General Articles

So a 4 Year Old Elephant Paints a Picture of Oneself and Signs His Name – Big Deal!

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Here’s a video of an elephant painting an elephant.  He is 4 years old.  His name is Suda.

Amazing, right?

But is it?!

We (“humans”) are just modern-day apes: if a monkey can (be trained to) paint itself, why couldn’t an elephant?!

We are a neural tribe: a neuron is a neuron is a neuron – across varying body-forms.  We don’t just have neurons. We are our neurons. We aren’t “humans.” We are the Neural Tribe inside the human form. Wherever you find neurons, there – as a species – you are.

There are neurons inside this elephant – thus, this elephant is human, just another information-processing life-form like you.  Looks different – so we judge the book of life by the cover, the naive students of life that we are…

How do  you make sense of this video?  Do you just think of it as a circus act?  Dismissing the humanity of this elephant with some behavioral modification mumbo-jumbo of “stimulus-response” rote learning?!

Here’s how I, a modern-day ape, make sense of this video: I think of this creature as a fellow human, as a member of a neural tribe.

Neural Tribe

The idea of the “neural tribe” is an attempt to unify all of us regardless of the bio-forms that we inhabit. Each of us is a neural colony housed inside a bio-form of this or that “species.” Each of us – whether a human or a fish or an insect – is a metazoan multi-cellular colossus, a bio-house made of cellular bricks that is inhabited by a colony of stand-alone neurons that live and work as a family. Each “body” that you are is but a mobile colony of the dispersed Neural Tribe that inhabits a bewildering diversity of life-forms. Each metazoan One (of us) is, in fact, a (neural) Many. This site is but an attempt at a new narrative… but a step towards transcending our bio-Forms and identification with our Neural Essence.

The NT (neural tribe) perspective is not another echo of the Cartesian mind-body split. In proposing that we see neurons as a species I am not in any way denying the interiority of the neural experience. The NT …

Return to Oneness

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Troy Wilson Organ says: “Man is the point at which the cosmos ceases to pluralize and starts the return to Oneness.”

A flattering thought but I think this process already plays out with ants and their colonies, and, maybe, dates as evolutionarily far back as metazoan/multicellular organization.

In sum, each “I” is really a “we” – a plurality of composites.

Eating Sun

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

“What is the future of eating?” is the question that I tried to answer in “Reinventing the Meal” (2012)

Transhuman Fermentation

Still a cultural underground, transhumanism is a gradual churning of techno-genetic possibilities. As a social movement, transhumanism is still in the stages of fermentation. From the evolutionary standpoint, transhumanism is an attempt at self-guided evolution, a project of customizing the body to meet the needs of the mind.

But what does the mind fundamentally need from the body? Faster information processing would be nice. An extended health span would be nifty. Who wouldn’t like faster legs, sharper vision, or more acute hearing? Heck, having a functional pair of wings wouldn’t hurt either. Top all of this off with bulletproof skin, and it might seem as though this human dream of functional augmentation was complete. But it isn’t. It’s lacking the most fundamental piece: greater metabolic independence. Indeed, what minds seem to really like is sovereignty. And sovereignty is synonymous with greater energy independence. Of course, all metabolic independence is relative. No life is ultimately independent of its environment.

As I see it, a transhuman project of metabolic independence could take one of two general paths: that of direct human photosynthesis at a cellular level (let’s call it the path of Homo solaris) or the path of the Energizer Bunny. The former is a path of genetic modification and perhaps surgical augmentation or a wholesale nanosurgical alteration on a cellular level. The latter path might involve some sort of “future skin,” a kind of biotech chimera project of swapping elastic solar panels for patches of skin. The specifics are beyond me. In fact, it’s likely that there are solutions that lie beyond the capacity of my imagination. But one thing seems clear to me: Whether motivated by compassion (for the life that we consume) or by self-determination, we will—if we are fortunate to survive as a civilization—seek greater energy autonomy on an individual basis.

There can be a tendency to see transhumanism as a loss of humanity. It certainly may be. But it’s also possible to view transhumanism as an amplification of humanity—as the extension of our essence and …

Ceasing and Arising

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Ceasing and arising – two words for one and the same self-renewing flow of reality.

Psychology of pratitya-samutpada (dependent origination) is the psychology of acceptance of What Is.


Veils of Illusion

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

A life takes shape.

We give this Namelessness a name.

And Maya (illusion) is born.

Universe likes to play pranks on its it-less no-self

Hiding its Oneness behind the veils of plurality.


Vedic Psychology | Lotus Effect :

Am-ful Om-ness, Om-ful Am-ness

Sunday, November 9th, 2014



Church bells: A couple of weeks ago, while coming home from work, I heard church bells… I love the sound of church bells – not the meaning of that sound or the affiliations of that sound – but just the sound, the sound itself.  There is a nice “om” to this sound.  This sound takes me back to the sounds of my childhood, when i was growing up in Moscow.  This sound – the sound of church bells – is a human invention that never fails to resonate with me.


Gym bells: I have a mini-gym in my backyard since I like to exercise outdoors as much as I can.  So, this morning, while doing a bench press in my tool shed, in the quiet of the morning, I realized that the clanking sound of the 45 lbs plates on the bar was identical to the sound of church bells.  Or nearly so.  There is a definite “om” to this sound – a familiar primordial resonance. An “om” that led me to am-ness today.  And most likely will in the future too.


Mind bells: And then I thought: “How silly, right?  How mindless I’ve been all these years!  I’ve been in the presence of this clanking sound for years (here’s a picture of me from a long while back, with these gym bells right around my ears!) – and I haven’t made the connection between the church bells and gym bells. But now I have!  Now and henceforth this connection will ring the mind bell – the mind bell of associations!


And that’s how deaf and blind we generally are – until we awaken. And in my experience, this kind of awakening is always through the gateway of sensation. Sensation is gurudwara – the door to the guru – to the guru of am-ful om-ness and om-ful am-ness.



A Stitch of Self

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Being stitches its way through Becoming:

Now you see your essential Self and now – eclipsed by Form – you don’t.

In and out, Being threads its way through the fabric of Nonbeing.

Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Nose

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

shutterstock_224041396Smell helps mind see at night.

So does hearing and touch.

Point is: all sensations reduce to vision.

See what I mean?

In case you don’t, let me “show” you again: each sense gives mind a model of reality and to model a reality is to envision it.

So, whether it is a nose or an ear, it’s all in the service of a mind’s eye.

Eye image available from Shutterstock.

A Banality

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

If we know how to, we love our kids (which is a big “if” (since many of us weren’t loved or were not loved “right”)). They take that love and, hopefully, pass it on (a big “hopefully” since they are so many matching and existential variables involved). That’s how the world is righted, a heart at a time.

A banality, I know.


Pure Experience

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

leafsomov“I suddenly realize that at last after more than seventy years of looking I see things as they are – what a phrase, “as they are” – and not, as in all past years, wrapped in concepts, e.g. man, woman, flowers, trees.  I see them now as islands of black and white that move, or spots of color making a herbaceous border or a garden of flowers. [...] If the adult gives oneself over to the pure sensation, then he [she] experiences a fusion of pleasure and sensory quality which probably approximates the infantile experience… The emphasis [of my looking] is not on any object but entirely on feeling and sensation.”

Joseph Lyons wrote this in 1974, in his book “Experience: an Introduction to a Personal Psychology.”

We don’t have to wait until we are seventy or older to suddenly discover this capacity in ourselves.  This non-conceptual way of seeing reality “as it is” is available more or less on demand, with a bit of practice.

What’s the formula?  What’s the method?  The process of getting there is not an easy one to describe.  To put it simply (and, thus, to run the risk of great oversimplification), you have to practice flowing with sensation and knowing how to disengage from the interpretive, labeling eddies of your mindstream.

Let me give you an example of how this works.  Last Friday I was waiting on my wife to finish her Pilates training session in the Market Square of Pittsburgh.  I had about an hour to kill so I walked over to Amazing Books (a hole-in-the-wall bookstore with high ceilings and visibly low over-head) and picked up a book of poetry by Indian sages of the past.  I went back to the Market Square – it was close enough to a lunch hour, a hundred or so people milling around, eating lunch, enjoying the autumn sun, someone was doing Johnny Cash songs.  I squatted down by a wall and flipped to a random page.  It was songs of Nanak.  I saw this verse: “from listening sin and sorrow disappear.”  I picked up a leaf …

Reinventing the Meal
Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment
The Lotus Effect The Smoke-Free Smoke Break
Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D. is the author of The Lotus Effect, Present Perfect, The Smoke-Free Smoke Break, and Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time.

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