Technology. . .Philosophy

I found a few interviews with people who live in "non-duality" which appears to be from a hindu tradition called Advaita.

Did you feel more enlightened afterwards?

Almost, but not really. I liked listening to the interviews - because it was like they had some experience like Prince's experience to where he goes by "the artist formerly known as prince". These people sort of talked about themselves in the third person.

Seems like you could have cut out the middleman and just listened to an interview with prince - but it is probably good to hear such a perspective.

A few other things i learned: you cannot tell who is enlightened and who is not by looking at them nor by their behavior. Spiritual practices are meant to exhaust and commonly do not lead to what the spiritual seeker is seeking for, because their seeking is the problem. The thing is already here happening now. life is happening now - and all the practicing is like a delay to finding what is happening there is nothing one can do to become "enlightened" it just happens.

Some practice is aimed just at making that realization - That is the point of the Zen school, which embraced the notion that enlightenment was a kind of "all at once" realization which could happen immediately with no "practice" but might take other people many years to re-shape their perceptions to enable the realization. If there is no possible way to discern enlightenment from non-enlightenment, nor no possible activity which engenders one state over the other, than they have a word without definition.

Often the thunderbolt and lightning sort of enlightenment experience is proportional to the amount of suffering the seeker went through to get there, though sometimes it is in a series of glimpses and is slowly realized. Often people are disappointed when they get there because it is a flat experience.

chop wood carry water.

These "non-duality" finders seem to avoid the word enlightenment because its so loaded

Sure. Almost irregardless of their status of enlightenment, it is dangerous to use in interviews or in teaching; everyone has strong symbolism already heaped onto it. Notice that Watts never just speaks vaguely about enlightenment, he speaks specifically about sensations and metaphors. For him to just say "well enlightenment is like. . ." would immediately bury his message behind a person's preconceived notions.

The interviews are funny, in part, because language is challenging to use and they understand that... and say things in a puzzling way, but aren't trying to be clever...

Speaking of prince and clever.


Yet expertly comedic!

I usually go to someone else for my levity. I tried to explain the info from the non-duality thing, but she was in the middle of writing a presentation, and just said "All those spiritual seekers are mentally deranged."

Well she might have a point, but if we define "spiritual seekers" broadly she probably just categorized > 80% of the human race.

Perhaps. My favorite image from the research was about the wave that thinks it's separate from the ocean and doesn't realize it is part of the ocean. I forget how it was phrased now...

Yes, that is a decent metaphor and one that you have some practical contact with.

In my ongoing process of revealing technologies that I think are exciting but will probably horrify you; DARPA wants ubiquitous speech recognition.

Quite provocative. I watched a documentary on Derrida and he was cagey about telling the narrative of his past, because of how it's past and not the present - and so is just a story. With this technology, can all the the past can become the now, searchable outside the boundaries of linear time?

Not any more than you can argue that a story is equivalent to the experience; it is a surrogate at best. I would say this - and a host of similar technologies - has an impact is on forgetting. Human ability to forget things is a powerful ingredient in both our self identities and in the general function of the mind.

It is yet unclear to say if such abilities to record and recall save us from forgetting or shackle us to not forgetting. Chances are it will be some matter of both depending on perspective, but that is a real area of possible important critique.

Oh yeah, that's probably why he was being cagey about memory, because of how the past is not the present and he was trying to emphasize present experience. Yes, forgetting is really essential, after all if it is as Watts says, we are just God playing hide and seek with itself. It is important to forget in order to seek.

Seems like it might be better to not forget in the first place in that analogy...
I would venture that forgetting HAS BEEN a central part of the human mental experience, I'm not sure it HAS TO BE, however.

Forgetting is often a gift - I don't think I would give that up.

It isn't a binary matter, either. You already carry around a smartphone that could - theoretically - record every thought you were inclined to have out-loud. But you choose not to, so in that sense you have an enabling but not forcing technology.

Forgetting and remembering are part of the same thing

I expect we will see shifts in behavior as the default state of the technology changes. For example, right now your cellphone defaults to NOT taking video or pictures - you whip it out and take one when you want to.

I see you're trying to wig me out

What if - for example - instead it ALWAYS took video, but you had a very easy interface to just delete the parts you didn't want after the fact? Wigging you out is just a side-effect - I'm just trying to prepare you for the future, and giving you interesting things to think about.

Humans will remain quite primitive despite these technological advances...

True scotsman fallacy - depends on what you mean by "primitive".

"unenlightened, unaware" - post-primitive. I dunno, can materialism be a type of enlightenment maybe

Unenlightened means nothing, unless you can define enlightened. And people are definitely more aware in sum total thanks to technology but what they are aware OF has changed greatly.

Ok, i was totally out of line by saying "primitive" was less than... primitive is perhaps more than the modern man because he is not divorced from what is happening as revealed through the senses.

Classic philosophy would say that materialism is orthogonal to enlightenment, it is a perspective about the nature of existence which doesn't mandate one particular experience of existence or another.
I wasn't saying primitive was out of line, just saying that it tends to be a very softly defined word; it has implications of progress levels - but if we're talking about human condition you must be able to say "progressing towards what" in some metric to define what is primitive. We can safely say a spear is more primitive than a gun as a tool for killing, but for states of philosophical or experiential being, what can be said to be more primitive? You must have some defined ideal to progress towards - which requires a working definition of enlightenment.

The primitive was enlightened before all the learning and language made him forget - the same as my cat is enlightened.

In one sense, very likely so. They were not distracted by Facebook, twitter, or their commute. What was is what was.
On the other hand, what is still is, and such technologies have expanded the realm of what we CAN be deeply aware of - but perhaps this expansion of domain exceeds our capacity to patrol it, leaving us feeling less enlightened than our forebears.

As we were discussing earlier, how language and stories are not the same as experience. Technology creates an experience, but it is possibly not the same as the original experience - close but not the same

Definitely not, but one can be fully aware of a tele-presence activity without conflating it with reality. In other words, I can have an authentic experience by watching, a moving speech on YouTube. My experience of that recording is authentic, but I did not have the same experience as someone standing there to see it live - but that's OK.
So perhaps this is the crux of such technologies that enable non-forgetting and awareness. Can such technologies increase the surface area of what we can experience and thus increase the possible scope of our enlightenment? Or do they move enlightenment more out of reach by increasing the surface area of what we are now aware of?
Perhaps it is a personal set point for each to determine the "correct" level of technological experience enhancement.

In an interesting take on this, comes from Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk ideas were literature first, but there was a table-top game from the 80's and part of its fictional future setting was people enhancing their basic human capabilities via cybernetic attachments, wearable computers, augmented reality displays, etc. Things now becoming reality.

um, yes, I'm sure the setpoint varies per individual...

But as a game, it needed rules and balance - the fictional limitation on all such enhancements was a loss of "humanity". Humanity was a numeric threshold that when depleted drove the characters sociopathic. Not because things were haywire, but because they were too effective - such enhanced beings could no longer relate to "mere" humans as peers as their awareness, cognition and therefore experience was too different.
Sometimes life imitates art, sometimes art imitates life, but I'm happy to steal good ideas from either. So, going to pre-order your Google Glass?

Do you have a rough definition of enlightenment?

My working definition - which I'm not entirely confident of - is: A deep acceptance of reality - with the implication that to deeply accept reality, one must be deeply aware of it. To attempt to fully accept that which you are not aware of is instead delusion.

Ah, very good, and i like the caveat. I'll withhold my judgments on the google glass deal until i get the non-duality sorted out...

Good priority, just don't let enlightenment distract you from enlightenment.
Speaking of never forgetting, I think this conversation has been a good one. Do you mind if I adapt it for publication?

With apologies to Orbital

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