Zoo of Consciousness

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

I reject zoos. If I didn’t have a child young enough to still see zoos as entertainment rather than incarceration (conservation rationalizations aside), I’d never go to a zoo. But as it stands, I even have a yearly membership.

Wittgenstein wrote:

“Consciousness in the face of another.  Look into someone else’s face and see the consciousness in it, and also a particular shade of consciousness. You see on it, in it, joy, indifference, interest, excitement, dullness, etc.  The light in the face of another.”

Typically in a zoo I see no joy or excitement or interest or light, but plenty of indifference and dullness – in the eyes of the bored sitting gorilla, in the eyes of crowded fish in the tank, in the eyes of a pacing elephant in a cage.

Yes, when I am in a zoo, I do see consciousness in the face of another – that’s what I see the most, not the stripes on a zebra or the big ears on the elephant or the yellowish fur on the polar bear.  I see that with which I see my own self when I look inside – my own original face.  Which is why I, a fellow primate, reject zoos as a social institution.

A zoo is a correctional facility for the innocent – a consciousness trap.

Comment Comments Off

Calligraphy of Change

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Master Calligrapher Shinagawa Tetsuzan

Change, growth is often invisible. Too subtle, too gradual, too incremental to notice. Sometimes too erratic, too spontaneous – each precedent, each pattern-break as messy as a brush stroke. Yet, eventually a healing vector emerges. A pattern of wellbeing begins to evidence itself.

Shinagawa Tetsuzan, a Buddhist calligrapher and a poet, wrote:

“Don’t know when, but  in the garden of our house a young bamboo is out, growing an inch a day.”

Therapy, as I see it, is a mirror that highlights the slow calligraphy of change: clients tend to be surprised when I point out to them how they used to respond and how they respond now. Sometimes they themselves know that something has changed, but they often lack the “outside data.” Pointing out this growth is catalytic: a mere juxtaposition of the old self with the newer self is sometimes all the intervention that is needed.

Once we become aware of our capacity to grow, we grow.


Related: Ordinary Perfection

An Apriori of Forgiveness: You Can Blame a Human No More Than a Tree Branch That Just Fell on Your Head

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

shutterstock_167557808Most of the time we move forward/onward without any philosophy of living, without any ideology, mindlessly!

In mindlessness we are all equal – from saint to sinner (not that I believe in these distinctions).

But when something aversive (bad) happens to us or those that we relate to (i.e. identify with), our implicit philosophy of living crystallizes into a situation-specific judgment, i.e a “stone.” (as in a “stone of judgement”). Emotionally, we experience it as anger or rage (or sadness (if temperamentally on the quieter side) .(Parenthetically, anger and rage are highly exploitable, sadness not so much.)

A good while ago, a brilliant but very dry (not unlike myself (I mean dry not brilliant)) Baltic philosopher, Immanuel Kant, talked about a-prioris of reasoning: he’d say that we cannot not but perceive time and space, that perceiving things as being spatially arranged or temporally ordered is our built-in hardware or software.  He’d call it “the nature of the mind.”  I’d call it “the nature of the body.” But you can call this anything you want, but it makes no ontological difference).

(Parenthetically, I realize that most of the minds reading this are either being stoned-to-death by phones-going-crazy or some other jazz-of-living b.s. (which is why forgiveness is the essential lubricant of living)).

Same goes for moral reasoning: we presume that others have reasons/motives and that they have choice/make decisions and that they, at the very least know who/what they are.

Nothing could be further from the truth: we are chaotic.

Half the time (maybe even …

Comment Comments Off

Gestalt of Self

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Self is a Gestalt: an illusory Oneness made of (information) parts.

Comment Comments Off


By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

In mindlessness, body leads mind.

In mindfulness, mind leads body.

Reverse the flow as needed.


Pattern Interruption by Somov

Comment Comments Off

Formula of Change

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

A break-through begins with a pattern break.

That’s it: pattern interruption restores operational freedom.

Break out of the prison of pattern, Luddite of Consciousness.


related: Choice Awareness Training: Mindfulness and Logotherapy in Treatment of Addiction (Somov, P)



Comment Comments Off

Existentially Grounded Self-Help Psychology Begins with Nondualistic Ontology

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

advaMade of nothing more than seemingly dead matter, you see and feel and think, right?


Matter that sees, feels and thinks is not dead.

You are Living (Conscious) Matter.

Get it?!

Existentially grounding self-help psychology begins (and ends) with nondualistic ontology (i.e. with a non-divisive view of self and reality).


ref: go here for image source

Comment Comments Off

Enduring Identity of Am-ness

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

waterfallWe are not things. We look like things but we are not things. I can bump into a table, I can bump into you as if you were a thing out there, an obstruction…

But we are not things.

When you walk into a river, you bump against a current as if this current were a thing. This current is always there – it was there yesterday when you went in for a swim and it is there today when you go in for a swim. But a current is not a thing. A current is a process not a fixity.  And so are we.  We are not things, we are… autopoietic currents.  We are… processes. We are… presence-in-progress… am-ness-in-progress…

In fact, there are no “things” per se. Even what we consider to be “things” are not immutable, unchanging objects. Even “things” are ever-dynamic currents of molecular, atomic, subatomic change. We only objectify these processes as “things” because we are unable to visually detect their ever morphing nature.

The Universe is a fluid (dynamic) Oneness.  And so are you…

Stewart White makes a good point (among so many!) in the Unobstructed Universe:

Sometimes it is necessary to take away from a man everything he holds dear before, in despair, he will sit down alone to find that which cannot be taken away from him, that which, despite all, endures and lives within his consciousness.

I call this process of stripping every-thing away “identity detox.”  But whatever the name, notice …

Comment Comments Off

Opine Not!

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

su1We love to opine. Opinions express our subjective individuality and, therefore, our bias, taking us away from the inexpressible truth of what is.

Seung Sahn, a spunky Zen master, had this temple rule for his followers:

“To cling to your opinions is to destroy your practice. Put away all your opinions. That is true Buddhism.”

This, in my opinion, is a good advice. And not just for Buddhists. But for any mind that is becoming aware of its own fuss and noise.


I am sure you have some.

And, in the opinion of Seung Sahn, you’d do well to just witness them come and go unexpressed.


Ref: Seung Sahn “Only Don’t Know”

Related: Forgive the Fuss that Rises in You

Comment Comments Off

Forgive the Fuss That Rises in You

By Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

jrThere’s a line from Carl Jung’s Red Book that I like:

“Forgive the fuss that rises in me.”

“What’s the context?” you ask.

Forget the context. The context doesn’t matter. The context is the fuss that arises in us. This Jung’s line has a mantra-like quality. It’s enough for me. I use it out of context.

Comment Comments Off

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.

Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner

Recent Comments
  • best honeymoon resort: Cancun has got several golfing clubs with scenic locations that are considered to be a few of...
  • Garage Remodeling: Omg. Great style. Exactly how did an individual make absolute sure it had sufficient place and...
  • Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.: I follow. Well said. Thank you.
  • oldblackdog: This is a reaction to A Snapshot of Self” I used to “do” a lot of photography, old...
  • Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.: Not sure what you mean (in the context of this post). Thank you.
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!