definitions

I added a bunch of provisional definitions to an appendix of the ‘many protocol.’ See more on all the protocols, here.

yay = the true nature of yay must come to be understood over time; one’s understanding will be revised again and again, possibly calling it by many names along the way

bleh = the true nature of bleh must come to be understood over time; one’s understanding will be revised again and again, possibly calling it by many names along the way

sacredness = rightly or wrongly it would currently be catastrophically, critically bad if this [sacred] seemingly/apparently/expectedly extremely heartrendingly/body-rendingly good thing X were not actually good/true/real/obtaining/existing/something/etc

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protocols

Previously there was a meta protocol. Now, there is also a many protocol (new!; also see the nav bar). By the way, my working notes are just “the protocol,” which now has a word count of ~15,000 words (including the meta and many protocols). The material as a whole is well-organized, well-structured, with clear intention, but, currently, the body, the sections and subsections, are extremely compressed, barely prose–the whole document, as an organic whole, has to be studied and interpreted. So, say, the material is as intricate and structured as the Folding document, in some narrow ways clearer than the prose of the Folding document, and, in many other ways, more like reading my blog at maximum difficulty/annoyance level–but injunctive/instructional whereas my blog is theoretical. (Note: I don’t currently recommend hardcore use of Folding. It is deprecated, because the benefits asymptote without diminishment of the stated risks. The theoretical framework is still evocative but very dated.) Over time, my new material will become more accessible, in many senses of the word.

Striving for rigorous and conceptually clear meditation instruction with one mediate goal being safe, wide distribution.

unstable goals and plans [excerpt from private correspondence]

[…] I guess the real question is why is it the case that wants/desires/goals (first order) and plans (second order) are so unstable […]

i think almost everyone is built on a house of cards, though, on top of the house of cards, most people have constructed like an adamantium rail system. Or, it’s more like (or, simultaneously), since childhood we’ve had beliefs about what we need and how we need it, that we’ve doubled-down on or magnified or extrematized, fuller and fuller gonzo, the particulars, with each passing year. it might feel like so much is changing, but there’s usually a tremendous amount of fish-in-water that doesn’t change until pretty late in the game. and the stars rotate around these invisible, taken-for-granted fixed points in the system.

and we’re loathe to question any of it, because so much of daily functioning is built on these unexamined goals. and if we try to change deep goals, there’s a good chance of breaking daily behavior, too, the really basic stuff that gets us out of bed and keeps us from acting weird around people. so there’s tremendous incentive to not look at these.

and, once one does look at them, it may be the case that a tremendous amount needs to change, to, e.g., tweak some of the connection stuff at the bottom, to make it less crazy while keeping the good stuff, but then that little tweak (which took hundreds or thousands of hours to “uncover and know where to tap”) might massively ramify through the entire system. and then one has a dynamic global combinatorial optimization problem, or, rather, one is embedded inside of a dynamic global combinatorial optimization problem, or, rather, one *is* a dynamic global combinatorial optimization problem.

(to extend the barely-a-metaphor, big chunk of the changes require online/hot swapping. some happen during sleep, but less than you’d think, though REM and dreamless sleep are critical. as a side note, jhanic-esque states are akin to entering safe mode, though i don’t recommend cultivating them in a vacuum.)

anyway, and so one tries to make atomic/transactional/incremental/non-breaking updates that preserve rollback in case of error. this works better and worse for different people’s systems at different times, with different environmental pressures, and different instructional input. average might be chaos; a resourced, structured environment can help. worst case, years of “dark night” or suicide.

can help a lot to have models of nonmonotonicity, including a la the above, trust in your method, somethingsomething metacognition.

house of cards.

planning is the hardest thing; it is the thing

insofar that action is an expression of the whole system

fragile plans, discarded over and over again for thousands of hours unless very lucky or very unlucky

but, over time, there is more and more settling. what’s true is true in all places, all times, all contexts. what’s good is good in all places, all times, all contexts. we are swimming  in data that is governed by fundamental truths. plenty of contingency and/but more and more comes to rest and/or is sculpted less and less, less and less aggressively. fewer bad surprises. the system settles in ways that feel simple and good but still exciting. what uncertainty is, changes. what new information is and how it’s processed, the surprise of surprise, changes. endgame is responsive, flexible, ease and spontaneity. endgame is the entire world, the entire planet, the entire universe, your entire lifespan, and all your possible futures evolving in the palm of your hand.

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Check it out, some people have been hilariously half-assing the application, and, so far, it’s been adequate for making a call on self-safety and other-safety. I wanted to set a high bar and then step it down, for signaling/learning/resource constraints, but I didn’t mean for it to be a gross, bro-code, guess-the-norms, guess-the-password thing. I’ll clean it up as soon as I have enough data for that to make sense. I’m sorry if I somehow made the stakes too high, please take a chance, throw something together, and apply:

https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/applications-for-working-notes-access-are-soft-open/

Good(e) and Enlightened

[Response to this comment: https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/not-a-full-post-new-nav-bar-page-top-book-recommendations/comment-page-1/#comment-2076 ]

I honestly haven’t done a close reading of Goode, so he might be a little loose around the edges. That might seem a little weird given it’s a top recommendation–he’s no Descartes, no Kant; he didn’t write “Good and Real.” But, hey, he’s a corrective and relatively rigorous, by a wide margin, on a thing that those guys didn’t/don’t understand. Goode is a very top recommendation because I think he’s articulately and comprehensively pointing at an unmistakable, long-run, multidimensional phenomenological/epistemological thing that, as far as I know, is not well-articulated in many other places. (He’s of course drawing from many sources/teachers as well as gluing with and adding a bunch more original content.) And, even a little bit of pointing at that thing, I think, will probably on net save more people more time than the cost.

Would want to make a distinction between something like conventional reality and absolute reality. If Goode can navigate around a chair in the middle of the room, then he does believe in some “mind-independent reality” in some conventional sense. Rather, I would say he’s inferring a mind-independent reality. But, provisionally.

He can only know that mind-independent reality though sensations and representations (produced through inference on sensations). So I think he might point to those sensations and representations and say, “those are not the things in themselves, I could be wrong about what’s really out there. Maybe chairs don’t exist.” And, at the very least, they exist differently for each person: In some loose order, a baby has a different representation of a chair than a teen than a philosopher, than physicist, than a philosopher of the history of science, than… (When I say “representation,” here, I mean the one that pays rent.)

In some epistemically rigorous, “absolute reality,” “first phenomenology” (as opposed to “first philosophy”) sense, all we really have access to is the phenomenological field. And Goode is pointing at the long-run transformation of the ontology of the phenomenological field. Taking that chair example, “what that chair seems to be,” for an advanced meditator, will be as different from the physicist’s as the physicist’s is to the baby’s. But the advanced meditator will still be able to talk about neurons, forces, fields and checking accounts. You get to keep your map/territory distinction with its relationship to the “emptiness” concept. And/but you no longer confuse map for territory at a deeper and deeper reflective and prereflective level, in a way that pays rent.

The long-run thing is elimination of “confusions” in the phenomenological field that are bottlenecking changes in more conventional confusions (childhood trauma, sensory processing, relationship to suffering, etc.) And Goode is pointing at what elimination of those confusions looks like. And sometimes pointing saves people time on net, depending on how that pointing interacts with expectations, decisions, and recognition.

With respect to what to do/read next. Would say choose a method with some of the Goode stuff in back of mind, and, wait for even a tiny piece to make sense/be recognized, and then it’ll probably start to pay off. But, I don’t think Goode is where to go for method, unless I’m missing something.

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With respect to “identification with the bodymind is suffering,” I’m not a big fan of this. unless this is concise summary of “confusions between phenomenology/self/other/world is suffering.” I think that meditation resolves real-time, epistemological processing issues, in tandem with clearing out an epistemic backlog, which starts altering preferences (because less confusion about what exists and what is actually good), and then your plans start improving and everything is less hard because you’re not trying to do impossible things that you don’t want anyway, and there’s exciting, beautiful, connective, achievable stuff that you can pick up and start doing right here right now. And, yes sickness, senility, traumatic brain injury, strokes, aging, meteors, AI, car accidents, economic/logistic/nuclear apocalypses, minimally existent credible life extension tech, and Tinder(TM). But the person and their mind are working together and doing their absolute best about all those things and they mutually know it, and, the way minds work, that feels really good proportionally much more of the time, big understatement.

Say, enlightenment is not about feeling better about one’s shitty life, enlightenment is unblocking and maxing skill/power/ability/epistemology/planning/desire down to the bare metal. And that ends up feeling really chill and time abundant, all things being equal, albeit after long training and maybe not literally being chased by a tiger but potentially even then. And, even if you have an objectively shitty life, turns out you’ve given up nothing truly of worth, prospectively and retrospectively, and being true to yourself at the bleeding edge of your skill at life and love and everything, it just doesn’t feel shitty.

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Check it out, some people have been hilariously half-assing the application, and, so far, it’s been adequate for making a call on self-safety and other-safety. I wanted to set a high bar and then step it down, for signaling/learning/resource constraints, but I didn’t mean for it to be a gross, bro-code, guess-the-norms, guess-the-password thing. I’ll clean it up as soon as I have enough data for that to make sense. I’m sorry if I somehow made the stakes too high, please take a chance, throw something together, and apply:

https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/applications-for-working-notes-access-are-soft-open/

shallow change, transformation tech, deep change, and ideology

[Adaptation of a private communication.]

[…] It was really obvious to me that a lot of [“belief updating”] was, not always, but usually, mucking around with self-concepts and social affordances, changing what a person thought about themselves, or what they were allowed to think about themselves, or what they were allowed to say. But, often, usually, such processes wouldn’t change childhood and/or “action” models, [how the world seemed and felt and its prereflective, already-in-motion affordances]. If such models did change [and sometimes it does work, even systematically so, to be fair], it[’d almost always still] be pinpoint changes, where tons more content was relevant [and untouched, and a really patchy, confusing unblocking would happen, or not]. Or, the changes would be nonholistic, and the whole [transformation tech package would be] sort of inadequate for “finest-grain combinatorial optimization.”

It’s sort of challenging to talk about. Because, often, the person will have a had a felt experience a local improvement having been made. And they probably were locally better off[, maybe the next few days, months, or even years would be better than they would have been otherwise. Under resource constraints, that matters.] But, the forest will have been missed for the trees. Not to mention, the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars… [I’m interested in what happens if you turn a crank for years and years. Do you grind to a halt, paint yourself into a corner, or become free?]

I agree generally that most “felt symptoms” are the result of nested compensation. Feel/think A, but can’t feel A so block with B, but can’t know I’m doing B, so distract with C, but C is bad so… Muscle tension will be part of the layered compensation process or will be a side effect of the stack.

People’s faces changing, their whole aura, their whole vibe, is an extraordinary thing.

What continually surprises me is how high the bar actually is. Most people think they’ve made big changes and are changing all the time. And they are. But holy shit if they ever finally see the sorts of changes that you’re describing here. It’s just a completely different world. And it’s extraordinarily tragic that, I don’t know, “deep somatic belief change” isn’t the norm.

For almost all the tech that can actually produce these deep changes, my main concerns are that, as far as I can tell, they (a) cannot usually address all “puzzle box” situations, and (b) will not be able to do complex optimization.

By (a) I mean, some percentage of people will have “accessible” traumas, will have a highly transformative experience, and will become true believers, as it were. Over time, I expect that such people will have, on average, fewer and fewer “big events”, but will still feel like there is more to do. Some people will not be able to have any “big events” and will move on to the next technique or give up. If there is a complex combination lock on a particular trauma, then enumerating prompts or even careful backchaining may not be sufficient to set up a sufficient set of conditions for a deep change.

By (b) I mean, most models/meanings will benefit from revisitation as part of a collection of models in some useful order. For example, a person might want to visit their deepest felt/experiential beliefs about parents, connection, or care in general, as well as content specific to their particular parents or siblings. They might learn things from the latter content that afford new changes to the more abstract content, and so on. This might be the case for literally hundreds or thousands [or tens of thousands] of such models. Most techniques don’t provide explicit facilitation or structure for these sorts of complex, recurrent traversals.

For me, an ideal method will inexorably and (at least long-run or statistically) deterministically wayfind through both (a) arbitrarily structured access puzzles and (b) arbitrary (retrospectively endorsed) content traverals.

Fwiw, I have designed my methods to be as context-free and self-bootstrapping as possible, such that starting from the widest number of starting points allows a person to become proficient at navigating (a)- and (b)-type situations. My methods are sort of “iterative closed-form solutions to tower of hanoi type wayfinding problems” (i.e. where there is a large space of possible moves and going forward often looks like going backwards for a very long time). [I also describe my methods as “effective context-free”, cf. “start where you are (‘and it works’)”]

It has been my experience, that the undermining of self-trust is extraordinarily pernicious and produces a negative compounding effect on mental change.

[…]

I agree that most of the ideological frameworks that are currently out there are astonishingly “surface and narrow”. The opposite might be holistically radically embodied, or something. And, there’s a cost to inclining towards the better thing, sometimes a very, very large cost, but it’s like sun to candle in terms of how much better it, experientially and strategically (long run, all things being equal). What’s astonishing to me is how opaque all this is to pretty much everybody. It’s a 10,000 year compounding fish-in-water problem.

[…]

And the experience of people who’ve worked through a fraction of that, not to mention who’ve worked through a huge chunk of that, their experience of self, other, and world are radically, radically, radically different than the norm. And, a la fish in water, it’s ridiculously hard to point it out to people who haven’t done the work themselves. And everyone is low-resourced, and good methods barely exist, and everything is terrible.

Few people are running on the bare metal as it were. Most people are running in virtual machines inside of virtual machines inside of virtual machines. But they think they’re thoughts are native to the hardware.

I like the metaphor of “untwisting”, it is somewhat evocative of the phenomenology, like take a huge cloth sheet spread out flat on the ground (that’s the “natural state”) and then grab it somewhere in the center and lift and twist and crumple higher and higher into the air, until there’s this long, wrinkled, knotted, thick, vertical column of fabric. And that’s pretty much everybody. And it’s possible to relax the whole thing, but it’s a very complex sequence of inverse operations. Fortunately, the mind is in some sense always trying to get back to that natural state, and/though keeping everything valuable it’s learned in the meantime. The best parts of being a kid and an adult, at the same time.

[Reading this over, I cringed at my mentions of “somatic” and “embodied” because of the imprecision. I’m speaking loosely in this (previously) private message. But consider that the entire phenomenological field can be used as input, and, it’s a cliche, but most people meditate above the neck. (Or they twist themselves around to “get below the neck” and tangles things up even more.) And it can often even feel like what’s below the neck isn’t “meaning-laden”, “meaning-bearing”, or even, sometimes, value-laden. But this is, depending on the person, illusory or a contingent result of nurture and culture, etc. The entire field can become a mixture of “neutral sensation”, “valenced sensation”, “meaning-bearing-ness.” It doesn’t feel *exactly* like, say, “head-thoughts” (provisionally taking on an ontology, here, as it were), but, “body-thoughts”? Yes. (Is that just a Gendlin “felt sense”? Eh, overlaps, yes, no, kind of, not really, but sort of, but there’s so much more?)]

Anyway, I feel like I’ve been maybe a little bit abstract, here. But my personal experience is sort of vast, complex, fizzing, shimmering, extremely fine-grain phenomenology, valence-laden, meaning-laden, and affordance-laden. And, that first time I had the experience of something becoming completely better, for which I didn’t know it had any degrees of freedom at all, that I couldn’t have even picked out ahead of time due to fish-in-water, that made so such much clear in retrospect, that really truly solved a thing forever with no remainder… Well, I was hooked… […]

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Check it out, some people have been hilariously half-assing the application, and, so far, it’s been adequate for making a call on self-safety and other-safety. I wanted to set a high bar and then step it down, for signaling/learning/resource constraints, but I didn’t mean for it to be a gross, bro-code, guess-the-norms, guess-the-password thing. I’ll clean it up as soon as I have enough data for that to make sense. I’m sorry if I somehow made the stakes too high, please take a chance, throw something together, and apply:

https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/applications-for-working-notes-access-are-soft-open/

clarification paragraph at top of current application

[…] Even though the application is kind of a pain, once you’re accepted, nothing more is asked from you. If you want to download the current notes, and/or/then lurk indefinitely or forever or disappear completely, that’s ok. Generally, once you’re in, you’re in–you’ll always have easy access to the latest material. […]

https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/applications-for-working-notes-access-are-soft-open/