I was wasting some time and stopped by nordstrom.com, saw this and thought it was so funny that I had to take a screenshot. Anyway, I thought I would share this with you all:
So what is so interesting about this page you might ask? Irony says I!
“Samsara” is the Buddhist term for the state of delusion from one moment to another – the complete inability to see the truth of the way thing are… to not really know what causes your suffering. Here is the actual page.
On of the things I do to pass the time is to think. One of my favorite subjects to ponder is the nature of consciousness because so many tantalizing questions are linked to the simple concept of consciousness. What is consciousness? Is there a self if there is no consciousness? Are you human if you are without consciousness and conversely, if something inanimate (like a robot) has this thing we call consciousness, does it have an existence that is more than that of, say… a rock?
I like movies like the Millennium Man, The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell because they toy with these questions. Blade Runner was, I think, one of the first movies to explicitly try to raise these ethical and religious questions.
For instance, here is a real video of a real cyborg. This robot is controlled only by a rat brain and each new rat brain they put into this robot causes the robot to act differently:
Is this a being? Does it have a “soul”? Is it alive? Personally, I don’t think the ideas behind Ghost in the Shell or The Matrix are too far off. I think that the next stage of human evolution will be shaped by the technology of cybernetics, prosthetics and body modification.
Here is a professor who has personally experimented with enhancing his physical experience (such as linking his neural system to that of his wife’s):
The ethical questions raised in the Ghost in the Shell movies and series are questions about control and notions of free will. While I’m not convinced that any of us really have “free will” at all, I am interested in the ethics of control. It is ethical to convince someone to do what you want them to do, but it is unethical to “program” them to do things because we feel that ”free will” has been destroyed. To get people out of a cult, say that they are ”deprogrammed”.
Since it seems obvious to me that humankind is heading toward integrating technology into our neurosystems, what happens if we are hacked? Here is a video in which a moth’s neural pathways have been hacked. The moth can’t help but comply with what the computer tells it to do:
For the above being, we have taken away it’s “free will”; it’s body has been hijacked by the consciousness of the scientist.
I know that all of this sounds to corny, but it is the stuff I like to think about. I truly believe that in 50 years prosthetic upgrades will become commonplace. Consider the story of Aimee Mullins. While you might not know it, she has no “real” legs… and likes it that way:
What Aimee and the Professor in the second video are saying is that in long run, human evolution won’t be constrained by biology. Which brings me be back to the who idea of consciousness and humanity. So, what happens when we get to the point of having a prosthetic body:
Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself. – Epictetus, ca 100 CA
I’m thinking too much tonight to be able to sleep just yet. Lots of thoughts are going through my head and they have to do with what others may or may not do, what others may or may not think and how badly I want to do what I want to do. Most of my thoughts revolve around my longstanding quasi-Jonah Complex and yet others revolve around thinking about various esoteric errata.
I once heard about a wise grandmother who said that she just didn’t understand why so many need to grasp at somethingness instead of standing firm in that which is empty. In other words, she was observing that instead of allowing the Divine Order (causality) to be just what it is, we attempt to rage against the flow of life in order to bind it to what we take as being our will.
So much of my mental life is taken up with responding to various anxieties about various possible outcomes. Tonight I’m not enjoying rest because I’ve indulged in imagining working with and planning for the irrationality of myself and others in a futile attempt to assuage my own feelings of fear, doubt and aversion instead of simply allowing all to be as it is. I guess what I mean is that I tend to forget the lesson Fritz Pearls taught about being in the here and now. When he had a client that was suffering from grave fear, he would instruct them to stop describing the fear and start describing what is going on right in this moment. The client would go on to say something like, “I am sitting in a chair. I am talking and the sun is hitting my face through the window. It is warm. I smell coffee. I am noticing the dust particles moving in the sun…”. At this point, Pearls would interrupt his client and ask them, “What’s wrong?” and the client would usually answer, “Wrong? Nothing’s wrong.” Pearls was pointing out that when we are focused on the bare reality of the hear-and-now, we aren’t suffering from fears, anxieties and frustrations.
So, I think I’ll focus on my feelings of being tired and get some rest now LOL.
I discovered a label to use for the way I view consciousness and self and it is called “Bundle Theory“! For Western Society, a Scottish philosopher from the 1700s came up with the idea. This is the idea that there is phenomena and then there is the interpolation of phenomena by other phenomena with the ability to frame such phenomena as being differential due to the brain’s ability to retain memories. The observer creates the perception of the observed. This process is what we call “self”. A sense of self is the direct result of our brain’s ability to place events sequentially (which is called Personal Identity Theory and is part of Bundle Theory).
Bundle Theory is what made Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix and several other Japanese animes interesting to me. It digs right at the heart of what we think we know about experience, suffering and happiness. It shows consciousness, “reality” and the self as being what it truly is: an perception of experience. In other words, there is no ego. Mind is a process that recalls and compares any stimulus against memory then interpolates a stimulus/thing/experience as being good, bad or indifferent based upon previous memories of the same experience thus providing the context for the experience of “self”. This is how suffering arises. This is also how happiness arises. In some ways, I think Bundle Theory is physiological equivalent to quantum theory.
Bundle Theory rejects the notion of self as well as the notion of non-self. It rejects the idea of an abiding self; rather, it states that “self” is an experience that is recreated, moment by moment. It also rejects the idea a soul. In fact, there is the classroom discussion tool whereby the teacher asks the class:
If we had a perfect machine that never made mistakes and that could scan the entirety of you body (each body cell down to each brain cell), destroy the body and then recreate the body in a location thousands of miles away, would you do it? Yes, your physical body at the starting point would be killed, but the new one is recreated with each an every memory of you… if fact, it would be you. You would remember stepping into the transportation machine and arriving at a new place. If you feel some resistance to the idea, but are also a SciFi fan, you would probably feel better about it if I said that I was explaining the transportation machine from Star Trek. Your body is scanned, memorized, destroyed and then reassembled somewhere else.
If you are not a fan of Bundle Theory, you would feel incredibly wrong about this process because you would wonder what would happen to your soul or non-corporal essence.
Of course, I’m so totally biased. Once western Bundle theorist were exposed to Zen in the 50s, they found out that their theory was just Buddhism LOL!