- Stephen Batchelor – The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture
- Stephen Batchelor – Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
- Stephen Batchelor – Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism
- Stephen Batchelor – After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age
- Marc Lewis – Memoirs of an Addicted Brain
- “The very processes that make you adaptively intelligent also make you vulnerable to self-destructive behaviour.” (Parasitic processing)
- Buddha’s Four Noble Truths should be understood as ‘provocations’ rather than dogmas. “All is Suffering” (dukkha should be interpreted as “Realize that all your life is threatened with a loss of freedom, a loss of agency”.
Welcome back to awakening for the meaning crisis. So last time what we did is we finished up, a cognitive scientific exploration of higher States of consciousness, awakening experiences. These. kinds of mystical experiences that bring about a massive transformation. we saw how, we can give a psychologically, I could description of these processes, that explained both, the experiential profile that people are having.
And, some of the features that they find they’re in. We were also able to talk about this at the level of machine learning and information processing and at the brain level. And what comes out of this is a picture of I state of consciousness that in which, we are getting a flow state that is improving our optimal grip on the world, optimizing our performance for making sense of things.
And enhancing our overall, capacity for learning and problem solving. And we saw that, that in fact provides a very good justification for, the States being the guidance for the transformation of life and that what they do is they give a brain state that is. A highly optimized processing things in a way that gives us a tremendous sense of a plausible, grip on the world.
And that is making use of processing that is, absolutely indispensable and foundational. for us it is, it has a kind of important, priority in all of our processing. And what I suggested from this is that while it doesn’t give us any good theories in the sense of propositional claims about the metaphysical structure of reality, these States do justify the there claim to give us guidance.
So although they are not rational in the sense of. Providing good argument and evidence for beliefs. They’re rational in the sense of wisdom in that they optimize some of our core processing for being in contact with the reality in a way that is coupled optimally to our own processes of self transcendence and the cultivation of wisdom. So the Buddha awakened. And that awakening gives him this state that is guiding him to a fundamental transformation in how he understands the world and how he understands, not just intellectually, because that’s what I’ve been contrasting here, but in a participatory fashion and an existential fashion himself in the world, we talked about how this is brought up, bringing about a Sati.
Deep remembering of the being mode so that he is seeing through the frustrating futility, a modal confusion, but there is more than it’s going on this higher state of consciousness and not only helping him remember the being mode and helping him to transcend through systematic illusion and go through something deeply analogous to a developmental shift.
We can also see it in terms we can see what’s going on in his claim to enlightenment and its relevance, to the cultivation of wisdom and the enhancement of meaning in terms of the pronouncements he made, from this state. Now talking about this as very problematic, because the attempts by the West to understand some of the central. tenants of Buddhism have, has not had a very good history. I recommend to, Steven Batchelor’s book, awakening of the West for how the West, systematically misunderstood and bachelor makes a current argument in a series of his books. I’ve got to meet Stephen, at a conference and we had dinner together. I recommend all of his works very strongly and very highly, to you and w. So from his works and in discussion with him, he argues that the West is still, in the grip of a problematic way of trying to interpret, Buddhism. So let’s take a quick look at that and then we will return to what the central claims of Buddhism are. And I want to show you why even that way of putting it is. Proper, perhaps incorrect. So bachelor, and, one of his books along with others and he follows it up with, Buddhism without beliefs. And then later on, this is followed up by even a more radical after Buddhism in which he’s taking the position of somebody who’s post religious, very germane to many of us.
he, but he does argue in alone with others that we face an interpretation crisis when we’re trying to understand Buddhism. We have two approaches that people give us for how we should try and interpret Buddhism. Of course, this will not be relevant just to Buddhism, but for any position that exists in a different culture or history that we’re trying to understand be a Buddhism or stoicism or Neoplatonism for example.
So he says we are confronted with two different positions. One is the claim that you can only interpret Buddhism. And we’ve seen good reason why you might argue that, that this is right. The kind of stuff we’re talking about here, wisdom and self-transcendence, this is not largely a matter of altering your belief. This is about going through transformation and your perspectival and participatory knowing. It’s about fundamentally altering your, the agent arena relationship, your existential modes, et cetera.
And so if you are not engaged within the transformative practice, then of course you do not understand, what, what Buddhism is it has to, in that sense be understood from within. And this is a general property wisdom per se. Wisdom is something that must be understood, from within, the problem with that of course is the, it’s my Alpac. Right. there are very many, Buddhist traditions and they are, relative to certain times and place in particular historical contexts. And to claim that that particular, interpretation a particular sect or tradition is the, sole pathway to understanding or interpreting, Buddhism. It’s of course my OPIC it’s narrow minded and often a parochial. It claims things as fundamental, which are often very contingent. So what’s the alternative, the alternative. It is, well, what the alternative says is that the problem with this is this is very subjective. I don’t know if that’s exactly the right word, but the idea here is right. This is the problem with things, things from the inside is that tends to be very subjective.
And of course that means you’re not understanding the phenomenon as is, but you’re only seeing it through your own particular bias. so the alternative. Outside any tradition. And this is typified in the academic study of Buddhism, for example, like within religious studies or something like that. And then the main argument here is, and this will often happen. It’s not always the case, but if you meet people in religious studies and you’ll say, are you studying Buddhism? And they’ll say, yes, yes, I’m studying Buddhism. And then, and then you’ll ask them, well, what practices do you engage in? And they’ll say, Oh, no, no, I don’t engage in any practices. That would be a mistake. If I got too involved, too close to this material, I would lose my objectivity. I would lose my ability to critically reflect on it, critically, compare it to other traditions, other approaches.
So the idea here is what we will have, right. Is an objective account.
Now, although Steven, doesn’t mention this in his book, bachelor, this, Steve bachelor, doesn’t mention it as book. This is very reminiscent of the problem that Socrates faced, because what we have here is transformative relevance.
And here we have some attempt to get at the truth.
And like the Socratic project, I would put it to you. And this is what I think bachelor is saying is that Buddhism is about both of these. It’s about trying to find, transformatively relevant truths, but that means we have to transcend both of these ways of interpreting Buddhism. So he points out that. We have to get beyond both of these in some fashion. How do we do this? Well, he points out that we need to do this in a way that is going to be relevant to issues of meaning in our life. So this interpretation crisis, where we have these two competing and diametrically opposed ways of trying to interpret and import Buddhism is actually. Interacting with the meaning crisis in society, because we’re not doing this just in some empty cultural vacuum. We are precisely interested as I’ve been suggesting throughout this series of lectures where we’re doing this precisely, because we’re deeply involved with the project of trying to recover. How we can cultivate wisdom and enhance meaning in our lives, in a cultural historical context that is not supportive and is fact often deleterious to those existentially necessary endeavors. Okay. So what do we do? We have to break out of all of this in some fashion and what he does is he tries to see where these are both fixated and what he argues is that.
This will become myopic because it will get fixated on the particular propositions of a tradition. It will get fixated on beliefs. And this is in fact what you study over here, objectively you study, of course, the texts and the beliefs that have been propositionally rendered by a particular tradition. It’s this belief fixation that needs to be broken through. This is why he entitles the book that came after, along with others, Buddhism without beliefs. Cause he tries to argue that part of what is preventing us from really getting both sides of Buddhism is that both of these are. Fixed locked, like being locked inside the box and the nine dot problem. I’m trying to understand Buddhism as a set of beliefs, we have gotten so used to this way of thinking and we’ll see later why it is a post-Christian way of thinking that. These traditions for cult, these axial legacy traditions for cultivating wisdom, and self-transcendence are to be understood as creeds, as systems of beliefs that we now even will equate.
Right? The word belief with these practices. We’ll talk about it as a belief system, or will you even use the word belief as a synonym for faith? Et cetera. So we have gotten so oriented towards this reduction of all of what we’ve been talking about here, all of this transformation process to the possession and the assertion of beliefs. And again, we’ll see historically why that’s the case that we can’t break out of this. Interestingly, although I won’t be able to do it in this video, we’re going to see that breaking out of. Right. Trying to understand meaning in terms of belief, systems is also going to be needed to address the meaning crisis. I have been pointing you towards that repeatedly belief systems. Namely ideologies are attempts to create meaning, but they fail for the deep reason. And you’ve already seen a lot of argument and evidence for this. Is that a lot of your meaning making machinery is not occurring at the level of your propositional knowledge, your, your beliefs or your assertions of which beliefs you adhere to.
So he proposes instead, what we need to do is we need to look at Buddhism, ultimately existentially. Now you remember existential, he has to do with these modes. He also invokes in, along with others, the distinction between the being mode and the having mode. And he proposes that Buddhism is remembering the being mode. And I’ve already talked about that in a previous video. And so he says, look, Traditionally what the Buddhist said. And now we’re returning to what the Buddha said is in order to try and get more of what his enlightenment was about. Traditionally, what the Buddhist said is presented as the four noble truths. And these are four statements or propositions that are usually presented to our ears as claims to be believed. And that what makes you a Buddhist is if you believe them, the problem with this of course, is that it is taking place at this very level. That bachelor argues we need to get beyond. It’s not, of course that people don’t believe things within Buddhism.
Is that what we’ve been talking about here? These processes of transformation are taking place at the level of perspectival, knowing at the level of transforming of States of consciousness and at the participatory level, transforming the fundamental machinery of the self of the agent arena relationship and the modes of existence. So we need to understand these four noble truths as things that could help afford the kind of transformations we’ve been talking about. The point about these is not to believe them. The point about them is to get them to help you reenact the Buddha’s enlightenment. If you’re not doing that, if you cannot enact enlightenment, then you are not getting. The four noble choose. He proposes, therefore that we should not call them the four noble choose. We should call them the four noble truths. I then propose to him in person that we shouldn’t even call them truths anymore, because truth is truth is a property of propositions. Actually. I said, well, you should call them as the four enabling provocations. You’re trying to provoke people into change. So let me try and go through the four noble truths, but restating them in turn as four in no bling enabling that means affording self-transcendence provocations by doing that. I think we can get back to if that’s the right verb, what the Buddha was conveying about what’s going on and. Enlightenment, what kind of transformation is being brought about by the awakening experience and what is it alleviating? Okay, so let’s go through these one by one. Okay. So I’ll present the, the, the standard way of representing the truth and then the reformulation. In order to deal with bachelors, I think astute criticism. And in order to interconnect with all the argumentation, we have been developing throughout this video series. So the first one is typically stated as all this suffering or all of life is suffering now.
That’s first of all, if that were the, the statement to be believed it’s false. Because suffering is a comparative term and comparative terms, can’t be extended to everything that would be like saying everything is tall. It doesn’t make any sense. Things are only tall relative to other things, being. being shorter. So first of all, it doesn’t really mean all is it’s something more like all is threatened by, well, what’s the all doesn’t mean everything in existence. Should we interpret it metaphysically? Well, I mentioned last time that we should be careful about giving metaphysical interpretations to what people bring out of these awakening experiences.
And the Buddha himself were very famously reticent to give any metaphysical interpretations to his statement. So let’s try and follow that in order to get at that let’s note what this word means. Okay. Because again, we’ve tended to allow a word to go through a process of trivialization and reduction, and we’ve lost part of the meaning. Let me give you first of all, an analogy. Okay. So the original meaning of this word is insane, but it has come to be synonymous with angry. I’m mad at Agnes doesn’t mean I’m insane, right? It means that I’m angry at Agnes. How did that happen? Well, one of the ideas is anger is a state that can. Rent render you. If it becomes extreme, extreme anger can render you temporarily insane. And therefore temporarily mad anger is a cause a pertinent cause of madness. Okay. So suffering people usually hear pain distress. When they hear the word suffering, that person is suffering. But that’s not actually what the word means to suffer means to undergo it means to lose agency.
So you can actually suffer joy. You can have so much joy that you sort of have lost control of yourself. You can have so much pleasure. It is not oxymoronic. If you say I’m suffering pleasure. It means I’m having so much pleasure that I’ve sort of lost control of the situation of the situation. Now, pain is a very powerful way of losing agency. Why, first of all, it’s highly disruptive. And secondly pain is associated usually with damage and damage as a state in which we’re often losing agency. So right. Don’t hear just pain. The Buddha is not saying everything’s painful. That’s ridiculous. Because if everything was painful, nothing would be painful.
Even all of your experiences can be painful. Doesn’t mean anything particular, because many of your experiences can’t be painful in and of themselves. Right? Because again, this isn’t an absolute kind of claim. Instead, pay attention to this connection. Rather than this one. Do you remember last video gave a parable of this suffering. It’s the monkey that grabs the pitch and then tries to free itself. And then the other hand gets stuck in both pause and head, and then it gets killed. There’s nothing in there of pain. Most of the Buddha’s metaphors are not pain. Metaphors they’re entrapment, metaphors being fettered, losing your freedom, losing your agency.
That’s why the Buddha doesn’t describe enlightenment in terms of relief, but he would famously say just like wherever you dip into the ocean, it has one taste, the taste of salt, no matter where you dip into my teaching, it has one taste. The taste of freedom. So what he seems to be saying is that all of your life is threatened with the possibility of losing your freedom. So let’s go from all his suffering to a provocation, realize that all of your life. Is threatened with a loss of freedom, a loss of agency. And there’s a word for this kind of loss. That’s often translated as suffering, which is Duca UK. Again does not mean pain. What does Duca mean? Well, the etymology is, imagine you have a wheel. And it’s off center on its axis. So the axle is not properly going through the center of the wheel. And as the wheel is turning, it’s destroying itself, there’s a self destructiveness or you have, your arm is out of joint. It’s disjointed. Like when, when Shakespeare has Hamlet says the time is out of joint. Right. It’s out of joint and as you’re moving your arm, it’s destroying itself. So it means like an empty gap that’s sort of dirty so that as things are moving within, it, they’re destroying themselves. So the idea of a, of something that’s engaged in the process of self-destruction, which of course is one of the powerful ways you can lose your agency is through self destructive processes.
It’s what’s going on here. So realize that all of your life is threatened. Very, really threatened existentially threatened by a capacity for self destructive behavior, self deceptive, self destructive behavior. So now you see what he’s doing is so situated very firmly within the actual tradition. So what, what does he mean here? How can we try and. I understand this a little bit better. So this is work, based, on some stuff I’ve published with Leo Ferraro. And then I’ll talk about some additional and important new worker by Mark Lewis. I want to try and trace, a kind of pattern. And your cognitive processing that can very often occur. And, and the, the core of the argument I want to make is the very processes that make you adaptively intelligent. And we’ve been talking about this from the beginning. Also make you vulnerable to self deceptive self destructive behavior. Okay. So let’s say you encounter an event. And you interpret the event is bad. Okay. Now, one of the adaptive machines you have is your brain immediately is trying to predict and anticipate other events like that. The point of. Right. You were encountering something potentially even painful or distressing is not just to, ah, it’s to make you sensitive in anticipating what’s going to happen in the future. Okay. So your brain now tries to assess the probability of another event like this happening. Now we’ll go into, we’ll get into this in more detail later, although we’ve talked a bit about it already with ideas about salience, right? Is. I can’t take it in all of the information available to me. If I was to try and calculate the actual probability event, I would have to track all the variables in my environment.
That’s astronomically vast. Even a supercomputer cannot possibly do this. Right. It’s the same. The thing is when we do probability problems in school, we are given all the variables by stipulation, but the real world doesn’t. Work that way. The real world has an indefinitely, large set of variables interacting in an indefinitely, large number of ways.
So what do we do? Well, we use what are called heuristics. We use shortcuts that try and help us cut through and zero in on the relevant data. The relevant information, as we’ve said before, the zeroing in on relevant information is crucial. So one of the things we do. As we use the representativeness heuristic, you judge how probable an event is by how prototypical it is, how salient it is, how much it stands out in your mind. Right. And that will often interact with another heuristic, the availability heuristic. This is you judge how probable an event is by how easy you can remember a similar event occurring or how easily you can imagine another event occurring.
So these are, these are actually very adaptive for you. Now, the problem is you’re in a bad state because you’ve just had something bad happen to you. And that, that triggers a thing called encoding specificity. When you’re sad, it’s very difficult to, for you to remember events in which you’re happy. It’s very easy for you to remember events in which you’re sad because that’s because your memory doesn’t just store the facts, installers, all that perspective will participatory knowing it also stores the state you are in this leads to very sort of paradoxical things. If you lose your keys, when you’re drunk, one of the things you should do. If you want to get your keys back, let’s get drunk again because chances are, it will improve your memory. If you’re studying for a test and you have a headache and you take some aspirin when you’re actually doing the test, take the aspirin because it will improve your performance.
I mean, so there’s classic experiments on this and one experiment, right? You have a bunch of people learning a set of words, right in the same room group, a and group B. And then. And the second part of the experiment group a does it in the same room group B does it in a different room. That’s the only difference in them group a will remember a significant, greater number of words than group B, just because they’re in the same room. Okay. Now this is very adaptive. You may say that’s crazy. No, it’s not because your brain is trying to always fit you to the environment. So it doesn’t just store information. It stores how you were fitted to the environment or the context is very adaptive. So now what’s happening here. Well, you’re in a bad state, so it’s easy for you to remember bad things.
That means it’s easy for you to remember bad things. And that means you judge the probability of bad things happening to be increasing. This bad thing just happened to you. So it’s very salient. Okay, that makes you judge that it’s much more probable it’s going to happen. And these are reinforcing each other. Now all of this it’s interacting with, what’s called the confirmation bias. We’ll go over a lot more of this later, when we talk about problem solving what this is, is an adaptive strategy you use, where you tend to only look for information that supports your current belief. Because very often trying to find this confirmation is takes too long and it’s very difficult and complex.
So we tend to look for what confirms. So now the confirmation bias now, as I’m going through my memory and my imagination, I will tend to look for things that confirm my forming judgment that this event is highly probable. Now all of this machinery can go awry. Right. All of these shooter mistakes will mislead you. It’s because of this heuristic that people make mistakes when they take loved ones to the airport and things like that. Right? Because we can imagine planes falling from the sky and when it does, it’s very representative for us. People describe it as a tragedy, it’s in the news. And so we judged air crane cry, airplane crashes, to be highly probable, even though they’re very low in probability.
But then we turn and get into an auto our automobile, which is the North American death machine without paying any attention to it. So we misjudged probabilities because of these heuristics. Now we can’t do without them. It’s like, when we talked about hyperbolic discounting, you can’t do without them. They’re adaptive. You need them. Let’s continue this. So these are all reinforcing each other, the confirmation bias. So now what do you do. You judge the probability to be great. okay. Notice how most of this is happening automatically in an self-organizing fascia that’s again, because imagine if I had to do everything fully consciously. Okay. I’m going to pick up the cup now. I know it needs to start tensing my upper bicep. I need to start moving my, if I had to move everything CA I couldn’t pick up the cup. I need my cognition to be inherently self-organizing. We’ve seen that throat the way in which your processes need to be happening simultaneously, bottom up and top down, like when you’re doing reading and you’re reading about the letters and the words your cognition needs to be self-organizing it needs to be largely automatic. These are adoptively indispensable for you. Okay, so you judge, the probability is great. Well, what effect is that judgment have on you? It’s not emotionally neutral. Okay. That makes you anxious. When your brain starts to conclude that the probability of negative events is high, you get anxiety. What does the anxiety do to you? Well, you lose cognitive flexibility.
Your, your framing on things becomes very narrow, very rigid, very limited. What does that do? Well that reduces your ability to solve problems. The ability to solve problems goes down.
Okay. What does that do for you? Okay. Is that those down, you start to make lots of mistakes and fail what does that do? Well, of course that increases your anxiety and that reinforces right. That bad events are happening to you.
What does all that too? Well, all of this starts to gather in your mind as I’m doomed, you get fatalistic. Well, if you’re living in a fatalistic world, you’re going to start interpreting more and more events, even neutral events as bad. And the whole thing starts to feed on itself. The very things that make you so intelligently adaptive, the fact that your cognition zeroes in on relevant information makes it salient.
The fact that it’s so complex, capable of complexifying itself and organizing itself, the fact that it is trying to fit you to the environment and process information in a way that’s doable within the real world, all these things that make you so adaptive simultaneously make you vulnerable to self deceptive self destructive behavior. That’s what it means to say all of your life is threatened. Realize that all of your life is threatened by Duca. It’s not that everything you’re doing is painful or distressing. That is ridiculous. That is a meaningless claim. It’s that every process you’re engaging, every time you’re exercising your intelligence agency, you’re making yourself vulnerable, the self deceptive self destructive processing.
We called this and. I mean, we published parasitic processing. It’s not just about bad events. This is just one example. We get into all kinds of these spirals. We’ll put up on the, on the video, a recent, schema for what depression looks like that was released by some MIT researchers, very complex like this, we call this parasitic processing because it’s like a parasite.
In that it takes up life within you and it right. Takes life away from you. It causes you to lose your agency. It causes you to suffer and here’s, what’s important. This capacity for your cognitive brain to be self organizing your listic using. Complexifying to create complex systems and functions with emergent abilities has a downside to it. Look, this is what you know, when you’re in one of these spirals you’ll know it. Oh no, here I go. Oh, no. Knowing it. What does it do for you? What does your belief do? It’s like knowing you, knowing that I should go outside the square, they go outside the box.
It doesn’t do anything. Why. This is a complex self-organizing adaptive system. If you try and intervene here, the rest of the system reorganizes itself around your attempted intervention, it can adapt and preserve itself as you try to destroy it. Why? Because it’s making sure it’s making use of the very machinery by which you adopt and make use of the things that are trying to destroy you.
It’s that’s how it works.
No matter where I am, this is a perennial threat. No matter what I am doing, this is always liable to happen. Now it’s interesting. like I said, my, my, my colleague and good friend, Mark Lewis, we’re talking about comparing this to other work that. He’s recently been doing. So some of you may know Mark Lewis, I highly recommend you take a look at his work.
Mark has been deeply influential in my own thinking and my ideas about dynamical processing self-organizing systems development. He is one of the foremost important neuroscientists about addiction and how addiction works in the world. I strongly recommend reading his book memoirs of an addicted brain. so Mark. was himself. I’m not disclosing anything confidential. Cause it’s right in the book, Mark was himself an addict in his youth and then he overcame his addiction. Then he went into neuroscience to try and figure out why, what is addiction? How does it work now? That’s important because addiction, right is addiction is primarily the loss of agency, right?
It’s not, I mean, addiction is distressing and painful. But when we’re talking about some being somebody being addicted, the way we finally diagnose them is by how dysfunctional they become, how much they lose their agency, right? So you are a video game addict. If you are playing video games to the point where you cannot pursue the goals you want to pursue in your life, you cannot establish and cultivate the relations you want to establish in your life.
You cannot. Cultivate the kind of character or identity you aspire to. If the video gaming is robbing you of those agentic processes, then of course, that is what we mean by addiction. Addiction is a loss of agency. Now, when you take a look at Mark’s work, Mark challenges, Mark Lewis, he challenges. Right. I just saw him give a talk. I’ve been having lunch with him, but I also saw him have just a really good talk at the society for psychology and philosophy or philosophy and psychology. We’ll get the order. Right. just this past year and. It, it, it, it, he was not the only person, making this point, but he articulated it with his own particular, explanation, which is his. So the point that many of people are making is the standard model of addiction is incorrect, fundamentally wrong. What’s the standard model. The standard model is we have a biophysical chemical dependency and when the chemical is removed, we get an overwhelming compulsion to have to seek out the chemical.
And if we don’t get the chemical, then we suffer a similar to as if we were starving from a lack of food. And if we, and so that’s what addiction is. And the problem with this is, it, it sounds very commonsensical and the media likes it. It has the one unfortunate feature of being almost completely false because first of all, you can get addicted to processes that have no biochemical basis like gambling.
For example, secondly, If the, if the overwhelming compulsion model was correct, you have a great deal of difficulty explaining some very, very pertinent facts. Most people spontaneously give up their addiction in their thirties. We of course get focused on the people who remain addicted. And therefore we come to believe that addiction is an overwhelming compulsion.
But if you actually track people, many people spontaneously stop being addicted. Here’s a great historical example. You have soldiers in Vietnam during the Vietnam war, getting addicted to opioids in Vietnam, the drug crisis. Not that it isn’t a crisis, but we tend to think that certain chemicals are intrinsically addictive. So. They get addicted to heroin when they returned to the United States, the vast majority of them spontaneously stop using the drug, but, but why chemical? Not in the body what’s going on. Isn’t there a biochemical lock and therefore a huge compulsion. Well think about it. Think about it in terms of existential learning. See when they were in Vietnam, they had a particular identity. They’re a soldier and they’re in a particular arena war. They’re in a particular existential mode when they returned to United States. They become a citizen, right. And a peaceful country.
The relationship between the agent in the arena is what is fundamentally being altered in addiction. So Mark proposes a model that he calls reciprocal narrowing. So here’s your agent and here’s the arena. And what happens is the drug use is a SU is, is, is associated with a particular agent arena relationship. And what happens is, and we talked about this before. Remember this has always co identification. We’re always assuming an identity and assigning identity in a code defining interdependent manner. What happens is you start to lose a little bit of your cognitive flexibility, perhaps due to something like this, as you lose your cognitive flexibility, the number of options in the world starts to decline, right? As the number of options, start to decline you lose. The variability for your agency, as you get a tighter, narrower, less flexible cognitive agency, the number of options in the world goes to.
And what happens is these two things reciprocally narrow to where you have no options as to who you could be or how the world could be. And that’s addiction. It is an, it is a learned, not propositionally learn. Perspectively participatory learning of a loss of agency. I pointed out to Mark that if this is the case, there must be an opposite. If there’s a spiral down, there must be a spiral up. And in personal communication just recently, he said, yes, yes, totally. And you know what that spiraling up with be what would be the agent arena relationship in which the agency and the world are expanding. That’s Anna Gaga. That’s the move towards enlightenment.
What I want you to understand is Duka is these two things, cause they’re interpenetrating this loss of agency, because this, this is your agency. As you’re simultaneously doing parasitic processing within you’re doing reciprocal narrowing without those that are totally reinforcing each other. That’s Duca. And no matter where you turn, this is always threatening. You can’t get free of that. You can’t run away from it. You can’t deny it. Remember the Buddha tried self denial. This is like trying to hop over your shadow. You can’t do it because it is endemic. All of this is endemic. This is the agent arena relationship you can’t do away with this. This isn’t dispensable to be you being a person. This is self-organizing relevance realizing complexifying processing. You can’t get away from that because that is what makes you adaptive. So what do you do? That’s what the Buddha meant. When you realize that all of your life is threatened by Duka, he didn’t mean believe that all of life is suffering.
What we need is how do we address. Yes. Well, once you realize it as a provocation, once I should, like the point is you should feel threatened. You should feel threatened because if I can make you feel threatened by what I’ve just done here, how close and intimate this threat is to you, then you’re starting to enact. The process of moving towards enlightenment rather than just asserting some propositions that are largely inert. What is the standard way of presenting? The second truth suffering is caused by desire and that gets you into all kinds, problems. Cause then, well don’t, but don’t, I desire enlightenment, but then you should not desire to do. And then you can just get into all these weird loops and write a better way of thinking about it is realized that Duca can be understood.
I realize that Duca is caused by the way, in which you can become attached, which doesn’t mean, right. That you just really like something. It means this sense of a narrowing of yourself and the world. So that agency and options are lost the way the addict is attached to their drug, which is not a compulsive desire, although they will experience it that way.
It is better understood as a parasitic processing that has led to a reciprocal narrowing so that no alternatives. Are available to you? The third, the traditional presentation is the cessation of suffering is attainable, but realize a better way of putting that is realize that you can recover your agency because this narrowing down. Can also, you can use the shame machinery to Anna Gaga, CLIA ascend out of the cave towards the sun of enlightenment. Realize that this machinery, this complex machinery, this dynamical system can be exacted in a way that reduces your capacity for self deception. Why, how, how do I address this?
As psycho technology, the Buddha offered a psycho technology of practices. You know, how you deal with a complex dynamical system that is operating against you by cultivating a counteractive dynamical system that is operating for you. You cultivate a dynamical system that doesn’t intervene just here or here, one at a time, like your efforts I’ll try this or that doesn’t work. I’ll try this because every time I intervene, it just reconfigures and I’m doing the same damn thing again, here I am in this fourth relationship doing the same damn thing again, and I know I’m doing it and yet what I try and not do it. I find myself doing it. That will not work. That’s why people end up in therapy. But what if I could create a dynamical system that could interact intervene here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, simultaneously. And in a coordinated fashion, what have I created? A counteractive dynamical system. And that it opera and that didn’t operate just at the level of my beliefs, but operated at the level of my States of consciousness and my traits of character. That’s what the Buddha offered. He offered the eightfold path.
The eightfold path is a counteractive dynamical system that counteracts peracetic processing and does reciprocal opening beyond the ego self and beyond the everyday world. That’s why it’s represented by an eight spoked wheel.
Okay. It’s supposed to be. A self organizing system that rolls itself in which each part is interdependent on all the other parts you might have heard it. The eightfold path is to cultivate right. Understanding, right. Thinking there’s various translations of this, right. Sometimes right. Aspiration, right. Thought right. Speech, right. Action. Right. Livelihood. And then right. Mindfulness and right concentration. We already talked about this saying there’s right. Mindfulness and right. Concentration means there’s incorrect to one thing. This right. Is not moral righteousness. This is right, like right. Handedness. It means getting an optimal grip because that’s what my right hand is an expert in doing. It means getting an optimal grip. Notice, this is about your cognition. Yes. Right? It’s about your character. And this is about your consciousness and a deals with ethical aspects, existential aspects, sappy Angele aspects. It is the attempt to give you a counteractive dynamical system. That can deal with parasitic processing and that can help you reverse the reciprocal narrowing until you get an, a garlic awakening that takes you beyond the prison of the ego and the everyday world.
So we, we see what’s happening here. What I’m trying to show you is this one. Higher state of consciousness. This awakening is set into a context of helping you do important transformations. It helps you to remember the being mode to get out of modal confusion. It helps you counteract parasitical processing and reciprocal narrowing. It helps thereby to open you up. To self-transcendence in a reliable and powerful way. This is what the Buddha was offering people. And I’ve tried to explain it to you in a way such that both you should feel threatened by what he is trying to provoke in you, and you should be encouraged. Both of these are enactment statements. You should be able to enact the threat and enact the courage, encouragement, and knack thing. The courage that you can respond to the parasitic processing and the reciprocal narrowing in your own life, to the modal confusion in your own life.
Part of what we need to understand is how we can properly integrate this into what we have been learning about wisdom and meaning. In the Mediterranean cultural historical context and how all of that can be integrated within a current scientific worldview. Thank you very much for your time and attention.