before long become archetypes of significant scientific achievement.


> Surely the ONLY thing that I KNOW is real is my own mind?

Yes, that is the only reliable starting point because everything else is known via the contents of the mind.

The mind serves as an epistemological instrument. Like in any experiment, we need to understand the instrument before we can trust its output.

However, underlying the prevalence of naive realism is a cognitive habit that has led us to have unthinking, unquestioning trust in the instrument, without actually understanding it. This serves a useful biological purpose but it gets in the way of science of philosophy.

By bringing naive realism to light and questioning it this causes us to bring everything else into question.


> Can you expand (in layman's terms) on these assumptions?

There are many ways of describing this but I will keep it simple.

Signals enter the mind via the senses and flow through the mind, thus creating the experience of objects, events, thoughts, feelings and so on.

Whilst these signals are real, that which they symbolise may or may not be real. However the mind tends to assume that they are real without question. This is naive realism.

For example, if you were to be placed into a futuristic immersive virtual reality environment without knowing this, your mind would still assume that all of the objects and events that it experienced were real external objects and events. But this would not be true. (Expressed in the movie The Matrix)

To take this thought experiment further, if a sentient AI being were to exist (emergent from and embedded within that simulation) then not only are its sense perceptions not fundamentally real but also its thoughts, feelings and sense of a personal self. (Expressed in the movie 13th Floor)

This is what the Buddhists mean by sunnyata, that all phenomena are not fundamentally real - they say that we are like an AI within a VR. They are not the only ones...

There are philosophical realists who believe that the objects of sense perception are real. Whilst there are philosophical idealists who believe that the individual mind is real..

It is possible that these things that they believe to be real are just naive realist interpretations of the contents of consciousness. If this were true then the only thing left that could be real is consciousness itself.

In the VR analogy, what the AI being experiences as its consciousness is the computational process that animates it as well as the whole VR and all 'things' within the VR. It is a unified process operating beyond the VR, which from a virtual perspective could be described as timeless, all-pervading, omnipotent, omniscient, imperceptible, the inner most self of all things, etc.


> Of course, it is another discussion and debate whether advanced

> computers or VR technology of any level can actually achieve even pure

> awareness, consciousness, much less a sense of personal self.

Yes that would be another discussion all together. The VR analogy is just an analogy. It uses familiar ideas to *point* toward unfamiliar ideas. To take the analogy literally would be like looking at someone's finger when they are pointing at something else.

If we interpret 'AI' literally as a human constructed artifact that exhibits sentience then this is entirely unproven. However within the context of the VR *analogy*, the AI represents any information process that exhibits sentience, and there is growing evidence that the quantum level of our universe is an information process, which would mean that we ourselves are information processes that exhibit sentience. There is no incontrovertible evidence but there is a rapidly growing reason to seriously consider the possibility that we are in some sense *analogous* to AI's in a VR. Furthermore this analogy has strong correlations with Vedic / Buddhist psychology, which is based upon deep contemplative observation of the inner workings of the mind. So perhaps the analogy can serve some useful purpose.

Quantum Mechanics and Naïve Realism


Modern science is converging towards a new worldview. In the newsletter article "Signs of an Emerging Paradigm Shift" I gave a few quotes and here are a few more:

"it is not unreasonable to imagine that information sits at the core of physics, just as it sits at the core of a computer." (John Wheeler)

"Zeilinger's conceptual leap is to associate bits with the building blocks of the material world. In quantum mechanics, these building blocks are called elementary systems" (New Scientist, "In the beginning was the bit")

"Let us now return to our ultimate particles and to small organizations of particles as atoms or small molecules. The old idea about them was that their individuality was based on the identity of matter in them...The new idea is that what is permanent in these ultimate particles or small aggregates is their shape and organization. The habit of everyday language deceives us and seems to require, whenever we hear the word shape or form of something, that it must be a material substratum that is required to take on a shape. Scientifically this habit goes back to Aristotle, his causa materialis and causa formalis. But when you come to the ultimate particles constituting matter, there seems to be no point in thinking of them again as consisting of some material. They are as it were, pure shape, nothing but shape; what turns up again and again in successive observations is this shape, not an individual speck of material..." (Erwin Schroedinger)

"Useful as it is under everyday circumstances to say that the world exists 'out there' independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld." (John Wheeler)

"Quantum theory essentially erased the difference between matter and fields, making reality a unit that exhibits the properties of both. This single, unitary stuff gave rise to the fantastically successful algorithm now used by physicists in all calculations involving quantum theory. But nobody knows what this unitary stuff really is. Most quantum physicists, of course, stop short of calling this unitary substance consciousness." (Norman Friedman)

"Quantum theory is a method of representing quantumstuff mathematically: a model of the world executed in symbols." (N. Herbert, Quantum Reality, 41)

"The non-locality which appears to be a basic feature of our world also finds an analogy in the same metaphor of a computer simulation. In terms of cosmology, the scientific question is, "How can two particles separated by half a universe be understood as connected such that they interact as though they were right on top of each other?... In fact, the measured distance between any two pixels (dots) on the monitor's display turns out to be entirely irrelevant, since both are merely the products of calculations carried out in the bowels of the computer as directed by the programming." (Ross Rhodes)

"The concepts of science show strong similarities to the concepts of the mystics... The philosophy of mystical traditions, the perennial philosophy, is the most consistent philosophical background to modern science." (Fritjof Capra)


> Sorry, I don't agree that QP cannot be understood, nor that this is a generally accepted view either.

When I say that up until recently it has been widely believed that quantum physics could not be understood, by 'understood' I am NOT talking about understanding how to use it as a mathematical tool to get answers, but about understanding what it actually says about the world and ourselves. This is what physicists mean when they say that it cannot be understood.

Like you, I also disagree with the statement that "QP cannot be understood" and in recent years more and more physicists are coming to this position as well. In the book "System Science of Virtual Reality" that is mentioned at the end of the article I derive a mathematical formulation of general system theory and massively parallel computational processes and using this I re-derive the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics within a system theoretic context, within which it can be clearly understood.

However for the past 80 years it was generally accepted that QP could not be understood and we should just use it as a mathematical tool without trying to really understand what it means. There is still a majority of physicists who agree with that. There are many quotes from leading physicists who express this position, not just Roger Penrose, for example:

"He has a grad student who is thinking about the meaning of quantum mechanics – he's doomed." (John von Neumann)

The emerging realisations about the role of naive realism is central to the paradigm shift and eventually the majority of physicists, and others, will be able to understand it.


> I am not sure that we need QM to invalidate naive realism in the

> philosophical sense

There are many other compelling arguments against naive realism and no compelling arguments in its favour. However, as has been pointed out in this forum, the words necessary for a purely philosophical proof are not clearly enough defined - hence the hard evidence provided by quantum physics is necessary.


> Only by replacing "naive realism" with alternatives such as

> naive operationalism (classic Copenhagen interpretation of QM) or

> definitions of "realism" that are specialized to physics ("all measured

> values have an actual value before they are measured and independent of

> that measurement") rather than to what would generally be considered

> "realism" in any other context, is there any challenge at all to

> "realism".

QM challenges *naive realism* and related aspects of realism but at the same time it supports other aspects of realism. I'll clarify this...

Firstly the term 'realism' has many different meanings in different contexts, ranging from everyday speech, art and philosophy. It is only certain philosophical meanings that are being challenged.

"The nature and plausibility of realism is one of the most hotly debated issues in contemporary metaphysics, perhaps even the most hotly debated issue in contemporary philosophy. The question of the nature and plausibility of realism arises with respect to a large number of subject matters, including ethics, aesthetics, causation, modality, science, mathematics, semantics, and the everyday world of macroscopic material objects and their properties." (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/realism/)

The aspect being challenged by QM is that of the "everyday world of macroscopic material objects and their properties".

Realism is "in philosophy, the viewpoint which accords to things which are known or perceived an existence or nature which is independent of whether anyone is thinking about or perceiving them." (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/493091/realism)

The aspect of this that is being challenged is the idea "that physical objects exist independently of their being perceived." (http://www.answers.com/topic/realism)

Within the context of physics this form of realism can be expressed as the idea that "all measured values have an actual value before they are measured and independent of that measurement".

The aspect of realism that is challenged by QM is often identified as naive realism, which is a common form of the type of realism identified above, hence it is often said that QM is challenging naive realism.

"Naive realism, also known as direct realism or common sense realism, is a common sense theory of perception... Naive realism claims that the world is pretty much as common sense would have it. All objects are composed of matter, they occupy space, and have properties such as size, shape, texture, smell, taste and colour. These properties are usually perceived correctly. So, when we look at and touch things we see and feel those things directly, and so perceive them as they really are. Objects continue to obey the laws of physics and retain all their properties whether or not there is anyone present to observe them doing so." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_realism)

So QM is not challenging the whole of realism, just certain aspects. It actually supports some aspects, for example:

"Scientific realism claims that we can know about objects beyond what we observe with our bare senses, and this knowledge is what allows us to predict phenomena... This challenges the empiricist claim that quantum objects are simply empirical tools to describe observables... We now know that quantum objects behave differently from everyday objects, and we can make an experimentally supported epistemological claim about the quantum world, a very realist claim." (A Critique of the Empiricist Interpretation of Modern Physics (http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~gholling/home/files/quantumMechanics.pdf))

Thus the realist claim that material objects are real is challenged by QM, but the realist claim that wavefunctions and quantum information processes represent something that is real is supported by QM.

The Stern-Gerlach experiment (amongst others) clearly disproves naive realism and the related aspects of realism. This experiment shows that the measured values do not inhere in the quantum system but are created (and destroyed) via the act of measurement. [Note: this is discussed in detail, with mathematical derivation and discussion, in the ebook http://www.anandavala.info/SystemSimulation.pdf]

To illustrate the results of that experiment in non-technical terms, lets first consider a situation in naive realist terms and then see how quantum systems differ from this. Consider a stack of cards, these cards have a coloured side (red or blue) and a number printed on the other side (either 0 or 1). From a naive realist perspective each card must be either a red-0, red-1, blue-0 or blue-1 and each card retains these properties whether or not anyone is looking at them.

Now lets sort these cards based upon their properties, say we look only at their colours and sort them into two stacks, one containing only red cards and the other containing only blue cards. Now lets pick one of these stacks, say the stack of red cards.

Now we look only at their numbers and sort them into two stacks, one containing only 0 cards and the other containing only 1 cards. Now lets pick one of these stacks, say the stack of 1 cards.

If the principles of naive realism apply then this final stack contains only red-1 cards, so we can sort this stack according to colour and 100% of the cards will be red.

However the Stern-Gerlach experiment proves that this is not the case for quantum systems. We find that the final stack contains both red and blue cards in equal measure. Furthermore, if we were to pick one of these stacks and sort it by number we would find that it contains both 0's and 1's in equal measure.

This phenomenon relates to complementarity and the uncertainty principle. There is simply not enough information within the quantum system to simultaneously define all observables. The possibility that there may be hidden variables was considered but Bell's theorem disproved this.

Hence there is an abstract quantum state, which can produce different observables when interrogated in different ways. As we gain certainty about one property the complementary property becomes entirely uncertain. Hence it is not the case that "all measured values have an actual value before they are measured and independent of that measurement".

These sorts of experiments underlie statements by quantum physicists, such as:

"We have no satisfactory reason for ascribing objective existence to physical quantities as distinguished from the numbers obtained when we make the measurements which we correlate with them. There is no real reason for supposing that a particle has at every moment a definite, but unknown, position which may be revealed by a measurement of the right kind... On the contrary, we get into a maze of contradiction as soon as we inject into quantum mechanics such concepts as carried over from the language and philosophy of our ancestors... It would be more exact if we spoke of 'making measurements' of this, that, or the other type instead of saying that we measure this, that, or the other 'physical quantity'." (E. C. Kemble)

" "[W]e have to give up the idea of realism to a far greater extent than most physicists believe today." (Anton Zeilinger)... By realism, he means the idea that objects have specific features and properties - that a ball is red, that a book contains the works of Shakespeare, or that an electron has a particular spin... it may make no sense to think of them as having well defined characteristics." (P. Ball)

"Quantum mechanics is increasingly applied to larger and larger objects. Even a one-ton bar proposed to detect gravity waves must be analysed quantum mechanically. In cosmology, a wavefunction for the whole universe is written to study the Big Bang. It gets harder today to nonchalantly accept the realm in which the quantum rules apply as somehow not being physically real... Quantum mechanics forces us to abandon naive realism." (B. Rosenblum and F. Kuttner)

Since it has been proven that measured values do NOT have an actual value before they are measured, this then has implications on the issue of whether physical objects exist independently of their being perceived. We can only perceive them via their properties, hence if the properties have no independent existence, to what extent can it be said that the objects do?

One of the fundamental properties of a physical object is its position in space and its state of motion, however these are complementary, thus it is impossible for a quantum system to have both a well defined position and state of motion at the same time. The more we increase our certainty of one property the more we decrease our certainty of the other property.

It is in this sense that I said that QM incontrovertibly proves that naive realism is false.


> Naive realism is the underlying philosophy of several

> interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as Bohmian pilot waves, or

> Cramer's transactional interpretation. Since all interpretations are

> simply different ways of assigning meaning to the same equations, making

> the same predictions, it is automatically impossible to distinguish one

> interpretation from another on the strength of "evidence", i.e.

> observation and experiment.

> [Also] relevant is the so called "many-worlds" interpretation,

> which simply assumes that QM, or more precisely, the

> wave-equation, is not only real, but what reality is.

> Suddenly "naive realism", about that reality, is restored

> -- its just that it requires that the reality that we are

> "naive" about is much odder than we are used to thinking

All valid QM interpretations are incompatible with naive realism.

The transactional interpretation proposes that wavefunctions move both forward and backward in time to produce atemporal standing waves, which is certainly not a naive realist concept. The many worlds interpretation proposes interacting parallel universes, which is also not a naive realist concept.

The Bohmian interpretation is at least partly naive realist because it claims that every particle has a definite position and momentum at all times. However this is based on the assumption of hidden variables, which have been disproven by Bell's Theorem.

Anyone who understands and accepts the premises of QM is not a naive realist in their intellectual thinking. However the majority of people on this planet are still naive realist in their intellectual thinking and virtually everyone is in their subconscious minds. Only certain yogis, mystics and so on have done the inner work to fully overcome naive realism.

Thus the majority of discussions and theories are either wholly or mostly naive realist. Now that QM has clearly disproven naive realism -- over time this will gradually influence our perceptions, interpretations, discussions, theories, decisions and actions in countless subtle ways. It is in this new climate that much of the work done at SSE will be eventually be able to be clearly understood.

Clarifying what is 'real'


The issue of naive realism and its implications is extremely subtle and there are some common confusions due to different uses of key words, thus it would be good to clarify things in more detail.

> What's the difference between

> being "fundamentally real" and simply being real, full stop?

There is no difference, it is just that the term 'real' is often used very loosely to refer to people's experience of the world or their idea of what is real. Hence to make it clear that one is talking about that which *actually* exists, regardless of how anyone may perceive it or think about it, the term "fundamentally real" is used. Having clarified this I will use the term 'real' here in its strict sense of that which actually exists.

To be absolutely clear about the meanings of words that I use here are some definitions:

Definition of exist: To have actual being.

Definition of real: Actually existing or happening; not merely seeming, pretended, imagined, fictitious, nominal, or ostensible.

Definition of reality: The quality or fact of being real. Something that is real.


I will clarify my reason for giving these definitions. The word 'real' is central to the discussion and its commonly understood meaning is neutral and general enough to be used in this type of discussion. It is an 'excluder' predicate, which means that it doesn't attribute anything positive but simply excludes something from being imaginary, fictional, and so on. (if people wish to argue about this then first do the research)

However there are colloquial uses of the term 'real' (and the associated term 'reality') that were causing confusion in the discussion. Hence I defined what I meant by the term 'real' in order to indicate that I was using the standard dictionary and philosophical definition and not the colloquial definition, which is contradictory to the standard definition.

The only reason for defining the word 'exist' was because the definition of 'real' often (but not always) includes the word 'exist'. The common understanding of the word 'exist' is entirely adequate for this discussion and is commonly used in philosophical discussions on this and related subjects. For example, from the realism article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"There are two general aspects to realism... First, there is a claim about existence... The second aspect of realism... concerns independence." (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/realism/)


Some examples of the colloquial use are:

> to exist is to exist within the context of a mind.

> The real is never beyond the framework of a cultural consciousness. What is

> real is what our cultural conventions tell us is real.

> As for reality, this is always constructed by our mind, hence, different

> minds have different realities.

These are correct within the context of the colloquial definitions.

Whilst I am using *only* the standard dictionary and philosophical definitions. This must be clear to avoid misunderstanding.

In the colloquial definitions, whatever *seems* real to our senses or whatever we *think* is real, is what we call reality. However in the dictionary and philosophical sense the terms describe *beingness*, which does not imply that anything in particular exists or that we know what exists or that what exists is even perceptible or knowable from our vantage point. It simply refers to beingness - full stop.

The colloquial definitions are naive realist and the dictionary and philosophical definitions are neutral.

In the dictionary and philosophical sense of having *actual* being (not just perceived or imagined being), existence and reality can be attributed to different particulars and these attributions may be true or false.

For example, if a society believed that the Earth was flat, they would say that the flat-Earth exists and is real. In the colloquial sense they are correct because it *seems* to be real to them and they *think* it is real. However in the dictionary and philosophical sense, their attribution of beingness to a flat-Earth is erroneous and once they come to know better they would not make that attribution. It is not that the flat-Earth was once real and then the spherical (slightly ellipsoid) Earth becomes real, rather it is the case the the flat-Earth was erroneously thought to be real.

I am *only* using the standard dictionary and philosophical definitions and if the terms are interpreted in a colloquial sense then this will lead to confusion.


> > Definition of real: Actually existing or happening; not merely seeming,

> > pretended, imagined, fictitious, nominal, or ostensible.


> There is a problem here in that this is not only an ostensive definition

> of "real" but a *negative* ostensive definition: it attempts to define

> the property of being real by enumerating a bunch of things that lack

> the property.

It doesn't enumerate a series of example entities, it is actually an intensional definition because it gives the necessary and sufficient conditions for belonging to the set of "that which is real". I.e. it must actually exist and not merely seem to exist.

> This is, however, a problem shared by most of our efforts

> to define the "real": since a convincing dream or illusion *seems* real

> until we come up with a key test that refutes it, we can never be

> completely certain that seemingly better-established experiences won't

> prove to be somehow "unreal" if we devise a more appropriate test.

Yes it is very difficult to define whether any particular 'thing' belongs to the set of "that which is real" but there is no difficulty in defining the set itself based upon its necessary and sufficient conditions.

As an example of the difficulty in assigning something to that set. Lets put aside obvious illusions, dreams and hallucinations, and consider the common perception of a physical object such as a red ball. Whilst there is something real that is the experiential process and something real that has stimulated that process, the "red ball as a physical object" is a naive realist interpretation of the contents of the experiential process and is not necessarily real. For instance, the situation could also be interpreted as a quantum information processes interacting with a quantum state. There is flow of information and processing of information, these are real, but is there a real material object?


Which words / concepts have stable meanings and which will change due to the paradigm shift? How to distinguish these?

Definitions and Meaning

Firstly, it was argued that:

> Defining something in terms of other closely related and
> undefined terms may tell us something about the relations
> between those terms, but does not actually define them.

It is an interesting question to consider: What does it take to “actually define them”? What is it that causes us to accept that a meaning has been *actually defined* and not just in a circular manner?

The experienced meaning of a word is the result of a complex series of personal memory associations. It can be described as the perception of a symbol that triggers concepts, which trigger further concepts, which settle into a cognitive state that is the experience of the meaning of the word. This general process applies to more than just words.

The experience of meaning is analogous to a resonant state of a conceptual network, within which there are groups of interdependent concepts that can be pictured as sub-networks.

To seem well defined a concept must be grounded in some conceptual foundation that is accepted as representing reality (an ontology). It is often the case that the ontology is a naïve realist interpretation of everyday experience, however there are other ontologies that can serve as a non naïve realist conceptual foundation.

Stable and Unstable Meanings

There are some words / concepts that directly or indirectly derive their meaning from the everyday experience of being in the world. Words such as {me, you, society, past, future, chair, food, organism, mind, body, matter, space, time, ...}.

These concepts are defined by memory associations that directly or indirectly depend upon sensory or cognitive impressions. These concepts are often considered to be well defined because they connect with the everyday experience of being in the world.

For these it is easy to give an ostensive definition (enumeration of examples to describe a class) but often difficult to give an intensional definition (necessary and sufficient conditions that define a class).

These words often draw their meaning from naïve realist interpretations of sensory and cognitive events and are therefore unstable and will be brought into question and restructured by the paradigm shift.

For instance, the meaning of 'colour' has changed over the years from a property that an object may possess, to a cognitive state often (but not always) occurring in response to visual stimuli.

There are other words / concepts that derive their meaning purely from the network of relations between themselves. For example, the words {number, addition, multiplication, ...} can be completely defined within the context of mathematics. Similarly for the formal definitions of words such as {real, actual, information, process, structure, algorithm, network, wavefunction, ...}.

Although one may have memory associations to particular instances of these concepts, these associations are not necessary to define the concepts. These concepts are often considered to be circularly defined and abstract because they don't connect with the everyday experience of being in the world.

For these it is easy to give an intensional definition but often difficult to give an ostensive definition.

These words ultimately draw their meaning from their relations with each other and have no dependence on naïve realist interpretations of sensory and cognitive events. They are therefore stable and may become understood on deeper and deeper levels as the paradigm shift unfolds.

For instance, the meaning of 'probability' has changed from something related to chance events to something related to information, wavefunctions and quantum dynamics.


If a concept connects with everyday experience it seems 'grounded' and meaningful, whilst if a concept doesn't connect with everyday experience it seems 'abstract'.

However, the everyday experience of being in the world is a naïve realist interpretation of sensory and cognitive events, which the emerging paradigm brings into question. Thus the everyday experience of being in the world may not be the reliable 'ground' that it seems to be and other ontologies may be found that are more reliable.

As we come to a much deeper understanding the meanings of words, those that are currently considered to be *actually defined* (grounded in everyday experience) may radically change, whilst those that are currently considered to be circular in definition (grounded in an abstract ontology) may remain essentially unchanged.

Only the stable concepts and words are reliable conceptual tools that can be used throughout the paradigm shift. The unstable concepts and words are still useful but their meanings will change over time.

Virtual Reality Analogy


> What other kinds of reality are there?

There is virtual reality, which is an experiential context in which one can perceive objects, places, events and so on that in a naive realist sense *seem* to be real but they have no actual being. The underlying information processes are real but the perceived phenomena are not. Thus they are described as being virtually real.

The use of analogies such as this is not new. For example, in Vedic tradition the analogy of a rope confused as a snake has been common for thousands of years. In more recent times Sri Ramana Maharshi used movie theatre analogies and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj used movie theatre and television analogies. VR is just a more modern variation. The common theme is that what we perceive is not the actual reality. Underlying the world of appearances there is a deeper level of reality. This is one of many points where quantum physics is converging with Vedic philosophy.

> > For example, if you were to be placed into a futuristic immersive

> > virtual reality environment without knowing this, your mind would still

> > assume that all of the objects and events that it experienced were real

> > external objects and events. But this would not be true. (Expressed in

> > the movie The Matrix)

> >

> > To take this thought experiment further, if a sentient AI being were to

> > exist (emergent from and embedded within that simulation) then not only

> > are its sense perceptions not fundamentally real but also its thoughts,

> > feelings and sense of a personal self. (Expressed in the movie 13th Floor)


> I'm sorry, but this last assertion is a category mistake.


> Descartes' "Cogito" applies here, with full force. The sense of a

> personal self *cannot* be a delusion, because in the absence of any

> personal self, no one exists to be having any delusions.

Awareness is real but the contents of awareness are interpreted as representing things, which may or may not be real. The sense of a personal self is an impression that is based upon the contents of awareness and may or may not be real. It is a common experience for meditators who still the contents of awareness that the sense of a personal self disappears, whilst awareness itself remains.

> If an AI has a sense of personal self, it is sentient and self-aware in

> the same way that humans are, and its internal thoughts and feelings are

> "real" to exactly the same extent (whatever that may be) that a human's

> thoughts and feelings are "real".

I agree! However the AI being is only virtually real and that is why that thought experiment suggests that perhaps we too are only virtually real.

This would mean that there are universal quantum information processes that animate everything including ourselves. Awareness is that processes as it animates us, similarly the AI being's awareness is the computational process as it animates the AI being.

In the thought experiment the AI being has contents of awareness that lead it to believe that it is a personal self within a world when in actual fact it is an emergent phenomenon, arising from and embedded within an information process. It is the information process that is the only reality, everything else is a virtual reality.

It is possible that this might be the case for ourselves.

> It cannot be dismissed as "only" a simulation.

Nothing is being dismissed, only questioned. If it turned out that simulation was an accurate way to describe the situation, it is not that life and consciousness is being devalued, it is more that simulation is being revalued.


The VR analogy is more than just a useful descriptive tool, it also leads to a non naive-realist mathematical science.

Over the past few centuries the perceptual analogy of objects in space and time has led to particle physics and other mathematical sciences, which have explored that analogy to its limit, whereon quantum effects begin to dominate. Similarly, the VR analogy can lead to a mathematical science that can help us explore even deeper limits.

A start has already been made, with the development of a mathematical model of a general system simulator, which is also a model of general massively parallel computation. This model has been used to re-derive the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics and it has been implemented in software to simulate general systems. It has potentially revolutionary applications in science and IT.

The mathematical model of systemic VR is entirely compatible with everything that I have discussed so far in this conversation and much more. It is compatible with empirical science, with Vedic / Buddhist philosophy and with everyday experience as a conscious being in a world. Thus it provides a context in which to unify empirical science, spirituality and consciousness.

For a comprehensive introduction to the mathematics of the VR analogy see “System Science of Virtual Reality”


The key issues discussed in it are:

  • Derivation of the core mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics within a system theoretic context.

  • A potential resolution of "the hard problem" of consciousness, the nature of conscious subjective experience.

  • A mathematical model of general systems and massively parallel computational processes.

  • Simulation and virtual reality as a model of existential contexts (universes).

  • The epistemological ramifications of naive realism.

An excerpt from the preface describes part one:

"The fundamental principles of simulation and their correspondence to linear algebraic methods are examined. An initial system modelling methodology is described, which is then gradually refined into a more advanced form. This refinement process naturally results in the derivation of the core mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, thereby situating quantum mechanics within a computational / system theoretic context. By following this process the reader may develop a deeper understanding of both general system modelling and quantum mechanics. The process of simulation intrinsically implies the concept of a virtual reality where the observer is both emergent from and embedded within the information process. It also highlights the ramifications of naive realism. The subject of consciousness, in particular subjective experience, is then discussed from the perspective of the systems paradigm and neutral monism, which leads to a compelling resolution of the hard problem of consciousness."

BTW: if anyone is interested in providing peer-review it would be much appreciated.

Parallel Analogies and Deep Enquiry

> I gave a talk... "Machinelike Models For Multidimensional Consciousness"...

> a response to "nuts and bolts" dogmatism of various "ufo investigators"

> of the time... might put the essay into booklet form as it is easier than

> repeating again and again the same discussion as we now seem to be having

> on the SSE list...

Yes, this discussion is trapped within the same old loop as almost all discussions. The trap is naive realism and a major symptom of this is that people keep using and interpreting words as if they can *literally* speak about reality. This keeps us trapped in a naive realist loop.

Rather than cling to words and stories and argue about which ones literally describe reality, we could use symbols like a fire uses wood. None of them are literal truth, a word describes an idea or an experience, which is a reflection of reality. Reality itself is not an idea and it is not an object of experience.

Anyone who thinks that I am proposing a particular model (saying reality *is* such-and-such) has not understood what I have said. I have been speaking using many parallel analogies, ranging from Brahman/Maya, dreamer/dream, simulator/VR, quantum field/classical universe, rope/snake, movie theatre or book/story world. I have my preferred analogies but I use many different analogies in different contexts. None of them are literally true but if contemplated they do point in the direction of truth.

Some models seem mechanical, some personal, some organic and some supernatural but all models are just analogical signposts, and the reality that they point to is beyond all the models. What I am saying is that we should use many models as different analogies, and we should understand the parallels between the different models.

In each model there are particulars that are just embellishments to make the model comprehensible and there is a pattern, or structure of relations and interactions between these particulars. The particulars are part of the finger that points and the pattern encoded within them is an illustration of the view that can be seen if one looks where the finger is pointing.

There is a large class of analogies about the nature of reality that all point toward the same truth, but their particular embellishments vary enormously in different times and places, according to culture and the state of mind and level of consciousness of the individuals and the society as a whole.

These analogies provide different views of the same fundamental truth and a lot can be learnt by studying the parallels between them.

> practice of Thanta Yoga, or conveying knowledge by

> example rather than extended philosophical discussion.

Teaching by example is certainly more effective than most intellectual discussions but not all. If the intellect just chews the words and verbally spits them out then no nourishment can be attained from them, which happens when the personality responds with ego-defense mechanisms that protect its cherished assumptions and prejudices whilst maintaining a self deception that these assumptions and prejudices are self evidently true.

However if the whole mind takes the ideas in and contemplates them deeply then they can have a transformative effect. In this capacity philosophical discussion is a vital part of gnana yoga (Yoga of Supreme Knowledge), pronounced "gyan".

Gnana yoga involves holistic self-enquiry and deep contemplation, that strips away all that is not the self and delves down to the foundation of the mind/world complex, then restructures everything from the root (pure awareness) to the tips (everyday life).

A few quotes about gnana yoga...

"The main purpose of jnana meditation is to withdraw the mind and emotions from perceiving life and oneself in a deluded way so that one may behold and live in attunement with Reality, or Spirit." (http://www.yogaworld.org/jnana.htm)

"The seeker is he who is in search of himself. Give up all questions except one: "Who am I?" After all, the only fact that you are sure of is that you are. The "I am" is certain. The "I am this" is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality. To know what you are, you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not - body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that, nothing concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only [not this, not that], the quicker you will come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being." (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I am That)

Gnana yoga "advocates that the real, experiential knowledge of the Brahman/Atman identity is sufficient to get enlightened, and that as far as spiritual seekers are ready to sacrifice everything to obtain this supreme wisdom, they need neither rituals nor meditation as spiritual exercise."  (http://www.creativity.co.uk/creativity/guhen/shankara.htm)

"the Jiva or the empirical self becomes one with Brahman when it gets knowledge of Brahman. When knowledge dawns in it through annihilation of Avidya [ignorance], it is freed from its individuality and finitude and realises its essential Satchidananda nature [existence-consciousness-bliss, the 'essence' of Brahman, the 'nature' of reality]. It merges itself in the ocean of bliss. The river of life joins the ocean of existence." (http://www.shankaracharya.org/advaita_philosophy.php)

To conduct gnana enquiry, one avoids getting bogged down in literal interpretations and word games and applies more attention to exploratory understanding than to defense of established beliefs.

It is important to put new ideas to the test using arguments based upon the perspective of the established paradigm, but it is also important to explore the ideas with an open-mind and 'see' the emerging paradigm from its own perspective. One can look through that perspective to experience the world anew and see if it is self-consistent and meaningful.


> I would ask whether the realisation your 'awareness meditation' yields is

> itself an artefact of your intellectual sophistication.

No it is not. Just as one's ability to taste wine and know the flavours is not dependent on one's knowledge of winetasting or winemaking. However one's ability to express one's knowing depends on what conceptual languages that one can use to express things. Many have expressed the same knowing using poetry, art, healing and so on.

> In other words, if

> someone unschooled/uninterested in such philosophical issues were to follow

> the same meditation procedures, could we expect them to 'realise'

> equivalent philosophical subtleties?

Yes. An example of this is Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, who was a simple shop keeper with no formal education. Late in life he briefly met a guru who told him that he was the limitless being and to never forget that. He was simple and he trusted the guru completely and over three years his perspective changed from that of a being in a world to that of the mind of God (pure awareness).

He had penetrating insight and deep understanding. His way of saying things was simple but profound.

The intellect is just a part of the surface play of the mind. It affects how things are expressed but the deep knowing is beyond the intellect, personality, imagination or even intuition. These are functions of the mind, but the deep knowing is a reorientation of the whole mind. The root of the mind reorients upon a new ontological foundation, based not on the perspective of naive realist interpretations of experiences, instead based on the perspective of the experiential process that is having the experiences.

Ultimate Ground

> It seems there must be an ultimate frame in which "naive realism" applies.

I think it is necessary that there is some ultimate frame in which *realism* applies, i.e. there is something that actually exists independent of how it is perceived. If there was nothing at all that actually existed then nothing at all could ever exist and we wouldn't be able to discuss these issues.

It seems unlikely to me that there is an ultimate frame in which *naive realism* applies, i.e. some frame in which the mind can perceive things *as they are* and not just as they appear to be within the mind. The mind is, in a sense, like a mirror; all that it perceives is a reflection of the appearances of things and not the actual things themselves. The mind, as an epistemological instrument, has absolute limits.

> Yes, when the mind is understood to be human. We just don't understand,

> and perhaps can never understand, the nature of perception in

> transcendent nonphysical "minds" of supposed spiritual beings. Would

> such minds be inherently limited as you describe? I don't think we

> really know. Nearly or completely unlimited or infinite mind would be

> totally beyond human conception no matter how sophisticated, as would be

> the end in it of the regress to who designed the designer, etc.

This is an interesting line of enquiry!! I hadn't thought of things in this way before. I now see that it could be said that there is a frame in which a limited form of naive realism applies. Not the naive realism of perceiving oneself to be a being in a world that exists just as it seems to. It involves only the aspect of direct awareness, where that which is known is not just an impression but the thing itself.

We know about the nature of information processes between entities in a world. If we capture information emanating from a system (e.g. visible light) and transmit that information (e.g. through a lens), then process it in some way to recreate a simulacrum (e.g. a photograph), then the resulting simulacrum is related to the original system and has similarities with it, but it is *not* and never can be the original system.

Only if the entire information content of the system is transferred and recreated will there be an identity relation with the original system. This occurs in the case of quantum teleportation. If a being was to perceive in this way, then anything that they perceived would disappear from its original space and reappear within their mind space, having had its quantum state teleported there.

These are absolute limitations on phenomenal perceptual processes due to the nature of information, communication and interpretation.

However the mind of God itself (the simulator) *can* perceive things as they are because from its perspective all things are analogous to information and the entire information content flows *through* the mind of God. There is no *other* so the information is not *about* something that is perceived, it is the total information content itself.

An analogy can elucidate the difference between this mind-of-God perspective and the perspective of a being within a world. Let the mind of God be analogous to the mind of a mathematician and let manifest forms be analogous to mathematical objects that are imagined within the mathematician's mind. The mathematician can imagine a function and some data and know them as they are, as an imaginary function and data. However from the perspective of the function (a manifest form), it can only know the data as a mathematical object which is just its form and not its essence. Its essence is an idea within the mind of the mathematician, which is unknowable to the mathematical function. This is just an analogy but it points at the same kind of relationship between perspectives.

If one is identified with the phenomenal mind and its perspective then there are fundamental limits on what can be known because all knowledge is *about* something else, however in the mind of God the knowledge *is* that which is.

Any perspective that is individual and not the whole is limited in its ability to perceive and know. The limitations are intrinsic to its having individuality. Only the whole itself knows directly.

The pure awareness at the foundation of our minds is the ongoing process of the real. When we are identified there at the source we can know directly. This cannot be understood intellectually, it can only be known directly.

"The ego and vanity in man often stand in the way of his acceptance of the position that super-ordinary consciousness, to which he is a total stranger, can be possible for some members of the species to which he belongs. This frame of mind is often pronounced in scholars who fondly believe that more and more extensive knowledge of the world and its infinitely varied phenomena provided by poring over vast libraries of books, is the only expansion and advancement possible to the human mind. It cannot but be repugnant to a polymath to be told that there is a learning beyond his grasp, that the very nature of the mind can change and can soar to normally super-sensible planes of being, which are inaccessible to the keenest intellect, however well informed and penetrating it might be." (Gopi Krishna from ‘The Wonder Of The Brain')

"When this supercontemplative state is reached, the Yogi acquires pure spiritual realisation through the balanced quiet of the chitta (thinking principle). His perception is now unfailingly exact (or his mind reveals only the truth). This particular perception is unique and reveals that which the rational mind (using testimony, inference and deduction) cannot reveal. It is hostile to, or supersedes all other impressions. When this state of perception is itself also restrained (or superseded) then is pure Samadhi achieved." (Yoga Sutras, Samadhi Pada, 47-51)

> In

> that any information process is a manipulation and changing of configuration of

> some unknown ultimate ground frame or matrix. This ultimate ground matrix must

> exist independent of the information process in order for the information

> process to exist, unless there is a sort of infinite regress involved.

I agree that there must be some underlying 'ground' but it needn't be a phenomenal / physical ground.

Our understanding of information and information processes is changing in certain fields such as quantum physics. The old idea is that computation (information process) is *created* by a computer or some physical phenomenon. The new idea that is emerging is that information processes underlie physical phenomena and are not created by computing devices but merely *harnessed* by them.

This is analogous to energy, which underlies all physical phenomena and is not created by a dynamo, it is merely harnessed by it. If we were to assume that energy was *created* by a dynamo and that physical phenomena were created by energy, then underlying a physical dynamo there must be a deeper dynamo, and so on to infinite regress. But if we accept that energy is in some sense fundamental and is only harnessed by the dynamo then there is no infinite regress.

> This ultimate ground matrix must

> exist independent of the information process

If all phenomena are animated by information processes and all information processes are created by a phenomenal ground then we have an infinite regress. However it is conceivable that there is a ground, but it is non-phenomenal (noumenal in the words of Schopenhauer). A noumenal ground cannot be perceived or known as an object in a world.

If we consider information in its most general sense as “discernible difference” then there must be some field of difference and some discerning process in order for an information process to exist. In a computer these correspond to the memory and the CPU but in general these need not be physical. For instance in quantum physics the field of difference is a quantum state space (related to wavefunctions) and the discerning process is a quantum process (related to dynamical equations such as the Schroedinger eqn).

These are not phenomena within a world that themselves need to be animated by still deeper information processes. They are imperceptible and can only be inferred to exist from the behaviour of the classical observables.

> That

> ultimate ground matrix or infinite set would seem to be ultimately unknowable

> and very vaguely imagined as the mind of God ("The universe begins to look

> more like a great thought than a great machine." Sir James Jeans).

Yes it is ultimately unknowable in the sense that we cannot know it as a “thing in a world” because it doesn't exist in any world, it is the foundation of all worlds. But we can know it to some extent as the foundation of our world. From this perspective it is known as the unified quantum field, the vacuum, the zero point field, the Akashic field, the mind of God, Brahman / Atman (Vedic), Hundun (the uncarved block, Daoist), pure awareness, true Self, etc.

In terms of the VR *analogy*, we might discover the frequency of the computational process which leads to the quantisation of all virtual processes (Planck frequency = 1.8551 × 10^43 iterations per second) and the finite precision of the information space which leads to the quantisation of the virtual space (Planck length = 1.616 252 × 10^35 meters). But we cannot ever perceive the computational process itself as an object because we are virtual forms within the information stream of that process.

In Eastern philosophy they claim that the absolute reality is "beyond all the elements, and all the letters. There is no commerce with It. It brings all distinctions and developments to end; as such it is utterly unavailing. It is only peace, repose and oneness." (Mandukya Upanishad 12)

“Brahman is not an object, as It is Adrisya, beyond the reach of the eyes. Hence the Upanishads declare: “Neti Neti—not this, not this....” This does not mean that Brahman is a negative concept, or a metaphysical abstraction, or a nonentity, or a void. It is not another. It is all-full, infinite, changeless, self-existent, self-delight, self-knowledge and self-bliss. It is Svarupa, essence. It is the essence of the knower.” (http://www.shankaracharya.org/advaita_philosophy.php)

We cannot experience It as an object of perception however it is the essence of the experiential process and of all that is perceived. By analysing the objects of perception we eventually discover quantum information processes and by analysing the deepest levels of the mind we discover pure awareness. Both are ways of comprehending the “ultimate ground matrix”, but neither perspective provides complete knowledge of it as an other.


> I am suspicious of the attempt to invoke scientific advances - themselves

> (sophisticated) products of the mind-mirror account previously suggested by

> John - in an attempt (other than negative - Neti! Neti!) to investigate

> the possibility of such a fundamental ground. Here, I bow to Wittgenstein's

> famous closing remarks in the Tractatus: whereof we cannot speak we must

> pass over in silence. -

True, I agree. Any attempt to say what the ultimate foundation actually *is* is futile. Whatever it is we cannot know it as a separate object in relation to other objects because it is "all that is" and we are an aspect of it. Thus in terms of dualistic concepts we can only know it from within as the ultimate foundation of ourselves and the world. In a non-dual sense we are it and it is us, hence through union and identification we can come to know it but not in a dualistic sense.

In dualistic concepts the best we can do is describe aspects of "that which is" using analogies. We have used analogies of material objects in space and time; people, places and events in a world; as well as quantum information processes operating within an abstract state space. All of these are just analogies and any attempt to take them literally leads to nonsense. They merely describe aspects of "that which is" in terms of ideas that are familiar within our cultural context. Using these analogies we can improve our understanding but we can never know the ultimate foundation in the way that we know worldly facts.

As Wittgenstein proposes:

"The world consists of a totality of interconnected atomic facts, and propositions make "pictures" of the world.

In order for a picture to represent a certain fact it must in some way possess the same logical structure as the fact. The picture is a standard of reality. In this way, linguistic expression can be seen as a form of geometric projection, where language is the changing form of projection but the logical structure of the expression is the unchanging geometric relationships.

We cannot say with language what is common in the structures, rather it must be shown, because any language we use will also rely on this relationship, and so we cannot step out of our language with language."


Likewise we cannot step out of mind with mind, to go beyond mind we must go down to bare awareness.

> That, for Wittgenstein, includes even the claim that

> such a realm/foundation exists.

He certainly didn't believe in any particular doctrine about what existence really *is*. But he believed that something exists, that something was real. He believed there was some ultimate foundation of reality by which statements could be considered to be true or false.

For instance, another one of the central propositions in the Tractatus was:

"Propositions represent the existence and non-existence of states of affairs.

The totality of true propositions is the whole of natural science (or the whole corpus of the natural sciences).

Philosophy is not one of the natural sciences. (The word 'philosophy' must mean something whose place is above or below the natural sciences, not beside them.)

Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity. A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations. Philosophy does not result in 'philosophical propositions', but rather in the clarification of propositions. Without philosophy thoughts are, as it were, cloudy and indistinct: its task is to make them clear and to give them sharp boundaries.

Philosophy sets limits to the much disputed sphere of natural science.

It must set limits to what can be thought; and, in doing so, to what cannot be thought. It must set limits to what cannot be thought by working outwards through what can be thought.

It will signify what cannot be said, by presenting clearly what can be said."


Hence it is useful to speak about matter, people, places, events, mind, awareness, information, systems, quantum phenomena and so on. None of these terms truly define anything, they are just linguistic symbols by which we clarify thoughts. This is a useful thing to do but like all 'virtual' phenomena it is limited and cannot completely know the ultimate.

Virtual Awareness and Computation


> > The mind is the only reliable starting point because everything else is known via the contents of the mind.

> No. The contents of the mind are not that OF which we are aware. They are that BY which we are aware.

I agree that the contents of the mind "are that BY which we are aware" hence I said "everything else is known VIA the contents of the mind."

Regarding your other point "The contents of the mind are not that OF which we are aware", this is true from the perspective of the personality, it can only be aware VIA/BY the contents and not OF the contents. However there are deeper levels of awareness, which can be aware of both the contents and that which they represent.

Consider the analogy of watching a movie, one can be aware of the patterns of light on the screen (contents of the mind) or one can watch the story and see objects, people, places and events (that which the contents of the mind represent).

Watching the story is the everyday state of mind and a life long habit for most people. Thus they experience themselves as the lead character in the story. However meditation and other subjective practices can help one to look at the screen rather than the story and realise that one is not the lead character in the movie, one is the watcher of the movie.

In this movie analogy the movie world is the "outside world", the lead character is the personality and pure awareness is the watcher.


> whatever the concerns about naive realism, meditation is

> vulnerable to the parallel criticism of 'naive introspectionism':

Yes, that often happens with immature or unguided meditators. They treat their visions and states of mind as if they were real. As the meditations progress and one delves beneath the layers of the mind this surface play may still continue but the stream of awareness is not beguiled by it. In this sense a meditative state is the state of having gone beyond both outer an inner naive realism.

> naive introspectionism': that the

> procedure yields fundamental insights about reality.

The insights don't come via the objects of awareness, either perceptual or visionary or conceptual. Hence in this sense the insights are not a naive realist interpretation of the content of consciousness. Instead they come from being the stream of awareness, which may or may not contain contents, the contents are not important, the insights arise from the identification as the stream of awareness rather than as a personality with a mind and a body. Only later are these insight expressed in dualistic terms using concepts and words. The words are just analogies but the insight is beyond words, it is a state of being.

> There can be no

> independent means of establishing that pure awareness is the deepest level of the

> mind - it's just another experience.

Anyone can independently establish it for themselves, but there is no way to establish it within another. We cannot even prove our own sentience to each let alone detect the sentience of another, and this is with the easily accessible surface play of the mind. It is not at all surprising that if you want to establish whether pure awareness is the deepest level of the mind you will have to find out for yourself.

You'll know it when you have gone beyond entanglement in the stream of experience and you are the stream itself. It is not an experience, experiences are the content of the stream of awareness. It is unmistakably different from an experience.


> As I understand the terms, the *existence* of a personal self is

> required for something to be the kind of thing that can have awareness

> or experiences.

This all depends on what you mean by the word 'awareness'. If you mean personal awareness, such as being aware that you are sitting in front of a computer, then a personal self is required for that. But in the sense in which I used the word it means pure awareness - simple, unmodified and uninterpreted awareness. This corresponds to chitti in Vedic terminology.

In the VR analogy awareness is equivalent to the stream of computation that animates a virtual form and by which information flows from one form to another and produces effects. Consider the case of an AI in a VR, it has an AI mind (a complex, structured network of semantic feedback loops) and can interpret information through the ontological paradigm of itself as a "being in a world", this is personal awareness. Or it can disable or override this cognitive processing and still be animated by the computational process, in which case there is no personal self (or world-experience) but there is awareness.

It is in this sense that Eastern philosophy claims that meditation can put you in touch with your true self and with the essence of reality. According to that philosophy, in terms of the VR analogy, meditation helps one overcome the persistent illusion of the personal self so that one can realise that one's true self is the computational process that animates everything.

For example, Mahamudra, a Buddhist "meditation to develop mental quiescence (samatha) and penetrative insight (vipasyana). The former is the achievement of single-minded concentration in which you reach the mind's basic or natural level of blissful, clear, bare awareness, free from mental dullness, agitation and wandering. Penetrative insight is into Voidness or the true, transparent-like nature of reality in terms of this pure, mirror-like mind. With the joint achievement of both, you eliminate the darkness of ignorance that had been obscuring your realisation of what had been the case all along. By familiarising yourself with your innate, pure, pristine awareness of reality, coupled with an Enlightened Motive, you eventually become a totally awakened being, a Buddha with the full ability to help others." (Alexander Berzin)

> > It is a common experience for

> > meditators who still the contents of awareness that the sense of a

> > personal self disappears, whilst awareness itself remains.


> It is widely although not universally accepted from animal studies that

> a great many creatures have awareness without including a mental model

> of themselves among the contents of their awareness. The fact that a

> meditator can temporarily suppress reflexive self-perception does not

> alter the fact that the self must in fact still be there for the

> meditator to have awareness of anything at all.

In what way is the personal self different from a mental model of oneself? Without the mental model, through which experiences are interpreted, there is only direct experience, without any sense of a personal self.

In the VR analogy, when the computational process animates the VR there are many streams of computation that animate everything from particles to galaxies, but without a mental model of themselves these virtual systems have no sense of a personal self. It is only the systems with complex minds (the AI's) that have the capacity to experience themselves as a personal self. Hence in the VR analogy the sense of self is not fundamental, it is an artefact of interpretation within a complex mind.

Likewise in Eastern philosophy, the Jiva is the interpreted sense of a personal self, which is a part of the virtual reality. Atman is the individual stream of computation that animates a virtual form - but the streams are not fundamentally separate, they are the activity of the single computational process as it animates the VR.

> If it is possible for an algorithmic simulation to be self-aware then it

> does indeed also follow that it is possible we ourselves are algorithmic

> simulations; this is the required underpinning of the "simulation

> argument" of Bostrom and others

> (http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html).

Yes, this possibility is being rigorously explored from many angles, especially from the perspective of quantum physics where the fundamental entities are nothing but information and information processes. If anyone wants an introductory overview of this perspective see:



> Of course, if we

> and our world are simply a huge VR simulation being run by somebody else

> for their own purposes, then most Hindu aphorisms about the nature of

> reality and the veil of illusion change from baffling mysticism to

> quotidian statements of fact.

Yes, that would be a radical paradigm shift for the modern world wouldn't it. But we shouldn't take the VR analogy too literally and assume that there is some other physical universe that contains a physical computer upon which our simulation is running. The understanding expressed by Eastern philosophy and emerging from modern science is that computation (in the most general sense of a "coherent information process") is the fundamental essence of reality and it is not created by a physical computer, instead it is what animates all interactions, perceptions and phenomena. These only seem 'physical' or 'tangible' because we are all emergent from and embedded within the same information space. This suggests that the unified quantum field is a vast information process that gives rise to observables, which due to naive realism, have been misinterpreted as external material objects, people, places and events.


> I find this discussion fascinating, but at the same time it seems

> irrelevant to me as my personality. Direct experience, the state

> supposedly achieved by advanced meditators and yogis, would seem to be

> alien to me as this person - whatever it is it is not "me".

I agree. According to Eastern psychology the personality is a part of the surface play of the mind and the deeper levels are radically different from anything that the personality has ever experienced or could comprehend. It can be explained intellectually but these explanations would seem abstract and remote until one experiences the deep levels of ones mind for oneself.

> Of course, the discussion is still intellectually rewarding.

In that case, below is some more food for thought in the form of a quote about *awareness* and *consciousness* from the perspective of Vedic psychology. Firstly, in this quote the term *awareness* is used the same as myself (pure awareness -- analogous to the stream of computation that animates a virtual form) however *consciousness* is equivalent to what I have referred to as personal awareness, which is to most people their everyday state of mind.

"Awareness is primordial; it is the original state, begininningless, endless, uncaused, unsupported, without parts, without change. Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality. There can be no consciousness without awareness, but there can be awareness without consciousness, as in deep sleep. Awareness is absolute, consciousness is relative to its content; consciousness is always of something. Consciousness is partial and changeful, awareness is total, changeless, calm and silent. And it is the common matrix of every experience.

Since it is awareness that makes consciousness possible, there is awareness in every state of consciousness. Therefore, the very consciousness of being conscious is already a movement in awareness. Interest in your stream of consciousness takes you to awareness. It is not a new state. It is at once recognised as the original, basic existence, which is life itself, and also love and joy." (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I am That, p27)

> it

> would seem that for such a state to be humanly meaningful, there would

> need to be intention and action to change something, other than pure

> passive awareness. Intentionality seems to imply a personal self doing

> the intending and acting. So without intention and action, this state of

> consciousness is not meaningful to me. Survival in this form is not

> humanly meaningful survival, which is survival of the self.

Yes there does need to be intention and action and I agree that "Intentionality seems to imply a personal self doing the intending and acting" but this may not necessarily be true.

From a Western perspective the 'self' is the personality, however from an Eastern perspective there are two types of 'self'. The Jiva is the personality-self and Atman is what they refer to as the true-self, the pure awareness that is the foundation of the mind.

The mainstream Eastern conclusion regarding "who or what is the doer" is well expressed by the Buddha "events happen, deeds are done, but there is no individual doer of any deed".

This sounds perplexing from a Western perspective, but the VR analogy can shed light on this (keeping in mind that it is just an analogy that provides a way for the rational mind to approach these issues). Consider the case of sentient information processes (AI's) within a universal information process (VR). Whilst through their sensory channels they may perceive a world of separate objects, the situation is actually a unified whole, animated by a single information process (a unified quantum field).

In this AI/VR situation the sentient information processes will have ideas, make decisions, perform actions and so on. The surface play of their minds will include an ego / personality that identifies with the ideas, decisions, actions and so on, and will believe that "I did that". However the entire VR universe and every virtual form within it is part of an integrated holistic information process and ultimately it is that process that is the doer of every deed.

This can shed light on what the Bhagavad Gita says in chapter 3:

"Though all actions are done by the constituents of nature (prakriti), the ignorant one, deluded by his egoism, regards himself as the doer. But ... he who realises that these constituents and the actions are both distinct from himself, and that it is only the constituents interacting together, does not grow attached.

People who are deluded by the constituents of prakriti get attached to the actions they produce.

Even the wise man acts according to his own nature. All created beings follow their own inclination."

> there would

> need to be intention and action to change something, other than pure

> passive awareness.

From the Eastern perspective pure awareness is not passive in the sense of *inert*. When athletes and musicians are "in the zone" and their best performance flows naturally, this is a taste of it. That 'zone' is where martial arts masters fight from and why those who are still trying to 'do' the fighting simply don't stand a chance. Creative genius and intuition flow from that 'zone'. Being in that zone is what Daoists call 'wuwei', "A man of highest virtue never acts yet leaves nothing undone. A man of the lowest virtue acts but there are things left undone." (Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching) By letting the 'doing' flow from the deepest part of ourselves rather than from the surface play of the mind our actions tend to be more effective and attuned to the overall situation.

Anyway, that's the Eastern perspective, and what I think is an example of a non naive-realist worldview, but we must each assess these things for ourselves.


> try walking from the dorm to my class without having a single WORD pass

> through your mind. It is difficult to do! And notice how WORDS in some

> specific LANGUAGE dominate our minds"

Yes. The mind is a complex ecosystem of memes. Some memes dominate, some form inter-dependent groups, some compete against others and so on. The "I-thought" or personality meme is particularly virulent. For instance, if you ask them to try walking to class not as a being in world but as a motion of existence, this would be even harder. Similar to your observation that "WORDS in some specific LANGUAGE dominate our minds", so too, ideas related to some specific personality dominate our minds.

Another good experiment is to watch television but try to only see the patterns of light and sounds, without interpreting anything based on prior conditioning. We don't intentionally try to see the changing patterns as objects, people, places and events, and hear the sounds as words, music and so on. These things just happen.

The mind responds to stimuli according to its nature, which has been conditioned through accumulated experience. The world that we experience is a construct of the mind that is stimulated by a stream of events that have been filtered and interpreted by the subconscious mind. Thus what we experience is a product of the conditioned state of the subconscious mind. "With our thoughts we make the world" (Buddha)

> Most of us, I think, are like me in that regard; we forget how unusual

> our own focus actually is, and we are, of course, convinced that OUR

> focus is the RIGHT focus ....

So true. What you describe here is in one sense the essence of naive realism.

Ultimate Doer – Analogy or Literal Fact

> I would contend that this entire conceptual scheme still begs the basic

> question: this is an incredible manifestation of intelligence, but there

> is no concept of origins. Intelligence is simply implicit in ultimate

> reality, no need to explain why or how. In our human experience

> complicated designed things with purpose are always the product of

> intelligence, namely our own. This applies to human scientific and

> technological creations, and the issue of Darwinism in the origin of

> life is ignored for sake of argument since even random genetic variation

> and selection imply a whole world of preexisting intricate laws of

> chance and necessity which would seem to demand an ultimately

> intelligent source. This of course includes the entire world of physical

> laws, "fine tuning", etc.

So long as one believes that one is the *doer* in one's own life, and one is thinking within the paradigm of the doer, the ultimate questions will always seem to beg the question of an ultimate doer.

However if you sincerely enquire, with your whole mind, not just the rational intellect but through whole minded subjective self-observation, and you question your own sense of doership, and who is the doer in you, then you will see that the idea of the doer is part of a conceptual framework with no grounding in reality.

It is easy to glimpse this. If you are truly the thinker of your thoughts, then you could easily sit down and not think a single thought for a reasonable period of time, or you could choose to think only one thought with single-minded attention. If you try to do this you will quickly see that the thoughts keep coming of their own accord and the attention keeps getting swept away in the stream of thoughts. You are not the thinker of your thoughts, your thoughts think you. The personality is a thought process that identifies with other thought processes and gets swepts along by them. It is one thought process amongst others, it can influence things but its belief that it is doing the thinking is unfounded.

This can be tested and proven to be true by anyone with a mind and a willingness to test it.


> The Eastern concepts you allude to like Akashic field, Hundun, etc. seem

> to all have this problem [of who is the ultimate doer]. Western Deism in some form and Jeans' "The universe begins to look

> more like a great thought than a great machine." seem to me to be closer to the truth.

Jeans' statement that "The universe begins to look more like a great thought" is an excellent analogy - a mind is analogous to a computational space and a thought is analogous to an information process. The analogy of the "mind of God" is common to many traditions, for instance, it is explored in intricate detail in the Kabbalah Denudata.

Whilst some analogies seem organic, or mechanical or supernatural these are all just signposts or fingers pointing at something that cannot be described literally. The fingers may seem different but they all point toward the same source.

In the analogy of the mind of God there need not be a doer in the thought processes. The idea of a God-like-ego that is the ultimate doer is an analogy that has been used in virtually all mystic traditions to communicate certain insights to those who are still identified with their ego and still thinking within the paradigm of the doer.

In the West the Roman Catholic Church has taken that analogy very literally and used it as a central theme of its dogma for over 1500 years. This dogmatic Christianity has had a profound influence on the Western psyche. Many attempts at reformation have been made but the central theme of a "God in Heaven" that is the ultimate doer has remained a common feature.

However this is just the exoteric teachings of Christianity. It's esoteric or mystic core is entirely different and uses subtly but meaningfully different analogies. Furthermore, the Kabbalistic core of Judaism is profoundly mystical and describes a worldview that is entirely compatible with Eastern philosophy. So too is the Sufi core of Islam. In all spiritual traditions the exoteric teachings are naive realist to get through to naive realists, however the esoteric core is profoundly mystical and non naive realist because that is how they understand the nature of reality.

The formal Christian Church largely lost touch with its mystic core and became lost in its dogma. This is the Christianity that most people know, but the mystic core of Christianity is not dead, it is only suppressed.

I'll illustrate the mystic core of Christianity with a few quotes. Whilst reading them consider the possibility that they are not speaking literally about some powerful personality in a place called Heaven, but are instead using analogies to speak about that which is beyond all words. For instance, they could very well be speaking about a simulator (God), in a computational space (Heaven), processing information (Word, Wisdom), animating systems (Spirit, Light) and creating a virtual reality (Earth, Man).

“The burden of the word of the Lord... stretcheth forth the heavens and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.” (Bible, Zechariah, 12:1)

“In the beginning was the Word:
the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
This Word was with God in the beginning.
Through it all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through it.
All that came to be had life in it
and that life was the light of the people,
a light that shines in the dark
a light that darkness could not overpower.
But to all who did accept this Word
it gave the power to become children of God” (Bible, John. 1:1-5,12)

“Its source I do not know because it has none.
And yet from this, I know, all sources come,
I know that no created thing could be so fair
And that both earth and heaven drink from there,
Its radiance is never clouded and in this
I know that all light has its genesis,
The current welling from this fountain's source
I know to be as mighty as its force,
Although by night.” (John of the Cross)

“Without the Word of God no creature has meaning.
God's Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.
The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.
This Word manifests in every creature.
Now this is how the spirit is in the flesh - the Word is indivisible from God.” (Hildegard of Bingen)

“God is constantly speaking only one thing. God's speaking is one thing. In this one utterance God speaks the Son and at the same time the Holy Spirit and all creatures.” (Meister Eckhart)

“The Logos of creation in whom all things were created can be nothing other than divine wisdom.” (Nicholas of Cusa)

“[Wisdom] pervades and permeates all things...
[She is] a breath of the power of God [and] a reflection of the eternal light,
untarnished mirror of God's active power, image of his goodness...
Although alone, she can do all;
herself unchanging, she makes all things new.” (Bible, Wisdom 7:24-26)

“Wisdom is eternal, for it precedes every beginning and all created reality... [It is] everywhere... in every tastable thing... burning in all things... the animating power of things... [Wisdom] tastes us. And there is nothing more delicious to comprehend.” (Nicholas of Cusa)

“The spirit of the Lord, indeed, fills the whole world, and that which holds all things together knows every word that is said.” (Bible, Wisdom, 1:7)

“The being of things is itself their light and the measure of the being of a thing is the measure of its light.” (Thomas Aquinas)

“Creatures can be called God's Words... [they] manifest God's mind just like effects manifest their causes.” (Thomas Aquinas)

“In this Word the Creator speaks my spirit, your spirit, and the spirit of every person who resembles the Word. And in this utterance you and I are true sons and daughters of God, as the Word itself is child of the Creator.” (Meister Eckhart)

“Your human nature and that of the divine Word are no different.” (Meister Eckhart)

“Every creature is a word of God and a book about God... Divinity shines forth in creatures as the truth of a reflected image.” (Nicholas of Cusa)

“Everything is full and pure at its source and precisely there, not outside.” (Meister Eckhart)

“Everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.” (Hildegard of Bingen)

“Relation is the essence of everthing that is.” (Meister Eckhart)

“[Disciples ask] Tell us when the kingdom of God is to come? [Jesus replies] Do not look here or there. For the kingdom of God is among you.” (Bible, Luke 17:20-21)

“It is God whom human beings know in every creature.” (Hildegard of Bingen)

“Lay hold of God in all things and this will be a sign of your birth, a sign that God has given birth in you as the only begotten Son, and nothing less.” (Meister Eckhart)

“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.” (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

“In my understanding I saw God in a point. In seeing this I saw that God is in all things. God works in creatures because God is in the mid-point of everything.” (Julian of Norwich)

“The human mind is the all of its dreams... Mind itself supposing itself to encompass, survey and comprehend all things thus concludes that it is in everything and everything is in it... whatever is found in creatures is found in the Divine... We are, as it were, a human deity. Humans are also the universe, but not absolutely since we are human. Humanity is therefore a microcosm, or in truth, a human universe. Thus humanity itself encloses both God and the universe in its human power... Humanity will find that it is not a diversity of creeds, but the very same creed which is everwhere proposed... There cannot but be one wisdom.” (Nicholas of Cusa)

“Only those that have dared to let go can dare to re-enter” (Meister Eckhart)

“The cosmos is fundamentally and primarily living... Christ, through his Incarnation, is internal to the world... rooted in the world, even in the very heart of the tiniest atom... Nothing seems to me more vital, from the point of view of human energy, than the appearance and eventually, the systematic cultivation of such a 'cosmic sense'.” (Teilhard de Chardin)

There are many more quotes from Christian, Kabbalist and Sufi sources but this post is getting long... Here is one from mystic Judaism and one from Sufism.

“Normal consciousness is a state of stupor, in which the sensibility to the wholly real and responsiveness to the stimuli of the spirit are reduced. The mystics, knowing that man is involved in a hidden history of the cosmos, endeavor to awake from the drowsiness and apathy and to regain the state of wakefulness for their enchanted souls.” (Abraham Heschel)

"Every second he's bowing into a mirror. If he could see for just a second one molecule of what's there without fantasizing about it, he'd explode.

His imagination and he himself, would vanish, with all his knowledge, obliterated into a new birth, a perfectly clear view, a voice that says, I am God.

That same voice told the angels to bow to Adam, because they were identical with Adam.

It's the voice that first said, There is no reality but God. There is only God." (Jelaluddin Balkhi, aka Rumi)


> The quotes from Christian mystics are profound and meaningful, and don't

> deny an ultimate "doer".

> ...

> I agree that the Kabbalistic and Sufi esoteric teachings are certainly

> profoundly mystical in ways beyond the Christian mystics quoted. It

> isn't clear to me that they deny the existence of an ultimate doer.

I agree, in those traditions they rely heavily on the analogy of "people doing things" and "Lord in Heaven" and so on. However these analogies point at the transcendent reality that is beyond all words and concepts. There are other analogies that also point at the transcendent reality and they have no need of a doer.

So if it is expressed by some analogies and not others, this raises the question, to what extent is the idea of an ultimate doer an artefact of egoic teaching stories taken literally and to what extent is it a literal fact?

The only time that a linguistic statement can be a literal fact is if it is speaking about things that are *defined* by linguistic expressions (e.g. green is a colour). However, reality cannot be defined in that way, hence linguistic expressions cannot express literal facts about reality. So the idea of an ultimate doer is a teaching story of some kind.

The issue is then, to what degree is the aspect of 'doership' essential to the meaning of the teaching and to what extent is it an embellishment to make the teaching story more comprehensible to personality-dominated minds.

> It seems presumptuous to me to assume that

> these mystics had something other in mind, and deliberately modified

> their writings for an unsophisticated audience. This seems similar to

> the many apologetics created by some liberal Christian theologians to

> explain old testament Biblical passages as symbolic rather than intended

> to be taken literally.

It seems impossible to me that transcendent realisation that is beyond words and concepts can be written down literally using only the everyday language and cultural icons of a particular ancient people. Mythological god stories of all kinds have been told for millennia as teaching stories along with many other kinds of teaching stories.

In the case of Buddhism there is an explicit grading of teachings, from the simplest that even a simple farmer can relate to, up to the most abstract, inexpressible and non naive realist teachings, which are closest to the truth. But the actual truth is ones own innermost self and not an idea so it can never be expresses literally.

When encountering an audience the wise express their wisdom in ways that are adapted to the cultural context, state of mind and level of awareness of the audience. It is primarily in the West and the Middle East that the discourse has been dominated by simple teachings promulgated as literal truth.

Often there is a range of analogies but in cultures where there is only one, the mind can begin to take it literally. This happens even in science, with the advent of scientism and materialist dogmatism.

> Regardless, the reasoning I presented at the beginning here still

> applies.

And my reasoning still stands, that there is no need for a doer in order for doing to happen. Doership is an illusion that the personality succumbs to. It then tries to comprehend everything else through the paradigm of the doer and it cannot imagine that anything can happen without someone who did it. For people caught in this misunderstanding there are teaching stories that speak about an ultimate doer, but beyond these stories there is no ultimate doer.

When a decision is made, who decided to make the decision? And who decided to decide that? Either there is an infinite regression of doers making decisions or at some point a decision happened without the agency of a doer.

Either (A) the personality is a thought process within the mind that identifies with the body, mind, contents of the mind and other thought processes, and thereby experiences itself as a doer. Or (B) the personality is something fundamental that has the capacity to intentionally 'do', and nothing happens unless it is 'done'.

Everything that I have said about the personality is dependent on proposition (A), whilst what you are saying is dependent on (B).

If (A) is true then the concept of a doer is based on an illusion, and if (B) is true then there must be an ultimate doer.

There is a similar but meaningfully different version of (B) that I would agree with.

(B*) pure awareness is something fundamental that has the capacity to actualise phenomena, and nothing phenomenal happens other than as the contents of awareness.

There are two aspects of the 'self', lets call them self-0 and self-1.

Self-0 is I-am-ness, being-ness and present moment awareness, which is the animating presence of manifestation.

Self-1 is personality, which is based on identity, memory, life-story, attitude and so on. It is the experience of being a "person in a world".

These two aspects of self are often not distinguished and are mixed together into an amorphous and unexamined idea of the self (self-01). Hence aspects of one get confused with aspects of the other and analogies have arisen to get through to such people. Because the self-1 is an experience of being a "person in a world", the self-0 has been described by the analogy of a godlike "person in a world". Because the self-1 is imagined to be a doer, the self-0 has been described by the analogy of an ultimate doer.

Neither of these is literally true, they are analogies pointing to something that is beyond all words and concepts.

"God is only an idea in your mind. The fact is you. The only thing you know for sure is: `here and now I am'. Remove the `here and now', the `I am' remains, unassailable. The world exists in memory, memory comes into consciousness; consciousness exists in awareness and awareness is the reflection of the light on the waters of existence." (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, "I am That", p190)


> (1) The universe seems to be the product of infinite, or inconceivably

> vast but limited, intelligence. (2) It seems to be an incredibly

> complicated designed thing with purpose. (3) In our experience and from

> pure logic, a designer having intentionality and purposes seems to be

> required. (4) Therefore, if 1-3 are the case, there must be an ultimate

> "doer". (5) If 1-3 are incorrect, then we need to explain how

> complicated apparently designed things can somehow come about without a

> doer with intentionality and intelligence, or how the universe is not an

> incredibly complicated designed thing with purposes.

I have distilled your 5 points and added a further 5 of my own...

(1) Universe created-by Intelligence

(2) Universe designed-for Purpose

(3) Intelligence designs-with (Intentionality toward-the Purpose)

(4) If (1-3 are true) and (6-9 are false), there-exists-an Ultimate-Doer

(5) If (1-3 are false) and (6-9 are true), Complex-Systems evolve-without-a (Doer with (Intentionality and Intelligence))

Question: David Magnan said:

If (5, 6-9 are true) and (1-4, 10 are false) then, how do complex systems evolve without a doer?

(6) Universe is-experienced-by Pure-Awareness manifesting-as (Many streams-of Consciousness)

(7) Universe appears-as (Form and Behaviour) and (Evolves toward-greater Complexity)

(8) (Intelligence, Personality, Etc) are Modes-of-Consciousness and (Personality identifies-with Modes-of-Consciousness)

(9) If (6-8 are true) and (1-4 are false), Personality experiences-and-conceives-of-itself-as-a Doer and-experiences-an-imagined (World, Body, Mind, Life-Story, Agenda, Etc).

(10) If (6-8 are false) and (1-4 are true), Complex-Systems are-created-by-a (Doer with (Intentionality and Intelligence))

Question: If (1-4, 10 are true) and (5, 6-9 are false) then why is a doer necessary for complex systems to evolve? By what mechanism does the doer do its doing?

I would also add, what is a doer? And in what way are doers fundamentally real and not just a naive realist, egoic interpretation of the functioning of consciousness?

I disagree with (2) & (3). In my experience I have never heard of the person or being that invented the cell, or the DNA-RNA-protein cycle, or mathematical truth, or the Planet, or me. So it is not the case that in my "experience and from pure logic, a designer having intentionality and purposes seems to be required" for complex systems to exist and to evolve toward further complexity.

In my experience approximately 99.999999999999% of the known universe arises and functions without the perceivable need of a designer or maintainer. The remaining 0.0000000000001% are things like computers, furniture and so on. Yet points (2) & (3) imply that it is obvious from experience that a designer is required on a cosmic scale, which is simply not true. And the only logic that requires this is a logic founded on a naive realist, egoic ontology about "people in a world".

Nowhere in my logic is there a necessity for someone to have been the designer of these phenomena. These phenomena are in one sense complex dynamical systems experiencing each other and in another sense a unified quantum process (a dance of probability within a multiversal state space). These things simply do not require a doer or an intelligent designer.

It is true that in some rare cases, such as a human writing a post to an online forum, in these cases there is an experience of doing and a sense of doership. I explained that this sense of doership comes from the personality's identification with the body/mind and the internal processes. The body/mind actually functions autonomously like all other complex systems, but the personality experiences itself as a personal self who operates the body/mind.

Consider the questions, who put the moon in orbit? Why did they do that? Does there need to be 'someone'? Could there be some other reason that is not based on the paradigm of "people doing things"?

Might it be the case that complex systems evolve, interact and experience each other. Amongst all this some systems have thought processes that implement a personality, which identifies with the mind, body and internal processes. These systems with personalities also have complex thought processes that implement intellect. This intellect gives the system more complex functionality. It interacts with other systems in creative ways, which the personality experiences as designing and making things. Any system that forms via one of these processes is considered by the personality to be 'artificial' and not 'natural'.

In other complex systems where there is no personality the systems evolve, behave, interact and decay without any need for a doer. When a tree grows a leaf is there a 'doer' who 'does' this? Could it be the case that the human mind / body would function fine, or even better without the doer? Many martial arts masters, yogis, mystics, saints and so on would say yes.

> Not having knowledge of the person or being who created the cell, etc.

> has nothing to do with whether there was such an origin.

It has everything to do with the statement that "(3) In our experience and from pure logic, a designer having intentionality and purposes seems to be required."

What you fail to explain is how you can observe the 0.0000000000001% of the known universe which we know to be designed objects and from that infer that the other 99.999999999999% must also be designed objects.


> Actually, it [the universe] does not seem to be complicated at all. Quantum mechanics

> and general relativity (the two things we know) are EXTREMELY simple, and

> close to being inevitable.

> http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/henry.QM.reTeX.pdf

I agree. The closer we get to the core of reality the simpler things get.

This is analogous to beginning with the many complex phenomena within a VR world then enquiring into its nature and exploring towards the simulation program, the computational space and the stream of computation. Things become extremely simple near the source. In the VR analogy it is eventually just binary logic. In Daoism it is yin/yang. In Vedanta it is Purusha/Prakriti, in quantum physics it is probabilities (quantities with values between 0 and 1).


> I see that the proposed system is a sort of cosmological Darwinism, akin

> to Lee Smolin's, in order to deny the necessity for an intentional

> intelligent "doer". This debate then reduces mostly to the issue of

> Darwinist evolution versus some form of intelligent design, on which

> there has already been a recent debate here. It boils down to the claim

> that (generally), (JR): "Complex-Systems evolve-without-a

> (Doer with (Intentionality and Intelligence))".

I am not talking about "cosmological Darwinism, akin to Lee Smolin's". You are attempting to understand non naive realist concepts through a naive realist conceptual framework. This is like trying to understand statements made about a spherical Earth through a flat-Earth conceptual framework. Hence what I say would probably sound like gibberish at times and at other times it would sound deceptively familiar.

The only thing that I have to say about the debate between Scientism and fundamentalist Christianity is that neither side can win the argument because both positions are based upon a false ontology and neither side can understand the other because both camps are interpreting things through a false ontology.

Both sides are thoroughly naive realist. Scientism is a form of naive realist materialism based on an unscientific interpretation of empirical science that goes beyond the bounds of empiricism (studying the appearances of things) and attempts to make claims about the essence of things. And fundamentalist Christianity is a form of naive realist religion based upon particular teaching stories that were used for over 1500 years as a propaganda front for what was essentially a pseudo-spiritual political institution.

As to where the mystic paradigm (including the information/system theoretic paradigm) fits within the context of that debate, it metaphorically slaughters all of the sacred cows of both camps because it illuminates the fact that the naive realist ontology is false, and neither camp is able to comprehend what it says because they still interpret everything through that false ontology. Hence both sides tend to dislike the mystics.

> But I don't find this [question about an ultimate doer] answered, just reiteration of

> the metaphysical scheme which presupposes unguided evolution,

I *did* answer the question a couple of posts ago by bringing into question the very notion of a doer. My answer was that the doer is a cognitive illusion that arises from the personality's identification with body/mind processes.

The question cannot be answered in the sense that you seem to want. I'll give another example of this kind of question that will illustrate why that is the case. If someone was to ask "what happened before time began" I cannot say "such and such happened", all I can do is explain why the question doesn't make sense because the concept "what happened before" refers to events in time preceding the beginning of time. Whether such a beginning exists or not is irrelevant to this example, the relevant point is that the question is not a valid question and the only way of answering it is to explain why it is not a valid question.

Here's another example that is closer to your question. Suppose someone claims that:

(1) The universe seems to be the product of infinite, or inconceivably vast but limited, intelligence. (2) It seems to be an incredibly complicated designed thing with purpose. (3) In our experience and from pure logic, a designed thing has an owner and a price. (4) Therefore, if 1-3 are the case, there must be an ultimate owner and ultimate price. (5) If 1-3 are incorrect, then we need to explain how complicated apparently designed things can somehow exist without an owner and a price, or how the universe is not an incredibly complicated owned thing with a price.

To this sort of question I can only answer by saying that the concepts of ownership and price only have meaning within the context of human cultural practices. Hence there cannot be an ultimate owner or ultimate price because these concepts have no meaning in relation to the cosmos as a whole.

Likewise, the concept of a doer only has meaning within the context of egoic identification with body/mind processes and has no meaning in relation to the cosmos as a whole.

I have no argument about the *analogy* of an ultimate doer, I often use it myself, but I do argue against the claim that the existence of an ultimate doer is a *literal fact*. My counter argument is that the idea of an ultimate doer is an analogy that draws upon naive realist and egoic illusions in order to get through to naive realist and egoic minds. What it hints at is that beyond the world of appearances there is something else, which is the source of where the world comes from and the animating power by which it happens.

The analogy of an ultimate doer is a low-level teaching designed for those who are ignorant of spiritual principles and profoundly ego-driven - which is most people. Hence it is a common teaching story throughout all the major mystic traditions and virtually all cultures. However in the case of Judaism, Christianity and Islam it has been enshrined as literal fact and used for political purposes.

When this teaching story is understood in light of the broader range of teaching stories, particularly the highest teachings, and in light of introspective insight, it can be seen in a new light. To understand it in this context, consider an analogy, think of a situation that might be described as a simulator animating a VR world within which AI entities exist, or if you prefer you can think of this in terms of a universal field of consciousness and sentient beings (complex individual streams of consciousness). There is no matter or physical universe here, only something that is analogous to consciousness or information processes and something that is analogous to a world of appearances or VR world.

These AI's (sentient beings) experience the contents of their consciousness, which they interpret as an external physical universe. Within this imagined context they may engage in engineering to design and create things if that is part of their nature. These designed objects are thought of as physical objects but they are actually relatively simple streams of consciousness that stimulate perceptions that are interpreted as being material objects. Whilst the sentient beings act out their nature and engineer things, their personalities will be identified with the process thus they will experience themselves as the doer of each deed. This is the context in which the concept of a doer has meaning.

Then when they think about the whole universe (VR world) and the transcendent realm (information processes) many of them will find it useful to think of the information processes (universal consciousness) as an ultimate doer or supreme being and the universe as a designed object. But this is just an analogy and not a literal fact. Likewise, the ideas of a simulator or a universal consciousness are also just analogies and not literal facts.

There are no words that can state literal facts about that which is beyond all words. Words refer to ideas, which are the contents of consciousness. Only phenomena that are represented by the contents of consciousness can be spoken about directly using words. Hence words only have meaning in relation to the world of appearances and not beyond into that which underlies the appearances. The belief that words can speak literally about reality is a naive realist fallacy.

> This comes down to how specifically can unguided processes produce

> certain complex systems.

There is no evidence whatsoever that suggests that a complex system inherently requires a designer and there is an enormous amount of evidence that complex systems ranging from galaxies, stars, planets, organisms, ecosystems, societies and so on are self-organising and/or autopoetic (self-constructing). There has been a great deal of research into the field of complex systems that you seem to totally overlook.

For instance, we can model a cloud of hydrogen as it collapses into a proto-star then evolves its complex onion-ring like structures with the multi-levelled nuclear processes and convective processes, then eventually goes into a death phase. All of this can be simulated without the need to propose a doer who is doing anything. So where in this self-organising complex system is there a need to assume the existence of a doer? It is only in human actions that we assume the existence of a doer and that is because of ego identification with body/mind processes.

We cannot currently conceive of how a living organism could be a designed object but we can easily study them as they construct themselves and self-organise into functional wholes. If anyone wishes to claim that there must be an ultimate doer involved then it is up to them to show why an ultimate doer is needed, what it is and how it does its doing.

> Unless a plausible mechanism can be suggested,

> and an actual plausible history be proposed, then an agent must be

> assumed (unless there is the a priori ideological assumption of

> philosophical naturalism to the exclusion of all other world views).

This works both ways.

Unless a plausible explanation can be proposed, of what a doer is and how it does its doing, such that nothing can happen unless it is done by a doer, then we must assume that a doer is not required in order for events to happen (unless there is the a priori ideological assumption of fundamentalist Christianity to the exclusion of all other world views).

> The doer's mechanism isn't of concern if logic leads to the existence of the

> doer.

Likewise the absence of a doer is no concern if logic and experience show no need of a doer.

> The issue is

> the complex specified information for particular systems, how it could

> have come about without such an agent.

The issue is, *if* there is an agent working with materials to design and construct the universe, then in what universe is that agent and its materials operating and who made that world? This leads to an infinite regress of agents in worlds designing agents in worlds. Where does it end?

The idea of a dreamer and a dream, or a simulator and a simulation are analogies that point towards the existence of a very simple, elementary process via which the myriad complex systems seem to arise. When you are dreaming and creating a dream-world there is no personality there doing the dreaming and designing the dream world. There is just a consciousness that is dreaming and all the complexity arises within the dream world.

The closer we delve towards the foundation of reality the simpler it gets and if you go within and down through the surface layers of your mind, down to the pure awareness you will realise that it is pure simplicity, without form, without beings in worlds, without objects, events, space or time and without complexity of any kind. All of the complexity exists solely within the content of the stream of awareness. Countless people over thousands of years and across virtually all cultures have tested this in various ways and found it to be true. Anyone who wishes can test it for themselves, all they need is a mind and a willingness to go deep within. The ego will resist this using many devious strategies to agitate or distract the mind but with persistence this can be overcome.

> Unless the specific unguided

> process is plausibly suggested, an agent must be inferred (unless

> philosophical naturalism is a forced ideology to the exclusion of all

> other world views).

This works both ways.

Unless the specific guided process is plausibly suggested, then we must assume that an agent is not required (unless fundamentalist Christianity is a forced ideology to the exclusion of all other world views).

> A summary of some of the things that would need to be explained

> specifically not generally as arising from a natural unguided process:


> "Fine tuning" of the laws of physics to allow the universe containing

> carbon-based life to exist:

> - Laws of nature

> - Physical constants

> - Ratios of fundamental constants

> - Amount of matter in the universe

> - Speed of expansion of the universe

> - Properties of elements such as carbon

> - Properties of chemicals such as water


> Origin of living systems:

> - Properties of biochemicals such as DNA

> - Origin of life

> - Cells

> - Genetic code

> - Multiprotein complexes

> - Biological kingdoms

> - Developmental genetic programs

> - Integrated protein networks

> - Cell types

> - Phyla

> - Classes


> Multiple finely tuned events were required for each of the steps listed.

Some more questions, who owns them and what is their price? So long as one applies concepts outside the context in which they have meaning one will end up non-questions.

> The biological steps are beyond what is biologically reasonable to

> expect for unintelligent processes. No plausible hypotheses have been

> offered for the unguided origin of life, leading some theorists to posit

> an infinite set of parallel universes and self-selection, begging the

> question of origin of that system. Life did subsequently descend with

> modification from one stage to the next, but the genetic changes could

> not have been completely random. Purposeful design extends into biology

> at least to the major classes of vertebrates.


> On the issue of life's origin, the genetic code exhibits a high degree

> of (apparent) purposeful design, with multiple layers of language-like

> symbols (letters), words, syntax, meaning, etc., with nothing but

> speculation to explain how this could have come about by unguided

> processes.

I agree, the materialist understanding of organisms and life is flawed and limited. However the important issue isn't, how inanimate material objects can produce living organisms. The issue is, do inanimate material objects and processes exist at all or are these a naive realist misinterpretation of the contents of consciousness?

It is only within a naive realist world-view that one could imagine that such things exist. A non naive realist world-view could be described by the analogy of a universal consciousness, which is devoid of personality or any kind of individuality. From one perspective this universal consciousness is One and Whole, but from a perspective within the dream/simulation there are many streams of consciousness that flow and experience each other.

Note: these words are woefully inadequate but there exists mathematics that describes it very well. (http://www.anandavala.info/SystemSimulation.pdf)

Some of these streams of consciousness are quite complex and have sub-streams that operate as a personality. These personalities identify with the other sub-streams and experience the illusion of being an agent who not only influences these other streams but actually seems to be the doer of those streams.

Some of these streams of consciousness are quite simple and are thought of as inanimate material objects by the personalities and it is imagined that there exists a material universe that is composed of these imagined material objects.

In this world-view the physical universe and all its material objects and process is a myth that arises from naive realist egoic interpretations of the contents of consciousness and this myth is reinforced by cultural conditioning.

The issue of how can material objects and processes create life and consciousness is a part of that mythological structure. Likewise the issue of egoic beings in a material universe that is ruled over by an ultimate ego is a part of a closely related mythological structure.

> My reason for citing all this was to point out the incredible stretch of

> credulity required for Darwinian processes to have resulted in all this

> by "chance plus necessity", an accumulation of unguided material causes

> over time.

I agree, and would also point out the incredible stretch of credulity required for a naive realist conception of the world to actually be true, whether in the form of Scientism or fundamentalist Christianity. Not only is there no evidence or logic in its favour, only habit and denial, but there is strong evidence and logic that clearly disproves it. Furthermore, the paradigms based on naive realism such as Scientism and fundamentalist Christianity continually churn out bizarre paradoxes and impossibilities that indicate the flaws in both of them.

> Each of these specific leaps in specified complexity must be explained

> as having evolved by an unguided unintelligent process of random

> variation plus selection, starting with the basic laws of physics. Hence

> this exchange seems to boil down to the Darwinism versus Intelligent

> Design debate.

As I have explained, that debate is trapped within a closed loop of naive realist assumptions and neither side can win. The discussion that we are having here has *nothing* to do with that debate. We are discussing naive realism and non naive realism, rather than two different varieties of naive realism.

> (JR): >Nowhere in my logic is there a necessity for someone to have been

> > the designer of these phenomena. These phenomena are in one sense

> > complex dynamical systems experiencing each other and in another

> > sense a unified quantum process (a dance of probability within a

> > multiversal state space). These things simply do not require a doer

> > or an intelligent designer.


> One man's logic is another man's set of assertions.

There are only four varieties of logic that I know of, informal, formal, symbolic and mathematical, but none of these would necessitate the need for a doer or even the need for any particular propositions. Logic only determines the *structure* of statements and not their content.

The content of different logical arguments rests upon axioms or ontologies, which is what I suspect you mean by different logics. My logical arguments rest upon a non naive realist ontology which includes the core principles of information theory, system theory, quantum mechanics, mathematics, yoga psychology, Vedanta, Buddhism, Daoism, Kabbalah, as well as observation and introspection. From what I can ascertain the ontology that your logical reasoning rests upon is naive realist and fundamentalist Christian, but I wonder what else?

Because of our different ontologies we are essentially speaking different conceptual languages. I am familiar with the naive realist language but a non naive realist conceptual language is utterly foreign to a naive realist. They generally cannot even accept that there is anything other than naive realism (it is a central tenet of NR that they are perceiving and knowing reality directly) so they keep trying to interpret things in naive realist ways and get confused by non naive realist statements.

> Assertions requiring

> substantiation for the origin of particular existing systems. What is

> the origin of such a "multiversal state space"?

What is the origin of the ultimate doer?

> How is the concept other

> than a way of pushing off the origins question?

I have already stated several times, and mystics have stated for aeons, that the ultimate truths cannot be attained via intellectual word games, the words simply cannot go there. That is why these issues have only ever been spoken of using a range of different analogies. The mathematics and software that I have been exploring is the most detailed and sophisticated analogy that I know of but it is still just an analogy because reality is not a mathematical equation or a piece of software. It just exhibits analogous properties.

For anyone who wants an answer to the ultimate questions then the advice has always been to go within because you are the Truth that you seek, all you have to do is still the agitated mind, see through its persistent false interpretations of a being in a world and return to your inner most self, the pure awareness that "is what it is" beyond space and time. This is the ground of being. It is self evident when it is found. It is impossible to define in words. It is impossible to find amongst the contents of one's stream of awareness (objects and events) because it is awareness itself.

> How does a complex

> dynamical system experience something?

I am a complex dynamical system and I can attest that it seems to me right now that I am experiencing something. Before I can answer the 'how' part we need to go deeper into the non naive realist paradigm and discuss what is experience, what is a system and why does it seem that systems experience things.

> These are other debates, on among

> other things whether computational systems can actually in truth exhibit

> awareness.

Anyone who takes the computational analogy literally is looking at the finger when the finger is pointing at something else. But in this case, even if we do examine the finger a little, we see that computation is the coherent processing of information and information is discernible difference. Hence any discernible phenomenon is a type of information and any process is a type of computation.

Hence I am a discernible phenomenon as well as a process so I am an aware, sentient computational system.

> (JR): > Might it be the case that complex systems evolve (from >random

> > change plus selection), interact and experience each

> > other. Amongst all this some systems have thought processes

> > that implement a personality, which identifies with the mind, body

> > and internal processes.


> A speculation that is the foundational assumption of modern scientism.

I did NOT say "(from random change plus selection)"!

That is your projection and it says a lot about your state of mind and approach to this conversation - it's no surprise that you haven't understood what I have said. These are subtle issues so I don't blame you.

I have noticed that for those who are attached to the debate between Scientism and fundamentalist Christianity the word 'evolution' is a conditioned stimulus that produces very precise assumptions, which you summarised as "from random change plus selection".

However the term 'evolution' means gradual change. That is how I used the word 'evolve'.

Even within the context of biology the term refers to numerous theories attempting to describe how species gradually change. These theories range from Darwinism, Lamarckianism, Morphogenetic fields and so on. None of these are relevant to what I was talking about.

> > JR: When a decision is made, who decided to make the decision? And who

> > decided to decide that? Either there is an infinite regression of

> > doers making decisions or at some point a decision happened without the

> > agency of a doer.


> Unless there is an uncaused Cause beyond human conceptual capabilities.

> This is at least no more implausible than the notion of a purposeful

> action, decision or doing without a doer.

All I can suggest is that you perform the experiment of seeking the doer in yourself and testing its doership status. I described some easy experiments in an earlier post. Rather than engage in these arguments for which you have insufficient understanding you could find out for yourself. It will only take 30mins. If you can sit and purposefully do nothing for 30mins then you are indeed the doer of your thoughts. However if you (the personality) keep getting swept away by thoughts and only later realising this and returning to doing nothing then the personality is not the doer of the thoughts but just a thought process that identifies with the other thoughts and deceives itself that it is the doer. I suggest that everyone tries it!

BTW: In a recent post "Possible site of free will found in brain" there is some information related to the proposition that the doer is related to thought processes and is not a fundamental causal agent who's unexplained magic lies behind every event that happens through the body/mind.

Free will, or at least the place where we decide to act, is sited in a part of the brain called the parietal cortex, new research suggests. When a neurosurgeon electrically jolted this region in patients undergoing surgery, they felt a desire to, say, wiggle their finger, roll their tongue or move a limb. Stronger electrical pulses convinced patients they had actually performed these movements, although their bodies remained motionless. "What it tells us is there are specific brain regions that are involved in the consciousness of your movement," says Angela Sirigu (pdf format), a neuroscientist at the CNRS Cognitive Neuroscience Centre in Bron, France, who led the study.”

Non Naïve Realist Worldview


> Quite a few years ago, I realized that some remarkably obtuse-sounding

> statements made by a swami made a great deal more sense if I presumed

> that when he used the English word "real" he *meant* something more like

> the usual (English) connotation of "eternal". It was evident that the

> conjunction "real and ephemeral" was a logical contradiction in his

> worldview.

Yes, this is the case throughout mainstream Vedic and Buddhist philosophy. It also arises from the VR analogy. For instance, in the VR analogy that which is actually real is the computational process and all the objects, people, places and events are part of the virtual reality. Whilst these 'things' and even entire universes (whole simulations) can come and go, the computational process remains. Hence, from the perspective of virtual beings that which is real (the computational process) might be described as eternal, and also all-pervading, omniscient and omnipotent.

This relationship between the simulator and the virtual reality is discussed throughout Eastern philosophy, although using different analogies. For instance, Brahman is the computational process, Maya is the virtual reality, Jiva is the virtual character within the simulation (the self that we each experience ourselves to be), Atman is the simulator as it animates us (our true Self) - hence it is said that Atman is Brahman.

Thus according to Eastern philosophy the universe is analogous to a simulation, for example:

"To Sankara the world is only relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta). He advocated Vivarta-Vada [virtuality] or the theory of appearance or superimposition (Adhyasa). Just as snake is superimposed on the rope in twilight [when one mistakes a rope for a snake], this world and body are superimposed on Brahman or the Supreme Self [computational process]... In Vivarta-Vada, the cause produces the effect without undergoing any change in itself. Snake is only an appearance on the rope. The rope has not transformed itself into a snake, like milk into curd. Brahman is immutable and eternal. Therefore, It cannot change Itself into the world. Brahman becomes the cause of the world through Maya, which is Its inscrutable mysterious power [virtual reality simulation]..." (http://www.shankaracharya.org/advaita_philosophy.php)

Also, according to Eastern philosophy the true self of every virtual form is the computational process, for example:

"That which is the subtle essence, in it is the self of all that exists. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou... art it." (Chandogya Upanishad 4:10:1-3)

"The real does not die, the unreal never lived. Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment. The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death." (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj)

"What is it that had birth? Whom do you call a human being? If, instead of seeking explanations for birth, death and after-death, the question is raised as to who and how you are now, these questions will not arise... The realised one enjoys unbroken consciousness, never broken by birth or death - how can he die?.. There is no incarnation, either now, before or hereafter." (Sri Ramana Maharshi)


> Without memory there would be no way of comparing "after the change"

> with "before the change"

> In fact, without memory there would be no recognition of change, even if

> it occurred.

> Without memory time has no meaning. Time could go on, "things" could

> change (perhaps it should be "things change making time go on") but

> to the "memory-challenged" the changes would not be recognized and it

> would be as if time stopped.

This is also the point of view of Eastern mysticism. They say that pure awareness is timeless and it is only when perceiving through a conditioned mind, and thereby experiencing one's life story as it unfolds in memory that there is time.

> Is time independent of memory? Can time exist without memory? OR are

> time and memory inextricably connected?


> Is memory the "arrow of time?" (we can "remember the past" better

> than we can "remember the future.")

> Hmmmmmm,

> Maybe we should take some time to contemplate that!

The Eastern mystic perspective is that 'change' is independent of memory but 'time' is a memory based interpretation of change. Change doesn't have an arrow, it just happens in the present moment. There is only one moment (Now). The past is based in memory and the future is based in imagination.

This perspective also arises from my mathematical models, where there is no dimension of time, there is only an iterative information process changing the state of a single existential moment. The virtual systems encoded within that moment can retain information about their past perceptions but the past does not exist in the sense that "time travel" implies.

This also occurs in the context of computers, where one cannot return one's computer to previous states unless those states were specifically recorded. Once the information has been overwritten the state that it represents is lost and only the fragments of information that were recorded (e.g. files) persist.


> if 'actually' the influence of Maya is to

> confuse us into believing in the 'existence' of the phenomenological universe,

> this does not exactly make the universe "virtual", because there is no "real"

> counterpart underlying it- all is the influence of Maya on Brahman

In the mainstream Advaitan perspective there are two common uses of the term 'maya'. The most common usage refers to the world that we perceive through the senses and erroneously believe to be real, hence it is often translated as "world illusion". The second use refers to the process that produces the world illusion. This is usually referred to as "maya sakti" or "power of illusion" but is often abbreviated to just 'maya'.

The first usage refers to something that seems to be a real universe but is not actually real. For this reason it is analogous to a virtual reality simulation.

The second usage refers to the activity of the underlying reality that produces the illusion, which is analogous to the process of simulation.

The word 'maya' is similar to the word 'simulation' in the sense that it symbolises both the product of a simulation and a simulation process. The simulation (noun) is the product of the activity of the simulator, and its activity is called 'simulation' (verb).

The concept of maya is contrasted with Brahman, which is understood as the real counterpart that underlies the illusion of maya, hence it is analogous to the computational process or simulator.

From the Advaitan perspective it is not that maya influences Brahman, rather that Brahman is the absolute reality and due to ignorance we perceive it as maya. This is analogous to the situation where the computational process is the actual reality but virtual systems perceive a virtual reality universe that for all intents and purposes seems to be real.

“Brahman is not an object, as It is Adrisya, beyond the reach of the eyes. Hence the Upanishads declare: “Neti Neti—not this, not this....” This does not mean that Brahman is a negative concept, or a metaphysical abstraction, or a nonentity, or a void. It is not another. It is all-full, infinite, changeless, self-existent, self-delight, self-knowledge and self-bliss. It is Svarupa, essence. It is the essence of the knower. It is the Seer (Drashta), Transcendent (Turiya) and Silent Witness (Sakshi)...

The world is not an illusion... The world is relatively real (Vyavaharika Satta), while Brahman is absolutely real (Paramarthika Satta). The world is the product of Maya or Avidya (ignorance). The unchanging Brahman appears as the changing world through Maya. Maya is a mysterious indescribable power of the Lord which hides the real and manifests itself as the unreal: Maya is not real, because it vanishes when you attain knowledge of the Eternal. It is not unreal also, because it exists till knowledge dawns in you. The superimposition of the world on Brahman is due to Avidya or ignorance.” (http://www.shankaracharya.org/advaita_philosophy.php)

Note: this quote contains both usages, 1) "Maya [world illusion] is not real, because it vanishes when you attain knowledge of the Eternal" and 2) "The world is the product of Maya [power of illusion]"

> I have seen this [maya-sakti] referred to as the "power of mistake", because it is maya that

> caused, and causes, Brahman to 'imagine' the phenomenological universe. It is

> admitted that how maya came to be is an unresolved mystery.

The term "power of mistake" is appropriate, but what mistake? If I mistake a rope on the ground as being a snake, the rope doesn't cease to be a rope and become a snake, it only seems to be a snake from my perspective.

Maya is not an unresolved mystery, but it seems mysterious when approached from a common sense perspective. In ancient times there were no analogies with which to describe it, but now simulation provides an excellent analogy.

> You're getting objective again! The concept is that Brahman becomes clouded by

> Maya in some unknown manner, and then various features emerge in a rapidly

> proliferating manner. It is not a question of objective reality, because the

> only reality is Brahman. In your virtual reality analogy, whatever is injected

> into the virtual reality by the processor, is real, in the system.

What do you mean by the term 'objective'? It has many meanings some of which contain a great deal of naive realism:

  1. relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence

  2. relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers

  3. Of or having to do with a material object.

  4. Having actual existence or reality.

  5. having reality independent of the mind

  6. involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena

  7. expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations

  8. the goal intended to be attained (and which is believed to be attainable)

If you mean definitions 4 & 5 then yes I have been speaking of objective reality.

The statement "the only reality is Brahman" uses the standard meaning of 'reality' whilst "whatever is injected into the virtual reality by the processor, is real" uses the colloquial meaning of 'real'. The standard and colloquial meanings are not compatible with each other and lead to confusion if they are mixed.

Using the standard definitions of 'reality' and 'real' as well as the 4&5 definitions of 'objective'; I would say that Brahman (information process) is the objective reality and anything that is perceived within Maya (the virtual world) is not real, it is at most relatively real (virtually real), which means that it is a persistent illusion that *seems* real but it is not. It is an illusion that can be perceived if one interprets things in a naive realist manner. Without that misinterpretation there is no illusion. We each create Maya within our own minds in each moment of awareness. "With our thoughts we create the world" (Buddha)

> In other words, why

> didn't Brahman just go on being, or rather be, since even time is a function of

> maya?

> Also it was ignorance's influence upon Brahman itself that created the entire

> universe in the first place.

According to Vedanta Brahman is what it is, without beginning or end, and without change; it is not eternal, but timeless. It is all that is absolutely real, whilst everything else is virtually real.

As each stream of awareness misperceives its situation, Maya (world-illusion) comes to be perceived as the universe but Brahman is unchanged and impervious to this process of illusion. Regardless of how we may misperceive a rope, it is still just a rope. Likewise, we may observe the phenomenal output from a VR simulator and misperceive it as a world, with objects, people, places and events, but it is still just an information process. The underlying reality is completely untouched by the illusions that may be projected upon it.

To see the rope all we have to do is not see it as a snake and immediately the underlying reality is apparent. Thus it is our own ignorance, in each moment of consciousness, that creates the subjective world-experience that we mistakenly believe to be "the universe". In each moment the universe is created in one's mind, and if the mind does not misperceive and misinterpret then the actual reality is apparent.

> > Regardless of how we may misperceive a rope, it is still just a rope.

> I think this is not correct. Rather: regardless of how we may perceive what may

> appear to be a rope, it is (in reality) still Brahman.


> Which corresponds exactly to your next statement:


> > Likewise, we may observe the phenomenal output from a VR simulator and

> > misperceive it as a world, with objects, people, places and events, but

> > it is still just an information process.


> > To see the rope all we have to do is not see it as a snake


> *** OR A ROPE ***

You are taking the analogy literally and thereby looking at the finger when the finger is pointing at something else.

The analogy of snake and rope has been used for thousands of years to point the mind toward the relationship between Brahman and Maya. In this analogy, Brahman (absolute reality) is the rope and Maya (world-illusion) is the snake. The act of mistaking the rope for a real snake is Maya-Sakti (naive realism).

The rope doesn't turn into a snake. The snake doesn't influence the rope. There is no interaction whatsoever between the rope and the snake. The rope doesn't inject the snake into existence, because the snake doesn't actually exist. The snake only seems to exist due to an act of misperception, thus it is that misperception that injects the snake into virtual existence within the virtual reality. By overcoming naive realism and misperception one can know the rope (Brahman) rather than the snake (Maya). To have knowledge of the rope is Nirvana (peace, bliss, liberation) and to be perceiving the snake is Samsara (fear, desire and bondage).

The underlying reality doesn't change into the world or disappear and then reappear in anyway, it is just that the mind weaves illusions and focuses its attention on an illusory world, thus it fails to perceive the actual situation. The moment the mind stops perceiving things in a deluded manner reality is apparent, just as the moment one stops watching the story of a movie and just looks at the screen the patterns of light become apparent. That is the mainstream Vedic and Buddhist perspective. It is also the perspective that arises from my own contemplation, research and mathematical / theoretical modelling.

> Or as Heinlein expressed it, the

> universe is something we all dreamed up together and then agreed to forget the

> gag.

This is a good way of putting it, however in Vedic and VR terms there is only one dreamer (Brahman, simulator) that is engaged in the activity of dreaming (maya sakti, simulation) and there are many characters within the dream (Jivas, virtual systems) who perceive themselves to be in the dream world (Maya, virtual reality).

> Indeed. Although Heinlein's mind was in the right place, his knowledge of these

> Eastern systems was very sketchy indeed. Perhaps he might have got out of this

> one by pointing out that he used the word "together".

That would not help him, it is not the dream characters together that dream the dream. The dream characters, along with all objects, people, places and events in the dream are virtual phenomena within the dream. Beyond the dream world is the one dreamer. Just as the programs running on my computer don't create the virtual space, they are just virtual phenomena within the virtual space. Beyond this is the computational space.

> Here you are pushing the analogy too far. You completely separate the dream

> characters and the dreamer. But I do not think that Vedantist philosophy, at

> least, makes this complete separation.

Yes it does. They are completely separate. Consider another analogy using a novel. There are many objects, people, places and events within the story world. None of the characters within the story are responsible for writing the book. There is a strict and unbridgeable separation between the book and the story world. In the context of this analogy, one is real (Brahman) and the other only seems to be real from certain perspectives (Maya). This strict separation exists in all simulation/virtual processes whether novels, movies, television, VR, optical illusions and so on. A television character cannot reach out of the screen and change the channel.

The Vedic perspective is expressed in the following quote from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (M) and a questioner (Q):

“Q: It seems that there are two worlds, mine and yours.

M: Mine is real, yours is of the mind.

Q: If a frog in [a] hole were told about the outside world, he would say: "There is no such thing. My world is of peace and bliss. Your world is a word structure only, it has no existence." It is the same with you. When you tell us that our world simply does not exist, there is no common ground for discussion.

M: Quite right.

Q: You have built the railroad but for lack of a bridge no train can pass. Build the bridge.

M: There is no need of a bridge.

Q: There must be some link between your world and mine.

M: There is no need of a link between a real world and an imaginary world, for there cannot be any.

Q: So what are we to do?

M: Investigate your world, apply your mind to it, examine it critically, scrutinise every idea about it; that will do.”

To use the VR analogy, he is saying to the questioner that they are identified as a character within the virtual reality. There is no way to build a bridge between the computational process and the virtual world via which virtual characters can step across to the computational space. The best that a character can do is to examine their world and their ideas about it critically and eventually come to realise that it is not actually real, it is a virtual world. This begins a process of disidentifying with the character, whereon the actual situation, which has been the case all along, becomes apparent and they realise that they are the computational process partaking in a virtual experience.

> The dream characters have a lot more in

> common with the dreamer, than do the non-sentient features of the dream. Or, at

> least, this is a defensible position - whatever may be the position of

> classical Vedanta.

If you are talking literally about human dreams then I agree. However if you are talking about the dreamer / dream analogy for the relationship between Brahman and Maya then I agree that it seems that way but I disagree that it is that way.

From an Eastern perspective the only thing that is real is universal consciousness, and all manifest forms are devoid of self-nature. All manifest forms are essentially the same, just as a character in a virtual reality is essentially no different to a building in a virtual reality. The virtual dynamics might ascribe more complex behaviour to the character than to the building, hence in that sense the character *seems* to embody more consciousness and to be more similar to the computational process (universal consciousness), but ultimately both are essentially the same - both are animated by universal consciousness otherwise they would not be manifesting within the virtual world at all.

(Note: when I say that something manifests in the virtual world this does not mean *objective* manifestation - it means that from some perspectives there could arise a persistent illusion that that something exists within the world.)

Thus, all manifest forms are alive and conscious to some degree (otherwise they could not interact) and none of them are actually real. Underlying the appearances there is an all-pervading timeless reality that is all that actually exists. All manifest forms are illusory appearances, which are in a sense animated by the underlying information processes. That information process as it animates our mind is what we call awareness or consciousness. We cannot observe the consciousness within another virtual form so we often assume that it is 'inanimate' but this is an unfounded assumption.

> I think it does the SSE mailing list a lot of good to have somebody posting on

> it who is well acquainted with Vedantist philosophy.

I agree, it is a very interesting philosophy that may be relevant to understanding modern science. The many anomalies that SSE studies cannot be understood in naive realist terms, but from a Vedic perspective they can be clearly understood. Once adapted for the modern mind it might provide a coherent theoretical framework for a more holistic science.


Common words are an inadequate language in which to discuss the nature of reality because they mostly have their roots in memory associations to naive realist interpretations of experiences. There are more abstract languages, such as Vedic Sanskrit, as well as the mathematics of information / system theory, quantum physics and also software engineering.

At the core of the metaphysical understanding that I have been discussing is a mathematical formalism that I call system matrix notation (SMN). This mathematics has informed my study of information / system theory, quantum physics, metaphysics and mysticism, and I have also been developing these ideas in software. SMN functions as a general system simulator that creates virtual universes in cyberspace.

An opportunity has recently arisen to collaborate with another open-source project in developing what could be called system-oriented IT. Rather than write code to implement programs, one creates virtual systems that interact with other virtual systems, as well as other programs and electronic devices. This approach to software engineering is referred to as virtualware.

I've been rather busy with this and will be for some time. I'm happy to continue the naive realism conversation if others wish to (it have really helped to put the ideas to the test) and I'm open to discussing virtualware. But most of my attention in the near future will be given to the next stage of development of system-oriented virtualware.

Rather than primarily focus on using conventional words to describe these things, which most people really don't want to understand. Or write mathematics that very few ever bother to study. I'll focus mainly on implementing the ideas in software then anyone can create and interact with virtual universes and get to know them that way. Then the similarities with our own universe will become apparent and questions will arise.


> I would be interested in knowing more details about this project

> especially since it will be open source. Can you please give a pointer

> to the project if/when it realizes?

Sure. I'm still putting together the details of the proposal for the next phase of the project. When this is ready I'll create a wiki and let you know via this forum.

In the meantime, if you are curious,

The book "System Science of Virtual Reality" (http://www.anandavala.info/SystemSimulation.pdf) describes the underlying mathematical principles by which it works.

Information and source code regarding the latest (2008) software version can be found at: http://www.anandavala.info/SMN/technology.html

Information and source code as well as prototype applications from 2005 can be found at: http://www.anandavala.info/TASTMOTNOR/SMN%20Code.html

The next phase of development will take it well beyond where it is currently at. The 2005 phase was simply proof of concept, the 2008 was proof of efficiency, capacity, parallelisation, C code implementation, integration with RDF and ontologies and so on.

The next phase will work on developing it as a functional, industrial strength, system engineering paradigm that can be used to create virtual systems as models, simulations, ontologies and working software applications with revolutionary new functionality and ease of development.

Anyone who wishes to help develop virtualware is welcome to join the open source project.


> You might save some time using Neurosolutions.

> www.nd.com

Neurosolutions looks interesting!

If neural network technology was fully developed it too could simulate general systems as virtualware proposes to do. For instance, the Langevin iterative equations that lie at the heart of quantum field theory have the form of a stochastic neural network, and the quantum field can 'simulate' general systems (i.e. the universe and everything within it). Also the neural network within the brain can 'simulate' general systems, i.e. when we perceive the world we don't perceive it directly, what we perceive is a cognitive simulation.

However the computational technology that is currently called "neural networks" is quite primitive compared to the quantum field or brains. It can only learn and apply relatively simple input/output mappings.

I would suspect that if both virtualware and neural network technologies were perfected they would converge to the point that they were indistinguishable. However at present virtualware is focused on simulating general systems whilst neural network technology is focused on learning and applying input/output mappings.

The mathematical principles underlying virtualware are based on linear algebra, and using methods related to the eigenvalue problem gives virtualware the capacity to learn as well but I haven't explored this aspect very deeply - my attention has been on its simulation capacity. For a little information on its learning capacity see: http://www.anandavala.info/TASTMOTNOR/Finite%20Discrete%20Information%20Systems.html#Behavioural_Model_Construction

Virtualware, in its current form can simulate any system that we know how to model, including neural networks. In this capacity it has functionality that Neurosolutions lacks, for instance Neurosolutions couldn't simulate the collapse of a star, or simulate an ecosystem or economy (synchronised with the "real world" counterpart via real-time data collection), or implement a taxi dispatch system, or implement an operating system, or control an industrial process, or implement an online community portal that semantically maps the memetic dynamics within the community (this is the first target application of virtualware), or implement semantic inference / decision processes and so on.

However I certainly don't intend to reinvent the wheel. Whilst virtualware can theoretically implement any type of system, this doesn't mean that current technologies that are already well developed need to be reimplemented in virtualware. Any existing system that is able to interact digitally, such as computer users, software and electronic devices can be integrated into virtualware. The 'external' system is represented by a virtual avatar that is synchronised with the external system and that participates in the system dynamics within the virtual space.

Thus all kinds of technologies and systems can be assimilated into a virtual space and integrated into a super-system. Hence virtualware can be used to integrate whatever systems are available to us in new ways to create systems whose complexity and subtlety were previously prohibitive.

I don't know of any other software that offers this kind of functionality. If anyone else does, then please let me know, I would be very interested to see how they do it.

A simple way of thinking about what virtualware does is, it gives cyberspace a coherent metaphysical foundation, thus allowing it to function as a virtual universe within which virtual systems of all kinds can manifest and interact. These virtual universes can be integrated with each other as well as with our own universe so that we can interact with their virtual systems.


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By John Ringland www.anandavala.info