Archives for June, 2012


Streams of Present

900 or so years ago Omar Khayyam asked:
Life was given to me without my consent... my own existence filled me with astonishment.
Elsewhere he writes:
Let us abandon the vain search after the unattainable, and give ourselves up wholly to the joys of the present.
Elsewhere he adds:
I am racked with thirst, and yet a fresh cool stream flows before me.

Omar is drunk with life, intoxicated with existence, in awe of the very possibility of being.  But not always, not when he is caught up in the wheel of life...  Not when he thirsts for the unattainable again...

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Vanity of Philosophy

900 or so years ago Omar Khayyam asked:
How long will you expend your existence on vain self-love, or in search for the source of being and of non-being?
While I typically waste my time on the latter (on the search for the source of Being and Non-Being) rather than the former (vain self-love), I wonder if my philosophizing and the search for truth isn't vain...
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Lotus Effect: Identity Detox

Mirror Fast

There are three inventions that have fundamentally changed the trajectory of human civilization.

The first one was the invention of fire keeping. Fire set us free. It bought us time to sit down and reflect. The second is the invention of the wheel.  The wheel put us on the road.  It kicked off progress and set us in motion.  The wheel yanked us out of contemplation.  The third is the invention of the...
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Here's an arguably heady (but hopefully useful) piece on what I call Skinthink (from "History of the Next Big Bang;"  it's a psychoanalytic socio-cosmology in the tradition of Russian Cosmism and Vedic Cosmology).

Mind is Skin 

Made of skin, mind thinks like skin.  It is a fact of human embryonic development that CNS [Central Nervous System], the seat of human intelligence, begins as nothing more than involution (envagination) of ectoderm.  The ectoderm enfolds onto itself (through a process called neural tubing) and becomes centralized, externally, as a brain, and, internally, as a mind.

The first and foremost job of any skin is to separate the inner from the outer, the self from the other.  The skin divides and so do we. Made of skin, we mind dualistically and dichotomously.  Each mind, like a pair of scissors, divides the Oneness of the Universe in half (initially into “self’ and “other”[4]) and then in half again and again and again.  This Skinthink is inevitable.
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The 10th Mirror

In getting to know your essential self (in dis-identifying from what we are not), there are ten mirrors of identity to look into:

The Mirror of Reflection (physical mirror)
The Mirror of Others’ Minds, Approval, & Feedback  (social mirror)
The Mirror of Circumstance, Status, Rank, & Reputation (situational mirror)
The Mirror of Roles, Membership, & Affiliations (relational mirror)
The Mirror of Action, Professional Identity, Performance, & Pastime (behavioral mirror)
The Mirror of Possessions &  Ownership (material mirror)
The Mirror of Body, Age, & Health (bio-data mirror)
The Mirror of Time, Memory, Imagination (temporal mirror)
The Mirror of Language, Words, Description (linguistic mirror)
The Mirror of Consciousness (inner mirror)

Once you study yourself in these mirrors you will see that 9 of these mirrors offer you nothing but distortions - you are not how you look, you are not others' thoughts about you, you are not your body, you are not even your own thoughts about you, and so on and so forth.

It's only the 10th mirror (the Mirror of Consciousness) - the mirror of meditation  - the inner mirror - that allows you to catch a true glimpse of your essential self.
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Lotus Effect: Identity Detox

The 3 “I-s” of the Ego-Self: Identification, Information, Impermanence

Ego is not an anatomical structure.  It’s not something that you will see on an X-ray.  Ego is an informational structure.  That’s what the term ego actually means: it is a Latinized translation of “das Ich,” which is German for “the I.”  “The I” is “the information” that you have about you.

The ego-based view of the self is as unstable as a table on three legs.  There are three issues with ego we need to examine, and they all start with the letter I.  “The I” (ego) balances on identification with impermanent information.  Let’s take a closer look.

Ego is Information. Ego is a collection of self-descriptions, just a bunch of words written down on the mirror of your consciousness.  Let’s say I point at the moon with my index finger.  Is my finger the moon that I am pointing at?  Of course not.  Now ponder this: are you the information that you have about you or are you that which this information is about?  Are you a self-description or that which you are describing?
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Losing Your Ego, Losing Your Halo

(for context, see my prior posts on Information Poisoning and Identity Detox/Info-Detox)

So, why is it that we give away our essence, exchanging the original for a copy?   The answer is complex, nuanced, and case-specific, but here’s a bird’s-eye view of the problem.

You see, the brain translates life into information.  Some of the information that we receive has nothing to do with us.  We either ignore it or file it away for future use.  But some of the information feels personally relevant.  So, we examine it and hoard what’s useful.  The information that we keep becomes our ego, our self-concept.

Over time, we get used to this information about us and begin to identify with it. For example, you get a few As in a graduate-level math class and you feel tempted to conclude: “I am a math whiz.”  Or, say, you grow up in a coal-mining town, identifying with its ethos of honesty and hard work, and then run for a political office as “a son of a coal-miner,” on a mandate of what-you-see-is-what-you-get transparency.

One way or another, we all – up to a point - wrap ourselves in our informational and autobiographical resumes like togas until they cake on like second skin.
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