Archive for February, 2012

Quora answer: What was your dissertation about?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Emergent Design
Explorations in Systems Phenomenology in relation to Ontology, Hermeneutics and the Meta-dialectics of Design

Schemitization is the projection of an a priori ordering before experience which is a posteriori. Kant thought that we projected Space and Time and the Categories prior to all experience and that is why we thought causality for instance was out there in nature. Causality is a concept we need in order to define Freedom, which we imagine as a-causal. Anyway General Schemas Theory looks at science and art and tries to ferret out all the projected patterns that are a priori. Evidently no one has had this idea before in our tradition. Not sure why. Anyway in my Dissertation I try to use the fact we are schematizing in REM Dreams, Fantasy, Mundane Consciousness, and Hypnogogic Dreams, but in each differently to anchor four points of view that appear in Meta-novels like Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit/Ghost/Mind which are Author, Reader, Character, Narrator, and these four are the fundamental viewpoints on any design which is just a prior schematization of something artificial we might seed to create with emergent properties. This is a quick summary. My point above is that it is vision and sound that we use for this at a distance orientation, and that touch, smell and taste are not at a distance in the same way. Smell operates at a distance but it is not orienting. But sound and vision are orienting. Touch is orienting only to the immediate connected environment directly adjacent to the person. Taste is not orienting at all. So if we were to rank the senses in terms of orienting as a characteristic we would see them as follows:

Vision most orienting
Touch ———– only directly adjacent things
Taste least orienting

Normal REM like dreams are odd because we feel touch in them, but we are also normally outside our bodies looking on in dreams, and so although we are touching in dreams we are distanced from it. In Hypnogogic Dreams on the other hand we are inside our bodies usually trapped with the vision coming toward us, when we cannot move, and we directly feel the tension between the space we are in and that of the Hypnogogic vision. So in Hypnogogic dreams orientation is very strong, but what comes at us in the vision normally does not actually reach us before we wake up.

In normal consciousness we are engaged in the world completely immersed in it and relating and orienting to actual concrete objects, usually at a distance. In Fantasy, Imagination, we are withdrawn from the world in trance (Objectivity is the inverse of this state, also a fantasy, but that there is a viewpoint on the objects that is absolute, i.e. from the objects themselves.) In fantasy we are focused inwardly, in trance, but schematizing that which we imagine, and disengaged from the objects around us in the mundane world.

In all of these states of consciousness we are schematizing, but from different points of view that show up in the meta-novel as Author, Reader, Character, and Narrator. My argument is that schematization is very deep and consciousness naturally gives us at least four point of view on it as ways we relate to the schematization, and we draw on all four of those in the process of Design, and I call that cooperative borrowing on phenomenological viewpoints a Quadralectic, basing it on the ideas of Hegel from Phenomenology of Mind/Ghost/Spirit which also has those points of view implicitly within it but where he explicitly develops Dialectics and Trialectics (Work). Peirce develops Hegels ideas of Trialectics into his principles First, Second, Third which is in his philosophy and is the basis for understanding semiotics.


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Quora answer: Is a post-programming age possible?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I to am amazed at what it takes to produce the synthesis that on the surface allows us some affordance, like asking and answering questions on Quora, and that it is made up of a lot of ascii nonsense, that makes making sense possible.

But there is indeed a post-programming age but it is going to be worse. Software Engineering basically deals with the tame aspects of Software, which we try to use to do practical things in this new medium which is the first world wide interactive hyper medium, because it is made up of many other media.
The reason that software is so strange is that it is the only cultural artifact that embodies what Plato called the Third Kind of Being and Derrida called DifferAnce (differing and deferring). Thus it embodies Hyper Being. See my electronic book called Wild Software Meta-systems for more details. So the next thing will be something at the next higher meta-level which is Wild Being discovered by Merleau-Ponty. And I think that has to do with Artificial Life, Consciousness and Sociality. It is the artificial intelligence programming techniques like self-rewriting code, expert systems, genetic programming, neural nets, etc. that is wild instead of tame but still it is software. It is automatic writing, in the sense that it is automated writing. And when the automatic is automated to produce itself, reference itself, organize itself, design itself, etc then things get really strange and it goes beyond our understanding, it seems opaque to us. And what is happening now is that multiple opaque techniques are being combined. Kurzeweil says that the moment that the machines are more intelligent than we are is the singularity. (

But this is not half of the story. The real story is that we are climbing the stairway to nowhere, i.e. up through the meta-levels of Being. And we have unleashed an artifact called software which will transform everything in our culture as it already has in many ways. But we have not really entered the realm of Wild Being yet. Deleuze with Guattari tried to build a philosophy there in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. But it is even more difficult to think than DifferAnce. Each meta-level is exponentially more difficult to think. But as we combine multiple AI techniques, which depends on the reflexivity of software code itself, then things will start to get really strange. But the singularity is beyond that where we enter Ultra Being. The fact that multi-technique AI devices are smarter than us means little. We will adapt to them as assistants. They will be data slaves that know their place. They will be the automated equivalent of the Mechanical Turk. But when we get to Ultra Being then we will have real problems because that really is a singularity, and a singularity really is incomprehensible. The very fact that Vinge or Kurzweil can define what their singularity is means it is not really a singularity, but merely a threshold, that like other thresholds we will adapt to it and it will adapt to us.

It is not the speeding up of technology that is the problem, it is the qualitative shifts that occur when we have cultural artifacts that embody kinds of Being, that have always been implicit in the worldview and are now becoming explicit. So we will slowly get used to real AI devices that are opaque to our understanding helping us understand more and better. And we will adapt to our whole environment becoming not just smart but actually artificially intelligent, living and social. But what we will not be able to adapt to is what comes after that when the real singularity of Ultra Being is embodied. In myth it is called the Beast of Earth, the Anti-Christ, the Dajal, etc. We don’t know what it is, and when it arises we won’t know how to comprehend it. The true singularity is what is scary, not the pseudo-singularity of intelligent machines which is just the passage into Wild Being.

What we do know about it is that it is what Being looks like from the point of view of existence, and it is the difference that makes a difference like a domain wall between emptiness and Void, two dual nonduals. It is already with us, and has been with us from the beginning of the Indo-European worldivew. But it has always been implicit, part of the implicate order of the worldivew, but when it becomes explicitly embodied somehow that is going to be a true transformation of our culture and society. Speculating on what that might be is really worth while. But I have not got a clue. It is an emergent event that is off the scale. Kurzeweil is right to be worried but not about machines more intelligent than we are. What is coming from within ourselves is the truly Alien. The Alien does not come from Out There, but what is truly alien comes from deep within us, from the worldview itself.

Now my own speculation is that it is the end of the Metaphysical era, when the Heterochronic Era begins. And now that I have named it, and invoked it then it has probably begun. We have been trying to end the Metaphysical Era for almost a century. But everything we say is the end is just the post-post-post-modern, and just another intensification of the nihilism of the metaphysical that started with Thales. But I think it really started with Dunne in the 1920s who postulated multidimensional time, which was explored by Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, the most popular book ever written (And for once the Movie was good too.) But the real turning point came when we hit F-Theory, which is the next dimension up from M-theory, which resolves the differences between the various string theories. F-Theory says that there are two orthogonal timelines in the 12th dimension, and three in the 14th dimension, and I am postulating that there are four in the 16th dimension. Orthogonal Timelines is exactly what we need to make Multiple worlds theory comprehensible.

So my hypothesis is that the singularity of Ultra Being is when we have the emergent event of the appearance of something that embodies the splitting of timelines that are orthogonal. Something directly connected with the Multiverse. We may already be seeing that with Blackholes, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, and the acceleration of the expansion of our universe. What are we expanding into increasingly fast and where is the non-conserved energy coming from that makes the acceleration occur?

The multiverse as the meta-system of the universe, i.e. the operating system that gives it resources, such as room to expand into, and the energy fueling its expansion, and a place for the rule of physics to break down in black holes, and what is there before the Big Bang or Bounce as the case may be. I call that the Pluriverse in General Schemas Theory. It has to have orthogonal time in order to house the other universes side by side without interfering too much with each other, except via quantum phenomena as David Deutsch says.

I say we began to enter the Heterochronic Era with Dunne in the Twenties, and the Philosophy of that transition is in Heidegger’s Contributions to Philosophy: From Ereignis, where he identifies the difference between Sein (Being) and Seyn (Beyng) which was shortly there after. And this was brought to the consciousness of the public though Tolkein’s playing with Dunne’s idea in Lord of the Rings. And the last piece of the puzzle fell into place with F-theory appearing that had to have orthogonal timelines.

If that is true then the singularity of Ultra Being probably also already is manifest. But what it is we do not know yet. But I opine that it is something past AI, Alife, Asocial that embodies multiple orthogonal time streams, something that takes us into the Meta-system fully from our restricted economy of Being and brings us to understand the existence underlying Being. What ever it is we can be assured that it is an indicator of the Homeward path, i.e. the path to the nondual core of the Western worldview.

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Quora answer: What is the saddest thing about human existence?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

The number of people who died in the last century and the first part of this century by Wars that were the aftermath of Colonialism and due to Ideological struggle between Fascism, Communism, and Capitalism, and the  number which will probably die in this century still to come. All of human history is fought with violence. But modern violence is on such a massive scale that it dwarfs other conflicts in history.

Another really sad thing is that we are destroying our planet, and other species at such an alarming rate, far faster than human destruction of nature has ever been able to go previously.

Another sad thing is that now that capitalism is unleashed on the planet via globalization in an unconstrained fashion the destruction, death only are accelerating.

I track all this back to the relation between Being and Existence in the Western worldview, which is unique in our worldview, and underpins the development of technology, which is underpinned by the nihilism in the worldview, which is unique to this particular worldview, that has become dominant and has destroyed countless others though colonization and world conquest.

Ours is a beautiful planet, and it is very unfortunate that no only will our kids probably be less well off because of the debt we have heaped on their shoulders, but also they will have a worse environment, and have to deal with the fall out of our hubris, neglect, destructiveness, over expansion of the economy, globalization of the world, and generally increasing world wide conflict.

The only way out of this dilemma is through the radical transformation of our society for the better, and that looks very unlikely. To have had such excess and wealth and to have squandered it and the opportunities we had is extremely unfortunate.


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Quora answer: Why does the writing style of most PhDs on Quora appear to be long-winded and poorly structured?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

As a long winded writer with poor structure to my answers I thought this was the perfect question for me to answer.

Now I don’t claim to speak for other long winded Ph.D.s or those others who have poorly structured answers, or both like me.

First of all I don’t just write long winded poorly structured prose on Quora, but everything I write is like that. And for me it is a matter of poor early education. The only reason I got to go to college was that if you graduated from high school in my state the university had to take you. So my Mom sent me off to what she thought would be my only semester of college, figuring she would be remodeling her kitchen the next semester. She was somewhat shocked when I came back with all Bs and As and on the honor roll for the school. And so it went for the rest of my career in University. And then she was really disappointed when I got into the London School of Economics, because that spelled more years when her kitchen would need remodeling, but she could not do it because she was supporting me through school.

So how does someone who is poorly educated in ones youth so one really never learns how to write properly, get through school without really learning how to write concisely and with proper structure, and why does someone like that tend to write long and rambling treatises that tend to look like those of other philosophers.

As far as I can see, the root of the problem is that in Graduate school and even to some extent in University they really only care about your ideas not your writing style. If you have lots of interesting ideas but cannot really express them very well, then you get by. But even if you write really well, if you don’t really have any ideas that are novel, then you tend to do poorly. Ours is not an education system that focuses on style, like the Chinese for instance who demanded good calligraphy, good poetic style, good writing, and memorization of the classics above all else. Ours is a system that values ideas, especially novel or deep ones over all else. And how well you express those novel or deep ideas is not really very important. That was important in Grade School, and High School, the part of my education that was not very good despite living in suburbia. When I look back I realize I just had a lot of very bad teachers who really did not care to teach me how to write properly, and so that was a great loss for me. What would have really helped is if they had forced me to learn French, German, Greek, Chinese, etc as well but the American educational system is really not that good, compared to say Europe, and I just managed to have the bad luck to get a string of not very good teachers in my youth, and I really regretted that later when I realized that I liked to write.

However, there is more to it than that, I believe. Since the Educational System in University and Graduate School are centered on ideas, and the production of novel ideas or deeper ones are valued more than anything else, particularly in Britain, other factors come into play. For instance, it is really difficult to produce those novel or deeper ideas, and their expression normally is difficult at first, and so when you are in the process of discovering ideas then ones writing becomes very obscure. That is because many times one does not know oneself what one is really trying to say. One tends to be repetitive in ones writing as one attempts to try to say it in a way that one can understand it oneself. And a lot of time the ideas themselves are complicated, because one is building on the basis of theories that are already very complicated. And a lot of time is spent writing exploring and seeking elusive ideas or concepts that are difficult to grasp and even more difficult to express. And by the way since one is reading difficult texts, one tends to write like the texts that one is reading, like Being and Time, Being and Nothingness, Critique of Pure Reason, Phenomenology of Mind, Phenomenology of Perception, Logical Investigations, The Essence of Manifestation, etc. These are the core philosophy books that are the basis  of our tradition, and unfortunately no one said to Heidegger to keep it short, simple and to the point. So long obscure writing breeds more long obscure writing. But why are these other books so long and difficult. Well one reason is that they are grappling with ideas that are extremely difficult, and philosophy just keeps getting more and more complicated. To read Badiou’s Being and Event for example you have to study Set Theory and Cantor, and Cohen. You cannot get along just by knowing some Philosophy, but you have to study Set Theory carefully because Badiou prides himself on the fact that he knows the Set Theory as well as the Set Theorists himself.

For instance, Zizek set out to make Lacan comprehensible by reducing him to Hegel. Lacan is one of the most obscure writers there is anywhere. So Zizek’s presentation although comprehensible is still very difficult because he is making Lacan comprehensible by appealing to Hegel who is also one of the most obscure of the Philosophers. In other words our tradition is founded on some very difficult texts that are obscure and unreadable for most people. And anyone who tries to deal with these texts are going to tend to write like them, and is going to tend to be complicated just as they are. But if you are interested in novel ideas or deep concepts then that is something one learns to put up with, because you do not get the gold unless you are willing to mine it. Very seldom is it just laying out on the ground like in the Gold Rush. Mostly it is in veins deep underground, where one has to seek it in obscurity and incomprehensibility, and where our knowledge is vague, ambiguous, and amorphous.

My idea on Quora is to not just answer questions, but to use questions, sometimes silly questions as a jumping off point for exploring new territory that I would not ordinarily think about. I am interested in learning something in the writing. And that is the amazing thing about writing is that it can teach you things you would never have known if you did not write about it. And I figure that even though I am long winded and my exploratory answers are not well structured, that what I write here is nothing compared to the books I have read and studied in order to be able to say something about them. And some people like complicated things, just for the heck of it. They see thinking deeply and trying to have new ideas a challenge, and perhaps they would like to see someone else struggling to do that, so that they can get an idea how it is done. It is done of course through synthesis. And synthesizes of many different thinkers and trains of thought are difficult to produce, and even more difficult to explain. Besides that it takes a lot more time to be concise and to boil things down to their essentials and I just don’t have that much time. Since I am doing all this writing without seeking any reward for it, I have to do what is effective for myself. I do not have a customer so to speak because the number of people interested in the things I am interested in are so few, that we can probably count them on one hand. However, if just one person learns something from what I am writing then it seems to me it is worth the effort. And a few people have signified that they appreciated something that I had written. At least I get thanks sent to me occasionally. Sometimes I even get upvoted. But even if no one upvoted me or thanked me I would probably do this anyway. The reason is that I have very wide interests, and the questions on Quora allow me to explore a wide swath of my interests, and to make that public on by Blog, Twitter, G+ etc, where I am looking for the few that might find what i am interested in interesting themselves. It allows me to explore more than I would explore left to my own devices. I would not write papers about all these things. It would be a lot of work to write papers, like the ones I put on the Web. And it would be even more work to get them ready for publication by going through multiple revisions for each paper like I do when I present them at conferences. Here I can make a sketch, find out if there is anything interesting in the question by trying to answer it and then move on to something else that tickles my fancy. As Zizek says there are all these ticklish subjects around that need stroking. [Joke]

So my question is to everyone, why would you want well structured and short, succinct and too the point answers anyway? It seems to me that what is of value is the novelty and depth of the ideas, and if they cannot be expressed simply, concisely and to the point without degrading the ideas then one just has to put up with the difficulties of expression, especially in a civilization such as ours where everything is complicated, computer programs for instance. Of course, I agree if you can have a novel idea or a deep concept that is simply expressed, easily comprehensible and succinct that is preferable, but I have not found very many of those in my studies. Seems like all the worthwhile things are difficult to unearth and are usually expressed in long winded and ill structured texts for the most part like Being and Event for example which has interludes that wander all over the place. It is not just about Set Theory but everything else under the sun as Badiou tries to make it believable that he is dealing with all of Ontology. Now another thing that has to be taken into account which is that 99% or even more of what is published is not worth reading. That is because it really does not contain any ground breaking ideas, and it is all very well written and very well structured. So there is plenty of boring things out there to read that are just as one might want in terms of simplicity, conciseness, and structural integrity. It is a lot easier to do that it appears if you really do not have much to say. But as soon as you start to try to express something that no one has understood before then everything becomes obscure, ill-structured, messy, difficult, and just plain hard. And if you want to get those ideas out of the material then you have to slog through it, analyze it, undestand it, write about it, diagram it, talk about it with others, and generally be obsessed with it until you get what is being said.

So this is a long winded ill-structured reply to a question about why Ph.D.s do that kind of thing. I think they do it because they are fascinated about the subjects they find relevant and significant. They have put considerable effort into understanding those things, and have learned to express themselves in the same difficult manner as the authors that they have read. And even some like me slip though the cracks and become scholars without knowing the basics. But for the most part we are creatures of the educational system, and the tradition, and we are merely mirroring it back to you in ourselves. It is difficult, it is obscure, it is opaque, and in many ways we become that way ourselves in the process of trying our best to understand it for ourselves.

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Quora answer: Without death can there be life?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Let us consider what Life and Death might be. Life is autopoietic. It is the existential viability of the organism in its environment. As such it is the combination of two Dissipative Ordering Special Systems in symbiosis. This is reflected all over our biology, but especially in the symbiosis between body and mind. Our Body is in the Void of spacetime, and our mind has a substrate of emptiness from the Buddhist point of view because our ego has no Being, we are an-Atman. Now Dissipative structures according to Prigogine appear in far from equilibrium contexts like the universe that is expanding from a massive influx of dark (non-conserved) energy that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate since the Big Bang seen in Microwave background radiation. But there are more local instances such systems like our planet in relation to our sun, or the ecosystem of earth with its food chain that we are part of. Negative Entropy can only exist locally as entropy increases globally. Eventually the global entropy overwhelms the local negative entropy, and that is the equivalent of death by disorder. In living systems there are two such dissipative ordering structures that are intertwined and symbiotic which is mirrored all over out bodies like the chiasm between side of brain and side of body which are opposite. Or in the relation of our immune system to our neurological system, which are both considered autopoietic in themselves, so that we even get reflexive social level special systems embedded within us. But basically the organism is taking advantage of the ultra-efficacy that is possible in nature in rare circumstances to allow evolution of creatures, and viable life in general, at least until we destroy ourselves by destroying the ecosystem of the the planet. (Goodbye Earth, Hello Venus or Mars, the nihilistic opposite of too hot due to greenhouse effects or too cold for lack of oceans and atmosphere that escaped the planet). The way I like to explain how dissipative ordering systems are symbiotic is with the example of a tree, with its structures below ground and above ground. These two cooperate to give the plant life, but it actually is poised on the boundary between air with light and earth adapted perfectly to both and working together to maintain the energy balance that allows life to exist. This is how we are with our consciousness in one realm and our bodies in another realm. And the DzogChen MInd is like Space captures the essence of how these two together are at the same time one whole at a deeper level.

People who want to live forever, are forgetting this ultimately losing battle between local negative entropy and global positive entropy. This is what determines our finitude which includes our mortality. And focusing on our mortality as Heidegger says can give our life authenticity. But there is no avoiding death, in this universe where entropy prevails. Entropy is increasing with times arrow, which is pushed along by the negative energy pouring into our universe which causes its accelerating expansion. I guess people have not really put this together yet that it is the negative entropy pushing the acceleration of expansion that ultimately must produce times arrow. Entropy is a global phenomena just like times arrow and linked to it, somehow expanding spacetime assures the disordering of things at the macroscale in the universe but leaves pockets of ordering, for instance galaxies that are spinning down the drain of black holes driven by their dark matter. The actual building blocks of the universe, atoms are extremely stable and are in fact entropy free. So the substrate of all things is without entropy, and entropy only appears as a macro condition.

There are four things that exist together intertwined in spacetime:


And these four things each have their negatives:

negative information
negative entropy
negative energy (casimir effect

There is also have their exclusions:

non-entropy Atoms have no entropy.
non-energy Dark Energy
non-matter Dark Matter

There are also spacetime, energymatter, infotropy which are chiasmic and reversible intervals.

So lets go into autopoietic theory by Maturana and Varella which is a kind of existential biology that seeks to define the viable organism, or cell as a whole system of a very special type, i.e. one based on negative entropy that builds organization and maintains it over time. Autopoietic theory defines the organism as a black box that you cannot know what outputs you will get to any given input because the outputs are dependent on the internal processing of the autopoietic system based on its own internal state and variables which are hidden. The autopoietic system gets perturbations, that in effect are absorbed and have quasi-causal effect that is hidden in the autopoietic system. But there is no direct causality of the Pavlovian variety except in degenerative environments like Pavlovian experiments, or behaviorist experiments. The idea is that living and cognitive is mixed together in the autopoietic system from the start. And there is a difference between the structural use of content and the level of organization within the Autopoietic system. In other words the Autopoietic system is constantly rebuilding itself out of raw material from its environment in its self-production activities.

Now as Kant said Spacetime is a singular. There is only one spacetime we know of that we can intuit and we project it as an A Priori synthesis that we then intuit. So one of the things that an autopoietic system does is to ecstatically project spacetime as a context for itself and other things in terms of schemas (cf General Schemas Theory). We should distinguish between spacetime (relativity theory of Einstein) and timespace (Minkowski, Heidegger). The combination of the two I call the Matrix. The Matrix has four dimensions of space and four dimensions of time with every possible symmetry breaking. We experience 3s+1t, and so somewhere there is 1s+3t complement (see F Theory in 14 dimensions), i.e. monadic strings in three dimensional time. This is called Heterochrony that puts to end the Metaphysical Era with either linear or circular time singular time strands now known as Worldlines.

So the organism/cell exists in spacetime which can be interpreted nondually as Void and it has a static boundary, like a twin soliton breather, which defines its inwardness which can be defined, nondually in terms of emptiness. The boundary is like a domain wall between emptiness and void in Bose Einstein condensates. In these condensates it was discovered that there were three types of singularities, point singularities, line singularities which are static vortices with winding numbers, and surface singularities called domain walls. Since Autopoietic Systems are closed to outside observation, we can consider that surface to be like a domain wall between two modes of nondual existence, i.e. emptiness/Void. We will define this singularity as being of the nature of Ultra Being the fifth meta-level of Being. Due to this domain wall there are dual types of nonduality external and internal.

The Autopoietic System is dependent on energymatter flows from a copious source like the sun, and other life in the food chain by which the energy from the sun is mediated to it. These flows must be in a far from equilibrium state for negative entropy to appear. But since infotropy is also a chiasmic and reversible interval we actually get several configurations of infotropy from the combinations of negative and positive information and entropy.

An Autopoietic System has organization because it imposes order (a design) on itself. It does this through a combination of positive and negative feedback and feedforward which keeps it in a range of viability given its own internal needs and the environmental resources that are available. Feedback and Feedforward (planning) are types of information circuits from self to self and thus realize reflexive relations between the Autopoietic System and itself. This infotropy used in feedback/feedforward relations is used to control the digestion, production and expenditure of energymatter chemical reactions within the bodymind of the Autopoietic system. Information is local and entropy is global. Matter is global due to gravity, and energy is local mostly released by electromagnetic relations between atoms and molecules. So in one way we can see this as a special kind of relation between entropy/matter (mattropy, the matter that is organized and then that escapes ultimately all attempts at organization) and energy/information (enformy, The capacity to organize). [$enformy.html]. There is normally a hypercycle ( in the orthogonal virtual control dimension of the Autopoietic System. This hypercycle is the control structure that produces homeostasis, but allows also for adaptability within the environment in the best case scenario. Ultimately it is the infotropy in relation to the energymatter expenditure that is the key to the maintenance of viability. But because the energymatter rich environment far from equilibrium must be maintained and the autopoietic system is sensitive to its environment and easily overwhelmed, then the probability of continued viability over the long term has a low probability, due to constant flux in the environment. But life is constantly turning the non-living and the living environment into itself, and pushing back out non-living and living entities so that there is a continuous turn over in the structured content of the Autopoietic system via its organizational capabilities. So infotropy confronts energymatter as well as enformy confronting mattropy on a continual ongoing basis.

And it is in this context that negative and non-information play an important role. There is a lot of non-information in the Autopoietic system as in any other system. Information flows in channels and basically anything that is not in an information channel is non-information. But negative information plays an important role in the autopoietic system because it signifies its singularity surface, or domain wall between inside and outside that produces the difference between nondual void outside as spacetime and nondual emptiness inside as the virtuality of consciousness within which appearances appear which are comprehended by the absolute reason of the Autopoietic System as an existential viability.,

The upshot of this is that life and death are mingled continually in the midst of life is death and in the middle of death there is life.

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Quora answer: What is the nature of Zen (Chan) Buddhist enlightenment?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

In general it is true that enlightenment is a class of “experience” that is the same for all Buddhists. But this class of experience is very wide, and within it many differences that are significant. The way I usually express this is to point out how the Buddha just kept coming out with more and more interesting things to say, and experiences that deepened enlightenment. Funnily enough the Chinese got all these various sutras at the same time. And they did not understand at first that these were really different views from different Buddhist schools and it represented an evolution of thought. So they had to try to reconcile all these various views attributed to the Buddha. First of all they thought it was just another version of Taoism, and translated the Sutras with Taoist language, but eventually they discovered that what the Buddhists meant was different from what Taoists meant and there was a distinct difference between emptiness and void, two kinds of nonduality. Once they came to terms with this difference and realized what the more advanced views were in relation to the more primitive views, then they started producing synoptic syntheses  that went beyond Buddhism to combine Taoist views into one doctrine. The major initiatives in this area were Hua Yen Buddhism and Tein Tai Buddhism. And these in many formed the basis of the Zen Theory later, but at first it was based on the Bodhi-Dharma’s support of the Lankavatra Sutra, which according to some commentators is considered heretical in Buddhism because it departs from the middle way and talks about mind-only. (

Now this is a key point that Buddhism as it started out said there was only Dharma that was empty and that was the ego, or self An-Atman. The rest were real. Slowly it was realized that this was an inconsistency and so different schools de-realized more and more dharmas. Note that dharmas are basically the idea of Tattva from southern Tamil Indian philosophy. I have not run into it in the Upanishads, so I don’t think it is a Brahman way of thinking, which is interesting because almost everything else in Buddhism is a reinterpretation of Brahman Hinduism. So Emptiness spread to all the Dharmas, and I believe one of the transition characteristics between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism is precisely the emptiness of all Dharmas. But this does not equate with idealism. Yogachara Buddhism was an idealism and it took Buddhism to an extreme saying that only the mind mattered, which also translated into the the key question of the nature of the relation between Karma and Emptiness which was resolved eventually with the idea of the tathagagagharba (Womb of Thusness Coming) based on the AlayaVijana (Store House consciousness). Basically in the traditional description of mind there was an extra element not associated with any sense, and this extra element was cleverly used to solve this internal contradiction between Karma and Emptiness as we see in the Awakening of Faith for instance. However, idealism of the Yogacara takes an extreme position that there is nothing else but mind, rather than the idea that all the dharmas are empty and thus of equal reality. However, as we see with Kant in Western philosophy idealism becomes a kind of inevitability because we just cannot get around the fact that we perceive things through our senses, and eventually we realize that there is some projection in that, so the tatathata gharba becomes that core of projection, and karma the projection mechanism in Yogacara Buddhism. It is a very sophisticated approach to idealism that embraces emptiness as the ultimate nondual reality. But tries to solve the problem that if everything is empty how can Karma exist, and one way to do that is the Kantian way of idealism to say there is projection from the mind of the framework of reality. Of course, this is a more sophisticated argument in a nondual context. But ultimately idealism is an extreme and a departure from the middle and we have to realize that the Lakavatra Suttra valorizes this idealism, and that it became the vehicle for Chan to enter China.

Now one reason I think this was accepted in China as a key text on which the Development of Buddhism was based is that because it made the Indian Buddhism an extreme then it was easier for the Chinese to recognize this as different from their indigenous philosophies which did not really have idealism as a a basis because even Confucianism is rooted in human nature, while Taoism was rooted in Nature itself human and nonhuman being considered the same. So I think Idealism was a new idea to the Chinese and this very sophisticated form of nondual idealism was extremely enticing to Chinese intellectuals. They took it and developed it and it became a major force in Chinese Buddhism. If the Buddha nature is within, and is the mind, then you really don’t need any sutras to discover it within yourself. It is my opinion that it was Hui Neng in his Platform sutra that rediscovered the middle way within Chan buddhism and set straight the record as to what is the middle way and what is not. It is interesting that he is portrayed as uneducated. Thus he is soppose to have achieved his enlightenment naturally, and not though the reading of sutras. This may have played a role in his ability to refocus on what is the true middle path, that does not reject the reality of what is beyond the mind, but still sees it as empty, without it losing its externality. He says in his poem that there is no mirror to polish. In other words there is no difference between inward consciousness and outward experience, all is empty. After than came Fa Tsang of Hau Yen who Huiwen of Tien Tai who based the schools teaching on a line from Nagarjuna “All conditioned phenomena I speak of as empty, and are but false names which also indicate the mean.” which he interpreted as giving a third and middle state between the two truths. Fa Tsang merely interpreted emptiness positively as interpenetration, and the two schools shared the idea of interpenetration. (; Both of these schools go beyond Buddhism proper one by posting a middle way between the two truths, and the other by equating emptiness with interpenetration directly. (It is interesting that Pseudo-Dionysus had similar ideas that reality was really a series of mirrors reflecting each other, which was taken up by Dante at the center of Purgatory, as the basis of reality, which is seen as a hall of mirrors reflecting the light of God.)

Of course, Chan goes beyond Buddhism proper by believing that direct experience of enlightenment is possible without knowing the sutras, as Hui Neng experienced as a illiterate. There is some suggestion that knowing enlightenment directly, either slowly dawning or as a quick transformation of consciousness, might be easier for the one who is not steeped in the confusion of the sutras. In effect the sutras were so confusing for the Chinese because the Buddha to them were thinking all these conflicting sayings were said by one man in his lifetime, and they tried to work out these contradictions by ordering the sutras. But in some way it was easier to jettison theory and go directly to practice, but the impetus for doing that came from an idealistic branch of Buddhism, so corrections had to be applied by Hui Neng the sixth patriarch which split Chan Buddhism into Northern and Southern schools. Eventually Chan mixed with Tien Tai was what was introduced into Japan. And after Fa Tsang’s time Chan Buddhists used Hua Yen as their theory which came to Japan as Renzai or Soto, of which the Soto is the most theoretically sophisticated culminating in the teaching of the genius Dogen Kigen.

Now, in my opinion the way to characterize Zen Enlightenment is to think of it as Supra-rational Nondual Awareness and think of it as the opposite of Contradiction, Paradox and Absurdity that is normally considered the limit in the West. We do not talk about the Supra-rational very often in the West. But if we look back at Plato’s divided line we can see that it is the opposite limit to Paradox in the Divided Line in the Republic. It is the limit past which we cannot understand or think because we cannot get past the non-representable intelligibles that Plato confines to the higher segment of the Divided line. The two segments exist in the Divided Line: Ratio and Doxa. The limit of Doxa is ParaDox. The limit of the ratio is the Supra-rational. What is beyond non-representable intelligibles. I carry this analysis of the Divided Line further and look at the nature of the lines themselves. There are two lines dividing Ratio and Doxa. Doxa is divided into appearances and perceptions while Ratio is divided into representable and non-representable intelligibles. I equate the line in the doxa section of the Divided line with Void, and the line in the ration section as Emptiness. That means I further identify the division between Doxa and Ratio with Manifestation, i.e. the deeper nondual. I don’t think anyone has interpreted the actual lines in the diagram before. But this interpretation allows us to get a whole new perspective on the divided line. And this can be augmented by reading Blake who had four Zoas, one of which was Urizen. Each Zoa had a Shadow, a Spectre, an Emanation and himself, and thus each Zoa is four fold. In Plato’s Divided line we are looking at the fourfold structure of Urizen (Reason gone mad, as Hegel saw that it was Kants philosophy that led to the Terror of the French Revolution).

Now once we understand that the Divided line that describes all experience has these two limits, and that we hardly ever encounter in our culture the upper limit of reason, which Hegel tries to transgress by invoking Spirit, then we see clearly that there is a possibility in experience where the ratio is taken to the limit. While Paradox is mixture of opposites. Supra-Rationality is described as non-mixture, i.e. it is the possibility of two opposite being true, real, identical, present, at the same time without interfering with each other or being in conflict, or being allowed to mix. Thus there is some interspace or barrier that keeps them apart so that they do not mix, yet both are available simultaneously as part of our experience, much like a quantum state prior to the collapse of the probability wave. In fact in Quantum Theory the entanglement can be seen as the mixture of paradox, while the super-positioning in the pure state (unobserved) can be seen the supra-rational. And what makes Quantum Theory so wyrd from a Western perspective is the combination of these two extremes in the same micro phenomena. We can understand Supra-Rationality at a meta-level by understanding that in Quantum Mechanics the two extremes co-exist without interfering in reality. On the other hand if we mix Relativity and Quantum Mechanics at the planck scale we get absurdity and paradoxes galore. So Science ultimately is just mirroring back to us the limits of our own worldview which is based on Plato’s Divided line. None of Western Philosophy has ever gone beyond the Divided Line, and all of it has been fascinated with contradiction (as exists with all movement, and in the face of which you can prove anything), paradox which comes in twins (cf. N. Hellerstein DIAMOND, DELTA Logics, based on G. Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form Boundary Logic), and the Absurd where even the twin paradoxes are mixed.

So in effect, there is a hidden limit implicit in Western Philosophy that comes out in literature and especially poetry occasionally as noted by Blythe ( My own feeling is that it is this hidden possibility that Zen Buddhism exploits. Zen enlightenment has nothing to do with Zen but is always about supra-rationality. Now one of the reasons for this is somewhat strange. It turns out that both in India and China they had Pervasion instead of Syllogistic logics. So one point of harmony between India and China is the reliance on pervasion logics which are related to masses rather than sets as syllogistic logic is. With a pervasion logic there is no problem with emptiness pervading everything. Pervasion Logics emphasize sameness at the level of instances within a Mass. Sets emphasize difference, and the syllogism sees the emergent properties in the particular not in the Set. On the other hand Masses see the emergent properties in the mass itself not in the instances. Now next step down from a set is a unordered list, which can have repeated elements, sometimes called a bag. On the other hand the mixture of masses is called a Solution. Thus mixture is natural for masses, but it is antithetical to set elements that are all suppose to be different particulars. So in India and China they had the opposite problem to ours. Our problem is how to get particulars that form a whole to have emergent properties in the whole. In China and India with mass bias and pervasion logic the problem was exactly the opposite. Masses always mixed into solutions, that is natural, but how do we have masses that are together at the same time yet separate and unmixed. This drives them toward supra-rationality, as set basis with syllogistic logic drives us toward paradox.

So just if we want to go to the limits of experience we go toward contradiction (happens with all movement as Zeno showed), paradoxical duals, and absurdity, mixture of paradoxes. So if the Indians and Chinese want to go to the limits of their experience they seek out the supra-rational which is a state of non-mixture of masses that can be understood with pervasion logic. Almost all Japanese Zen or Chinese Chan Koans have this structure if you look at them carefully, they push the limit of experience as far as can be done by producing an extreme of Supra-rationality. And it was precisely the Lankavatra Sutra that lead to this extreme because it pushed idealism in a Buddhist context, which was a departure from the middle way, but by that departure it emphasized this limit as a fundamental way of transforming thought and experience. What Hui Neng did was refocus on Manifestation which is the center of the divided line and nondual rather than this limit which is approached by Buddhism. Approaching the limit is not the middle way. However, it is useful for creating transformations in consciousness and experience. It is kind of the opposite of Tantra which uses the limit of Paradox to push the limits of consciousness. Thus we can see that Zen and DzogChen come out of opposite limits of the divided line being pushed to an extreme. It is interesting that they come to a very similar place from these two very different limits that were pursued in their respective contexts, i.e. they both point toward manifestation as the deeper nondual between void and emptiness. The deeper nondual could not have been reached without pushing the limits of Doxa and Ratio instead of merely sticking to Emptiness in Buddism or Void in Bon/Taoism/Shintoism/Shamanism. So there is wisdom in this transgression or deviation, and as Hegel says that shows us the workings of Absolute Reason in actual historical events. And in this case it is the return word emptiness from the limit of reason as apprehended by idealism within buddhism that is the historical event which is key, because with that and the realization of the difference between emptiness and void then we could get the synchronistic movements of Fa Tsang and Tien Tai that indicates a deeper nonduality, and eventually we get poetry like that of StoneHouse that skips back and forth between emptiness and void in alternating lines of the poem, i.e. something rare and beautiful.

So from my point of view Zen/Chan is completely misunderstood in the West because it thinks that Paradox is the only limit of experience, but actually the Chinese and Indians were predisposed by their languages and logics to approach the other limit that is normally invisible to us, and approaching that limit transforms existence in a fundamental way, just the way paradox and absurdity do, say in existentialism, for instance in Kierkegaard.

Now the modern physical metaphor for supra-rationality can be seen in the extension of the soliton into the instantaton. Solitons are waves that do not lose energy if they bounce off a wall, or go through each other, they are mounds of water in troughs or canals originally, but now we realize that almost all physical equations of significance have soliton solutions. Two solitons that are opposite interacting is called a Breather. And the next level up is what is called the instantaton, where the trough that the soliton travels through is a potential well. Thus instantatons seem to jump from one place to the other instantaneously. This has been offered as a model of how electrons can both move and not move at the same time, that they are really instantatons in a potential well in the atom’s rings rather than continuous bodies orbiting through space like a little planet. At different energies these potential wells change size and shape and this is what we are given in the Schrodinger equation.( That equation has been linkened to all the patterns of standing waves on a completely oceanic planet. The planet’s standing wave regime would shift from pattern to another given different conditions, for instance perhaps the pull of its moons. But the full analogy with instantitons would me that the water molecules were popping in and out of existence within a given standing wave pattern, their energy would be in the electron passing though a potential trough from one point of manifestation to the next. The instantatons by jumping around in the confines of the different Schrodinger patterns of standing waves could be in very different states at the same time, because who is to say that it is not the same electron that is doing all this discontinuous jumping.

Hinton said that electrons are four dimensional vortices and that is how they can have a “current” without seeming to move. They are just passing electromagnetic potential down the wire and we use imaginary values to understand this phenomena. Maxwell it seems originally derived the electromagnetic equations in the form of Quaternions, i.e. two imaginary values ij dancing around a third k. This quaternion group is the core of four dimensional space, and these equations can describe motions with no singularities in them. All this is just to say that there might be an anomalous physical counterpart for the theory of supra-rationality.

But if we go back to masses we can see that if they are made up of gasses instead of liquids then we can easily see how two gasses, like nitrogen and oxygen can interpenetrate each other without interacting with each other. For a liquid David Bohm talks about the mixing in of Ink into water in such a way that they do not mix, but the ink becomes a latent pattern in the water that can be unmixed he calls that implicate order ( It is possible to find examples of this kind of simultaneously present, true, identical or real opposites that do not interfere with each other, but co-exist but without becoming a synthesis. This is not like Hegelian Dialectics where contradictories go though a sublation (aufhebung) and become something that encompasses that conflict that is emergent (a synthesis). Here we are more talking about complementarities, like those produced in a meta-system that co-exist without contradicting each other, without creating paradox or absurdity because they do not interact and there is an interspace (barzak) between them that cannot be crossed.

So my hypothesis is that Zen/Chan and DzogChen both (as DzogChan) are indicating a deeper nondual of manifestation, but they are coming at it from opposite limits of the divided line, one associated with mixture, and the other associated with radical separation. The middle way is between these two extremes which is the central line in the divided line which is manifestation, the deeper nondual. These extremes indicate that possibility by rebounding toward the center from the limit. In the case of Zen it rebounds from idealism of Lankavatara Sutra toward emptiness. DzogChen rebounds from the limit of paradox or absurdity of Tantra toward the void. By rebounding from the limit they discover separately the middle which DzogChen calls the base, primal ground and which I call manifestation following M. Henry who is following Meister Eckhart. This word seems to work well in this kind of meaning configuration as the nondual root of both emptiness and void, dual nonduals. So by this logic what ever actually experiences manifestation directly has to be something like the combination of Chan/Zen and DzogChen. It is as if Chan/Zen and Dzog/Chen were Dissipative Ordering Special Systems (with negative entropy) circulating within an Autopoietic Symbiotic Special System, which of course begs the question what is the Reflexive Special System in which the Autopoietic Systems dance around each other in. I had not quite understood before this that Chan/Zen and DzogChen are duals that each indicate the center fold of the divided line by recoil from opposite limits. In my humble opinion the spiritual path that directly accesses manifestation is Sufism. Sufism does not indicate manifestation but moves to embody it and to go even deeper toward the Amanifest. However, it is also possible that these other traditions have also gone deeper into the nonduals manifestation and the amanifest. I just have not found any evidence of it after years of searching. This is why I advocate that there is a fifth turning of the Wheel of the Dharma and a Homeward path.

If you look at the Sutras, or Koans, there are some deep and perplexing things that are said sometimes and it is hard to know what they are indicating unless you are actually in that tradition under a tutor, for instance like Dante, being led by Virgil in the Inferno and Purgatory, and then suddenly he just vanishes. But the center of the Divine Comedy concerns Love, and love is all about mixture, and is taken to the extreme of paradox and absurdity in Romantic Love. Someone asked in another question why marriage is tying the knot, and it is clear that it means entanglement of one in the others life, and vice versa. On the other hand there is also the super-positioning of supra-rationality in which the partners each are what they are completely and their marriage is a conjunction that is perfect, like the special systems. There is my knowledge and my wife;s knowledge. There is my experience and my wife’s experience. But there is also all the combinations. My experience with her knowledge, my knowledge with her experience, my knowledge with her knowledge, and my experience with her experience. We are mixed up in each others lives and entangled, but in many ways we are completely separate with an unbridgeable chasm between us as male and female brought up in this culture. But out of the entanglement and supra-rationality comes something that is between them both which is the conjunctive relation where we stand together. That is the relation of Odysseus and Penelope, they shared the same friends and enemies, and they gave good to their friends and ill to their enemies together. Their bed was part of the world tree and thus connected to the axis of the Indo-European worldview. When we tap into that axis then we find the nondual core of the Western worldview lurking in the depths. The Alchemical Marriage is both an entanglement, and a super-positioning, as well as both and neither, and the Manifest is what is indicated that is beyond this deeper tetralemma such as the one proposed by Manjushrimitra.

The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu translated by James Green.

“9. The master asked Nansen, “Please say something that is apart form the four statements (tetralemma) and beyond the hundred negations.”

Nansen returned to his room.

The master said, “That old priest. Every day he chatters and chatters, yet at this one question of mine he cannot say one world in reply.”

The attendant said, “It is better if you do not say that he did not speak.”

The master slapped him.” [paraphrased a bit]

Joshu is one of the more outrageous masters of the Koan. Here we clearly see that he wants to go beyond the tetralemma and the the hundred negations. Asking about that leads to silence. But the attendant points out that in his action of leaving to go to his room Nansen was indeed making a statement, full of significance. And the blow to the attendant is the physical transmission of enlightenment that flows out of his recognition that silence an carry even more meaning than the chatter of speech. The tetralemma and the hundred negations form a singularity that transforms chatter into silence. The silence is the emptiness manifest. But it is combined with the action of returning to the source, the monks room without a word. In the terms of the Awakening of Faith the action of return to the source is the function of karma, and the silence is the emptiness that is moved/unmoved by the action of winds of karma. So we have gone up a rung from just the tetralemma, and we noticed that the tetralemma was conjuncted with the hundred negations, i.e. denial of everything. The tetralemma says we need to go outside of the logical possibilities. But the hundred negations is our way of remaining unattached and separate from any attachments or doctrines. This was Nagarguna’s practice just to deny everything, which is a lot like the sophist Gorgias. The difference is that Gorgias just denied everything, and thus took what the Skeptics called the Academic position which is the opposite of the Dogmatic position, that affirms something about the invisible realm. The dual of denying everything is affirming everything. The great YES, contra Schopenhauer, of Nietzsche and at the end of Ulysses by Joyce. The transformation of emptiness into interpenetration is like the difference between the hundred negations to the hundred affirmations. By saying that through emptiness the myriad things interpenetrate gives them a positive status unlike the status of mere phantoms that the idealists would assign them. So the old priest both was silent like the Buddha and also returned to his source, his room in silence, so he shows us silence walking, moving. Another Koan asked whether it is the flag moving or the mind that is moving, and the obvious answer is both at the same time. But the idealist answer is that the moving of the mind is identical to the flag moving so they are not two different things. So is the silent Priest moving or is just our mind moving? The master is interested in the singularity that turns chatter (nihilism) into silence. The attendant sees meaning in the motion of the silent priest returning to his room. This other perspective of the attendant allows us to go beyond just emptiness, and realize the transformation though emptiness of the hundred negations into the hundred affirmations. By pointing out the difference between the singularity his master is interested in, and the meaning that springs from the old priests actions there is a moment of the enlightenment of the attendant, confirmed by the transmission of the slap. The slap is physical contact, while in the priest leaving in silence there is no physical contact. So that shows we have at the higher level of the relation between the master and the attendant reached a deeper nonduality that is embodied in the slap, physical contact, rather than words. Both the slap and the movement in silence of the old monk are physical actions. But the slap makes a sound while the removal to ones room, as the source is silent not just in speech but in action. If the silent action of the monk is significant, then the slap is even more significant, as it is the physical transmission of enlightenment. So we go from significant to real meaning being produced out of the emptiness by the transformation of the emptiness into interpenetration. If we can transform speech into silence, by the presence of the hundred negations in the presence of emptiness, then we can transform the hundred negations into the hundred affirmations by the move from silent movement with no contact that makes no noise to loud movement with contact that makes a loud noise, thus the negative becomes positive in a moment. We know we are talking about the function at both levels because they are movements juxtaposed to silence or negations that bring about noise and affirmations. If we can transform, nihilistic chatter into poignant silence, and we can transform a hundred negations into affirmations, then we should also be able to transform emptiness into interpenetration.

“It is better if you do not say that he did not speak.”

This is the key phrase. The master says something about the others silence. the other was silent about the masters speech. The masters speech transformed chatter into silence. The masters silence transmitted enlightenment to the attendant. Ideally it is better for the master not to speak to the attendant about the old priest and his state. That confidence when the old priest has gone could be considered slander and thus the generation of bad karma. It would be better if the master was silent too after the old priest had gone. But also taking it deeper it might have been better if the master did not produce the singularity that transformed the chatter into silence. Because the chatter is nihilistic it is no different from silence anyway. but it is not equal to the silence of the Buddha when asked about whether there was a God and about other transcendentals. Thus the chatter in itself as unfabricated, and elaborated is in fact already empty. So why leave that primal state where the old monk is acting naturally for him. Why produce the singularity as a transgression, and then further transgress by talking about the old monk when he leaves the room. The double transgression that produces karma, is counterbalanced by the silence of the old priest, and the significance of that silence, and that silence is counterbalanced by the slap that transforms it into its structural opposite and thus reveals that the hundred negations can become a hundred affirmations, and the emptiness that was true of the chatter already, then was represented by the silence, which then was negated by the slap which was its structural opposite. And in that slap the transmission takes place where the hundred negations become myriad affirmations, and the emptiness becomes interpenetration, because in fact there is a perfect juxtaposition at each level of this Koan which throws us back into the primordial base. In other words the masters singular speech, and the comments on the old Priest after he has left is itself really just nihilistic chatter too. But it is chatter than turns the nihilism on itself by producing a singularity in speech that transforms speech into silent action. But it also results in more speech, that results in noisy action, and the two balance the Karmic function with the emptiness to point to a middle state that is nondual between them. Silent action cancels out noisy action, and thereby shows how the master and the old Priest seem different but are really the same in as much as their actions and speech are purely spontaneous and non-fabricated expressions of the primordial ground. In their minds is emptiness, but between them is the empty space of the void. DzogChen says that mind is like space identifying emptiness and void. In this case we have non-contact action of the old Priest being annihilated with its opposite which is contact action of the master. We have the opening of space out and the closing of space to contact. There is perfect balance in all aspects of this koan and that is what makes it an image of interpenetration, and places it on the form of the the special systems that are pure conjunction with neither equal nor hierarchical relations. You can go on and on describing the perfection of this Koan, and this is not one of the famous ones of Joshu which are so outrageous.

From the point of view of the transmission the Old Priest, the Master and the Attendant are the same. The old Priest manifests his knowledge of emptiness by his silence, and the attendant manifests his ignorance by attributing karmic actions to his master. But in this situation the attendant is transformed into one who knows and has wisdom and prajna. The master is between the two, the Old Priest and the Young Man who is the midwife of enlightenment to take an analogy from Plato. There is no master without transmission. There is no transmission without those who are receptive to it, and those who are immune to it because they have already attained prajna. But in this case just emptiness is not the goal, but indicating something beyond emptiness that the Old Monk understands, but the young attendant learns by the way that the dialectics of the situation unfolds to point to something deeper, i.e. manifestation of the transmission itself. Not only do we wonder how in the face of emptiness that karma can act, but we wonder in the face of emptiness how transmission could occur. It can only occur if there is a deeper substratum than just emptiness, and that deeper substratum is pristine nonduality of manifestation. Transmission must move though manifestation as a substrata to the standing of emptiness. If emptiness is to be transmitted as a state between consciousnesses then it can only do so if there is a deeper strata though which that transmission can take place. Like electricity, it is not the transmission that moves but the human beings that move. The master swats the student. It does not just say don’t be a smartalick but says also: there is something beyond emptiness otherwise this transmission could not come to you, which erases your karma. the transmission is anti-karma. Just like emptiness and void cancel each other out, so too karma and anti-karma annihilate. And then all that is left is manifestation from which the emptiness and void, and the karma and anti-karma arise in a dependent arising.

It is the whole situation that is perfect for indicating the deeper reality of nonduality. It is like a perfect number, where all the parts perfect add up to the whole with nothing more nor less missing or left over. This perfect exemplification is happening all the time but we just don’t see it. Absolute reason is the dance of the Karmic Function in the arena of the EmptyVoid. When the situation that highlights the interpenetration of all things occurs both the intellectual understanding of the dialectics of the situation (see Soto Zen) and the perfection of the concrete expression of the meaning coming out of the nondual is recognized by the attendant. We are all attendant on that perfection to which we should pay attention that is slapping us all the time. The deeper nondual is not conceptually described but indicated because even at the level of emptiness we are dealing with the the intuitive apperception of the aconceptual and aexperiential that leads to prajna. So the doubling of the nonduality by getting rid of the duality between non-dualities (emptiness/void) is the hidden secret that overflows existence. Think about it if existence is ecstasy, then it must overflow into something, so there has to be a deeper standing to be overflowed into. if the universe is a far from equilibrium meta-system with unconcerned dark energy pouring in from somewhere that causes the universe to expand into somewhen then, that that deeper meta-system must exist called the multiverse, pluriverse, many worlds etc. The same is true of nonduality. If the nonduality exists as emptiness/void that difference must be carried by a deeper nonduality which has a different standing, i.e. manifestation. Notice manifestation is a positive standing while both emptiness and void are expressed though negation. Thus we are saying that the hundred affirmations comes from the transformation of existence into manifestation. And in that transformation the emptiness within becomes interpenetration of all things. And we know physically this is true from the Bell Theorem because things that were together like everything in our universe at the Big Bang remain connected at a distance, and despite the expansion. In the interpenetration it is like jewels reflecting each other, it is like a hall of mirrors such as we see modeled in the special systems.

All this and probably more is indicated  by a Koan of Joshu . . . the perfection of interpenetration is endless.

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Quora answer: What is the subject matter of mathematics from Buddhist point of view?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

You must be reading my mind. I have written a few unpublished books on this very topic. It is a very interesting question which I am looking forward to see if anyone else might have to say about this question.

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Quora answer: Why does the Dalai Lama wear glasses?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

This is a dumb question. I think we need to start pointing out when questions are not so swift so the questioners will think twice about posting them.

This is like perhaps the opposite question, why did Pol Pot kill people who wore glasses, was there a deeper reason underlying that decision, than just stupidity.

Is there a deeper reason beyond the fact that the Dali Lama is human and just happens to have a human limitation that many of us share, that causes us to have to wear glasses to see anything at all as we age, or natural distortions in our eyes that need correction.

This very question the kind of place were things go wrong, because we are attributing some super human capability to him, when indeed the reason he is considered the good Pope is that he is just so naturally human.

Attributing super human capacity, for instance infallibility, to cult leaders is always the beginning of the end. This is not to say he is a cult leader, but he is a very charismatic leader within his own branch of Tibetan Buddhism which is so well established historically that it could never be considered a cult. It is the living Buddhism. And the fact that it is a living religion right down from the Buddha himself in an unbroken chain, is what gives him the authority he has. The fact that these Tibetans were serious intellectuals who developed Buddhism, and preserved it in their language, and built their whole society and culture around it is even more amazing. Until the Chinese came and burned their books, turned their monks out of monasteries, and destroyed their temples in order to get the minerals that the temples were sitting on, they lived peacefully at the top of the world, thinking deep thoughts, meditating and achieving deep states of consciousness, and generally pursuing the heights that the human spirit can attain. Of course this is all mixed up with a lot of shamanism, and questionable practices, and politics, and all the normal human illusions and delusions that you can expect anywhere. But as we read their works, we can see that here is a tradition older than the Western tradition, with deeper books, and wiser humans, and humility despite the fact that they have looked down upon the world torn with war from their heights for so long. But eventually that would of war got to their country as well, because the Indo-European world view, destroyer of worlds, cannot stand to leave any portion of the world untouched and uncorrupted, and ultimately undestroyed.

He obviously has wisdom. Unlike some other Popes who claim infallibility we could name who may be indicted for covering up years, perhaps centuries of child molestation as many priests have been in that religion. And who want to keep Europe pure by not allowing Turkey to be part of the European union. We always will wonder if he learned that idea of European racial purity at a Nazi youth camp. Turkey is just so lucky right now that they never made it into the European union, since it is on the verge of collapse.

So far we have not heard of any systematic child molestation and its cover up by Buddhist Monks. That difference is one which we should take seriously. It is a moral difference. It is nothing to do with the transcendental but is purely immanent, purely human.

But what will be the outcome of the Tibetan Monk Refugees coming to the West? I look for profound changes as purely Nondual ways of seeing things encounters the profound dualism or monism of the Western worldview, which was so shaped by Catholicism, and other forms of Christianity. The intelligentsia has given up on Christianity and many have turned to Tibetan Buddhism because of its primal authenticity. It has everything we desire in the nihilistic marketplace for enlightenment, Shamanism, Spirituality, Intellectually deep analysis of existence, strange ceremonies even more bizar than those of the Catholic church. Yet because they are organized and have a Pope of their own there is still some recognition of the structure of their community which is like Catholicism. It is a Catholicism without the Inquisition. Did we mention that the current Pope of the Catholic church was the head of the living inquisition, prior to being elected Pope. Yes the Inquisition is still going on as far as the Catholic church is concerned. It still has that office within its bureaucracy. Tibetan religion is all the new age could have hoped for and more. And the best thing is that we get to see what happens when Nonduality confronts Dualism first hand. And we can only hope that out of that confrontation, we become more human finally. And perhaps we can get rid of the office of the Inquisition for good which symbolizes all that is evil in our worldview.

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Quora answer: What is the proof that the scientific method works?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

There are problem with methods. Methods according to Feyerabend means Meta-hodos — The Way After . . .

In other words Method is a way for others to follow after the one who discovers a something. How the discovery happens cannot be contained in any method, especially if the discovery in some way an Emergent Event — For instance the Einstein’s or Newton’s or Galileo’s  Revolutions. Or the emergence of a phenomena like super-conductivity, or black holes, or microwave background radiation, or dark energy, or dark matter, or quantum mechanics, etc. Discovery cannot be done by method. But others can be led to the understanding of the discovery, so that they can replicate the discovery by a method. Science is at the root creative human activity. If we use methods in Science this is really pseudo-science. And that is why there is a lot of wasted activity and money in science, because you can wander around labs your whole life and not discover anything. Look at Russian Science for instance. Take the case of Polywater ( It was thought that it might be a new phase of water in capillaries. It became of interest for a while when Western scientists tried to replicate the results of a Russian scientist. But what happened was that the particular Russian scientist had his papers co-authored by the head of the lab when the west became interest in the result, and then he was fired when it turned out that the results were caused by contamination in the water. But the book makes  the point that Russian Pharmaceutical Labs never discovered anything, they only reverse engineered what was discovered in the West. Just like they reverse engineered the A bomb or the Concord from stolen designs. Following Methods do not lead to any breakthrough discoveries. What leads to breakthrough discoveries is human creativity, which then is re-engineered a story about how methods were used to get the result, while the methods are really invented after the fact to allow others to replicate the result, and to extend it.

Thus Scientific Method works as a means of replication of the discover’s work. This is crucial, but it has nothing to do with discovery. The idea that methods are used for discovery is a ruse, of Scientists that make it appear as if they are objective (whatever that is). So oddly enough the proof that method works is whether replication is possible, and replication is possible and in fact happens all the time. Replication is essential to the advance of science, but there would be nothing to replicate if human creativity and innovation had not first discovered what is worth replicating.

Paul Feyerabend Against Method

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Quora answer: How do we create wisdom?

Feb 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Wisdom is an emergent step above Knowledge.

The series may be something like . . . Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom, Insight, Realization

Now the interesting thing about knowledge is its permanence. Knowledge is the most permanent thing in our experience.

Try forgetting something you know. We also know what we have told others, and what they know. So we don’t keep telling people the same thing if they already know it, except in special circumstances, like to kids who are not listening.

So information has to have a surprise value. Knowledge of what people already know helps us keep the surprise high enough to remain relevant or at least interesting.

So information exists as the new things that we are telling others, and knowledge is the reservoir of what is known that prevents us from telling the same people the same thing over and over.

Wisdom is normally thought of as something you get when you mix experience and knowledge. Wisdom is when you know what is going to happen so you avoid negative consequences based on prior experience.

Wisdom is the highest of the four virtues mentioned by Plato which are courage, temperance, justice and wisdom.

Many of the Platonic dialogues explore the nature of these human virtues.

Apollo orders us to “know thyself” and “nothing to excess.”

All of the virtues contribute to self knowledge but nothing to excess specifically points toward temperance.

Plato says the soul has three parts Human, Lion and Hydra. The Hydra is all the desires of the self that causes one to forsake temperance. And opposite this is the Lion representing courage, justified anger helps to keep the self under control.

So Courage and Temperance go together. The other part of the soul is the human which can appear if courage and temperance are balanced.

So the human part of the soul can strive toward the higher virtues of Justice and Wisdom. Justice is applying temperance not to oneself but within the social sphere. So temperance is inward justice with oneself, while justice is social temperance in one’s decisions and judgements.

That leaves Wisdom to be like Courage. Courage is the ability to control oneself in a fearful situation and do ones duty to the very end if the cause is just, for instance in defending the city in time of war.

So we can think of Wisdom by analogy which is to offer council to the people of our community which will give them courage to make the right decision and stick by it in difficult times, but not to be fool hardy. Thus just like there is being as Achilles hanging back now doing enough or going berzerk and acting inhuman that are the extremes of courage being too little or too much, then wisdom has to do with making non-nihilistic distinctions within the community and advising or leading it into prosperity and avoiding defeat and destruction to the extent that is possible given the nature of human affairs.

So  information has to do with surprise, knowledge prevents our telling people things they already know, and it has to do with not forgetting what is known. Wisdom mixes knowledge and experience in a way that one is able to give one’s community good advice or lead them w ell with justice balancing power. Wisdom guides action based on experience and knowledge which is distilled into the ability to make non-nihilistic distinctions. Ultimate wisdom is prajna, i.e. wisdom concerning nonduality.

Now that we have realized that ultimate wisdom is the ability to make non[nihilistic distinctions then we would like to use that to move deeper and deeper into the world view though the levels of


It takes courage to make non-nihilistic distinctions in the face of nihilism everywhere. It is a matter of temperance inwardly and justice outwardly. And wisdom is the ability to offer advice or leadership which steers between the nihilistic alternatives and brings the ship of the community to port safely, yet also with booty or profitable wares in the cargo hold.

But these non-nihilistic distinctions happen at different depths.

There is the ordered word and action, which is spoken or done at the correct time and place, and in the correct context in the correct form

There is the right word and action, which is spoken or done which upholds some fundamental principle that we hold dear against those who would do wrong to themselves or others.

There is the good word and action, which is spoken or done which invites in the guest, the friend, the neighbor and even the stranger (as they are protected by the gods), which gives the gift, the reward, or the inkind payment of more than was expected.

There is the fated word and action, which is spoken or done like the beot boast, or the swearing revenge where one determines ones own fate and those of others by ones word that one will do something, or not do it no matter what.

There is the source word and action, which is spoken or done which allows the source forms (as plato calls them) to shine though as non-representable intelligibles or are actions that have virtue.

There is the root word and action, which is spoken or done which rooted in the primal scene of the wells and the tree that is the root of the world view. In old engilsh it is ‘AE’ which is the aeternal.

We are measured by our virtues, and our non-nihilistic distinctions we make, and the depth that we can go into the core nonduals of our worldview.

The worldview is the measure of the man, it is not man who is the measure of things, but rather man is measured by his words and actions against the nondual structure of the worldview and his ability to follow the dharma within that worldview.

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