Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Operating Logic and L00king

Hi all, long delay since the new year as have been busy with renovating my new house. Yes, even without a self we need mortgages and somewhere to live too :) I still have a lot to do to my new house but I am in need of a day off and thought I would give you no selfers, and new explorers something to mull over.

This simple test will show us where our feelings lie in what we believe ourselves to be. If I were to ask you: “Are 'you' just a thought”?

You would likely have a strong reaction to this question and you will probably state that you are more than just a thought. Perhaps the no selfers amongst you will chime in that there is no self and just thoughts arising and passing. These answers are obviously something that is known at a core level as your direct experience so far has yielded this ontology. 

Without going to far in depth, by ontology we simply mean an inventory of what exists. 

The no self ontology is pretty much identical as it was before, except the self we think we are is perceived as illusory. This ontology develops over time and is in stark contrast to someone who has never questioned anything in their lives. Sure, we can all revise our ontologies over time, a good example of this is a scientist. In opposition we have the theist who is committed to a fixed ontology that they cannot venture from.

Having established that we have a personal ontology of what things exist, and how reality is structured, we construct our own model of how the world works through language and other concepts. We may hold certain views that are correct or sometimes even plain daft. 

I remember when I was younger looking at the models of the atoms in the science labs. They reminded me of a solar system and I often used to wonder if this solar system was just an atom in a piece of matter in a much larger world than our own. The earth then, was just an electron whizzing around the nucleus endlessly. If our solar system was just an atom in a world of giants, then each atom in our world was a solar system inhabited by miniature life forms. Then of course, this would go on ad infinitum either way until we got to microscopic and gargantuan!

Of course this was a bit whimsical, but I always had such philosophical inclinations from an early age and I used to marvel at what reality was and even whether there was a god or not. We can all take a page out of these childhood musings as it does emphasise the point I wanted to make here. 
At TS & RT we often used to bang on about looking at direct experience, and that logic was superfluous to this task. This is true to an extent, however, sometimes to break our 'beliefs' down it is worth looking at what our models yield. Very often when we make fixed statements about the world it means we are committing ourselves to some kind of position, or model that we have constructed of the world.

Why is this important?

This is a power tool that Ciaran used extensively in his investigations and it is worth outlining this as a point of leverage for gaining some traction. To use a metaphor, we can imagine that each ontology, or model of reality, is a pair of glasses through which we view the world. We would notice that the view is different with each pair we try on, and there are many to try out. 

There are glasses that blur your vision, tint your vision, or even bring something in to clarity and focus. There is always an optician on hand to tell you which is the best pair to view the world through, the corporate media representative might be the slimy one trying to tell you not to take off the ones that skew your vision completely. 
Jokes aside, this means that every time we hear an idea from someone else we should not just nod along in agreement or take it at face value. The approach we are using here requires a very different method to what we are used to and the key point is this.

You actually put on the glasses and look at what the world is like through those lenses.

In other words when presented with a new concept, what we want to do is climb inside it and look at how the world would actually look if this concept was true. This is in stark contrast to the usual way we go about doing things which is trying to filter it through our own prejudices and preconceptions. 
Of course, were we to carefully consider everything then we would have no time and we would have to sift through a lot of BS that is presented to us everyday by the media and various crackpots. In this sense our prejudices can be a time saving measure and are indeed a useful mechanism. However, as fair enquirers we need to focus on the minutiae of our ideas related to our models of reality, and we do not accomplish this by dismissing possibilities without evidence derived from direct experience.

You may have come across this way of doing things before on Ruthless Truth, but if you missed all that madness, here it is again because this is one of the cornerstones of doing an investigation, and is one of the most useful tools I have come across for exposing dishonesty in your thinking patterns.

Have a little faith

When we first started using this tool it was to smash peoples arguments apart with devastating counter arguments. Ciaran referred to this as 'faith'. He derived a whole new use for the word and reclaimed it from the religious folk. Faith that is never put to the test was viewed as worthless, and what we used to do is actually test no self every day by putting it on the line. In this sense, what we were doing was actually opening ourselves up to the very real possibility that we were wrong.

This was somewhat disconcerting. I have explored the mechanism of the false self in a piece called 'Beggaring Belief' on this blog, where I argued that we are driven to protect our belief structures, as our brains perceive attacks on our model of reality as direct threats. Of course, we can go out and test this out right now by fucking with peoples belief systems. 

A good one to utilise is one of the most common ones among the older generation. Your parents will likely believe it is important to have a strong work ethic and they might utilise the old saying “You have to work for a living that is the way the world is”. Try challenging that one (unless your family live off benefits of course) by getting them to question why they actually work and see how quickly it takes for them to get angry. 
You will actually see them get really angry about this because they have never questioned these beliefs before and they are invested in their routines.

If you cannot be doing with the hassle, I am sure that the legacy of TS and RT are sufficient proof of how people can cling to belief systems even when they have been torn to shreds. In any case, the point is that putting your beliefs on the line is not a very pleasant experience. In that sense the process feels uncomfortable. However, this is entirely the point.

It is supposed to feel uncomfortable.

If it feels uncomfortable then that means you are going about the process correctly. What you need to do is dig deep in to your own beliefs and ideas about the world and then trial them by fire.

So, the question here is how do we do this?

This all sounds well and good but how do we actually use this in a practical way that yields results? Well this does not come without a few tries but once you get the feel for doing this it will become ingrained as a thought pattern which is what you want. Let us now consider an example of using this process and show how we might go about exploring a concept using this method I have outlined.

Going back to our solar system/ atom ontology that I had as a fanciful idea as a child, lets see how we can use this method to test it for coherence.

Firstly, what does the world look like through these lenses?
The world appears as it is to us, yet there are midgets inhabiting a miniature universe inside each object in our world - a mesa-universe. Beyond the known universe in our world, we merely experience the confines of an object that appears in a larger world, that we might consider is a meta-universe, inhabited by giants.

What if this were actually true?
If it was true then there would be multiple layers of universe contained within each other decreasing in size exponentially, and there would be multiple universes beyond each layer increasing in size exponentially. Both of these would have to proceed on ad infinitum, and thus reality is infinite.

What does this model suppose?
This is the important part. What we have done is layed out the belief and put it on the line. We have looked at what the world would be like through these lenses and considered what it would be like if true. Then we can start to check its integrity and find any weaknesses. For example, how would we incorporate the phenomena of astrophysics such as supernovas and cosmic rays in to this model? 
Given that there are multiple levels of reality, are the people within them them living an identical reality to us, or an alternate reality? Given that the nucleus of our solar system is 5600 degrees Celsius, surely that would boil water in the giants world or vaporise the miniature solar system?

We can think of many more troubling questions for this ontology but the main point to note is that we have cast doubt on our model. Of course when utilising this principle for real, we would fill this list in its entirety and try to work out every point that casts doubt on our claim. Then at this point we can start to look at reality to see if we can find any evidence in direct experience for these things.

Let us now run through the question I started with at the top.

Are 'you' just a thought?

Lets break it down a bit and look at some of the trajectories that arise. There are two possible answers that you could give here and I want you to take whichever one is the most agreeable to you.

If we supposed for a minute 'you' were only a thought then we might ask what does the world look like through these lenses?

If I did not exist then I could not own any property is one answer I could start with in my investigation. The house that I have been renovating would be owned by nobody since this 'I' that owns it is nothing more than a fantasy. Similarly, we could also say I am not just a thought, and 'I' own my house.

What if this were true?
Well, this part is kind of like taking the red pill as if this were true then nobody ever existed, or ever could exist to own property. On the opposite side of the scales we have the idea that there are 'selves' that have real existence and own property. This may seem counter intuitive to question, but lets go to the next step.

What do these models of reality suppose?
Here is where we start to question what these models suppose as the preconditions for them to be true. Here we need to get creative with our thinking and try and actively find the conditions that support either model. Given that we have an evolutionary model and the big bang, one thing I liked to play with here, was the start from scratch idea. 
Given that before the universe there may have been a giant black hole that exploded, we could imagine that there were two particles that were not part of this black hole. Which one would have ownership? We could take it from there, what if there were three, what if one of them was conscious blah blah. 

We could also use the deity and suppose that god created the self, and thus property rights are something real. This is uncertain and we would have to run the process here again, so if god created the self what would be the pre-conditions for this state of affairs. Then we go free will, blah blah.

The point is this can be a can of worms at times, but as long as we doing this to expose our beliefs, we can take the results of these investigations and then shine the light of truth on them by looking in direct experience. The point is that we find the pre-conditions and contingencies upon which our beliefs are based, and then we subject these to intense scrutiny to see if they are coherent with reality itself, rather than our other ideas. 
In essence we are mining away at our taken for granted thought patterns, and subjecting them to intense scrutiny. This is how we start to yield the faults in our assumptions and our own dishonesty.

There are many other places we could take this. For instance, if 'I' was just a thought, would you be able or unable to control your thoughts? Would it logically follow, in this instance, that you could not actually be separate from your thoughts?

This is where we get to the point that we can start to test out how cognition functions, and we can look at that. The possibilities are seemingly endless and we just have to keep turning over rocks and being systematic in our hunt for the truth. Whilst there is no defining truth we can certainly discover uncertainty and that is the main strength of this process. We use logic to dig out our assumptions and presuppositions, and then we look for any evidence that these are true in our direct experience. AKA: JFL (Just Fucking Look). 

In this way we are levering our mental faculties to find inconsistencies in our thinking, and then trying to expose the lies we have told ourselves all our lives by looking at them. This is a powerful technique and it takes a bit of time to get the hang of but it is well worth it. Kudos for Ciaran for setting it out originally, I hope this working example gives you an idea of how it can be utilised, and leveraged in investigations in to the self.

As I say the possibilities are endless and you will find that this becomes an established thinking pattern with continued use. Please feel free to post any of your own ideas and musings in the comments. I know this can take you to some wacky places and you might not want to put this crazy stuff on display, but I think if you can can get the hang of this and share some of the breakthroughs it may prove useful to others who want to tread the same ground as you.

Till next time...

Popular Posts