Meditation and Neuroscience, some odds and ends

[cross-posted to LessWrong:

[About me: I’m the meditationstuff guy and the “folding” guy. I have a PhD in bioengineering, during which I did work with human clinical EEG (and also audited neuroscience and machine learning classes), but I’m not a neuroscientist, and I didn’t run this by any practicing researchers before hitting publish.]

As an introduction, I wanted to just mention up front that I’m not going to talk about predictive processing, artificial neural networks, GPT-N, neural annealing, the free energy principle, jhanas, amygdalae, cerebella, agent-based models of mind, and a bunch of other stuff. Good stuff, though!

What follows are a sprinkling of popular and academic neuroscience references that have been resonant to me as a long-term meditator and meditation writer/teacher. I don’t write a lot about neuroscience because it’s paradigmatically changing too fast. So, instead, in other places, I try to to talk about meditation in a contemporary-yet-timeless way, hopefully future-proofed (using philosophical, folk, and mathy language). But, in the conclusion, here, I talk a very tiny bit about my vision for meditation instructions that are rendered in a neuroscientific ontology “all the way down.”

I think meditation is a bit contentious in parts of the LessWrong community, out of concern for individuals and the wider community. I personally don’t recommend that most people meditate, but I would generally like people to know that (I personally believe that) “there’s a there, there,” in the spirit of truth-seeking and because, for some subset of people (I claim!), it’s really valuable. In the conclusion, I warn against “naively operationalizing” neuroscientific writing about meditation, and I list a bunch of peer-reviewed studies on meditative risks. Finally, I’ve left out a few possible sections that I thought were particularly tempting to “operationalize.”

Finally, I wrote this all in one go, so that it would definitely ship, and it becomes progressively less coherent through to the end (I think).

A meta-representational level of organization and computation

According to wikipedia, “somatotopy” is the point-for-point correspondence of an area of the body to a specific point on the central nervous system. We know that amputation or deafferentation changes an organism’s somatotopy and that these changes progress over time. It’s relatively uncontroversial that parts of the brain can “rewire” themselves, to some degree, after organismal insult, so this is maybe not surprising.

It might be a little surprising how reversible these changes can be.

A 2008 paper [1] is titled, “Chronically Deafferented Sensory Cortex Recovers a Grossly Typical Organization after Allogenic Hand Transplantation.” The abstract says,

“[d]espite limited sensation, palmar tactile stimulation delivered 4 months post-transplant evoked contralateral S1 responses that were indistinguishable in location and amplitude from those detected in healthy matched controls. We find no evidence for persistent intrusion of representations of the face within the representation of the transplanted hand, although such intrusions are commonly reported in amputees. Our results suggest that even decades after complete deafferentiation, restoring afferent input to S1 leads to re-establishment of the gross hand representation within its original territory.”

It’s just one paper, but there are nearby papers in “paper space.” These results suggest that at least the sensory cortex maintains significant plasticity throughout one’s entire life, or at least maintains latent plasticity.

Losing and reattaching a (new) hand is a very large change. What about the “changes” of daily life? The Atlantic reports on the phenomenon of “representational drift.” [2] (There are links to the relevant papers, in the article.) For example, neurons that represent particular odors change over time (“in mice”)—within a month, representations of the odor remain, but the representing neurons are completely different. This sort of phenomenon is found in several brain regions. Also, from older research, it’s sort of a truism that expert skill execution recruits less of the brain (and fewer muscles). Together, these results suggest that, representations in the brain are simultaneously both continually in motion (copied, transferred) and continually being sculpted. (When I say “continually,” perhaps this is during REM sleep, or perhaps it’s when awake behavior partially recruits those representations, or maybe it’s actually “continuously.”)

For some possibly relevant mechanism, according to wikipedia, in 2007, evidence was first found for so-called “didactic organization,” though this was predicted at least as early as 2001. [3] “Didactic organization is the ability of neurons within a network to impart their pattern of synaptic connectivity and/or response properties to other neurons.”

Relatedly, a popular article [4] reports in vivo results (“in mice”) showing that “the brain rotates memories to save them from new sensations.” In summary, “some populations of neurons simultaneously process sensations and memories. […T]he brain rotates those representations to prevent interference [n.b. via ‘orthogonal coding’].” The article also reports on similar work with monkeys, but in this case it’s orthogonal activity in the motor cortex, to separate motor planning and motor output. To emphasize, they claim it’s the same neurons: “Experimentally sifting through the possibilities, they ruled out the possibility that different subsets of neurons in the auditory cortex were independently handling the sensory and memory representations.”

These days, I think rapid switching network configurations are uncontroversial, and ditto for storing information in the same same networks at different frequencies, and I think the “darwinian nature” of the brain is fairly well accepted at the “neural level” and possibly the “direct representational level,” i.e. representations in local competition for neural substrate.

But, to my mind, all the above suggests that there is a sort of “meta-representational level” that can shunt around and transform representations somewhat independently of particular neural substrate. (versus, say, “substrate-locked representations” Hopefully the distinction is clear. And also I haven’t super stress-tested this idea.)

Meditation Interlude 1

These popular articles and this research caught my eye, because, as a long-term meditator, I sometimes have the visceral experience of almost a “raft” of representation (or a reusable computation) “detaching from somewhere” and “drifting” until it bumps into stable structure. This is hardly an argument for anything, and phenomenology doesn’t have to provide intuition about neural structure and function, and in fact phenomenology is often quite misleading, but, for what it’s worth, these experiences are what made the above material stand out to me, over the past few years.

There’s also something important that the above leaves out–I haven’t come across any nicely exemplifying research–and it’s something like “substrate contention” or just “constraint.” While, above, I suggested that there is a “meta-representation layer” that can ship around representations somewhat independent of neural substrate, the available “shipping routes” at any given time seem finite and non-arbitrary. To be a bit more clear, through analogy, meditation, to me as a long-term meditator, has much in common with sliding puzzles [5] and Tower of Hanoi-like problems [6]. Over weeks and months, there is tremendous flexibility. But, locally, far into meditative progress, there’s often very few degrees of freedom (after using up some degree of “local slack.”)

(And this implies local maxima and so one of the main functions of meditation and other self-transformative practices are for stepping backwards out of local maxima.)

The Brain is Meaning-Laden and Erroneous but not Noisy

I think “active perception” [8] and “active inference” [9] are fairly well known. In these paradigms, the organism is actively sampling the world and deliberately altering the sensory apparatus to more efficiently maximize information and falsify hypotheses (and perhaps minimize free energy and etc.).

I want to very loosely combine the above ideas with some interesting experimental results to make a bold, hand-wavey to counter a vague popular intuition that people often have about brains. That’s all pretty vague. Let’s begin.

[Content warning for several subsequent paragraphs: invasive animal research] A lot of sensory neural coding experiments are done on anesthetized animals. The animal is perfectly still and “unconscious” (or perhaps barely-conscious, with drugs titrated to get a requisite level of brain activity). And the animal is stimulated, somehow, for example visually or aurally, with a mathematically parameterized stimulus, while neural recordings are taken.

But, more recently, relatively more data is being collected from awake, behaving animals. Reported popularly [10], researchers found that, for example, “The visual cortex knew exactly what the animal was doing, down to the details of its individual movements.” The article quotes a researcher not affiliated with the study who says, “Everywhere in the brain, it’s the same story. The movement signals are just really unmistakable.”

In a different article, the same popular publication reports on “aperiodic background noise.”  [11] In my own words, and this is more a speculative interpretation and hardly a summary at all, this “noise” may indirectly subserve representation or inference or it may directly represent, but, in any case, this “noise” may not be “noise” at all.

What do I mean by “noise,” then?

Before writing this section, I went briefly looking for a very concise statement about the difference between error and noise with respect to a model. I found something good enough in a somewhat random post by an individual named Adriaan Peens-Hough. Thank you, Adriaan. [13 [sic]]

Adriaan says the following (bolding mine):

1) the residual is the difference between the true phenomenon being studied and the model being employed to describe it.
2) noise is that part of the residual which is in-feasible to model by any other means than a purely statistical description. note that such modelling limitations also arise due to limitations of the measurement device (e.g. finite bandwidth & resolution).
3) error is that component of the residual that remains after accounting for the noise.
according to the above definitions:
a) noise and error are uncorrelated
b) residual may be reduced by either reducing noise or by reducing error
c)  these definitions are compatible with the intuitive statements that “noise does not introduce bias” and “bias is a class of error”.
finally note that error can only be reduced by improving the model (either of the phenomenon or of the measurement process). however noise may be reduced by either improving the measurement device, or by improving the model fidelity.

Given all that terminology, I want to first-pass vaguely claim something like, “there is no noise in the brain; there’s only model and error.” I will expand on this a bit in the meditative interlude.

Meditation Interlude 2:

I think people sometimes experience themselves as sort of “messy” or “haphazard,” say in behavior or belief. And popularly, we think of the brain as “wet and messy,” a hunk of Jell-O. We talk of brain farts.

Say, Internal Family Systems and some other contemporary modalities (and old-school psychoanalysis–Freudian slips–to be fair). That is, in the popular consciousness, we have some conception that sometimes minds/brains/people do things for no reason, or at least no good reason, yet there’s also the conception that we sometimes do things for “deep reasons.”

After thousands of hours of meditation, I’m mostly on the “deep reasons” side. Or at least perhaps the “always reasons if not always deep ones” side. (Importantly, though, these reasons aren’t necessarily first-pass or n-pass explicitly articulable; and I don’t think “reasons” are a natural kind).

Instead of “reasons,” maybe it’s better to claim that sensory data is always “interpreted” or that almost all neural activity is nearly synonymous with interpretation.

I mentioned slider puzzles and Tower of Hanoi problems above.

To be sure, phenomenology can be buzzy, shimmery, sweeping. Attention can be choppy. “Thought” can seem fragmented, repetitive, loopy.

But the impression that emerges, at least for me, over thousands of hours of meditation, is of something the opposite of “mush” and instead something of “thresholds, criticalities, steel cables,” something far closer to a Babbage difference engine than, say, a monkey mind or electrical impulses rattling around in Jello-O. Not springs and rubber bands, but gears and rods. The monkey mind is instantiated by the Babbage difference engine.

This is getting a big vague, be degrees, as I run out of steam. But: model error, not noise.

Source Localization and Epistemics

[This section is copied from a facebook comment I made [12]]

What are some examples of epistemic upgrades you’d predict [from meditation]?

This is very terse/schematic, but I predict improvements in:

(1) attribution and provenance

(2) reasoning

(3) transitive closure and de-contradicting of current beliefs

*(1) attribution and provenance*

(a) better attribution of the causal chain of an belief update and

(b) improved concepts/ontologies,

because (a-b) are causally downstream of improved source localization and separation/deconvolution of sensory phenomena [1].


*(2) reasoning*

Improvements in sensory processing are also improvements in reasoning, even though high-level reasoning processes might seem remote from low-level sensory processing. Here are some additional claims, with some loose argumentation:

*Past* sensory impressions/memory, in a sense, become/condition/sculpt the structure of *current and future* sensory processing *which includes* the reasoning process itself, which itself is *partially* a sort of “sensory processing” of “inner experiences.”

So sensory processing, at the neurological level, is deeply entangled with high-level reasoning.

And so even high-level epistemic errors can be traced back to past or current sensory processing errors.

*(3) transitive closure and de-contradicting of current beliefs*

Claim: Past (and contemporary) sensory processing failures, even ones from decades ago, can be corrected, which can cause a cascade of conceptual/belief improvements, to old beliefs, as well as the bleeding edge of belief, in the present.

This process of correction involves re-processing old sensory experiences, which includes reprocessing prior experiences of the reasoning process itself, and thereby a refactoring of the reasoning process itself (again because of how experience becomes structure/process).

Because of “compression” and a strange sort of quasi-losslessness, it’s possible in meditation to go all the way back to childhood traumas, very old epistemic errors, and so forth, in less total durational time than it took to live them. (cf. also the so-called memory reconsolidation literature) And that reprocessing cascades through the rest of one’s belief system causing further improvements, upgrades, and so on.

I analogize meditation to paying off technical debt. [More sections in my doc:]

  • technical debt, meditation, and minds
  • a speculative comment on language learning
  • technical debt and inverse operations
  • merely just having the experience itself, and, technical debt is good, actually

I made a lot of inferential jumps in the above, for brevity!

(Miscellaneous) Interlude 3:

Finally, I want to talk briefly about representations, as such. Above I refer to representations as if they’re “real things that exist that directly represent other things.” I’m taking a strawman interpretation of my own writing above. In that vein, one could imagine an organism with a brain as something like:

perception –> update representations (beliefs/goals) –> action –> perception –> action…

In place of representation, I like “functional (stateless) computation.”

That is, the “state” of the system is stored in “that which continuously, waterfall-style, without feedback loops, computes motor outputs from perceptual inputs.” (In that scheme, the “flow of information” through the computation directly and continuously shapes the computational substrate to optimize the computation.

But of course we know there’s feedback and feedforward in the brain, so it’s not quite like this. But I want to strawman caution against inferring the existence of “representations as such” from symbolic behavior such as speaking, writing, and even thinking.

Conclusion and Caution:

So the goal of this piece was to highlight some relatively more contemporary results in neuroscience that have piecemeal stood out to me as a long-term meditator. In my main meditation writing, I don’t talk much about neuroscience because neuroscience is in its infancy and it’s currently difficult to write meditation instructions in a way that “directly operationalizes neuroscientific concepts.” If I wrote a lot about neuroscience and meditation, it’d all be more and more obsolete with each passing year. So I’ve tried to future proof my writing by using folk, philosophical and math-adjacent concepts, in both gestural and precise ways.

Maybe neuroscientific concepts will never be the right ontology. Of course stroke victims and TMS research subjects can sort of learn to differentiate when precise local substrate is or isn’t working. And I will say that, when I started meditating, I “didn’t feel like a brain,” but now the long-run shimmer and sweep of meditation, at the finest phenomenological grain, feels suspiciously like brainwaves (the frequencies are right) and subtle, very fine-grain aperiodic shimmering across the whole phenomenological field (pervasive during meditation but not while living life) feels suspiciously like the phenomenological correlates of synaptic potentiation and depotentiation as such. But, anyway, still, I’m not sure, and maybe “neuroscience” will always be the wrong level of abstraction for meditation

And, anyway, in any case, I dream of meditation instructions that are “neuroscience all the way down.”


The above (and here) serve as a bit of a caution, too. Willoughby Britton [*] finds a non-negligible percentage of severe sequelae in meditators, even for those under the supervision or ostensibly qualified teachers.

Neural state space is finite but vast. I currently guesstimate that it takes about 10,000 hours to walk the “whole thing” even just once, loosely speaking. I believe that being safe can be very counterintuitive and even “accidentally optimal” meditation can be a rough ride. For what it’s worth, the above concepts and ontologies in this post aren’t remotely like the ones I use in my writing and teaching about how to meditate. Please don’t operationalize any of the above in terms of “bespoke meditation instructions” or please be careful if you do.


[*] Britton et al., and others, from her citations:

  • Anderson, Thomas, Mallika Suresh, and Norman AS Farb. “Meditation benefits and drawbacks: empirical codebook and implications for teaching.” Journal of Cognitive Enhancement 3.2 (2019): 207-220.
  • Cebolla, Ausiàs, et al. “Unwanted effects: Is there a negative side of meditation? A multicentre survey.” PloS one 12.9 (2017): e0183137.
  • Lindahl, Jared R., et al. “The varieties of contemplative experience: A mixed-methods study of meditation-related challenges in Western Buddhists.” PloS one 12.5 (2017): e0176239.
  • Lindahl, Jared R., et al. “Progress or Pathology? Differential Diagnosis and Intervention Criteria for Meditation-Related Challenges: Perspectives From Buddhist Meditation Teachers and Practitioners.” Frontiers in psychology 11 (2020): 1905.
  • Lomas, Tim, et al. “A qualitative analysis of experiential challenges associated with meditation practice.” Mindfulness 6.4 (2015): 848-860.
  • Schlosser, Marco, et al. “Unpleasant meditation-related experiences in regular meditators: Prevalence, predictors, and conceptual considerations.” PloS one 14.5 (2019): e0216643.


[1] Frey, Scott H., et al. “Chronically deafferented sensory cortex recovers a grossly typical organization after allogenic hand transplantation.” Current Biology 18.19 (2008): 1530-1534.

[2] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[3] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[4] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[5] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[6] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[7] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[8] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[9] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[10] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]

[11] [Last accessed: 2022-02-07]


[13] Peens-Hough, Adriaan. (2016). Re: What’s the difference between noise and error in a dataset?. Retrieved from:

making connections between my stuff and lineage traditions, in three parts (draft!)

This post/section comes in a three parts, and, as a whole, it’s meant to explain and demonstrate similarities and especially overlap between practices that I write/teach about, as well as commonalities and overlap between all self-care, self-transformative, and spiritual or meditative practices and traditions.

It’s still in a draft/unfinished state–re-reading, it’s just really really dense with technical terminology, so it might seem convoluted (and it is a little convoluted), but I think it’s all sort of schematically there, for those who spend some time with it. And future drafts will unpack and explain and clarify and de-convolute.

I’m also unhappy that there’s still a bit of a “bite” in some places, and I want to soften that, too.

PART 1: “same playing field”

This post/section depends on a few premises, so I’ll list them now:

(The below starts off very abruptly and densely, in the first premise, but if you kind of let your eyes glaze over on the first read, and just skim, it quickly gets easier to follow after a few paragraphs.)

The first premise is something like the “redo-to-undo” principle. The the redo-to-undo principle is something like, for a particular latent (high-dimensional, distributed) “patch” or “area” of bodymind “state,” i.e. the way the bodymind (latently) is–for that area of bodymind to change or transform, that area must be “redone” or “replayed” or “reactivated” or “re-evoked” or “activated.” After being re-evoked, it is labile, changeable, and it can participate in mutual transformation with other “bodymind” that is also concurrently activated. (And this implies that there is “doing” (and redoing) and “undoing.”)

The second premise is something like liberated mind, natural mind, ordinary mind is the same thing as “settled” mind. (“Settled” shouldn’t have a connotation of static or fixed. It’s still open, sensitive, responsive, (structurally) fluid. But just like water in a container, it can be at rest until stirred, and it can smoothly resettle if left alone).

The third premise is something like “connectedness of mind.” What this means is something like, if the mind is changed somewhere, then it’s like, from that change point, there are tendrils all throughout the mind, that either ever so slightly tug a little bit or every so slightly become more slack. And so, after ANY change in the mind, either through meditation (prior to “enlightenment”) or spontaneously (after “enlightenment”) [both very loosely speaking], a “global settling process” is kicked off, a perturbation, a reverberation, that ultimately touches at least some of the mind, and, in principle, in the most general case, needs/does touch ALL of the rest of the mind, sometimes many times, to reach global settledness.

The fourth premise extends the second premise and is something like, in addition to premise 2–a “liberated mind, natural mind, ordinary mind is the same thing as ‘settled’ mind”–such a mind is also a “fully untangled mind.” (And this implies that there’s such a thing as “tangling” and “untangling.” And, so, some “doing” is tangling and some “doing” is untangling (and some is neutral). And let’s say any/all “undoing” is net or mostly, if not entirely, untangling.)

The fifth premise is something like, explicit meditation instructions can only ever be incomplete, and can only ever partially specify what needs to be done for “complete untangling.” That is, they can’t fully specify all the things that need to be *done* in the technical sense. (In parallel, a teacher cannot fully specify all the things that need to be done, either. Of course, for explicit instructions, or teacher interaction, it can be a long, patient, extended text interpretation, or interaction, with multiple texts or teachers, to finally get all the pieces that one needs, to get all the rest of the pieces that one needs, through individual practice.)

Therefore, a *personally adequately liberatory practice* must implicitly contain the seeds that, through practice, self-generate all the things that need to be done, *for that person*, in order to be fully liberated, settled, etc.

And, a *universally adequately liberatory practice* (which doesn’t exist except empirically by degrees) must implicitly contain the seeds that, through practice, self-generate *all* the things that need to be done, *for any person*, to complete full liberation, settledness, etc. (Note, for completeness, that I think this is only asymptotically possible and also environmentally contingent.)

Note that *anything* that can be *done*, including nuances, shades, modulations of any particular “doable thing,” must be something either explicitly specified or “self-generate-able” by a universally adequately liberatory practice (UALP). Because, some person, somewhere, in imaginable principle, will need that particular thing, and it won’t necessarily be in their starting repertoire.

What the above means is that *anything* doable is potentially a part of practice, either as seeking out similar experiences one has had in one’s past (“environmental redo-to-undo”), or finding one’s way internally to original sense impressions (“memory redo-to-undo” [successful environmental redo are also memory redos]), or internally recreating missing experiences, when adequate, that one can’t have out in the world (because impossible, dangerous, unethical) and also never had in the past (“imaginal non-tangling ‘do'”)

And so anything non-tangling or untangling (and even things that locally tangle in the service of future untangling, cf. technical debt), is partial spiritual practice, including things that aren’t normally thought of as “spiritual” practice (by some people), like focusing or therapy, etc. (Some people will say, of course focusing and therapy are spiritual practice, and so on.)

And so the conclusion or punchline of all of this is that, I don’t think most lineage/wisdom traditions will claim that their path will work for “everybody,” so they’re not claiming universality or near universality. But, they might claim something like “generality,” as in “kinda completely works for some relatively large-ish reference class of people, and at least does some good things for an even larger-ish additional set of people.”

But, to the degree that a tradition says, “X isn’t a part of our path, we don’t do that, that’s not buddhadharma,” they are leaving out anyone who needs any of that doing or redoing, and are sort of “removing all doubt” that their path is not universal. Because, any path that leaves something out will then not work for all bodyminds/people, as it were, because of connectedness and other premises.

And, all of this is why I sometimes say “same playing field,” whether it’s vipassana, yoga, focusing, tantra, therapy, etc. None of those, narrowly specified, are complete and adequately universal spiritual practices, but they must necessarily “inhere” in any truly universal spiritual practice or path.

PART 2: continuity between “mundane” and “supramundane”; breadth-first vs depth-first

So there’s sort of a “continuity” or “contiguity” between “mundane” beliefs and “supramundane” beliefs.

Before getting to that I want to just note that the idea of “belief” is problematic in a lot of ways, so maybe swap that out for anticipation, expectation, or perhaps “the very being and seeming of the world,” like how it appears, the prereflectively felt affordances and possibilities one has, and so on. And you can also swap out “beliefs” for “insights” or knowing, understanding, etc. (We can stop before adding “thoughts” to this; one can have knowing or understanding without thoughts, per se, verbal or otherwise. Even non-symbolic cognition, felt senses, and perhaps arguably even knowing, might be potentially left out or at least unnecessary, to backpedal a little bit. All of this has to interface with aconceptuality as well, which is beyond the scope of this section.)

So the claim that I’m making is something like “mundane” beliefs, or whatever, and “supramundane” beliefs, or whatever, are qualitatively and functionally the “same kind of thing,” and the only difference is sort of of a matter of degree along some particular axes that I’ll talk about in a moment. (Also, when I say the “same kind of *thing*,” this is all being written in a toy linguistic schema, and, in another sense, of course beliefs, knowing, etc., isn’t/aren’t thing-like, to the same degree nothing is thing-like and especially phenomenal stuff isn’t thing-like. But it’s just easier to talk about “things” and “somethings” when that’s good enough for local purposes.)

So mundane beliefs or stuff are things like your recollection or remembering of what you ate for breakfast, or the color of your car or your friend’s painted fingernails, or what someone said earlier, or what you think is going to happen tomorrow. This is sort of the relatively contemporaneous stuff that you use to navigate the world, and also semi-episodic (or not) childhood stuff and beliefs or guesses about the future, and so on.

And then supramundane stuff are the things that are “really deep” (and we’ll actually talk about “deep” in a moment) or “really phenomenological” or existential or metaphysical. Where there’s a sense that these things are qualitatively different because, when they change, something big or small changes about “the very being and seeming” of self, world, everything.

And, so, in a nutshell, I’ll claim that even “mundane” stuff is changing the very being and seeming of the world, just ever so slightly and barely noticeably, more “locally.”

Ok but why does the supramundane stuff sort of take *so long* (sometimes) to change and why does it sometimes feel so “big,” what *is* different about it.

We’ll need some conceptual pieces:

The first is something like “durational time attention bottlenecked updating,” and so the idea is that the whole body mind can’t change all at once (though any “single” change can be really high dimensional and touch many little things, all at once, but it’s still only the tiniest of a fraction of the “whole thing). So there’s a constraint on how much can change at once, and that sort of implies a “real time” constraint or that changes happen over real time. We can encapsulate this as something like change only occurs where “attention” goes, and “attention” is in scare quotes because I’m referring here to neither quite what we sort of phenomenally think of as our “attention” (for which many aspects of which sort of evaporate over long-term meditative practice) nor do I mean a pretty theoretical construct like in abstract cognitive science (and the neuroscience is outside the scope of this section). But, close enough for now, ok, anyway, you could think of like a spotlight of attention sweeping around, and stuff changes under the spotlight.

This metaphor of a spotlight is helpful, because sometimes changes that occur happen in a way that “goes on top of” other changes, and occludes whatever’s beneath. So the “light of the spotlight” can’t reach what’s underneath, and so what’s underneath can’t change, until the spotlight and surrounding stuff interacts with what *is* on top in a way that gets it out of the way. In summary, though, some changes can (reversibly) lock in other changes. And the thing underneath can’t be labile, can’t be changeable, malleable until “unlocked.”

Ok, and this “on-top-ness” or “locking” can be in layers. Like, whatever locks something underneath, can then have something go on top of that, which then locks that in place, and so on. So there can be these sort of very tall “microcolumns” or vast sheets of layers on top of layers on top of layers, like heuristically, hundreds of thousands of layers deep, and so on.

So this gives us the idea of “depth” (which is loosely correlated with a feeling of “inwardsness” or “inner space-ness” or “lower chakras” [cf. neural cord development], but don’t get hung up that! It’s a very loose and loopy correlation, that goes all over and within the body and beyond, and lower and inner unwind and untwist and evaporate into a positive phenomenal flatness and just-this-ness and isotropy over thousands of hours of meditative or spiritual practice).

Now, we’re sort of at least shallowly layering and delayering all the time, learning and unlearning, revising beliefs. Layering is fast and dirty and easy for the mind to reach for (but sort of takes slack out of the system and “uses up” “mind space” faster). And we do unlayer shallow stuff fairly easily, like if, ok, the color of our friend’s car or someone’s nail color, we realize, is more of an off-white (instead of gray, for the car) and a pink (instead of an orange; for our friend’s nails). But unlayering deep stuff takes a long time. Some of it is sort of working through no-longer-needed upper layers. And some of it is “structure preserving transformations,” that functionally keep the same beliefs/stuff but move it “off to the side” to expose deeper layers. This latter requires “slack,” and so the system has to figure out how to work through at least some things before doing structure preserving transformations. (It’s all a bit like tetris, metaphorically speaking, with the modification that you can sometimes move  the topmost pieces upwards and re-place them, with fewer “holes” and also the right placements (“oh i really truly don’t need any of this, right here, anymore”) can make more space. And you can temporarily stack existing placements higher to get access to deeper placements.)

In any case, supramundane stuff tends to be at deeper layers.

Now, in addition to the dimension of depth, there is also the dimension of “tangledness.” Recall we can pretend attention sort of moves around like a spotlight, but also let’s say attention “strobes” or blinks. And each time attention is “on,” say that’s a “mind moment” or even a “snapshot” a photography picture (though not quite so static, of course). So attention is a series of mind moments. And let’s say, for an untrained mind, mind moments are *tangled.* That is, each snapshot has sense doors, “self-ness”/witnessing, motivational aspects like suffering, ontology, belief, relevance, all sort of tangled together.

And, say, some things are pretty “non-fundamental,” like they tangle into, say, 2% of mind moments. But, some things are “relatively fundamental” and they tangle into 80%-95% of mind moments. And, say, to have an insight about something, it has to be relatively more detangled or even completely detangled from everything else. When fully detangled, gathered, deconvolved, disembedded it can sort of be taken as object as such, can come into contact with other stuff in the mind as such, and get spontaneously transformed, metabolized, all sorts of things.

Untrained mind and non-meditating mind moments (pre enlightenment, or whatever) is at least lightly tangled or tangling, like at least 51% tangling. And during meditation (or post enlightenment, or whatever) mind moments are at least 51% to 99% untangling or untangled.

Now, stuff corresponding to the three characteristics (as well as other stuff, to be sure) are relatively much more deep and much more tangled than other stuff in the mind. Self, suffering, permanence/eternalism, perhaps at least one of them are found tangled into almost every mind moment–other stuff, too, not just these. And early childhood conceptual stuff can be even deeper, and childhood trauma can come pretty close to just as deep, too. (And, also, do they even EX-ist (exist) prior to detangling, gathering, etc.? Or might they latently SUB-sist (subsist)? There’s something conditioned-ly universal or quasi-universal going on, here. But this parenthetical is a suggestion to not overly reify the three characteristics or anything else in the mind as different or more special than anything else. But something cool is going on, here. Something can sort of starkly and conceptually “pop out,” in a way that might be really similar across people. And perhaps that has a particularly genetic/developmental basis or its a near-universal “psychological stopgap solution.”)

Some traditions are sort of “supramundane first” or “depth-first,” which still involves a great deal of mundane, slack-increasing, structure preserving transformations. A tremendous amount of mundane-involved delayering still needs to occur for “depth-first” practices. But, even given that, a tremendous amount of mundane work is still needed after things related to the three characteristics unravel (and other related stuff, cf. luminosity, and so on). And sometimes this can involve a lot of destabilization, integration sickness, and so on. And so someone might benefit from conventional therapy (or plenty of other stuff) after “going depth-first” because a lot of things will be left still unfinished, as it were. And some things will be easier, because so much will be untangled, and some things will be harder because lots layering might have happened, to move things out of the way, in order to go deep.

An alternative to depth-first is breadth-first. Breadth-first might spend a lot more time near the surface, at first, might sometimes look more introspective and navel-gaze-y, but inexorably, more and more on the surface will be dissolved or profitably settled and off to the side. And “descent” might be slower, but there will be much less to do after descent, and possibly less time will have been needed, overall, because, as mentioned above, depth-first can involve a lot of layering that eventually need to be delayered. And breadth-first tends to be relatively more unlayery, all the way through, and insights tend to be more fleeting in salience because they don’t have a lot of “integration debt” arriving in their wake, as it were. Notably, breadth-first can still be a really rough ride, maybe often almost as rough as depth-first, it’s hard to get around that. And I could see breadth-first sometimes being slower, for some people, depending on the ordering of some things around fine-grain-ness of action and perception as well as steady stick-to-it-ive-ness. But breadth-first *might* sometimes involve a bit less behavioral/psychological rigidity, which can sometimes come with a lot of excess practice-related layering. Breadth-first can be harder to get traction or good feedback loops, up front, though, because there’s initially so much optionality. And depth-first can sort of profitably “bunch up in time” or stereotype-ify some things, which can make some kinds of patterns of territory and meditative action easier to see. (Issues with breadth-first can be somewhat mitigated by instructions that have explicit global wayfinding as mentioned in part three.)

In any case, both breadth-first and depth-first are just two alternative ways to engage with the same territory, same playing field, as it were. But either are sort of an attentional “space filling curve” that sort of has to touch everything anyway, for complete untangling, complete deconditioning and reconditioning. And so there are plenty of paths/curves that are a MIX of breadth-first and depth-first, and since breadth-first and depth-first are just schematic abstractions, any persons particular concrete path will look like a nebulous, personalized mix of both, with maybe some overarching features or one or the other, or not at all.

PART 3: Implicit and Explicit Global Wayfinding (or having the best shot of generating everything you need)

“Global wayfinding” is sort of how one finds just the right mix of breadth-inclined and depth-inclined in their own practice, really just concrete engagement with the territory that leaves behind and transcends any particular set of heuristic abstractions.

Very briefly, if one considers the bodymind to be in a particular “state,” at some point in time, call it state A. And there are future maybe possible better states like B, C, D.

Wayfinding is finding one’s way to those future states, not knowing, in advance, exactly what they are or how to get to them.

And *global* wayfinding is looking for future better states that have fewer and fewer tradeoffs, overall, compared to all other states, and sometimes necessarily passing through worse states to get there.

The relationship to main practice p2 is that doing or maintaining good things and stopping or preventing bad things (loosely and briefly speaking), cashes out as one way to directly *do* global wayfinding.

Each doing/maintaining/stopping/preventing slightly alters the system, moving from A, to A-prime, and so on. And one could replace p2 with an ever shifting constellation of practices from various traditions or the preliminary/auxiliary practices, and so on. In those latter cases, even those will probably give way to something ever-more sensitive and nuanced and personalized, beyond any sort of conceptualization.

Another reason it’s called “wayfinding” is because often the route is not direct. It’s twisty, with backtracking, “can’t get there from here,” and one must use care and sensitivity to gently avoid messiness or tangliness (long run) over time.

slow food, self-regulating diets

EDIT: There’s sort of a better thing, see the last update at the end.

[From this twitter thread:

I’m always messing with my diet, and, previously, weird diets I’ve tried led to fatigue, insomnia, cravings, etc. But, I think I’ve found the perfect diet, or, rather, the right conceptual distinctions. Research bears it out, though I don’t have references on hand.*

Some people will be like, “duh,” thought it’s taken me a weirdly long time to settle on this. There is a adaption period, depending on what you’ve been eating. It’s ok to cheat while adapting.

So this borrows the phrase “slow X,” and it’s basically the same thing.

The idea is that foods that absorb more slowly just cause a lot of things to right, in terms of energy metabolism and regulation. It’s not a new idea, and, as I said, there’s literature or maybe ok quality, to back it up.

So, we’ll go through each one:

  • 1. Slow fruit
  • 2. Slow vegetables
  • 3. Slow carbs
  • 4. Slow fat
  • 5. Slow protein

1. Slow fruit

You can eat unlimited amounts of fruit, yes fresh or frozen, but NOT juice or blended smoothies. (I choose organic or low-pesticide fruits, but that’s a secondary consideration.)

2. Slow vegetables

It’s ok to cook the shit of the them and add as much salt as you want, but you can’t use oils or dressings (see below). If you pair vegetables w slow fats (see below), you’ll likely find you don’t miss dressing/oils. High folate vegetables are important.

3. Slow carbs

No flour, pasta, bread, chips, sugar. Yes whole grains, inc. brown rice. No white rice. Yes cold-soaked rolled oats but not cooked oats (magnesium). Sweet potato (microwaved/roasted) for vitamin A. Legumes for folate. White potato (non-fried) ok unless sensitive.

3a. It’s important that sweet potato and white potato aren’t cooked at high heat and that they’re not cooked with oils. Microwaved is ok. Baked at 350F is probably ok. But not fried or baked at like 450-500F. No chips, no fries.

4. Slow fats

Yes whole or loosely ground nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, coconut.

No nut butters.

No nut, fruit, seed oils–no olive oil / no coconut oil!**

Meat can be untrimmed if drained (because rendered/liquified fat is no longer a part of the intercellular matrix, and so it absorbs too fast).

(Omega-3 source individualized by conversion/taste-some ppl will need fish, etc., some just nuts or flax seed)

5. Slow protein

Protein seems to mostly take care of itself. Drain away fat but it doesn’t have to be scrupulous. [So, to be clear, fatty meat is fine if the fat attached to the protein is “solid.”** And, again, as above, drained ground beef/lamb/bison/etc. is ok.] If you don’t eat meat, no problem, just make sure you’re getting meaty micronutrients [in whole food form, as much as possible!] that aren’t too mixed with antinutrients (e.g. phytic acid). (Plant antinutrients are almost negligible if one *is* eating meat, and can’t be fully ignored/discounted if one *isn’t* eating meat.)


And that’s it! Note the mention of vitamin A, magnesium, and folate. I’ve found I’m personally most likely to get deficiencies in these. Every so often I crack open a capsule and sprinkle some calcium or magnesium powder on food, to see if it tastes sweet.

If you’re eventually strict about all the above, you don’t have to count calories at all. Unlimited eating (and quick satiation.) Everything becomes extremely self-regulating. Again, eat as much as you want of anything in the slow categories. Effortless weight loss, YMMV.

If you’ve been eating fast carbs and fast fat, there will be an adaptation period of days or weeks. You might feel like your cells are screaming for energy. I am not a doctor; this isn’t medical advice. It’s ok to cheat in the beginning.

Sometimes, some people might have one or two in the above that isn’t self-regulating, you truly can’t stop eating it. If so, just leave that out. If it’s something marked with a vitamin, find a way to replace it.

If you have a weird craving, try to find a slow option that satisfies the craving.

I can’t emphasize enough how much things take care of themselves when you get in the groove. No calorie counting, smooth energy/sleep, etc.

I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, YMMV.

Ok, that’s it (unless I think of more things or I realize I left something out).

Oh–brown rice has inorganic arsenic issues, & if USA, shld be aromatic & from california, not texas. Internationally, some countries better than others. Always: cook in much excess water and drain.

And get enough sunlight, like on your arms and legs if not your face.

Oh, and dairy protein is insulinogenic. A little butter might be self-regulating, for some people. Definitely no yogurt with sugar. Very strong caution: yogurt and cheese and milk.

Ok, that might be it.

Oh, another thing–you have to exercise or at least walk like forty minutes each day. Otherwise, the insulin system gets out of whack and that leads to craving “fast” foods.



Starting the diet, or taking a break of a few days, and going back on, can feel like “your cells are screaming for energy,” or no healthy (“slow”) food could possibly taste good or be satisfying, as insulin receptors rejigger over a few hours or days, and mitochondria multiply, over weeks. You might crave carbs, sugar, etc. To get through this, it can help to eat unlimited fruit (which is already allowed on the diet) or to just have lots of “allowed” food cooked and ready to eat (including especially brown rice and sweet potato). This does eventually pass, and it’s easier with the clean conceptual distinctions above, and it’s easier with a lot of easy (but still “slow”) food, on hand, of which you can eat as much as you want, as often as you want.


Reasoning scratch:

*One thing is that different receptors trade off along the length of the intestine, and if stuff gets absorbed too quickly, at the beginning, a lot of later signals (with respect to satiety and other things) don’t fire. Also insulin resistance and more

**These oils still aren’t contained in intracellularly, or as cell membranes, or in some kind of intercellular matrix, so they’re not “slow release,” and they absorb too fast. I think for some people this will be fine. “Fast fats” are way better than fast carbs. :shrug: Not everyone should bother with slow everything (or slow anything). But it seems to make a real difference, afaict, personally–I’m not sure about empirical studies, but I imagine there will be nearby studies of some quality (with search terms that /don’t/ use the word “slow”). 


Addendum: cycling

After adaptation, it’s not a big deal to eat in a more insulinogenic way for 1-7 days out of every 2-5 months. If exercise has been getting sluggish, or you’re recovering from an injury, or some tissue or a gland or organ is getting too lean, the body may tell you to eat faster carbs (and thus more protein and fat) for a while. And that’s ok! You probably will put on at least some water weight, but you’ll still be at a net loss (if you’re losing weight) over a longer time period. Over time, “cheating”/”binging”/etc. will become more and more spaced out (lifestyle dependently)–there are supercycles of adaptation beyond just the initial adaptation period.


Select comments and responses:

> Very interesting! I’d enjoy seeing some meal photos too, as examples. What’s your take on eggs? Don’t think I saw them mentioned in the thread.
Eggs are ok, a whole/“slow” food. No cheese or butter (well butter is borderline [because almost pure saturated fat is *almost-but-not-quite* a slow food], maybe a tiny bit). Salt/pepper ok. Meals just look like a big bowl of vegetables, protein, nuts, seeds, and sometimes brown rice
Notes and additional points: is great (even though the landing page is weird) because foods and nutrients are cross-linked, and you can click back and forth between them.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you can’t figure out a nutrient or you can’t figure out a palatable way to get it–or you have craving or binging, multivitamins, multiminerals, etc., are ok to mix in around the edges or ongoingly! It’s weirdly hard to get all the things all the time just through food.
UPDATE: (the below is modified and more complete than the original thread)
(n=1, ymmv) I was already at a pretty healthy weight, but I wanted a flatter stomach, w/o calorie restriction or extra exercise, and I seem to be on avg losing bt 0.1-0.4 lbs per week for a few months, now, even while “eating as much as I want” or even feeling like i’ve overeaten
there’s still smthg metabolically/physiologically unfolding. I can tell (it seems like) it’s still happening, like something hasn’t even begun to be fully tapped. some of very slow but inexorable hormonal/metabolic/lipid remodeling, w attendant changes in carb/protein metabolism.
1/4 no PUFA/nut/seed/lard/fruit oil (unless it’s either the end of the ingredient list or it’s just a couple grams, net). so no canola, palm, lard, olive, macadamia, sunflower, corn, avocado oils… (cheese/eggs ok, fatty meat ok, ground flax ok, whole corn ok)
2/4 no sugar (white flour ok)
sugar in the ingredients list is ok if it’s very far down → amounts to only a little bit, on net, taking into account portion size. but it shouldn’t be a major ingredient ofc.
3/4 sufficient micros and protein 4/4 Otherwise eat as much as you want of all the things. And it’s ok to cheat on PUFA and sugar, to some degree, once you get a sense of everything. (a small amount or even a full binge, somewhere between once a week and once per month. YMMV.)
If it doesn’t seem to be working, try cheating less and/or being more strict about net grams in prepared foods. Note, though, that we need some PUFAs, including omega-3, so do listen to cravings, whether mundane or weird. Craving/binging may be adaptive, while the body is metabolically sorting itself out.
butter and coconut oil seem ok? coconut especially. butter makes me feel overfull/fidgety and maybe(?) stalls weight loss but doesn’t increase weight, or it’s very temporary? seems mostly fine but something to keep an eye on. a little butter to taste may be adaptive.
I am not a doctor, this might stop working, maybe I’m in error about what I think I’m eating, getting all micros can be a hard tetris puzzle, this is not medical or nutritional advice, talk to your doctor, YMMV, there can be daily or weekly fluctuations as much as a few pounds.

eternity, suffering, death

[Originally published, now with slight updates reflected here and in main doc: ]

[Update: A newer version of this is in the protocol doc.]

[draft status: in need of editing, as per usual]

There’s ways in which the below is inconsistent, confused, and incomplete–it’s not the final word, I still have a LOT to learn, and nor could it ever be consistent and complete, in a deep, philosophical sense. It’s offered because it might be comforting and useful, for some people, as an interim touchstone, or it might help some good things happen fractionally faster, or it’s just interesting. As a recommendation, if you’d otherwise be inclined, don’t particularly try to “make any of this stick”; one sort of has to find their way to this kind of stuff on their own terms, and then you “don’t need to make it stick,” as natural as trusting gravity.


So, many people take refuge in eternity and essentiality, and many people fear death, meaninglessness, and suffering. We encountered those sorts of things somehow already within ourselves, and/or we picked them up from culture, or we confused other people’s stuff with our own, in deep or subtle ways.

So let’s unpack all this a bit more and talk about pluses and minuses and antidotes.


So, IF there’s eternity (timelessness, outside-of-time-ness) then, this is a bit of an incomplete straw, but it kind of follows that everything that has ever existed does always already forever exist and that everything has a fixed, eternal essence. There’s a nearby and simultanously compatible thing, which is “sempiternity,” which means something like “an infinite future” (infinite timefulness, and, maybe necessarily along with that, an infinite past).

Some problematic implications of eternity and sempiternity are that, in some sense, if anything’s wrong with your “essence,” then, depending on how that works, there might be some sense in which it can never be fixed. You’ll be stuck with however you are, and if that’s bad, then that’s infinitely bad.

Additionally, everything becomes infinitely important, any choice has massive stakes, infinite stakes, because it could compound forever without relief. Death might not offer any relief. Anything that produces (“intolerable”) suffering (badness, loss, failure, rejection, loneliness, judgment, uncertainty) is potentially (infinitely) catastrophic. Sure, you might have infinite time to correct your mistakes, but what if, by some chain of events, you find you permanently cannot?


Alongside eternity, as complements or alternatives, there’s also mortality, death, and nothingness.

Problems with these are things like, if death results in nothingness then potentially everything is nihilist and meaningless. And then perhaps there’s no basis for action (or happiness, joy, etc.), perhaps because everything is ephemeral, impermanent–we can’t take it with us, including ourselves, we lose it all, as if it never was, so what’s the point?


And then there’s fragility and uncertainty which sort of underpin the risks of eternity, mortality, and suffering, and kind of take the joy and spontaneity and enjoyment out of everything.


And finally, all these things sort of get tangled together in potentially inconsistent ways. For example, say death if isn’t, for example, conceived as pure nothingness; perhaps it’s unfortunately conceived as sort of potentially an “in-between” state, of maybe trappedness, loneliness, fear, failure, and suffering, and maybe that’s “eternal.”


Ok, so what to do? Maybe just avoid thinking about all this as much as possible? What if you can’t not think about it?

All of the below assumes lots and lots of meditation (or luck/fortune/grace/etc.).


Some of the things that can happen over time are the following, and these are all sort of somewhat entangled together:

Sempiternity and especially eternity can come to be sort of deeply recognized as phenomenologically/pragmatically/epistemically inconsistent. It’s not that one can no longer work/think/model with conceptual and cosmological and mathematical infinity or plan for far futures, but some “literal or functional seating” of these ideas, in the bodymind, can be judged and rejected.

This is partly underpinned by insight into impermanence and/or/rather lack of essence and/or/rather interdependence, as in nebulous, empty, or provisional causes (laws), conditions (“starting” conditions), and spontaneity, through and through. Say it’s all just shimmering stuff or forces and fields or whatever, phenomena or noumena, on the border of differentiation and lack of differentiation. What perhaps follows is sort of a way in which anything like eternity or its implications becomes (literally?) ungraspable. (I might lose some physical or scientific or mathematical realists, here. See below for a tiny bit more on maps and territories and more.)

But isn’t there something like eternity or infinite time or at least vast time? What sort of does the work of that? What kind-of-happens-is-sort-of [sic] an “eternal now” which is sort of immanent, sort of aconceptual. This “eternal now” is very unlike the other “eternity” thing, which perhaps sort of “lived elsewhere.” (This also involves a “‘positive’ nowhere to go,” “just this”-ness.) It’s sort of a better fit for the whole system.

Sounds pleasant, maybe, but maybe literally false? And then what about meaninglessness and suffering and death?

Meaninglessness sort of gets handled by aconceptuality and fluidity and spontaneity. It becomes safe to rest in meaninglessness and pointlessness because there’s sort of something “beneath” them, so loss of meaning isn’t devastating and in need of scrupulous avoidance. And, further, one gains confidence that meaning is either inessential or is at least just always transient, because of systemic fluidity–one doesn’t get “stuck” that way, so it’s safer to go into, and there’s generally (nonmonotonically) something even better on the other side, and especially in the limit. (Spontaneity will be further discussed below.)


Fragility, uncertainty, suffering, and death sort of get handled in a few ways.

Suffering has sort of both “practical” and “general” mitigations. Here we first talk about the “general” mitigation of sort of “no-self-y-ness.” That’s not to say there isn’t often generally coherence and meaning, “self-ing,” but if there’s a disruption of the self and/or “intolerable” suffering, there comes to be a deep way in which it’s “just happening” that doesn’t require a self. (This is sort of coextensive with “no things, including no self, never have/has been, never were, never will be.” (More accurate might be “no stable, permanent, enduring things or self.”) Like, if you are disrupted, then are you still you, there, suffering? Creepy? But, like, in a good/comforting way? And, further, at this point, the “whole system, self and everything” has become extremely good at sort of self-endorsedly “reconstituting” itself, if disrupted. One can kind of rest in an extraordinarily self-aligned and trustworthy spontaneity, because that spontaneity, over time, sort of comes to know just what to do.

With suffering kind of more handled, it can be separated out from death and nothingness. When nothingness is disentangled from various confusions, it becomes much less of a big deal. It’s sort of just like deep sleep (which is still admittedly freaky to think about, for some people); in both cases “you’re not there,” and it’s fine while it lasts. It’s not like you’re there and trapped or there and can’t breath, and so on: it’s just nothing. And, so then “nothing” is especially not some sort of “experientially eternal” bad thing. So, again, much less of a big deal.

So then with suffering kind of more handled and nothingness kind of more handled, then death is kind of more handled–it’s the potential suffering leading up to death that can be super scary to think about, the (“intolerable”) fear of (imminent) death and the dying, versus being dead (in the case that death is “experiential nothingness.”) And, again, the spontaneous-no-self-just-happing-ness kind of helps with this.

Further, the “eternal now” can have a “soothingly deathless” feel. Sort of, as in, “if death is nothingness then you won’t know that you’re dead,” so you’ll always only ever be alive, and if “now is eternal” then you’re immortal-ish, etc.

All of this is sort of positively entangled (and deeply related to) the “practical mitigation” of suffering, i.e. “deconditioning.” People typically have a great deal of “cue-able” or triggerable suffering that gets worked through in the course of meditation. Prior to working through things, we are sort of uncontrollably, prereflectively, “already” freaked out by things before we become conscious of them. And so that happening less and less, for fewer and fewer things, is sort of part and parcel with the more general antidotes above.


But, like, you want things, and lots of people, all things being equal, prefer not to die, a lot, at the very least. If death becomes even remotely less of a concern, won’t people be less good or vigilant about avoiding death? And isn’t that kind of inconsistent and so isn’t that a good reason to fear death and uncertainty?

What kind of happens is a sort of “positive behavioral indifference” in that more and more things get handled and worked out such that “no matter what happens this is the best plan,” “you’re fully up to date,’ in ultimately a deep and prereflective way. So, like regardless of whether you’re (uncertainly) going to die in five minutes or fifty years or one thousand years, your “plan” is intertemporally consistent with respect to all those contingencies. Given your context, limitations, uncertainties, knowledge, there’s both “nothing to change” and you’re fluidly “updating your plan” in each moment as more sensory evidence comes in. And so, you’re avoiding cars, poking at life extension, somehow eating both healthy and deliciously, anything, in a way that fully accounts for your preferences. And “death” is kind of mostly-/semi-background handled in a way that doesn’t self-defeatingly loom large; it doesn’t suboptimally take up ongoing rumination time at the expense of other things; though, it might be innocuously and consistently threaded through things in a way that naturally comes up. All of this is perhaps one facet of “wisdom.”


This might all be well and good but what about something like impingement or corruption. Like what about mind control parasites (toxoplasma gondii) or Alzheimer’s or traumatic brain injury or whatever? What if I figure out a bunch of stuff about “eternity” and feel pretty good about that, but then I have a stroke and “lose” a bunch of it?

First of all, the brain is kind of holographic and reconstitutive. Maybe surprisingly, if stuff reaches a “ground state,” versus a person trying to make stuff stick, even traumatic brain injury, all things being equal, doesn’t necessarily mean a bunch of stuff is even transiently lost. And, even if “something” (loosely speaking) is lost due to physical or chemical insult, all things being equal, a “deeply settled meditative mind” will spontaneously work/flow towards rederiving/reconstituting what was disrupted (or will find something even better).

But, in any general case, life is messy and death is messy.

To be sure, people do have terrible brain things happen and, outside view, come through with unchanged personalities. But, sometimes a single microstroke will, outside view, radically alter a person’s personality or produce anosognosia, not to mention complexly related fatigue and anxiety (though, all things being equal, a long-term meditator does have a greater chance of “finding their way back,” very very loosely and reductively speaking).

Nothing remotely guarantees health, wealth, a “good death,” sanity, neurological integrity, a long life, immortality, “thinking real good,” hot sex, whatever. And, at the very least, at the time of this writing, meditation doesn’t free you from having a physical brain, subject to decay, demyelination, amoebas, car accidents, or anything.

All that said, a lot of the “antidotes” above generally hold, even in these most challenging of “edge cases” or one’s concern about them. Deconditioning, over time, promotes constructive action and handledness of various contingencies, which obviates and “integrates away” unconstructive worrying. “Best plan”-ness allows for a rich, full life in the light of death, not self-limited by fear or accident (in relative relation to one’s beliefs about risks, tradeoffs, etc.) “No-self-y-ness” and “trustworthy self-aligned robust spontaneous self-reconstitution” helps with acute accident and illness and suffering. Lots of other metaphysical and cosmological and conceptual stuff gets refactored and cleaned up, over time, which mitigates all sorts of unnecessary suffering.

But, yeah, there’s still uncertainty and finitude (modulo dissolving into Brahman, as it were, and eternal nows)–no guarantees about anything.

So here’s yet a couple more globally interrelated things to throw into the mix: determinism and provisionality.

Eventually, through life and meditation, one might get a deep sense of determinism, that, in some sense (pick your cosmology and physics and supervenience and etc.), everything can’t but happen exactly as it has happened, is happening, and is going to happen, via causes and conditions, states and evolution laws (or something kind of like this, in your metaphysics). You are happening just as you’re going to happen, things are happening just as they’re going to happen, including your choices and everything. What’s exactly going to happen is just exactly what’s going to happen. This can be kind of both terrifying and ultimately soothing, by turns, a particular kind of loss of control. But, eventually one can comprehensively sort of align with it, participate in it, deeply, stably, with no remainder. And there’s a deep freedom in that.

Further, in that freedom, there is a certain provisionality. You really don’t know. Was what just happened ultimately good or bad? You really don’t know. What’s going to happen next? You’re “flowing forward” with respect to sort of your best guess as to what’s going to happen next. But anything could happen next, maybe not with respect to the world out there (in some sense), but at least with respect to your current state of knowledge (in some sense). Falsely thin probabilistic tails give way to more appropriate fat probabilistic tails.

And, amidst the sometimes ghastly, horrible, painful, sorrowful, determinism and provisionality are facilitative of curiosity, engagement, play, delight, participation, a cosmic poise, a cosmic opportunism: a bright-eyed, let’s see what happens next.


If you found anything above to be inconsistent or untenable or unsatisfying or false or unworkable, it’s just my own gestural snapshot of some interrelated things, and a low-dimensional projection into words, at that. Things will continue to unravel, settle, resettle for me over time. “Your thing,” on your terms, which will, say, be a living, sensitive dialogue, ultimately not separate from the being and seeming and acting in and of the world, has to be legitimate and credible and consistent and/or constructively nebulous for you.

And it can dialogue with other people’s things/deals, too, in comfort, love, intimacy, support, frustration, outrage, solitude, community, all of it, as part of that. Hell and heaven, eternity set aside, are other people, and all that.


* Whoops, also, I didn’t mean to imply that anyone has to sort any of this out, whether by meditation or anything. And, also, nothing special has to happen in meditation or etc.. This sort of stuff “just pops out”, all things being equal, in the course of correct practice.


don’t be here now

[Originally published: ]

Many people, deep, deep down (or at multiple “levels”) are seeking an elsewhere, an elsewhen. They’re trying to step outside the universe, break the universe, step through a portal, step to another side, into books, movies, daydreams, somewhere else, another planet, another dimension, somewhere safe, somewhere beyond death, somewhere with adventure, somewhere with love, just somewhere else.

Sometimes this is from parts of us not quite understanding, for example, as children, what books, tv, and movies actually mean, how the relate to the world around us; that material “gets in” (and that can be fine and is normal). And, sometimes, this comes just as a strategy for being safe or just getting away from the banal, terrifying, mortal, crushingly boring “tyranny of the here and now.”

These “portals” and other “places” are sort of instantiated through “inner space phenomenology” and “motor output” phenomenology that can introduce contradiction and contention in problem-solving and muscle/motor planning. And/but, in any case, these portals and places are also sometimes deeply sacred and meaningful.

There’s sort of a “double escape” thing that can happen—we sort of escape “towards” these other portals and worlds and dimensions (say, for safety, freedom, meaning). And/but, then we also sort of force ourselves “towards” some conception of “reality” or the “the real world” (also for safety—food, shelter, money—and sometimes this is where love and friends are, too, and sometimes not). So this introduces a sort of (fractal) “hitches” or “twists” or “switchbacks” in this system, where if we don’t go back and “recover,” honor, allow, integrate, receive, surrender to those beautiful, meaningful, “other places” and the ways to get to them, then our attempts to “function” in “the real world,” are kind of held back and stymied, to the point of muscle tension and more. This hitches takes modal/problem-solving “slack” out of the system, pull it tight, make things harder or slower or impossible-seeming. Further, beauty and meaning, being locked away in “other places,” can prevent us from finding wonder, meaning, love, competency, safety, strength, intimacy, wisdom, gratitude, grace, power, joy, community, adventure in the here and now.

It’s a bit of a roundabout journey: Sometimes the way to “here and now” involves going to the farthest reaches of fantasy. Further, we have confusions about here and now (and death and nothingness and a paperwork and jobs and all sorts of things) that make here and now excruciatingly boring, painful, and scary. So, any instructions that look like “be here now” can be pretty problematic for some people, some of the time. It’s confusing result with journey.

Further, *don’t take my word or anyone’s that “here and now” is good, or anything.* We have to find our own way, which, again, might look like five years (or forever!) writing (erotic robot vampire) fantasy and science fiction. “Here and now” is empty, nebulous. “Reality” is empty, nebulous. “Just this” is empty, nebulous. In any case, you still have to find your own way, “subjectively through your own self and world.” Which can take a long time and sort of be sometimes lonely and intimidating. But, that means you will not, cannot, must not leave behind anything you value, no matter how childish, cringe, weird, disgusting, beautiful, meaningful, sacred.

Structure-preserving transformations, that seek “wrong/erroneous/misdirected efforting,” over many thousands of hours, are one way for someone to “eventually make their way all the way down” to the parts of ourselves that, for very good, though sometimes confused, but not to them, reasons, are trying so, so hard to be somewhere else, for beauty, meaning*, safety, and connection.

And then, after that, sometimes things are simple, quiet, easy, rewarding, engaging, exciting in ways you couldn’t have imagined before. (And also sometimes ghastly, tragic, excruciating, and so on! But, in some sense, all of this is yours to navigate on your terms.) Invariants such as love and gratitude may coalesce and shine through more and more.


root cause of overeating and a meal

[See also: ]

[UPDATE: I now tentatively think something weird is up with sweet potatoes, even though they’re supposed to have pretty mild antinutrient effects. To be continued… Possibly seek another source of vitamin A (and possibly other things), but vitamin A may be the 80/20 thing to focus on. Or try limiting them to like 1x/week or something.]

Note: I’m not a doctor, this isn’t medical or nutritional advice, I’m not moralizing, and I’m leaving out some hedging and qualifying.

I’m pretty sure now that all overeating (and unwanted weight gain) is micronutrient deficiency transients and dynamics.

If someone takes an RDA bolus of copper in the morning and an RDA bolus of zinc in the evening, that won’t do anything useful. If they take an RDA bolus of copper and zinc at the same time (so they’re in the same ratio at the same time), even that won’t do anything useful.

What has to happen is (a) the right things, in (b) the right ratios, in (c) the right absolute amounts, (d) titrated over a time interval.

Unsurprisingly, “whole foods,” or “unengineered foods,” moving slowly through one’s intestines, is how one achieves (d) titrated over a time interval.

Also, our taste buds get the ratios right, if we put the right foods in front of ourselves, and we (e) exercise at least just enough that all the fuel burning systems are still running right even when we’re not exercising.

When someone is binging/overeating and/or gaining weight, one of (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) is missing. The body has to desperately eat too much of something to get too little of something, sometimes until overfull, and the body can’t shed the excess fast enough and has to put on weight to get things out of bloodstream that have no other place to go. (And then if that isn’t fully sufficient, things start getting deposited in the circulatory system itself.)

Maybe try this:

  • Put in bowl, ratios to taste (maybe heat some things before adding other things):
    • red meat (protein)
    • long-roasted sweet potato (“slow” carbohydrates; lots of vitamins)
    • olive oil (“mostly neither polyunsaturated fat nor saturated fat”)
    • iodized table salt (sodium, chloride, iodine)
    • beans (“slow” carbohydrates; lots of vitamins; can be from a can and rinsed)
    • a little bit of butter (saturated fat and a complex mix of other fats)
    • dash of MCT oil
  • Put in large mug, ratios to taste (let sit for a bit for the oats to soften and the frozen blueberries to melt, mix by hand/don’t blend):
    • orange juice supplemented with calcium and D3 (can titrate with regular orange juice for less calcium and D3; vitamin C; potassium)
    • uncooked rolled oats (they’ll still be pasteurized; magnesium)
    • ground flax seed (polyunsaturated fat: omega-3, omega-6; minerals)
    • blueberries (lots of vitamins; can be frozen)
    • a little bit of hydrolyzed collagen (protein that emphasizes other amino acids to balance muscle meat ratios)
  • Also:
    • Drink water when otherwise thirsty.

The above has pretty much everything the body needs, in a single meal. Note that this covers all electrolytes. One could add salmon, egg yolks, some broth of some sort, and maybe a little edamame every so often. Upgrades could be higher quality choices like organic, ethically sourced, etc. If you try this, you might find it very satisfying and that you’re not hungry for many, many hours afterwards, and that weight loss picks up after a few days.

preliminaries for communal, meta-rational, institutional design (draft; ~6000 words)

[Note: If something seems like “alarmingly breathless word salad,” you might just plow ahead, the first time through. It’s not word salad to me, but it’s a compressed draft. 🙂 ]


A person, in some sense, has fish-in-water, transparent, deep ontological contingency, in perception, action, representation, and deontology.

(^This sentence sort of structures the whole doc/post, so it might be worth taking the time to unpack it, a little bit. You might compare to see how it’s reflected in the table of contents.)


  • introduction
  • transparent/fish-in-water
  • ontological contingency
  • ontological contingency of [sic]
    • perception
    • action/intention
    • representation
      • word meaning/sense/intensionality/concept
      • belief
      • expectation
      • counterfactuality/irrealis/imagination
      • preference/desire/goals
  • interfacing
  • directionality
  • depth and ground
  • conflict, deontology, consequentialism, duty/obligation/should/necessity/ought/must
  • structural fluidity, sensuousness, concreteness, freedom/slack/space/play/noninterference
  • shadow, “hypershadow,” say-ability, space-making


We don’t immediately realize how different we are from each other.

Sometimes we surprise each other with our actions: “How could they do that?” Or, “That doesn’t make sense!” Or, “That makes sense, in retrospect.”

Sometimes we surprise each other with our words: “I wouldn’t have put it that way.” Or, “That’s an interesting way to put it.” Or, “What do you mean by that?”

But, by and large, we usually don’t realize how deep the differences go. We grow up in a particular family, maybe go to a particular school, maybe interact in a particular social media algorithmic bubble. And, so, sometimes, when we want something outside of (our) usual norms, or when something is *at stake*–maybe there’s scarcity of money, attention, skill, romantic partners, then we can suddenly realize how different people can be, sort of in their expectations of *how things should go.* Like, who gets what when, and in what order, how conflict is resolved, and so on.

In some ways, this goes “(almost) all the way down” to the “being and seeming of the world.” First pass, we sort of “see through” (instead of *see*) our “concepts” (our “lens”) of “what is” and “what should be.” This “seeing through” is why I use the word “transparent.”

And, we don’t realize that some of this, seemingly, “just what is,” could be, or, in some sense, could have been, experienced as otherwise. So, one way to look at “transparency,” is a sometimes the absence or lack of “available counterfactuality,” “could-maybe-be-otherwise-ness,” “might-be-otherwise-ness,” “modal slack,” and so on.

(“Fish-in-water” is sort of the same thing as “transparent,” like, “a fish has no concept of *wetness*, because a (metaphorical) fish is exceptionalessly, continuously surrounded by water, and knows of nothing else.”)

*ontological contingency*

“Contingency” is distinguished or contrasted from “necessity,” and I like to add in “arbitrary,” as well.

“Necessity” or “necessarily” sort of means “lawful,” or “[really, truly, absolutely, actually] couldn’t have happened any other way, or “Y necessarily follows from X,” “Y must follow from X” (though not in the “should” sense but the “does” sense).

There are shades of “causality,” here, though that’s sort of a different, but very related concept.

“Contingency,” then, sort of means “could be otherwise,” though still with a “dependency flavor.” That “dependency flavor” could be timeless or simultaneous, but, here, I’m using it in a more “timeful” sense. That is, something is “contingent” when “it could have gone a different way if something different had happened before that.” Put in another way, if we have Z because Y happened, but, we would have had B, if A had happened, then Z is contingent.

“Arbitrary” sort of throws out all dependency, necessary, contingent, or otherwise. Anything could happen or has happened! Could be any which way! And so on.

Note that these concepts (necessary, contingent, arbitrary, causality, timeless…) are sort of “hanging in imaginary space”; they’re sort of “toys,” though very useful ones. They’re sort of “out there in the world” and sort of not. Sort of “just in your head” and sort of not. Necessity and contingency sort of only make sense in relation to “counterfactuality” or “other, non-actual worlds.” And then if they’re “non-actual,” where are they? How do we imagine them and then talk about them? And is anything really, truly, completely arbitrary? Does contingency make sense without “underlying necessity”? And then, if so, is anything really contingent??

(This sort of tension between “hanging in imaginary space” versus “out in the world” starts to shade into ideas like “nebulosity,” and “emptiness,” not to mention constructive/positive uses of plain old vagueness and ambiguity, but this is getting out of scope of this document.)

In any case, a final important point about “contingency,” is that it suggests, if not implies, that, in some sense, the past and present aren’t fate or destiny. If things “wiggled” in the past, or, in some sense, could have been otherwise, then perhaps a bunch of those things, maybe even almost all of those things, have “wiggle” in the future, too. 


Ok, so then what’s “ontological”? It’s sort of “having to do with objects or things.”

An “ontology” is sort of a collection of “things that things can be.” Rather, it’s sort of a collection of “concepts” that can be “applied” to “referents.” So, an ontology is sort of a list of “things that can be conceived or conceptualized or recognized/identified.”

(Some other, related words, here are, “lexicon,” which is a list of words, and “idiolect,” which is sort of one’s personal mapping between words and concepts. Also, along with “concepts,” we might also speak of “kinds/types,” or “tropes” or “plural tropes,” but some of these distinctions get fuzzy, and we won’t go into them, here. Also, finally, in place of “concepts” we might also talk about “sense,” “meaning,” “knowing,” “intension,” “intensionality,” “felt meaning,” and so on.)

So, “ontological contingency” or “personal ontological contingency” is sort of pointing at how “different people have ‘different things that can be’, along many different axes. We’re explore a bunch of those axes, below.

Note, too, sort of as above, that these are all “toy models,” so we can have anything to talk about at all. Are concepts real? Where do they live? Can a “referent” even “exist” without a “concept”? Surely it must exist in “some manner” “independently” of perception/appearance? What is that manner? Can that manner itself be conceived or is that impossible? Do conceptualizing/conceiving somehow sort of work “the same” between people? Or is that also deeply contingent? How about when concepts “represent,” or “refer/apply”? How does that work? Does that always happen in the same way for an individual or between people? Do people “use” and “hear” language, differently? Do people “seat” language, differently? One might expect there are regularities or even deep necessities or that at least something “superveniently/emergently lawful” is going on. But, calling back to “transparency,” above, one might guess it’s much more contingent and varied than one might initially expect.

*ontological contingency of [sic]*

In the sections below, we explore, sort of, some of the axes/dimensions of how things can be, for people.


Is there a “world out there”? Of course? There’s a glass of water right there, an apple right there. But, does a cat or an apple “look the same” to child or a physicist or a biologist? I would claim that, in some sense, a biologist “sees something different” when they look at an apple, versus, say, a child. (I’m not saying it’s better or worse, just different.) Ditto for a physicist.

You might claim that they “see the same thing,” it’s just that, say, the “interpretation” is different, the sense, the meaning, the “sign.” (People mostly don’t claim that, after postmodernism, so we’re using it as a bit of a straw, here.)

But, what about an artist? Does a painter *see* the same thing as a biologist, when they look at an apple? Or a musician, for a symphony, or an athlete for a game in play, versus a non-painter, a non-musician, or a non-athlete?

I would argue that there’s an “ontological contingency” of perception. Perception, interpretation (and action), are all linked, in ways that change the “very seeming” of the world “out there” (or “in here”).

Usually, there’s a tremendous amount of “overlap,” between people: we “see it differently,” but “close enough.” Or, it *is* very different, between some people, but each person “has a thing that does enough of the same work.” (That has a bit of a “too separate,” feel, though. Again, it’s “transparent,” “seamless.” Note, too, this isn’t necessarily how any of this feels for *you* from the inside. It’s a toy, a model.)

When there’s conflict between people, sometimes, it can even be that two or more people are seeing things that another person “doesn’t see at all,” it’s not in their ontology or “perceptual vocabulary.” It’s not just that people are seeing the same thing but attributing different implications to that seeing, but, again, they’re seeing (or missing) different things entirely. And if people don’t have the time, space, safety to suss out those differences, then that can lead to misunderstandings, and escalating misunderstandings, and conflict.


Think of all those *ways* we can think, reflect, imagine, plan, intend, and all those muscles and motor units, sports and dance, walking, shuffling, reaching, playing. The space of “mental+’attentional’ action” and “physical action” is astronomical. There’s different styles of dance, different styles of martial arts, hair-splitting differences in posture, distribution of weight, speed. There’s also “abstract, temporally extended actions,” too: We file TPS reports *this* way. We give presentations *that* way. We have processes like *these* to produce group outcomes.

So how do all those “actions,” concrete and abstract “fit together”? How do complex interpersonal things get done? Or, even just the feeling out of quiet intimacy, between two people? How do two people “come together,” if they’re from different hometowns, countries, internet cultures, etc.?


Below we cover things that have a “representational” flavor, an “aboutness” flavor, such as “(word) meaning,” “belief,” “expectation,” “counterfactuality,” and “desire.”

*word meaning/sense/intensionality/concept*

When people use the same words they almost certainly “mean” different things “behind” those words. (Of course!) Sometimes these differences are really obvious. And sometimes those differences are slight, in ways that barely matter. But sometimes they’re slight and subtle in a way that explode later. It’s not solely individual words, of course, it’s phrases, sentences, paragraphs, everything.

Also, the same person will use the same word differently at different times or even in different places in the same sentence. Sometimes this is referred to, pejoratively, as “equivocation,” but it can be fine if enough people “know what they mean, close enough” The ambiguity of words is very useful and powerful, too. There aren’t really enough words, in general. We have to reuse them to get anything done!

It’s very hard, even under the best of circumstances, to use a word “in the same way each time,” which usually doesn’t matter but is sometimes very useful, when someone is trying to create technical or theoretical ideas or writing, in a concise and elegant way. To be relatively more non-equivocal, one usually has to “detach the ‘referents'” from “reality,” in some way, to make a “toy” or abstracted or “idealized” “space.”

Back in the “real world,” it can sometimes help to use implicit or even explicit “subscripts” when referring: Government_Bob (“Government-sub-Bob, “or what Bob means when he says “government,” versus “Government_Sara”…)

Again, of course, we know people mean different things by the same words. And yet, that “of course” tends to not be “consistently global.” We get “triggered,” we forget, we get angry, we are astounded by the things people say. It seems that, at least without practice, we don’t have a “unified language interpreter” that “automatically adds subscripts to everything,” as it were. Sometimes, say with our parents, or our friends, or if someone with authority is speaking, the subscripts don’t get added, metaphorically speaking. And then we feel like we have to agree, or have to disagree, or are just confused. Over time, and everybody will do it a little differently, we can sprinkle in those subscripts in more and more places. And those “subscripts” can have a lot of nuance: Government_{Bob when he’s tired}, Happiness_{this author from five years ago but not in their more recent work}.

*belief and expectation*

“Belief” can mean a lot of different things, and even some of the “better versions” are, arguably, “fundamentally nebulous.”

We might use the word “belief” to mean “what people verbally assert.” Or we might use it to mean “what people verbally (or nonsymbolically) “think to themselves.”

More satisfyingly, is sort of “revealed beliefs,” that is, beliefs are the “things” that “determine what we actually do.” In other words, beliefs are “what we really expect” and “why,” the “things” that really drive action and reaction and everything we do (relative to, and interrelated with, preferences, desires, goals, fears, etc.)

This latter type of belief might seem “more true,” it’s “action-level” beliefs/models, as opposed to things we say or even think (even when those things we say or think tracks those action-level beliefs pretty well, though often they don’t, at least at first). Even for this “kind” of “belief,” are beliefs “real”? Sure. But are they *things* or *things as such*? Surely in some senses, yes, and, in other senses, no.

Sort of relatedly, one could sort of have a “three-valued logic” of belief:

(1) belief, (2) disbelief, and (3) absence of belief

The first two are sort of “presences,” there’s “something there,” and the last one is of course an “absence,” a “lack.” But, even in that latter case, there might be “another belief, or collection of beliefs” that’s doing the “same or similar work,” were that absence “filled.” For example, a person might not have beliefs (in some sense) about “societies,” but they have beliefs about “civilizations” that do “overlapping work.” Or, someone, loosely speaking, doesn’t believe in water but they do believe in H2O. It’s not quite this, because, again, we’re sort of especially talking about the “sensuous, real-time action-level,” but it is kind of like this. (Those more “abstract” distinctions, used in these examples, do matter, too, actually, and not even just for the situated writing or speaking to other people, that we do, as part of our “seamless actioning in the world.”)

And so, regarding the “nebulosity of belief,” these sort of “overlapping non-absences” are one dimension of that nebulosity, but not the only one, cf. phenomenologically, musculoskeletally, neurophysiologically, and so on…


Much of the above section applies to this section as well. In addition to beliefs and expectations, one can have ideas, “imaginations,” sensory imagination, stories, counterfactual worlds, logical propositions, etc., that, in some sense aren’t “true,” “real,” “actual,” “existing,” and so on.

Just like with “belief” and similar to ideas in other sections in the document, depending on how defined (and “definitions” have all the same issues as well!) there’s sort of a tension between the “hanging-in-empty-space-ness” of all of these things and how they “function in self and world.” Different people “do imagination” differently, in deep ways!

Things like “true,” “real,” and “actual,” “existing,” and so on, are problematic (or just nebulous), too. Things can be true in different ways, real in different ways, actual in different ways, exist in different ways. Things be “in our heads,” “in movies,” “in the discourse,” and so, for example, “real imaginary things.” But what about some things being “really real” or “specially real,” like, say, electrons, or death, or war, or just the glass of water sitting next to you, versus, say, unicorns. Leaving aside that someday we might genetically create unicorns, I would just say again, that there are senses in which that glass of water is “really real,” sure, and also not really real(!), but, more importantly, differently people *do* “really real” differently. “Really real” is “seated” differently, in different people. There are different kinds of “really real,” in some sense as many as there are people. You might ask, “but what about ‘doing really real’ in some sort of genetically, semi-universal, modulo slight variations in ion channel proteins, etc., homo sapien bare metal neurophysiological way plus physics plus…” (I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.)


Desires and goals are sort of “counterfactual but could be,” they’re sort of the bridge between imagination and reality. This is of course a “toy model,” like all the others. Preferences and desires and goals, both exist and don’t exist in similar ways to beliefs, imagination, etc., existing and not existing.

Similar to “belief, disbelief, absence of belief,” there’s sort of “positive goal obliquity.” [*] Sometimes the best way to achieve a goal is to “not conceptualize it as such,” e.g. sometimes seeking happiness prevents being happy, and so on. Trying to be cool is uncool, and so on. Trying to directly have a “good company culture” can become oppressive and creepy. Letting go of concrete problems can “cause” them to solve themselves.

Learning how to “conceptually let go of a goal without losing the goal” is something one can become better at, over time.

In any case, different people “do goals” differently, hanging in empty mind space or not, as part of the very being and seeming and affordances of the world, or not, plus the tension and synergy between the two. Goal-ness, goal striving, desire, motivation, etc.–it’s like we all have mostly the same hardware, and things look pretty similar on the outside, at first glance, but the internal “software,” how goals (or lack thereof) “work,” for different people, can be really, really different.

(And the idea of a “goal” is a bit of a “toy,” a schema. One can sort of play with “mechanism” and “telos”, “cause and purpose”, “first causes and final ends”. I won’t unpack these, here, but things can start to get tricky of one starts to really poke at the idea of a “goal.” Additionally, there’s tricky things around will, personhood, interdependence, wholeness, unity, and more, with respect to inner conflict, goal pursuit, multifinality, equifinality, and so on. And all these are sort of “toys,” too.)

So, how can people work towards “common goals”? How can people manage the creation and evolution of common goals, over time, as successes, failures, and learning accumulate, about what’s possible and what’s desirable?


With all of the toy conceptual machinery above, held loosely, we can sort of talk about “building mutual interfaces” between ontologies, of perception, action, goals, etc. Sometimes that will be explicit and verbal, like this document (and sometimes “meta,” like this document). And other times it’ll be sensuous, nonverbal, “having nothing to do” with stuff like in this document, felt out in real time, or, of course, a mixture of implicit and explicit, concrete and abstract, verbal and nonverbal.

It can be helpful to think about all the “ontological categories” we’ve covered, which are, of course, is incomplete, overlapping, and so on: perception, action/intention, representation, word meaning/sense/intensionality/concept, belief, expectation, counterfactuality/irrealis/imagination, preference/desire/goals.

All of these are sort of “interface targets,” all at once. (It’s sort of all seamless and interpenetrating, in any case.) That is, much of coordination, alignment, synergy, play, etc., is coordination about the assembly and disassembly of interfaces, that is, *”mutually recognizable matches and complements between different personal ontologies.”*

Sometimes this is so direct as to essentially be two or more people using the same ontology, narrowly or widely, and this can feel magical. Attention becomes “joint,” joint actions, “we”-actions. Other times, it’s relatively more indirect, there’s a translation layer. And this can be magical, too–plenty of play and safety while still plenty of “we.”


Is it all relative? Does it have to be “just interfaces,” “all the way up and all the way down”? Incommensurable ontologies merely locally commensurated? A hall of mirrors? What of goodness and truth and wisdom and ethics and morality and?

There’s different philosophies, here. And, it’s sort of not a cop out to say, “there’s different philosophies, here,” because being able to “find one’s own footing” (or to fly) amidst other people doing the same thing, is part of the spirit of this document.

But, leaving truth and reality (and goodness) aside, just for a moment, one could say something like “everything is relative, but relative doesn’t mean equal.” [*] I mean relative in the sense of “hanging in space,” deep contingency, nebulosity, buddhist emptiness, etc. But “not equal”: at the very least, we have usefulness, pragmatism, etc. Something can be more or less useful, depending on what one is trying to do.

Ok, but what about truth? There’s an interesting thing that can happen when someone starts moving along “pragmatism gradients” and “local-global gradients.” More and more useful, more and more elegant (cf. Occam’s razor), greater and greater explanatory power, fewer and fewer anomalies and counterexamples. I’m not saying it’s a “*continuous* multidimensional space,” or anything. But there can be directionality (and nonmonotonicities) and even, *very* loosely, provisionally, contingently held “globalities,” albeit “multischematic” and “interschematizable,” and nebulous. And, then, are we really so far away from “truth,” “correspondence” between “map” and “territory,” and so on? Arguably, these are all nebulous concepts, too. The concept of concept is also nebulous. Nebulosity is itself nebulous. And so on.

In any case, there are gradients, in some sense, some of the time, for some purposes. And the freedom to orthogonally and arbitrarily vary the dimensions of usefulness, pragmatism, goodness, truth, beauty, wisdom, compassion, etc., starts to seem less and less and less.

*depth and ground*

Farther above, I’ve emphasized how different people are. More immediately above, I’ve suggested there can sort of be more and more convergence around truth and goodness and stuff like that. Does it ever sort of fully converge? Like, can we all get along, in the limit? But what about in the meantime? And how did conflict get started? Why is there ongoing conflict?

I used the term “deep” in front of “ontological contingency” above, and, instead of “deep,” I almost said “radical,” but that’s too close to “groundless.”

That is, I definitely didn’t want to say “groundless ontological contingency,” and “radical ontological contingency” was a little too intense.

So what do I mean by “deep”? I mean something like “a lot but not completely,” though there’s at least one more piece that this sort of doesn’t capture by itself.

It’s “a lot” because it’s enough that people surprise each other and get into conflicts with each other. And, it’s “not completely” because we form tribes and civilizations and global economies, albeit with genocide, war, terror, poverty, sometimes, and more local abuse and violence.

A piece that’s left out is sort how we *move* from “ontological distance” to “ontological proximity” or “ontological overlap,” the method of interfacing. (That’s not to say that everyone has to have the same ontologies, or anything, just that being able to translate between ontologies seems to be very beneficial!) How that movement happens is sort of out of the scope of this document, but I wanted to note that that capacity for movement, or “translation,” or “harmony,” or “interfacing,” is there, of course. And, perhaps, we can do it far more reflectively and skillfully than we’ve ever done before. Though, that might bring new surprises and challenges of its own, of course, of course.

So, all that above i sort of the “theoretical or methodological endpoint,” a sort of maybe-convergence between truth, goodness, wisdom, compassion, etc., if one looks in the right way, over time.

And then what about a sort of “practical endpoint”? Like, concretely in the world? No war, poverty, scarcity, illness, etc.? That’s a bit outside the scope of this document, too. But, one can think about the idea of “positive sum” outcomes or stag hunts, from game theory, that is, all things being equal, abstractly speaking, everyone gets more, if we successfully work together. More and more winners and more and more winning. And/or less and less losing. It’s not really adversarial, at least in the limit, if we’re all on the same team, if we can figure out how to cooperate, then we all win, as it were. Astonishing post-scarcity. We’ve made a lot of progress, as a global civilization.

This is, of course, an extremely simplistic take. It leaves out so much, about human nature, and at least local or proximal “true scarcity” (even if no-scarcity-in-the-limit) and the state of the world, and how we got there, and where we’re presently going.

But, one could, at least, first pass, gather a lot of the complexity under, just, “better.” Sometimes nonmonotonically (two steps forward, one step back), sometimes obliquely (roundabout), but always thinking about better and better, together, under a very long time horizon.

*conflict, deontology, consequentialism, duty/obligation/should/necessity/ought/must*

Ok! So! Sprinkle on those subscripts, realize people use words differently, realize people are really different, realize, in the limit, we can do more together than apart–why is this hard? Let’s go!

There are challenges, of course. Part of the problem is that every individual starts out at at least “square one,” in terms of understanding the sorts of things in document (and all sorts of other things, and things like the above, said in different cultures in different ways!). Everybody starts out as a baby and a kid (that is to say pretty brilliant but ignorant). And then almost everyone starts out at, not even at square one, but, multidimensionally “less than square one”–trauma, abuse, poverty, confusion, loneliness, etc. It’s just really hard being here on planet earth, and a lot of energy has to be put into “just surviving,” let alone kind of “loosening up” all the stuff above, to make it easier to get along with lots and lots of other people.

And, this is generational, too. Knowledge, wisdom, meta-wisdom, societal-not-square-one, societal-square-2000-plus, has be maintained from generation to generation. Sometimes things/gains are lost, at least temporarily (which can be hundreds or thousands of years), at the societal level, even while things keep advancing, on other dimensions.

Anyway, we all have a different “splash pattern” of confusions and blind spots and “working together challenges” and sort of “triggers.” As above, we kind of “only inconsistently apply our own advice”; it’s somewhat context dependent, at least at first, and we maybe only approach more consistency asymptotically.

In our best moments, at lot of people have a sort of “deterministically blameless” sort of thing. Where, we’re all doing our best, we all sort of are a product of our causes and conditions, and the things we do are sort of more a product of circumstance than “essence” or character. So this allows for (a sort of) forgiveness or even “nothing and no one to forgive,” no matter how upsetting, clueless, myopically malevolent, careless, destructive someone, or a (large or country-scale) group of people, are being. And there can be a sort of “compassionate, anticipatory, proactive consequentialism,” a sort of practical, scale-free, “harm reduction,” harm minimization. Why get upset? Just see it coming, be smarter, head it off or handle it, sincerely, authentically, compassionately, egalitarian-ly, equitably.

But, we all sort of have “conditioning” and “triggers,” though which we “work through” these over the course of our lives.

That is, most people sort of have a lot of “deontology” inside of them, with respect to other people (shoulds, musts, duty, obligation, responsibility). And, we can sometimes be blindsided by people “violating” these, or, it affects us just as much, even when we see it coming.

One could pretend there’s both acts of commission and omission, so:

(a) (prereflectively perceived/experienced) commissive deontological violation

(b) (prereflectively perceived/experienced) ommissive deontological violation

And when we experience these sorts of things happening, we can sometimes get really upset, and it’s ok to get really upset, but it can lead to a worse outcome than if we hadn’t gotten upset, in some counterfactual world: in other words, destructive conflict, or whatever.

We experience someone as dumb, bad, or even hateful and evil, depending. And, often, that has to be something to work through, at least a little bit, before adding in some “consequentially constructive” engagement (or nonengagement). And, in the meantime, sometimes, the things we hastily do can make things worse. (I do think there’s such a thing as, for example, constructive anger, etc. And, all things being equal, it’s important to not suppress anger. But there’s more and less constructive ways and contexts to express it! Hard!)

Anyway, something like “true” or “perceived” local scarcity and perceived/experienced deontological violation can make it hard to get along or to get along long enough to do something amazing and beautiful, that benefits everyone far more than if they’d tried to do something alone.

“Violations” are sometimes accidental, sometimes desperate, sometimes solely in the eye of the beholder, and so on. It’s partly so hard because of the “hijacking” that can happen. It can happen in an instant, by body language or just what they say. And it can be subtle or cumulative, too, where there’s a delay. And, it can go “so deep.” It can feel like an “impossible reality violation,” to the point where at least a part of you wants to KILL the other person or group of people. Or, at least to you, they’re at least partially hateful and evil. (Now, to be sure, sometimes your physical safety, sanity, or future really are at risk. And sometimes your best interests are actively and deliberately and responsively being worked against. Sometimes it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and sometimes it’s just what it is.) In any case, counterfactually and contingently, there’s an astronomical number of responses to all these “possible possibilities.”

Now, to be sure, if something has happened, it’s already happened. We get triggered, we end up in a bad situation, we make a situation worse–sometimes, “it’s just already happened.”

But, part of coordination is having shared language and understanding around “it’s already happened, again” as well as mutual, proactive work towards preempting those sorts of things before they happen (ideally without any judgment when they still sometimes do, and without any “supershame” when they happen even in with the common knowledge that these sorts of things happen). It’s counterintuitive how long it takes for people to change, and not everybody is on board to change in particular ways or at particular times or to prioritize it among all the other things that they’re doing. In any world, change is tens of hours, hundreds of hours, thousands of hours. It’s slow. So a community needs to somehow take that into account, amidst protecting its own integrity.

And, over time, the “center of gravity” of a community has more meta, more “slack” around meaning, less triggering, more “non-self-abnegating preference harmonization,” and so on. And, such a community perhaps has a more “consequentialist” outlook, just working through the nth-order effects of different possibilities and contingencies, working to dissolve hard choices before the even pop up on the horizon, and seeking safety and delight and so on.


Another thing to watch out for, besides, “experienced deontological violations” is sort of “prior, maybe-“entrenched” resignation” and something like “posterior resignation.” Everyone sort of has a splash pattern of “resignations” which are sort of “learned helplessness’s” or “what’s the point of even remotely trying, ever.” And, we hide these really well, often even from ourselves–deep assumptions about what’s even possible, to do, to protect, to avoid, to repair, and so on. And, so, there can be huge clashes around some people trying to avoid some harm versus some people being completely and utterly resigned to that harm occurring, at least at it’s current level of subtlety or intensity. (The former people can be wrong about there being a harm, too.) “Posterior resignation” is sort of overgeneralized, hair-trigger resignation. Resignation can also take the form of mooching, parasitism, exploitation, preemptive-competition with respect to communities, as well. The thought of relatively time-efficient, true win-win is not in the consideration space, and so on, though of course, coordination costs, in the technical sense, can be very real. And in that latter case, competition, whether bounded or “total war,” can *sometimes* be “supercooperation,” in the limit. But perhaps almost  something better than that.

*structural fluidity, sensuousness, concreteness, freedom/slack/space/play/noninterference*

I want to say something here about “coercive interfaces.” Language isn’t free and impartial, ontologies aren’t free and impartial, and so on. They come with differential tradeoffs, for different parties, all things being equal.

And factors external to an ontology can put “ontological pressure” on one or all parties, sometimes, though not always, even when there’s sort of spatiotemporal slack, indirectness, a translation layer, and so on. It just depends.

People can particularly have resignation around languaging, ontologies, etc., and understandably so. They “go deep,” and most people have some, but not a lot of experience with profound, personal ontological shifts.

But, in any case, people need different collections of ontologies at any given time, because people are different and have different needs. And people need to sometimes drop ontologies (or interfaces) and pick them up again later, and so on. A community will ideally have provisions for periods of dimensional unintelligibility, along various axes, as people pick up, drop, and transform ontologies and interfaces, in the course of living, learning, and growing.

*implicitness, shadow, hypershadow, say-ability, space-making*

Finally, sort of an offshoot of “ontological pressure,” it can be important to talk about shadow. Talk of ontologies, and interfaces, at the meta or object level, will always be in dialogue with the implicit, the tacit. Some of this is merely pragmatic in that “not everything can be made explicit all at once,” and this is true both in a single conversation and across millenia. Explicitness become implicit again, can be a part of a cycle of growth and learning, to make space for other explicitness that’s needed in that particular moment or millenium. And the other pragmatic piece is that explicitness, of course, is sometimes the “wrong tool for the job,” where reaching for it means something has already gone terribly wrong. Sometimes nonverbal, warmth, sensuousness, timing, timbre, prosody, eye contact, touch, living and loving, etc., etc., etc., are the right “tools” for the job. This is positive community inertia and “community defenses,” too, in their interplay with explicitness. (And, finally, there can be a recognition of how even the explicit is radically, seamlessly aconceptual, and so on.)

Besides this “positive explicit/implicit fluidity,” there can also be something like “shadow” and “hypershadow.”

By “shadow,” here, I mean the not just implicit but the unsayable, the unspeakable truths, the unspeakable threats, unspeakable fears, some real, some imaginary, but, in any case, unsayable/unspeakable. Articulateness is a skill that can be highly topic and context dependent, per person. Most people are plenty articulate, though, and it’s meta-articulate-ness (making the local conditions safe) that’s failing, or the community is failing them, in terms of safety. Sometimes, if a community is unsafe (or people are easily triggerable or something has become a touchy topic), a person might have to become extremely skilled at “articulateness needle-threading,” hyper-articulateness (versus “counterframing”). And this is a real and valuable skill, but also slow and costly to acquire, and one hopes that not everyone feels pressured to become hyper-articulate, because of power dynamics, in some community. This is very related to ontological/interface coercion, too.

Anyway, a healthy community is perhaps always engaged in “say-ability space making,” and “say-ability restructuring,” power/safety rebalancing, while maintaining community integrity and boundaries, in the small and in the large.

Finally, “hypershadow” is the shadow that remains, possibly “squeezed and intensified” by accidental or intentional “interface/ontology coercion” that specifically takes “shadow mitigation” (ostensibly and/or sincerely) as the object of discussion.



commercialization and distribution

From twitter:

  • (0a) I’m having a low-key, exploratory, commercialization networking call, with respect to my stuff, and it inspired me to try to make some bullet points with respect to context and key, counterintuitive constraints.
  • (0b) Note! I ran out of time to edit this, so there’s super-compressed and maybe cramped and cryptic tweets jammed into this thread, but I figured better to get it out the door.
  • (1) Key insight: The mind is more malleable than contemporary psychology and, arguably, even contemporary contemplative/meditation communities of practice currently believe. I like to say the mind is 99% software, 1% hardware.
  • (2a) The space of this malleability is large and multidimensional, but it’s not arbitrary; it has directionality. That directionality, taken to its conclusion, in the “positive” direction, yields something like (a) wellbeing and (b) “creative, proactive, fit-to-context.”
  • (3) Some features of “creative, proactive, fit-to-context” can be “outside view guessed,” and planned for, but also must be “individually found, from the inside.” This is sometimes a demanding, fraught, counterintuitive process.
  • (4) It’s also a lengthy process, say on the order of 10,000 hours. My suspicion is that this cannot be shortened without very large advances in neurobiology. The speed limit is simply the speed limit of “learning,” involving protein synthesis, downtime, sleep, etc.
  • (5) Good things happen during that 10,000 hours, but one can’t count on any particular good thing on any particular timeline or ever. That is, part of the process is NOT “having NO goals” but self-alignedly releasing the need for most any PARTICULAR (object-level) goal.
  • (6) “No particular (object-level) goal” is fundamental to the process, because bodymind change is “path constrained.” It can only proceed by gaining “slack,” through finding increases in optionality, through “releasing particularities,” little by little.
  • (7a) (It’s important to emphasize “non-arbitrariness,” as “no particular goal” might seem nihilist, on face. Actually, though, while not “particularly” constrained, the system is “abstractly constrained,” by one’s self-sovereign determination of “what’s good.” It’s complicated.)
  • (8a) Somewhat more incidentally, not only are goals “non-particular” (and dynamic), or “fluid but not arbitrary,” but so is ultimately ALL perceptual/representational/behavioral ontology. The system (un-)commits to “no particular thing, anywhere.”
  • (8b) Yet, simultaneously, the system is somehow (aconceptually? preconceptually?) *radically concrete and particular*.)
  • (9a) Because of this sort of “global lack of particularity,” a value proposition might be: [see next tweet]
  • (9b)
    This process, in some sense, will cost you everything (all things) and give you nothing (no things).
    But, to be a bit paradoxical or contradictory, you will get general wellbeing and wisdom. The ongoing tax on that is being fully open to everyday pain and even suffering.
  • (9c) (Wellbeing, wisdom, pain, suffering, etc., how all that works, is outside the scope of this tweet thread.)
  • (10) Regarding commercialization, the process is so hard and so personal, even though there are near-universal, highest-level features. It’s hard to generalize and streamline a 10,000-hour personal journey.
  • (11) Of course, so far, I *have* tried to generalize and streamline (though not commercialize!) the process, with my writing, most recently as ongoing work on a 100,000-plus-word “meditation protocol document,” which people are putting to use.
  • (12) So far, I’ve mostly punted on money/commercialization, with an open-access promise, because there’s a way in which meditative progress is, in my current understanding, complexly facilitated or retarded in a “full-stack, culture-complete” sort of way.
  • (13) One aspect of “full-stack, culture-complete” are the “dynamics of exclusionary stratification”: [see next tweet]
  • (14) I find people get really sensitive about commercialization, though not in the way you might think. (note: I’m not subtweeting anyone or referencing particular private conversations, here).
  • (15) There are maybe sentiments of how else could modern distribution-at-scale work but through commercialization or stratified monetary gatekeeping, that I’m actually limiting net access & adoption by not (yet) somehow having a high-status, ambitious, exponential business model.
  • (16) There are maybe sentiments that I’m playing too low-status, that I must insufficiently ambitious, and so on.
  • (17) But, my ambition is, in fact, global and multigenerational. It’s just that, memetic fidelity, antifragility, and multigenerational adaptability (without memetic perversion? memetic corruption?) is hard.
  • (18) And, we’re still learning, what the thing is that we, hopefully non-rigidly, don’t want corrupted in the first place.
    And/but, I/we could be wrong about risks and rewards, which I why I’m engaging with critique and feedback and suggestions, at an accelerating rate.
  • (19) I think the (maybe) grumbling is a really good sign. It means people perceive value and want to participate in network effects with respect to that value.
  • (20/20) Anyway, more and more, I’m looking to what’s next, with this work and more generally. I’m also interested in governance, DeFi, AI, and much, much more. So this is all swirling around, all together, in a good way.
  • *
  • (*) No particular fixed goal(s), no fixed ontologies (perception, representation, behavior), structural fluidity, might sound kind of chaotic and tangly, and it can be like that, at first, in a waxing and waning pattern.
  • (*) Eventually, across thousands of hours, things become generally quiet, still, and settled, while remaining proactively, creatively sensitive and responsive, as the world turns and true, limit-case unknown unknowns present themselves.
  • (*) It’s sort of the best of both worlds–on the one hand, relatively settled stability, perfectly suitable for pursuing adaptive, stable, very-long-term goals, contingent on the state and path of the world and everything, and, on the other hand, a capacity for continual growth and change, the pursuit of novelty and knowledge, adaptability to misfortune, and the passion and engagement and equanimity and appetite for all of it, whether quiet intimacy, the scope of the whole world, or both, or something else entirely.

epistemic-aesthetic rigor for postrats and metarats (stub post)

[full title: epistemic-aesthetic rigor and systematicity and coordination for meditators, postrats, and metarats]

(There’s some extremely important ideas, here, pointed at without a lot of context and barely glued together. It’s a very first pass at a thing!)

Ok, so, say you’re on board with meaning/truth/etc. being some or all of multischematic, interschematizable, embodied, enacted, felt, intuitive, indexical, ostensive, intensional, hyperintensional, language game-y, innumerable, nonnumeric, gestural, vibe-y.

(Note: I also think math, logic, and computation are excellent and I use them like every day.)

Ok/so/but given original list above, sort of, what’s the gradient? Where’s the directionality? What is quality, here?

Sure, it’s/those are nebulous. But we can, sort of, sometimes, if we want, kind of gesture vaguely in the direction of having good “beliefs” in some sense, or “good science,” or “good writing,” in some sense—usefulness, insightfulness, depth, intricacy, elegance, transformativeness…

How might we generally tack towards that and how might we tack towards that tacking towards that?

Like, what’s the messy, living, breathing interface between sort of someone as they are, someone as they’re becoming, and like writing stuff down?

What if you want to vibe, and you don’t want to mess up your vibing, and you don’t want to sacrifice rigor in some deep sense, even if you don’t alway go “full reason,” and you want your rigor, or your shitposting, to be infused with your vibe?

What might unlock that, very loosely speaking?

A toy hierarchical ontology:

  • Say there’s normal propositions and special propositions.
  • Say normal propositions are built out of
    • normal concepts and
    • special concepts called relations.
  • Say special propositions are built out of
    • normal propositions and
    • special concepts called reason relations.
  • Say reason relations are
    • implication [… implies…; if… then…; …because…],
    • cause […causes…; if… then…],
    • mixed/nebulous [if… then…; …because…], and finally
    • means/end/purpose/for-ness […is for…; …]
  • Finally, say arguments and explanations are built out of normal propositions and special propositions.

Heuristic/gestural elegance, parsimony, simplicity, and more, in argument and explanation:

(I’m still fiddling with these ideas; there could be something really off, here.)


    • without loss of essential detail, roughly MINIMIZE counts/number of
      • axioms/premises
      • other normal propositions
      • kinds/types/classes/abstractions (i.e. normal concepts)
      • anomalies, counterexamples, “unexplainable” phenomena
      • reason relations (path-length/lemmas/inferential-or-causal-depth-to-conclusion)
    • roughly MAXIMIZE counts/number/density of
      • conclusions
      • fan-out / multifinality (with respect to reason relations)
      • fan-in / equifinality (with respect to reason relations)
      • instances/instantiations/tokens/concrets/particulars/specifics (that fall under the kinds/types/classes/etc above)


Now, flirt with the problematic, problematically eternalist ideal of “nonequivocation.”

Equivocation is using the same word for different things, including slightly different things. This can also be just poetic, gestural, normal speech.

Nonequivocation, quotations incoming, would be when you use the “same” word or phrase to “refer” to the “same” “concept” which “refers/applies” to the “same” “referent” in the “same way” “each time.” Or, when the “same”-ish sentence “refers” to the same “proposition,” wherever it’s written multiple times in the same scope/namespace, whether it’s a premise, lemma, conclusion, subproposition, antecedent, or consequent.

Phenomena and noumena:

Maybe flirt with the problematic, problematically eternalist ideas of noumena as distinguished from phenomena, where noumena could be taken as a “limit case concept,” “nearly empty,” and so forth.


Now, then, you can ask, is this more or less true? More or less wrong? A more or less good expression? A more or less bad expression?

So given all that, all that being said, how does one engage with all that? In my opinion, it’s often better, methodologically and wellbeing-wise, to engage with such forms indirectly and obliquely, generally through meditation and global wayfinding. (This is super cryptic, maybe; sorry.)


Further reading:

types of “physical” pain scratch list

I use an ontology sort of like this when decided how to engage with “physical” pain—keep going, stop, wait, do it differently, do something different first, and so on.

(constructed in part with an anonymous collaborator)

  • burning/tearing feeling – micro heterogeneity in muscle tone (partial pulling/tone, contingent “weakness”) leading to subtle tearing during normal usage
  • joint grinding – unbalanced or both-sided too-much muscle tension in oppositional muscle pairs (“too much pressure or unbalanced pressure on the joint”)
  • joint pulling apart – lack of muscle tone, only ligaments are “protecting”
  • nervy/referred (stinging?) – nerve compression at nerve root in spine or somewhere further downstream causing distal pain, burning, or numbness
  • joint “inflamed feeling” – (joint is “waking up”, under-lubricated but becomes lubricated — usually goes away by next day) – “have care, but ‘fine’”
  • normal muscle soreness/DOMs – “fine”
  • grab bag:
    • tendinous pain (tendons/tendinitis) – ???
    • ?deep ache – ???lactic acid buldup? / ketosis catabolism?
    • ?ache – nonlocalized deep, all encompassing
    • tender to touch