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One more thing that I'm not sure can be dealt with by a conversation (=with words):

TED | TEDBlog: Stroke of insight: Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com

And I lost my balance and I'm propped up against the wall. And I look down at my arm and I realize that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can't define where I begin and where I end. Because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall. And all I could detect was this energy. Energy. And I'm asking myself, "What is wrong with me, what is going on?" And in that moment, my brain chatter, my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button and -- total silence.

And at first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.

I have had a similar experience--the chatter switching off.  But...how to explain it?  There is still an I...how could there not be if she says:

"...at first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind."

But...there is (in my experience) a difference (certainly qualitative) between the Chatter-I (which I associate with the doomed-to-die work-out-how-to-survive-as-long-as-possible ego) and....I suppose it's what is meant by consciousness--certainly there is active intelligence and it has a locus (I am still I)...but...how can I be thinking if I am not thinking...in words?  Well...(other people's experiences and their ability to describe them appreciated!)...how about:

The ego puts words into linear forms, a never ending monologue...whereas when that shuts up (or off)...it's not that there are no more expressions (which can be formed by words)...rather, there is now the "entire conversation of sensory input"...and "I" am part of that.  The ego-I is an adjunct, a narrative overlay to the film, whereas the I-here is a character who....no...no...

I have never had an experience where language completely disappeared but I have read about them--in the model proposed this would be 'pure' right brain activity--

Can language (the kind I'm using here) be piggybacking on...whatever came before language?

(Cue experts!)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 08:41:50 PM EST
Found another quote were Ram Dass describes a similar state of consciousness:

The Dass Effect

Ram Dass said the stroke had taught him to appreciate silence: "In my head there's a dressing room where my concepts become clothed in words. But that dressing room has been bombed out. I can have clear thoughts but no words for them, so when I speak, you'll see, every once in a while . . . silence." He invited the crowd to "play in the silence" with him, and for the next three hours, when he fell quiet, a peacefulness seemed to descend on the room as people relaxed with him.

I have experienced silence for a few short moments during meditation, but never this kind of full silence. Way to go! :-)

by Fran on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:52:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:
I have had a similar experience--the chatter switching off.
When, how, why did that happen?

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very briefly:

  1. A year or two ago
  2. We were at the Vondelpark, we'd watched a heron and pondered whether it was actually made of wood (it didn't move) only to decide that it was made of wood and then notice that it wasn't there any more (it had flown away--duh!  Moral: herons can stand very still.)  We (three of us) walked to the small pond at the very top centre of the park, lay on the grass and watched the herons sunning themselves.  It was calm, we were three old friends and....the yack yack in my head just slowed down and stopped.  Ah.....  There was nothing extra to say add or do, and rather than falling into some dreamy interior monologue with pictures I was present in the world, it was there and I was there but the yack yack had fallen away.
  3. Because I/we had taken psilocybin (in the form of cubensis mushrooms)--is my guess.  At the time I thought it was because we were, thanks to the psilocybin, "together in the moment" so we were all three happy to be there and so the usual conversational binding techniques (?) were not necessary.

Reading Jill Bolte Taylor's account, though, I recognised the phenomenon (maybe wrongly!  Very hard to be objective about subjective experiences!): it's very particular because something has definitely stopped--

Talking of things stopping, it's a classic that when one is on psychotropics (including marijuana) that there's a loss of the sense of time.  You can feel that hours have passed, look at the clock and--only twenty minutes?!  Alex had some great comments about this in this diary:

Alex in Toulouse:

LSD is indeed quite strange, I don't know if I've mentioned this here before but I have beaten time back with LSD (when I was younger). For instance, I was at a friends' flat on campus, they were working on some essay so I was bored. I took LSD. Then a few hours later, I was having some pretty wacky time dilation experiences, so I asked them to check their watch before I left the flat. I then left the flat, stopped at the campus bar and chatted with people there, then went in the campus basement to play at getting scared (you know those long corridors with pipes that you get in some horror movies), then went back to my friend's flat ... and only a pair of minutes had passed on the watch. After consultation, I had indeed been at the bar and had had those conversations with people who attested to that effect.

So what happened? There is no way that I could do all that I did in two minutes, nor that I could have bent the laws of physics.

But I'd never heard another person talk about the shutting off of the (what I'll call the) "ego voice"--until I watched this video, which is why I ask if anyone else here has had this experience--certainly I'd imagine Sven has had some contact with such.  (Just a guess of course!)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 10:48:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rg:
Talking of things stopping, it's a classic that when one is on psychotropics (including marijuana) that there's a loss of the sense of time.  You can feel that hours have passed, look at the clock and--only twenty minutes?!  Alex had some great comments about this in this diary:
Kant said the following in his Critique of Pure Reason
In Kant's view, a priori intuitions and concepts provide us with some a priori knowledge, which also provides the framework for our a posteriori knowledge. For example, Kant argues that space and time are not part of what we might regard as objective reality, but are part of the apparatus of perception. Kant also believed that causality is a conceptual organizing principle that we impose upon nature, albeit nature understood as the sum of appearances that can be synthesized according to our a priori concepts.

In other words, space and time are a form of perceiving and causality is a form of knowing. Both space and time and our conceptual principles and processes pre-structure our experience.

Things as they are "in themselves" -- the thing in itself or das Ding an sich -- are unknowable. For something to become an object of knowledge, it must be experienced, and experience is structured by our minds -- both space and time as the forms of our intuition or perception, and the unifying, structuring activity of our concepts. These aspects of mind turn things-in-themselves into the world of experience. We are never passive observers or knowers.

Kant's "I" -- the "Transcendental Unity of Apperception" -- is similarly unknowable. I am aware that there is an "I," a subject or self that accompanies my experience and consciousness. But since I only experience it in time, which is a "subjective" form of perception, I can know it only indirectly, as object, not as subject.

That time is an a-priori form of our perception means that time is not something external but one of the basic way in which our mind organizes perception.

Kant also argues that arithmetic and geometry are internal counterparts of the external time and space. That is, if there is sensory input it is organised according to time and space. But we don't need any sensory input to do arithmetic. But arithmetic, counting, is based on the cognitive mechanism of sequential attention.

Left brain: serial processor, sequential attention, arithmetic, time; right brain: parallel processor, global attention, geometry, space.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 11:01:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have a query about Kant's basic premises--but I'll have to re-read the first section of his critique of pure reason (I'm sure it was the critique) before I propose it.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
passed some marijuana around.  It was part of the lesson, but he did not really explain.  

Normally, each drummer has a part, and the parts interact--interlocking like gears, so to speak.  It goes pretty fast, and you learn to anticipate the other drummers--you know when they are going to strike their drums before they do it--and you anticipate yourself as well.  It all goes pretty fast, and when the rhythm is going well, it is a seamless flow.  Like water, as the expression has it.  

On marijuana it was a little different.  Striking a note in my pattern, I wait for the other drummers' responses.  They take a long time.  Now it is my turn again, time to play my next note.  A huge expanse of time opens up.  When am I supposed to play my note?  Somewhere in this huge expanse of time.  But WHERE?  How will I figure out?--It is all so formless!  Finally I decide to play my note:  I am not sure why.  It is really just a guess, but it seems about right.  I play my note, and watch and wait for the response.  It comes, and I realize that I was not terribly far off.  Now it is my turn again, and this huge expanse of time opens up . . .

Contrast:  This was totally different from his advice to play three beers behind the audience.  If the crowd has had six beers, you should have three.  Too few and you won't be in rapport with them, too many and you won't play well.  

In a different context, I would compute my relativistic motion.  Special Relativity:  You compare your own (internal) clock to the exterior clock, and simple (hyperbolic trig) equations (t/t' = cosh[theta]; v = tanh[theta]) give you your putative relativistic velocity.  Impressive "speeds"--several tenths the speed of light, sometimes more.  ;)

The analogy would go further:  During the following space-out, the twin paradox would break (resolve) and one would discover that it was oneself who had done the accelerating.   Hardly aging at all, one finds it is already the middle of the next day on planet Earth--they have aged and moved on.  

So is time "built in?"  I think so.  Is it a given, and absolute?  I have my doubts.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:00:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, maybe OT but...Kant:

Right at the beginning, he separates a posteriori from a priori

Critique of Pure Reason (Prefaces and Introduction)

Experi- ence tells us, indeed, what is, but not that it must necessarily be so, and not otherwise. It therefore gives us no true universality; and reason, which is so insistent upon this kind of knowledge, is therefore more stimulated by it than satisfied. Such universal modes of knowledge, which at the same time possess the character of inner necessity, must in themselves, independently of experience, be clear and certain. They are therefore entitled knowledge a priori; whereas, on the other hand, that which is borrowed solely from experience is, as we say, known only a posteriori, or empirically.

When I read this I think, "Hold on!  You can only build logical constructs a posteriori--for a start you have to be alive (contingent) to propose anything."  I also think that the urge to universality is....the urge to apply a rule across all time and space--

Critique of Pure Reason (Prefaces and Introduction)

Even without appeal- P 045 ing to such examples, it is possible to show that pure a priori principles are indispensable for the possibility of experience, and so to prove their existence a priori. For whence could experience derive its certainty, if all the rules, according to which it proceeds, were always themselves empirical, and therefore contingent?

For me, experience would derive its certainty from its...existence.  I experience ergo it is possible.  The alternative: I have proved that existence is not possible ergo nothing exists cannot be the case.  There is no abstracted place where e.g. mathematics happens without humans.  Mathematics (as the classic eg) is a human invention to describe the universe.  When the last human dies, there will not be "the universe in any case acting according to the rules"--the "universe" is a human construct--I mean: there is an out there--from a human perspective.  When the last human dies the "out  there" will get on with its business without regard to mathematics.

2 + 2 = 4 is about relations...ach...

I suppose I'm questioning the idea that human beings can use their brains to arrive at some position above our material existence--some "universality"--as our material existence determines what we consider to be the limits of the case.  The limiting factor is precisely "the limits of our possible experiences"--something like that.


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:45:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the last human dies the "out  there" will get on with its business

I'd like to correct myself as follows:

"When the last human dies the 'out there' that humans understand will cease to be; as 'in here' and 'out there' are human constructs.

Certainly (to bring this less OT) Jill Bolte Taylor managed to exist at the same time as being unable to see where she ended and everything else began (a sort of pan-consciousness of energy.)  Who knows if conditions of this kind won't--a posteriori--make up human consciousness in 20,000 years?

The only a-priori I can see in the world are the limits on our possible constructs--and science digs or tugs or pushes or works its away to the edges of those limits and proposes those extra 10 more intriguing questions...

Or hardwired = a priori but materially not metaphysically?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:53:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know if the 'time shift' experiences are connected with the silence. I had a few experiences were time shifted, but they were not silent. Though my guess is they were connected to altered states of consciousness.

It is said, that when the brain produces more alpha and theta frequencies, time is perceived differently. As in that state also the body and it's 'borders' are often not perceived clearly anymore.

by Fran on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 11:40:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
beautiful diary, rg,

left brain...checking rigging, charting course, weighing anchor, coiling ropes, manning tiller etc

right brain...jumping off the boat for a swim!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:46:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My thinking is:

(In the next world):

left and right brain in synthesis and synchronicity...checking rigging, charting course, weighing anchor, coiling ropes, manning tiller etc

right and left brain...jumping off the boat for a swim!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:55:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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