Mod+ UPCOMMING INTERVIEW: JEFFERY MARTIN ON ENLIGHTENMENT

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    Perhaps you will ask him to define what he means by "non-symbolic consciousness."
     
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  3. north

    north Member

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    Sounds like an interesting interview.

    Enlightenment is an important attainment recognized in many spiritual traditions though given different names.

    In some traditions only one is who is enlightened can truly recognize if another is enlightened. This does not fit with the current western scientific worldview of objective knowledge.

    I hope this interview can stimulate some consideration that enlightenment may actually be something valuable to learn more about.
     
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  4. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

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    Yes: that is the important question in his case.
    I have read the main papers at http://nonsymbolic.org/publications/ .
    The question is whether the "persistent non-symbolic experience" that he talks about all the time is related in any way to morality or living. Or is it some obscure side cul-de-sac with no use or life in it.

    For example, at the end of the paper at http://nonsymbolic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PNSE-Article.pdf, he talks of "Local 4 and Beyond" like this:

    All remaining vestiges of self-related thoughts are gone by this point, as are experiences of emotion. Feelings of deep interconnectedness and union with God, an all pervasive consciousness, and so forth also disappeared. These participants reported having no sense of agency or any ability to make a decision. It felt as if life was simply unfolding and they were watching the process happen. Severe memory deficits were common in these participants, including the inability to recall scheduled events that were not regular and ongoing. Participants who progressed to this location from one or more previous ones reported the highest level of well-being. Often this amazed them as they did not imagine anything could have been better than Location 3.​

    My question: on what ground, apart from internal feelings of 'well-being', do they say this is "better"??
    That is, it seems like then they are 'loving themselves' more than 'loving their neighbor'.
    I am suspicious of what this is all about, especially whether it leads to anything good.
    (And if he replies that these people have a new idea of what 'good' means, then I am more suspicious again!)
     
  5. Questions for Jeffery Martin,
    What is enlightenment (persistent non-symbolic consciousness)?
    Where did this definition come from (Is it from an ancient tradition, or is it your own definition?)

    What is consciousness, is it produced by the brain or is it something that is non-physical and survives the death of the body?
    What are the reasons you have for that belief?
    Belief in machine consciousness sounds materialistic but the "prison" analogy (in the video) seems to suggest there is more to an individual that the present life. Is this a contradiction?

    How do you identify people who are enlightened so you can study them?
    How did they become enlightened? Was there more than one way? Were they doing yoga, buddhist meditation etc?
    How many people in the world are enlightened?
    What are the benefits of enlightenment?
    Should everyone try to get enlightenment?
    Is it possible for most people to experience non-symbolic consciousness if only for a short time?

    Can non-symbolic consciousness be understood in terms of neuroscience? Are certain parts of the brain involved? Are some parts of the brain less active or more active during non-symbolic consciousness? ( Background: http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/05/experience-of-oneness.html )

    Do enlightened people have psychological problems like anxiety and depression?

    How many research studies have you published?
    Where have you published them?
    How does this research benefit humanity? (How would you justify funding for this research if you were writing a grant proposal?)

    How many people have become enlightened by following your advice?
    How long does it take to become enlightened?

    On his amazon site Jeffery Martin writes:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/forum/cd/d...orum=Fx159T66E64FGET&cdThread=Tx2H3QZXZ7I82LN
    What is synchronicity?
    Give some examples of synchronicity that people you have guided have experienced.
    What tools should be used or not used.
    What is the relationship between non-symbolic consciousness and synchronicity? How did you identify the correlation?
    Are you enlightened? Do you experience greater levels of syncronicity? Can you give some examples of synchronicity that you have experienced?


    What are some of the problems people experienced? What were the techniques? How did the techniques cause the problems?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
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  6. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

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    Can "persistent non-symbolic experience" look beyond itself? No!

    Now persistent experiences are always very interesting.
    And it may be that science and Christian tradition are too concentrating on symbols.
    There is a serious flaw in focusing on non-symbolic experience as in any way sufficient in itself for life.

    I remind that a the proper spiritual life combines of love and wisdom, just as it combines good and truth, and as it combines desire and understanding. The point is that the wisdom/truth/understanding part of all these partnerships relies on symbols. Not just metaphors and myth, but, even for everyday living symbols are needed:

    Symbols are essential to point beyond oneself. To point to the futures that might be good and loved. To point to neighbors who are not present but may be influenced. To point to universal truths that apply beyond the here and now. Every use of language requires symbols. Every plan requires talking of form as possible before being realized.

    If we only recognize spiritual developments that is non-symbolic, then we are cutting out our eyes, our insight, our illumination. For eyes (physical and spiritual) are what see the light (insight & illumination) that communicates symbolically what is nearby as well as far away.

    Without symbols, we deprive ourselves of wisdom, truth, intelligence, understanding, even the ability to plan ahead.
    Is this deprived state, as clearly described by Jeffrey Martin as PNSE, really what we should be asking for?

    I think not!

    PS: And he has the cheek to call this enlightenment!
     
  7. What claims is Jeffery Martin making about the value of non-symbolic consciousness? Does he assert it is beneficial to individuals and/or humanity? Is he saying it is the one and only true spiritual path? Should it be the goal of everyone who is seeking spiritual understanding? Is attaining non-symbolic consciousness the only way people can perceive the objective truth about reality, about the nature of the human spirit?

    I'm not an expert on Jeffery Martin, but from the video and from a quick glance at the research report Ian linked, it seems to me that he is not making a lot of claims about what non-symbolic consciousness is good for, he leaves that to the imagination of the public, but he does seem to claim, on the amazon site, (as I quoted above) that he can help people attain it. I think it would be helpful in Alex's interview to bring out exactly what his claims are and what is the evidence he has to justify those claims.
     
  8. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

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    I agree, Jim, that his papers do not say much about what the non-symbolic consciousness is good for.
    But that is exactly why these are good questions for Alex to ask. Jeffery must have some thoughts on that subject.

    The general question is whether the natural advance of PNSE leads one to cessation of desire, or to the purification of desire. That should be determinable on the basis of his present work, at least if he has any accurate idea about what 'purification of desire' means.
     
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  9. For me an important question is: is this enlightenment an objective appreciation of the truth of reality? One bit of evidence that suggests it is, is that when NDErs are disembodied they also experience oneness and the sense that everything is perfect just as it is.

    I think a more thorough comparison of the NDErs experience of being disembodied, non-symbolic consciousness would be interesting.

    In Buddhism it is said that awakening ends "suffering" but in the original language the word used, dukkha, more accurately means "unsatisfactoriness of life". So it would interesting to ask Jeffery Martin if attaining non-symbolic consciousness brings about the end of dukkha, and if so what exactly is dukkha?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
  10. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

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    Jim, does not 'an objective appreciation of the truth of reality' require some way to refer to reality that is not only inside oneself, but also outside. And, if outside, both near and far way, both actual and possible, both causes and effects.
    To do all these things, do not we need symbols?
    If these things are part of any awakening, then persistent non-symbolic experiences must fall short.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2014
  11. What does non-symbolic consciousness mean? Where did you find the definition?

    How do you define symbol? You need a symbol to refer to an idea, to communicate your experience, but do you need symbols simply to experience it? Are the experiences of something near by and something else far away themselves symbols?

    I am not particularly interested in whether or not the label "non-symbolic consciousness" is an accurate description of the experience or not. I am more interested in what the study subjects experience. I don't think you will gain insight into the experiences by analyzing the label or making inferences about the experiences based on the label. You really have to look at the description of the experiences and ask questions about that. As far as I can tell he is studying people who are more or less on the road to what buddhists call awakening.

    Once when I was at the zen center, we were sitting on the floor on meditation cushions, one of the teachers slapped the floor and asked, "What did I just do?". One student answered, "you slapped the floor". The teacher smiled but said, "No". He continued looking around the room and another student slapped the floor just like the teacher did. The teacher said, "Right!. To me, that is non-symbolic consciousness. It is experience and action, not words. But, some things cannot be communicated by experience and you need to use words (symbols) to communicate, even though your experience was direct (non-symbolic). When your mind is thinking, using a lot of words, is that symbolic consciousness? When your mind is quiet and all you have is perception of sensations in the current moment, is that non-symbolic consciousness?

    Maybe Jeffery Martin can answer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2014
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  12. Alex

    Alex New

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    great stuff. thx.
     
  13. Alex

    Alex New

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    excellent. thx.
     
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  14. Saiko

    Saiko Member

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    He is correct about that. What you perceive as "wisdom, truth, intelligence (as humans think of it), understanding," are all human conceptions that you - like many people - have a strong attachment to and value greatly. However they are not found in primary consciousness. There is also no "planing ahead" in primary consciousness. That approach rests on the framework of linear time which is something pertinent only to physical set-ups.

    Oh and it is far from "deprived" although it can appear that way to those still tied to what they value in human life.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
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  15. Alex

    Alex New

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    wow... Skeptiko 3.0... you guys have added so much to this dialog!
     
  16. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Am I alone in finding this guy's views bizarre? On the one hand, he's talking about the capacities of the mind of enlightened people, and on the other, about AI and transferring consciousness to computers, or inducing it in them. He seems so convinced it's going to happen, possibly in his own lifetime, even though we have no idea what consciousness is. We already have a vehicle for consciousness to be able to act in what we think of as physical reality: we know it as the human body, and it persists for a limited amount of time.

    Probably, that's a good thing: one experience/action episode of an entity that already doesn't die, so why the heck think about transferring its consciousness to a computer so it could persist for mere thousands of years? If that were possible, I can't think of anything less appealing when there's the opportunity of having many experience/action episodes with many fresh starts, many chances to grow and learn through them: until at some stage, maybe there's the possibility of a transition to some next arena for experience and action.

    I don't actually understand what he means by non-symbolic consciousness. I think that consciousness probably always has to mentate symbolically. In states such as non-dual awareness, however pleasant or blissful, there's nothing going on: no growth, no development. It's the substrate of consciousness: like the perfectly smooth surface of a pond where nothing is happening and nothing signifies anything. For evolution to be possible, for change, growth and development, there need to be disturbances in that substrate. We aren't here to turn on, tune in and drop out: that's the ultimate in lazy lotus-eating.

    When there are disturbances, as I believe there are meant to be, people do things like get angry or divorced, whether or not they've experienced states of bliss that, over-indulged, constitute a cop-out. The object isn't to escape, to shirk, but to engage with what we call the physical world, which I think is actually more miraculous and necessary for growth than any narcotic vision of bliss.
     
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  17. Alex

    Alex New

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    I completed the interview this morning. I don't think he's bizarre and I certainly commend him for this muy important research. His methods seem very reasonable to me.

    BUT... I agree with you in that I see a disconnect with the idea that we have to jam this back into brain stuff, or computer stuff (really the same as brain stuff). We'll be talking about this one for a long time to come.
     
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  18. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Fair enough, Alex: I'll wait to see what transpires in the podcast. Incidentally, I didn't say that the guy himself was bizarre, but rather that I found his views bizarre.
     
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  19. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    I know we haven't even gotten to the interview. I too was puzzled by statement transfer of consciousness into a thinking machine. This notion was proposed by Stephen Hawking a while back and it only makes sense in a materialist paradigm. A quick check into the web site, this appears to be an attempt to empirically study the nature and qualities of consciousness when approaching and submerged in an enlightened state. I don't believe it bothers with the notion of a deeper cause of consciousness. So in that sense putting consciousness into a robot follows this current science POV. I find this direction really exciting because it explores an area I've been trying to understand. What the heck is this enlightenment thing. In the DSM this might be classified as a hypomanic mood disorder, or possible some form of dissociative disorder.
    Personally I don't buy it. The best example I've been able to find is Tony Parson's Open Secret. The essay 'The Story of Me'. I don't think Jeffery Martin ever got around to this guy.
    http://www.theopensecret.com/storyofme.html
     
  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    From what I can tell Jeffery would be very comfortable with everything Tony Parson's is saying. While I have many of the same reservations about the AI stuff and the trans-humanism stuff I'm really impressed with his methodology and overall approach. He seems very pragmatic... "I studied these people, distilled down the process and then applied it to these other people and they're getting the same results."

    I intrigued enough to try the finders course beginning Jan 11... I will of course report back: http://nonsymbolic.org/finders-course/
     
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