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John Vervaeke - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Summary - Episodes 1 to 10 πŸ”—

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See all summaries in a single page below.

Episode 1 - Introduction πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Introduction πŸ”—

The normal solution rate, with the best therapy, for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is about 20%. Introducing psychedelics into the therapy can get the healing rate up to 80%.

Wisdom is about realizing (in both senses of the word: becoming aware and making real) meaning in life, in a profound way.

Main questions:

Some psychedelic experiences are mystical experiences, some of which are awakening experiences.

Mystical experiences are more important and transformative.

Awakening experiences are radical transformations in people’s sense of self and reality. People come back saying that that was more real than this, and their lives get better after such experiences.

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Foolishness is a lack of wisdom.

People use this word meaning as a metaphor. They mean there is something in their lives that is analogous to how a sentence has meaning. The pieces stick together in some way. They make an impact in your cognition and connect you to the world in some way.

Knowing has multiple meanings:

Psychedelics transfer these other kinds of knowing.

Upper Paleolithic Transition πŸ”—

Biologically, as a species, we existed since 200000 BP.

At some point, around 40000 BP, there was radical change.

People started making art, sculptures, cave paintings, music.

There was significant enhancement in their cognition. First use of calendars, symbolic representation of the phases of the moon and the passage of days, keeping track of time to enhance hunting abilities. Developed projectile weapons, think spears with bone tip.

Throwing is a deep idea in your cognition. Working on a project. There is an object, which means throwing against. I am the subject, which means throwing under.

Way before the internet networked computers together, culture networked brains together, in order to provide some of our most powerful problem solving abilities.

There was a near-extinction event. We started trading to have access to resources from different environments.

We started to develop three types of rituals: trade rituals, initiation rituals and shamanic rituals.

Trade rituals have the function of enhancing our ability to come into communication and relationships of trust with individuals that we do not personally know.

That is why you still do stuff that makes no sense. You meet somebody and you stick out your hand and they grab it, and then they move it up and down. This is to show you have no weapons, this is to allow the person to touch you, feel how tense, etc.

Mindsight is the ability to pick up on other people’s mental states. This increases your ability to pick up on your own mental states.

Initiation rituals are designed to show our commitment to the group. Often require risk, threat, sacrifice. You have to improve your ability to regulate your emotion.

Decentering is to let yourself be in the hands of other people, a non-egocentric perspective.

Exaptation is an evolutionary mechanism.

For example, using your tongue to speak. Tongues did not evolve for speech. If they did, all the animals who have tongues would be speaking at you. They evolved to move food around your mouth and they are poison detectors. The tongue was exapted for speech.

Analogously, the brain develops a mechanism to do one thing, and then reuses the mechanism to do something completely different.

Shamanic rituals are a cultivated practice for altering consciousness that taps into and exapts the enhanced mindsight. They were the best healthcare available, for a long time. Probably played a significant role in the software change in the brain during this period.

Technology is the systematic use of a tool. A physical tool fits your biology and enhances it.

You are a natural born cyborg. Your brain has evolved across several species to use tools. When you start using a tool, even for a short period of time, your brain will start to model the tool as part of your body. That is why you can do weird things like when you are parking your car and can feel where the edge of your car is.

A psychotechnology fits your brain and enhances how it operates.

For example, literacy. You are not born literate. You are born linguistic, learning how to talk. For most of our history we were completely illiterate. Literacy is a standard set of tools that standardizes how you process information. I can write stuff down and come back to it later. I can take my brain now, and link to it back then, and in the future, networking all those instances together. I can also network my brain with your brain.

Shamanism is a set of psychotechnologies for altering your state of consciousness and enhancing your cognition. The shaman will often engage in things like:

A shaman is typically trying to disrupt the normal ways in which you are finding patterns in the world.

For example, the nine dots puzzle, which requires thinking outside the box. In order to get an insight you have to disrupt your framing. What is involved here is knowing how to go outside the box, how to alter your attention, how to change your perspective on what is salient to you, what is relevant or real to you.

Shamanism is a set of disruptive practices and attentional practices that are designed to disrupt every day framing so that the shaman can get enhanced insight (e.g. in the environment, into other people).

The word shaman means one who knows, one who sees, one who has insight. Shamans are considered wise people. The word wizard means a wise person.

Episode 2 - Flow, Metaphor, and the Axial Revolution πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Flow πŸ”—

Flow state also described as being in the zone. The challenges of the situation go just slightly beyond your skills. Surplus skills lead to boredom. Surplus challenges lead to anxiety.

Deeply positive for people. Not the same thing as physical pleasure. Connected to meaning in life. The more often you get into the flow state, the more likely you will rate your life as meaningful and the more you will experience well being.

You fell like you are deeply at one with things. Actions flow out of you. At one level you are making a lot of effort but at another level it feels effortless. Altered sense of time and self. Self-conciousness disappears. Super salient, the world seems more intense.

Universal, across cultures, socio-economic groups, genders, languages, environments, age groups.

Optimal experience in two ways:

Training in mindfulness increases your capacity to get into the flow state.

Flow induction machines such as video games, jazz, martial arts, rock climbing:

Cascade of insights. Get stuck, break frame, restructure, change what you are finding relevant and salient, change yourself, make progress, repeat. Flow trains your ability for insight.

Shamanism is probably a practice to get into the flow state.

Implicit Learning πŸ”—

Implicit learning is your capacity, outside of conscious awareness, to pick up on very complex patterns in your environment.

Experiment: generate arbitrary set of rules, generate letter strings following the rules, show them to people. Then generate a second set following different rules, mix both, and ask people if strings belong to first set or not. People answer better than chance. When asked why, they say they do not know (they just feel it) or they give wrong reasons.

Intuition is the result of your implicit learning.

For example, you know how far to stand from somebody. When people do not know how to do it, it creeps you out.

Two kinds of patterns in the environment: correlation and causation.

For example, there is a correlation between how large your wedding is and how long it will last. If you have a bigger wedding then your marriage is more likely to last longer. Not causation. Reflects bigger social network, more financial resources, which are the real causes.

Bias or prejudice is incorrect intuition based on correlation instead of causation. You want to train your implicit learning to pick up on causal patterns, that are real, and not on correlational patterns.

Conditions for good intuition are the same as the conditions for flow.

Metaphor πŸ”—

In a shamanic ritual your brain is learning to get areas to talk to each other, that normally do not talk to each other. This is specially the case if you have gone through a massive disruption strategy, like fasting, social isolation, taking psychedelics. Brain scan of someone having a psychedelic experience shows it.

Metaphor is your capacity to get different areas of your brain to talk to each other. The word metaphor is itself a metaphor, it means to bridge, to carry over, to connect things that are normally not connected.

I want you to reflect (metaphor) now on how your thoughts and language are filled (metaphor) with metaphor. Do you see (metaphor) what I am saying? Do you get my point (metaphor)? Do you comprehend (metaphor) it? Can you grasp (metaphor) it? Do you understand (metaphor) it? I am about halfway through (metaphor) this talk. I hope it is not too hard (metaphor) for you.

Metaphor is how you make creative connections between ideas. Metaphorical cognition is at the heart of both science and art.

Shamans often experience soul flight, as if they are flying over the world. This is the origin of getting high. More comprehensive grasp of more complex patterns, experiencing it mostly intuitively and metaphorically.

When you get a bigger picture of things, you are above them. Someone who is in charge of things has oversight of them, has supervision of them.

Axial Revolution πŸ”—

Around 800 BCE - 300 BCE. After the Bronze Age collapse.

People invent a new psychotechnology: alphabetic literacy. Much easier to learn, more effective and efficient.

Metacognition is your awareness of your own mind.

Second order thinking is when you internalize a psychotechnology into your metacognition and it improves your capacity to critically examine and correct your own thinking.

People invent coinage. Teaches you to think in an abstract symbol system. Also numeracy, you have to start thinking mathematically.

People get a clear sense about two things in their cognition:

Start to realize a more personal sense of responsibility. For example, taking responsibility for the violence in the world.

There is no enemy greater than your own mind, but there is no ally greater than your own mind.

People start understanding this double-edged sword of their cognition:

Episode 3 - Continuous Cosmos and Modern World Grammar πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

More Axial Revolution πŸ”—

People start to become aware of how much the transformation of mind and heart is the way to alleviate suffering. The mythological framework changes.

Myths are symbolic stories about perennial patterns that are always with us. Attempt to take intuitive, implicitly learned patterns and put them into some form that is shareable with ourselves and others. We are not using the common meaning of myth of being a falsehood that is widely believed.

Mythological is neither scientific nor just metaphorical.

Before πŸ”—

People experienced the world as continuous cosmos, people felt a deep continuity between the natural world and the cultural world, and between the cultural world and the world of the gods.

Time moved in cycles, future was not open.

The gods are of particular places or particular functions, not general.

After πŸ”—

Mythology of two worlds, also called the great disembedding:

Wisdom is knowing how to make the transformative leap of self-transcendence from the every day world to the real world. How you can grow as a person.

Meaning is a connectedness to the real world, as opposed to a detrimental connectedness to the illusory every day world.

Aside: Present πŸ”—

The scientific worldview is destroying the mythology of two worlds and returning us to continuous cosmos.

There is no radical difference in kind between you and the primates you have evolved from. The is no radical difference in kind between your mind and your embodied existence. Science is leveling the world, and we are returning to one world.

How do we salvage the ability to cultivate widom, self-transcendence, enhance meaning, overcome self-deception, realize who we are and how the world is, when we can no longer use the mythological world view in which it was born?

We are going through a re-embedding, it has been progressive and increasing. Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin, Einstein re-embedded us.

Ancient Israel πŸ”—

The grammar of the bible is the grammar of your own cognition. Grammar is how you put thoughts together.

Invented psychotechnology of understanding time as a cosmic narrative. Using a story to explain how the cosmos is unfolding through time. Future is open. Your actions can change the future. Ongoing creation through history.

The god of old testament is not bound to time and place. The god of open future, named I will be that I will be. Becomes more and more an deity of progress.

Kairos are the turning points in history.

Faith was the sense of progressing, it did not mean believing ridiculous things for which there is no evidence.

Sin meant to be wrong without realizing it, to make bad decisions, to miss the course of progress.

Prophet is someone who wakes you up right now to your mistakes, it is not someone who predicts the general future.

The moral content of your actions decides how things are going to go. Increasing emphasis on the morality of human decision making. Wake up to your moral responsibility to help everyone to get back on track and to turn things back towards the promised land (the potential good future). Justice, righteousness, waking up.

Participate in the ongoing creation of the world, shaping the future, helping yourself, your neighbours and your society to progress, measured mostly in terms of moral improvement, increasing justice, flourishing, sense of people living up to their promise (potential).

Ancient Greece πŸ”—

Added vowels to the alphabet and standardized reading from left to right. Increased cognitive fluency, the ease of processing information. A lot of fluency leads to flow.

Emergency of democracy encouraging argumentation and debate, leading to the psychotechnology of rational argumentation.

Invented mathematics, geometry, abstract symbol systems for their own sake.

Pythagoras πŸ”—

Seems to have gone through shamanic training.

Discovered musical octaves.

Invented word cosmos, related to cosmetics, and equated it with universe, meaning that through music and mathematics we can see the beauty everywhere.

Invented word philosophy, from:

Episode 4 - Socrates and the Quest for Wisdom πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Socrates πŸ”—

Part of the cognitive and existential grammar of the west.

Pythia is an oracle through which people believed they could speak to the gods. Probably in some kind of psychodelic state. Stay in business by not giving clear answers, e.g.:

It might provoke an insight on you. You can often retrospectively reinterpret later events as having being consonant with the oracle.

Socrates’ friends ask the oracle: is there anyone wiser than Socrates? Expecting obscure answer like the snow melts farther in the south. Instead they get a clear answer: no, there is no human being wiser than Socrates.

Confirmation bias is seeking information that confirms our beliefs, while avoiding information that challenges them.

Upon hearing the answer, Socrates is not self-congratulatory, instead he challenges it.

Socrates transformed the Greek gods into moral exemplars. For Socrates, gods can not lie.

Know thyself means understanding how you operate, it is like your owner’s manual.

Socrates makes know thyself his personal slogan for life, makes this kind of self-knowledge central. He is convinced that he is not wise.

Dilemma: how can it be that he is the wisest human being, when he knows that he is not wise?

Two group of people accredited as being wise: natural philosophers (truth without relevance) and sophists (relevance without truth).

Natural philosophers, like Thales, start thinking scientifically, looking for rational explanations based on observations. 3 main points:

Substance means stands under, another metaphor.

Psyche originally means your capacity to move yourself and make other things move.

Ontology is the study of being, the structure of reality.

Ontological analysis is when you use reason to try to get at the underlying structure of reality.

Ontological depth perception is seeing with the mind into the depths of reality.

Our scientific worldview, while giving us knowledge, does not give us wisdom.

Sophists invented the psychotechnology of rethoric, influencing skills. They separated the technology from any kind of moral commitment. Modern example of rethoric is advertising.

Lying depends on the fact that people are committed to the truth. Bullshit works by making you unconcerned by whether or not something is true.

You can not lie to yourself, it makes no sense, but you can bullshit yourself.

Believing is not something you directly do. For example, you would like to have the belief that everybody loves you, but you do not believe it. You can hope or wish, but you can not decide to believe in it, it is not a voluntary action. That is why you can not lie to yourself.

You can direct your attention to something and make it more salient to you. Your attention can be caught, something can capture your attention. This 2 things feed on each other until your attention is attached to something, this something is super salient to you, it is highly relevant to you, and you lose the capacity to notice other things, stop caring whether or not it is true or represents reality. That is how you bullshit yourself.

Socrates wanted truth and relevance.

Socrates would go about questioning people, using the socratic method. Example:

Aporia is not knowing what is going on, like falling into a magician’s spell.

Socrates is trying to make you realize how much we are bullshitting ourselves all the time. We pursue things way before we understand them. We are always making ourselves susceptible to bullshit because we are being driven by powerful motivations that are greatly in excess of our understanding of their truth.

The answer to the dilemma, why Socrates was wiser than everyone else, is that he knew what the did not know, in a way that allowed him to directly confront his capacity to bullshitting himself.

Socrates was accused of teaching strange gods and went to trial. They would let him go if he agrees to stop doing phylosophy but he says: the unexamined life is not worth living.

Ta erotika is knowing how to love well, what to care about, caring about with what is real.

Socrates would walk into the market place and say: look at all the things I do not need. He would say: how much time did you spend fixing your hair this morning, and how much time fixing yourself?

We need to put reason and love together, to rationally know what we should care about.

Socrates was found guilty on the trial and he was put to death.

Plato will put together Pythagoras and Socrates.

Episode 5 - Plato and the Cave πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Plato πŸ”—

What makes something sacred is that it is an inexhaustible fount of insight and intelligibility that is transformative of us.

Plato was traumatized by the death of Socrates. Plato wanted to understand how people could be so foolish.

Inner conflict is when you have two strong motives that seem to be working against each other. Examples:

Plato started psychology. 3 centers in our psyche:

headcheststomach, genitals
long term goalsmid term goalsimmediate goals
can learncan be trainedcan be tamed

thymos is the part of you that is motivated socially.

shame is when you have lost the capacity to get respect from your peer. guilt is when you feel that you have failed to meet your own ideal of who you should be.

You want the 3 centers to be in harmony.

Reducing inner conflict makes you be more in touch with reality and better at picking up real patterns in the world. This helps further reduce inner conflict, in a virtuous cycle.

Allegory of the Cave πŸ”—

An Illustration of The Allegory of the Cave, from Plato’s Republic

People only see the shadows, but they don’t know. One escapes and sees reality.

A myth of enlightenment, of coming into the light.

You pick up on real patterns, that challenges you and blinds you, then you transform to pick them up, then you are able to move forward, then you confront those real patterns again, in a cycle. Anagoge is this ascent into reality.

Analogous to movie The Matrix from 1999.

Eidos πŸ”—

Essence, formula, structural-functional-organization, logos.

How you know something and the pattern that makes it be what it is.

e.g. you have an intuitive grasp of what a bird is.

This idea was taken up by Aristotle, Plato’s greatest disciple.

Episode 6 - Aristotle, Kant, and Evolution πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Aristotle πŸ”—

Aristotle lays the foundation for further aspects of a scientific approach to wisdom and meaning.

While I love Plato, I love the truth more.

Interested in growth and development. Part of having a meaningful life is to grow.

A block of wood can be made into a chair, a table or a ship. Actuality, what makes the wood act like a chair? The eidos. The wood is potential for chair. The change from wood to chair is analogous to development.

In-formation is to put a form (eidos) into something and therefore actualize its potential.

Living things do this for themselves. Like a chair that makes itself. Food is potential you.

Be-cause is what causes something to be.

Living things make use of feedback cycles and are self-organizing. The tree makes the leaves and the leaves make the tree.

Dynamical systems theory, causes and constraints.

Causes are events that make things happen, actuality.

Contraints are conditions that make things possible, potential. Enabling contraints increase possibilities. Selective contraints reduce possibilities.

Events cause eidos which constrains future events.

Theory of natural selection, Darwinian evolution.

Personality is given to you by biology and environment.

Character is the aspect of you that you can cultivate. The system of constraints that you have identified with and internalized, and that regulates your development.

Golden mean is the right balance. Courage is the right balance between coward and foolhardy.

Living up to your potential.

Part of what makes your life meaningful is that you have cultivated character that allows you to actualize your potential. Your purpose. Your capacity to overcome self-deception and to enhance your contact with reality. This is wisdom.

Akrasia is when you know what the right thing to do is but you don’t do the right thing. You do the wrong thing because you don’t have sufficient character.

Human beings are self-making and seek the conditions to continue to exist.

inorganic matter => living things => self-moving things => mental things => rational things.

Next comes Aristotle’s account of a world view, what it is and why it matters so deeply to our self-understanding and our existential meaning.

Episode 7 - Aristotle’s World View and Erich Fromm πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > Ancient Greece > Aristotle πŸ”—

Other side of Aristotle’s work: how he contributed to the axial development of these ideas of meaning, wisdom, self-transcendence. Living up to you potential, self-realization, ascending through the hierarchy, until you are a fully realized, fully rational human being.

Rationality is second-order thinking, stepping back and reflecting on the ways in which you are self-deceptive and you have a capacity for self-correction and self-transcendence. Rationality is not “just being logical”.

The core motivation of rationality is the desire to come into as deep a contact with reality as possible by those means that are as reliable as possible.

To know something is to possess the same eidos as it, to be able to make it. Con-formity is to share the same form (eidos). When we’ve made sense of things, the pattern in our minds is the same as the pattern in the world.

To know something is to be in contact with it. Participatory knowing is when I shape myself in order to know the thing and I know it by conforming to it. Intimate connection between the mind and reality. This is different from descriptive knowing when I stand apart and I generate propositions about the thing.

There are 3 tests to determine if something was real:

World view is an account of the world and an account of how you know the world that mutually support each other in very strong bonds of plausibility. Deep bond between your understanding of your understanding and your understanding of the world.

Arena is a place that is organized such that you know how to act in it. You know where things belong, what actions are appropriate, how to calibrate your performance (physical and intellectual).

To be an agent is to be capable of pursuing your goals, to organize you cognition and your behavior so your actions fit the situation, fit the environment.

Co-identification between agent and arena, each identity is determined by and determines the other.

Existential mode is the process by which you are co-identifying agent and arena so that they fit together and make sense of each other, and you get a coherent and functioning world view.

Meta-meaning relation: if you do not have the agent-arena relationship, then none of your particular actions have meaning.

Today we have a scientific worldview but it gives us no existential guidance, it does not tell us how to make our lives meaningful.

Nomological order is having a worldview that is constantly affording existential modes in which agent-arena relationships are unfolding and blossoming naturally, so that the person is constantly experiencing a deep connectedness between their intellectual projects of making sense of the world and their existential projects of finding meaning, belonging and fittedness within it.

To have a meaningful life is to have a life that is situated within a nomological order.

Axial Revolution > India > Buddhism πŸ”—

Enlightenment is a project of trying to deal with threats to meaning in one’s life.

Two existential modes:

having modebeing mode
control, manipulationreciprocal realization
solving problemsmaking meaning
e.g. having sexe.g. being in love

Modal confusion is trying to satisfy our being needs in the having mode.

Episode 8 - The Buddha and “Mindfulness” πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Axial Revolution > India > Buddhism πŸ”—

Siddhārtha sees a sick person, an old person and a dead person. This undermines his having (existential) mode and causes an existential crisis.

Then he sees a mendicant, someone who has renounced the having mode, and the peace on the mendicant’s eyes, the being mode.

Disillusionment has 2 senses:

Self-denial is the negation of self-indulgence, but still having mode. Too tight is just as bad as too loose.

This is when Siddhārtha discovers the middle path: to transcend the having mode by rejecting both self-indulgence and self-denial.

Sati means to remember what is it like to be in the being mode. Today it is translated into mindfulness. The set of psychotechnologies that bring about awakening.

Re-member means to be a member again. When you wake up you remember your world and your identity.

Buddha means the awakened one.

Mindfulness πŸ”—

Distinction between the language of training and the language of explaining.

Mindfulness features:

Being Present Brings Insight πŸ”—

Being present is having the right kind of concentration. Paying attention. Renewing your interest.

Interest comes from inter esse and means to be within something.

Attention is a very complex optimization process, it is about tuning and getting between too tight and too loose, and allowing you to become intimately involved, conformed to, participating, inter esse with what you are paying attention to. It is not a spotlight.

Attention makes things more salient.

To practice something is to optimize it by doing something else.

You pay attention by optimizing some other process, e.g.:

Cognitive unison is coordinating various processes so that they are sharing the same goal and working well together.

What we need to understand is:

Not just insights into particular problems, but the systematic insight that is awakening, that motivates and empowers people to radically transform themselves, so that they can escape from modal confusion and other existential dilemmas.

Episode 9 - Insight πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Being Present Brings Insight πŸ”—

Experiment: probing a cup with a pen, with closed eyes.

You can be aware of the cup through the pen. So the probe is transparent to you, and the cup is opaque. Or you can be aware of the pen through your fingers. Or you can be aware of your fingers through your feelings.

You can be aware through your glasses (transparent), or you can be aware of your glasses (opaque).

This also works with psychotechnologies. For example, you can integrate literacy with your cognition so well that you don’t look at literacy very much, you automatically look through it.

Attention is flowing in and out with transparency and opacity shifting. Subsidiary / implicit awareness vs focal / explicit awareness.

Experiment: read “THE CHT” written with bent H letters that look closer to A letters.

The letters are the features and the words are the gestalt. In order to read the words you must read each individual letter, but in order to disambiguate each letter you must have read the whole word.

Attention is flowing up and down between feature and gestalt.

Mindfulness optimizes the attention processes.

Scaling up is moving from feature to gestalt and moving from opacity to transparency.

Scaling down is moving from gestalt to feature and from transparency to opacity.

Meditation means moving towards the center.

Vipassana meditation: people train by paying attention to the feelings and sensations that are being generated in their abdomen as they breath, and breaking their gestalt into features. This is scaling down. Normally we do not pay attention to our sensations, we pay attention through our sensation to the world.

Contemplation comes from temple, which comes from a part of the sky that you look up to, to see the signs from the gods. Contemplation is to look up towards the divine. Contemplation emphasizes scaling up.

There are two moments to having an insight:

Mindfulness is teaching us to appropriate and train a flexibility of attentional scaling so that we can intervene effectively in how we are framing our problems and increase the chances of insight when it is needed.

Pure consciousness event is a kind of mystical experience you can have when you scale down all the way. You are not conscious of anything, you are just fully present as a consciousness.

Resonant at-onement is a mystical experience you can have when you scale up all the way. See everything as interconnected, flowing, impermanent. Create overarching gestalt, so overarching that it includes and encompasses you. A super-flow state, in which you are deeply at-one with everything.

State of non-duality (prajna) is a third kind of mystical experience that includes both pure consciousness and resonant at-onement at the same time. Fundamental insight into your existential modes of being. One way to get into this is state is to repeatedly scale up as you inhale and scale down as you exhale.

Normally when we come out of an altered state of consciousness (e.g. being drunk) we say that it was not real. But sometimes, the opposite occurs: people say that the altered state was more real, and this makes them radically transform their whole life.

Most of the world’s religions that emerged at the Axial Revolution are predicated on the idea that there are higher states of consciousness that should empower, challenge and encourage us to engage in radical transformation. 30 to 40% of the population has experienced these events and found them deeply meaningful.

Episode 10 - Consciousness πŸ”—

The following are my main takeaways from the video, quoting and paraphrasing the content.

Consciousness πŸ”—

You participate in your consciousness.

You do most of your things without consciousness. For example, you have no conscious awareness of what your brain does to allow you to generate speech.

Global workspace theory is the idea that your consciousness functions like the desktop of your computer. You select certain pieces of information that are relevant, bring them together, transform them in a way that is relevant, and then broadcast the needed changes back. This helps you zero-in on relevant information. Select information from the room and from your memory. Tightly associated with working memory and intelligence.

The core function of consciousness is to help your realize relevance. Become aware of, actualize, put into action, relevant information. Determine if pieces of information are relevant to each other and relevant to you. Coordinate attention and other related abilities of awareness to optimize how insightfully you can make sense of your world.

Consciousness correlates with brain activity that is involved when people are chunking information, or when they are restructuring information, like an insight.

Integrated information theory says that consciousness is how powerfully integrated pieces of information are. How much one piece of information in your brain is causally dependent on, interacting and affecting other pieces of information in your brain. The more tight the integration, the more powerful the processing, and the more likely it will be affording consciousness.

You can test how conscious a system is by giving it anomalous pictures and checking that it can figure out that the pictures do not make sense.

You need consciousness for complex situations that require insight, for situations and problems that have a high degree of novelty or challenge in them. You can reduce consciousness when the problem has become very well defined for you.

Consciousness creates a salience landscape for you. Featurization <=> foregrounding <=> figuration <=> framing. You need to get to the right place to get an optimal grip. The optimal grip creates affordances.

An affordance is setting up the relationship and coordination between the constrains in an object (e.g. cup) and the constraints in yourself (e.g. hand) so that you can engage in an interaction (e.g. grasping). It is a way of co-identifying. I become a grasper and the cup becomes graspable.

salience landscape (optimal grip) => presence landscape (affordance) => depth landscape (causal patterns)

An altered state of consciousness is an insight of consciousness, it is not an insight in consciousness. It is a radical transformation of all of your landscapes. A systematic insight.

As the child is to the adult, the adult is to the sage. Wisdom is like growing up. Children develop when they have systematic insights that correct systematic errors.

Your significance landscape protects you from bullshitting, allows you to see through illusion and into reality, and affords you having a comprehensive and flowing relationship with reality.

Altered states of consciousness also have the potential to do the opposite, to screw up your salience landscaping and make yourself more prone to bullshit, more prone to self-deception. That is why most such states (e.g. being drunk) are rejected as being illusory.

Many people experience higher states of consciousness, find them to be really real, and in both directions – arena and agent. They say “that is the way the world really is” and they also say “this is who I really am”. The higher states of consciousness make people change, justify, empower and motivate them to undergo transformation (ontonormativity).

When we wake up from a dream, we say that it was not real. When we come back from a higher state of consciousness, we say that it was more real.

Realness is the pattern of intelligibility with the widest scope. Rich coherence of content. It makes the most sense of the most of your experience. It puts together your beliefs and your memories.

People’s lives do get better after they experience a higher state of consciousness.

It is not about getting knowledge, it is about getting wisdom and transformation.

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Updated on 2019 Oct 24.

DISCLAIMER: This is not professional advice. The ideas and opinions presented here are my own, not necessarily those of my employer.