General Articles

A Review of a Review of Paul Brunton’s Book on Meditation

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Paul Brunton - a British philosopher, mystic, traveller - a mind to learn from

Paul Brunton – a British philosopher, mystic, traveller – a mind to learn from

With a few minutes to kill before the day starts, I go to Amazon to post a review of Paul Brunton’s very excellent “Notebook 4″ on meditation (which I have recently been re-reading) … only to realize that I was there ALREADY once at that Amazon page back in 2006 when I had posted a review of his book.

So, I am now reading my own review that I (?) wrote in 2006. That’s 7 years ago – there is not an atom in my body now that I had in 2006. No, I didn’t write this – not the “I” that I right now am.

So, I read on Amazon: “13 or 14 people” have “found this review useful” – for whatever that means. Not too bad, I think. Do I (today) find this review useful – the review that I (7 years ago) wrote? Maybe, maybe not.

So, here I am, reviewing a review – and thinking to myself: that’s how we so often are: self is always in a process of self-review… That is, until you escape this cognitively recursive self-consciousness by breaking the orbit and climbing up to a higher Self.  Some call it “soul,” some call it “metacognitive distance.”  Some call it the “original face.”   I no longer have a name for it: I just know it when I see it – and I know that this “it” is both me and not-me, that it is both you and not-you, that is both everything and nothing.

That’s the thing with reading meditation books – they put you on a circular track that keeps bringing you back to something ineffable.

Here’s my original review of Paul Brunton’s book:

“The Notebooks of Paul Brunton” – as stated in the editors’ introduction – is a compilation of insights by a teacher of meditation that was reserved for posthumous publication. While the fact that these writings were reserved for posthumous publication …

Mind is a Pigsty of Opinions

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Truth is a pig!

I came upon this graffiti on a Pittsburgh sidewalk and it caught my clinical-philosophical eye – a face of a pig (from what I can tell) with the word “truth” inscribed on it.  Enigmatic, I thought.  I snapped a photo and continued on with my walk.

And then a possible meaning of this dawned on me: “Truth is a pig!”

“Why is that?” you might ask.  Because truth is messy: everyone has their own version (interpretation) of it and, when the truth comes out, it tends to be rather devastating to our neat little illusions about reality.

In these blog-posts I often talk about epistemology and how it applies to the psychology of daily living.  Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that studies what can and cannot be known.  Truth – as I tend to think – is mostly a myth.  Our minds are fundamentally and inevitably subjective.  And, thus, incapable of apodictic (absolute) knowing.   So, it seems to me that we are all believers – we worship our own minds, our ideas about reality.  So much so that we even believe in truth.

Jains, an ancient Indian school of thought, have a doctrine of Sayadvada – a doctrine of tentativeness, essentially.  A doctrine of epistemological non-violence, if you wish.  A style of engaging which is lubricated with such parentheticals and caveats as “in some way this is and in some ways this isn’t” or “in some ways this is inexpressible and unknowable.”

Reality – as I see it – comes to us not from the past but from the future: whatever is right very now isn’t our now yet.  What I mean is that we are always at an information-processing delay.  It takes time for us to process a stimulus about whatever currently is.  So, what we conclude to be a current state of affairs is actually already an outdated past.  The very present, this Now that we so much talk about is really a Subjective Now, a Now that objectively no longer is.

Yes, reality, it seems, comes to …

Wherever You Experience Yourself In the Body, There You Are

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

We are everywhere in the body: wherever your nerves are, so is your brain.

About a year ago I read in New Scientist: “One tiny spider has even had to let its brain spill into its legs, because its head is too small to accommodate it.”

We keep thinking of our brain as being inside our skulls. But brain isn’t an organ – it’s an organization – an organization of neurons (nerve cells). And these nerves are not just inside your head – they are everywhere in your body.  Therefore, wherever you experience yourself in your body, there – as a brain – you are.

Play with this idea to expand (spatially) your sense of self (as a distributed field of awareness).

Spill your mind into your body.

Neural Tribe:

Book Review: “Firing God” by Cheryl Abram

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

I recently had a chance to read and review an excellent book “Firing God” by Cheryl Abram. I met Cheryl through PsychCentral (she read one of my blogs and wrote to me).  At that time I went to her website and read some of her own blogs and found a lot of existentially courageous and iconoclastic wisdom. Here’s the information about the book (from Non-Duality Press) and the author, and my review.

About the Book/Editorial Review

firinggodCheryl Abram was at the end of her rope: her life was falling apart on every level and she had ‘succeeded’ in making herself unworthy, incomplete and separate. Then, one day this practicing Christian took a ‘leap of doubt’ and fired God, or at least the God she had created. Cheryl’s outward circumstances did not miraculously improve – this is not a fairy-tale story of allowing abundance into her life. Rather, as she puts it: I’m no longer afraid, anxious or expectant. It’s still about me, but the “me” is not the “me” that I thought it was. It’s not a little limited human being that was born and will die. I am not that. As a human being, I can see that I am connected to everything around me. I am a whole part of the tapestry of this world. We are all here for and as each other. To read how that came about and what it means in an everyday life for Cheryl and the implications for you and me, dive into the pages of this book.

About Cheryl Abram

Cheryl Abram was born in 1975 in Houma,Louisiana. She is a mother of 4 and currently lives in Northern Virginia. A graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. she holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s of Science in Quality Systems Management. A life-long learner, Cheryl is an Army veteran working as a learning and development specialist in a federal government agency in Washington DC.

“Firing God is Hiring Self” (review by Pavel Somov)

Firing God is a story of transcending spiritual consumerism (of life-long shopping …

Woods of “What Is”

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

On a walk through the woods a thought pops into my mind: “There is a lot of trash in the woods. And I am a piece of it.”

A thought of humility, not of self-deprecation.

Woods do that to you: they gently put you down and, in so doing, root you in Whatever Is.

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 :

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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