Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tao subsystems - VII


Space/Time Sense
Events and experiences happen at a certain time in a certain place. The naive view of this situation is that we simply perceive the spatial and temporal dimensions of real events. A more sophisticated analysis shows that space and time are experiential constructs that we have used to organize sensory stimuli coming to us. Because the organization has been so often successful for dealing with the environment, we have come to believe that we are simply perceiving what is "out there," rather than automatically and implicitly imposing a conceptual framework on what comes in to us.
Ornstein illustrates this in considerable detail in his analysis of time perception, showing that psychological time is a construct, as is physical time, and that a simple equation of the two things is misleading. If we bear in mind that our ordinary concepts of space and time are psychological constructs—highly successful theoretical ones, but nonetheless only constructs—then we shall be less inclined to label as distortions the changes in the functioning of the Space/Time subsystem reported in d-ASCs.
In the ordinary d-SoC there is a small amount of variation in Space/Time sense, but not much. On a dull day time drags somewhat and on an exciting day it goes by quickly, but this range is not large. The dull hour may seem two or three hours long, a walk home when you are tired may seem twice as far, but this is about the maximum quantitative variation for most people in the ordinary d-SoC. Many other aspects of the space/time framework this subsystem generates are unchanging in the ordinary d-SoC: effects do not precede causes, up and down do not reverse, your body does not shrink or grow larger with respect to the space around it.
Variations in the apparent rate of time flow may be much larger in some d-ASCs than ordinarily. In the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, for example, a common experience is for an LP record to seem to play for an hour or more. Since an LP record generally plays for about fifteen minutes, this is approximately a fourfold increase in experienced duration.
Ornstein believes that a person's estimate of duration is based on the number of events that have taken place in a given period, so as more things are experienced the elapsed time seems longer. Since marijuana intoxication, like many d-ASCs, involves major changes in Input-Processing so that more sensory information is admitted, this experience of increased duration for a single record and for similar events may be due to the fact that a lot more is happening experientially in that same period of clock time. The converse effect can also happen in d-ASCs: time seems to speed by at an extraordinary rate. An experience that seems to have lasted a minute or two actually lasted an hour.
A rare but especially intriguing experience reported from some d-ASCs is that the direction of flow of time seems to change. An event from the future happens now; the experiencer may even know it does not belong in the now but will happen later. An effect seems to precede the cause. Our immediate reaction, resulting from our deeply ingrained belief in the total reality of clock time, is that this cannot be "true," and we see the phenomenon as some confusion of time perception or possibly a hallucination.
A rewarding d-ASC experience is an increased focus on the present moment, a greatly increased here-and-nowness. In the ordinary d-SoC, we usually pay little attention to what is actually happening in the present. We live among memories of the past and amid plans, anticipations, and fantasies about the future. The greatly increased sense of being in the here and now experienced in many d-ASCs usually accompanies a feeling of being much more alive, much more in contact with things. Many meditative practices specifically aim for this increased sense of here-and-nowness. Some d-ASCs seem to produce the opposite effect: the size of the present is "narrowed," making it very difficult to grasp the present moment.
The experience of archetypal time, the eternal present, is a highly valued and radical alteration in time sense reported in various d-ASCs. Not only is there a great here-and-nowness, a great focus on the present moment, but there is a feeling that the activity or experience of the moment is exactly the right thing that belongs in this moment of time. It is a perfect fit with the state of the universe, a basic that springs from one's ultimate nature.

Some of informants in my studies of marijuana intoxication expressed this, in terms of relationships, as no longer being the case of John Smith and Mary Williams walking together in New York City on June 30, 1962, but Man and Woman Dancing Their Pattern Together, as it always has been and always will be.
The experience of archetypal time is similar to, and may be identical with, the experience of timelessness, of the feeling that my kind of temporal framework for an experience is meaningless. Experiences simply are, they do not seem to take place at a specific time. Samadhi, for example, is described as lasting for an eternity, even though the meditater may be in that d-ASC for only a few seconds. Occasionally in such timeless experiences some part of the mind is perceived as putting a temporal location and duration of the event, but this is seen as meaningless word play that has nothing to do with reality. In some of mystical experiences in d-ASCs, the adjectives timeless and eternal are used almost interchangeably. Eternity probably did not arise as a concept, but as a word depicting an experience of timelessness, an immediate experiential reality rather than a concept of infinite temporal duration.
Déjà vu, the French phrase meaning "seen before," is a time experience that occasionally happens in the ordinary d-SoC (it may actually represent a momentary transition into a d-ASC) and happens more frequently in d-ASCs. As an event is unfolding you seem to be remembering it, you are convinced it has happened before because it has the quality of a memory. In discussing the Memory subsystem, we speculated that Déjà vu might sometimes result from a misplacement of the quality "this is a memory" on a current perceptual event. Other types of Déjà vu experiences may represent an alteration of functioning of the Space/time subsystem, where the extra informational quality "this is from the past" is added to current perceptual events.
The quantitative variations in space perception that occur in the ordinary d-SoC may occur in greatly increased form in d-ASCs. Distances walked, for example, may seem much shorter or much longer than ordinarily. Nor is active movement through space necessary for changes in distance to occur: as you sit and look something, it may seem to recede into the distance or to come closer. Or it may seem to grow larger or smaller.
Depth is an important quality of spatial experience. A photograph or a painting is usually seen as a two-dimensional, flat representation of what was in reality a three-dimensional scene. Perception of a three-dimensional quality in the two-dimensional painting is attributed to the artist's technical skill. In d-ASCs, the degree of depth in ordinary perceptions may seem to change. Aaronson notes that in many psychotic states, such as those associated with depression, the world seems flat, the depth dimension seems greatly reduced, while in many valued d-ASCs, such as those induced by psychedelic drugs, the depth dimension seems enhanced, deeper, richer. In some intriguing experiments, Aaronson shows that by artificially altering a hypnotized subject's depth perception through suggestion, to flatter or deeper, he can produce great variations in the subject's moods, and perhaps actually produce d-ASCs by simply changing this basic operation of the Space/Time subsystem.
The ability to see three-dimensional depth in two-dimensional pictures is an interesting phenomenon reported for marijuana intoxication. The technique my main informant reported is to look at a color picture through a pinhole held right at the eye, so your field of vision includes only the picture, not any other elements. If you are highly intoxicated with marijuana, the picture may suddenly become a three-dimensional scene instead of a flat, two-dimensional one.
Another d-ASC-associated spatial change is loss of the spatial framework as a source of orientation. Although there are enormous individual differences, some people always keep their orientation in physical space plotted on a mental map; they generally know what direction they are facing, in what direction various prominent landmarks are located. This kind of orientation to the physical spatial framework may simply fade out, not be perceived in d-ASCs, or it may still be perceptible but become a relatively meaningless rather than an important type of information.
This kind of change can be accompanied by new ways of perceiving space. Lines may become curved instead of straight, for example. Some people report perceiving four or more dimensions in d-ASCs, not as a mathematical construct but as an experiential reality. The difficulties of expressing this in a language evolved from external adaptation to three-dimensional reality are obvious.
We ordinarily think of space as empty, but in d-ASCs space is sometimes perceived as having a more solid quality, as being filled with "vibrations" or "energy," rather than as being empty. Sometimes experiences believe this to be an actual change in their perception of the space around them; sometimes they perceive it as a projection of internal psychological changes onto their spatial perception.
Our ordinary concept of space is a visual one, related to maps, lines and grids, visual distances, and diagrams. Space may be organized in other ways. Some marijuana smokers, for example, report that space becomes organized in an auditory way when they are listening to sounds or music with their eyes closed. Others report that tactual qualities determine space.
I recall a striking evening I once spent with some friends. One of them had just rented a new house, which none of us had seen. We arrived after dark, were blindfolded before entering the house, and spent the next couple of hours exploring the house by movement and touch alone, with no visual cues at all. They concept that gradually evolved of the space of the house without the usual visual organizing cues was vastly different from the subsequent perception of the space when the blindfolds were removed.

Tao subsystems - VI

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

for unto us a Tao is born

Sir Colin Davis conducts the London Symphony Orchestra
Susan Gritton, Sara Mingardo, Mark Padmore, Alastair Miles and the Tenebrae choir
Recorded in December 2006.

Friday, June 7, 2013

the Tao Book: inside information - III


We do not need a new religion or a new bible. We need a new experience—a new feeling of what it is to be "I." The lowdown (which is, of course, the secret and profound view) on life is that our normal sensation of self is a hoax or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing—with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized.
The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego. I am not thinking of Freud's barbarous Id or Unconscious as the actual reality behind the façade of personality. Freud, as we shall see, was under the influence of a nineteenth-century fashion called "reductionism," a curious need to put down human culture and intelligence by calling it a fluky by-product of blind and irrational forces. They worked very hard, then, to prove that grapes can grow on thornbushes.
As is so often the way, what we have suppressed and overlooked is something startlingly obvious. The difficulty is that it is so obvious and basic that one can hardly find the words for it. The Germans call it a Hintergedanke, an apprehension lying tacitly in the back of our minds which we cannot easily admit, even to ourselves. The sensation of "I" as a lonely and isolated center of being is so powerful and commonsensical, and so fundamental to our modes of speech and thought, to our laws and social institutions, that we cannot experience selfhood except as something superficial in the scheme of the universe. I seem to be a brief light that flashes but once in all the aeons of time—a rare, complicated, and all-too-delicate organism on the fringe of biological evolution, where the wave of life bursts into individual, sparkling, and multicolored drops that gleam for a moment only to vanish forever. Under such conditioning it seems impossible and even absurd to realize that myself does not reside in the drop alone, but in the whole surge of energy which ranges from the galaxies to the nuclear fields in my body. At this level of existence "I" am immeasurably old; my forms are infinite and their comings and goings are simply the pulses or vibrations of a single and eternal flow of energy.
The difficulty in realizing this to be so is that conceptual thinking cannot grasp it. It is as if the eyes were trying to look at themselves directly, or as if one were trying to describe the color of a mirror in terms of colors reflected in the mirror. Just as sight is something more than all things seen, the foundation or "ground" of our existence and our awareness cannot be understood in terms of things that are known. We are forced, therefore, to speak of it through myth—that is, through special metaphors, analogies, and images which say what it is like as distinct from what it is. At one extreme of its meaning, "myth" is fable, falsehood, or superstition. But at another, "myth" is a useful and fruitful image by which we make sense of life in somewhat the same way that we can explain electrical forces by comparing them with the behavior of water or air. Yet "myth," in this second sense, is not to be taken literally, just as electricity is not to be confused with air or water. Thus in using myth one must take care not to confuse image with fact, which would be like climbing up the signpost instead of following the road.
Myth, then, is the form in which I try to answer when children ask me those fundamental metaphysical questions which come so readily to their minds: "Where did the world come from?" "Why did God make the world?" "Where was I before I was born?" "Where do people go when they die?" Again and again I have found that they seem to be satisfied with a simple and very ancient story, which goes something like this:
"There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can't have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn't be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side-by-side with white, or white unless side-by-side with black."
"In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn't, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don't. So because it doesn't get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It's like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It's also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it's always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn't always hide in the same place."
"God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear."
"Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that's the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do. He doesn't want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever."
"Of course, you must remember that God isn't shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren't, we wouldn't know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn't any outside to him. [With a sufficiently intelligent child, I illustrate this with a Möbius strip — a ring of paper tape twisted once in such a way that it has only one side and one edge.] The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as 'he' and not 'she,' God isn't a man or a woman. I didn't say 'it' because we usually say 'it' for things that aren't alive."

Aion mosaic, Glyptothek Munich
"God is the Self of the world, but you can't see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can't see your own eyes, and you certainly can't bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding."
"You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn't really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It's the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world."
This story, obviously mythical in form, is not given as a scientific description of the way things are. Based on the analogies of games and the drama, and using that much worn-out word "God" for the Player, the story claims only to be like the way things are. I use it just as astronomers use the image of inflating a black balloon with white spots on it for the galaxies, to explain the expanding universe. But to most children, and many adults, the myth is at once intelligible, simple, and fascinating. By contrast, so many other mythical explanations of the world are crude, tortuous, and unintelligible. But many people think that believing in the unintelligible propositions and symbols of their religions is the test of true faith. "I believe," said Tertullian of Christianity, "because it is absurd."

the Tao Book: inside information - II

climbing the E H Tao

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1965 was awarded jointly to Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger and Richard P. Feynman "for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles".
George Street (St. Andrew Square side), Edinburgh, Scotland
The "Bible" of classical electromagnetism.
Mount Auburn Cemetery,Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Tama Reien Cemetery (Fuchu City)
Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum,
Altadena, Los Angeles County
California, USA

Thursday, June 6, 2013

meta-Tao binaries

The next metapattern discussed by Tyler Volk and Jeff Bloom are binaries, the simplest structure to model a complex relation among elements and between parts and wholes of a system:


Binaries are the simplest form of complex relations. More complex relations involve increasing numbers of components (e.g., trinaries, quaternaries, and so forth). Such binary relations are the most economical (in a variety of senses) way to generate complex wholes with significant new properties. Binaries involve senses of separation and/or unity, duality, and tension. They also provide for a synergy between parts and wholes.
The Red Square Nebula (MWC 922) is a bipolar nebula appearing as an orange square in its center with red bowl-shaped gas and dust toward the top right and bottom left of the image. The infrared image was taken using the Mt. Palomar Hale telescope in California and the Keck II Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and released in April 2007. According to Sydney University astrophysicist Peter Tuthill, this nebula is one of the most symmetrical celestial objects ever discovered because of its unique shape. There is no clear explanation of how the central star could produce the nebula's shape, but one possible explanation is that these two outer faint radial spokes are shadows cast by periodic ripples or waves on the surface of an inner disk close to the central star.


  • In science: bilateral symmetry (including two eyes, nostrils, ears, appendages, etc.); positive and negative particles, ions, electrodes, etc.; male and female; opposing forces; diurnal and nocturnal; dorsal and ventral; space and time; acid and base; DNA with component pairs and paired helices; inhale and exhale; respiration and photosynthesis; mass and volume; high pressure; low pressure; perception as the recognition of difference; form and function; acceleration and deceleration; etc.
  • In architecture and design: inside and outside and the associated dynamics between them in buildings; entrance and exit; up and down passages; etc.
  • In art: light and dark; monotone and multicolored; tensions between parts; attraction and repulsion (emotionally); etc.
  • In social sciences: report talk and rapport talk; leader and follower; positive and negative attitudes; consumer and producer; active and passive; aggressive; trust and distrust; unity and disunity or separation; etc.
  • In other senses: distal and proximal; all or nothing; night and day; open and closed; on and off; asleep and awake; old and young; love and hate; etc.


The Pattern Underground

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

impromptu Tao

Rubinstein Forest, Jerusalem

Tao subsystems - VI

Robert Plutchik, Wheel of Emotions


The Emotions subsystem is one which I, as a typical overintellectualized Western academic, feel least qualified to write out. I share the intellectual's distrust of emotions as forces that distort my reasoning and are liable to lead me astray. And yet, like most people, my life and consciousness are strongly controlled by the pursuit of pleasant emotions and the avoidance of unpleasant ones.
Emotions are feelings that can be named but not easily defined. They are feelings that we call grief, fear, joy, surprise, yearning, anger, but that we define inadequately in terms of words: at best we use words to evoke memories of experiences that fit those names.
The Emotions subsystem is, in one sense, the most important subsystem, for it can exert tremendous influence. If you are experiencing the emotion of fear, it may very well control you evaluations and decisions, the memories you draw upon, how you see the world and how you act. Any strong emotion tends to constellate the rest of consciousness about it. Indeed, I think that while mild levels of any emotion can occur within the region of experiential space we call the ordinary d-SoC, most strong levels of feeling may actually constitute d-ASCs. If you talk about feeling mildly angry, somewhat angry, or extremely angry, you can imagine all these things occurring in your ordinary d-SoC. But if you speak of being enraged, the word evokes associations of changes of perception (such as "seeing red") and cognition that strongly suggest that somewhere in the anger continuum there was a quantum jump, and a d-ASC of rage developed. The same is true for other strong emotions. I shall not develop the idea further here, as strong emotional states have seldom been studied scientifically as they must be to determine if they actually constitute d-SoCs. The idea holds promise for future research.
Our culture is strongly characterized by poor volitional control over the Emotions subsystem in the ordinary d-SoC. Emotions can change with lightning rapidity; external events can induce them almost automatically. We have accepted this in a despairing way as part of the human condition, ambivalently regarding attempts to control emotions as either virtuous (since all emotions make us lose control, we should suppress them) or artificial (not "genuine"). Techniques from various spiritual disciplines indicate, however, that there can be emotional control that does not involve simple suppression or denial of content of the emotion. Don Juan, for example, stated that since becoming a "man of knowledge" he had transcended ordinary emotions, but could have any one he wished. In d-ASCs, people often report either greatly increased or decreased control over their emotions.
In addition to changes in the degree of control over emotions, the intensity of emotions themselves may also change in d-ASCs. Dissociation from or dis-identification with emotions also occurs: a person reports that an emotion is going on quite strongly within him, yet is not "his": he is not identified with it and so little affected by it.
In some d-ASCs new emotions appear, emotions that are never present in the ordinary d-SoC. These include feelings like serenity, tranquillity, and ecstasy. Because we use these words in our ordinary d-SoC we think we understand them, but those who have experienced such emotions in d-ASCs insist that we have only known the palest shadows of them.

Tao subsystems - V