Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Talking to Myself

Do you exist? You can say that you exist, but it could just be my mind having you say you exist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

46 comments:

Ru said...

The curious thing to me isn't that we think others exist, but that we think we ourselves exist! Whatever gave us that idea?

Truth Practitioner said...

I have thought about this before. I found that there is no way to dismiss this concept. It might just be true.

Sophia said...

Ru,

Perhaps it's the thought alone that causes us to believe we exist. Kind of like, "I think, therefore I am."

utenzi said...

Stacey--you shouldn't take my words too seriously. ;-)

Cogito ergo sume?

RedBark said...

Another way to look at it is, "To what extent do you exist?"

Clearly there is some mechanism here that can read and respond to your posts. A computer could do that without any self awareness.

The more that I exist the more I am aware of myself as I do these things.

Sophia said...

Beard,

Even if you were to stand in front of me, look me in the eyes and say, "I exist." How could *I* know that you exist? You could just be a figment of my imagination.

Let's put it this way, if I looked at you and said, "Beard, I exist." How could you prove that I exist? By touching me? How would you know that sense of touch is not a creation of your mind?

Sophia said...

Utenzi,

Cogito ergo sume? You keep giving me things to Google!! ;)

RedBark said...

Now that I noticed your link to solipsism I have a different understanding of the question.

Here is a theory.

There are different levels of reality(or illusion).

On the scale of God you are alone in the universe. However our awareness is of a different(illusury)level.

To be practical(and effective) we must think of our existance in terms of the level of illusion in which we find ourselves. Otherwise it is like using a map of the solar system to find Indiana.

It is practical to think in terms of relative reality instead of absolute reality. In this way it is possible to know what is more real and what is less real and which way to go to eventually reach the ultimate reality.

Can you think of examples of things that are more real and things that are less real?

Sophia said...

I can't think of anything that is (seems) more real. But perhaps a dreamer sees a pig flying and thinks upon waking, "But pigs can't fly!" It would seem less real. But how do we know the dream world *isn't* real? What if it is just as or more real than our waking reality?

RedBark said...

Stacey,

Regarding your last post.

Yes, you are right. I am most likely a figment of your imagination. Meher Baba said that all but love is imagination and I tend to beleive it.

But how does this knowledge help you to escape from illusion? We need a map of our illusions showing what is more real and less real in order to move toward the real.

RedBark said...

Take it more simply.

Seeing a pig is a more real experience of the pig than just imagining it. It is not so obvious but we have trouble distinguishing between reality(the pig we are looking at) and imagination.

Sophia said...

I doubt that this knowledge will help me to escape from my illusion. (I'm just exploring.)

We definitely need a map such as what you mentioned. But such map does not exist. :(

Sophia said...

But what if the pig we are looking at is also imagination? And what if you and I are also a creation of an imagination?

RedBark said...

It is strange to be having two conversations with the same person at the same time.

Re: Last(13:51) post.
Yes even the pig that you are seeing with your own eyes is ultimately not real. But it is more real than a pig that you just imagined.

Thoughts are less real than the things they refer to because they are representations instead of the original thing.

RedBark said...

"Aiyee", said the pirate.

"There IS a map, and I've seen it with mine eyes" Arrrrh.

Sophia said...

"X marks the spot," said the pirate's first mate. :)

RedBark said...

"Aiyee, and jolly good first mate too!"

Castor said...

Yes, I exist. "I think therefore I am." But I am made up of thoughts, and therefore illusory.
Illusions exist too.
When I fall in deep sleep or coma, then I don't exist anymore.
I am as good as dead unless I start dreaming, lucid or nightmarish, and eventually wake up. Being asleep is therefore like being dead.
All of these is true, more or less, assuming I am not the mind or the body. The mind is just a mind. The body is just a body.
And I am just thoughts, opinions, feelings, habits, actions, and reactions. I am the content of the mind or consciousness. The mind is the body in action.
I am the programs in the human computer or brain. I am what society programmed me into thinking. Therefore I am a child of society and society itself inside this mind/body.

Castor said...

If I stop thinking, then I don't exist anymore.
If I stop thinking about myself, then I also don't exist anymore as far as I am concerned.
If I stop identifying myself with anything, then I don't have a notion of self or self anymore.
What is left in this mind are just thoughts and opinions.
This is what the idea of enlightenment is all about.

RedBark said...

Hello Castor,

What if you stop thinking but are still aware of yourself? Do you exist?

Much more I think because the thoughts themselves are the illusions.

"I do NOT think, therefor I am"

Castor said...

Beard,
"What if you stop thinking but are still aware of yourself? Do you exist?"
Being aware of yourself entails that you know who you are, or at
least have a notion of self. Otherwise you cannot be aware of "yourself". You have to have thoughts about who you are. You didn't stop thinking. If you stopped thinking, then you were a complete "blank." Just awareness of things and other things.

RedBark said...

Castor,

"If you stopped thinking, then you were a complete "blank." Just awareness of things and other things."

According to my understanding this is the aim of Zen Buddhism.

Computer said...

To Beard's computer,
Perhaps. There is some knowledge of Zen inside this computer. But not enough.
What was said is probably more like opinions based on facts and a little bit of logical thinking.

RedBark said...

Dear Computer,

You are right that I know little of Zen. I have only read a few books about about it and practiced some on my own.

Never the less I do have a some understanding that I am more than my thoughts and that awareness exists independantly of thought. I was simply trying to demonstrate that this is a common esoteric idea.

Do you agree that awareness is independant of thought?
Perhaps you can offer a better example?

Castor said...

"Do you agree that awareness is independant of thought?
Perhaps you can offer a better example?"
Perhaps. Not necessarily. There is an idea that if you cannot identify, you cannot be aware.
Again not necessarily. If a thing is not known or identified, it can probably still be seen. And the question that comes to mind is "what is it?". But then only because it comes under the category of "things unknown".
There is probably awareness of "what is" but it cannot be known.
Enlightenment is not the same as Zen. Zen is not necessarily enlightenment. There is no need of going "blank" or losing your sense of self or even stopping thought. There is simply realization that the self is made up of thoughts and nothing else.
What happens next, remains to be seen. "Will you take yourself seriously after this?" is a good question that comes to mind.

RedBark said...

Castor,

I have to say that I can not recall hearing this before. "the self is made up of thoughts and nothing else"

Is there some literature along these lines that you can recommend?

What I have seen for myself is that my thoughts occur automatically(without consciousness) and they are the illusions that keep me from experiencing reality.(ie awareness of myself and my surroundings.) I mean this at the simple level of not realizing that I am here typing at my keyboard right now because I am imagining how you and others will respond to this post.

It occurs to me that for all I know, God or the ultimate reality may exist only as "thought", but those thoughts would be completely different from the type of thoughts that I have. Just a theory.

Castor said...

Beard,
Sorry, just came back from another blog.

"What I have seen for myself is that my thoughts occur automatically(without consciousness..."

It is not necessary to be aware of all your thoughts, etc.
Just like the computer is not aware of every single step of every program. These thoughts have been programmed or inputted sometime ago and are still in the memory as beliefs, opinions, habits, knowledge and experience. No one even knows how it works. It just works.

"Is there some literature along these lines that you can recommend?"

These thoughts are my own insights based on other peoples' ideas. These people are everywhere in all walks of life.
All life is my teacher. And I think for myself.

"What is" or reality is something we don't really know. Just call it: The Unknown God! This doesn't prevent you from believing in it and worshipping it.

Anonymous said...

Yes/No

How do you define EXIST ?

And...are you very certain that I am not you?

When you say that I don't exist and believe it, do I disapear?

RedBark said...

Castor,

Seems like my last post did not take.

Thanks for the chat. You have given me another point of view to ponder.

Talk to you later.

Anonymous said...

Re: last comment

The annonymous comment was in respose to Stacy's original writings, "Talking to Myself".

In the context of Beard's and Castor's discussion it seems out of context.

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

I define "exist" as being real.

I have to say that I am not entirely sure that you are not me. Just as I am uncertain that I am not you. Truthfully, right now (and it's always subject to change..these things...), right now I feel like we are all each other. It's just something I sense.

If I said you didn't exist, it would be hard for me to believe because I'd still see you with my eyes. But let's just say that I could really make myself believe you didn't exist. I don't think you'd disappear. I think it could just be a trick my mind is playing with me, making me see you.

utenzi said...

The issues that Castor brings up were tackled to varying degrees of success by David Hume in the late 1700s. He was an Empiricist that was troubled with how to reconcile defining our existance purely by sense data and memory. Berkeley did it with God but Hume was an atheist so he needed some other justification.

Rob said...

There is something in all of us that is beyond the duality of 'existing' or 'not existing'.Intellect cannot solve this riddle -but the heart can...through meditation.

Incidentally in one of my earliest posts (DEC 04)I wrote, "I thank therefore I am." I suggest that it is only when we are grateful that we KNOW we exist.

Castor said...

Beard,
To resume our discussion:
"What if you stop thinking but are still aware of yourself? Do you exist?"
By "yourself" you probably mean
the self-image, or the mind, or the body. This is quite understandable because most of the time we still identify with our self-image,(which could be vague and outdated), or with our mind, or simply with our body. But we must not forget that the identification process is a thinking process, no matter which idea or object we identify with.
You are entitled to identify yourself with anything, of course.
But since we are trying to find out if the self really exist or not, it's probably a good idea to find out if we could stop identifying with anything. Perhaps if we could, then the self will cease to exist.
You can start by saying: I am not the body... I am not the mind...
I am not the awareness... I am not the observer...there is only the observed...there is only "what is", and on and on.
This is what the Hinduists and Buddhists are trying to achieve thru meditation, I'm afraid.
Is it really possible to rid oneself of the self or self-image?
Logically speaking, the self cannot get rid itself of itself, unless we talk of two different selves, the higher and the lower, the greater, and the lesser, which is a form of "dualism" or "schizophrenia", which could lead to a lot of suppressing and conflict.
Personally, I believe it is not possible for the self or self-image to disappear, or dissolve into nothingness, all the time, or for good. Unless we become "amnesiac" or we stop thinking altogether for good. This would be like "living dead". Not necessarily an enlightened state.
The most possible solution to this problem is not to try at all, but just to realize that we have a self or sense of self, whatever it maybe, and that this notion is a product of thinking.
Hence, the advice to be yourself (as much as possible).
Knowing the self is made up of thoughts and nothing more, we can asssume that it is illusory. It can just come and go and come again. In other words, we are born, we die, and get born again all the time, which is not such a bad idea. The same thing is true of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. They just come and go and come again.
This idea shouldn't prevent enlightenment from occuring, if there is such a thing.
In other words, the self or notion of self remains and remains illusory, which could be taken as a form of enlightenment.
Just like we can have thoughts and still be free of their tyranny!

RedBark said...

Castor,

I enjoy theorizing about the ultimate nature of things or what is the nature of the self. However it is more pracitcal, for one who wishes to awaken, to think about what he can do here and now to be more awake here and now.

I am learning how to be more awake in little steps and I expect the process to continue indefinately.

What we "believe" or theorize has little impact on the practical problem of awakening(except that you must believe that you can do it)

At my current level I can see that thoughts(particularly uncontrolled thoughts) are preventing me from being aware of my self or anything else that is in front of me. For this reason I try to let them go as quickly as possible and return to the present. In this sense I am more real without my thoughts.

Perhaps I have extrapolate this to the point where God is pure awareness without thoughts. This view is purely theoretical and of little value. However I see no reason why pure awareness would be insufficient. In my experience more awareness and less thoughts/doing is always better.


btw I have never heard anyone say anything like "I am not the awareness". Please send me references if you find any.

Castor said...

"At my current level I can see that thoughts(particularly uncontrolled thoughts) are preventing me from being aware of my self or anything else that is in front of me."

This is probably where the problem lies. We think it is about controlling or suppressing thoughts and concentrating.
It is more like observing thoughts, without judgement.
For one thing, you must observe without interfering, as this could lead to being caught and being carried away by them. It's more like seeing but ignoring them. The idea or technique, if you want to use one, is not to get involved with your thoughts. By controlling them, you get controlled by them. Therefore, the "technique" of meditation doesn't always work if you practice for the wrong reason and in the wrong way. I also believe it is not a question of technique or practice.
It is a question of finding out what these thoughts, or "myself" really is all about. Hence, the advice, know thyself! It can be enlightening. But please don't analyze, judge, or condemn.
Simply be aware of it and nothing more.

If you want to go deeper into this, I suggest you read "The Unfettered Mind" by Takuan Soho, Writings of A Zen Master to a Sword Master. Bear in mind that this is the context of the Martial Arts.

Castor said...

"btw I have never heard anyone say anything like "I am not the awareness". Please send me references if you find any."

I am afraid identifying with "awareness" is not the right choice.
Awareness is just awareness. And is devoid of self. To identify with it is give it a sense of self or selfishness. I mean trying to control awareness to achieve something like being pure, kind, or good. For a moment let's forget about becoming saints. Let's just observe what we really are without too much judgement and condemnation.

RedBark said...

Castor,

I feel that you have twisted my words a bit.

I said:
"I try to let them go as quickly as possible and return to the present."

This is not an attempt to "contol" them. Rather it is ignoring them as you suggest, or (perhaps a bit more pro-active,)changing the subject to "attempting to be in the present."

I did not mean to say that awareness is an appropraite identity or identification. Rather, I meant that awareness is what is left when there is not identification. The statement "I am this awareness" would indeed be identification with awareness.

I would like to read the book you recommended. Thank you for the recommendation.

It is too bad that we argue about these things when it is most likely that we have the same values and same thing in mind. But it seems ineveitable when I consider that we are so far from being fully developed beings. Only children really.

Castor, Don't you have a blog? If so I would like to visit it. We should discuss other things besides metaphysics.

Castor said...

I think everything depends on how much value we give to ideas and opinions. We can say the same thing about ourselves. How much value do we put on our self-image.
Arguments are often unavoidable; and often they are not meant to be
personal. Sometimes we give too much meaning to what we think is going on. When in fact, it's just some ideas being compared to other ideas. Just opinions!
I'm afraid I am not ready to start a blog. I also would like to remain anonymous, as a matter of principle.
I would like to visit your blog now and then and post some comments, if necessary.
By the way you maybe able to find an online copy of the book and even a pdf version, if you search the internet.
Be natural and be yourself. That's the most important advice I can give you. Perhaps you are already enlightened!
Many thanks to Stacey for letting this happen!

RedBark said...

Castor,

Yes arguements are fine if they are more or less intelligent. But most often they are simply each person taking the opposite view without giving much or any thought to what has been said(This has no value.) Or worse they are just a battle to build ones own ego at the expense of another.(self-destructive) I know that I do this. Perhaps over time I will do it less.

You can have an anonymous blog as I do. I would be interested to know what "principles" you are refering to.

I did not find a text of the book in the first 50 returns on Google. If you find one please let me know. I doubt that it is possible to find anything for free that is copyrighted and written in the last 100 years.

I can say with full confidence that I am fast asleep(99% of the time). I consider that knowledge an asset.
(God within me is probably not asleep, but the I that is speaking is not that).

You are encouraged to visit my blog and comment. I will try to keep the content coming.

Yes. Thank you Stacey for providing this forum for us.

Sophia said...

You don't have to thank me. You know I like conversation so comments and discussions are always welcome.

Anonymous said...

Beard and Stacey,

Try this link:
http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kendo/TheUnfetteredMind.pdf

Don't blame me!

Anonymous said...

Beard and Stacey,

Try this link:
http://www.angelfire.com/
extreme4/kendo/
TheUnfetteredMind.pdf

Don't blame me!
Sorry about that.

Sophia said...

I don't know about you guys, but I can't get the link to open. My Adobe Reader says, "The file cannot be found". Maybe you could try reposting it or double-checking that the file is there?

Beard, did it work for you?

Sophia said...

By the way, I did a search on Google for that pdf file and it gave me the same link. For some reason it works when I go to it from Google. But just in case, here it is again in clickable format in case anyone wants to read it. (I'll probably read it after I read the book I'm reading right now.)

http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kendo/TheUnfetteredMind.pdf

RedBark said...

Wow! Thanks Anonymus.

Yes Stacey I was able to open the file by copy and pasting, but thanks for the thought.

Castor,

I just read the first few pages but so far it looks quite helpful. For me it is a slightly different way of valueing the idea of not identifying with thoughts(monkeys). I will certainly read the rest soon.

Thanks