Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random thoughts - 30 Nov

Food: looks vs taste: Totally different facets of experience

Today while I was eating my favorite, I closely observed how the food looked and then took a morsel in my mouth and felt its taste. On paying close attention, I discovered something strange. The visual part of food and the taste part of it are like 2 different worlds. There are some relationships, like something black indicates its burnt etc. but taste and visual appearance are so different in qualia. As a metaphor, I thought about how some people looked average but yet they can make you feel so good.

Wonderment food: Ancient man from villages or visits today's city

I was just imagining...what if I was a man from ancient times, say 3000BC, living in a simple village and I visit my current city for the first time.

What are the things I would wonder about?
  • I would be surprised by all the mega organizations like food outlets, the standard look of buildings, infrastructural complexity, the common language of rules which people followed, superstructures that enabled coordination - in small villages, everyone may know each other and speak the same language with very basic infrastructure
  • automobiles for transport - it was only horses or bullock-carts in the villages
  • the kind of music in eating joints - the whole speaker technology would strike wonderment, its ability to re-create a vast array of sounds from just a small magic box and induce great pleasure....the village may just have live instruments
  • Foods like ice-creams and the sheer variety and complexity of food available should strike wonderment - villages may have staple food made from only a few ingredients
  • Artificial lighting with its reliability, brightness, consistency and longevity would astound - villages may just use daylight, fire and candles.
  • The paving of the ground for roads, sidewalks with decorative tiles would be something to marvel at
  • Planes in the sky would look like giant birds
  • The variety in people's clothes, its quality and workmanship would induce wonder - villages may just have clothes covering basic parts. In cold regions, they may use coats from animal skins with workmanship just to fit the requirement
  • I would feel so alien - since there are huge number of people following the invisible rules and fiercely moving about with purpose but I do not know anybody
  • Typing on a computer keyboard would feel so unnatural and the screen technology would amaze. It can create representations of the real world, virtual imagined worlds. In fact it would take some time to get used to the flickering LCD screen and perceive the depth and 3-D perspective movement from the images on the flat screen
  • Sitting in front of the computer for 10+ hours a day would look like a very strange and uncomfortable thing to do
There is so much to admire and wonder about even in today's world. We fail to see these perspectives. If this world can induce so much wonderment if you are coming from the past, imagine what the future would be like? Wouldn't it be as astounding for a present day man?

Deconditioned and inspired action: Taoism philosophy

I wish I could give up all my obligations, liabilities and responsibilities and stop this compulsive action from external force. I want to be totally at rest and all my actions should be out of inspiration  and not because I am forced by external stuff.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What would you ask?

If I could ask for a wish from a God, I would choose one of these:
  • The most magical and euphoric experience ever and a strong memory of that so that I would stop craving for it and be satisfied even from just recalling it
  • A glimpse of the ultimate truth so that I can reorient my life
  • Kill me once and make me come back with memory of this experience throughout the process
  • Bring me into the present moment, de-conditioned completely for a good amount of time

History of 'me'

The raw material that I possess from the time I was born is simply this dynamic body and a mind that only has certain innate wants, predilections and needs.

In our formative years 0-4yrs, we map this world with our pointers for what we need and desire. This mapping is the generator of core beliefs and conditioning. We even register certain facial features, gestures, behaviors that guide our intuition, love map, choice of partners etc. in later life.

I seriously wonder, all the knowledge I think I have, the personality I possessed has all been acquired from outside. What I am innately born with is just this dynamic body and mind empty of content. The mind at this stage may simply have basic instinctual information and pointers to desires and needs which may be dormant and manifest later.

Infact I can even go further with the reason and argue that, there is another level of cause and effect. What was I before I was born? and why did I get those specific pointers and body? Did I have any choice regarding that? OR was I just a fragment in the endless river of evolution?

What if there were past births that by some causal logic determined my predispositions and pointers?
Then I could go further and question, what was I before the previous births? Are the previous birth's limited to only the human form and this world? What if  other worlds, planets, other dimensions in the same world? I could have been any living creature imaginable or even beyond (beyond since what we can even imagine is limited to our experience with our 5 senses...there might be infinite senses, worlds, dimensions, realities or even universes) What is my original nature that cannot be broken down further? What is my true essence that has carried over all of this path? What is the essence that is mine and independent of time or space?

From this perspective, is what I know right now real knowledge? All this knowledge is acquired from outside. People's knowledge has been evolving too and what was knowledge many centuries has been debunked to a large extent. I really question our ways of knowing. Is it in science or religion? I could go further and wonder if a concept is real in the first place? What is it that is beyond concepts?
Is the mind something permanent? What is beyond the mind and body, beyond concepts, beyond space-time, beyond science and religion, beyond everything imaginable?

Its like a plunge into the space of pure unknown, disregarding all selfish concerns.

Favorite advertisement

One of my favorite advertisements. It beautifully brings out the sense of wonder as these kids try to re-enact the different phenomenon they see around them. Their expressions are so pure, genuine and innocent. I'm finding this pure wonder and innocence getting rarer and rarer as I am getting older. I wish all relationships would be this straightforward. They simply share the same goals and enjoy each others company without any commitment, expectation or other overheads. Its just the the beauty of the moment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are we controlling computers or are computers controlling us?

This is a conundrum. Its not as simple as "Ohh, we created computers, we are obviously superior". There are a lot of other higher perspectives of looking at the same riddle. If we see human evolution, we have literally moved from walking with a hunchback to sitting on a computer chair with the same hunchback. What we consider knowledge is 90% acquired from reading articles online through Google. Huge portions of our day is spent in front of computers and social networking has even offloaded a good amount of our social needs. It seems to be a synthetic reality layer on which most of our knowledge is based on. We think we know what people are really doing and feeling based on their social networking activity on sites like Facebook. Like good marketing, most people also realize this and make their profiles look glamorous featuring the best sides of themselves. You make be chatting with a 50yr old posing as a young girl in a photo and may think that's the truth till the end.

What is the deeper force controlling and manipulating our minds and making us start to believe it as reality? It is kind of like the system of clock time we created, and now we are slaves to our own created entity.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Models of others worlds

I am deeply interested in understanding how other people view the world and its patterns. I would love to create models of their worlds and understand them.

Random thoughts - 19 Nov

I guess we form a mental model of the real world and this model keeps evolving over time as we figure out more and more patterns. Its kind of like a game like oblivion where we start off on a map and as you explore, more and more of the landscape becomes clear to you. Shortcuts you never knew of could be used as much faster transport etc. So 'Understanding' is basically exploring the landscape and figuring out its entire architecture and pathways.

So the question still remains, what is the seeker? I think the most important tangible component would be attention which  I believe is outside the brain. It is like the torch that illuminates reality and changes the brain accordingly. I guess the ultimate tool we have is attention. If we can train one pointed attention, we can use it on any conceivable thing.

I read an interesting article about spiritual teachers being obsessed with worldly things like sex and other egoistic pleasures. What was said was that there is no need to judge them as fraud etc. It is simply that 1st order spiritual pleasures are far more than sex and other egoistic pursuits, so if a person is still obsessed at that level, he probably still needs to progress and is unlikely to have been enlightened. An egoistic soul is like a super interesting rubix cube for a enlightened person to solve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My every thought, word and action reflects me

Everything we speak about reflects our personality. That is how children primarily learn from their parents. There is this subliminal knowledge passed on. A parent may say something but in experience may indicate the exact opposite of that.

For example: I was talking to my parents on phone after many days. My dad described a place that they had recently visited. There was a lot of mention about a relative's 4bhk bungalow, Honda civic car and interior decoration. There was also a mention about trivia regarding the names of all the places they visited, how much time it took them to climb the fleet of stairs, problems such as cold 7 deg C weather and details regarding all the hardships such as leg pain, unable to procure blankets, lack of sleep, space constraints etc. A lot of procedural trivia, like how they booked the helicopter, made other arrangements for food etc. Details about the exact distances they walked etc. 

What it means is that, out of the super-set of reality, these specific details were filtered and stored in memory and a lot of importance was given to these aspects. At a different level, attention flowed to these aspects. There might be a lot of unsaid information too but this definitely indicates to me what this person considers important, important enough to be stored in memory and shared with people.

My parents always seemed to verbally convey the impression that they do not value material possessions and money much. But there was a tone of fascination and explicit descriptions of the bungalow, car and interior decorations. What does this indicate to me? They do heart of hearts value these else they wouldn't even notice it so intently. It does impress them. Its like the love hate paradigm. They both operate like 2 sides of a coin. The real essence is attention. So the opposite of love-hate would be pure indifference.

It seems like whatever we talk about reflects us. The style and tone we use to describe something, the specific content or details we extract and choose to present from our super-set of reality, each of these speaks about what matters to me and my intentions. Every word I say, every action I do, my every thought reflects me.

In reality, as quantum physics would agree with, everything is everywhere. You see and talk about what matters to you. The entire reality is filtered through beliefs and we see through our own set of them. Different people live in different realities and have multiple perspectives on everything. Society has made a gigantic effort in creating 'sameness' and has succeeded to a great extent. However at a microscopic level our individual differences will always be there just like 2 flowers can never be exactly alike.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Any model is still within created constraints

Nothing can be truly explained in terms of a block diagram model. There are tons of layers and these layers are connected too. They may have symbiotic relationships, different types of dependencies and also circular, iterative and probabilistic relationships. Once we move to the metaphorical level, each thing can be not only be connected to everything else but also in myriad ways. I strongly believe each thing is connected to everything else at a higher level (like the concept in avatar movie). A mega chain of relationships may even connect something as remote as beavers in central america and  the quality of tea in japan or something like that. Each thing is inseparable from everything else, almost like a hologram or a fractal.

It seems that, the only way to construct any kinds of abstractions in reality such as block diagrams is to impose artificial constraints. The limits could be on boundaries and complexity of relationships.

For example:
  • The stretch of imagination required to relate 2 fields should not be too much(subjective constraint depending upon audience)
  • Metaphorical relationships are to be kept minimum(subjective constraint, in truth metaphors are equally valid)
  • The chains should not be longer than 20 arrows across(to limit complexity and scope)

Everything is constrained whether, its anything I do in a job, the way a house is built, any kind of design etc. Along with nature's rules human beings too have a ton of artificial rules. Its a complex dynamic system among humans and I think the primary reason for conformity and rule creation is to create 'sameness' in society. People cannot work together if they do not want the same things. Language itself, the most powerful tool in our communication, is inherently constrained. When I say I'm happy, its an abstract concept and there could be tons of feelings grouped under this category.

Music volume analogy - social gravity and perspectives

Like higher music volumes, certain perspectives and social gravity dominate our views. Once we de-condition ourselves by staying alone for a while (keeping the brain active), we once again regain most of our original views and feelings.

To me, a good analogy would be soft and loud music playing simultaneously. Say there is some mild music leaking from your neighbors house. It is possible to hear it only when the room is totally quiet. Then say you switch on the television at a moderate volume, the sound from your neighbors house is drowned. At the next level, you could put on headphones and blast some loud trance/rock music. Now even the television sound is drowned. You can once again quieten the place enough to hear the faint sounds again coming from outside your house.

I guess in a similar way, social gravity(societal influence, especially when you are in a heavy social situation) dominates our thought patterns and perspectives. It is difficult to regain your original thoughts when there is no much noise. Once alone, in a quiet place, the original thoughts return just like the faint sounds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Knowledge of impermanence

Though I have been reading about this concept for ages, it seems to get clearer and clearer by the day as I associate to my other reading as well. The latest insight was when I thought about my behavior when I knew I was seeing something for the last time. When I was suffering in my childhood days, I never imagined that my mind would be like my present state 12yrs later. Now in retrospect I wonder, had I known this, would my behavior have been different? I strongly feel it would have made a significant difference. I operate and think in a totally different way when I know its the last time I am seeing something.

There have been so many small instances in my life where I have noticed this. Once a guy dropped into my apt and was going to leave for India the next day. I had briefly met him in a trip previously that lasted for 3 days. He had a strange personality and not very sociable or welcoming. I thought the trip was just a temporary thing and that he was going to return to US after the vacation. Later, I discovered that he was permanently going back to India. This revelation totally changed my thoughts and behavior towards him. I started giving him much more attention and spoke to him for long since I knew it was the last time I would ever see him.

The deeper I think the more I realize that there are a lot of things we see for the last time in our lives. Its like stepping twice in a river, the river is actually different every single time. There are so many people we meet just once or places that we may never see again. You may say there is a probability of seeing them again, but a LOT of times that is extremely low especially if your traveling around the world, studying abroad etc, or a lifestyle that involves a lot of changing environments.

Even the stuff we take as constant are actually not on close observation. My thoughts are continuously changing if I observe them keenly. Even my mental state of mind and physical sensations are unique at every moment. There is nothing to grasp, unless I put a huge amount of effort to maintain a status quo. For example: Say I regularly fantasize about sex related content, but sexual content is just a concept, the kind of feelings, quality of mental images and creativity is very different even if I do this twice everyday. Even this effort is just a trap that makes us do the same thing over and over again.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The word 'balance'

The word balance always made me feel uncomfortable for a long time. Now when I think back on why I felt uncomfortable I got some interesting insights. Earlier my concept of me = all the experiences I had + my future experiences. So the word balance meant, I'll have to live within a narrow band of experience - not going too high or low. This was imprisoning by itself. I felt it was too stifling and restrictive.

Now I look at the same word in a different way. This comes from a paradigm shift in what I think of me. Now, me = the blank screen on which all experience happens. Also, the fact that all experience begin and end. They have different life times but being born and dying and distinct start and end points to them. So now the word balance means something different to me. It is about you having the freedom to choose and control your experiences rather than being a slave to them. For example: if I get addicted to coffee, then it becomes a need and that controls me vs me choosing to have it. Now, balance for me is maintaining this freedom of perspective, choices, actions etc.

Deep learning however happens when you go far off the mean. If I take an atom analogy, say your experiences are the electron. If you are close to the nucleus, you would have a limited range of experiences but live a content life. On the other hand, if you are an electron with tremendous energy you could orbit very far, have journey's, extreme pleasure or upheavals. Orbiting far away would make you have much more intense experiences and may result in high wisdom, knowledge and deep empathy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cause of suffering

The cause of suffering is said to be resistance to "What Is" of kind. This statement is so profound. Everyday I see new meanings for this simple saying. Almost any kind of suffering can be explained by this simple statement. When I get an injection, I do not suffer because I am ready for that pain which lasts for 4-5 secs. Whereas if someone punches me, that is suffering since I am resisting that person's anger towards me.

Suppose someone asks you the question, where would you rather be right now, the more dreams you can come up with would show how far away you are from living your actualized life and this causes suffering. Dreaming causes suffering if you believe that the dream you conjured up is a much much better state than the present.I like to be in a state of day dream since I have freedom compared to real life which is much more restrictive. This addiction to dreaming of wonderful possibilities or free exploration coupled with a high desire for perfectionism manifests itself as torpor. This too causes suffering since I resist 'what is' in the social world and all that it expects from me. At a higher level beyond concepts etc. raw emotions need to be accepted for what they are. Anger is anger, fear is fear, joy is joy etc.

Relationships beautifully bring out your entanglements, attachments, obsessions, passions, fears and aversions  in an experiential way. Its one of the greatest teachers especially when the relationship is a deep one lasting at least for a year.

This needs to be disentangled. A dream is a dream, a concept is a concept, seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing etc. and lastly , 'what is' is 'what is.

Qualities of a diamond mapped to experience

The ideal +ve experience is where the mind is like an infinitely large diamond that is clear, does not hold anything but yet, reflects/refr...