Dr. Donald DeGracia, NIH Medical Scientist Talks Yoga and Consciousness |388|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    A lot of NDErs, Astral travelers, and even some mediums suggest that our beings are multi-personal and dimensional. I certainly wouldn’t rule out what you said!
     
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  2. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    That is something I was wondering about, too.

    I end up with the idea that everybody's inside of everybody else, like some kind of impossible chain of Russian nesting dolls where Person A's consciousness contains Person B's consciousness and Person C's concsiousness, while at the same time Person C's consciousness contains Person B's and Person A's and so on and so forth.

    (There might also be a space to bring in holograph or fractal versions of those ideas, too, where each tiny piece of one nesting doll contains the entirety of the nesting doll and onward in all directions, where each individual's consciousness is one nesting doll somewhere along the continuum. Hard to say why we individuals would have different experiences of consciousness in that model, other than to say that we would all have slightly different positions, so maybe that would be enough of a difference to result in our different experiences in that model.)

    I do believe DeGracia gets into some of those ideas somewhere in his material.

    Reminds me of the John Crowley idea from the novel Little Big -- the further in you go, the bigger it gets.

    Naturally, none of that is a particularly satisfying solution from a Western logic perspective.

    On a different but related topic, I think Moody's idea is to carefully identify, describe, and study all the non-logical ideas (and non-logical experiences?), group them into categories, and treat them as data, looking for hidden patterns that might reveal deeper meaning or deeper patterns that we don't currently have at our disposal. Sort of like the idea behind the database of UFO sightings and experiences. It does seem like the illogic of the impossible nesting dolls may be diffferent--in a meaningful way--than the illogic of saying there's life after death or whatever. Just in my brief sampling of DeGracia's work, there does seem to be serious problems with logic, but it feels like certain kinds of problems with logic, which may in themselves be meaningful if we could trace the problems of logic back to some "ordering principles" or "natural features" that were responsible for them.
     
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  3. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    Dialetheism and paraconsistent logic may be a move toward an answer to the earlier question about what a new kind of logic might look like. (Dialetheism is not a complete system. I think paraconsistent logic may be more of a system. I haven't gotten that far yet.)

    Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/

    Two version of the law of non-contradiction:

    1. No proposition is both true and false.
    2. For any A, it is impossible that both A and not A be true.

    Source: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/

    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialetheism

    Obviously, the law of non-contradiction works a lot and it works very well, especially in realms of engineering and related fields. But supposing there are experiences where it doesn't work? After all, the law itself is just an assumption that a lot of Western logic is built on.

    A major problem with Dialetheism and related is revealed on the Wikipedia page--under "See Also" there is a link for "doublethink." In the realm of politics, law, etc, there can be some real problems with different kinds of logic.

    Edit: I think Graham Priest may have beat Moody to the punch: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Limits-Thought-Graham-Priest/dp/0199244219
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  4. dpdownsouth

    dpdownsouth Member

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    One way to solve it is to ditch complete Idealism. OK, then you assume, as Rupert Sheldrake does with his blinking dogs and psychic budgerigars or whatever, that there is, in fact, a world out there that your mind reaches out to when you perceive an external object with your senses. Add an informational substrate and it's not so much that everything that is is inside your head, but rather everything that's ever been is enfolded into this informational plane from which your individual consciousness draws its existence, and it's this plane that keeps continuity and preserves form. Memory, habit and PSI would all be functions (intentional and unconscious) of this substrate and the experience of dreams, OBEs, NDEs, imagination, etc. are interactions with it.

    Anyway, I've said before that I sure ain't no systematic philosopher, so, the above is probably riddled with all sorts of problems.

    Well, I think it fails completely when it comes to human relations of all sorts.

    This whole logic of nonsense reminds me of the alchemists and their 'language of the birds'. Alchemical writings are often stuffed full of puns, contradictions, world plays and visual gags. These apparently served a twofold purpose: First, to make the writings obscure to the uninitiated and, most importantly, to prepare the reader's mind to deal (intuitively) with the collapsing of binary oppositions and the handling of contradictory propositions..... it was a form of training.

    Alchemists were (are?) obsessed with the union of opposites.

    So, what are NDEs, abductions, OBEs, etc. training our consciousness for? Why are we being inducted into the language of the birds? :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    this interview is still echoing thru my head:
    Whitley Strieber | The Visitors, Communion, The Afterlife, & Anne | The ...

    "maybe this is all much, much, much stranger than we could possibly imagine." -- Whitley Strieber
     
  6. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I would go so far as to say that it probably IS far more strange than we can even begin to imagine. And that all of the far out/bizarre things that we like to discuss here are barely even scratching the surface of the strangeness.
     
  7. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    Sounds good to me.

    Somewhere in DeGracia's books, he talks about an idea from India that says things can both exist and not exist simultaneously. Sounds a lot better coming from him. Maybe information would be like that. I wonder if information would be similar to Kant's noumena as DeGracia describes it?

    If we had powerful enough hardware and software, could we use measurements of the current state of the universe and use (hypothetical) math to calculate the underlying information?

    DeGracia also talks about complexity theory/chaos theory. As a metaphor, maybe there's a "complexity boundary" that is formed by shear size of the universe data sets and by shear complexity of how the data interacts. The paradoxes and conflicts that come up at the edges of human inquiries into these questions may be the beginnings of the complexity boundary. That's not to argue against the idea that it's all information, because maybe it is. But I keep coming back to the problem that if we can't penetrate the underlying information very deeply and there's a heaping load of information that we don't understand, what does it mean to say it's information?

    I agree, but the successes are there, and I think the successes are very powerful in shaping culture and ideas.

    I like hearing that about the alchemists. For me, I compartmentalize those last two questions and don't peek in that compartment much. Maybe the answer to that is way beyond what we can comprehend. Or maybe that's just a cop out. ;)

    As Alex and Wormwood say, maybe all the big answers are way weirder than we can fathom.

    For me, I'm drawn to looking at the nature of logic, because even though academic philosophy is usually way too technical to the point of being ridiculous, I think there may be some nuggets in there that feel more grounded and closer to how I experience and think about the world in my day to day life. I can't take a leap of faith that takes me too far away from some grounding that I subjectively feel on account of my life, my community, etc.

    Going sour on the concept of faith when I was growing up had a big impact on me. Arguably not always for the better. ;)

    Edit: I changed this here and there about 45 minutes after I posted.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  8. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    At least we have begun thinking about that strangeness - which is more than most people, I think.

    David
     
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  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    That is a pretty materialistic idea, because it suggests that the universe is a machine - exactly simulatable by another machine. A universe containing consciousness is presumably not simulatable.
    I think it is better to think of it not as information but as consciousness - which is, if you like, a superset of information. Everyone's consciousness contains a lot of information, but it is obviously much richer than that.

    David
     
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  10. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Right. It SEEMS that consciousness effects matter ie-wave function collapse and spin determination during quantum entanglement and psi research. Beyond that, I believe that consciousness, in some form, has facilitated and is guiding the unfolding of our universe in some manner and has probably facilitated many different aspects of it including the evolution of life forms here on this planet and probably other planets as well.

    Mechanistic models cannot allow for consciousness and free will.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
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  11. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Dan

    Thanks for all the nice comments! I saw your points above and thought I would address them.

    1. I've had the same thought as you about how Taimni talks about atoms outside of our body. Obviously, I don't know what he was thinking. I resolve this seeming contradiction with the idea that these are all elements of the screen of consciousness. So, in fact, they are really inside of our minds.

    2. Your second point is more substantial from my point of view. Yes, I am saying the Absolute (or Kant's transcendental) is outside of the mind. But the Absolute cannot be understood at all when we are "in" our minds. It is an apparent contradiction. Period. It just is. The reality is beyond our intellects ability to understand. It is an example of what Nicholas of Cusa called "Learned Ignorance" meaning it is something we can recognize as something we can never understand.

    The mind always gives a relative picture of the Absolute. It's just how minds work. It is impossible to be in the mind and understand the Absolute. It is a seeming contradiction at the heart of our being. To understand it would be to understand how the One becomes The Many.

    If this is the case, then why even talk about it? Because yoga claims we can exit the mind and BE the Absolute, which yoga calls Kaivalya (the Alone). The processes and steps of yoga, seen as a kind of template, actually make perfect sense. What we cannot understand intellectually is what is actually experienced when someone successfully completes those steps. That is why, at one point in the book (Yogic View) I talk about how its an exercise in absurdity to even try to discuss what is in the mind of a yogi.

    3. Yes, you are correct. It is idealism with the added idea that we can access the transcendental (i.e. the Absolute) via the methods of yoga. But it is more than just Western idealism in that yoga has a complex description of the inner levels of the mind (vitarka, vicara, ananda, asmita) that is not present in Western thinking. For this reason, I see the yogic teachings as "bigger" than Western idealism. Western idealism never got off the screen, to use the terms I use in the book. Jung and Freud got deeper than the idealists did, for example.

    Anyway, hope that helps clarify. Thanks for taking an interest in the work!
    Best wishes,

    Don
     
  12. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi David

    Yoga escapes the problem of Solipsism via the bindu and Absolute. In the Absolute, all things interact. Those interactions project up through the bindu, filter up through the layers of consciousness, and are projected on to the screen of consciousness where we perceive them as interactions between "me" and "the rest of the world". What is reflected on the screen of our immediate awareness is, as van der Leeuw says, real enough. It is our relative perception of events in the Absolute. But it is only a relative reality. The Absolute nature of what occurs is inaccessible unless one can use the yoga methods to go into the Absolute and perceive the event in those terms.

    So in sum, the yogic view is definitely not solipsism.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  13. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    LONE SHAMAN WHERE ARE YOU!!!!??? Yes, for those of you who remember my last time here, me and Lone Shaman discussed a lot! -Don
     
  14. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi again, Dan. Yep, you nailed it. What you said is one way to describe the Absolute in words. I have a chapter in the book that links this back to Leibniz' monad theory where each monad "reflects" all other monads.

    When you say the idea is unsatisfying, I guess it depends on your perspective. I mention in the book that Leibniz' idea gets the maximum explanation out of the minimum of concepts, which Leibniz himself appreciated. This was one of the earliest expressions of what is now called "least action" in physics, that nature gets the most out of the least action. This is a very important guiding principle in physics now and is actually very satisfying intellectually. But that is perhaps tangential to what you were getting at. As a model of consciousness, I don't know what you are looking for to be satisfying. But Nature is what it is no matter what we want it to be. Consider for example quantum mechanics. The theory drives everyone crazy because it has no intuitive interpretation. But the math works 100% all the time. So the lesson here is that nature is what it is, the math works, and our intuition of what should be is the problem! LOL!

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  15. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Everyone!

    As you can see I posted a few replies above to messages that I felt I could answer. I just wanted to pop in and say hi and thank everyone for the nice comments and enthusiasm about the interview with Alex. Also to let you know that, as you all know, its the start of the school year, and I am busy with teaching and so haven't been able to participate here as much as I did the first time Alex and I talked. But I will pop in when I can.

    Anyway, I am happy to answer questions or get into debates. For all of you that take the time to look over Yogic View of Consciousness, THANK YOU!

    I can say, as some have noted above, Alex and I didn't really focus on the whole model I present in the book. There is a more thorough description of the model in the book.

    One opinion I have, that derives from (1) all my reading in these general topic areas, (2) the fact that I am trained as a scientist, and (3) that I have experience with altered states, is that we in the West still don't fully understand Hindu ideas. Yogic View is as much an attempt to find the meaning of certain Hindu ideas as it is to express a model of consciousness. Many of the Hindu ideas stem from experiences in altered states, making them inaccessible to someone who hasn't had the experience. But inaccessible does not mean incomprehensible. However, the ideas might seem arbitrary or unnecessarily abstract to someone who hasn't had the experience. But if one has had the relevant experience, it is seen that the ideas are not abstract at all but are straight-forward descriptions of phenomena that occurs in altered states. For example, this is where the bindu idea comes from. It is not a theoretical term. It describes something that really happens. When one passes from one state of consciousness to another, the Hindus describe the transition as moving through a bindu, or point, which is what bindu translates as in English.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say this because otherwise, some of the ideas in the book might seen excessive.

    Again, thanks to Alex for a fun time, and thanks to all of you for taking an interest in my "non traditional" work (LOL!). I'll look forward to engaging with you all as you wish.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  16. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Dan

    Regarding your math comments...

    There is a java app you can download called pplane at http://math.rice.edu/~dfield/dfpp.html. You can input any differential equation into it and study the solutions very easily. This is how I initially learned. The author is a math professor and has a book accompanying the software, which I also bought and studied. What is apparent is that some things in nature can be modeled with linear differential equations, and other things with nonlinear differential equations. Both are useful and practical. For example, quantum mechanics, like the Schrödinger wave equation, is a linear model. That's pretty profound when you think about it. Atoms, electrons, photons all follow linear dynamics. But more complex systems, like society, nervous systems, organ systems, ecosystems, all follow nonlinear dynamics. The proper way to think about it is they are just two more tools in the tool box. Complexity theory is just how you categorize how nonlinear systems behave dynamically. It's all technical information, really. It's interesting to learn. In Hinduism, they call dynamics "gunas" and I discuss a bit how the gunas concept links to our Western concept of dynamics.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  17. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Well, if everything is the one consciousness, then at the level of that consciousness, I suppose solipsism is real enough. And, if Bernardo Kastrup's version of Idealism is true, then as MAL's dissociated alters (with our "constricted" kind of consciousness as Don Degracia might put it), at our level we usually appear to ourselves as non-solipsistic beings.

    Don says in his book (which I've only so far got to the third chapter of) -- I assume paraphrasing one of Van der Leeuw's points: When one passes through the bindu, one becomes all things in Eternity. There is no longer individuality of any kind, only an overwhelming unity of being. Maybe that implies there is a kind of solipsism in place (aloneness as he seems to refer to it?).

    But still, I say to myself, if there's no individuality on the other side of the bindu, then what is it that experiences this overwhelming sense of unity? Is the experience only something we label as such on this side of the bindu? Clearly, there is something that one is at least able to recall (if one has ever been there) of what it's like on the other side.

    In the Abrahamic traditions, there's Christian mysticism and its counterpart in Judaism (Kabbalah) and Islam (Sufism). Here, they speak of the ultimate as being complete annihilation in God: a reabsorption of the essential self into its source.

    This raises a few issues. If we're annihilated in God, do we cease to exist as individuals? If so, why do we instinctively find that frightening? The most precious thing to us seems to be our individuality, and it does appear that we are instantiated as individuals in the illusion of this life. It seems not unnatural to think that losing that individuality would be a catastrophe. Would we lose it entirely in the process of (re-?)becoming Brahman or MAL (or whatever one's preferred term might be)?

    I think that all of the Abrahamic mystery traditions would acknowledge that there are many ways to arrive at the destination, including via non-Abrahamic means such as Hinduism and Buddhism, not to mention pure serendipity. I wonder, Don, if you're reading this, whether Hindus would view other traditions with the same generosity? I'm not being at all polemic -- it's a genuine question, to which I don't know the answer.

    Lastly, there's the question of why we seem to be here at all if eventually we all return to Source. Is Source getting anything out of it? Is it in some sense learning something it doesn't already know, or experiencing something it couldn't experience in any other way? Is it evolving through our agency as sentient beings? Or does it never change?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
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  18. Steve

    Steve Member

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    By the time we eventually return to source, ‘our’ ‘thinking’ may be entirely different to what it currently is. If the state of the world reflects our current state of consciousness then I reckon we’ve a loooong way to travel! What we see as fear on this level might change totally. Who knows?

    I’ve no idea what a bindu might be - but it reminded me of a black hole! My way of picturing us being compressed into one. :)

    Tom Campbell is one person that says that our purpose is (as) Source experiencing itself and slowly gaining entropy (becoming love). It needs to constantly grow like this otherwise It would eventually sort of do what anything does when it’s not challenging itself - it decays and dies. Maybe that is a metaphor, but that’s what he says. I think it’s a nice idea, but is a nice idea enough? Yeah, it’s good enough for me, for now. ;)
     
  19. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    Thanks to Michael Larkin for exposing this charlatan. All these preachers of oneness must be named and shamed.
     
  20. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    If you return to source, you will be annihilated. Fortunately this "source" is only a fictional evil being. There is zero evidence to support that theory.
     

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