Ep. 11 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Higher States of Consciousness, Part 1



my notes

  • 2 modes of being in Buddha: having mode and being mode.
  • Modal confusion and overcoming it.
  • Mindfulness: intentional scaling . Increase cognitive flexibility, capacity for insight.
  • idea that people have alternative state of C that see as more real - problematic because tend to judge realness by how well we get an overall coherence in our intelligibility
  • Instead of rejecting AS as illusory, reject everyday experience as illusory
  • Ability to transcend through illusion to get connected to what is real = wisdom
  • Connectedness to reality = regard one’s life as authentically meaningfu
  • Want a theory that is both prescriptive and descriptive
  • In higher state feel deep connection to reality and radically change their lives.
  • Need to give account of psychological processes, informational, and brain processes
  • prescriptive: why it should be considered rationally justifiable: can we see why these states should be listened to when they claim to give access to deeper reality.

Descriptive Explanation

  • 5:20 - what does it feel like to be in such a state
  • 3 components:
    * How is the world being experienced
    * How is the self being experienced
    * How is the relationship between self and world
  • Reports:
    * Ppl report world seems extremely clear to them and makes sense to them in a way that it hasn’t before
    * perceptual: seen as bright, things are shiny (glory) - feature ppl report in flow experience
    * expansion of vision (aware of the world) but also capture finite features
    * Insight: seeing into reality
    * Increased sense of making sense of things
    * 8:23 - World both intricate and interesting, beautiful
    * World is alive, pregnant with energy and significance
    * Notion of oneness. Deep and profound integration.
    * Self: report profound sense of peace (Plato)
    * Profound joy: (lost sense of what this word means): joy not just fun or pleasure: positive emotion have when experience a deep connection to what is good
    * Fundamental change in sense of self:
    * Normal sense of self disappeared: self-consciousness, autobiographical sense of self disappear
    * Remember my true self, what I really am
    * Change in energy and vitality
    * Insight and understanding
  • Relation:
    * Deep at oneness, participating in the reality, sharing identity to it
    * (Aristotle conformity theory of knowing: identification with reality)
    * So profound and transformative - say connection is ineffable - so if no declarative content why considered so loaded with signature of ultimate reality

14:45 - Disruptive Strategies

  • disrupt normal cognitive functioning and alter state of consciousness
  • Can be long term/short term
  • Long term strategy: Buddha: 6 yrs of meditation and contemplation
  • Short term disruptive strategy: fasting, sexual and sleep deprivation, drumming, chanting - disrupt normal level of cognitive, psychedelics

( heh, would like to try psychedelics but have no idea how to even get them)

  • Combinations of these strategies can be good
  • Have to do a lot breaking frame before can make a new frame
  • Experiment:
    * Yadin 2017: 69% reported ontonormativity, was actually predictive of improvement across many dimensions of life: family health, sense of purpose, spirituality, will, release from anxiety and fear of death
    * decentering: when ppl describe these experiences, shift from egocentric to allocentric - speaking more from 3rd person perspective
    * Can describe my motion egocentrically: to the right of me, left of me
    * Allocentrically: where I am vis a vis north poll
    * Much less egocentrically oriented
    * Salience of reality capable of eclipsing narcissistic glow of own ego
    * Release from imprisonment, BS, of own egocentric perspective
    * Do you sometimes wish to be free from the super-salience of your own ego:

( We should talk about this on stream: what does it mean?)

20:45 - Insight

  • sense of what’s relevant/important been alterred. Radically make sense, conherence, underlying intelligible pattern: predictive of experience of meaning in life
  • Samantha Henzelman:
    * Give ppl a bunch of scene’s that make sense to them, ask them how meaningful their lives are, will rate their lives as more meaningful
    * The act of finding coherence helps make their lives more meaningful
    * Act of making sense, elevates the sense of how meaningful lives are
  • If were to have an insight that would give even more sudden increase in sense of meaning in life, and what if it’s in flow - going to be even more enhanced

( Note again the cautious use of language: the sense of meaning of life. Again, does the truth of it matter if life is better?)

  • Radical sense of deep intelligibility of the world and yourself in both directions at same time. Profound sense of increased meaning and life.
  • If it actually does guide you in improving life then will give confidence on the path

Flashes of insight

  • Tobolinsky: insight is a fluency-spike

    • fluency is general property of all cognitive properties
    • How easy it is to process information
    • How accessible it is, how well system zeroing in on the relevant information
    • When fluent processing information efficiently
    • Insight experience = sudden spike in influency, start to judge the information processing therein as likely more real.

( Again subjective language. Is he foreshadowing that it’s only a feeling and not real or just building suspense?)

* part of evolutionary heritage - fluency heuristic good strategy, in real world situations if pressing fluently picking up on the real patterns
* flow: insight cascade
* Picking up on bigger patterns that not consciously aware of

( Again: how do we know they are real patterns vs. Illusory. Humans are good at spotting patterns that aren’t there)

29:00 - Continuity Hypothesis

  • continuity hypothesis: want scientifically plausible explanation when someone claims enlightenment

  • Want good explanation and good justification for why should follow and be guided

  • CH: Vervaeke’s own hypothesis though Newberg came up with one

  • Fluency -> enchanted insight -> enhanced flow -> enhanced mystical experience -> transformative experience

  • Same machinery being used but being progressively exacted into more and more powerful processing that can afford rationally justified guidance into kind of transformation

  • If seeking to cultivate meaning, awaken from the meaning crisis we are seeking one of these experiences

  • Newberg says if have a lot of little insights will lead to transformative experiences - more practicing mindfulness, more can prime the pump

  • Help explain what’s going on

  • In flow: we know there has to be a relevant expertise: flow state where skills can meet the demands of the situation. If don’t have the relevant skills can’t get into flow state.

  • ask: what’s flowing in these higher states of consciousness? What expertise using: fundamental expertise, central to everyday experience making sense of the world

  • Ponty, Dreyfus, Charles Taylor

  • 34:45 - Optimal GripWhat process being optimized?

    * Optimal grip: harkens back to conformity
    * When try to perceive an object, don’t remain static, move around the object until get to a place where trade-off relationship: can see as many details as possible (zooming in), also the gestalt (overall thing). Move cup around for best optimization for my needs between overall and grasp of details
    * Dynamic balance between them
    * Martial arts: want to get the right flow over the person, takes practice, sense of whole body but can zero in on details.
    * Own body: take a stance: optimal sense of whole body but also details of where fingers are, joints doing what can do
    * Do this cognitively
    * categorization: talk about cat or dog not usually level up to mammal, though might zero down to cocker spaniel. But usually default to basic level: cogntively optimal grip
    * As go higher up get more abstract, when go down get too specific.
    * Have to practice optimal grip
    * First date: try and get a sense of the person, trying to get an optimal grip on the other person
    * advice: look into her eyes, but not too much.
    * Do it without thinking: ex: how close to stand to someone. Depends on context and person, most of us have that skill

43:50 - Proposal

  • what if got into a flow state about ability to optimally grip the world.
  • What if made it really challenging, disrupt normal framing and open up and zooming in: see the world in a grain of sand
  • What if had optimal grip but not on just one object, but a dynamic flowing on the world and itself. Optimally gripping reality, deep conformity.
  • What’s happening in a higher state of consciousness is people are flowing to get OG on world and themselves
  • Disruptive stategies essential to insight: mindfulness break frame. Also naturally disposed to do this: mind wanders: Zak Irving: expert on mind wandering
  • MW enhances capacity for insight. Distracts you from how framed a situation, then return. It helps disrupt framing so can break frame and make new frame
  • ex; go and sleep on it, take a walk
  • If give person problem and introduce noise moderate amount can lead to insight
  • When brain engaged in insight: shift btw lett and right hemispheres

48:30 - De-automatization

  • 9 dot problem: automatically unconsciously formulated it as a square and connect the dot problem, which blocks you from solving it
  • To get out of that had to de-automatize cognition
  • Disruptive strategies increase the variation in processes
  • When increase variation can get more awareness of what is invariant.
  • As move around object, lots of stuff changing, but shape the same
  • Two kinds of invariants:
    * Good invariants : opening up variation pick up on bigger patterns that are changing that are real patterns in the world. More in contact with what’s really going on. Tells us what’s more real - real patterns
    * Bad invariants: ways in which formulating problems that are blocking you from solving problem.
    * Notice invariants heuristic: across different problem formulations that are failing: what am I not changing in all of these failures? Often what not changing is what need to change.

(seems like a useful tool)

      * What if have a whole system of errors?
      * Systematic errors
      * Developmental change when have systematically penetrative insight, find nexus of errors so can massively intervene on themselves
      * That’s what can happen during enlightenment experience
            * Opening up the variation massively, can connect to what’s real, be more connected to world
            * Get below ways holding back own development
            * Radical developmental change
            * wisdom: seeing through illusion

( But how know actually seeing through the illusion and not just a useful illusion?)

  • do not believe in the two-world mythology of the axial revolution but don’t want to abandon the psycho-technology

my notes

Many (2/3rds) of those that have these HSC speak less egocentrically, and more allo-centrically.

  • 22m - people primed with having to make sense of connected scenes or images, correlates with them describing their lives as meaningful. Making sense>meaingful life.
  • 25m - the fluency of the information taken in increases the trust of that information.
  • 31m - the same machinary is being used for the chain of fluency>insight>flow>mystical experiences>transformative experiences, It’s just being progressively exapted to perform better.
    The more lower-level experiences you prctice, the more likely you’ll exapt your senses to be able to reach a higher-level experience.
  • 40m - the optimal cognintive grip of the world is using the categories that are broad enough to share with others, but not too broad to lose the details.
  • 44m - HSC (he puts forward) is the proficiency (for flow states) on being able to ‘optimally grip’ reality.
  • 47m - mind-wandering allows us to break our framing and make a new frame.
  • 53m - the more I vary what I’m doing (the more noise I let in), the more I’m being made aware of what’s NOT changing. By finding out what’s invarient, I also find out what’s more real.
  • 55m - Children will consistently make the same types of errors (length supersalience), and an insight of growing up for them will be the recognition of the systemic flaw of how they go about each of these problems.’
  • 56m - By add varience you can both get a clearer understanding of whats more real by what doesn’t change, but also can pinpoint where you’re making systematic errors.