Showing posts with label GDPs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GDPs. Show all posts

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1000 Taos: the conclusion of Tao

In the 1001 posts (433 in this english partial version) of the full italian version of this blog an attempt was made to describe the complexity of multi-levels systems and processes that in this century will bring a radical destructive and irreversible change of the global ecosystem, here identified with the myth of KaliYuga.

The two main guidelines are represented by Global Dynamics Processes - GDPs - the description of the physical-chemical-biological-social-mental and environmental processes involved starting from the hierarchical levels of natural sciences and of the knowledge domains to the logical levels of knowledge of knowledge.

The second guideline is called Pattern which Connects and is mainly based on the wide variety of ideas developed in the systemic-cybernetic-environmental fields by Gregory Bateson, subsequently carried out in the neurosciences and sciences of cognition fields by Francisco J. Varela and Humberto Maturana and finally merged in the modern science of complexity mainly due to the work of Edgar Morin.

Into these two guidelines - interlaced with each other - there are the connected lines of Tao, based upon the 81 chapters of Tao Teh Ching, the one of Synchronic Tao, based on the description ensemble of the 78 +1 symbols of Tarots, Tao Interlude and, starting at a specified point, the one of of Tao Level 3 and beyond, linked to the two main guidelines for descriptions in areas higher then the logical level 2 of complexity.
The full italian and this partial english versions coincide till June 13, 2011; afterwards only some selected posts are published in the english version, tagged Over The End of Tao.

The evolution of the real KaliYuga - not mythological - in the next decades is naturally unpredictable, both because it involves an ensemble of the most complex systems known, and because phenomena and conditions never occurred in the past will become effective.

Though everything brings to believe that quantitatively the global ecosystem will be destroyed or radically transformed, it is always possible that in a highly complex system of this type relevant choices and actions different from the past may lead to other types of evolution.

One moment it was there, another moment it is gone.
One moment we are here, and another moment we have gone.

And for this simple moment, how much fuss we make - how much violence, ambition, struggle, conflict, anger, hatred.
Just for this small moment!

Just waiting for the train in a waiting room on a station, and creating so much fuss: fighting, hurting each other, trying to possess, trying to boss, trying to dominate - all that politics.

And then the train comes and you are gone forever.

Heaven's Reason is to benefit but not to injure;
the holy man's Reason is to accomplish but not to strive.
© Elena Cinguino Illustrations

Thursday, July 17, 2014

meta Tao design: Reflections


Humberto Maturana


* Reflections.

Technological transformations do not impress me, biological technology does not impress me, Internet does not impress me. I say this not out of arrogance. No doubt much of what we do will change if we adopt the different technological options at hand, but our actions will not change unless our emotioning changes. We live a culture centered in domination and submission, mistrust and control, dishonesty, commerce and greediness, appropriation and mutual manipulation ... and unless our emotioning changes all that will change in our lives will be the way in which we continue in wars, greediness, mistrust, dishonesty, and abuse of others and of nature. Indeed, we shall remain the same. Technology is not the solution for human problems because human problems belong to the emotional domain as they are conflicts in our relational living that arise when we have desires that lead to contradictory actions. It is the kind of human being, Homo sapiens amans, Homo sapiens aggressans, or Homo sapiens arrogans, at the moment in which we have access to a new technology, either as users or observers, what determines how we use it or what we see in it.

We frequently speak as if the course that human history is following were independent from us as individual human beings, and as if we were carried by powerful forces beyond our control. But, to what extent such a manner of thinking is valid? Our life is guided by our emotions because our emotions define the relational domain in which we act, and hence, what we do. Each culture is defined by a particular configuration of emotioning that guides the actions of its members, and is conserved by those actions and the learning of the configuration of emotioning that defines it by the children of its members. If this systemic dynamics of constitution and conservation of a culture is broken, the culture comes to an end. So, we are not trapped, it is not what we do, but the emotion under which we do what we do. It is not technology what guides modern life, but the emotions, that is the desires of power, riches, or fame, ... under which we use or invent it. We human beings can do whatever we imagine if we respect the structural coherences of the domain in which we operate. But we do not have to do all that we imagine, we can chose, and it is there where our behavior as socially conscious human beings matters.

Our brains are not being changed by technology, and what is in fact happening to us through it, is that we change what we do while we conserve the culture (the configuration of emotioning) to which we belong. Unless, of course, our emotioning changes as we reflect on what happens to us through using or contemplating it and we undergo a cultural change. In fact our brain needs not to change for us human beings to be able to manage and understand whatever technological change that the future may offer us if we are willing to start from the beginning. What our brain does is to abstract configurations of relations of activities in itself, which if coupled with our operation in language permit us to treat any situation that we live as a starting point for recursive reflections in a process in fact open to any degree of complication. It is what happens in our emotions what determines the course of our living, and since emotions as kinds of relational behaviours occur in the relational space, it is through the conservation of cultural changes (as changes in the configuration of emotioning that are conserved generation after generation in the learning of children) that the course of our biological history may result in changes in our brain.

Biological evolution is not changing its character as as the constitution, conservation and diversification of lineages which are defined by the systemic conservation generation after generation of manners of living that extend from the inception to the death of the reproducing organisms. The same occurs with the evolution of cultures. Cultures are closed networks of conversations conserved generation after generation through the learning of the children that live in them. As such cultures change if the closed network of conversations that the children learn as they live in them changes, and a new closed network of conversations begins to be conserved generation after generation through their living. One can say in general systemic terms, that what is conserved in a system or in the relations between the members of a group of systems what determines what can or not change in the system or in the group of systems.

Biotechnology is not a new practice, although what we can do now is very, very different from what we humans could do in that area hundred or fifty years ago. Internet with all its richness as a network not something basically different from other systems of interactions that facilitates the use of libraries and museums. No doubt the interconnectedness reached through Internet is much greater than the interconnectedness that we lived a hundred or fifty years ago through telegraph, radio, or telephone. However, we still do with Internet no more no less than what we desire in the domain of the options that it offers, and if our desires do not change, nothing changes in fact because we go on living through it the same configuration of actions (of emotioning) that we used to live. Certainly I know much of what is said and is happening in the domain of globalization of the flow of information, but it is not information what constitutes the reality that we live. The reality that we live arises instant after instant through the configuration of emotions that we live, and which we conserve with our living instant after instant. But if we know this, if we know that the reality that we live arises through our emotioning, and we know that we know, we shall be able to act according to our awareness of our liking or not liking the reality that we are bringing forth with our living. That is, we shall become responsible of what we do.

I want a cultural change, I want to contribute to a work of art in the domain of human existence, I want to contribute to evoke a manner of coexistence in which love, mutual respect, honesty and social responsibility arise spontaneously from living instant after instant such configuration of emotioning because we all cocreate it in our living together. That configuration of emotioning cannot be imposed, nor can it be demanded without denying it, it must be lived spontaneously as a matter of course because that is the way we learned to live in our childhood. Violations of such manner of living will be legitimate mistakes that can be corrected because there will be no intrinsic shame in them, they will be only errors. If indeed we were to live such a cultural change, what would be most remarkable, is that the configuration of emotioning that such a manner of living entails, would arise in us without effort as we begin to live in it by living in it. Moreover, such configuration of emotioning will be conserved generation after generation as our manner of cultural living if our children live it because we live it with them. Indeed, such a manner of living is what we all want to live in our desire for material and spiritual wellbeing. Utopia? yes because it correspond to a way of living that has been ours in our evolutionary history, and most of us know it as an experience or as a yearning of our childhood. Anyway, to do that would be, no doubt, a magnificent work of dynamic art, and a responsible creative act as well if we want to live as Homo sapiens amans.

Humberto R. Maturana.

August 1, 1997

meta Tao design: Living systems
meta Tao design: Technology and Reality
Escape of 4 dimensional collapse by Mandelwerk

Sunday, July 13, 2014

the Tao of Physics: Epilogue

The Eastern religious philosophies are concerned with timeless mystical knowledge which lies beyond reasoning and cannot be adequately expressed in words. The relation of this knowledge to modern physics is but one of its many aspects and, like all the others, it cannot be demonstrated conclusively but has to be experienced in a direct intuitive way. What I hope to have achieved, to some extent, therefore, is not a rigorous demonstration, but rather to have given the reader an opportunity to relive, every now and then, an experience which has become for me a source of continuing joy and inspiration; that the principal theories and models of modern physics lead to a view of the world which is internally consistent and in perfect harmony with the views of Eastern mysticism.
For those who have experienced this harmony, the significance of the parallels between the world views of physicists and mystics is beyond any doubt. The interesting question, then, is not whether these parallels exist, but why; and, furthermore, what their existence implies.
In trying to understand the mystery of Life, man has followed many different approaches. Among them, there are the ways of the scientist and mystic, but there are many more; the ways of poets, children, clowns, shamans, to name but a few. These ways have resulted in different descriptions of the world, both verbal and non-verbal, which emphasize different aspects. All are valid and useful in the context in which they arose. All of them, however, are only descriptions, or representations, of reality and are therefore limited. None can give a complete picture of the world.
The mechanistic world view of classical physics is useful for the description of the kind of physical phenomena we encounter in our everyday life and thus appropriate for dealing of with our daily environment, and it has also proved extremely successful as a basis for technology. It is inadequate, however,for the description of physical phenomena in the submicroscopic realm. Opposed to the mechanistic conception of the world is the view of the mystics which may be epitomized by the word ‘organic’, as it regards all phenomena in the universe as integral parts of an inseparable harmonious whole. This world view emerges in the mystical traditions from meditative states of consciousness. In their description of the world, the mystics use concepts which are derived from these nonordinary experiences and are, in general, inappropriate for a scientific description of macroscopic phenomena. The organic world view is not advantageous for constructing machines, nor for coping with the technical problems in an overpopulated world.
In everyday life, then, both the mechanistic and the organic views of the universe are valid and useful; the one for science and technology, the other for a balanced and fulfilled spiritual life. Beyond the dimensions of our everyday environment, however, the mechanistic concepts lose their validity and have to be replaced by organic concepts which are very similar to those used by the mystics. This is the essential experience of modern physics which has been the subject of our discussion. Physics in the twentieth century has shown that the concepts  of the organic world view, although of little value for science and technology on the human scale, become extremely useful at the atomic and subatomic level. The organic view, therefore, seems to be more fundamental than the mechanistic. Classical physics, which is based on the latter, can be derived from quantum theory, which implies the former, whereas the reverse is not possible. This seems to give a first indication why we might expect the world views of modern physics and Eastern mysticism to be similar. Both emerge when man enquires into the essential nature of things- into the deeper realms of matter in physics; into the deeper realms of consciousness in mysticism - when he discovers a different reality behind the superficial mechanistic appearance of everyday life.
The parallels between the views of physicists and mystics become even more plausible when we recall the other similarities which exist in spite of their different approaches. To begin with, their method is thoroughly empirical. Physicists derive their knowledge from experiments; mystics from meditative insights. Both are observations, and in both fields these observations are acknowledged as the only source of knowledge. The object of observation is of course very different in the two cases. The mystic looks within and explores his or her consciousness at its various levels, which include the body as the physical manifestation of the mind. The experience of one’s body is, in fact, emphasized in many Eastern traditions and is often seen as the key to the mystical experience of the world. When we are healthy, we do not feel any separate parts in our body but are aware of it as an integrated whole, and this awareness generates a feeling of well-being and happiness. In a similar way, the mystic is aware of the wholeness of the entire cosmos which is experienced as an extension of the body. In the words of Lama Covinda,

‘To the enlightened man . . . whose consciousness embraces the universe, to him the universe becomes his ‘body’, while his physical body becomes a manifestation of the Universal Mind, his inner vision an expression of the highest reality, and his speech an expression of eternal truth and mantric power.’
In contrast to the mystic, the physicist begins his enquiry into the essential nature of things by studying the material world. Penetrating into ever deeper realms of matter, he has become aware of the essential unity of all things and events. More than that, he has also learnt that he himself and his consciousness are an integral part of this unity. Thus the mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.
A further similarity between the ways of the physicist and mystic is the fact that their observations take place in realms which are inaccessible to the ordinary senses. In modern physics, these are the realms of the atomic and subatomic world; in mysticism they are non-ordinary states of consciousness in of which the sense world is transcended. Mystics often talk about experiencing higher dimensions in which impressions of different centres of consciousness are integrated into a harmonious whole. A similar situation exists in modern physics where a four-dimensional ‘space-time’ formalism has been developed which unifies concepts and observations belonging to different categories in the ordinary three-dimensional world. In both fields, the multi-dimensional experiences transcend the sensory world and are therefore almost impossible to express in ordinary language.
We see that the ways of the modern physicist and the Eastern mystic, which seem at first totally unrelated, have, in fact, much in common. It should not be too surprising, therefore, that there are striking parallels in their descriptions of the world. Once these parallels between Western science and Eastern mysticism are accepted, a number of questions will arise concerning their implications. Is modern science, with all its sophisticated machinery, merely rediscovering ancient wisdom, known to the Eastern sages for thousands of years? Should physicists, therefore, abandon the scientific method and begin to meditate? Or can there be a mutual influence between science and mysticism; perhaps even a synthesis?
I think all these questions have to be answered in the negative. I see science and mysticism as two complementary manifestations of the human mind; of its rational and intuitive faculties. The modern physicist experiences the world through an extreme specialization of the rational mind; the mystic through an extreme specialization of the intuitive mind. The two approaches are entirely different and involve far more than a certain view of the physical world. However, they are complementary, as we have learned to say in physics. Neither is comprehended in the other, nor can either of them be reduced to the other, but both of them are necessary, supplementing one another for a fuller understanding of the world. To paraphrase an old Chinese saying, mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both. Mystical experience is necessary to understand the deepest nature of things, and science is essential for modern life. What we need, therefore, is not a synthesis but a dynamic interplay between mystical intuition and scientific analysis.
So far, this has not been achieved in our society. At present, our attitude is too yang - to use again Chinese phraseology too rational, male and aggressive. Scientists themselves are a typical example. Although their theories are leading to a world view which is similar to that of the mystics, it is striking how little this has affected the attitudes of most scientists. In mysticism, knowledge cannot be separated from a certain way of life which becomes its living manifestation. To acquire mystical knowledge means to undergo a transformation; one could even say that the knowledge is the transformation. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, can often stay abstract and theoretical. Thus most of today’s physicists do not seem to realize the philosophical, cultural and spiritual implications of their theories. Many of them actively support a society which is still based on the mechanistic, fragmented world view, without seeing that science points beyond such a view, towards a oneness of the universe which includes not only our natural environment but also our fellow human beings. I believe that the world view implied by modern physics is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect the harmonious interrelatedness we observe in nature. To achieve such a state of dynamic balance, a radically different social and economic structure will be needed: a cultural revolution in the true sense of the word. The survival of our whole civilization may depend on whether we can bring about such a change. It will depend, ultimately, on our ability to adopt some of the yin attitudes of Eastern mysticism; to experience the wholeness of nature and the art of living with it in harmony.

the Tao of Physics
image by hanciong

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

science & experience of Tao

Igor Morski
The search for a Self in the enaction perspective, considering worlds of consciousness and experience without ground analyzed according to the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, has to answer in a circular way to the question "how can there seem to be a coherent self when there is none?". The answer returns to the recursive circularity between science (in particular cognitive sciences) and experience without falling in the abyss of Nihilism:


Laying Down a Path in Walking

Science and Experience in Circulation

In the preface we announced that the theme of this book would be the circulation between cognitive science and human experience. In this final chapter we wish to situate this circulation within a wider contemporary context. In particular we wish to consider some of the  ethical dimensions of groundlessness in relation to the concern with nihilism that is typical of much post-Nietzschean thought. This is not the place to consider the many points that animate current North American and European discussions; our concern, rather, is to indicate how we see our project in relation to these discussions and to suggest further directions for investigation.
The back-and-forth communication between cognitive science and experience that we have explored can be envisioned as a circle. The circle begins with the experience of the cognitive scientist, a human being who can conceive of a mind operating without a self. This becomes embodied in a scientific theory. Emboldened by the theory, one can discover, with a disciplined, mindful approach to experience, that although there is constant struggle to maintain a self, there is no actual self in experience. The natural scientific inquisitiveness of the mind then queries, But how can there seem to be a coherent self when there is none? For an answer one can tum to mechanisms such as emergence and societies of mind. Ideally that could lead one to penetrate further into the causal relationships in one's experience, seeing the causes and effects of ego grasping and enabling one to begin to relax the struggle of ego grasping. As perceptions, relationships, and the activity of mind expand into awareness, one might have insight into the codependent lack of ultimate foundations either for one's mind or for its objects, the world. The inquisitive scientist then asks, How can we imagine, embodied in a mechanism, that relation of codependence between mind and world? The mechanism that we have created (the embodied metaphor of groundlessness) is that of enactive cognition, with its image of structural coupling through a history of natural drift. Ideally such an image can influence the scientific society and the larger society, loosening the hold of both objectivism and subjectivism and encouraging further communication between science and experience, experience and science.
The logic of this back-and-forth circle exemplified the fundamental circularity in the mind of the reflective scientist. The fundamental axis of this circulation is the embodiment of experience and cognition. It  should be recalled that embodiment in our sense, as for Merleau-Ponty, encompasses both the body as a lived , experiential structure and the body as the context or milieu of cognitive mechanisms. Thus in the communication we have portrayed in this book between cognitive science and the tradition of mind fullness/awareness, we have systematically juxtaposed the descriptions of experience taken from mind fullness/awareness practice with descriptions of cognitive architecture taken from cognitive science.
Like Merleau-Ponty, we have emphasized that a proper appreciation of this twofold sense of embodiment provides a middle way or entre-deux between the extremes of absolutism and nihilism. Both of these two extremes can be found in contemporary cognitive science. The absolutist extreme is easy to find, for despite other differences, the varieties of cognitive realism share the conviction that cognition is grounded in the representation of a pregiven world by a pregiven subject. The nihilist extreme is less apparent, but we have seen how it arises when cognitive science uncovers the nonunity of the self yet ignores the possibility of a transformative approach to human experience.
So far we have devoted less attention to this nihilist extreme, but it is in fact far more indicative of our contemporary cultural situation. Thus in the humanities - in art, literature , and philosophy - the growing awareness of groundlessness has taken form not through a confrontation with objectivism but rather with nihilism , skepticism, and extreme relativism. Indeed, this concern with nihilism is typical of late-twentieth-century life. Its visible manifestations are the increasing fragmentation of life , the revival of and continuing adherence to a variety of religious and political dogmatisms, and a pervasive yet intangible feeling of anxiety, which writers such as Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being depict so vividly.

It is for this reason (and because nihilism and objectivism are actually deeply connected) that we turn to consider in more detail the nihilistic extreme. We have reserved this issue until now because it is both general and far reaching. Our discussion must accordingly become more equally concerned with the ethical dimension of groundlessness than it has been so far. In the final section of this chapter we will be more explicit about this ethical dimension. Before doing so, however, we wish to examine in more detail the nihilist extreme.

Nihilism and the Need for Planetary Thinking

Let us begin not by attempting to engage nihilism directly but rather by asking how nihilism arises. Where and at what point does the nihilist tendency first manifest itself?
We have been led to face groundlessness or the lack of stable foundations in both enactive cognitive science and in the mindful, open-ended approach to experience. In both settings we began naively but were forced to suspend our deep-seated conviction that the world is grounded independently of embodied perceptual and cognitive capacities. This deep-seated conviction is the motivation for objectivism-even in its most refined philosophical forms. Nihilism, however, is in a sense based on no analogous conviction, for it arises initially in reaction to the loss of faith in objectivism. Nihilism can, of course, be cultivated to a point where it takes on a life of its own, but in its first moment its form is one of response. Thus we can already see that nihilism is in fact deeply linked to objectivism, for nihilism is an extreme response to the collapse of what had seemed to provide a sure and absolute reference point.
We have already provided an example of this link between objectivism and nihilism when we examined the discovery within cognitive science of selfless minds. This deep and profound discovery requires the cognitive scientist to acknowledge that consciousness and selfidentity do not provide the ground or foundation for cognitive processes; yet she feels that we do believe, and must continue to believe, in an efficacious self. The usual response of the cognitive scientist is to ignore the experiential aspect when she does science and ignore the scientific discovery when she leads her life. As a result, the nonexistence of a self that would answer to our objectivist representations is typically confused with the nonexistence of the relative (practical) self altogether. Indeed, without the resources provided by a progressive approach to experience, there is little choice but to respond to the collapse of an objective self (objectivism) by asserting the objective nonexistence of the self (nihilism).
This response indicates that objectivism and nihilism, despite their apparent differences, are deeply connected-indeed the actual source of nihilism is objectivism. We have already discussed how the basis of objectivism is to be found in our habitual tendency to grasp after regularities that are stable but ungrounded. In fact, nihilism too arises from this grasping mind. Thus faced with the discovery of groundlessness, we nonetheless continue to grasp after a ground because we have not relinquished the deep-seated reflex to grasp that lies at the root of objectivism. This reflex is so strong that the absence of a solid ground is immediately reified into the objectivist abyss. This act of reification performed by the grasping mind is the root of nihilism. The mode of repudiation or denial that is characteristic of nihilism is actually a very subtle and refined form of objectivism: the mere absence of an objective ground is reified into an objective groundlessness that might continue to serve as an ultimate reference point. Thus although we have been speaking of objectivism and nihlism as opposed extremes with differing consequences, they ultimately share a common basis in the grasping mind.
An appreciation of the common source of objectivism and nihilism lies at the heart of the philosophy and practice of the middle way in Buddhism. For this reason, we are simply misinformed when we assume that concern with nihilism is a modem phenomenon of Greco-European origin. To appreciate the resources offered by these other traditions, however, we must not lose sight of the specificity of our present situation. Whereas in Buddhism, as anywhere else, there is always the danger of individuals experiencing nihilism (losing heart, as it is called in Buddhism) or of commentators straying into nihilistic errors of interpretation, nihilism has never become full blown or embodied in societal institutions.
Today nihilism is a tangible issue not only for our Western culture but for the planet as a whole. And yet as we have seen throughout this book, the groundlessness of the middle way in Mahayana Buddhism offers considerable resources for human experience in our present scientific culture. The mere recognition of this fact should indicate that the imaginative geography of "West" and "East" is no longer appropriate for the tasks we face today. Although we can begin from the premises and concerns of our own tradition, we need no longer proceed in ignorance of other traditions, especially of those that continually strived to distinguish rigorously between the groundlessness of nihilism and the groundlessness of the middle way.
Unlike Richard Rorty, then, we are not inspired in our attempt to face the issue of groundlessness and nihilism by the ideal of simply "continuing the conversation of the West." Instead, our project throughout this book owes far more to Martin Heidegger's invocation of "planetary thinking." As Heidegger wrote in The Question of Being,

We are obliged not to give up the effort to practice planetary thinking along a stretch of the road, be it ever so short. Here too no prophetic talents and demeanor are needed to realize that there are in store for planetary building encounters for which the participants are by no means equal today. This is equally true of the European and of the East Asiatic languages and, above all, for the area of a possible conversation between them. Neither one of the two is able by itself to open up this area and to establish it.
Our guiding metaphor is that a path exists only in walking, and our conviction has been that as a first step we must face the issue of groundlessness in our scientific culture and learn to embody that groundlessness in the openness of sunyata. One of the central figures of twentieth-century Japanese philosophy, Nishitani Keiji, has in fact made precisely this claim. Nishitani is exemplary for us because he was not only raised and personally immersed in the Zen tradition of mindfulness/awareness but was also one of Heidegger's students and so is thoroughly familiar with European thought in general and Heidegger's invocation of planetary thinking in particular. Nishitani's endeavor to develop a truly planetary form of philosophical yet embodied, progressive reflection is impressive.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tao identity states

Igor Morski
Following the description of the observation of internal states of the consciousness system, Charles T. Tart discusses the description and properties of the self-observation of identity states, created by the sense of identity subsystem of consciousness:

Identity States

Self-observation, observation of others, and psychoanalytic data indicate that various stimuli can produce marked reorganizations of ego functioning very rapidly, even though these all remain within the consensus reality definitions of "normal" consciousness. These identity states are much like d-SoCs and can be studied in the systems approach framework. They are hard to observe in ordinary life because of the ease and rapidity of transition, their emotional charge, and other reasons. The isolation of knowledge and experience in various identity states is responsible for much of the psychopathology of everyday life.

Definition of Identity States

The concept of d-SoCs comes to us in commonsense form, as well as in terms of my initial research interests, from people's experiences of radically altered states of consciousness—states like drunkenness, dreaming, marijuana intoxication, certain meditative states. These represent such radical shifts in the patterning, the system properties of consciousness, that most people experiencing them are forced to notice that the state of their consciousness is quite different, even if they are poor observers. A person need not have developed an Observer in order to notice such a change in his state of consciousness: so many things are so clearly different that the observation is forced on him.
Although this is the origin and the main focus of the concept of d-SoCs, the systems approach is applicable to important variations occurring within the overall pattern we call the ordinary d-SoC, variations that can be termed identity states. My own self-observation and much scattered psychological data, particularly data gathered in the course of psychoanalytic investigations, indicate that as different situations impinge on a person and activate different emotional drives, distinct changes in the organization of his ego can take place. Certain drives become inhibited or activated, and the whole constellation of psychological functioning alters its configuration around them.
The most cogent formulation of these data into a comprehensive picture is that of the Armenian philosopher and spiritual teacher, George Gurdjieff. The following selection from Ouspensky's report of Gurdjieff's early lectures expresses Gurdjieff's idea that we have many "I's," many little egos:

"One of man's important mistakes," he said, "one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I."
"Man such as we know him, the 'man machine,' the man who cannot 'do,' and with whom and through whom everything 'happens,' cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings, and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago. "Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says 'I.' And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs o the Whole, to the whole man, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In actual fact there is no foundation whatever for this assumption. Man's every thought and desire appears and lives quite separately and independently of the Whole. And the Whole never expresses itself, for the simple reason that it exists, as such, only physically as a thing, and in the abstract as a concept. Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small I's, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking 'I.' And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion."
"The alternation of I's, their continual obvious struggle for supremacy, is controlled by accidental external influences. Warmth, sunshine, fine weather, immediately call up a whole group of I's. Cold, fog, rain, call up another group of I's, other associations, other feelings, other actions. There is nothing in man able to control this change of I's, chiefly because man does not notice, or know of it; he lives always in the last I. Some I's, of course, are stronger than others. But it is not their own conscious strength; they have been created by the strength of accidents or mechanical external stimuli. Education, imitation, reading, the hypnotism of religion, caste, and traditions, or the glamour of new slogans, create very strong I's in man's personality, which dominate whole series of other, weaker, I's. But their strength is the strength of the 'rolls' in the centers. "And all I's making up a man's personality have the same origin as these 'rolls'; they are the results of external influences; and both are set in motion and controlled by fresh external influences."
"Man has no individuality. He has no single, big I. Man is divided into a multiplicity of small I's."
"And each separate small I is able to call itself by the name of the Whole, to act in the name of the Whole, to agree or disagree, to give promises, to make decisions, with which another I or the Whole will have to deal. This explains why people so often make decisions and so seldom carry them out. A man decides to get up early beginning from the following day. One I, or a group of I's, decide this. but getting up is the business of another I who entirely disagrees with the decision and may even know absolutely nothing about it. Of course the man will again go on sleeping in the morning and in the evening he will again decide to get up early. In some cases this may assume very unpleasant consequences for a man. A small accidental I may promise something, not to itself, but to someone else at a certain moment simply out of vanity or for amusement. Then it disappears, but the man, that is, the whole combination of other I's who are quite innocent of this, may have to pay for it all his life. It is the tragedy of the human being that any small I has the right to sign checks and promissory notes and the man, that is, the Whole, has to meet them.
People's whole lives often consist in paying off the promissory notes of small accidental I's."

Gurdjieff's concept of these rapidly alternating I's is similar to the systems approach concept of d-SoCs. If we call each I an identity state, then each (1) has an overall pattern of functioning, a gestalt, which gives it a system identity and distinguishes it from other identity states; (2) is composed of structures/subsystems, psychological functions, skills, memories; (3) possesses unique properties not present in other identity states; (4) presumably has some stabilizing processes, although apparently fewer than the ordinary d-SoC as a whole, since identity states can change so rapidly; (5) functions as a tool for coping with the world, with varying degrees of effectiveness; and (6) requires an induction process to transit from one identity state to another, a requisite stimulus to bring on a new identity state.
These alterations in functioning that I call identity states can thus be usefully studied with the systems approach to consciousness. Yet they are almost never identified as d-SoCs in ordinary people, for several reasons.
First, each person has a large repertoire of these identity states and transits between one and another of them extremely readily, practically instantly. Thus, no obvious lapses or transitional phenomena occur that would make him likely to notice the transitions.
Second, all these identity states share much psychological functioning in common, such as speaking English, responding to the same proper name, wearing the same sets of clothes. These many common properties make differences difficult to notice.
Third, all a person's ordinarily used identity states share in his culturally defined consensus reality. Although certain aspects of reality are emphasized by particular identity states, the culture as a whole implicitly allows a wide variety of identity states in its definitions of "normal" consciousness and consensus reality. Within the cultural consensus reality, for example, there are well-understood concepts, perceptions, and allowed behaviors associated with being angry, being sad, feeling sexual desire, being afraid.
Fourth, a person's identification is ordinarily very high, complete, with each of these identity states. He projects the feeling of "I" onto it (the Sense of Identity subsystem function discussed in Chapter 8). This, coupled with the culturally instilled need to believe that he is a single personality, causes him to gloss over distinctions. Thus he says, "I am angry," "I am sad," rather than, "A state of sadness has organized mental functioning differently from a state of anger." The culture also reinforces a person for behaving as if he were a unity.
Fifth, identity states are driven by needs, fears, attachments, defensive, maneuvers, coping mechanisms, and this highly charged quality of an identity state makes it unlikely that the person involved will be engaged in self-observation.
Sixth, many identity states have, as a central focus, emotional needs and drives that are socially unacceptable or only partially acceptable. Given the fact that people need to feel accepted, an individual may have many important reasons for not noticing that he has discrete identity states. Thus, when he is in a socially "normal" identity state, being a good person, he may be unable to be aware of a different identity state that sometimes occurs in which he hates his best friend. The two states are incompatible, so automatized defense mechanisms (Gurdjieff calls them buffers) prevent him from being aware of the one identity state while in the other. This is, in systems approach terminology, state-specific knowledge. Ordinarily, special psychotherapists techniques are required to make a person aware of these contradictory feelings and identity states within himself. Meditative practices designed to create the Observer also facilitate this sort of knowledge.
The development of an Observer can allow a person considerable access to observing different identity states. An outside observer can often clearly infer different identity states, but a person who has not developed the Observer function well may never notice his many transitions from one identity state to another. Thus ordinary consciousness, or what society values as "normal" consciousness, may actually consist of a large number of d-SoCs, identity states. But the overall similarities between these identity states and the difficulty of observing them, for the reasons discussed above, lead us to think of ordinary consciousness as relatively unitary state.
Gurdjieff sees the rapid, unnoticed transitions between identity states, and their relative isolation from one another, as the major cause of the psychopathology of everyday life. I agree with him, and believe this topic deserves intensive psychological research.

Functions of Identity States

An identity state, like a d-SoC, has coping functions. The culture a person is born into actively inhibits some of his human potentials, as well as developing some. Thus, even in the most smoothly functioning cultures, there is bound to be some disharmony, some conflict between a person's emerging and potential self and he demands placed on him to which he must conform in one way or another if he is to survive in that social environment. The psychopathology of everyday life is abundantly obvious and has been amply documented by psychological studies.
At the fringes of consciousness, then, there is a vast unknown, not simply of relatively neutral potentials that never developed, but of emotionally and cognitively frightening things, conflicts that were never resolved, experiences that did not fit consensus reality, feelings that were never expressed, problems that were never faced. Immersion is consensus reality in the ordinary d-SoC is a protection from this potentially frightening and overwhelming unknown; it is the safe, cultivated clearing in the dark, unexplored forest of the mind.
An identity state is a specialized version of the ordinary d-SoC, a structure acceptable to consensus reality (ignoring obviously pathological identity states). The extrainformational "This is me" quality from the Sense of Identity subsystem added to certain contents/structures constellates the energies of consciousness around them and produces an identity, a role that a person partially or completely identified with for the time. The identity "eats energy."
A particular identity state thus acts as loading stabilization for the ordinary d-SoC; it absorbs much available energy that might otherwise activate unknown and perhaps implicitly feared contents that are not acceptable. When you "know" who are, when you take on an identity state, then you immediately have criteria for dealing with various situations. If I am a "father" in this moment I know that certain things are expected and desired of me and I can cope well within that framework with situations involving my children. If the situation changes and I now become a "professor," then I have a new set of rules on how to cope with situations involving people who have identified with the roles of "students."
Some of a person's most important problems arise when his is in an identity state that is not really suited to the situation: my children are unhappy when I am a professor when they want a father, and I am not comfortable when my students want me to be like a father when I think the role of professor is more appropriate.
Being caught in a situation in which one has no ready role to use and identify with is unusual. For most people such situations can be lightly confusing or frightening, since they do not know how to think or act. They can become susceptible to any authority who offers ready-made roles/solutions in such situations. If the country is "going to hell" and nobody seems to have any answer, it may feel much better to be a "patriot" and blame "traitors" than to live with your confusion.
On the other hand, lack of an immediately available role can offer a unique opportunity to temporarily escape from the tyranny of roles.
Once a person has identified with a role, the resulting identity state stabilizes his d-SoC not only through loading stabilization, but through the other three stabilization processes discussed... When he is coping successfully and thus feeling good in a particular identity state, this constitutes positive feedback stabilization; he tends to engage in more thoughts and actions that expand and strengthen the identity state. If the fear of having no identity is strong and/or the rewards from a particular identity state are high, this can hinder escape from that identity state. Consider how many successful businessmen work themselves to death, not knowing how to stop being businessmen for even short periods, or how many men die within a few years of retiring, not having their work identity to sustain them.
Success from being in a particular identity state encourages a person to avoid or suppress thoughts and actions that tends to disrupt that state: this is negative feedback stabilization. A "good soldier" is obtaining valuable information about enemy troop movements—information that may save the lives of his buddies—by torturing a native child: he actively suppresses his own identity state of a "father" is order to function effectively in his "soldier' identity.
Being in a particular identity state also functions as limiting stabilization. The identity leads to selective perception to make perceptions congruent with the reigning identity state. Certain kinds of perceptions that might activate other identity states are repressed. The tortured child is perceived as an "enemy agent," not as a "child." This keeps emotional and attention/awareness energy out of empathic processes that, if activated, would undermine and disrupt the "soldier" identity.
Identity states, then, are both tools for coping with the environment and ways of avoiding the unknown. The degree to which they serve mainly one or the other function probably varies tremendously form individual to individual and identity to identity. Some people are terribly afraid of anything outside the few narrow identities they always function in: by staying in one of the other of those identity states constantly, they never feel the fear of the unknown. Others have less fear of the unknown, but find the rewards from functioning in a few identity states are so high that they have no real need or interest to go outside them. The latter type probably characterizes a stable, well-integrated society, with most citizens quite content in a socially accepted identity states.
For discussion of radically altered discrete states like hypnosis or drunkenness, the concept of the ordinary d-SoC as relatively unitary is useful. As the systems approach becomes more articulated, however, we shall have to deal with these identity states that exist within the boundaries of the ordinary d-SoC and that probably also function within the boundaries of various d-ASCs.
In this book, I continue to use the terms discrete state of consciousness and discrete altered state of consciousness to refer to the rather radical alterations like hypnosis or drunkenness that gave rise to the concept in the first place. I use the phrase identity state to indicate the more subtle division.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the two Truths of Tao

The search for the Self and Consciousness in the enaction perspective with consciousness and experience worlds without ground analyzed according to the Abhidharma contains within it a radical distinction between the ordinary, experienced and conventional truth and the ultimate truth, like the distinction between the expression of the Tao, the Te or The, and the ultimate  indescribable truth of Tao, a distinction between mundane and transcendental similar in many traditions, like the Ātman/Brahman duality in Hinduism and the Tonal/Nagual in Castaneda's reports:


The Middle Way

The Two Truths

The Abhidharma analysis of the mind into basic elements and mental factors already contained within it the distinction between two kinds of truth: ultimate truth, which consisted of the basic elements of existence into which experience could be analyzed, and relative or conventional truth, which was our ordinary, compounded (out of basic elements) experience. Nagarjuna invoked this distinction, gave it new meaning, and insisted on its importance.
The teaching of the doctrine by the Buddha is based upon two truths: the truth of worldly convention (samvrti) and the ultimate, supreme truth (paramartha).
Those who do not discern the distinction between these two truths, do not understand the profound nature of the Buddha's teaching.
Relative truth (samvrti, which literally means covered or concealed) is the phenomenal world just as it appears-with chairs, people, species, and the coherence of those through time. Ultimate truth (paramartha) is the emptiness of that very same phenomenal world. The Tibetan term for relative truth, kundzop, captures the relation between the two imagistically; kundzop means aU dressed up, outfitted, or costumed-that is, relative truth is sunyata (absolute truth) costumed in the brilliant colors of the phenomenal world.
By now it should be obvious that the distinction between the two truths, like the analysis of the Abhidharma, was not intended as a metaphysical theory of truth. It is a description of the experience of the practitioner who experiences his mind, its objects, and their relation as codependently originated and thus as empty of any actual, independent, or abiding existence. Like the Abhidharma categories, the description also functions as a recommendation and contemplative aid. This can be seen very clearly in the discourse of Buddhist communities. For example, many of the forms that Westerners take as poetry or irrationality in Zen are actually contemplative exercises directing the mind toward codependent emptiness.
The term for relative truth, samvrti, is also often translated as "convention" (within Buddhism as well as by academic scholars), which gives rise to much interpretative confusion. It is important to understand in what sense convention is meant. "Relative" or "conventional" should not be taken in a superficial sense. Convention does not mean subjective, arbitrary, or unlawful. And relative does not mean culturally relative. The relative phenomenal world was always taken to operate by very clear laws regardless of the conventions of any individual or society, such as the laws of karmic cause and effect.
Furthermore, it is very important to understand that the use of convention here is not an invitation to decenter the self and/or world into language as is so popular at present in the humanities. As the founder of the Gelugpa lineage in Tibetan Buddhism puts it, "... since nominally designated things are artificial, that is, established as existent in conventional terms, there is no referent to which names are attached which (itself) is not established as merely conventionally existent. And since that is not to say that in general there is no phenomenal basis for using names, the statement of the existence of that (conventional referent) and the statement that (all things) are mere nominal designations are not contradictory." Thus in Buddhism one can perfectly well make distinctions in the relative world between true statements and false ones, and it is recommended that one make true ones.
The sense in which the things designated, as well as the designations, are only conventional may be explained by an example: when I call someone John, I have the deep assumption that there is some abiding independent thing that I am designating, but Madhyamika analysis shows there to be no such truly existing thing. John, however, continues to act just the way a perfectly good designatum is supposed to, so in relative or conventional truth he is indeed John. This claim may remind the reader of our discussion of color. Although the experience of color can be shown to have no absolute ground either in the physical world or the visual observer, color is nonetheless a perfectly commensurable designable. Thus such scientific analysis can perfectly well be joined by the far more radical presentation of groundlessness in the Madhyamika.
Because this relative, conventional, codependently originated world is lawful, science is possible-just as possible as daily life. In fact, perfectly functional pragmatic science and engineering are possible even when they are based on theories that make unjustifiable metaphysical assumptions-just as daily life continues coherently even when one believes in the actual reality of oneself. We offer the vision of enactive cognitive science and of evolution as natural drift neither as a claim that this is the only way science can be done nor as a claim that this is the very same thing as Madhyamika. Concepts such as embodiment or structural coupling are concepts and as such are always historical. They do not convey that at this very moment - personally - one has no independently existing mind and no independently existing world.
This is a crucially important point. There is a powerful reason why some Madhyamika schools only refute the arguments of others and refuse to make assertions. Any conceptual position can become a ground (a resting point, a nest), which vitiates the force of the Madhyamika. In particular, the view of cognition as embodied action (enaction), although it stresses the interdependence of mind and world, tends to treat the relationship between those (the interaction, the action, the enaction) as though it had some form of independent actual existence. As one's mind grasps the concept of enaction as something real and solid, it automatically generates a sense of the other two terms of the argument, the subject and object of the embodied action. (As we shall discuss, this is why pragmatism is also not the same as thing as the middle way of Madhyamika.) We would be doing ii great disservice to everyone concerned - mindfulness/awareness practitioners, scientists, scholars, and any other interested persons - were we to lead anyone to believe that making assertions about enactive cognitive science was the same thing as allowing one's mind to be experientially processed by the Madhyamika dialectic, particularly when this is combined with mindfulness/awareness training. But just as the Madhyamika dialectic, a provisional and conventional activity of the relative world, points beyond itself, so we might hope that our concept of enaction could, at least for some cognitive scientists and perhaps even for the more general milieu of scientific thought, point beyond itself to a truer understanding of groundlessness.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

observation of internal Taos

Vladimir Kush, Earth Well
After the description of the subsystems of the consciousness system, Charles T. Tart continues with the discussion about self-observation of its own consciousness internal states, a topic which  deeply involves the concept of "observer":

Observation of Internal States

Observation of internal events is often unreliable and difficult. Focusing on external behavior or physiological changes in useful, but experiential data are primary in d-SoCs. We must develop a more precise language for communicating about such data.
Observing oneself means that the overall system must observe itself. Thus, in the conservative view of the mind self-observation is inherently limited, for the part cannot comprehend the whole and the characteristics of the parts affect their observation. In the radical view, however, in which awareness is partially or wholly independent of brain structure, the possibility exists of an Observer much more independent of the structure.
Introspection, the observation of one's own mental processes, and the subsequent communication of these observations to others have long been major problems in psychology. To build a general scientific understanding requires starting from a general agreement on what are the facts, what are the basic observations across individuals on which the science can be founded. Individuals have published interesting and often beautiful accounts of their own mental processes in the physiological literature, but analysis of these accounts demonstrates little agreement among them and little agreement among the analyzers that the accounts are precise descriptions of observable mental processes. Striving for precise understanding is an important goal of science.
One reaction to this has been behaviorism, which ignores mental processes and declares that external behavior, which can be observed more easily and reliably, is the subject matter of psychology. Many psychologists still accept the behavioristic position and define psychology as the study of behavior rather than the study of the mind. That way is certainly easier. One hundred percent agreement among observers is possible, at least for simple behaviors. For example, in testing for susceptibility to hypnosis with the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, the examiner suggests to the subject that his arm is feeling heavier and heavier and will drop because of the increased weight. The hypnotists and observers present can easily agree on whether the subject's arm moves down at least twelve inches within thirty seconds after the end of the suggestion.
Behaviorism is an extremely valuable tool for studying simple behaviors, determining what affects them, and learning how to control them. But it has not been able to deal well with complex and important human experiences, such as happiness, love, religious feelings, purposes. The behavioristic approach is of particularly limited value in dealing with d-ASCs because almost all the interesting and important d-ASC phenomena are completely internal. A behavioristic approach to the study of a major psychedelic drug like LSD, for example, would lead to the conclusion that LSD is a sedative or tranquilizer, since the behavior frequently produced is sitting still and doing nothing!
If we are to understand d-SoCs, introspection must become an important technique in psychology in spite of the difficulties of its application. I have primarily used peoples' reports of their internal experiences in developing the systems approach, even though these reports are undoubtedly affected by a variety of biases, limitations, and inadequacies, for such reports are the most relevant data for studying d-SoCs.
I believe psychology's historical rejection of introspection was premature: in the search for general laws of the mind, too much was attempted too soon. Mental phenomena are the most complex phenomena of all. The physical sciences, by comparison, deal with easy subject matter. We can be encouraged by the fact that many spiritual psychologies have developed elaborate vocabularies for describing internal experiences. I do not understand these psychologies well enough to evaluate the validity of these vocabularies, but it is encouraging that others, working over long periods, have at least developed such vocabularies. The English language is well suited for making reliable discriminations among everyday external objects, but it is not a good language for precise work with physical reality. The physical sciences have developed specialized mathematical languages for such work that are esoteric indeed to the man in the street. Sanskrit, on the other hand, has many presumably precise words for internal events and states that do not translate well into English. There are over twenty words in Sanskrit, for example, which carry different shades of meaning in the original. Development of a more precise vocabulary is essential to progress in understanding consciousness and d-SoCs. If you say you feel "vibrations" in a d-ASC, what precisely do you mean?

In science the word observation usually refers to scrutiny of the external environment, and the observer is taken for granted. If the observer is recognized as possessing inherent characteristics that limit his adequacy to observe, these specific characteristics are compensated for, as by instrumentally aiding the senses or adding some constant to the observation; again the observer is taken for granted. In dealing with the microworld, the particle level in physics, the observer cannot be taken for granted, for the process of observation alters the phenomena being observed. Similarly, when experiential data are used to understand states of consciousness, the observation process cannot be taken for granted.
For the system to observe itself, attention/awareness must activate structures that are capable of observing processes going on in other structures. Two ways of doing this seem possible, which we shall discuss as pure cases, even though they may actually be mixed. The first way is to see the system breaking down into two semi-independent systems, one of which constitutes the observer and the other the system to be observed. I notice, for example, that I am rubbing my left foot as I write and that this action seems irrelevant to the points I want to make. A moment ago I was absorbed in the thinking involved in the writing and in rubbing my foot, but some part of me then stepped back for a moment, under the impetus to find an example to illustrate the current point, and noticed that I was rubbing my foot. The "I" who observed that I was rubbing my foot is my ordinary self, my personality, my ordinary d-SoC. The major part of my system held together, but temporarily singled out a small, connected part of itself to be observed. Since I am still my ordinary self, all my characteristics enter into the observation. There is no objectivity to my own observation of myself. My ordinary self, for example, is always concerned with whether what I am doing is useful toward attaining my short-term and long-term goals; thus the judgment was automatically made that the rubbing of the foot was a useless waste of energy. Having immediately classified foot-rubbing as useless, I had no further interesting in observing it more clearly, seeing what it was like. The observation is mixed with evaluation; most ordinary observation is of this nature.
By contrast, many meditative disciplines take the view that attention/awareness can achieve a high degree or even complete independence from the structures that constitute a person's ordinary d-SoC and personality, that a person possesses (or can develop) an Observer that is highly objective with respect to the ordinary personality because it is an Observer that is essentially pure attention/awareness, that has no judgmental characteristics of its own. If the Observer had been active, I might have observed that I was rubbing my foot, but there would have been no structure immediately activated that passed judgment on this action. Judgment, after all, means relatively permanent characteristics coded in structure to make comparisons against. The Observer would simply have noted whatever was happening without judging it.
The existence of the Observer or Witness is a reality to many people, especially those who have attempted to develop such an Observer by practicing meditative disciplines, and I shall treat it as an experiential reality.
The question of its ultimate reality is difficult. If one starts from the conservative view of the mind, where awareness is no more than a product of the nervous system and brain, the degree of independence or objectivity of the Observer can only be relative. The Observer may be a semi-independent system with fewer characteristics than the overall system of consciousness as a whole, but it is dependent on the operation of neurologically based structures and so is ultimately limited and shaped by them; it is also programmed to some extent in the enculturation process. Hilgard has found the concept of such a partially dissociated Observer useful in understanding hypnotic analgesia.
In the radical view of the mind, awareness is (or can become) different from the brain and nervous system. Here partial to total independence of, and objectivity with respect to, the mind/brain can be attained by the Observer. The ultimate degree of this objectivity then depends on whether awareness per se, whatever its ultimate nature is, has properties that limit it.
It is not always easy to make this clear distinction between the observer and the Observer. Many times, for example, when I am attempting to function as a Observer, I Observe myself doing certain things, but this Observation immediately activates some aspect of the structure of my ordinary personality, which then acts as an observer connected with various value judgment that are immediately activated. I pass from the function of Observing from outside the system to observing from inside the system, from what feels like relatively objective Observation to judgmental observation by my conscience or superego.
Some meditative disciplines, as in the vipassana meditation discussed earlier, strive to enable their practitioners to maintain the Observer for long periods, possibly permanently. The matter becomes rather complex, however, because a major job for the Observer is to Observe the actions of the observer: having Observed yourself doing some action, you then Observe your conscience become activated, rather than becoming completely caught up in the conscience observation and losing the Observer function. Such self-observation provides much data for understanding the structure of one's own consciousness.