Bon Voyage to The Three Principles: Kissing Goodbye

 

From a recording: “If you’re listening to this in your car and you find yourself in a beautiful feeling, roll down your window, pop the tape out of the tape player, and throw it out the window. Stay with the feeling, and it will teach you everything you need to know.”
~ Sydney Banks

Dear Friend –

This was going to be a private message but got too long to send as text, and will be the same for all my friends, so is going here on my blog (which hopefully soon will be re-organized so folks, including myself, cam find things more easily!).

This is just a convenience notice for you regarding future communications, and an update, if anyone cares (haha) about these matters and philosophies.

I just wanted to let you know, I left the “What The F*#$ Are The Principles?” Three Principles Psychology (3P) spiritual psychology (life coaching, etc.) group on FaceBook, and similar 3P groups. That is, I am no longer receiving notifications or seeing postings.

The experience has served its purpose, was a great growth one for my writing, reflecting and sharing, but I’ve “moved on” as they say, and this for for the 3P community in general, unless people want to contact me. I’m not seeking or reaching out to help unless asked. (I also don’t look at the FaceBook news stream in general, so don’t know what’s going on with “others”).

We grow or achieve in whatever area we put our energies towards, and where we focus. This goes for self-realization and happiness too (I’m not even seeking personal relationships anymore: I now know where happiness is, and is not, and it’s certainly not in the objects, the constantly changing forms in Consciousness:  people, places and things!)

The recent experiences with this group (and some of the connections and interconnections with related people and posting and groups), were the “capping off” of 21 years of involvement in the Three Principles community, starting with a dream that revealed true innate Peace to me, then Richard Carlson’s books, Darlene Stuart and Rick Suarez, Ph.D. Roger C. Mills, Ph.D. book “Sanity, Insanity and Common Sense”, the Psychology of Mind Centre (POM) in Australia (and Oregon) and the POM Conference, Roger Mills (rest in peace) and Ami Chen Mills-Naim in Santa Cruz, and George Pransky (bless them all), beginning in 1997. I’ve written elsewhere about that involvement so won’t go deeply into it here. Also deserving mention from later years (in the mid 2000s or so) for their one-on-one coaching are George Pransky’s daughters Kara Stamback and Erika Bugbee (briefly, via phone or email), and more in-depth on-going dialogues with Mark Howard and Annika Hurwitt. 

Since I’m not a professional in the field or a related field, there’s no point doing it: was hearing lots of noise and/or lots of the same thing, and spending lots of time and energy helping to clear things up or help folks see clear and more directly but it’s like bailing out the ocean (of ignorance) with a measuring cup (and my views on the 3P are here in various articles on this blog or posted on Group With No Name on Facebook, so I won’t go into them here).

I sometimes used the discussions as inspiration for articles but I’ve seen enough now that activity can go on on its own. The patterns and beliefs and assumptions are there and coalesce around certain topics.

And I was seeing lots of entrenched positions, interests, agendas and egos too. And the love of the ego for drama, conflict and arguments was witnessed as well. I saw politics arising, as if it were religious factions or schisms at war with each other (it’s really the ego at work – it has to maintain its separateness and it takes constant energy and repetition, recycling, to maintain the false and illusory).

Was fun but I’d rather devote energy to “Self-realization” (even though there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do, on this here Direct Path that descended upon my life from Nowhere) and my friends and community of Truth lovers spawned by my friends Francis & Laura Lucille and others where I meet them, such as in non-duality circles, including from the 3P who’ve matured or graduated too, or are able to put Syd’s message and the 3P in perspective, without rigidity. Besides, “principles” are too rigid: Truth is absolutely free, and completely adaptable.

Mostly at this stage it’s about seeing Truth directly and in silence from the One true teacher, Reality. It might involve communication or it might simply be Being and letting the universe vibrate to that tune… that is also helpful, since all is connected and inseparable.

That being said, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line about meetings or interesting or fun things going on. I can always ignore you if I want. 🙂

Peace, Love, Beauty and all that good stuff,
Eric Platt

…The real bliss lies deep, deep, within yourself. Like a hidden treasure. This is why we talk like this. Get rid of Santa Claus, get rid of the Buddha, get rid of Robert get rid of everybody. For as long as you see an image you are evading your bliss. You keep evading the bliss that you are and you keep identifying with images. All of the images must go. Especially the images of yourself that you are a walking breathing person. If that goes everything else will go also.
Remember also all the so called happy things of this world only exist for a short time before they change into something else. Therefore you want to find your bliss. Which is total absolute reality. Once you can discover this bliss, what can ever make you sad again, nothing. For this bliss is not like human happiness. Human happiness is kindergarten compared to this bliss. This bliss is your birth right, this is what you are. Unconditioned bliss.”
~ Robert Adams

Notes on Prophets, Mystics, Sages, Philosophers and All That Good Stuff

Last night I watched an entertaining musical from the 70’s, Jesus Christ Superstar. I saw it when I was a kid. Very enjoyable music and great lyrics.
Then for something less dramatic and more meditative before bed, I read some of The Gospel of Thomas until I got sleepy. (http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html)

My reflections this morning:

In those densest of times, such as when the Buddha appeared – heavy civilizations full of complex organizations, thinking, rituals, ideas, political structures, social patterns; heavy with unconscious patterns, the past (held thoughts form sense-mind)
come these prophets
Jesus in Roman times, certainly full of politics and strife, tension, materialism, organization, culture, intricacy of thinking, language
Mohamad into tribal dirt and chaos?
Heavy with beliefs, superstitions, presumptions and assumptions

How is a prophet or a sage different from a philosopher? A philosopher examines the current thinking, looks at what other philosophers have said, and reshapes it as best he can, getting insights and new thoughts along the way to clarify and possibly enlighten, creating new shapes, like new pottery
Whereas what does a sage do? Does he break the pot? A sage reveals the light and the clay that is making all pots, now, in timeless Reality. And takes no credit for it since he and the light and clay-maker are the same, whereas the philosopher has his object and himself and the potter, and ponders where it all came from and where it is going.

Perhaps this is the esoteric meaning behind these lines from The Gospel of Thomas:

(16) Jesus said, “Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary.”

(http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gthlamb.html)

But now, today, isn’t a time in history when a singular prophet would be accepted. They would be drowned out in the noise, and considered crazy. It’s a worldwide culture, interconnected with media and networks and subtle ideas. It’s more a time when the sages sprout like mushrooms in fields where countless shapes emerge, part of an overall pattern. We are now billions of people, spread over a planet, with rapid communication, not local tribes where word spreads slowly, by mouth or by clay or papyrus carried by hand or oxcart or horse or boat.
Today the world brain can be easily fed, a vast pool at its fingertips at any time, keeping the mind distracted, worried, preoccupied, fulfilling needs, desires, greed and fear. Always thinking of the future (or the past – the future thinking built from images, thoughts from the past) which never arrives, trying to secure a material condition in order to free the present, continuity is attempted by effort. The same movement of energy that’s always been, in a different form.

But in this world, whose nature is duality, there are always two sides to a situation. While there is more to pull the mind into distraction and preoccupation and not being present (speed and quantity of thinking added to), there is also the possibility of worldwide communion – video conferences and email at the speed of light – a richness of ideas (pointing to truth if one is seeking and open), and metaphors and analogies of virtual realities and game worlds that point to the nature of this field of seeming reality, and free the soul from the mind. Larger worldly ambitions are balanced by larger spiritual ambitions. The more the spiritual or metaphysical seems like they are remnants of the past, delusions, old ways of thinking, seen by the cynical, the skeptical and the scientific materialism and consumerism as laughable, contemptuous, silly, voodoo, “woowoo”; the more thinking swings one way, deeper into a dream, that which is real and awake becomes an interest intensified somewhere else, like a string being stretched on a bow, where tension is created in the distance between where the arrow pushes it out and the point of attachment at the bow end. When the arrow is released, it goes even farther. The fractal just is bigger and more elaborate, but it’s ultimate nature overall never changes. The hologram has more points and deeper circles, but is the same hologram.

“Nothing ever changes” can be read either as a sad commentary on the state of affairs of the world, or as a statement of truth about the happy fact that what Is, never dies.

Intuitive Intelligence

“Ordinary intelligence is a cerebral function. It appears as the faculty of adaptation and organization. It allows complex problems to be handled by bringing into play a large quantity of givens. Linked to heredity and to acquired conditioning of the brain, it operates sequentially, in time. This kind of intelligence is responsible for performing math calculations, formulating logical arguments, or playing tennis. Operating like a super-computer, it excels in accomplishing repetitive tasks and may one day be surpassed by machines. Its source is memory, the known.

Intuitive intelligence appears as understanding and clarity. It is responsible for seeing simplicity in apparent complexity. It strikes directly, in the moment. Always creative, free of the known, it is at the heart of all scientific discoveries and great works of art. Its source is the supreme intelligence of timeless awareness.”  – Francis Lucille,   Eternity Now

This innate intelligence is something that mystic and prominent healer Sydney Banks talked about quite often (an entire field of alternative psychology and life coaching was spawned from his teachings: Three Principles Psychology). He would call it “natural intelligence” (which is a misnomer because they are both natural), versus learned intelligence. Or “plain old common sense”. He also spoke of seeing in simplicity all complexity:

“Your eyes must see in the singular if you want to find truth.” The Missing Link (p. 69)

By “eyes” of course he didn’t mean the physical eyes, but the eyes of our awareness.

One of the reasons I left the academic philosophy department was that I saw very clearly (had a massive intuition to be honest – still unfolding to this day, in this essay, 30 years later) that the academic mind, particularly in Western philosophy and psychology, had lost its soul as it were, become alienated from true first-hand experience, and only recognized “knowledge” repeated from the past, in part or in whole. This could be called a machine-type intelligence, a processing intelligence, and not intuition. I also see there was a clear reason for this prejudice or taboo: intuition, seen deeply enough, throws into question all the assumptions about the nature of intelligence and who and what we are and what reality is, since it is a direct knowledge, straight from the unlimited source, the universal Mind. That is, from Reality.

“To see a light, no other light is needed.
So also, the Self being self-effulgent, needs no other means of knowledge.
It shines of itself.” – Atma Bodha by Shankara, translated by Ramana Maharshi

But academia is committed to the material and pseudo-scientific model that reality is built up from little parts and the operation of those parts to create life, intelligence, and everything. They believe in something called “matter”, even though the physicists haven’t found it yet. It’s a faith, and I lost faith when I saw directly their dogmatism and was criticized and put down for questioning their dream of salvation in finding the ultimate material model in the future. I saw clearly that that model can’t account for my experience (what I later called “Consciousness” – that wasn’t even in the vocabulary in academia), or intuitive intelligence. This intuitive intelligence is also one and the same as the source of creativity, was operative in the formation of the first living organisms, for the creative evolution of infinite life forms, for love, for beauty, or the perception of self-evident truth of logic, reason and common sense. They had their heads up their respective asses, in short. It was a big ego game. A merry-go ‘round re-playing the same questions and answering with the same re-used tokens of “knowledge”, hollow as a coin with a hole in the middle.

After that I became interested in a more applied philosophy: the question “how to be happy,” rather than the just more cerebral and academic puzzles. As it turned out, within the realization of intuitive intelligence, is the answer to that question.

“The ego concept is the root cause of all delusion and therefore, all trouble. It is the false identifying of “I” with a body rathe than with the Self.”
– Lester Levenson, from Keys to Ultimate Freedom

However I didn’t know how to access this intuitive or natural intelligence and freedom reliably. There seemed to be interference. This “noise” I was to understand later, is a very ancient habit, laid down over millions of years as we were evolving, as a survival program. This linear program (as contrasted with the non-linear one of intuitive intelligence) – this surviving through *time* – allowed plants, animals, and humans to continue through time and space, and is the imprint of the past that brought us to the shore – the shore of the Absolute – on which I stand now as I write this. It’s the mind’s story of what we are as a body and a world, a universe seemingly “out there”: the world of appearances (of phenomena). It’s the story we learned in school and from books and was reinforced by teachers, students, friends, society, family, and so on. It’s a beautiful and brilliant story, but it’s ultimately just a story. Useful up to a point, but limited. Fear and desire lurk inside it – maintain it.

“The ego dies hard. But once you know the ego is the source of all misery and the Self is the source of all happiness, the it shouldn’t be too hard to work at letting of of the ego.” – Lester Levenson, from Keys to Ultimate Freedom

The interesting thing is that this intuitive intelligence has always been there, and peeks out in moments of love, of the perception of timeless beauty, in moments of clear understanding that come to us out of the blue, and in remarkable experiences of serendipity, and in so-called psychic phenomenon such as premonitions (which are really just a peek behind the curtain to the fact that there is no real separation in reality – no space or time except from the mind).

Can all of this be proved? Only for yourself, in your own experience. It cannot be proved to the mind, the processing mind, because the mind operates only in time and space, like a computer.

“Getting involved in intellectual questions and discussions validates the ego and avails you nothing.” – Lester Levenson, from Keys to Ultimate Freedom

This is not to say that intellectual discussion is not fun, enjoyable, and useful at the “level” of the relative (levels are only a way of seeing). The intellect is a beautiful and incredible tool, and can even be used to un-do false beliefs, or build toys or tools in the world of phenomena, and see it’s relatively sustained laws, such as in physics. But ultimately it is like becoming mesmerized by surface patterns on a ocean, when what you want, what you are, is found by looking inside, in silence, and know the ocean (sorry for re-using a popular over-used metaphor, but it’s a good one!).

Intuition or direct knowledge gives you a shortcut through time. It’s like God giving you a free pass. It’s what’s called the “vertical dimension” by psychologists (for instance George Pransky) interested in human potential. It’s easy – effortless. The only hard part is the seeming difficulty of letting go of the ego. Another name for ego is “who you think you are,” as opposed to who you are before thinking.

Have you ever noticed how the answer to a hard problem you’d been working on, or actively analyzing, or something you were trying to remember but couldn’t, came to you after you stopped struggling and working on it, stopped effort-ing? The answer came while you were doing the dishes, taking a shower, walking, or while driving, when your mind was relaxed or focused on something in the flow.

Those who are in the habit of questioning and skeptically objectifying may be asking, well why would Intelligence or Consciousness hide itself or make it hard to to realize the Self or intuitive knowledge? The answer is that this is nearly the same in essence, as the age old question about the existence of evil (if God is infinitely good and powerful then why is there suffering and evil?). That’s a question to be answered in an entire chapter, but for now, by analogy let’s say “Why do you look in a mirror? Why do you like stories and dramatic music?” Why do you like to have fun and not be bored? And as a corollary why do you take life so seriously?

Why do we like to fight, argue, create conflict? Why do we love to be miserable (admit it, when you are totally honest in your heart), be victims, point out the flaws of others? Why do we judge, feel superior or inferior, enjoy watching violence on TV, soak up the news of other’s misfortunes, laugh at cruelty and suffering, get angry at the idiot drivers, and yell at our loved ones? Why do we hate our bosses and politicians and anyone else we can think of when we run out of people to hate? Why do we indulge in guilt and remorse about the past, which we have no control over?
Answer: because it keeps the ego going, the sense of a separate self. This sense of a separate self is under the delusion that its existence – the arrogant presumption – is necessary and needed because you will absolutely disappear and not exist without it. It believes in death. Death and separation go hand in hand. If there were no separation, how can there be death? The totality is always and everywhere the totality. Therefore, we must hang on, and want to have seeming control – power over the fate of this separate entity.

To sum it up (limited in time and space as the writer and this essay are, or seem to be), in the Now intuitive intelligence knows itself in a moment of Self-revelation or uncovering. This is called insight (a sight from within), and is not only useful in self-understanding and with problems in the world when allowed, but comes with a feeling of joy. Happiness is our true nature, and its unlimited nature are present when we stop interfering in the channel and are open and giving. Love never disappears, it just gets veiled for a time. Relax and let it flow. Live from the inside out…

The Meaning of Ott’s Jack’s Cheese and Bread Snack Lyrics

Heard this (trippy) song about ten years ago and loved it, and was intrigued by the lyrics:

Ott – Jack’s Cheese and Bread Snack

 

One: All composite phenomena are impermanent.
Two: All contaminated things and events are unsatisfactory or in the nature of suffering.
Three: All phenomena are empty and selfless (devoid of self-existence).
And four: Nirvana is true peace.

… but wasn’t entirely clear what they meant, though I knew it was basic Buddhist philosophy ontology. Now I understand (and ten years from now may see more deeply what they mean… :).

Basically, it’s like this:

One: It’s talking about separation and oneness: if a phenomenon, an appearance, which is what an object is composed of, must in order to be perceived as a thing in consciousness (what there is, and what all phenomenon appear within), have some sort of border, boundary, or seeming separateness from other things, then it is part of the world of change – you need time and space to have objects, and a self, and movement – then by nature it will come and go. Anything that is born dies; any perception, sensation, or thought arises then goes away; the only thing that does not change is the totality, which cannot be perceived as a thing because it isn’t – and intuitively it must the same as what is reading these words – the one perceiver.
So in short, “composite”, “phenomenon” and “impermanent” all imply each other: so see what changes and thus is illusory and you will know what is eternal.

Two: By “contaminated” here means the experience of fear and desire: reactions, unconsciousness, which if acted on – a reaction, which is repeated and automatic (karma: cause and effect) via mental activity – this by nature leads to suffering. Pure consciousness is “contaminated” in the sense of obscured: the waters are muddied by personal thinking, mental activity or vibration comes from separateness, which wants to complete itself, but blindly, through objects which it either desires, or fears, thinking they are outside itself, and complete disappearance (non-existence) is implied as a possibility in separateness, and this disturbance is suffering and not peace.

(In a practical sense or example, people can achieve a lot, be ambitious, but create a lot of wreckage in the process through desire and fear – the ego-driven activity, creating stress, suffering, such as coming from competitiveness, anger, driven-ness, unconsciousness, stupidity of learned or clever rather than natural intelligence; but in action through non-attachment the “sage” achieves without doing; life is lived through him, not by him).

Three: Given that self and other arise together (how can there be one without the other – it would just be One), the separate or personal self is a phenomenon like any other, composed of passing, illusory sensations, perception, thoughts: a concept, the “I” thought. So just as this self does not actually exist in any real and substantial sense, so by implication are all others, all of what was considered to be “out there”: as such all phenomenon are as non-existing in-themselves as this self, ultimately. That is, absolutely, all phenomenon do not exist in themselves but as the perceiving ultimate witness, which is universal. That unknowable “this-ness” is empty as far as being objective.

Four: Nirvana is true peace. True peace is nirvana. Is happiness, is love, is beauty is truth. Is Self.

Consider The Lilies Of The Goddamn Field: Notes on Paying for Spiritual Teachings

“I am secure, for I know who I am: a richly endowed child of God. I am secure in all I do, for I know my oneness with the divine process. I am secure in all I have, for I know my treasure is in my mind, not in my things. I live my life from day to day as if God’s supportive substance were as exhaustless and dependable as the air I breathe, which it most certainly is.” – Eric Butterworth

A friend asked me why I hated being required to pay for spiritual teachings. (This was in response to seeing that one had to pay $10 in order to listen to an Adyashanti audio). Here is my answer.

I have no problem with giving someone money as an expression of support and love for what they do, be it an artist, a spiritual teacher or a maid. But when they set it up as a business where one has no choice but to pay in order to hear the teaching, it’s a little different. Then it depends on the overall picture.

Spiritual teaching is a spontaneous expression of love and freedom. Does a bird ask for money when it sings?

An exchange is at the level of the assumption of separation and objects, and can come from an attitude of taking rather than giving, of need, want; or it can arise as an expression of something deeper.

If you saw a child and hugged him out of love, would you then ask for compensation, maybe take their sucker or something? 😉

If you went out to dinner and hung out with a friend, would you ask for money for the time spent? Charge for having sex with them? If you’re in that business, fine, but it’s a queasy combination being a professional spiritual teacher. Conflict of interests shall we say, or worldviews.
With Adyashanti’s website there is no choice: you have to pay to get the recording. There is no donation button.

With some spiritual retreats at beautiful locations it’s understandable, because one is paying for this whole package of the venue, the house, the organization, the food setup – a kind of vacation arrangement – there are a lot of expenses for them in that realm that you’re helping with (this is assuming it’s a teacher I love and consider a friend). But their teachings are freely given. But no one ever asked me or even mentioned a donation at satsangs at Francis Lucille’s for example. There was a bowl to give, to donate to, if one felt moved to. He does his teaching out of love and because people ask. The teaching is all about freedom.

On the other hand, at the Unitarian Universalist Church I used to go to (about 10 years or so ago), it was a different story: they asked for “voluntary donations”. However if you went to a musical event at the church for example, the people from the entrance table would track you down in the audience and ask you if you made a donation, very sternly. It was only an appearance of freedom.

A true sage knows Life will take care of them and there is nothing to fear. Consider the lilies of the goddamn field (O Brother Where Art Thou) and all that. 🙂

I was listening to the great American sage Robert Adams this morning (there are no coincidences):
“…truth teachings since the beginning of time have always been free. There should be no charge and no obligation for anybody to come to a true guru and a true teaching… a true guru is quiet and demands nothing.”
http://www.robert-adams.info/1991-07-14.mp3

But the true guru is within, so ultimately there’s no need for you to pay.
You and the world are a projection of mind; but the guru, you, and God are One.
In any case, if there’s a teaching you need, or are meant to hear, it will appear.

Comedy Sketch – Advaitans Anonymous (AA)

[Note: this sketch was performed by the actor Vishal Patel who read the script, liked it, and volunteered – to great fanfare, at a recent Francis Lucille retreat, in Temecula, California. I did the fake “announcement” afterwards]

“So I heard there was a woman who spent a million dollars on retreats and seeking enlightenment over the years, traveling around the world to different teachers and taking retreats. We really should have interventions for these people. They become addicted to spiritual retreats, non-duality videos, spiritual teachers, that sort of thing. We need an Advaitans Anonymous! An AA…

“I’m [your name] and I’m an Advaitaholic. After my 27th nondualist retreat, I hit bottom. I’d been listening to Rupert Spira in the shower, mainlining Francis Lucille before breakfast, blasting Robert Adams in the car on the way to work, and sneaking a peak at “I Am That” in the men’s bathroom stalls when I was supposed to be on a sales call with Iowa. And at my last retreat, I was signing up for my next two retreats on my phone during morning meditation. I needed help. I was out of control, in a will-less state. Thank God for my friend John, who found me on the floor of my apartment, with an endless loop of Rupert playing on my computer, repeating ‘Aware of being aware of being aware of being aware …’
I was staring off into space with a look of emptiness… He picked me up off the floor and drove me to my first meeting.”

“Let me tell you a bit about my life as an Avaitaholic. While the sages – the good ones anyway – are always pointing to the moon, the seekers I hung out with from retreats were busy collecting pointers, like heroine addicts collecting old needles. We shared them with each other. Yeah we traded dirty pointers, like baseball cards…

“So after a satsang we’d go out together to a juice bar and get some organic freshly squeezed, Kosher, vegan, natural, ethical, environmentally-friendly, locally grown, non-GMO, non-dairy, antioxidant, low-sodium, no MSG, no nuts, no peanuts, no soy, no gluten, caffeine free, free-range, cage-free, fat-free, sugar free … juices (big breath…), that were not free.

“We’d be sitting around the juice bar, and start trading our non-duality cards. They’re just like baseball cards except they have only have one side…

[IF YOU WANT TO CONTINUE:]

To demonstrate I’ve enlisted my friend…

Advaitan 1: “I’ve got this cool metaphor card. It has a picture of Santa Claus on it, with a big red “X” through him.

Advaitan 2: Oh I know that one. It says on the back, if you meet the Santa Claus on the road, kill him, right?. It’s OK.

Advaitan 1: It’s OK … I’ve also got one with a wave on the ocean. It’s really beautiful.

Advaitan 2: Those are a dime a dozen –Advaitan 1: I’ll give you one of the wave cards plus one with a photo of the Divine Mother on it. You can trade for a hug at any Ammas-R-Us stores in your area. It’s pretty cool.

Advaitan 2: Check this out though, instead of just a metaphor or hug card, I have a Laura Lucille card. It’s brand new – totally fresher man. More in the moment. See how shiny it is?

Advaitan 1: Big deal, I’ve got a *Francis* Lucille card – very elegant and poetic. Very European and cultured.

Advaitan 2: Too intellectual. But I’ve also got this original Ramana Maharshi card and it’s totally authentic; this is like the original Indian version, with loincloth and everything – very like, mysterious, deep and enigmatic.

Advaitan 1: Sure that’s cool, but check this out, I’ve got an original sayings of Jesus oral traditions.

Advaitan 2: Oral traditions?

Advaitan 1: Yeah, you can’t even read it!

Advaitan 2: Oh that’s no biggie man, I’ve got a Super Buddha Taoist Card. On one side it exists and on the other it doesn’t.

Advaitan 1: Big deal, your Buddha card, that’s nothing, Nothing man! I’ve got the God card.

Advaitan 2: No Way! What do you want for it? (to audience: “you ready for this?”)

Advaitan 1: Way. But you have to surrender all your cards if you want it.

Advaitan 2: Throws his cards in the air.

(Writer’s or MC’s Announcement, after main act is done – uses fake press release from comedy site The Onion)

I just wanted to make a special little announcement that I have it on good authority from a highly reputable source on the Internet that the CERN laboratory for physics in Geneva Switzerland reports that the universe will be ending, uh… (looks through papers, find news release – see fake press release below)…. next Friday.
So anyway, if I were you (and I am you, right?) I strongly advise that you invest as soon as possible in a good Cosmic Insurance Policy. And you know while you’re at it I would stay open to the possibility that the Noumena are going to go along with the Phenomena, and invest in some Consciousness Insurance as well. I mean come on, don’t believe everything Francis tells you – he said it himself: there’s a 50/50 chance, according to reason that consciousness is not universal. So I suggest hedging your bets, in case consciousness turns out to be local, limited and personal, and is going to be going the way of the dinosaur. I’ll be putting some special policies up on Amazon.com just for my Truth Lover friends.

That’s it. Anyway, hopefully your deep sense of lack and wanting is fulfilled at least temporarily by this little skit … if not there’s always sex and drugs.

Report: Universe To End Next Friday
6/04/18 9:46am

GENEVA—A coalition of scientists at CERN announced this morning that the Universe, the accumulation of matter and energy that makes up everything that is, will end abruptly next Friday. “The totality of existence as we know it, including time, space, all distributed matter throughout our reality, and all 11 vibrational dimensional membranes will cease to exist promptly at 11:08 p.m. GMT on June 15,” CERN officials said in a press release signed by every leading expert in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and all related fields. “At the end of next week, the universe will simultaneously dissolve and collapse upon itself, effectively obliterating all that exists across the entire 93 billion light year diameter of our cosmos and all concurrent nesting realities, so please plan accordingly. Wrap up any loose ends you still consider important, say goodbye to your loved ones, and make peace with the cessation of the very nature of your consciousness.” Top theologists and clergy across the world also confirmed that, should higher planes such as Heaven, Elysium, or Nirvana actually exist, then they, too, will be destroyed.

Love and Freedom Cannot Be Separated

 

Freedom and love can’t be separated. 

By “freedom” is meant true inner freedom, and by “love” is meant impersonal love, the nondual living truth, not human love. 

A lack of love and freedom is experienced as darkness, pain and suffering. 

But if love and freedom is who are, then how can there be a lack?

In fact there can’t be a lack, but there can be a perceived lack. 

Why is there a perceived lack? Because who we are is obscured by what we are not. 

What we are not can be characterized in various ways: as something learned, as a movement of thought, as a forgetting one is caught in a dream, as an effort. 

If what we are is effortless freedom, how can there be effort? It doesn’t seem possible for a being so powerful, so limitless, to be able to make an effort and be limited. How can it fool itself? Well, in order to create a world, a universe, a perception, there has to be a difference somewhere. There has to be a somewhere, and and if there’s a somewhere, then there is space, a here and a there. And if there is a here and a there, then there is movement. If there is movement, there is something perceiving movement, and change, and therefore the possibility of time. 

So we have a world and some kind of being in time and space, perceiving and moving about. In this world of differences, you have bright and dim, awake and asleep, good and bad, easy and hard, effortless and effortful. In other words, in our case we are experiencing what is presumed to be a person, a human being. The human being is thinking, perceiving, deciding, willing, acting doing,  having things happen to them, and so forth. 

But wait, back up. Who is experiencing a human being? A person can’t be experiencing a person, or they would be two beings: an experiencer and an experienced.
Something is going on here: more than meets the eye. 

So what do I know?

I know there is awareness, and it’s hearing sounds we call “words” in an “inner” space where other sounds appear, and I see and have the sensations of hands typing them, and the visual perception of hands and fingers moving. There are also sounds “in my head” we’ve learned to call “thoughts”. And there are also sounds that seem to come from “out there” that we call “noise’ or “music” or “speech”, but are actually experienced in the same inner space as the “thoughts” sounds when I really am honest. And there are also images and sounds we call “memories” that are “thoughts” that are repeated. They are associated with images from what we call the “past” but are experienced now.

Where are the boundaries to these perceptions? That is to be investigated, first-hand.

In the meantime, the presumption of a self can be examined on it’s own.

From these raw facts of first-hand experience outlined above, various false inferences are made.
First let’s look at examples of true and false inferences, so we are clear what is meant.

Valid inference:
You see many examples of fire, and smoke happening together, and never smoke without fire, and you infer, “where there is smoke, there is fire”.

Invalid inference:
Someone told you in childhood that smoke is caused by the Goddess Prahali from Venus, and you infer, “Where there is smoke, there is Prahali in action”.

The false inference in question is: “Where there are perceptions happening, or thoughts, or decisions, or choices, or actions taken, there is a separate self responsible, a thing, a doer of the actions, a willer of the choices, a person”. That perceiver, thinking, decider, chooser, will-er is the god we call my “self” or “me” or “I” (in the personal sense).


Love without Freedom playing out in the world is rules, religion, conforming and following…

Freedom without Love is endless seeking, wildness, chaos, instability and lostness…

True freedom is like a child running and laughing in the sheer joy of being alive, in love with Life, just Being. 

In maturity true freedom expresses as knowing one’s own nature, which is the same as love:  being aware of Being, nameless and formless. 

Love and Freedom married, lead one’s world into a self-perfecting life, ever-evolving, and
growing anew: infinite potential manifesting, the form and the formless dancing in celebreation of peace, love and beauty.

However, they were never separate to begin with…

 

Technological Governance: A Response to Daniel Jeffries’ Interview on Future Thinkers

Getty Images, Gangil Gwon / EyeEm

I recently enjoyed listening to an interview with a friend – a “colleague in thought” – with whom I also engaged in a fascinating discussion (Dialogues With a Mad Solipsist) on the subject of solipsism several years ago, when we were both members of a co-working space in San Diego. Daniel Jeffries is a writer and technologist who has been deeply involved with blockchain technology of late, as well as an author of science fiction with AI agents and futuristic scenarios. It’s always a pleasure to experience the richness of his imagination and no-holds-barred futurism.

So I was excited to hear him in this podcast with Future Thinkers, discussing the application of blockchain technology to the decentralization of governance, and tackling such thorny issues as voting, public policy, democracy, incentivizing behavior, and so on. What follows is an expansion of the notes I took while enjoying the podcast. I strongly encourage the reader to listen to the podcast, as it helps to form a context.

FTP049: Daniel Jeffries – Decentralized Governance and Identity

Let’s dive right into the middle: it seems to me he uses the word “ideology” incorrectly. He really means “thought systems”. Or more to the point: the concept of a thought system conveys the psychological fact that the world we experience is a projection of the total system of thinking one has at any moment. This is more global an idea than “ideology”. The concept of an “ideology” suggests to me something more along the lines of, for example, a religious or political dogmatic thought system. This is something quite specific in content. As evidence of this, an individual could have several ideologies, but they can only have one thought system. Thought system gets at the psychological root of the issue, rather than the surface play of ideologies. You could (more readily) program a computer with a ideology, since it’s more or less a fixed, rigid system of interlocking positions, whereas you could not program a computer with a thought system, since it is a living active gestalt based in intelligence and brought to life as an experienced world by consciousness.

Computer systems would be good at embodying ideologies in the sense that it’s an ego-based activity: a fake self. It would be a fun experiment to have a bunch of computerized ideologies (Christians versus Muslims for example) battling it out, since that is what an ideology is for, psychologically speaking: a defensive system for an illusory self, used to maintain the function of being an identity. You could see how computerized people actually are. And who knows, maybe someone would watch those arguments happening in a simulation and realize, “Wow, that’s how I am!” and it may spur them to wake up from their “program”.

I’ve been researching developments in the AI field (such as “deep learning” and the varieties of neural nets and how they work, and the claims of AI companies, not to mention the kinds of assumptions science fiction stories make) and reviewing the issues, as well as blockchain technology, its uses and social implications. So how does the blockchain relate to AI? And what does governance have to do with blockchains? First, I keep hearing either the implicit assumption that there is, or will be, some kind of real intelligence in these systems, either sa they are or with the addition of AI (such as when complex decisions need to be made). But would it be true generalized intelligence? If it were, this is turn is based on erroneous philosophical assumptions and based on what might be developed in the future (a subject covered in a longer, forthcoming article): a future ever-receding it seems. Second it’s assuming that the populace and the politicians have the same kind of interest, understanding, vision and will of the technophiles who have these enthusiasms.

The fact is, people want people in governance, not machines. They look up to figureheads, think they need them. We need to make a distinction between an imagined science fiction-fueled imagined world and social-psychological reality about this. And there is a grain of truth to the public’s feelings or intuitions with respect to leadership: machines do not have consciousness, creativity, or general intelligence and understanding of human affairs. This will not be replacing executives in corporations either, for the same reason (this was a fear back in the 60s through 80’s when computers first came into awareness, and when “expert systems” started popping up). Such systems can only simulate aspects of human leadership, or philosophical thinking (see Plato’s Republic for a relevant perspective about the “philosopher-king”), or embody limited cognitive type processing, like brains (limited, biological parallel processors with no consciousness), but do not embody the substance of consciousness and natural intelligence (e.g. intuition). They can remember rules, like well-greased autistics. But ethics and politics are not rule-based, they are *contextual*. For example, you can codify laws, but not the application of them. The belief that one can codify the application of them is a faith-based belief, nothing more, like the belief that consciousness comes from brains (a belief is defined as something that is held to be true regardless of evidence).

It seems widespread in the field of blockchain and AI that behind the grand claims, enthusiasts are making the same old assumptions that have been around for decades, based on the erroneous religious beliefs of scientific materialism. The blockchain and cryptocurrency religions are merely offshoots of that main religion prevalent in the culture.

So what can be incentivized: there was a discussion of happiness and how that can be warped. One could end up rewarding the wrong things, if I remember the thrust of the conversation: for example incentivizing being a despotic asshole, or getting into a Black Mirror type scenario of social fakery and in order to get ranked and allowed access (or not) to goods and services. One could have the weird situation of being controlled by that system. (Interestingly, this also serves an a technological analogy for what is already the case: the parallel is that in reality we are already controlled by ego and unconscious patterns of psychological conditioning. We think and behave according to what we are not, and this is the basis of our unhappiness).

But the proposed system of incentives misses addressing the real underlying dynamic with respect to happiness, which is ego and control versus authenticity and reality. Most humans don’t have a basic angle of understanding what reality is, and are identifying with what is false. Another way of talking about this for that dynamic is the play of ignorance versus being on the path of knowledge (such as in the Hindu or Buddhist sense). So how do you incentivize self-knowledge and happiness rather than ignorance; how do you incentivize love instead of fear, or de-incentivize what obscure love and true happiness. Is this possible? Is it desirable? Should we really try and mess with things at this level? And how do you do that without being punished as it were, for being innocent, when one goes in the wrong direction vis-a-vis such a system and it’s vectors of happiness and incentivized behavior (right thinking and right action, in Buddhist terms) – which really in essence embody a value system – since everyone is in essence innocent. Even if you could do this, there is going to be push-back for any system you come up, with because you can’t form rules for society. In other words, whose job would that be? A aristocratic, technological elite? Large (or small) companies or teams creating blockchain application, or corporations and government bodies, as we are likely to see more and more he future? The alternative is it devolves into mob rule. So this new elite will be pulling the levers behind the scenes, more or less. We already have this to a degree, and I’m sure there are billionaires in Silicon Valley and elsewhere who want more of it and to keep it that way. Meanwhile they will go live in their hardened missile silos converted into shelters, and New Zealand escape plantations, fearing rebellion when the masses figure it out and rise up. (see articles like https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/30/doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich)

The burden of proof lies on the those who are assuming and believing that computer systems can do things like understand and apply justice, since a negative can’t be proved. Unfortunately we might see some applications of such systems in the process of the experimental proving, and these will be painful lessons, especially when they are applied by the faithful true believers in technology-as-savior to humanity’s problems. Faith tends to blind people to what they don’t want to see.

You want to be careful when you start thinking about codifying values. The reality is, you can’t really. You can set down some guidelines. But it’s not possible to have rules that always apply. Everything is contextual. Proper behavior depends on the complex whole of a situation. A computer system simply can’t read that, have access to that, process that, properly evaluate it. Even if a robot with a large parallel computer neural net brain had all the senses – seeing hearing, touch, smelling, taste – and grew up around humans, it would still not have any intuition nor any organic sense of a body. It would not have the desires and fears and the whole relation to the environment, universe, and the inner cell structure, nor the intuitive glimpses of unity via consciousness. It would not have awareness of itself and the self-evidence of truths come by through that radical subjectivity. No one knows where intuition and self-evident truth comes from, but it’s not coming from a cryptocurrency happiness governance vending machine. That much is certain.

I’m not concerned that some AI or singularity is going to take over the world (like in movies and books such as “Colossus: The Forbin Project” etc.), I merely advise folks to not to give away our freedom and intelligence to a technological system by granting it powers it does not have. It is only a projection to see intelligence and wisdom where it is not. Actual creativity, beauty, love, peace and truth will come from the authors and users of such systems, not the systems themselves. This is evidenced in the examples of computer programs that have been invented to create (supposedly) original artwork: the real “art” is in the creation of the software, not the interesting pictures the software generates. Another good example is the various chatbots, artificial girlfriends/boyfriends, and how easy they are to flush out as simulations (for this writer anyway). And yet many users project intelligence and understanding into them. (If you want to test this out, try any chatbot out there, and instead of letting it lead the direction of the dialogue, reference in your conversation something said earlier. You will find there is no continuity in the “intelligence”: there is no thread of understanding or ability to truly delve into a topic to any degree. The fact that even testers at Turing test contests are sometimes fooled says more about the tester than the chatbot or AI).

One parallel situation to point out is that we don’t have computers writing software to any significant degree. There is more and more need for good programmers, not less. The computer and the software, and all the infrastructure, and tools, not tool-makers.

Something not touched on in the interview is that all this infrastructure that blockchain technology depends on is quite fragile, very complex, with many many layers, all dependent on each other. It’s an electronic house of cards. Internet and cloud services have outages, and even when up and running, are not always available to an individual (I’ve talked about this at the end of my article about money (under revision)). Would we really want such fundamental social systems like money and governance dependent on such enormous unwieldy systems, so completely contrived and inherently brittle, subject to breakdown from a misplaced comma in a database backup program on a server in some remote server farm? This is not an unprecedented scenario, as witnessed by the AWS outages in 2015.
(see for example: http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/content-tracks/colo-cloud/aws-suffers-a-five-hour-outage-in-the-us/94841.fullarticle)

I am by no means against technology (thank god for that since I work for a company that makes software for helping to run elections!). I am not a luddite crying that the sky is falling. In fact I love technology and am fascinated with it’s applications. But in part because of my deep involvement with it, including consulting for users that have seen very painful data loss (such as losing the only copy of a Master’s thesis on a floppy disk as a result of having too much faith in technology), I have significant reservations about the over-application. These reservations and a desire to clarify and spread a little more love and understanding, are a result of an understanding of the limits of intellect, the limits of science and the technology that is derived from this understanding and the underlying assumptions and worldview. In fact, my view is that to truly create something approaching a genuine general AI, it is absolutely necessary to recognize and acknowledge these limits, rather than madly pursue dreams down dead end alleyways. The same applies to blockchain technology as it applies to social problems and opportunities. Do we want to reproduce the same insanity and ignorant worldviews

There Is No Such Thing as Artificial Intelligence: Notes On The Myth of AI

A "cube computer" the author designed and built in 2002

ABSTRACT: This essay is an initial attempt to outline what I see as the limitations in the current approaches to a generalized Artificial Intelligence (AI), the underlying assumptions that constitute and create those limitations, and how such limitations might either imply a limit to what can be done, or theoretically suggest a way forward in the research. The thesis is that a true, generalized AI would depend on Artificial Consciousness (AC). Since we have not even taken a first pre-step in the direction of such a construct, we therefore have no current valid, substantive theoretical ground for developing True AI (TAI). Furthermore, the author’s opinion is that by implication, there is no “existential threat” from AI on the foreseeable horizon.
AI is in essence applied philosophy (the study of thinking and the love of wisdom), and a form of theoretical psychology. I say “theoretical” because the fact is, we don’t know how the mind works, how the brain works, or what intelligence and consciousness are. We don’t even know what life is (or what matter is, for that matter!). All we have are temporary models and concepts – constructs of the perceiving mind – which are of use in limited domains of application. All applications therefore embody the assumptions in these domains.
I consider this piece an example of “speculative non-fiction” by an outsider to the field (professionally speaking: I am not employed by an AI company nor do I work in AI research in academia). However I do work in the software field, have a degree in philosophy, and have engaged in discussions of this topic with thought leaders in philosophy, computer science, and spirituality over many years. I believe my outsider status gives me a certain advantage: the same advantage a consultant has in the potential for seeing things from a fresh perspective. 
Ultimately, I see philosophy as a creative activity, which arises from the core capacity of creative intelligence to formulate new realities for us to live in, and AI therefore is an example of such activity.  As applied philosophy, and as an art, the inherent direction of AI is not to converge on a solution, but to diverge into diverse forms of artificial “life”, “intelligence”, and “sentience”, at the same time as we learn from this enterprise what those concepts mean, and where the borderlands are. 

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful… With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out…” – Elon Musk, quoted in a Guardian article.

“Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved: there is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains.” – Stephen Hawking, quoted in a UK Independent article

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate…
Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”
– Stephen Hawking, speaking with the BBC in 2014

(Note: I wrote this article on the morning of March 14, 2018, and referenced Stephen Hawking, who I hadn’t written about or thought about in years. In the evening I learned that he had died that day. Another of many serendipitous events in my life recently.)

 

Dr. Challenger

I got my first computer as a teenager, in 1979. I had to drive to Los Angeles to find a shop that had “personal computers”, as it was a novel concept. What I picked up was an Ohio Scientific Challenger 1P, an 8-bit computer you could program in BASIC, and hook a cassette tape drive to for saving and loading programs (very slowly), and use a television for output. It didn’t come with any software, and there was none available, and of course no internet. But I was able to teach myself programming with a couple of books I found, and had fun writing some graphics programs, a clock, a simple game, and other things I don’t remember. One of the things I do remember writing and experimenting with was a program that had a very profound impact on the direction of my life: “Dr. Challenger”: a simulation of a Rogerian non-directive psychotherapist.  It was also an example what would be called  a “chatbot” in today’s terminology.

The therapeutic situation is a good one to model because it’s one of the few real human situations in which a human being can reply to a statement with a question that requires very little specific knowledge of the topic under discussion. And, you can acceptably ask question in response to a question without being rude. You can say things like “Why do you ask?” or “Does the question interest you”, or “Tell me more about X” (and fill in the X).

I’d been very inspired by a demonstration I’d seen at school when a student from another class brought in Commodore PET (another early 8-bit “personal computer”) to a physics class. One of the programs he ran was an implementation of “ELIZA“, an early natural language processing computer program that used pattern-matching, developed by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT. Since I didn’t have access to ELIZA or it’s source code, I decided to write my own. I had to figure out how to have the computer ask questions, take a response, and generate its own appropriate response based on the pattern of the word or sentence input by the person. The program would parse (I didn’t know that term at the time but that’s what I was doing) the sentence, find certain keywords, find what part of a sentence they were, and depending on if was in the list of nouns, verbs, and the particular word “meaning” and so forth, put together a new sentence based on that, using the pattern of how sentences are constructed in English. So I had to anticipate the range of possible responses people might come up with (which is often not that huge a list actually), code that into what to look for, and string it together into a new, appropriate-seeming sentence and spit that out, then get their response from that, and so forth.

Programming Dr. Challenger was a fascinating task that I has fun figuring out. I knew however that it was “canned” and was essentially fooling people into believing the computer had some intelligence. That was a big part of the fun: it was like a magic trick! And indeed, just like with a magic trick, some people were taken in and wowed, and other saw right through it fairly quickly.

It’s interesting to note that Dr. Terry Winograd, the author of the amazing AI program SHRDLU – a very early (1968-70) program from MIT and absolutely incredible accomplishment, especially for it’s time – left the field of Artificial Intelligence because of what he felt were the ethical implications. SHRDLU was system of software that seemed to understand human speech commands and moved objects around on a screen in response. It was written in LISP, a a symbol and list-processing programming language developed for AI research. What he said was (and I am hoping to find the exact quote somewhere) that humans are sensitive to language the way dogs are sensitive to smells, and he saw a danger in computers manipulating us that way. So he started working on the design of human-friendly computers. Many years later I wrote to him and asked him about this statement of his and his decision to leave the field. He didn’t answer directly but instead directed me to an article he wrote which he claimed answered the question (I scanned the article – it’s very long and technical – but didn’t find the answer and then got busy with other things).

Some Junk I Learned at College

In the 1950s and ’60s, artificial-intelligence researchers saw themselves as trying to uncover the rules of thought. But those rules turned out to be way more complicated than anyone had imagined. Since then, artificial-intelligence (AI) research has come to rely, instead, on probabilities — statistical patterns that computers can learn from large sets of training data. Larry Hardesty, MIT News

All of the early attempts at AI were based on what was called “symbolic processing” or the “MIT approach”. The assumption behind them was that human intelligence was in essence a kind of linguistic activity underneath, and it involved the manipulation of symbols or “tokens”. All one needed to do was understand and decode the deep rules that underlie language processing and other forms of intelligence, instantiate them in a computer, and whala! AI. There was also the assumption, based on Norm Chomsky’s outlook, that there was a kind of deep and hidden set of grammatical rules in the brain that generated human language and even accounted for the ability of us speakers, writers and thinker to create new sentences. In other words, even Shakespeare in theory could be invented and reproduced in a sophisticated computer program, with enough rules and “knowledge” embodied in systems of symbols, and start creating new plays. This may sound wrong-headed these days to some (it even back then) but these were the operating assumption behind AI research for decades (my outline is a simplification of it all but it gets the gist of it).

It became obvious sooner or later that such symbolic and linear systems, while good at working within highly limited domains, such as the manipulation of certain object in a simulated space, were very “brittle” once you went outside that space. The real world was just too open, and had an infinite number of variables to account for: too many rules were needed. It also seemed obvious to me after writing Dr. Challenger that you would need a process similar to how human babies and children gain intelligence: by learning. In other words you can’t just have a computer programmer or computer operator sitting there inputting countless rules and data knowledge and hope to get anything like real intelligence or the ability to operate in the world, or even just talk to you intelligently. They system needed to be able to sense, learn and respond and have a feedback loop with the organic world “out there”, and continue to grow and learn (just as we do, and enimals too to varying degrees). An AI then would need something akin to a body and sensory apparatus – to be a robot. But it would also need a brain that was a better brain.

So after seeing the limitations of this very linear and limited approach in practice and in theory, and wanting to mimic more the natural system the brain seems to use, the approach of parallel processing and neural nets came more and more to be seen as a hopeful direction (the reader can do their own research into the details these fields: this introduction is just a historical, conceptual background).

After that I spent decades studying, researching, thinking and discussing the general philosophical problems of artificial intelligence (AI), (questions such as what is the mind, what is knowledge and how is it represented, etc.) as well as writing software and working on computer hardware for a living. This gave me both a ground-level view of what the technology is and can do, as well as a conceptual birds-eye view of some of the more esoteric issues (which are nonetheless more and more pertinent to society today). In college, I studied with some of the most brilliant yet controversial thinkers around, such as the neurophilosopher Pat Churchland and the philosopher of science Paul Churchland, renowned philosophers of mind, as well as taking part in colloquia with prominent cognitive psychologists of the day. This allowed me the great privilege of asking them questions, and seeing what the underlying assumptions of their approaches were as well as of the institutions and thought-worlds (ways of seeing life) of which they were a part of.

There was a point at which however, towards the end of several years at UCSD, I felt I’d run into a cul de sac with this research (I was an undergrad but often ignored the assigned curriculum and chose my own topics and directions, according to my interests and enthusiasms – my main obsession being the philosophical issues with AI) I realized that there was a huge flaw, a blindspot, or an ignoring (“ignorance” in the Hindu Sanskrit sense) that was common in all their outlooks. THis being “at the end of my rope” however also led to a “gran mal intuition” as I later called it. To try and flesh out what this intuition was I’ll talk about it in two parts: we can call them the “negative” and the “positive”.

The negative side: They placed process thought, analytical thought, language and problem solving, as being the nature of human thinking –be it linguistic, visual, spatial, social, or scientific. This intellectual and material intelligence is seen as epitome of intelligence, and the result of an evolutionary process of survival and Darwinian adaptation and competition that got humans to where they are. And therefore all their models reflected the kind of thinking that was used to make them, with the same constraints. In other words, the models were modeling the modelers! Furthermore, the models reflected the modeler’s assumption, beliefs and biases about who who and what they were, or humans were, and the universe and reality. The models were essentially dogma in visible form: they reflected not only partly accurate self-knowledge (as basically humans and animals as examples of organic robots) but also the blind spots of the researchers and the agendas (philosophical and political) and prejudices of the researchers, institutions and culture of which they were a part. In short, the the strengths as well as the limitations of the theories and models, which in turn reflected the thought systems and level of consciousness of the theoreticians and the modelers. I later came to understand how thought systems were a reflection of, or activated as it were, by the level of consciousness (I will explain thought systems and levels of consciousness later, as it’s not widely understood). THe flip side of this limited intelligence is a more unconstrained intelligence.

The positive side: The other aspect of this powerful intuition I had towards the end of my time at the university was that intuition is the central faculty of us sentient, aware, intelligent beings. This however, one cannot prove, except experientially and anecdotally; it is only a fact from first-person point of view. This kind of non-objective knowledge however does have the advantage of a self-evident quality. For example, there are many anecdotes from history when a scientist or inventor or artist suddenly “saw” the answer to a problem they’d been working on for a long time, and knew it was the answer. A blinding light of insight told them. Therefore this “revelation” shall we call it, to sound more colorful, placed me outside the academic temple. It also placed me outside of the scientism that rules academia and society in general: the materialist religion. However, the name of and the depth of this belief system I was unaware of, other than as a vague and all pervasive knowingness. There was even fear associated with this view of intelligence (because of its implications, which I wrote about in a dystopian science fiction novel in 1991 called “The Web“, then renamed “The Zero Point” ).

It is interesting to see that some awareness of more direct access to a different way of knowing in books like Blink, or the expanding field of applied psychology called The Three Principles. These are radically different ways of looking at how humans operate in and see the world, but are more in line with actual experience and common sense than the models of academia (with entrenched interests behind them).

“Machine learning models such as deep learning have made tremendous recent advancements by using extensive training datasets to recognize objects and events. However, unless their training sets have specifically accounted for a particular element, situation or circumstance, these machine learning systems do not generalize well.” – Dr. Michael Mayberry, Intel Corporation

Some Acronyms and Definitions

Consciousness = The “first person” subjective experiencing of something, including the awareness of awareness. For example that which is reading these words right now, whatever that is. Another way of putting it is, the ultimate perceiver of perceptions.

It’s important to make a distinction here between fact and theory, for I realize from talking to people that the assumption is made that if brain can do it, why not a machine? Their thinking is that if a system of neurons and parts of a brain can be conscious, why not a machine? The problem is that this is based in a theory and concepts, not fact. That brains can produce or experience consciousness is not a fact. However it’s such a deeply rooted prejudice, or myth, and so often repeated, that it starts to seem self-evident.

The best that can be shown by science and technology is that there is some type of correlation between some kinds of brain activity, such as electrical impulses or chemical actions, and thinking activity. So a subject can be hooked up to some machine, and be thinking about an ice cream soda, and then say “ice cream soda” and some pattern of electrical excitation could be registered, and perhaps an image of brain parts that show more activity could be shown an screen, that to some degree correlate with the imaging in the mind of an ice cream soda, and the decision to speak and the speaking of the words. But this is all about mental activity: thoughts and actions, and not about consciousness. It completely leaves out the question of who or what is having the inner experience of those thoughts.

Sometimes this conflation mistake is because of a confusing of the subjective and the objective points of view. So it’s important to reiterate by consciousness is meant the subjective view: what is it like to have the thoughts. For example, one could imagine the pink color of the ice cream soda, and there is no way anyone will ever know how you experience pink, no matter how much you describe it in words, paint it, try and point it out in the world, everyone else will have *their* own subjective experience of pink that may be completely different from yours, and there is no way of knowing, since you can’t get inside their experience. What they call “pink” you may call “orangish-pink”, even though there is a one-to-one correspondence between their reported color mappings and yours, all their colors are experienced slightly or completely shifted or differently. It is 100% private and intimate. These subjective, absolutely irreducible qualities are called by philosophers “qualia”.

Thus you can see that one could build a physical system that had the same kinds of firings register on the instruments, but there can be, and would be, no experience for anything: there is nothing of what it is “like to be” that machine such that it experiences it’s own qualia, unless you want to imagine something odd and absurd based on your faith in machinery such that machines could have experiences. You could, I suppose, imagine an adding machine have experiences like “Oooh, a number 2 and 3 is adding up to a 5! Oh boy, how yummy!”, but I who would take that seriously? I wouldn’t (except to laugh) and it certainly isn’t any proof that AC is possible.

The other confusion is between awake-ness, or levels of wakefulness and consciousness. In other words, being awake as opposed to being asleep. However, these are states *within* consciousness, not consciousness itself. IN other words, what we are looking at that we are defining as C. is the experience of what is reading these words right now to be awake or asleep: that constant that is behind all experience. One could hook up an EEG and watch a person or an animal go through different phases of wakefulness and sleep, but it tells you nothing about what it’s like to be that subject, or what experience they are having as consciousness. In fact, there are a number of recorded cases of subjects who have been flatlined in terms of brain activity, and clinically dead, yet report experiences later that they could not have had unless there was some kid of consciousness at the time. And though there are not dreams remembered from deep sleep, the inference that there is no consciousness is merely an assumption based not having a memory of anything, or an assumption based on the fact that the mind resurrects at waking, and since there seems to be no mind, therefore there was no consciousness, which is a false inference. Why can’t you have consciousness without content: and experience of pure consciousness?

Intelligence (with a capital “I”) = the capacity to come up with new solutions to old or new problems and situations of any kind; the capacity for true creativity (new knowledge or genuine art); the ability to “receive” self-evident truths (mathematical, spiritual, aesthetic, philosophical, etc.); the ability to appreciate beauty and to experience universal love (non-objective substantive apperception). Non-linear “thinking” or perception; the ability to understand; the perception of Reality.

intelligence (with a small “i”) = the ability to process data, solve problems in a specific domain (cognition), the ability to make decisions based data inputs; the ability to calculate solutions to numerical or symbolic problems; linear thinking (which includes the processing in highly parallel neural net systems); cunning; empirical reasoning (reasoning based on specific sensory or perceptual input and data facts regarding situations); logical reasoning; analytical thought; rule-based thinking.

PAI = Pseudo Artificial Intelligence
TAI = True AI = A Generalized Intelligence machine.
TAC = True AC = Artificial Consciousness that is not a simulation of consciousness, nor just sentience (being awake and able to think and act like a non self-aware animal).
TMI = Transcendental Machine Intelligence = In contradistinction to AI as so far conceived, uses TAC + AI to achieve TAI.

My central thesis is, You can’t have true AI without AC, and AC is a top-down reality, not a bottom-up construction.

True AI = A generalized intelligence machine.
AC = Artificial Consciousness.

My thesis is that you cannot have true AI without AC.

But is AC – Artificial Consciousness – possible?

AI systems (and therefore robot minds) are brittle. Another way of saying this is that they do not fail gracefully.

Because computer intelligence such as neural nets uses systems of bias (pre-judging, using memory-based processing thinking), based on correlation they are inherently unable to generalize. If if they are not rule-based like expert systems, they are using past knowledge, not direct knowledge.

My father used to say, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” (My retort is “If you’re so rich, why aren’t you happy?” But that’s another essay…)
If AIs are so smart, why aren’t they writing our software? The demand for software engineers and programmers, IT people, etc. are growing at a tremendous rate: evidence not only of technological expansion, but of the fact that computers do not write software, human creativity and intelligence creates software.

Comment I wrote in response to a YouTube video:
“The Hanson Robotics CEO misspoke. He should have said “simulate” being as conscious, creative as a human. He’s playing into the mass ignorance about the nature of AI and computers, which are mechanical, adding-machine based entities. All the creativity and consciousness comes from their creators. That’s the “art”. The burden of proof is on him. He is either dumb, gullible, or irresponsible. (I recommend “What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason” by Hubert L. Dreyfus, MIT Press – one of many good books on the philosophy of AI).”

Myths or Erroneous Assumptions Underlying AI and “The Singularity
1. That if you just get enough of a lower-level machine intelligence together then at some point it will reach critical mass of higher-level intelligence that will result in self-awareness, independent thought, creativity, and other elusive qualities we experience. This is a common trope in Science Fiction scenarios of AI, including (one of my favorite classic science fiction movies about computers) “Colossus, The Forbin Project”.
2. This previous assumption is also used to fuel the idea that this critical mass will become a runaway-AI and get smarter and smarter…
3. Which in turn stokes the notion that this runaway intelligence could thus becomes a super intelligence of nearly infinite power. Just like how a massive star collapses under its own gravitational weight until it sucks light into it and forms an event horizon, sucking in more and more matter in a runaway process, compressing down into an infinitely dense thing called a singularity (the end-game of a black hole), the AI would accelerate in self-enhanced intelligence, using it’s intelligence to learn and create better intelligence, and so on, until this runaway epistemological feedback loop implodes like a bomb.

These are all false notions, because they build this house of computerized cards on the erroneous assumption in #1. Simply put, more and more stupidity does not add up to an intelligence that equals real intelligence, much less self-awareness. Even an astronomical set of neural nets, that get very smart at doing a variety of tasks that brains do, is still just garbage in, garbage out in relation to true intelligence. This is because of the ignorant assumption that real intelligence and consciousness arise from brains (are an emergent property, like wetness is an emergent property of water molecules), whereas in fact there is no evidence for such an assumption that is not circular. This property of an idea – where no matter what evidence there is, it is held onto defended as if for dear life – is itself evidence of the interwoven set of dogmatic, religious ideas that underpin much of society and science when one reaches the limits of it’s understanding. (These materialist assumptions about intelligence is such a deep and ingrown belief in modern culture that it takes quite a long essay to untangle – I hope to write more on that soon).

The problem is, almost no one (in the Western world especially), understands what real or natural intelligence is. That is, they don’t have an adequate definition, because the cultural orientation, the social programming in life does not allow one to see it without immediately dismissing or devaluing it. For example, one suddenly understands a problem whose solution was eluding you: an Aha! moment of illumination. The whole thing is seen in a flash. Such timeless moments don’t compute to the mind: it cannot hold or grasp the open limitless freedom from which they seem to appear “from nowhere”.

On the other hand, we don’t want to leap farther than our understanding justifies and say we *know* for sure what true intelligence or consciousness is (other than that we experience it now, or in flash of intuition or self-evident truth, such as in mathematical discovery or understanding). The best and most honest path is to admit what we don’t know, and from that solid foundation, we can step forward and hopefully make progress.

Underpinning the thesis is that to create (or foster the creation of) a genuine AI, one must have artificial consciousness (AC) is the fact that the two ultimately cannot be separated. To have the properties of general intelligence, the property of consciousness must be present. The relationship of one of a triad or trinity: the apparent duality of matter and mind is resolved when the trans-real substratum of consciousness is taken into account. This is the “dual aspect theory” of Spinoza’s philosophy applied to a real-world engineering problem. However, consciousness is not an emergent property of brains, but is a general or unified field, of which a brain could be thought of as akin to a receiver.

The analogy of brain-as-receiver works like this: if one is, for example, watching a television program about politician, and you don’t like the politician, would you go buy a new television in order to have a better politician – in other words to change it to a show you like to view – on the TV? Likewise, that thoughts seem to correlate to the functioning activities of a brain (and lack of thoughts or coherent thoughts in a damaged, dragged or asleep brain) does not prove that the TV program arose from that brain.

The analogy breaks down however in that radio waves and television programming are still in the same level of reality: objects. That is, they are physical phenomena and are measurable and detectable. Consciousness is not on the same level of perceptibility: it is not a phenomena. Consciousness is the witness of phenomena. This is basic.

Unfortunately, while sentience (being awake or asleep) are detectable, as are attentional mechanisms and types of brain waves associated with *states*, consciousness is not. In other words, that which experiences states is not detectable. We do not have instruments for detecting the presence of consciousness, and we probably never will. From where we stand today, in our scientific outlook, consciousness is not amenable to the scientific method, except with regards to second-hand evidence (such as verbal reports of other humans), or as subjective experiences and reports that can only be inter-subjectively evaluated. Likewise, you cannot open up a persona’s head and find consciousness in the brain somewhere (despite stupid claims of finding centers of consciousness in popular articles, which always turn out to be based on mental actives or attentional mechanisms, not consciousness). Why? Because consciousness is not a phenomena. It is not part of the universe of experience out there. In other words, the universe is experienced *in* consciousness – as is the body, thoughts, sensations, feelings, thoughts –  or is inferred to exist in other beings (such as humans or animals, or possibly aliens), as a separate quality of that being, because that’s what we assume for ourselves.

Another way of describing consciousness is, what is it like to *be*: for example, that which is reading these words right now: that reality. It is always in the absolute present, and ultimately intimate. It is the context or ground for an experience-having reality, or even feeling or seeming to have a sense of reality. For example, even dream is a *real* dream. The content of the dream is illusory, but the fact of experiencing it is real for the experiencer. That is the reality we are pointing to here: the reality of the experiencer. It is full-stop subjective. It has no objective properties. It is radical.

So how does one encode that in a computer? How can a piece of software embody that? It can’t: they are both content, not context; they are both part of the material world, both objects. They are not subjects. They are not experiencing.
But could they? Could there be an aspect of experience, that like other beings (humans and animals etc.), seems to have consciousness, yet is an object we created, or got underway through an engineering project?

The key concept here is “seeming”: how does one discern the difference between a simulation and the real thing.

To be continued…

References

Intel’s New Self-Learning Chip Promises to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence, By Dr. Michael Mayberry

Stephen Hawking: ‘Transcendence looks at the implications of artificial intelligence – but are we taking AI seriously enough?’

What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason” by Hubert L. Dreyfus, MIT Press

What is Money?

Notes on the Nature of Money and its Future

What is money? We use it almost every day, but like the air we breathe, we hardly ever look deeply into what it really is. This is my initial exploration of the question.

The dawn of and expansion of Bitcoin and the phenomenon of cryptocurrency has also spurred these reflections (I will discuss Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies at the end of this piece). In any case I’ve often pondered the nature of money. It seems to have a powerful grip on our minds.

Recently some have criticized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin having no intrinsic value. But does any type of money (or investment for that matter) have an intrinsic value?

The short answer: Money is a store of value, by the implicit or explicit mutual agreement of the agents of use. The valuation of anything is contextual by nature, and therefore money has no intrinsic value in itself. Money is most often used as a medium of exchange, but this is not an intrinsic property. It is ideally a unit of account.

Money is a vastly useful tool for storing and trading value. Imagine having to engage in barter you had every time you wanted something. Let’s say you needed a stick of butter, and what you happened to have in surplus were a collection of fine, healthy Philodendron plants to trade. You go to the dairy, but the butter maker says she doesn’t want Philodendron plants, but she does need some hay for her cows. So then you need to go find someone with extra hay who wants philodendron plants. Or you will need to find whatever you have you can part with that they happen to want – maybe a pile of bricks or some apples or bricks or a carburetor – if you can even find such a party.

In contrast, money can be traded for anything, because the receiving party in turn can trade it for anything. It’s universal (at least within the culture it’s accepted in, as long as it still has significant value).

By way of evidence, one could do a thought experiment about a type of money, a coin that had value but is never exchanged. For example was held onto and ended up never being traded: let’s say a giant circular stone in your front yard that represents the deed on your house (such as the Yapese have traditionally used on the island of Yap – see below), and that is agreed upon by the entire community on your little island society. And if anyone from that society is given, buys or inherits that coin, that represents owning the house, by deed of giant stone-coin. In fact the entire island has houses of this type and a deed-coin in front. However, for some odd historical reason, no one has ever used them for exchange! It’s an unlikely scenario, but the point is it is possible. In other words, exchange is not a natural, inherent, God-given property of money. Strange but true.

But the converse scenario also makes little practical sense: a currency that has no value (by agreement or intrinsically) but was exchanged profusely. That would be a potentially comic situation: one could imagine all these clowns running around making exchanges with each other furiously with, let’s say, pieces of paper with printing on them, but nothing could be done with the papers except exchange them: one could not use them for any practical material purpose (even toilet paper, because of the printing or type of paper), one could not exchange them for anything else except other pieces of the paper, and one could not convert them to other types of money. It would be farcical.

Some no doubt will say this is the situation with some cryptocurrencies currently! But most cryptocurrencies can be exchanged for other currencies, and do have some, however debatable, intrinsic value as a unique implementation of an instance of a useful class of technology.

Philosophically of course, there is no ultimate inherent value in any money whatsoever, no matter how brilliantly conceived, engineered, or widely adopted. Money only has the value it is given by the psycho-social milieu of assumption, faith and trust of the society in which it exists. In other words, it is a projection. This is easy to demonstrate if you do a simple thought experiment or two.

Let’s say a race of powerful aliens came to Earth, godlike in their intelligence and capabilities, and they had a technology, programmed with a fully advanced neuroscience of human minds coupled with a superintelligent computer system, and some kind of brainwave projector that re-aligns human thoughts along whatever lines is programmed into the machine. They decide to play a joke on humans and re-program everyone on the planet into forgetting what the US dollar is and what it’s for, no matter if its paper currency or numbers on a screen. They program humans to forget that it has any value (to keep it simple we won’t worry about automated exchanges, and just look at a very short term scenario). They do the same for gold, silver and platinum – both the physical metal and representations of it – just for extra fun and to make sure their little joke works.

Zap! Suddenly this money has no value. So why would anyone choose to exchange it, or even care about it, except as a curiosity? It has no inherent value, other than for the physical money for kindling or paper, or paper weights or ballast (especially coins), or for its fiber content or the uses of the metal in engineering. The entire currency collapses. The same would be the fate of Bitcoin or any alt-coin or cryptocurrency, if the aliens decided to zap human minds about it. The companions and communication over the internet would continue to happen, and there would be information in crypto wallets, but it would have no social or psychological value, and therefore no exchange value, because that projection was zapped. One would look at some numbers on a computer screen or in a hardware wallet and they would be just numbers, with perhaps an engineering or historical interest. In the longer run of course things would resurrect themselves and the system would be built back up, and value restored once the mental map was re-learned by individuals and groups. But the point is made.

A less exotic example can be imagined. As the reader may or may not be aware, on the Island of Yap in Micronesia, traditionally the Yapese used large circular stones as money, called Rai stones (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones). These could stand for anything from the ownership of a house or the smaller ones could be used for the purchase of food. Since the stones are for the most part too large to move (and subject to damage if moved), they are kept in place, and the ownership is recorded orally. Nothing is written down. The “ledger” is in the minds of the Yapese. Now let’s say, back in the day when the island was unknown and there were no other currencies from the outside world in use (these days the Yapese use dollars and Yap are used only occasionally or ceremonially), some plague wiped out all the inhabitants. If a ship of Europeans, or anyone really – for example a boat full of Micronesians from another island with no cultural exposure and no use of stones as currency in their society – were to land on the island, they would not place a monetary value on these coins and not consider them standing for anything, unless they decided to start doing so (for example they might be taken as valuable museum pieces, or the quartz mined from them for various uses).
So one can see it is the social matrix that gives money its value ultimately, and the individual programming of the members of that society.

Money cannot by nature have any inherent value.

This can also be seen if you hand a hundred dollar bill to a Bonobo Chimpanzee, our closest relative genetically. They are a very intelligent sentient being, and their groups have their own culture and means of communication (though it is not a written one). They might sniff it, look at it, play with it, throw it, wipe their ass with it, but they are not going to use it for money, no matter how long you give them money and no matter how much. It’s possible I suppose that a researcher could train them do trade money tokens for food, but as far as I know this has not been attempted.

As a side note money also depends on the concept of counting and numbers, and this is not inherent – despite what Chomsky theorized – even to humans, as proven by the the anthropologist Daniel L. Everett and his patient work with the internet outage (not an uncommon occurance) or one is not on the internet, or some kind of catastrophe occurs, or even a programing or configuration error – a bit or two, out of place, the wrong comma placed in a line of code – the whole silicon house of electric cards comes crashing down, or at least screeching to a halt (as has happened with cloud storage such as AWS outages on occasions).

As a concluding note, since much of my blog has to do with the philosophy of happiness, and “spiritual” or psychological topics, the facts and notions outlined in they essay regarding the nature and power of money, do not imply or mean that money is required for or coupled with happiness. They are on quite independent axis, as will be discussed in an upcoming article.

Thank you for listening.

Be Free, Be Happy.