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« Peak Energy - Peak Economy | Main | When Paul Krugman was Naïve »

June 28, 2010


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Robin Datta

One conclusion that accords with the "scriptures" (Buddhist, non-dualist Hindu and Kabbalistic) is
""I" as the actor is not really the real-time actor at all".

It has also to be realized that that "I" is not dependent on anything else. Without that "I" there would be no awareness of self, no awareness of thought, concept, sensations (from the senses), nor awareness of the ideas put forth on this blog.

The "I" is not an epiphenomenon: it is the very basis on which everything else exists. The awareness when one sees something, hears, touches, smells or tastes something would not be there without the "I". Whether they be raw data of the senses, the basic concepts of objects built thereon, or remote concepts and abstractions, their existence is dependent on the the "I".

When a tree falls in the forest, if there is no creature around with the awareness of sound the vibrations may do everything required of them by physics, but no sound is perceived: and it takes an "I" to be aware of this concept (and of the concepts of neurons and neuronal activity as a framework within which the concepts of brain function are constructed et cetera ad infinitum).

George Mobus


Might you unpack this a bit more?

The "I" is not an epiphenomenon: it is the very basis on which everything else exists.



Hi, George

You seem to have labored quite intensively to offer this work. Given the subject of 'Consciousness' it is understandable.

Truth be told, I only browsed your work to get a general feel for your approach, which seems a bit muddled to me, as one who has read a more lengthy seminal work of over 8oo pages on the subject of consciousness called [url=]My Big TOE:[/url]

[quote] [url=]My Big TOE[/url], written by a nuclear physicist in the language of contemporary Western culture, unifies science and philosophy, physics and metaphysics, mind and matter, purpose and meaning, the normal and the paranormal. The entirety of human experience (mind, body, and spirit) including both our objective and subjective worlds, are brought together under one seamless scientific understanding.
If you have a logical, open, and inquisitive mind - an attitude of scientific pragmatism that appreciates the elegance of fundamental truth and the thrill of breakthrough - you will enjoy this journey of personal and scientific discovery.
Based upon careful scientific research and logical deduction, this is a book for all who have an interest in the nature of the reality in which they exist. My Big TOE is not only about scientific theory, function, process, and discovery - but also speaks to each individual reader about their innate capabilities. Readers will learn to appreciate that their human potential stretches far beyond the limitations of the physical universe. [/quote]

I appreciate your hard work, but may I respectfully suggest you take a hard look at Tom Campbell's work.


My apologies for not double checking which markup language is compatible on this blog.


My apologies for not double checking which markup language is compatible on this blog.

Robin Datta

Thank you, RBM, for the link, which led me to this video
that concatenates what has been brewing on the scientific side for well nigh a century: it jibes well with the teachings that have been extant for millennia in Buddhism, Hinduism and Kabbalah, both in general and in a remarkable number of specifics. It will also serve to unpack my comment.


Holy Toledo! Please don't let the solipsism inquisition get me!

Robin Datta

Solipsism is also inadequate. It is to be remembered that (according to some Buddhist traditions) upon achieving full awareness, the first utterance of the Buddha was that he had achieved full awareness at the time when the first Buddha had had done so, and that he would not achieve full awareness until the last sentient being had done so.

It is to be remembered that no sentient being is different from humans in its essential self; this is seen throughout Hinduism and Buddhism, is implicit in the Bible and Kabbalah, and more recently in Carlos Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan (the encounter with the beetle).


For me, without falsifiability, there is no usefulness.


The individually consistent on-going narrative that we hear in our heads, that we refer to as “I” has no actual control over any of the actions executed by our body. Rather this “I,” through its rationalization of events and meaning-making mapping of the world, constantly alters the store of tacit knowledge. From this store of tacit knowledge that is constantly updated by the rationalizing “I,” the tactical and operational controllers evaluate the environment and take action.

The rationalizing mind is susceptible to the myriad of cognitive biases ( ) and therefore humans continue to make suboptimal choices for themselves and their species on a daily basis. The work of questioning everything, reducing the influence of belief, and allowing creativity and logic to create a better map of the world enhances personal efficacy.

The holding of any belief or ideology as beyond question is the preservation of a less-than-helpful map of the world. Conservative thinking and the fear of the unknown are balanced against the utility of a map of the world that can never be perfected. As we are subject to this consciousness and trapped by the solipsistic inability to know the world except through this consciousness, the most useful thing we are able to do is modify the map of the world towards the asymptote of imperfectability. The worst thing one can do is to believe that there are answers and that they have found the answers.

In order to develop one’s self (specifically one’s store of tacit knowledge) towards the impossible goal of a perfect map of the world, one must continually question everything. Hold all ideas and assumptions as theories that can never be proved correct: they are merely theories yet to be disproved.

We are all madmen fighting the windmills created by our own rationalizing, meaning-making narrative. We can never shake off this hazy consciousness and see the world as it truly is.

“I” continue to fight the unbeatable foe, dream the impossible dream, and attempt to perfect my imperfectable map of the world.

Robin Datta

The mind is an epiphenomenon: it is to the "I" as a shirt, pants or shoes - or for that matter an arm or a leg.

Little truths like little waves shimmer and glitter on the surface: great truths, like the great ocean deep, are dark and silent.

George Mobus


Would consider it, but need clean URLs.

As a side note, please recognize that I have actually read quite a lot from many different perspectives re: consciousness, both supposedly scientific approaches as well as more philosophical ones. All have left me unsatisfied!


George Mobus

To all,

More or less what T0wnp1ann3r said!!!!

I had no intention of unleashing a flood of esoterica. I am directly familiar with all of the mysterium versions of consciousness as a student and practitioner of Vedic and Buddhist traditions and numerous spiritualities.

I look for the resolution between subjective experience and objective facts about human brains and behaviors. References to ancient practices, while interesting, do not address the central subject. We human beings are living in a physical universe and subject to evolutionary selection. The central question is how is our kind of consciousness relevant to that selection.

I don't think the answer resides in the mysterium. Though I suspect it is not a simple understanding.

Can we stick to verifiable, measurable phenomena?

PS No intention to offend anyone. But I would ask that we stick to scientifically verifiable (e.g. falsifiable) propositions.


I'm wondering if you have any insights into the cerebral basis of separation or psychological disconnection from nature George?
Separation and 'forgetting of being' seem to lie at the root of modern ecocidal problems.... could it be arrested development, with people in modern culture never maturing completely?
Maybe the coming of age rituals were partially successful in overcoming the limitations of ego and separation?


George, sorry, :-) I just need to quote a classic Buddhist thing...: The grand picture you outlined (esp. the 3 eyes in your last figure) is much reminiscent of the exercise of Pratyaveksana ("Higher order awareness" or something).
[Quoth Buddha:] "Just as if one person were to reflect on another, or a standing person were to reflect on a sitting person, or a sitting person were to reflect on a person lying down; even so, monks, the monk has his theme of reflection well in hand, well attended to, well-pondered, well-tuned by means of discernment. This is the fifth development of the five-factored noble right concentration." (Anguttara Nikaya 5.28)

I share your concern of the futility (if not counterproductive diversion) of much of old mysterio mumbo jumbo. Yet methinks Buddhism (and I've not seen any other old stuff coming close) has some deep insights into brain workings and how to overcome antisapience. Alas they are hidden under a thick layer of mysterio dust and ancient technical terms.

I tried to formulate a hope in my last comment on "ego" (i.e. less in Freud's sense, but in the sense of "egotism" and stuff). Done some research since and encountered a jewel of a book by one Chögyam Trungpa [Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism], where he writes: Ego is able to convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. -- Replace the last word with strategic thinking and there's my theory/hope of how to better S½OC ... :-)

If we can't grow BA10 by bio-technical means (given the prospect of collapse of our tech civilization) there might still be hope to grow it by "noble right" exercise (like a muscle indeed), then solidify that by culture and finally by culturally selected breeding. Brain plasticity my hope...


This TOE is falsifiable.

[quote="George"]But I would ask that we stick to scientifically verifiable (e.g. falsifiable) propositions.[/quote]

The second condition does not necessary follow the first. You seem not to appreciate that.

From another perspective: the subset (science) is trying, but unable to, describe the superset (TOE).

I could provide corrected links, but their seems to be no use in that, as indicated by the above quote with all it's implicated limitations. You, and readers of the blog have enough information to pursue links, given the will.

I will drop the topic, in respect to your wishes, on your blog.

Good Luck with your efforts on this topic.

George Mobus


I haven't come across anything that specifically addresses separation as such. My guess, however, is that it has to do with stress effects on the limbic system which then disrupts communications with the PFC. Just a guess though.


George Mobus


If we can't grow BA10 by bio-technical means (given the prospect of collapse of our tech civilization) there might still be hope to grow it by "noble right" exercise (like a muscle indeed), then solidify that by culture and finally by culturally selected breeding. Brain plasticity my hope...

This seems a most likely scenario.


George Mobus

RBM and all,

I must admit I don't follow your statement. Please do help me appreciate whatever it is you think I should.

Let me try to further explain my position. I have studied consciousness from both the metaphysical framework (primarily the Vedic tradition) and practiced meditation and had strange experiences often described as 'transcendence'. I have also, as should be obvious, made a long-term study of how the brain works and produces what we call mind and behavior.

My experience with the former is that there is so much rhetoric (e.g. "higher states of consciousness") that fails to provide a satisfying explanation of the phenomenon. Instead we are left being told that the phenomenon is too esoteric to be explained in words and you simply need to experience it. And indeed, meditations do produce subjective experiences that are hard to reconcile with common experience. This I have done directly. So I am not unfamiliar with the more esoteric approaches to understanding consciousness. I have had out-of-body experiences as well as long periods of inner consciousness (being) so I have the subjective experiences claimed as part of the whole metaphysical framework.

But, none of that resolves what the brain might be doing. I've read the quantum physical speculations about how quantum states affect brain states at the synaptic levels. Still no real explanation and certainly very little evidence.

I am intent on finding explanatory models of neural and brain functions that actually explain what is going on to produce these subjective experiences. We already know that the brain can produce some extraordinary images (illusions) on its own. It can be fooled by all kinds of sensory input. There is no reason to believe that we need to invoke a metaphysical, non-physical realm to find explanations (indeed reverting to metaphysics precludes explanation).

I have no doubt that some day we will have a very good model of human consciousness that does explain our subjective experiences, such as OOB or transcendence. And I suspect there will be reconciliation with the rhetorical statements from ancient practices that attempted to describe a phenomenon without a scientific basis to work from.

In this I have a very potent ally from the otherwise esoteric metaphysical worldview - the Dali Lama himself has said that science and ancient practices must be ameliorated. He further proclaimed that if there were ever conflict between science and beliefs, science should trump beliefs! Of course we assume he meant science in its holistic sense as a process rather than a static picture of knowledge at one instant in time!


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