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

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

  1. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    I'm not. He was the worst guest ever.
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Member

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    LoL. :D
     
  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Do me a favour and bugger off, will you raimo? You're just trolling and as of now I have put you on ignore.
     
  4. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    Thanks for all your comments, Don. I think you're a really cool dude. :) I like the way you think and put ideas together, and you are clearly passionate and committed and generous.


    I will definately dig more into your material and check out the Liebniz monad material.

    I also like what you say about how many ideas come from actual experience and that experience is an important part of all of this.

    I think for me, some ideas are not satisfying if they don't hold up according to my own subjective feeling of logical sense.

    Like the Schrodinger quote from beyond the physical;

    “The isolated knowledge obtained by a group of specialists in a narrow field has in itself no value whatsoever, but only in its synthesis with all the rest of knowledge and only inasmuch as it really contributes in this synthesis. . . "

    I feel like if an idea doesn't logically connect with my "core ideas or beliefs" about the world, then it takes a leap of faith to bring it into my perspective in a committed way. I grew up in a deeply religious context, so I feel like I have a highly tuned sense for where "knowledge ends and faith begins."

    The irony is that even some of the most logical and "settled" knowledge still rests, in some respect, on a foundation of axioms that are taken on faith. And I know, at the end of the day, my sense of logical core ideas is an intuitive, subject enterprise, but I still feel driven to let it be a guiding energy for myself.

    I want to study a little more of Graham Priest's paraconsistent logic. He has a great youtube series of 6 videos of about ten minutes each. They are basic, with a few more complicated references to Hegel and such, but these are definately watchable as good beginning approach to formal logic.
    He says in the second video that logic is not neutral when it is applied to metaphysics. In the fourth video, he talks about paraconsistent logic. I need to watch that one and study more to understand the details and try to figure out how to apply those ideas to the questions at hand.

    It feels like this is a way to grow my sense of core beliefs to incorporate more exotic ideas. ;)

    What is Logic -- Graham Priest
     
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  5. dpdownsouth

    dpdownsouth Member

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    @Don DeGracia Your website and free books are goldmine of information! Thanks for your generosity.
    Hmmmm, I get your points, perhaps I should have said 'higher order' as opposed to information. Plato's cave works for me, except I dislike the one-way nature of the projector analogy..... so I used the phrase 'informational realm' hoping to imply a two way interaction between higher and lower orders: Form flows out of the higher, but experience, novelty, etc. flows from the lower back into the higher, affecting the whole of what flows out again.

    I also don't see why the projection would have to be considered an illusion. Couldn't they both be 'real' (even if the projector is primary) at their appropriate level of observation and in the right context? So, to this end, I might try mount a pygmy defence of sense realism.

    Trying to collapse the strict wall of dualism between perception and reality could be of use here:

    OK, firstly, Rupert Sheldrake's staring experiments strongly suggest a degree of reaching outward towards the perceived object. Under pure representationalism the act of focusing attention on an object contained within a visual field would, in reality, be the act of focusing attention on a simulation of an object contained entirely within a human brain. So, for attention to have observable external consequences, surely our perceptions/senses must, to some degree, reach out towards the object of attention in space, effectively 'clothing' it 'out-there' and not just within the confines of our own skulls?

    Second, perhaps the bind of an internal consciousnesses representation vs. an external object is an outcome of overly objectifying the useful abstractions into which we parse reality. For one thing, we assume perception to be the act of an entity perceiving the world within which it is contained.... when it's more likely closer to the truth to state that perception is the act of part relating to whole.

    In this sense (excuse the pun) perception is not a transcendent process but is rather a part of the dynamic flow of reality in which parts imbibe and interact with the whole (including its other parts): I see a light, the light has an impact on my optic nerve, my brain, my mind, my memory, the light has changed me. I have, to an extent, imbibed something of the nature of the light which I then carry forward. I have taken on-board something of the essence of the other.

    Mind and matter may not be distinct, dualistic substances but abstractions of a single projection of a higher order or form (or entity?).... in the same way that the linked behaviour of entangled particles may point to them also being a unified projection, only being separate in the abstract.

    I would also assume that the separation of higher and lower orders would similarly be a false division (ultimately, anyway).

    Lastly, given that sense perception can be incredibly useful in navigating our little corner of the world, isn't it likely that our perceptions are indeed valid representations of a certain level reality?

    I'm not sure where this leaves us, but I hope it at least opens the door to overturning the complete unknowability of external reality (or a part of it) from the human perspective. And if this is a kind of realism I'm trying to outline, it's one that includes the entirety of human experience.... so wouldn't be narrowly materialistic.

    Maybe 'pygmy defence' was being optimistic. :)

    P.S. I agree with everyone here who thinks the truth is probably far stranger than we could ever imagine. Inspiring.

    I live in an area with a very large Hindu population. In my experience, Hindu's are very open minded about the validity of other spiritual paths, but they do hold Hindu philosophy to be a pinnacle of achievement.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  6. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    First up, Michael, I love the way you think.

    I absolutely get your point about the fear of loss of one's sense of individuality. Been there. Done that. Here's where I am on that theme now.

    In our presence as beings in physical organic bodies we naturally partake of an essential instinct to preserve our being. Our sense of who we are in inextricably linked to the organic. As an organic being loss of our distinct being would be catastrophic.

    Psychologically we are absolutely dependent on others. We are happy to be 'lost' in belonging, but that does not mean we are no longer concerned about being distinct - as a person. In a recent blog I struggled to articulate the difference between being distinct as opposed to separate. Current critiques on Liberalism will flesh this argument out.

    As organic being we have boundaries that define our organic being and as psychological beings we have boundaries that define our psychological being. We are distinct, rather than separate. Do we lose that distinction?

    I think that inept translations of yogic and Buddhist texts are responsible for creating confusion about the meaning of selflessness and other terms. I spent decades in confusion. I had to figure it out for myself but I was grateful for Frank DeMarco's writings in confirming what I hope I had sorted.

    In essence, who and what we are does not dissolve into some universal consciousness. Who and what we are is retained as is. Remember that we supposedly live in a timeless and spaceless reality. So what is is. But what changes, or evolves, is our locus of awareness. We cease to imagine and feel separate. That is an illusion. Distinction is not. There is a technical argument about how that locus of awareness 'evolves' that I will not engage in here.

    This is my take on things. The cosmic One has no external relationships. All that it is is internal. Time and space are internal constructions of relativity. It is the nature, or destiny, of the One to be infinitely internally diverse. It must be all that it can be. All that can be must be interrelated and connected down to the finest imaginable degree. It all moves via an innate pulse that differentiates into more and more subtle patterns. Somewhere in this we are.

    Feeling okay about this is an existential trauma. There is no getting around this. It freaks the existential crap out of you, and when you get over the trauma you settle down. Some people can't handle that transition at the stage they are at, and come up with counter explanations. But you have to go back to the same drama eventually. This is why there are 'mystery schools' and other communities of learning.

    I liked Don's idea of the Bindu. From my experiences that made sense to me. But then I thought of it as 'the plug hole' - the 'gurgler' in the common vernacular.

    Nothing is lost. In the infinity of cosmic being our particular distinct experiences are as valuable in all their grubbiness and inelegance as the lives of kings. Who and what we are is eternal and valued.

    We fuse the impulses of organic being with that of metaphysical being - we being a fusion of both. But what is true and proper for our organic nature is not so for our metaphysical nature. Our culture profits from emphasising the former and diminishing the importance of the latter.

    We are fundamentally spiritual beings having a physical experience, not the other way round.
     
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  7. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Hi Dan

    There is no doubt that experience drives a POV that non experiencers cannot have. As an 'experiencer' I do not expect you to believe what I say is gospel. All I can offer is a POV informed by experience - so you have a sense of possibilities - not a manifesto.

    I cut my teeth on yogic metaphysics when I was 16, and that utterly warped my take on just about everything. It is head bending in the extreme. Don makes the point that is often overlooked. This is what people who have been there and done that report back. This is weird shit. It is the intellectual platypus delivered to the English psyche.

    You are absolutely right in asserting that "I think for me, some ideas are not satisfying if they don't hold up according to my own subjective feeling of logical sense." Hold that trust in your personal sense of the real and the good. You noted "subjective feeling" and "logical sense". That is critical. We are dealing with 'truths' that require harmonising of existential and rational forms of awareness. Unfortunately we seek to validate the rational over the existential because we are habituated to esteem rational thought over intuition.

    That is a massive error. Logical sense can often be an aesthetic assessment masquerading as reason. It is not reliable. Subjective feeling is a better guide. You know when you are ready.

    The crap thing about knowledge is that is essentially all bullshit. We are struggling toward a state of existential awareness, and we will take whatever is offered to get there. If you go into Don's argument sufficiently what counts is what you think. You could take a post modern view that even the yogic discourse is a privileged one. In saying that what matters is what you think I am not suggesting that the content is what determines virtue. What you think is how you are working through your existential drama. It is the fact of the drama, not the content, that matters.

    It matters because there is a quality of compassion and awareness that expresses as 'spiritual guidance' in its various forms that is activated when genuine effort to know and understand is exerted.

    I think your instincts are on the money here. Stay with them.
     
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  8. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    Thanks for your reply, dpdownsouth!

    This makes intuitive sense to me from a certain perspective. I like the idea that my current experience is 'flowing' from somewhere or something.

    I agree that you could consider the projection to be "real" at some level of observation and context.

    The trouble comes in if you commit to the idea that one's consciousness is the only thing we really know for sure is real.

    If you commit to that idea, then the 'reality' of anything that's not "in consciousness" (ie, the 'things' of the projection) is different than the reality of one's consciousness. So I think that's why, from the perspective that only consciousness is for sure 'real', it's hard to consider the things of the projection as also 'real' in the same way.

    One thing DeGracia talks about are the Gunas, and I think he talks about them basically as ordering principles. So in the last forum discussion from the last time he was on the show, he talks about how he thinks that the theory of evolution, for example, will be replaced with some better understanding of these basic universal ordering principles. I think another aspect of that is that cause and effect as we understand it can be understood not as cause and effect, but as probabilities that if Thing A happens, then it also highly probably that Thing B will happen. Not as a cause and effect system, but just as the natural order of things according to these basic ordering principles.


    One of the advantages of the Gunas thing, the basic ordering principles, is that the same ordering principles are working to shape a person's experience as are working to shape the light that the person is "seeing". So in some way, the light is already on board the person, just in the form of ordering principle.

    I think your parts and whole piece above starts to fit in with the holographic/fractal ideas, which relates to the Gunas stuff and idea of ordering principles.

    I'm sure I'm butchering DeGracia's points, but it is useful for me to respond to you Dpdownsouth so I can try to develop some way of understanding things that works for me. Thanks again for bouncing ideas around.
     
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  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I have banned Raimo for a short while, not for being rude and dismissive about our guest, but for not backing up his criticism in any way.

    David
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  10. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Dan

    Thanks for all the nice comments! That is very kind of you.

    As to your comment about faith, all axioms are based on faith, ultimately. There is a great book by Morris Kline called "Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty" and he gets into this very issue. He discusses the shift to axiomatics in the 20th century...actually "laments" the shift is a better way to put it. Norman Wildberger on youtube also gets into this. I tangent on it a bit in Yogic View when I quote some people who thought Cantor was a nut job. The ultimate criterion is pragmatism: if an axiom continues to work for people over time, it continues to be treated as an axiom.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  11. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi dp

    Thank you too for the very kind comments! There is a neuroscientist, Rudulpho Llinas, who I believe has a really smart concept about the relationship between perception and reality. His first point is, from an evolutionary perspective, our perceptions do not need to be exact mirrors of reality. They only need to correlate with reality good enough to allow us to survive and reproduce. Given the space of all possible ways to represent the world by the brain, and given that there is only one real world the brain is representing, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the representations NOT being mirrors of the one reality.

    Llinas' second main point is how the brain represents reality. His idea requires some basic understanding of how math equations work. An equation has both variables and parameters, like y = mx + b, the equation of all possible straight lines. When you input numbers for m and b, you get a specific straight line. Llinas draws analogy to this for how perception works. All possible perceptions are genetically encoded in the brain, and can be thought of as some (unspecified) set of equations. Then, sensory input serves the same purpose substituting numbers for parameters does in an equation. That is, sensory input parameterizes the "functions" coded in the brain to give specific perceptions.

    This is only a super simple description of Llinas' views and if you are interested, you can look up his books that go into the topic in great detail.

    Finally, I too consider Hindu philosophy and also yoga to be pinnacles of human achievement.

    Best wishes and thanks for commenting,

    Don
     
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  12. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi Michael

    The first rule of spiritual stuff was stated perfectly by Jon Anderson of the band Yes in the song Starship Trooper: "Take what I say in a different way and it's easy to say that this is all confusion". Which, said in different words, everything about spirituality will appear to be a contradiction to the intellect. For example:

    Someone brought up solipsism. I said the yogic ideas are not solipsistic because we all interact in the Absolute, i.e. there is more than just me. However, when you cross the bindu to the Absolute, then it is 100% solipsism. There is ONLY the Absolute. Yoga calls this "Kaivalya", which is the yoga term for "Nirvana", itself which means "extinction", i.e. extinction of the individual into the universal. Kaivalya means "alone". In the Absolute, there is no individuality, but there is being, only one being, and this is 100% solipsism. So yoga contains both viewpoints. On this side of the bindu, there is appearance of individuality, which is called "ahamkara" or "constriction" in yoga. On the other side of the (maha) bindu, there is only One, alone, being, that is all that ever was, is or ever will be. When we are on this side of the mahabindu, we simply cannot understand it. We can only recognize we cannot understand it. Taimni calls it the "ever darkness".

    Next topic: frightening nature of annihilation. In yoga, this is one of the Kleshas, which I discuss in Yogic View. The fear of death or the fear of annihilation into the Alone. Klesha means "affliction" or "disease" and this fear is an impediment to advanced yogic experience. This too, however, has an ironic quality. We fear dissolving in the One. But if we do dissolve in it, we discover All Things. Dissolving in The One is, in fact, the Great Prize of life. It is the only time being experiences true and permanent satisfaction.

    Hindus are generally very open minded. Their teachings are designed like a staircase. The deeper your thought and maturity, the more you will get out of the teachings. The teachings can be understood by simple worldly people as moral myths that give guidance on how to live a good life, or they can be the deepest thoughts humans are capable of having...all in the same teachings. It's quite incredible actually.

    Is the Source getting anything out of it? In a sense, no. It just is. "Its being is its justification". That last sentence is directly from van der Leeuw's book, which I suggest you read. I think it would be very meaningful to you. In fact, Yogic View is, in part, my attempt to explain my understanding of van der Leeuw's book. As I said in the interview with Alex, van der Leeuw's book was by far the most influential thing I've ever read.

    We are so used to stories that have a build up, a climax, and a resolution, that we superimpose this literary template over our lives and over reality itself. The possibility that there is no climax, no resolution, seems unthinkable to us. To the Hindu/yogic mind, there is the ever-churning of manifestation, including the transformation of the unmanifest (potential) into the manifest (i.e. what we call "reality") and also the eternal unchanging peace of the Absolute. I call it the "triple ontology" in Yogic View. But, as I state there, this is only how it appears to us in Relative manifestation. It's real state is the Absolute. It changes, but does not change. It is all that was, is, or ever will be. Our relative, finite minds cannot understand it. But we have the potential to BE it. That is the silver lining to this whole phantasmagoria we call "our experience". As per your comment above, EVERY road leads to this. It is inevitable. The Rhythm of Creation. The Absolute disguising itself as the Relative, only to rediscover itself...eternally.

    All my best wishes, Michael!

    Don
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    That sounds interesting, if it is readable at my level of mathematics - i.e. maths for chemistry and physics.

    Unfortunately Amazon don't seem to have an electronic version of the book, and they don't give you a glimpse inside.

    My feeling is that some of the greatest flourishing of maths often used intuitive techniques that lacked rigour, and people still learn the non rigorous versions of calculus (say). For example, without the neat syntax of calculus (which I think was invented by Liebniz) the subject would be far less tractable.

    David
     
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  14. Don DeGracia

    Don DeGracia New

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    Hi David

    LOL! You should get a hard copy of the Kline book. If you have an interest in the subject, it will be well worth it. That is one of the conclusions Kline basically demonstrates is that proof is a way to dress up our intuitions after the fact. Herman Weyl also said as much and I quote Weyl in Yogic View. Also, Kline's books are all readable for educated lay people, except his 3 volume history of math, which I read and does assume you know some advanced math. But most of his books are written in an easily accessible style.

    Kline also has another book "Mathematics and the Physical World" which is SUPER good. He starts the book off asking if the world is real. Then he discusses how it is mainly through math that we understand much about the physical world. Again, a highly accessible book. It is so good, in fact, that I make my Advanced Neurophysiology class read some of the chapters and we then discuss how this relates to how the brain might work.

    Best wishes,

    Don
     
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  15. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    The “return to source to be annihilated” theory gets bashed a lot on the Facebook metaphysics forum that I’m on. There are a lot of smart and experienced people on that forum. Not that this makes them right; obviously, but the group has a lot of accomplished Astral travels (Jourgen Ziewe in on their) with others. A lot of people I look up to over there are really at odds with this notion based upon their experiences. To me it seems it would be a cruel twist of fate. Losing yourself, if that’s what it would entail, sounds like oblivion to me. In short, it sounds like a nightmare. And I trust that the fates and paths which have been given to us through our creation (that we are also shaping with our wills) was given to us out of love for all things which are conscious and that part of this love celebrates individuality. This Borg assimilation thing thing doesn’t line up with my views of reality and the same goes for (as best as I can tell) a lot of the people I admire as well. But the “Borg Assimilation” metaphor is likely a straw man and I know precious little.
     
  16. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    Only in hardcover but secondhand copies are available. I recommend booko.com.au or the Bookobuddy app to help you find what editions are available and your best price (new or used).
     
  17. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    This is one of the great misunderstandings or mistranslations of all time. Frank DeMarco's Awakening from the 3D World has the best explanation I have come across in a long time. No doubt Don has a POV worth considering.
     
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  18. Alex

    Alex New

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    nice. I've become interested in AI lately... our limitations in dealing with complexity are more and more obvious
     
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  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    nice... thx for all the bonus material :)

    yr thought about Llinas got me thinking about the consensus reality thing and the counter to the uber-Skeptical (cap "S" :)) "reality has gotta be real because we see each other thru our Facetime link." yr post took me in a diff direction, "yr Facetime link works because you had a good reason to choose that reality."
     
  20. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Have you heard of Donald Hoffman, Don? He too thinks that our perceptions don't exactly mirror reality, thinking instead of them in terms of being like icons on a computer screen. Here's a YouTube video if you haven't listened to him before:



    He's also trying to mathematise consciousness, but he's basing his mathematisation on a paradigm where consciousness is primary. A layman's introduction to his work is entitled "Consciousness and the interface theory of perception" -- just Google that, click on the link, and you'll be able to download it as a pdf file. Forgive me if you're already familiar with Hoffman's work.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018

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