Hello! I’m happy to be here

  • Hello! I’m happy to be here

    Posted by Andrei Micu on July 2, 2023 at 5:36 pm

    I found Iain through YouTube several days ago and listened to some of his talks.

    I’ve studied Computer Science and worked as a Software Engineer (now also manager), but aside from this I haven’t had any other formal education. I learned on my own: neuroscience, psychology, economics, history of religions; and I’m on a spiritual path since 2 years ago, which changed my approach to life completely. I’ve realized how my work in software, which gave me great purpose in the past, has lost its meaning, and I’m still in the process of getting out of the void that was left by the realization.

    Iain’s talks have put new topics in my agenda of personal research. I’m now observing myself and seeing how my perception, thoughts and actions are inconsistent due to the lateralization of my brain. I perceive its activity much more realistically now, I feel.

    Another topic that was in my interest since several months ago, and I was happy to hear it for the first time out in the open, being mentioned by Iain, is how can we organize when the world seems to lose itself in a dream. We, the people who woke up or didn’t fall asleep with the right brain, are quite a rarity in this world. I’ve heard Iain for the first time mentioning things along the lines of connecting and cooperating. This lead me today to searching for means of connecting with such persons, and finding this community.

    I’m happy to be here and I’d love to talk with you about your journey and activity. Also, ask me anything if you wish, it brings me joy to answer.

    Have a wonderful Sunday evening!

    Andrei

    Andrei Micu replied 9 months ago 6 Members · 35 Replies
  • 35 Replies
  • Don Salmon

    Member
    July 2, 2023 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Andrei:

    Glad to see you here.

    I’ve been a member of this channel since the format was revised back in September. Lots of very interesting discussions (and remember, if you have a specific topic of interest you don’t find, you can start your own group)

    My greatest interest is in practice. I just wrote a note saying that there are a number of highly qualified teachers, therapists, meditation specialists and others who have been, for decades, teaching methods of shifting attention that are completely in synch with what Iain writes.

    I’ll just mention two for now:

    Dr. Les Fehmi, a psychophysiologist. He is probably the most well known. He developed methods of shifting attention over more than 50 years, and taught thousands of people how, simply by changing how they attend to the world, can quite literally cure depression, anxiety, severe trauma and many kinds of physical pain. He also used these methods to help couples, and even to train Olympic athletes.

    Dr. John Yates (aka “Culadasa”) has done work far more profound, in my view. He had been a neuroscience professor but devoted himself in the last decades of his life to teaching meditation.

    I came across Yates’ extraordinary book, “The Mind Illuminated,” In 2016. At the time it was easy to contact him, and I wrote him about the startling parallels between his meditation techniques and Iain’s observations about how attention in the LH and RH is different. Synchronistically, he had just come across Iain’s work the week before I wrote him, and he agreed there were rather remarkable parallels (Even though he had minor neurological quibbles).

    I’ll give you just one practice if you’d like to play with it. For thousands of years, the Tibetans have practiced “sky-gazing” – allowing the gaze to rest in pure, objectless open space.

    The connection with the hemispheres is simple- when we look at something that has no objective “things” to hold on to, to grasp, the whole narrative structure of the left hemisphere starts to break down. Fehmi used to have people start just by noticing space more often in the midst of their lives – the space between objects, the space between people, and more profoundly, the “space” between thoughts (or better still – if this is not too confusing – the “space” underlying thoughts, a sense of deep stillness and silence that it’s possible to discover as being always present underlying all experiences.

    Once again, welcome!

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 2, 2023 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you for the warm welcome, Don!

      It’s a great interest you have! I’m also practicing day by day, every split of a second. The word “practicing” doesn’t sound to me very accurate anymore, I feel. To use some of Iain’s vocabulary, I’d say that I use my right side of the brain as much as possible, together with the left one, without having a technique.

      I am pleasantly surprised to find a person like you, embodying the timeless teachings of practice.

      I’ve seen Les Fehmi on YouTube a couple of times, he is popular indeed. I haven’t seen Culadasa before though, I’ve watched a video on his website now. I think I have to watch more.

      In my spiritual path I’ve tried several practices, but ultimately found just one that I happily committed to, for the rest of my life. Initially I was introduced to Eckhart Tolle’s teachings by a close person, then I began studying myself. I also listened to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Michael A Singer, Rupert Spira and Jiddu Krishnamurti. The person that convinced me to commit to a practice was Michael A Singer, who stated it plain and simple: from the moment you wake up, to the moment you fall asleep, you watch yourself and the world around you (paraphrased). After I heard this (one and a half years ago), I started to watch, and I never felt stopping, nor I think I ever will.

      I explain it very simply, it’s much more than this. It’s funny because I don’t feel like listening to Michael’s teachings anymore, but the practice stuck to me, or better said, the practice is me. I listen to Rupert and JK from time to time now, but I mostly learn about the world on my own, experientially.

  • Whit Blauvelt

    Member
    July 2, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Andrei,

    Recently retired from several decades of being a sysadmin, which I went sideways into after no formal computer education. My education back in the 70s was in the psychology and sociology of consciousness, followed by becoming a philosophy grad school dropout — philosophy at the time wasn’t ready for the questions that still fascinate me.

    Krishnamurti impressed me greatly as a teen. He was raised to be a guru by the Theosophists, but early on dissolved the Order of the Eastern Star, which they’d set up with him as leader, explaining his frustration that nobody was getting it, and that the whole cultish setup was more an obstacle than furtherance.

    I particularly like Krishnamurti’s view of “discipline” as openness to learning from attention, akin to an academic “discipline,” rather than a strictness of self-control where one “disciplines” oneself.

    Whit

    • Don Salmon

      Member
      July 2, 2023 at 7:47 pm

      Hi folks:

      :(Whit, I’m really hoping you respond to my request for you to clarify what you think I’m missing when I said there’s decades of practice and research regarding very easy, reliable ways to switch modes of attention)

      I’m really thinking that a separate group on the meaning of “practice” would be enormously helpful. I think Iain is VERY confused about this, oddly enough, taking a rather LH approach (Andrei, when you’ve been here for awhile, you’ll see I very much question some of the very foundations of trying to associate attention with the brain, but more on that another time)

      So this might help folks see where I’m coming from. I was deeply impressed by Brother Lawrence’s “Practice of the Presence of God,” when I was 19. It was the first practice/non-practice” i had come across that deeply impressed me, and I think if you look deeply, it is VERY close (though more of a heart than head approach) to what Michael Singer recommended. Michael, I believe, is quite familiar with and has practiced traditional yogic disciplines. The one he recommended to you – the mindful awareness from waking till sleep (and into sleep and dreams, if possible) – is a universal “Jnana yoga” practice, adapted, I think for modern times.

      Then I came across Krishnamurti in 1972, which basically paralyzed me in terms of the idea of any kind of intentional practice. This ended in 1976, when I came across a short pamphlet which was a transcription of a series of conversations with one “David E S Young,” which basically involved Krishnamurt teaching what was quite obviously the clear steps of traditional vipassana (which is somewhat different from modern pop mindfulness).

      That was it. I was done with Krishnamurti! I studied for 10 years after that with a teacher who gave me a mantra, which was infinitely beyond anything my intellect could grasp. It had profound effects and my mind simply was silenced in regard to questioning of it.

      I’ve been fascinated ever since with the question of practice. I’ve been involved with the Sri Aurobindo community world wide, and often give talks, particularly on the simplicity of practice (the community can be very very intellectual about these things).

      I think there is a profound degree of confusion about practice in the modern world, and the best explanation of the problem goes back to the Protestant Reformation. Contemplative practices were quite popular in those days, but Luther, convinced of the depth of sin of human beings, said no practice can confer any spiritual benefit, that it all has to be by Grace (and donations to one’s local church, of course).

      Well, we’ve become a largely secular society, dominated by technology and the idea that as far as the physical world goes, everything can be accomplished in a mechanical fashion. As a clinical psychologist, I’ve seen this attitude take over in mental health circles.

      So of course when people sick of a mechanical world try to escape to a spiritual consciousness, they leave behind what they think are “mechanical” practices, and rather dogmatically insist – just like Luther – that no practice can “get you there.”.

      Between Zen and Chan Buddhism, there’s a 1500 year history of arguments about practice, but I would say Swami Sarvapriyananda in this little anecdote reolved the apparent conflict as clearly as I have ever seen it.

      One day, a young monk he knew went to him and said, “Do you know the Ashtavakra Gita?” (this is a very short book which hardly does anything but tell you again and again YOU are THAT – you are already, in Truth, one with that. It even has a sutra, “Your problem is that you meditate.”

      So Swamiji (Sarvapriyananda) says yes, why? The young monk replies, “I just found out my guru has this book. Why didn’t he tell me about it before? This book has the highest truth and there iare no other practices needed.”

      Swamiji replies, “Yes, I agree the book does reveal the highest Truth. But let me ask you something. Does your guru meditate? “

      “Yes.”

      “Does he say prayers?”

      “yes.”

      “Does he engage in ritual celebrations, gardening as karma yoga, devotional practices, disciplined self inquiry?”

      “Yes, he does all that.”

      “Now, do you think you understand all this better than your teacher?”

      “oh no, certainly not.”

      “Well, then, when he sees you’re ready, I’m sure he’ll invite you to study the Ashtavakra. Meanwhile, as long as you’ve accepted him as your teacher, why not accept his guidance in terms of practices?”

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 3, 2023 at 8:49 am

      A pleasure to meet you, Whit!

      I resonate with K’s concept of “discipline” too, it’s actually how I try to live every day. I’ve watched his seminars from time to time, the open talks with (what looked like) some conscious persons. Some of them understood him and contributed to the development of the conversation. In the rest of the talks, I saw and felt K’s frustrations as well. I think he realized that he was quite alone, actually. In his last talk, I remember, he said “may God have mercy on us” and left.

      K opened my awareness for authority, whether it’s from the exterior of the mind or from within the mind. It’s one of the changes that freed me starting with my root. It was when I realized that I was unconsciously accepting authority, from teachers and even from him, that I started to really think for myself and for others.

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 3, 2023 at 8:59 am

      I forgot to say: if you wish to talk more about K, send me a message, I’d enjoy exchanging more thoughts on this subject.

  • Carole Chevrette

    Member
    July 2, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    Yes much information, many areas of understand using mind and body

    Andrei – welcome we need all people of diverse disciplines to awake to awareness and create with awareness

    Iain describes how historically the act of learning was a combination of right and left brain activity – creations of the oldest Bridges, churches, art, poetry and so forth..

    I Believe he describes how we have devalue the right brain over the left – drying out the creative life that created …

    Know thyself was the most important thing ions ago – it continus to be the most important action we can take

    Simply knowing yourself in the moment in the action – as part of the whole

    Simply awaking to the whole of the body from head to toe awareness

    Loving one self to able ourselves to love in one’s environment

    Look at the simple

    Carole

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 3, 2023 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you, Carole! I see truth in what you say about awakened action. I also try to explore what awakened persons can do together, in groups. My intuition indicates that the effect of group action is multiplied, and I wonder if it will prove to be so, in time.

      About “Know thyself”, I’ve actually explored and realized, to my surprise, that there are many times*places in history when civilizations had a much better awareness of the self and of others, even in the ages when humans lived in caves.

      I found about the Temple of Apollo and the 3 maxims a couple of months ago, actually. Aside from recognizing the truth in “Know thyself” and “Nothing in excess”, I become more and more aware lately how “Surety brings trouble” has effect. I have been conditioned from childhood to keep my word at all cost, but I never before considered the detrimental side of it. No pledge or word is destined to last in time, the Universe always brings new elements in play or disproves old beliefs. It’s better to not promise, and instead do the best possible.

      Since you mentioned awakening and the activity of both the left and right brain, do you think the activation of the right brain and the collaboration with the left brain is one and the same with awakening? I’m exploring this idea, looking back at how it happened to me, and I’m curious what other people think about it.

  • Mike Todd

    Member
    July 3, 2023 at 2:37 am

    Hi Andrei,

    I was a *nix admin and coder for almost 20 years. Like you, I found that a career in IT eventually lost its meaning, and I spent a long time in its wake wandering the landscape of vocation and avocation. After almost a decade in this wilderness I reached a point best framed by a few lines of poetry:

    And if you’re lost enough to find yourself
    By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
    And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.

    And so I shut myself in like Kamo and immersed myself in introspection for several years. Who, or what, emerged was an acceptance of uncertainty and an appreciation of circumspection. There was only one thing of which I was remotely convinced; as Easwaran observes in his introduction to The Upanishads:

    [The] wider field of consciousness is our native land. We are not cabin-dwellers, born to a life cramped and confined; we are meant to explore, to seek, to push the limits of our potential as human beings. The world of the senses is just a base camp: we are meant to be as much at home in consciousness as in the world of physical reality.

    An exploration of consciousness, both experiential and intellectual, led me to Dr. McGilchrist’s work, and here we are.

    If I might now offer a reflection in retrospect which may be of service going forward – one grounded in uncertainty and circumspection: no individual approach, either experiential or intellectual, will suffice to survey, even remotely, our “wider … native land”. If you find yourself on a spiritual path, with the aim of connecting and cooperating, look to the renaissance man as your model.

    A couple of quotes from Dr. McGilchrist to close:

    Certainty is … related to narrowness, as though the more certain we become of something the less we see.

    Uncertainty … is not a sign of failure, but lies deep in the nature of what we are trying to grasp. Truth is uncertain not because it is empty, but because it is full – rich, complex, manifold.

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 3, 2023 at 1:09 pm

      Hello Mike! I’m happy to meet you! You look like you have a path from which I can easily learn. I appreciate every suggestion you gave me, through what you offered me here.

      20 years of software experience, wow, that’s twice as much as mine! I can imagine you had your own share of corporate conditioning and mental/social constructions flowing around you. I’m curious, what is Kamo? I never heard of this name.

      I never heard of Easwaran before either, and I find his words very interesting. I think he refers to people retreating to meditate forever? Being in the world is, I think, the highest level of meditation. I think he means this as well. There’s also one sentence that caught my eye: “We are not cabin-dwellers, born to a life cramped and confined”. Do you think he talks about mental confinement or physical confinement (or both)?

      Accepting uncertainty has been hard and I still struggle from time to time, instead of relaxing. I admit I’m still having trouble with accepting certain things, like the uncertainty of what I superficially think as my life success, in some moments when I forget the whole.

      Many thanks for your pointers! I accept as much as I can the truth that I will not know it all, at any time. I will look for inspiration from the renaissance man in the following days, and if you have any materials for me to read or listen, I’d very much appreciate them.

      • Don Salmon

        Member
        July 3, 2023 at 1:39 pm

        Hi Andrei:

        You got my attention again when you mentioned Easwaran. His translations of the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Dhammapada are among the most popular, and are praised by many critics as well. He was a professor of English at the University of Berkeley, so his mastery of the language (at least, of English!) is not surprising.

        He has several collections of sacred poetry that are quite wonderful, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow” being my favorite.

        He also, speaking of practice, had a very simple 8 point program. As far as I can recall (it’s been many years since I looked at it, but it’s easy to find online, I’m sure), it involved sacred study, slowing down, repeating a mantra, his own unique form of meditation which involved memorizing sacred passages and reciting them very very slowly (almost like the Lectia Divina of Christianity).

        I think he, like every other good meditation teacher, understands the balance of practice vs non practice. Nowadays, people like to teach non practice from the beginning, but after some decades of attempting this, people start to realize that it hasn’t taken them very far or deep. But that’s another point.

        Personally, I’ve found that learning to spontaneously shift attention is the key. I’ll leave with one beautiful example. Loch Kelly studied with Buddhist masters of Mahamudra and Dzogchen in Tibet some 40 years ago. They taught mostly “pointing out” exercises. Something that in a way involves no effort, but actually involves a shift of attention.. One of my favorites is this little animation, involving recognizing the “spacious awareness” which is always present underlying all mental/emotional activity (very similar to Krishnamurti’s choiceness awareness”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkP1-lin590

        Now the quite clever practice in shifting attention from Loch: he had a group of 80 people, all doing the same basic Zen counting practice:

        Inhale – count 1

        Exhale

        Inhale – count 2

        Exhale

        And you continue this way, counting inhalations up to 10, then go back to 1. If you lose track, you start over again.

        That’s it.

        He divided them into two groups, 40 each. One group simply received the above instructions.

        To the second group he said, “Do not make any effort to concentrate on the breath. Simply allow the breath to be present in the background of completely open, effortless, relaxed awareness.

        The results?

        Not ONE of the 40 people getting the basic instructions was able to get to 10.

        EVERY single person in the 2nd group effortlessly reached 10, over and over again.

        As the Zen teacher said to the student who asked him to sum up Zen as simply as possible, “Attention.”

        The student said maybe that was too simple. “Can you say something else?”

        “Attention, attention.”

        “But,” the student complained, “what does attention mean?”

        “Attention means attention.”

      • Mike Todd

        Member
        July 3, 2023 at 3:15 pm

        Thanks, Andrei. I am, and always will be, very much a beginner. But that doesn’t stop me from musing out loud here and elsewhere. (If you aren’t already aware of them, you might find SMN, The Scientific and Medical Network, as well as The Galileo Commission and SAND, Science and Non-Duality, rewarding fora if, like myself, you feel that science and spirituality complement each other and should be integrated.)

        https://scientificandmedical.net/

        https://galileocommission.org/

        https://we.scienceandnonduality.com/

        Kamo no Chomei is an important figure in Japanese* literature, a 12th century eremite poet and essayist who wrote genre-defining works, most notably Hojoki: My Ten Foot Square Hut. He is, I suppose you could say, the quintessential recluse. (Sometimes it’s necessary to withdraw to one’s hut or cabin in order to dive deep so that one can surface again. The latter is just as necessary as the former.)

        When Easwaran says that “we are not cabin-dwellers”, I believe he means that we are not meant to be confined, with respect to both our inner and outer worlds, but rather that we should explore our “wider … native land”, which is to say, consciousness: we should be renaissance “men” or polymaths of our inner and outer worlds, attending carefully, by all manner of intellectual and experiential means, to psychophysical reality.

        Regarding uncertainty, you know what they say about death and taxes, but it needn’t be the case that embracing uncertainty entails what Max Velmans and others have called “ontological insecurity” – quite the opposite, in fact. Prof. Velmans has an interesting story, especially if you’re curious about, or familiar with, psychedelics, as well as an equally interesting philosophy of consciousness:

        https://youtu.be/1kNHuD-plQ8

        *I’m a sucker for many aspects of Japanese culture – art and aesthetics, literature, spirituality, and, of course, food and drink. There are several curious correspondences between Japanese aesthetics in particular and elements of Dr. McGilchrist’s thesis, most obviously in the cases of fukinsei (natural asymmetry) and yugen (the implicit).

        https://traditionalkyoto.com/culture/esthetics/

        • Andrei Micu

          Member
          July 4, 2023 at 9:00 am

          You gave me some great leads, thank you! I’m exploring since yesterday, and wanted to let you know that I’m processing all this, and I’ll get back when I feel I reached a checkpoint.

          • Mike Todd

            Member
            July 5, 2023 at 3:29 pm

            Hi Andrei,

            I hope you’re finding the resources shared by myself and others rewarding. I don’t wish you to feel obligated to update us, but of course I – and I’m sure the others, too – would be delighted to hear if you’ve felt especially inspired or had any clock-stopping insights.

            The following short video appeared on my feed today, and I thought it might be worth including in this thread. I don’t agree with everything said in it, but the central injunction that one’s spirituality should be grounded and not become an intoxication appears quite sound. (Dr. McGilchrist has touched on the need for grounding and intoxication to counterbalance each other, in his exploration of the Apollonian and the Dionysian.)

            https://youtu.be/gRmW_NUYOgY

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 5, 2023 at 5:48 pm

              Hello Mike,

              These days I’m struggling with social responsibilities and a complication at work. I’ll sort things out, but for now I don’t think I’ll have the time to retreat to my metaphorical hut (probably until next week).

              Of course, curiosity pulled me all the time, to check a bit more from what I found out from you. I haven’t had time to understand deeply what SMN, Galileo and SAND do, but I got an idea about what they have in common: merging together science and spirituality.

              I saw that Galileo and SAND address the main fallacy of today’s science regarding matter, from a non-dual/non-materialistic perspective. A while ago, Rupert Spira has opened my mind to the fact that the majority of the scientific world actually ASSUMES matter is what everything is made of, and that personal experience tells us otherwise. In Iain’s talks I heard this aspect being discussed from different angles as well. It didn’t take me much meditation to discover myself: whatever we call matter is an abstract notion, never complete, another map as Iain would say. We may never know how skewed or incomplete our map is. To take this skewed concept and develop a whole corpus of study on it is madness.

              Regarding the video you just shared: It’s a pleasant surprise to hear that Carl Jung talked about the toxic aspects of the pseudospiritual world. I’ve fallen pray to several spiritual speakers in the past, right in the times when I needed help the most. I can say on one hand that they helped me cope psychologically, but on the other hand, listening to them wasn’t much different from what I heard about taking antidepressants (though I never took any in my life so far). After realizing from Krishnamurti’s teachings that accepting authority of any kind is detrimental, I began to see in other teachers the activity of their ego/left side. Every teacher who creates an authority in himself/herself is not really intending to help. If you need to give him/her something in order to hear the “real thing”, or you need to come back to him/her in order to know what to do in a certain situation, then better stop. This was one toxicity I discovered, and another was the use of mental objects to describe consciousness and create taxonomies over taxonomies (you can find this in Buddhism a lot: chakras, stages of enlightenment, etc). All these are the hindering caused by the left brain, putting our attention on the abstract.

              I like to keep this conversation going, so of course, whenever I have the feeling that there’s something worth mentioning and checking it with you, I’ll post here.

              Many thanks for the video!

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              July 5, 2023 at 10:08 pm

              Hi Andrei:

              Thanks for starting a wonderful conversation.

              Regarding Spira, I suppose you may have heard he wrote a book, “The Nature of Consciousness,” with Bernardo Kastrup writing the scientific afterword.

              I think Bernardo has absolutely the perfect beginning in approaching materialists;

              1. All we know, directly, are forms in awareness.

              2. If you, the materialists (or physicalists or whatever) want to posit some purely dead, unconscious, insentient, non intelligent “stuff” which you can’t define beyond “it’s what physicists study,” and this posited stuff not only adds absolutely nothing to our understanding of science, and makes the study of everything but the forms we identify as matter remotely intelligible (and has no idea what matter is in itself to boot) then the burden of evidence is on you – why should we or anybody believe in something which by definition (something outside awareness) for which there can never be ANY evidence?

              That’s the starting point. No physicalist has or ever will be able to answer it because it’s irrefutably obvious. How did Sam Harris deal with it for example? He said to Rupert Spira, who made these points to him, “I can’t refute it logically. It can’t be refuted. I just don’t like it and I choose not to believe it.”

              And that’s what folks say about the Qanon conspiracy theories.

              Meanwhile, we have over a half century of fantastic profoundly powerful practices to deeply alter the way we pay attention (Whit – any time you want to ask about it, let me know).

              That to me is the important first step (actually, we have thousands of years of these practices, but the last 50 years has brought a wealth of practices informed by psychology and minimally informed by neuroscience – I say minimally because, probably due to my bias as a psychologist, I personally think neuroscience is extremely almost irrevocably limited in what it understands about our psyches – particularly given that modern academic and clinical psychology also understand hardly more than an infinitesimal aspect of consciousness, if that much!

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 6, 2023 at 4:12 am

              Sorry to hear that life is piling on. I can relate.

              If you’re interested in further exploring critiques of scientism and metaphysical materialism, as well as a great many other things, you may find Essentia Foundation a richly thought-provoking resource. Its host of contributors includes Dr. McGilchrist and a few of my personal favourites, Michael Asher, Prof. Donald Hoffman and the marvellous Bernardo Kastrup, whom Don mentioned.

              https://www.essentiafoundation.org/

              If you’re interested in Jung or in other perspectives on psychology which eschew materialist conclusions, you may appreciate The Weekend University. Dr. McGilchrist and Rupert Spira have both been regular contributors. The main site is subscription-only, but there is also a YT channel with a wealth of content.

              https://theweekenduniversity.com/

              Regarding taxonomies, I believe that such things can help us explore our “wider … native land”, provided that we remain staidly aware of their being maps rather than the territory itself. Any spiritual, philosophical, scientific or aesthetic etching that, however faintly, unconceals the universal may be considered a map. An argument could of course be made to the effect that, once we become familiar with the territory, maps can be set aside. This would be quite sensible, were the territory not unbounded. (And if the territory is limitless, then in some sense there is no limit to the number of fragmentary maps.)

              The following article and poem are, I feel, insightful reflections on uncertainty and guides thereof.

              https://www.themarginalian.org/2017/03/27/wislawa-szymborska-nobel-speech/

              Some People Like Poetry

              Some people—
              that means not everyone.
              Not even most of them, only a few.
              Not counting school, where you have to,
              and poets themselves,
              you might end up with two per thousand.

              Like—
              but then, you can like chicken noodle soup,
              or compliments, or the color blue,
              your old scarf,
              your own way,
              petting the dog.

              Poetry—
              but what is poetry, anyway?
              More than one rickety answer
              has tumbled since that question first was raised.
              But I just keep on not knowing, and I cling to that
              like a redemptive handrail.

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 6, 2023 at 12:03 pm

              Thank you both! At this point it’s a bit overwhelming, it may take some time for me to grasp the whole picture. I will most probably have more time next week to delve into the materials you sent me.

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 6, 2023 at 12:19 pm

              I’m so sorry. We’ve leapt on you like rabid Rabbis. Remember you can return to this thread at any time. Dip into it at your leisure. Life comes first.

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 7, 2023 at 4:00 am

              No worries, that’s what I planned to do. Take care there, Mike, and talk soon!

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 10, 2023 at 7:35 pm

              Hey, I’m back! In the last two days I got some time in the evening to look through the websites I received from you, Mike.

              Yesterday I intended to write here, but I had this feeling that something’s odd. I was like something’s missing from the communities I read about, on their websites.

              First there is the fact that most of the communities revolve around a group of people with “Phd” in frond of their name. Generally I’m fond of academia, but the fact that the majority of main persons on these websites have Phds strikes me as uncanny.

              Secondly, judging by the materials posted, I see that the “networking” in these websites is a star-like networking, as opposed to the mesh networking which I see as more natural and appealing to me. Star-like because there is usually 1-3 main speakers and people asking questions to those speakers. What I’m more interested in is the mesh-like networking, where all people talk respectfully with each other and anyone can take the word at any time.
              Krishnamurti had plenty of such discussions/seminars: https://www.youtube.com/@KFoundation/search?query=seminar

              Do you know of any communities where events are organized with this kind of networking?

              I also watched a video today with Alastair McIntosh, and heard some really nice suggestions for forming communities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnuCP5xOin0

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 11, 2023 at 2:12 am

              My apologies, Andrei. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood your wishes. In your opening post you mentioned having an “agenda of personal research”, and, perhaps projecting my own wishes a little, I inferred from this that, like myself, you would be interested in, among other things, resources providing research-level articles, media and webinars. For the most part, the links I shared provide just that.

              Research and academia go hand in hand, so it’s to be expected that resources providing research-level material will necessarily draw on academics with postgraduate or postdoctoral qualifications. This basis in academia is more or less explicit in the names Science and Medical Network and Weekend University, for example, and in Essentia Foundation’s raison d’être:

              Essentia Foundation aims at communicating, in an accurate yet accessible way, the latest analytic and scientific indications that metaphysical materialism is fundamentally flawed.

              The Galileo Commission, likewise, is upfront about being an offshoot of academia, which leaves only Science and Non-Duality (SAND). Unlike the other resources I shared, SAND’s contributors are not only professional scientists and philosophers but also spiritual and indigenous leaders, mystics and artists, as its smorgasbord of articles and current events makes clear.

              Of the above resources, I believe that SMN is the only one hosting discussion forums, which would facilitate the kind of peer-to-peer engagement to which “mesh networking” appears to allude. There are, as I’m sure you’re aware, a multitude of peer-to-peer resources across the web, including, dare I say it, Reddit. However, as already noted, I assumed you were looking for more scholarly resources amenable to lifelong learning, to which the kind of practices Don mentioned would be ideal complements.

              Regarding the play between lifelong learning, in its conventional sense, and practice, here’s something I messaged to a friend yesterday:

              “Stay unassuming”.

              I’ve been thinking about the purpose and value of learning – lifelong learning, that is. Googling along those lines reveals that, apparently, lifelong learning is: crucial to self-development; something that keeps one young; something that builds capacity and character, and enables one to succeed in life; something that empowers and elevates one above the uncritical masses, etc.

              There is also another common vein of thought, which says that learning keeps one humble. To my mind this seems the most intriguing aspect, the one most worth pursuing. I would qualify it, however, by saying that, rather than keeping one humble, learning keeps humbling oneself. This brings out the sense, not only of remaining grounded, but also, more significantly, of being continually defeated. (The adjective form of “humble” is prone to misuse: whenever someone says, “I’m humble”, it suggests anything but humility.)

              I think that this sense of being continually defeated is central to the value (and purpose) of learning. Progress is possible only in the face of – with recognition of – setback. Learning is an ultimately enlarging experience which initially makes one feel smaller. To borrow from Wheeler’s famous analogy, as one’s island of knowledge grows, so too does one’s shore on the sea of ignorance: learning reduces one’s ignorance but exponentially increases one’s awareness of it. Learning can be painful.

              I believe that this may be the primary reason why most people give up on learning sooner or later – most of the time, sooner. It suggests that, in order not to feel that learning is too difficult, the initially enervating experience of learning may be best complemented with an energising experience, such as can be found in art, spirituality or nature (though these too can be humbling at times). Since I’m short on time at present, I try to find learning materials that serve double duty: I seek out subjects that both humble me and enlarge my appreciation of reality.

              On that last note, here’s something:

              https://youtu.be/EpkJ7S039sE

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 11, 2023 at 12:14 pm

              Hello Mike,

              It’s very nice of you to send me this message, and no need to apologize, I realize I haven’t expanded on the subject of what I’m doing in this period, thus the confusion about what I mean by personal research.
              I inquire into my inner world and into the outer world, my attention goes (I go) where I find important to go. This is my research. At the same time I manifest in the inside and in the outside world. In the outside world, in the last months, I found it important to manifest a move towards having a community, and meeting more like-minded people.

              The video I posted above with Alistair McIntosh gave me a good insight over how communities are formed. I’m tempted to start my own community at some point, who knows if I will even do it, and now l feel that I have to learn a bit more about what makes a community work.

              I do have another thread of thinking about reading research papers, for which SMN (together with Galileo), SAND, The Weekend University and The Essentia Foundation might be a ground for discovering what I want to read. Again, thank you for the suggestions, it made my discovery easier.

              It’s beautiful, what you say about lifelong learning. It’s the commitment to always use the RH brain (together with the LH), isn’t it? Because if it were only for the LH brain, it would either learn all the time but not from the sense of reality, or it would think it knows everything and not learn at all.

              Also, what do you think about unlearning?

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 11, 2023 at 2:26 pm

              Enquiries into one’s inner and outer worlds – I’d call those introspection and extrospection, respectively, each an aspect of contemplation. Of course, if one adopts a reflexive view of perception, such as that proposed by Max Velmans, then, to use the analogy of reading a book “aloud” in one’s mind – phonemic imagery – much of what we call our “inner world” is, in fact, read “out there”, just as much of what we call our “outer world” is authored “in here”. On this view, the distinction between inner and outer worlds becomes rather transparent, and contemplation approaches a unity.

              With respect to unlearning, I believe it’s useful first of all to reflect on what is actually learned in the process of learning. When reading a particularly rich piece of writing, for example, one learns not only something of the author’s thoughts and feelings but also something of one’s own, by way of agreement and disagreement with the author, and, more implicitly, one develops an image of the sort of person the author may be, as well as, far less palpably, an accumulating image of oneself. The ramifications of all this learning extend into the wider world of other selves and non-selves. And so it becomes apparent that a single book can be very much like a single grain of sand, as Blake figured it.

              Can all of this learning be unlearned? I don’t believe so. More pointedly, I don’t believe we can willfully unlearn anything; such an attempt would be as futile as trying to forget something and as counterproductive as trying to fall asleep. Our learning evolves unforced over time, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes dramatically – akin to Gould’s punctuated equilibrium – as we encounter all manner of newness. But such encounters are bidirectional: we change the books we read, just as the books we read change us. And not only books, of course, but every encounter with otherness.

              Perhaps this influence of otherness can be thought of as a river flowing through the landscape of self: a spring melt might alter the riverbank beyond recognition, while a long summer of little rain might leave it looking unaltered. So – we may not be able to shape the river’s course directly, but perhaps we can seek the sun in winter or seek the clouds in summer, and hope for water to do what water does. Unlearning, then, may involve creating opportunities for change – an aspect of wu wei. As Bill Hayes put it, “Sleep must come find you”. The most you can do is to situate yourself where you’re likely to be found.

              https://www.themarginalian.org/2017/01/09/bill-hayes-sleep-demons/

            • Don Salmon

              Member
              July 11, 2023 at 2:33 pm

              Ah I just saw the note on how you can’t “Try” to fall asleep and thought I’d share some practical tips (Whit, if you’re around – this is about practice to shift from LH to RH mode, and beyond)

              This truism about not being able to “try” to fall asleep is pretty much universally accepted in the “how to sleep world” (I’m certified in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, which is now the #1 recommended treatment, BEFORE pills or supplements or marijuana or whatever and the CBT-I folks all say the same thing)

              Probably is it can take some time to learn CBT I and inevitably, people get caught up in it and start trying too hard.

              So about 10 years ago the sleep clinicians started introducing mindfulness, which for a lot of people helps them let go of trying, but unfortunately, the way mindfulness is often taught is about “trying” to be in the now, trying to be mindful of sensations, etc.

              Looking about for a way to get past this, I settled on the neuroscience literature on the ‘Default mode network” and “task positive network,” But those are terribly boring and misleading names, so we just talk about control mode and experiential mode (which are NOT perfect correlations with LH and RH – actual experience is just never captured by anything neurological)

              But I do find, once people learn – meaning become acquainted with what it feels like – to make this shift to experiential mode, it can be effortless to fall asleep. You just let go of control (yes it can be done intentionally!) and within minutes, you’re drifting off into Stage 1, then Stage 2 and stage 3 sleep.

              Here’s a video about it: http://www.RememberToBe.Life, the 2nd video on the page.

              Even better, here’s some techniques that can help you make the shift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_TiTWLLt34&feature=youtu.be

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 13, 2023 at 6:26 pm

              Mike — reading your message a couple of times, and meditating on it from time to time, I can see that it makes sense what you say: the concept of unlearning is not real. There’s no unlearning, except the general tendency of the brain to rinse the neuron circuits continuously over time. Once thought passes again through a circuit, that circuit is hardened again, refreshed so to say. But there is not process of speeding up the rinsing/washing. Sleeping helps I see, to cool down the activity of hardening circuits.

              Don– I know you mentioned some techniques to shift attention. Those are helpful in keeping away from hardening unwanted circuits, I’m sure. I’m all for shifting attention, I just don’t believe in a certain technique. I have a way to put my attention on what I wish, without force, which became natural to me over time. I relax, I just understand at the moment that something else is more important and I find that important thing.

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 13, 2023 at 8:04 pm

              I hope all’s well, Andrei. I’ve been reacquainting myself with Krishnamurti – it’s been a while. Browsing his official website, I found one of his better-known quotes especially resonant, in relation to my observation about being continually defeated in the pursuit of knowledge:

              You must understand the whole of life, not just one part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, why you must sing, dance and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.

              This ethos of unquenchable vitality resurfaced again, albeit in a different framing, in a Henry Miller disclosure that appeared on my feed yesterday:

              I have a theory that the moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. I have tried this experiment a thousand times and I have never been disappointed. The more I look at a thing, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I want to see. It is like peeling an onion. There is always another layer, and another, and another. And each layer is more beautiful than the last.

              This is the way I look at the world. I don’t see it as a collection of objects, but as a vast and mysterious organism. I see the beauty in the smallest things, and I find wonder in the most ordinary events. I am always looking for the hidden meaning, the secret message. I am always trying to understand the mystery of life.

              I know that I will never understand everything, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

              I am content to live in the mystery, to be surrounded by the unknown. I am content to be a seeker, a pilgrim, a traveler on the road to nowhere.

              For Miller, being continually defeated (“[there] is always another layer, and another, and another”, “I know that I will never understand everything”) appears to be, not a source of frustration or despondency, but rather a fount of joy (“each layer is more beautiful than the last”); and juxtaposing Miller’s quote with Krishnamurti’s, one arrives at the counterintuitive realisation that suffering itself, as a vehicle of understanding – a means of revealing another layer – may become a source of joy (Boethius).

              Even Miller’s final phrase (“the road to nowhere”), which prima facie may seem a little nihilistic, is, I believe, an affirmation of the ethos of unquenchable vitality. It aligns with the soteriology of Daojia and Mahayana Buddhism: it accepts that there may be no final destination wherein one attains peace and perfect understanding; nevertheless, there is always the journey itself – moments of heaven in the eternally-unfolding here and now. A good book is a gate of pearl.

            • Andrei Micu

              Member
              July 18, 2023 at 6:43 pm

              Hello Mike,

              I’m well these days, thank you for asking! Things have sorted out and I can put more time into what matters more for me.

              I’m happy to hear that you look at Krishnamurti with a fresh perspective. It happens to me as well, to come back to previously-heard teachings and learn new things from them. It’s not as much learning as it is gaining new pointers for my attention to focus on.

              I appreciate the quotes you shared with me. I didn’t know of Henry Miller before today. There’s much truth in what he says. His seeking of hidden meaning is, I hope, a relaxation. It makes sense if it signifies the use of the right brain, to use Iain’s terms.

              You will see that I rarely put snippets in my comments. It’s because I feel that, in my case, I usually cling to the words. I feel a lot better writing from my current understanding, and as simple as I can. When I try to write something, if I feel my stomach contracting, I stop. I know it will sound like a false violin. I feel when I write genuinely.

              What I think Miller was suffering from, at the moment of writing that in the quote, was a projection of his consciousness into a role of permanent seeker. You’ll find this in Krishnamurti’s teachings as well, but it’s best to meditate this on your own. See what the nature of permanent seeking is, see what the nature of not seeking is. Compare the two and see in which one you feel true content, ease, happiness.

              Enjoy!

            • Mike Todd

              Member
              July 18, 2023 at 8:31 pm

              I think what Miller was suffering from was an addiction – to wonderment. I think his experience had led him to realise that, if he paid attention to a flower bud for long enough, it would eventually open. Maybe he even realised that there was something about the act of paying attention itself that coaxed the buds to unfold. Dr. McGilchrist has spoken at length about this curious reach of receptivity, which elsewhere is called wu wei.

              Fortunately, I have no aversion to snippets. Invariably I find that others have already said what I want to say – better than I ever could. In that spirit, I hope you won’t mind if I turn aside from this now fully-open flower with one last wave. See you around.

              For Once, Then, Something

              Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
              Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
              Deeper down in the well than where the water
              Gives me back in a shining surface picture
              Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
              Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
              Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
              I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
              Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
              Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
              Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
              One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
              Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
              Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
              Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

  • Lucy Fleetwood

    Member
    July 13, 2023 at 11:46 am

    Dear Andrei

    Welcome and thank you for beginning this wonderful conversation, there is so much for me to learn hear. I have been immersed in Tibetan Buddhism for the last 14 years with teachers from the Sakya and Kagyu lineages.

    When we run the introductory classes at our centres we teach the meditation that Don mentions – counting breaths. We count to 21. In the Tibetan tradition, it is called shamatha meditation, also known as calm abiding, and is for calming the mind so that gradually the mind becomes still enough to then focus the mind – vipassana meditation – with the aim of realising the empty nature of everything that appears. We also work with deity practises. I remember when I began my root lama gave me my daily practices with the advice, practice without hope. Such wise advice, lovely I think 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of everyone’s thoughts.

    • Don Salmon

      Member
      July 13, 2023 at 11:59 am

      Thanks Lucy.

      I’m pretty sure I mentioned this somewhere else but if you missed it, you might be interested (speaking of letting go of hope)

      Loch Kelly did a fun little informal experiment with a group of 80 people. He taught the zen version of that breath counting exercise (count to 10; if you get lost at any point, go back to 1 and start over – counting only on the exhale)

      He divided the people into 2 groups, 40 each.

      For group 1, he just gave the same basic instructions as above.

      For group 2, he gave one modification – DON’T “try” to focus on the breath or the counting. let your awareness be completely open, taking in the full range of experience. Let the breath simply be presented as an anchor to keep the mind from wandering too far afield, and let the counting “emerge” spontaneously.

      The result? After 10 minutes (keep in mind, nobody in the group had done this practice before)

      In Group 1, there wasn’t one person among the 40 who was able to count all the way to 10 even once.

      in Group 2, every one of the 40 group members kept track of the count, effortless, without losing count even once.

      • Lucy Fleetwood

        Member
        July 21, 2023 at 4:06 pm

        Hi Don,

        That is really interesting!

    • Andrei Micu

      Member
      July 13, 2023 at 6:50 pm

      Hello Lucy,

      Thank you for the kind welcome! This conversation expanded a lot, indeed, and I’m happy that I get to discuss so many things, and to discover new interesting movements.

      My introduction into Buddhism was through Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, a year and a half ago. I like to call him as his close friends do: Thay. From him I learned the practice of coming back home, and growing the noble seeds. The techniques I learned from him are similar to what you described, starting with breathing and going step by step with my attention to other aspects of my living, in a mindful way. It was a good start for me and the practice has helped me go through some tough times in that period, having a dear person leaving my life. I sometimes think that the practices may have kept me away from falling into vices.

      I don’t have the best words to describe it, but at some point all these practices merged into one, which is my commitment to be always meditating (conscious of my mind, my body, and my surroundings). I never left this state since I committed to it, around a year ago. I don’t think I ever will.

      Have you ever adventured into spontaneous, personal ways of meditation?

      • Lucy Fleetwood

        Member
        July 21, 2023 at 4:30 pm

        Hi Andrei,

        That is all so good to hear. Yes, I meditated in a simple way for about 15 years daily, having a number of experiences and bumping into various Buddhist groups throughout that time. I never intended to become a Buddhist. But one day in my early 40’s I thought, I need to find a pathway and go deeper, I need a teacher, to see what that is like. I spent a year going to lots of events and groups with a deep knowing that I would feel it in my bones (if that makes sense) when I met the right teacher for me. I went to Satsangs, the quakers, Buddhist groups and even the Abbey where I lived, as well as various spiritual teachers that leant into the new age movement. But I didn’t feel any of them in my bones. So I let go and decided that perhaps I had got the idea of meeting a teacher and specific pathway wrong. Then a year later, I thought I would like to meditate with a group again – I had a strong practice of 15 years meditating morning and evening and taking that into my days and nights. I went to the end of the road and round the corner to a meditation group. It happened to be a Buddhist group.

        I should give a little context to what I’m about to say. I had been going deaf from my mid 30’s, I’m not completely deaf, but I have lost a fair bit of my hearing in both ears, and prior to getting hearing aids, as the silence grew stronger, I noticed over a period of years that the sound of the silence, the vibration of it, changed depending on where I was and who I was with. When the situation or person was very heart based, my body would respond to the sound of the silence, the vibration of it, as if I was listening to the dawn chorus.

        Well when I sat with this little group of people in calm abiding meditation (counting the breaths), the sound of silence was just like that, my body was responding as if I was listening to the dawn chorus. This experience became stronger and stronger with each week that went by, and then one evening I had an experience that left me in no doubt that this was the pathway for me. And I took refuge, because I could feel it in my bones.

        After 3 years of strong practice and teachings, I stepped back to process some ego things that had arisen, to give myself time to reflect. I joined a completely different Buddhist group that a friend belonged to. This coincided with my two sons taking off into the world and me taking a gap year that became 3. The space and reflection I took lasted 7 years! But throughout the whole time there was a connection with the lama that I took refuge with, quietly on the inside of my mind. I would see him in my dreams or when I woke in the middle of the night with a reflection about Buddhism and life, and there was always an answer to my questions and reflections. Then the time came when I new without a doubt that it was time to get in touch with my root lama and ask if I could be his student again. He replied, “You never left the path”.

        I never felt any doubt in my heart and bones in relation to my lama or the lamas in the lineage that I am rooted in, but I did have the need to step back and take a good look at other groups and where that took me in my thoughts. And what I have found is that there is no time really, just a gentle journey into the heart, and a getting to know the mind stream that I am waking up into. And if I leave this life with a little more humility, a little more softness in my heart, and a mind that is open to waking up, that will be a very good, and this pathway can do that with me. I can feel it in my bones. I don’t look for experiences in my practice or meditations, I just turn up for life, carry out my practices, go to the teachings, and keep everything very simple. In this way I find the nature of my mind, changes, in very subtle, gentle ways. And I do this without hope 🙂

        • Andrei Micu

          Member
          July 21, 2023 at 5:57 pm

          Hello Lucy,

          Your story has taken me through several feelings, you’ve been through so many challenges. I can imagine your partial loss of hearing weighs on your life and, through blending with life, you found a more deep hearing sense, on the spiritual dimension. I hope I understood it well.

          What I admire and I find inspiring from your story is the fact that you didn’t give up searching for the group to meditate with, and for the teacher to guide you. If you didn’t feel it in your bones yet, you didn’t feel it yet, and you continued. That’s what I should also keep in mind when searching or building a community.

          You took refuge in the sanga. I know mentally and imaginatively what it means, though I never got to take refuge in a group so far, only in my home, my home inside me.

          It’s sounds very natural, what you say about your lama, guiding you on your path, saying that you never left it. I have a feeling that you got to know how it is to be your true self, more than enough to not want to be something else. It’s the highest way of being.

          I still haven’t grasped enough the timeless nature of the true self. This is something that I think it’s a bit further down my path, and I have a lot to meditate until there, though I will get there without time, it’s the only way.

          It may sound awkward in words, but I think you will understand, so here goes: I appreciate you being the way you are. You live your life growing your soul, transforming yourself such that it comes into this world more deeply. I feel it. There is my form in this world that is conscious of you now, and I will support you when you feel in your bones that it’s needed. I’m one message away. How and if I will get to help you, I cannot know now, but you already know this, the moment can only tell.

Log in to reply.