Pattern Interruption Articles

Triumph of Disillusionment

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

I recently moved: packing, unpacking – all that moving jazz.

So, the other day I am looking at my bookshelves (of mostly non-fiction)

and I realize:

99% of these books added absolutely nothing to what I know –

Instead they subtracted – subtracted from the seemingly endless illusions of this human mind.

We are deluded beings: each mind is a bottomless well of conditioned abstractions.

So, as I am looking at all these books that added nothing to my mind I feel the triumph of disillusionment:

Disillusionment is simply that: a loss of illusion, one pearl of wisdom at a time, one pattern-break at a time.

Disillusionment, put differently, is a very good thing to happen to a mind.

Look for it!

An awakening mind is a sobering mind, a mind in recovery, a mind that is detoxing itself from its cultural software and informational baggage.

The original mind is a blank page.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that reading is in vain.

Reading (of philosophy, non-fiction and of a certain kind fiction) is a detox.

Of course, I’ll keep buying books and keep reading books and keep disillusioning myself

in a cumulative triumph of awakening (that is never finished).

Unpack your mind.

Related: Present Perfect (Somov, 2010)

[pattern interruption series]


Word, the Drug

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Language is a drug. We trip on words. We trip over words. A word of praise and we feel high. A word of criticism and we feel low. In the beginning was the word, the first consciousness-altering drug, the psycho-pharmacological alchemy of chunking mind into dualistic categories. We are meaning-making monkeys strung out on language. The soldiers of the Abstract…


[pattern interruption series]

Empathy Training for Robots

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Pattern Break #108-a

Initial statement: the problem with empathy training for robots is not software but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming.

Refined statement: the problem with empathy training for robots (and sociopaths) is not software (culture) but hardware. Mirror-neuron circuitry (of biological or technological kind) is hardware-based empathy that requires no programming/culture/modeling.

Pattern Break #108-b

All software eventually hardens; all hardware eventually softens.

Pattern Break #108-c

A mind on an autopilot is a robot lost in a mirror.  Mindfulness (and humanity) begins with self-reflection: ask yourself “Who is this who is asking ‘Who is this?'” Break a pattern.


Release Yourself From Desire

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

voxtrot:the start of something

There are 2 kinds of actions that rule our days: mindless actions (actions on autopilot) and mindful (conscious) actions that are motivated by desire. But there is a 3d kind of action as well: a mindful (conscious) action that is not motivated by desire.

  • mindless actions (on autopilot)
  • mindful (conscious) actions that are motivated by desire
  • mindful (conscious) actions that are not motivated by desire

So, as you go through your day today, ask yourself now and then: is this action of mine motivated by desire?  If so, consider not taking it. Consider skipping this desire-based action. Consider sitting it out. Release the desire. Let the desire come and go without acting upon it.

As you see, this 3d kind of action – the mindful action that is not motivated by desire – is really a form of non-action, a form of mindful non-action. Take it (now and then).

Related: Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go (Pavel Somov, 2010)

Creative Commons License Lali Masriera via Compfight

Projections of Instrumentality

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Mayakovsky, a poet of Bolshevism, wrote in 1914:

If the stars shine —
well then — somebody needs it?
Then — somebody wants them out there?

This is what I call “projections of instrumentality.” Human mind seeks order, sense, meaning. We are in a continuous state of apophenia – in a state of meaning-making, in a never-ending process of connecting the dots. Except for when we don’t – when we let go of this meaning-making, illusion-making search for reassurance.

I find it ironic that Mayakaovsky had the Sanskrit word for “illusion” (Maya) built right into his name. The Maya of Meaning is a kind of Kantian apriori, along with time and space.

Ramakrishna explains:

Ornaments cannot be made of pure gold. Some alloy must be mixed with it. A man totally devoid of Maya [Illusion] will not survive more than twenty-one days. So long as the man has body, he must have some [Illusion], however small, to carry on the bodily functions.

Mayakovsky committed a suicide at 33 years of age. Must’ve run out of Maya, must’ve run out of the illusion, must’ve run out of meaning.

What’s on your mind?

I hope something.


Here’s the entire poem “Listen!” by Mayakovsky (in translation by K. Rusanov)(note a slightly different translation of the first stanza).

If they kindle the stars —
well then — somebody needs it?
Then — somebody wants them out there?
Then — somebody calls these tiny gobs
And sweating blood
in the blizzards of midday dust,
rushes up to god,
is afraid of being late,
kisses his sinewy hand,
begs —
that there be a star, without fail! —
swears —
he won’t survive this starless torment!
And then walks about uneasy,
but calm on the surface.
Says to somebody:
“Now you’re ok, right?
Not afraid?
If they kindle the stars —
then — somebody needs it?
Then — it is essential
that at least one star lights up
over the roofs
every night?!

Mother Certainty

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Here’s a pattern-breaking syllogism to get you started today:

1. A desire for certainty is a search for reassurance.
2. A search for reassurance is a mother issue.
3. Thus, a desire for certainty is a mother issue.

Mother Certainty, comfort me.
I am afraid of not-knowing.

Talking Heads of Pattern Interruption

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A few pattern-interruption points from Talking Heads (from 1984):

“There is a finite number of jokes in the universe.”

“There is no music in space.”

“Cats like houses better than people.”

“Schools are for training people how to listen to other people.”

“Violence on television only affects children whose parents act like television personalities.”

“Table manners are for people who have nothing to do.”

“Civilization is a religion.”

“People will remember you better if always wear the same outfit.”

“In the future we will all drive standing up.”

“Adults think with their mouths open.”

“Passport pictures are what people really look like.”

“In the future it will be a relief to find a place without a culture.”

“When everything is worth money then money is worth nothing.”

“In the future love will be taught on television and by listening to pop songs.”


The future is, of course, always now.  And the pattern-interruption advice from Talking Heads reveals the path to the present moment:  “Stop making sense.”

Take yourself to the river of the now and drop your mind into the water of whatever is.

Break the pattern to resume your flow.

Pattern Interruption


Next Economy, Buddhist Economy

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

buddhist economyNovember 6th, 2012: the day we vote on economy… the year of apocalyptic partisanship… the year of promises of new economy…

I usually don’t mess with economics.  The last time I spoke on the topic was when I re-phrased the all-too-familiar “It’s economy, stupid!” meme into “It’s psychology, stupid!” in my 2009 Huffington Post blog.

My question is this:

What kind of economy are we trying to build?

The kind of economy where everyone who wants to work can work?

Or the kind of economy that works by itself without the need to work?

Or the kind of economy where work doesn’t feel like work?

These are all very different questions and the answers to these questions range from industrial age pragmatism to utopian fantasies.

But I am looking for something in the middle, for an economy of the Middle Way for the middle class…

Is there such a beast?

Turns out there is and it’s called Buddhist Economics as described (in the 1970s) by E. F. Schumacher in “Small is Beautiful” (a must read!).

A couple of excerpts and a few points.

Schumacher explains:

“There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labor.  Now, the modern economists have been brought up to consider “labor” or work as little more than a necessary evil.  From the point of view of the employer, [labor] is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum… say, by automation.  From the point of view of the workman, [labor/work] is a “disutility;” to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice.  Hence the ideal from the point of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.”

Exactly: that’s what I, as an immigrant to this country, have witnessed over the past 20 years  – employers try to get rid of employees and the working public keeps dreaming the American dream of early retirement.

I am a big fan of the television show …

A Brain Isn’t an Organ but an Organization

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

You see, we over-identify with our brains. We think of brains as our central organs whereas in reality we are a massive neural colony (nervous system) on a body-wide scale. We think that we are in our skulls. But we aren’t. We – the neural colonies that inhabit a given body – are all throughout. You are not just in your skull. You are also in your fingertips and in your toes. You are everywhere you find the neurons that you are along with all of your axonal or dendritic extensions.

First Person Plural

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

“We have seen the whole and we are extraordinarily alive.” (1)

Having seen the Whole we have seen ourselves… and yes, we are extraordinarily alive.

A Part that recognizes itself as a Whole stops being apart, stops being an “I” and becomes a “We.”


(1) Jiddu Krishnamurti

Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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