crowley, chads, rationality, and the unification of will (3000 words)

[New readers, all my posts are drafts! If you lose track of a thread (if it was there in the first place) or a sentence is hard to parse, it’s me not you.]

I’ve had the mixed fortune of various collaborators and other influences being into Crowley, Aristotle, Kant, etc. There are of course interesting connections because of historical causal links and also they’re all gesturing at reality and various aspects of it.

Crowley talks about the true will. Aristotle talks about the relationship between goods and the highest good. Kant talks about the good will and the highest good.

The felt reality of all this can be cooler and more direct–preconceptual, aconceptual, maybe “transconceptual” is better.

But “will” and “goodness,” etc., are extremely useful concepts.

We need to finally add the concept of wu wei: “‘inexertion’, ‘inaction’, […] ‘effortless action’, ‘no action'”. (I would add “no will,” etc.)

concepts and contradictions

The above concepts are sort of involved in “agency.” I want to bring in “mechanism” as a foil, in the next section or two, and then we’re mostly not going to talk about mechanism explicitly, farther below.

There’s neat duals between mechanism and agency. Check out the table below.

When you poke too hard at “cause,” things get weird. Was there a first cause? (Yes, yes, physics and big bangs and singularities. But.)

When you poke too hard at “agency,” things get weird. What is a flesh and blood anthropomorphic or teleological agent *really* doing it all for? (Yes, yes, homeostasis and entropic dissipators and evolution. But.)

So, yeah, if you go “full reason” and you have causes, you maybe need a first cause.

If you go, full means/ends or purposes, you maybe need a final end or a highest good.

mechanism agency
cause/effect means/end
Y is by X; Y is because of X; Y is from X; X causes Y; X causes Y, conditional on Z X is for Y; X is for the purpose of Y; X is good for Y; X is good, for me, for Y; X is good, for me, right now, for Y; X is good because Y
first cause (sempiternally or eternally) final end; highest good

Kant writes in his most famous stuff about contradictions or antimonies that reason can’t resolve. In his unfinished last writings, he gets stuck on the relationship between mechanism/cause and life/agency.

Rhetorically, maybe we just need better concepts (not to presuppose there’s any agreement or tidy basis for what a “concept” is). Physics, dynamical systems theory, neurophysiology, and Karl Friston will continue to plug away at this, hopefully with input from philosophy (not to presuppose there’s any agreement or tidy basis for what “philosophy” is).

One might think these weird reasoning edge cases are just for philosophers.

But, for people who are, say, working on becoming reasonable, consistent, good, happy, something, one actually implicitly or explicitly starts running into genuine philosophical issues pretty quickly. [Not to implicitly presuppose that “working on” these things is a good way to think about all of this.]

Maybe we want to live an examined life, or a consistent life, or a meaningful life.

And some people maybe sort of glide on through, aren’t tortured or are at least merely vaguely, implicitly stuck on this stuff. But, some people are tortured or at least super blah, like if they’re really getting snarled in their life and plans. And so they really try to sit down and work it out. But, again, reason itself can seemingly run into all sorts of weird issues.

So, what to do?

We’d sort of really, truly like our beliefs/plans/behavior to stand up to any rational analysis (modulo “rationality” in quotes, selective truthing and isolated demands for rigor, being wielded as “power over”). We want to be able to say (intertemporally) consistent things to friends, lovers, collaborators–maybe a few sentences, maybe tens of thousands of words over many years, as one (of many) mechanism(s) for coordinating with other people, intimately or group-scale or large-scale.
fragmentation

Anyway, but, so back to the will! People are pretty fragmented, for better and worse! We’re different things in different contexts, different things for different people. Even when we’re alone we’re pulled between A and B and C and D, and, in the next moment, between W and Q and R and S.

How do we be or become self-reliable? How can we count on our future selves? How can we count on our past(!) selves!?! How do we be reliable for other people? How do we stably or responsively or aspirationally have life traction, cumulativity, build and build?

Are we stuck with this the usual thing? Are we stuck with our brains using hyperbolic discounting, or some kind of scheduling algorithm, or circadian clocks, or behavioral conditioning, or reinforcement learning kludge hieararchies, or whatever? That we can’t escape? Once executive and attentional dysfunction, always executive and attentional dysfunction (normal, subclinical, clinical)?

Maybe some people get lucky, their weirdness or brokenness or obsession or contingent life tradeoffs perfectly fit some environmental situation, and then you get people, who are super distracted or super rigid, nevertheless becoming captains of industry or scientific geniuses or great leaders, sometimes beautiful through and through, usually with terrible character flaws or with terrible trade offs or skeletons in the closet. And most people are mediocre or “promising but fail to launch” (not to mention trapped in poverty) as it were.

So are we stuck with this? (I don’t think so, though it might be project of thousands of hours, and sometimes a risky one, yadda yadda, for long-time readers of this blog.)

I want to note some equivocation here, too. Sometimes we experience what might be called a conflict of the ego, like the “I” wants two different things or wants to want or wants to not want something. Sometimes the conflict may seem to be within the “me,” conflicts between impulses or urges. And sometimes the conflict may be between the “I” and the “me,” or even I and not-I, me and not-me. In any case, there’s theoretical and and phenomenological and neurological richness, that I don’t want to gloss over, but is beyond the scope of this post.

unification

There are straw “natural” ways or straw “rational” way to sort of explore (and maybe influence) the will system or the goal system or the action system, and so on. (And/but, remember those apparent deep contradictions in the use of reason, above.)

One will likely have encountered variants of goal hierarchies or goal (re)factoring, because hierarchies are super useful and/or you’ve seen them from self-improvement fad cycles.

Anyway, it’s possible to write down “goals,” to explore how some goals partially depend on other goals. And one can play with wording until it maybe feels resonant, and stable enough, and maybe one can find strategic wins, where proximal goals can be “multifinal,” can achieve multiple more distal goals all at once. (One can have “containment hierarchies” where a goal can be “instantaneously decomposed,” its attributes rendered more and more analytically clear, while preserving a shorter, higher level description that still refers to the goal. And one can have “temporal flows” that articulate the ordering of milestones or temporal dependencies or specify elements of a “temporally structured goal as such.”)

Goals have sort of a temporal or temporally ordered flavor. One can also do something similar with “goods,” can make a “goodness hierarchy,” which can have both imminent [sic] and transcendent flavors.

One could imagine that if they keep refactoring, they might go from something with tangles and inelegance, even hidden cycles, to a tidy, directed, acyclic graph, and one that’s easy to refactor as you learn, experiment, get surprised, and grow:

gghier

And then one can harmonize these with a plan, with action sequences or context/action lists, a la David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and so on.

I wrote a really long post that explores additional considerations and sort of pushes all this to the limit. It’s worth reading, even if I’m going to attack all of this in the next section:

https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/what-rationality-actually-looks-like-from-the-inside-4500-words/

One might even try to do a similar refactoring of their “beliefs,” a tidy, directed acyclic graph from evidence to conclusions, at least for “parts” of their mind.

There’s a lot of value, in all this, there is, though it might be more oblique than one might expect. Playing around with it can be very, very instructive. But it’s sort of cart before horse, in a lot of ways. Explicit reasonableness is downstream of finer-grain “implicit reasonableness” or “embodied reasonableness,” as we’ll see. (Some people will be like, “duh,” and some people will be encountering this for the first time.)

In any case, pretending we’re really going hard at the explicit thing, it can get really tangly. One can get bogged down in sort of subverbal tangles, ontological stickiness, limitations of local decomposition. Refactoring becomes a combinatorial explosion, a complex combinatorial optimization problem. And, it can often stay really intellectual, not touch something “deep,” something “real(?).”? Really digging into an exercise like this can sometimes be worse than doing nothing at all.

People might be lured to goal-refactoring and belief-refactoring, and so on, because it may seem to promise clarity, consistency, power, agency, something. Maybe it will give one an edge over people who don’t do things like this.

Of course, of course there’s something very good about focusing, introspection, felt senses, and so on. Go play with those things! They’re just adjacent to meditation, they can complement meditation. And the precision (and play) of words and symbols and diagrams do change people–journaling and therapy and talking to friends and story writing. And articulation and explicitness, either spoken or writing things down, is extremely useful for intimate and large-scale synergy and coordination. Use everything.

And/but, thought experiment, really grinding away, for hours and hours, trying to fit the mind and behavior into tidy boxes, with clear concepts and well-defined semantics for the arrows, and… Again, it’s instructive to explore doing this. And todo lists and simple goal touchstones can be a lifeline, to be sure, and more (and more) structure can be essential for teams or operations at scale, of course.

But, again in the small, almost everyone has “conceptual errors” in the relationship between words, formalism, etc., and feelings, behavior, meaning, future, phenomenology, etc.

And, so, when people “self-improve,” they do so under contingent misconceptualizations, and so most self-improvement also has a degree of error-propagation. And any technique that is not both globally comprehensive and error-correcting (and meta-error-correcting) will start to have errors start to crowd out gains, if pushed too far. And that looks like “akrasia,” muscle tension, etc.

The mind is vast (though finite) and it operates at a behavioral and inferential grain that is far finer (and faster) than words and boxes (of course). The mind uses powerful abstractions, too, to be sure, for acting, planning, and communicating. But, one might say that explicit abstractions are “leaky” and one might say that the “real” abstractions, that the mind is using under the hood, that are a lot harder to correlate with words, are sort of not leaky, in some sense.

Very, very, very loosely, what people are looking for, stated concisely, when they’re self improving, with “rational” boxes and arrows (or dance or breathwork), could be (and has been) abstractly described as something like, say,

  • global intertemporal self-consistency and/or
  • contention-free sensorimotor planning.
mind body
akrasia muscle tension
intertemporal self-consistency (contradiction-free) contention-free sensorimotor planning

We’ve sort of been talking abstractly about goals, plans, todos or actions, beliefs…

the chads

But, both jokingly and bitterly (and problematically), there are the Chads. (Orders of magnitude more problematically, there are the Stacys(?), I think?)

What of effortless confidence, naturalness, smooth action, decisiveness, spontaneity, physical grace, felt time abundance, eloquence, stability, character, virtue, sexiness, reliability, trustworthiness, joy…

We see flashes of something extraordinary. Sometimes these things are so achingly beautiful, so achingly desirable we have to run screaming, because the desiring and not-having might destroy us. Sometimes that desirable thing is an illusion or a misunderstanding, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want it, until we resolve the confusion or find something even really, truly better.

For all their partiality, we see flashes of things we want in actors and other celebrities, in the football players, cheerleaders, and CEOs.

More examples:

Mr. Rogers was just the same guy whether talking to kids or addressing governmental apparatus. Maybe that’s a little weird, but that’s an envious simplicity on the far side of complexity. I don’t know, Elon Musk is very problematic, but new, concrete physical things keep getting created in proximity to him (and in earth orbit) all the time.

There are people who step up in an acute or chronic crises, and relatively costlessly, because they are not burdened by life; they have flexibility and slack.

This one is problematic, but “people who should be ugly but instead it makes them even more attractive.” (Good skin care or makeup but also something else…)

There are people who competently keep their word (or good-faith, proactively renegotiate, etc., etc.), and you can ask for that promise, collaboratively negotiate that two-sided promise, because you know it won’t hurt them to keep it.

Orators and dancers.

On the fictional side, I don’t know, Captain/Admiral Picard’s idealism, clarity, eloquence, and compassion, even if embedded in plot armor. The DC-cinematic-universe Wonder Woman’s unhesitating, spontaneous, naturalized, radiant compassion. Astonishing, tiny moments in a host of indie movies and limited tv series. Any character who says or does just the right thing, is unhesitatingly already in motion, of and out of a natural response to circumstances, instantaneously already beginning to unfold, because that’s what they anticipatorily already are, deep-down to the very bottom.

See also:

What I’ve sort of been doing, above, is sketching out a “high modernist” straw self-transformation method, then maybe specifying the limitations of that in terms of how it fails to produce a “finer grain” thing. And then I’m listing all these examples that allude to that finer grain thing.

Do they seem to maybe not all be of the same type?

Is there a relationship between, for example, physical grace and being a captain of industry?

One might initially think there are tradeoffs, between chad-ness and certain kinds of success (even though there are probably [slightly more rare] “financially successful chad” memes). And maybe there might initially seem like a tradeoff between defensible analytical rigor and chad-ness. But, maybe upon further reflection, there’s no reason why this can’t be all in the same person, no?

(More examples of seeming tradeoffs: The brilliant scientist or artist is destroying their body and their relationships in order to create or discover. That person who can build empires, but it’s on top of skeletons. I can be respected but I can’t be beautiful. I can be desired for my body but not for my mind. I can have grand long-term plans but I can’t put time into physical grace.)

And, again, we can find people seemingly exemplifying these tradeoffs, everywhere we look. It’s really hard to find people who are excelling on all the dimensions we imagine (or it hurts too much to look). Or the only examples are fictional and misleading.

***

Ok, this is a rather shaky jump, but I want to make the point that, phenomenologically, world, future, and body are happening contiguously. Even the past, in some sense, as it were, is happening contiguously. It’s all happening, or being experienced, or being represented in the same experiential field, without boundary, as a whole, as a unity.

I’ll just say that this is suggestive of untapped synergy, untapped elegance. For someone who has grand plans (or intimate plans, or both) that are actually working, actually coming to fruition, that’s not just a property of the mind (of “beliefs” and “plans”); it’s concretely instantiated in their physical activity, while moving through the world, in speech, nonverbal behavior, and action (and even while asleep, if their sleep is particularly harmonious, restful, and restorative).

Diachronic is synchronic. The effects of the past and the potentiality of the future live in the present. And, one can make peace with their past and future, can be gentle and receptive with their past-that’s-not-even-past, can be responsive and aspirational with their future, in the present.

Anyway, so how to realize that possible synergy, that possible elegance?

Well, transformative practices that engage the body and mind as the unity they actually are, etc., etc.

offloading/harmony

So, let’s get back to “the will,” which can be more and more unified, say, in a chad-flavored, non-straw-rationality way (and the difference between 100 hours in and a few thousand hours in can be astonishing).

And/but, “the will,” is still sort of temporally linear, even if contextually multi-threading.

And the body has this vast parallelism.

The will keeps us safe, as best it can, sort of mediating between conflicts in that vast parallelism of the body, which one might find is the basis of conflicts in belief and plans, the basis of intertemporal inconsistency.

Perhaps low-level sensorimotor planning contention is (in some mediate or even immediate sense of “is”) intertemporal inconsistency. The sensorimotor loop, even with sometimes “delay” between stimulus and response, is intertemporal inconsistency, or lack thereof. The body is always acting. The body is always perceiving. In some sense there is never a gap between stimulus and response. There might be anticipation, though.

Anyway, as those conflicts become less and less, the will sort of relaxes over time. Vast parallelism of body, of considerations, of possible futures, becomes beautiful speech, beautiful movement, physical grace on the outside, time abundance on the inside.

The body or the mind is sort of this massively parallel fountain or jet of water or air. And you know how you can get a ball to sort of stick in that? Like a ping-pong ball in the jet of a hairdryer? [1, 2] When the will is coalesced or apparent it sort of dances on or coheres or or rides on or facilitates that parallelism, that expressed action, as a unity or a whole.

It’s kind of crazy that one can be wanting sex, beauty, world peace, salt, protein, consciously or unconsciously, as it were, at the same time, and in any case delicately boop a friend on the nose with a single finger, advocate for something in a telegram chat an hour later, and then maybe sprint across a field an hour after that.

Behavior is both consistently multifinal and coherently linearized, when everything is working right.

And this can feel (time) abundant, spontaneous, effortless, natural, from the inside.

But we must engage the right methods that, somewhat literally and somewhat metaphorically, operate at the proper grain and depth.

And then, with nonmonotonicities, periods of jumbliness, confusion, inarticulateness, demotivation

…we might find our physical grace, the stability of our plans, the eloquence of our speech, the stability of our plans, the defensibility or our reasoning, the attentiveness of our intimacy, the strength and reliability of our promises…

…all inching up, improving, little by little, again nonmonotonically along all sorts of dimensions, but nevertheless inexorably and all at once.

***

https://github.com/meditationstuff/protocol_1

***

P.S. Forgot to add this, should probably expand on at some point: (One doesn’t get to exactly choose what one’s “future unified will” will look like but you do get to be absolutely 100% ok with every infinitesimal thing that happens along the way.)

***

P.P.S. Update: I sort of tossed in wu wei at the very beginning, for oblique completeness, even though there’s a good distinction between “will” and “action,” and wu wei falls more in the action bucket. (Action would be another post entirely.) A reader notes that “De” would have been a better thing to toss in from Daoism, correlating the various conceptions of “will” in different systems. I don’t have enough experience with Daoism to feel comfortable making an edit above, but I wanted to note this somewhere!

a diagram with poor semantics, about epistemic agency and “grace”

click on image to make it a bit more readable:

eagencygrace

text:

A diagram with poor semantics, about epistemic agency and “grace”

stuff that’s immediately obvious

stuff that you can infer from what you already know

stuff you can infer if you upgrade your inference abilities

stuff you can infer if you proactively seek out more information

stuff you can infer if you proactively upgrade your ability to proactively seek out more information

stuff you couldn’t possibly have known; “non-inferrable surprises in any world” (true unknown unknowns vs counterfactually, conditionally could-have-knowns

surprise that ultimately empowers you and predisposes you to upgrade your inference abilities

surprise that ultimately empowers you and predisposes you to proactively seek out more information

surprise that ultimately empowers you and predisposes you to go full meta-meta-bootstrapping

computability, emptiness, rationality, intensionality (3816 words)

Alternative link: http://zmzm.pw/beacon-of-certainty/

(I provisionally disagree with several things in twitter.com/@mlegls’s tweets and blog post, but they’re excellent, and there’s a *bunch* of it that I wish I’d written. Read them!)

Yesterday, on Twitter, there was a brief flurry of activity about the relationship between computability theory, buddhism, emptiness, etc. A few people were like wtf. So, I looked for a good intuitive introduction to computability theory, and I couldn’t find anything I liked. So I’m going to try to bang something out in X minutes. [And ok, stuff is going to be out of deductive or conceptual order and I’m going to introduce things without defining them and quote stuff or transparently use ideas without citing them and the pedagogist in me is screaming, as per usual, but let’s get this thing done. The bibliography in the protocol document is intended to gesture at everything in this post and more. And I’m carefully adding resources to that bibliography with each update to the doc. I want to make sure nothing gets left out.]

I’m not a computer scientist or a mathematician, so this will be informal and nonrigorous, and I’ll possibly be “missing the point” of something, somewhere. But this is a sketch of the introduction that I would have wanted, the things/angle that I think are important or maybe useful for a meditator.

So what is computability, anyway? One, I think, could equivalently say “recursively enumerable.” A related term is “describable.” Also “countable.”

The key things are, in no particular order:

  1. blind mechanism
  2. a sort of “contiguous pointing”-ness
  3. ontological pre-given-ness

I think the concepts in (1-3) could be teased apart a bit more. There’s overlap. But good enough to point at the things I want to point at, I think. Ok, so let’s look at all of these.

(1)

Contrast “blind mechanism” with “telos” or “agency” or “just directly do the thing.”

So like a computer or another causal process needs (a) starting conditions or a state of the world and (b) causal laws, or a state transition function, or how to generally-enough get from A to B to C, etc.

An agent or a person or something that’s goal-directed can take an instruction or come up with a goal like “find all the red apples.”

But a causal mechanism can only “do what it was going to do anyway,” like water going over a waterfall or something. Things have to be set up right by god, nature, or a person, and then whatever was going to happen just happens. (But, outside of the scope of this blog post, see counterfactuals and possible worlds. Very important.)

(2)

Regarding ‘a sort of “contiguous pointing”-ness,’ imagine a person in the dark, in vast, vast, vast space. It’s so big that if that agent is looking for any one particular thing then they’ll never find it. The space is just too big, too many degrees of freedom, infinite. Never, not even by chance. (The previous few sentences sort of set up the analogy, and I may stretch the analogy below, but they don’t have anything directly to do with computability, maybe.) But somewhere in that space is a rope. And at regular intervals on the rope are attached little packages. And in each of those packages is an object that the person can identify by feel in the dark.

And, so, if you gave the person the beginning of the rope, they could then traverse or enumerate or list all the items attached to the rope, to do something with some or ignore others, or count all the apples versus the bananas, etc. But, there needs to be a rope connecting all of them. And something has to hand the person the beginning of rope.

So sort of replace “person” here in (2) with “causal mechanism” from (1), and that’s kind of computability! You need conditions like this for something (e.g. counting bananas versus apples) to be computable.

(3)

Ok, now, some more important things. The world or the playing field or game board has to be arranged in a very special way for computability to work.

THE ONTOLOGY HAS TO BE PRE-GIVEN. There aren’t maybe-apples or maybe-bananas or maybe this is a rope, maybe this is one of those packages attached to the rope. There is only platonic apples, platonic bananas, either package or not-a-package but nothing in between.

So, everything has to be discrete, unambiguous, mutually exclusive, individuated, named, addressable, ordered. If there is “pointing directly at” then it’s actually secretly indirect: behind the scenes the mechanism “walks the rope” until it finds the thing that was secretly named or addressed. Pointing is equivalent to naming something already named or searching for something where you already know the location of every box you’re going to check.

(Interlude)

People do use computers for fuzzy, vague things–there’s things like machine learning, and curve fitting, and supervised learning and unsupervised learning and natural language processing and GPT-2 and so on. And people use the word “maybe” like when programming in Haskell. So how does all that vague, fuzzy stuff harmonize with the things I said above? Well, the things I said above sort of underlay all the vague, fuzzy stuff. Or, things like machine learning and tweeting only work when there’s a human involved. The apples and the bananas are just one’s and zero’s. Or like words on the screen or on paper. And then a human reads them and does interesting, fuzzy things with them. Similarly, a human can take interesting, fuzzy things and figure out how to kinda sorta capture those things using words or other symbols [which then get mapped to one’s and zero’s] and then mechanistic things happen, albeit cobbled messily together by tons of humans, and then one’s and zero’s get spit out on the other side, and then humans interpret those, and so on.

So, there’s something incredibly powerful going on, here. Computers help us do things like blogging and twitter and putting people on the moon and finding cures for cancer and being therapist chatbots and so on.

So it’s like, here in this interlude section, we can briefly mention the creation of a friendly general artificial intelligence or something to fulfill all human desires or accidentally turn us all into paperclips. That’s outside the scope of this blog post, but I wanted to bridge (1-3) to human fuzziness and vagueness and usefulness and meaning in one way. And now in the next section I want to do it in a different way.

(4)

Ok, so I said computers need to work with “stuff,” really “objects,” that are ontologically pre-given. So like “apple” is a platonic apple. Every apple that comes up is exactly the same as every other apple that has ever come up.

Another way of looking at that is that the apple, or any apple, in computer land, “has nothing inside of it.” One could say that it’s “simple” or “non-composite” or non-complex.” Even if something computable *is* complex, like a “data structure” or a representation of like a chess game or something, it’s built out of “simple” pieces. The whole is exactly the sum of the mutually exclusive, non-overlapping parts.

We could go even beyond this and say that computable (or mathematical) objects don’t have qualities or don’t contain anything or don’t have anything inside them or something. In some sense they are “pure symbol” or like there’s no “representative content.”

Another way of saying it, maybe, is that the symbol-as-a-representation is simple as is the referent or object or extension of that symbol. Or the symbol is equivalent to (a token of) its extension.

I’m sloppily gesturing at a whole mix of related ideas, here.

Related:

  • concept, intension, extension
  • map, territory
  • sign, (felt) sense, referent
  • sign, meaning, referent

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is something like, computable objects are only ever (very powerful) toys or fabrications or machines in the sense that they themselves don’t bear intensionality or meaning.

They themselves don’t “represent,” don’t “refer.”

So like a person can be like: “sign, meaning, referent.”

But a computer (and math), deep-down can only be like: “sign, referent.”

This is super, super sloppy but better than nothing. [See also the concept of compositionality and a bunch of other stuff.]

(5)

Ok, so I’ve taken some time to sort of make a distinction between what computers can do and what humans can do.

It’s very out of style to say that humans are doing anything like computers. That *was* in style but not anymore. If someone says that now that humans are like computers, that can mean twenty different things and like eighteen of those things will get classed as naive or new-agey or something.

There’s a particular one or two that I want to point out that I think aren’t naive at all.

First, both computers and people are in some sense deterministic. From the inside, we as people feel like we have free will and goals, and in critically important senses we do. And in other critically important senses we are blind, causal, deterministic, predestined mechanisms. This whole paragraph is both true and not true and partially true and incomplete and philosophically impoverished and I don’t have all the answers and enlightenment doesn’t grant all the answers. But, in any case, part of becoming enlightened is doing something in the space of harmonizing free-will-ness with determinism in a way that becomes cool and chill and fine and good.

And so not only do we share determinism (in some sense!) with computers but we also share limitations in the use of symbols. Even though computers are sort of symbol-only or (a)symbol+(b)referent. And humans are sort of (a)symbol(/words/concepts)+(b)meaning/concepts+(c)referent. The determinism thing plus the fact that humans use symbols at all means there’s a sort of trapped-ness in how humans tend to use symbols, in a very analogous or even isomorphic way to how computers do.

Computers are sort of stuck in their symbols, they need their ontology handed to them. (Even when it looks like a computer is creatively generating ontology, and this is incredibly powerful and not fully tapped by humans, it’s in some sense NOT creatively generating ontology, at the very bottom, in a theoretical sense. And that’s an important theoretical distinction.)

And/but humans tend to be pretty stuck in their symbols/concepts, too! It took a lot of philosophy and a lot of meditation and luck before people were able explicitly talk about how people treat the world as if it’s pre-chopped up into objects, pre-given. But, that chopping up is heavily a property of the person doing the perceiving, and everybody is has sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious differences in how that chopping up happens. And for some people, for some parts of their ontologies, things do shift and change in helpful ways, over time.

Anyway, people tend to be at least partially trapped in their concepts and ontology. And also people tend to give too much power to words, concepts, and ontology. Like, “if only I could get the words right, if only I could program the computer right, the words would have magic causal power or the computer would grant wishes.”

Now, words are incredibly, incredibly powerful and useful for getting valued things. And computers are incredibly, incredibly powerful and useful for getting valued things.

But, words/humans and computers are limited in a very similar, even isomorphic way. For computers, there’s this famous thing called the halting problem. Remember that rope from earlier? The halting problem is sort of that, because the room is dark or whatever, the computer can never know whether the rope has an end or if it goes on forever. So like computers are “blind,” they can get stuck, forever, like following the wrong rope into the distance forever. Or like go in circles forever. There’s all sorts of tricks one can do to mitigate this fundamental issue, like interrupts, preemption, timeouts, cycle detection and so on. But there’s this deep and fundamental limitation, there.

Now, it might seem like humans don’t have this fundamental limitation. Especially if the room isn’t dark, and the rope isn’t too long, as it were. Like, a human can just look and see if the rope has an end! Ah ha! We’re so much better than computers! Humans aren’t like computers; that’s silly and fatalistic and nihilistic.

But, actually, a collaborator brilliantly pointed out to me, long ago, that human beings are precisely subject to the halting problem.

The way they formulated it to me, if I recall correctly, maybe with slightly different words, is that “Humans can’t perfectly predict the outcome of self-modification.”

So, like, this is partially why people get sucked into cults or end up in meditation dark night experiences or gaze into the abyss or play with occult tools and go insane. Or they have “the superpower of knowing they’re making a terrible mistake as they’re making it,” to quote a recent tv show.

So this feature of humans, that we’re sort of “trapped in determinism,” “fated to sort of do what we’re gonna do,” and we can’t exactly know what that is, and we can’t change it with sort of any perfect confidence or we might mess things up even worse if we try, BUT WE CAN KIND OF TELL and the forecast often looks like a lot of suffering and likely death.

Well, this is sort of the gruesome, macabre, horrifying side of being human, watching ourselves and others sort of half-knowingly feel terrible while making things worse when the stakes are, you know, only life and death and one’s hopes and dreams for freedom, intimacy, or etc.

But, humans have a lot of tricks, too. humans do a ton of imperfect prediction and pre-computation and meta-prediction and meta-meta-prediction and so on. One doesn’t have to try to do this; it’s just happening. Despite not being able to perfectly predict the outcome of self-modification (or other actions in the world), we can get better and better and better and better at predicting the results of our actions.

There’s sort of a right way and a wrong way to do this. One can keep heaping on rules and tools, explicit decision rules, decision rubrics, helpful concepts like opportunity cost and expected value and so on. These are all extremely helpful concepts!! Very powerful!! They’re especially useful for programming computers and for communicating with other people. One can sort of integrate or naturalize them, and this is where there’s sort of a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way is to sort of “build virtual machines in the mind” to sort of almost reify little computers or bits of computers, epicycles on epicycles, computers inside of computers, and to try to sort of run computations or decision making or life planning or day planning inside these computers inside of computers inside of computers.

Now, even when we’re not doing the computers inside of computers thing *explicitly,* the mind does do some of this naturally and implicitly. This is the accumulation of “technical debt” in the mind. Sometimes it makes sense to build little problem solvers, especially when things are happening too fast and too suddenly. No time for integration or a “global decisioning” when being attacked or accused or being chased by a tiger. This is sort of “bounded bounded rationality” [sic].

So, like, we’re already sort of building computers inside of computers. And then a person can sort of start doing that *deliberately*, too. Ahh! They can accelerate that process of building up, layering up these fragmented, spiky, problem solving silos that aren’t talking to each other enough. One can bring in software engineering metaphors, here–ontological shear, impedance mismatch (this was borrowed yet further from electrical engineering)–all the little silos don’t know how to talk to each other, to work towards global solutions.

The extreme of this is trying to find perfect language, a way to perfectly describe reality with words, to sort of try to solve everything in one’s life with logic/argumentation/implication/entailment/words/symbols. But this only ever ends up happening in side of a box, leaving out cares and concerns, sort of fundamentally because of the way symbols or computation or math or logic work! (See also Gödel.) Not only is it blind, but because of how people usually instantiate this, it’s, again, usually leaving out so much of a person and cannot perfectly and completely capture the entirely of a person, even with the concept of carving reality at the joints and trying to do that. (One can also add in strange-loops or flavors or set theory or concepts from dynamical systems and reflection and self-inspection and so on, but one of the big fundamental pieces has to do with the limitations of symbolizing and the halting problem.)

Another way to look at this is that the person is trying to design and program the perfect general artificial intelligence to run in their head and solve all their problems. Again, concepts from AI theory are extremely clarifying and illuminating! But trying to build an AI in one’s head to solve all of one’s problems is probably not going to work, at least in part because of a host of fundamental physical and mathematical limitations, as far as we currently know.

Ok, so there was a right way and a wrong way. What’s the right way?

(6)

Instead of building things in virtual machines, one can learn to program assembly, to program on the bare metal. Rather, one can learn how to rewrite the BIOS and operating system, as needed, to change the tradeoffs and limitations running at higher levels of abstraction.

The advantages here are of flexibility and grain. So, like, if one’s previous operating system was building things out of large stones, granite, wooden blocks, or DUPLOs. One, over time, can learn to manipulate sand, atoms, LEGOs. The molecular manufacturing of mind work.

If one was previously used to working with tidy wooden blocks, but then tries to work with sand, well that’s scary as hell. How can you build anything lasting out of sand????

Well, you sort of can’t build anything lasting. But you can sort of embrace the whirlwind, become the wind instead of the sand, blah, blah. Or water. Water, or how about a non-newtonian fluid, can do things that solids can’t.

These analogies are sort of crap. Because yes there is flowing, flexibility, grain at sort of the bare metal. And/but there’s also a unity, stability, clarity.

Emptiness is a really important concept in esoteric lineages. I sometimes say that a local  experience of emptiness is the recognition that seeming-territory is in fact map. One sees that seeming territory is in fact map. One can understand emptiness intellectually, before having the experience of it, and sometimes that intellectual understanding changes after having the experience of it. And one can have a local experience of emptiness and more global ones. And one can intellectual understand that “everything” (in a narrow sense) is empty.

Another way of putting it is “no essence” or “nonarbitrary but malleable essence” or “can’t know the things (in) themselves” or “indirect realism” or “noumena+phenomena.”

Self-programming at the bare metal is sort of making contact with emptiness which is a sort of local root access down to the level of one’s and zero’s, i.e. sense impressions and phenomenological flow.

(What is a person or causality or, etc.? Let’s rewrite that preflective representation and cognitive flowchart, that reactive flow function.)

But, notably, that access is still highly constrained in that the operations available even as a super user with root access are still highly path dependent. There’s still a local tower of hanoi problem situation. And, that local tower of hanoi problem is contingent on a whole-mind tower of hanoi problem.

Another way of saying this is meditation or mind-change or whole-bodymind change or self-modification is an NP-complete problem. This is another important idea in theoretical computer science. I’m going to mangle this, but it sort of means, that, worst case, one has to try every possible solution to a problem to finally find the right one, and that there’s no general shortcuts.

Anyway, part of what happens in all this is that concepts get deeply “naturalized” or “integrated” or “embodied” or “spread throughout the system” or “into one’s bones,” or “into the very seeming of the world.” That’s partly why all this stuff gets harder to talk about. One gets “beneath” concepts or at least not (as) trapped in them. And language becomes language games, in a positive sense. But because the connection between language and cognition becomes detached, and cognition becomes more integrated than language can ever succeed at, there’s an extra translation step between “the thing really going on” and the language used to describe it, for intimacy, pedagogy, or general communication. So language becomes tremendously flexible and one can become very newly articulate and fluent, but it’s less like the thing a person was previously doing.

(7)

ok, so people are deterministic, NP-complete, can blindly, clockwork trap themselves in thought loops or meditation dark nights or suicidal abysses? the wielding of language (logic, epistemics, decision rules, trigger action plans) and computation (wetware artificial intelligence tulpas), at least as individual and personal acts of power, won’t solve our problems?

well there is grace.

planet earth did produce buddhas and jesus’ esoteric teachings and desert fathers and motherly love and intimate love and platonic love and compassion and…

so like what if far from equilibrium entropic dissipation great-filter-fermi-problem-produces little whirlpools of life and little whirlpools of buddhas and spontaneous enlightenments and partial wisdom? grace.

and so just like, even though everything is subject to the halting problem, one process and monitor another process and poke it if it seems like it’s looping or erroring out. one person can keep another person company and maybe say just the right thing at the right time. grace.

people can write words, make use of convention and computation, run symbols and computation on physical causality to transfer ideas for different ways of being, contingent and counterfactual and imminent and possible adjacent better worlds.

the bodymind is only ever trying to do one thing, and it is reaching out, the very dust and stones reaching out to god, creatively, playfully. maybe mechanism but that is empty. these words are empty. no words anywhere, in the emancipatory sense. free will, living choice from the inside, you choose, you write the story.

so even under epistemic uncertainty, seeming determinism, suffering, ill will, corruption, confusion, desperation, at least seeming mortality, are available to at least some humans, some of the time, time, money, relationships, health, information, creative problem solving permitting

and so stability and clarity and peace and certainty and play and fun are available to some humans, some of the time, even under all these constraints. and communities of resource and practice can sometimes be big positive-sum wins for everyone.

***

P.S. Ramble: I should have finished this with something about how because of some naturalized equivalent of buddha nature, all things being equal, with proper method, a mind can creatively generate all the puzzle pieces it needs to go full enlightenment, or whatever. This works because minds are practically finite and the data needed to make the right leaps/computations (ha) are overdetermined by what any human is swimming in, plus what a brain is actually doing, blah blah. So like, plenty of learning is contingent, but sensory-causal-laws and a bunch of other stuff are deep-evident in all experiencing. So people probably have enough fodder for touching the absolute by the time they’re like five years old or something. And then of course plenty of other important knowledge is contingent, so then acquiring all the rest of the data is a life-long meta-bootstrapping journey. But there’s a key sense in which the deck is stacked towards enlightenment much, much, much more than one might think. Buddha nature, mind is only ever trying to do one thing (like predict what’s going to happen next or something), plus a lot of things that are truly true are true everywhere and evidently so in each moment. Just gotta run the inferencing engine on it. Fifty to 10,000 hours, depending on where one draws the goalposts and a bunch of other contingent factors.

 

fun, marketing, positioning, branding, consent, morality, ethics (twitter conversations/threads)

Some things I might have said differently if not tweet-compressed… (maybe/probably same for everyone QT’d!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Text dump:

Some things I might have said differently if not tweet-compressed… (maybe/probably same for everyone QT’d!)
Lulie
@reasonisfun
“Meditation is boring, but has all these benefits you only find out when you’ve been doing it for months”

In the meantime, life is happening now.

Also, possibly you wasted hundreds of hours doing something counter-productive.

When something is enjoyable, at least you had fun! https://twitter.com/univ_explainer/status/1242537027834429440 …

Paul
@univ_explainer
Replying to @reasonisfun
I wonder how many people meditate this way for hundreds of hours and later regret it. I did.

Unfortunately this form of meditation seems to be spreading. A lot of people are aiming for equanimity and ending up with apathy.

27
3:26 PM – Mar 24, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
oh no https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242548433610817537 …

Lulie
@reasonisfun
“Meditation is boring, but has all these benefits you only find out when you’ve been doing it for months”

In the meantime, life is happening now.

Also, possibly you wasted hundreds of hours doing something counter-productive.

When something is enjoyable, at least you had fun! https://twitter.com/univ_explainer/status/1242537027834429440 …

8
8:23 PM – Mar 24, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 16h
oh no https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242548433610817537 …

Lulie
@reasonisfun
“Meditation is boring, but has all these benefits you only find out when you’ve been doing it for months”

In the meantime, life is happening now.

Also, possibly you wasted hundreds of hours doing something counter-productive.

When something is enjoyable, at least you had fun! https://twitter.com/univ_explainer/status/1242537027834429440 …
Lulie
@reasonisfun
The fact that meditation can be fun is maybe both counter-intuitive and oughta be highlighted more

7
5:35 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Lulie
@reasonisfun
· 7h
Replying to @meditationstuff
The fact that meditation can be fun is maybe both counter-intuitive and oughta be highlighted more
Lulie
@reasonisfun
Like maybe people are not becoming meditation thought leaders (creatively modifying meditation concepts/ontologies) when they do it because they aren’t having enough fun

3
5:38 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 16h
oh no https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242548433610817537 …

Lulie
@reasonisfun
“Meditation is boring, but has all these benefits you only find out when you’ve been doing it for months”

In the meantime, life is happening now.

Also, possibly you wasted hundreds of hours doing something counter-productive.

When something is enjoyable, at least you had fun! https://twitter.com/univ_explainer/status/1242537027834429440 …
Lulie
@reasonisfun
You seem to find it fun, though!

I think it looks fun and would totes do a retreat to learn it properly (instead of the “meditate as chore because authority of others says it is salvation path” thing that’s popular)

3
5:35 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Lulie
@reasonisfun
· 7h
Replying to @meditationstuff
You seem to find it fun, though!

I think it looks fun and would totes do a retreat to learn it properly (instead of the “meditate as chore because authority of others says it is salvation path” thing that’s popular)
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Not incidentally, _Meditation for the Love of it_ by Sally Kempton was a very helpful book to me, back I the day.https://www.google.com/search?q=meditation+for+the+love+of+it&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS779US780&oq=meditation+for+the+love+if+it&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l3.16829j0j4&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8 …

8
7:41 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …

Lulie
@reasonisfun
Replying to @meditationstuff
The fact that meditation can be fun is maybe both counter-intuitive and oughta be highlighted more

12
8:04 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …

Lulie
@reasonisfun
Replying to @meditationstuff
The fact that meditation can be fun is maybe both counter-intuitive and oughta be highlighted more
Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
My wild guess is that the word enlightenment might attract the kind of crowd seeking eternal bliss and joy rather than the mad raging fire this process actually is. There’s fun for sure, but it’s a very special kind of fun.

7
8:10 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Or, I don’t know, other beautiful, exciting, dangerous things. The analogies don’t exactly work, because the risk profile is actually very specific and precise. All of the analogies are wrong. But, communicating risk concisely, along with the possible benefits, is hard. https://twitter.com/meditationstuff/status/1242799597803778048 …

Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …

4
8:08 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
· 4h
Replying to @meditationstuff
My wild guess is that the word enlightenment might attract the kind of crowd seeking eternal bliss and joy rather than the mad raging fire this process actually is. There’s fun for sure, but it’s a very special kind of fun.
Psychocosm, but my friends call me Matt
@Buddh_ish
This is one reason why the word “awakening” might be just marginally better. At least we already have phrases like “a rude awakening,” and we know what it’s like to wake up from both good and bad dreams

2
9:49 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Funny oneself in existential terror or personal or secondary survivor trauma isn’t exactly the problem. That can be exciting and empowering, along with utterly terrible and horrifying. When it works, it’s emancipating. 1/2 https://twitter.com/meditationstuff/status/1242799597803778048 …

Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …

5
8:23 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
Funny oneself in existential terror or personal or secondary survivor trauma isn’t exactly the problem. That can be exciting and empowering, along with utterly terrible and horrifying. When it works, it’s emancipating. 1/2 https://twitter.com/meditationstuff/status/1242799597803778048 …

Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
it’s just that people might not realize how bad it can get, which is exactly as bad as the first time around, or even worse. And, it’s possible to get stuck there. But, if conditions are right, with enough hours & other resources, the payoff is one becomes free, qualifiedly. 2/2

4
8:23 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
Replying to @meditationstuff
it’s just that people might not realize how bad it can get, which is exactly as bad as the first time around, or even worse. And, it’s possible to get stuck there. But, if conditions are right, with enough hours & other resources, the payoff is one becomes free, qualifiedly. 2/2
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
*finding!

3
8:24 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
Funny oneself in existential terror or personal or secondary survivor trauma isn’t exactly the problem. That can be exciting and empowering, along with utterly terrible and horrifying. When it works, it’s emancipating. 1/2 https://twitter.com/meditationstuff/status/1242799597803778048 …

Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I don’t know how to get the advertising right, yet. Agreed. But, I also don’t want an accidental-bait-and-switch, because, suddenly, people can find themselves in existential terror, personal or secondary survivor trauma, and so on. I guess it’s fun like fire or guns can be fun. https://twitter.com/reasonisfun/status/1242762113141166080 …
Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
What if you advertise your process to people who are *already* in existential terror and on the edge of mental breakdown? They desperately need help right now and have very little to lose anyway. Everyone else can keep going around talking about cosmic consciousness and stuff.

4
8:28 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
· 4h
Replying to @meditationstuff
What if you advertise your process to people who are *already* in existential terror and on the edge of mental breakdown? They desperately need help right now and have very little to lose anyway. Everyone else can keep going around talking about cosmic consciousness and stuff.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
This is a possibility. There’s a danger, though, of taking advantage of desperate people. I would have to trust that they would read the fine print, including the risk of making things even worse. I feel like there’s a real design challenge there, too, huge responsibility.

3
8:32 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
Replying to @made_in_cosmos
This is a possibility. There’s a danger, though, of taking advantage of desperate people. I would have to trust that they would read the fine print, including the risk of making things even worse. I feel like there’s a real design challenge there, too, huge responsibility.
Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
In what way do you think this would be taking advantage?

There’s huge responsibility here for sure, but it turns out that literally no one knows a reliable way to help these people, so we might as well just try and do our best.https://twitter.com/made_in_cosmos/status/1237650234504814592 …

Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
Everyone is full of advice until someone tries to kill themselves.

Suddenly no one feels qualified to give advice on this.

Therapists, coaches, gurus, priests, crisis counselors, reply guys, I’m counting on you. https://twitter.com/made_in_cosmos/status/1237116086530781185 …

8:37 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 4h
Replying to @made_in_cosmos
This is a possibility. There’s a danger, though, of taking advantage of desperate people. I would have to trust that they would read the fine print, including the risk of making things even worse. I feel like there’s a real design challenge there, too, huge responsibility.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
I agree that, in some sense, this is exactly the target market. Also people who have the resources to risk tearing everything down in order to level up, for whatever reason.

So, it’s sort of for both broken people and extreme performers who’ve already won. (Other people, too…)

3
8:35 AM – Mar 25, 2020
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Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
· 4h
Replying to @meditationstuff
In what way do you think this would be taking advantage?

There’s huge responsibility here for sure, but it turns out that literally no one knows a reliable way to help these people, so we might as well just try and do our best.https://twitter.com/made_in_cosmos/status/1237650234504814592 …

Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
Everyone is full of advice until someone tries to kill themselves.

Suddenly no one feels qualified to give advice on this.

Therapists, coaches, gurus, priests, crisis counselors, reply guys, I’m counting on you. https://twitter.com/made_in_cosmos/status/1237116086530781185 …
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Am actively thinking abt this. I do think there’s a sense in which hardcore meditation can sometimes help people when “nothing” else will!!! And/but other ppl might just need money and someone to listen to them. The former still need support, and latter might explode if meditate.

1
12:47 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 13m
Replying to @made_in_cosmos
Am actively thinking abt this. I do think there’s a sense in which hardcore meditation can sometimes help people when “nothing” else will!!! And/but other ppl might just need money and someone to listen to them. The former still need support, and latter might explode if meditate.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
So I feel like I have to communicate very carefully. For people who are suicidal, depressed, crippled by phobias or antisocial paraphilias, etc. I want to reach those who can safely hardcore meditate. But have to be careful bc for some would destabilize further.

1
12:49 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 11m
Replying to @meditationstuff @made_in_cosmos
So I feel like I have to communicate very carefully. For people who are suicidal, depressed, crippled by phobias or antisocial paraphilias, etc. I want to reach those who can safely hardcore meditate. But have to be careful bc for some would destabilize further.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
And part of that destabilization is that some people would jump in even if there were warnings/disclaimers. (I also can’t legally make claims that involve any sort of medical or psychological diagnosis. And that might be ontologically irresponsible, anyway.)

1
12:51 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 8m
Replying to @meditationstuff @made_in_cosmos
And part of that destabilization is that some people would jump in even if there were warnings/disclaimers. (I also can’t legally make claims that involve any sort of medical or psychological diagnosis. And that might be ontologically irresponsible, anyway.)
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
And I wouldn’t blame them. I would probably go for it too, take the risk, consequences be damned. So, I want to err on the side of giving people the option. But, besides not wanting to hurt people, I don’t want to get swamped. Need more teachers/collaborators/colleagues.

1
12:52 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 7m
Replying to @meditationstuff @made_in_cosmos
And I wouldn’t blame them. I would probably go for it too, take the risk, consequences be damned. So, I want to err on the side of giving people the option. But, besides not wanting to hurt people, I don’t want to get swamped. Need more teachers/collaborators/colleagues.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
There’s second-order hurt, too. If people destabilize, that can hurt their support network, too. That might not sort of be my decision to make for people–we sometimes (often?) hurt those we love and who love us, for good and bad, in the service of mutually desired things. But–

12:56 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 35m
Replying to @made_in_cosmos
Am actively thinking abt this. I do think there’s a sense in which hardcore meditation can sometimes help people when “nothing” else will!!! And/but other ppl might just need money and someone to listen to them. The former still need support, and latter might explode if meditate.
Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
From my experience, exploding is a fantastic option, provided you have a safety net of people who love you and will catch you when you fall apart. Without the right conditions it can be extremely dangerous. So, how do we create the right conditions when everyone is in quarantine?

2
1:00 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
· 22m
Replying to @meditationstuff
From my experience, exploding is a fantastic option, provided you have a safety net of people who love you and will catch you when you fall apart. Without the right conditions it can be extremely dangerous. So, how do we create the right conditions when everyone is in quarantine?
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Right, even harder in quarantine! I do want to create an institution, monastery, retreat center, hotel, something, or just give people money.

Exploding can be excellent but can also be used for authoritarianism/coercion/control. I call it psychological munchausen by proxy.

1:04 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 17m
Replying to @made_in_cosmos
Right, even harder in quarantine! I do want to create an institution, monastery, retreat center, hotel, something, or just give people money.

Exploding can be excellent but can also be used for authoritarianism/coercion/control. I call it psychological munchausen by proxy.
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
[Note for future readers, this was written during 2020 pandemic.] I have seen cult members systematically break people (cause explosions) and *then* help them with that breakage, to create dependency. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factitious_disorder_imposed_on_another …

1:06 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 16m
Replying to @meditationstuff @made_in_cosmos
[Note for future readers, this was written during 2020 pandemic.] I have seen cult members systematically break people (cause explosions) and *then* help them with that breakage, to create dependency. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factitious_disorder_imposed_on_another …
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
But safe ethically-mediated breakdown is CAN BE EXTREMELY VALUABLE, agreed.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AYIKO8G/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2 …

Catch Them Before They Fall Christopher Bollas

1:06 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 15m
Replying to @meditationstuff @made_in_cosmos
But safe ethically-mediated breakdown is CAN BE EXTREMELY VALUABLE, agreed.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AYIKO8G/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2 …
Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
It would be extraordinary to be able to provide a context for this that was impeccably noncoercive. Seems like that would be hard to create and hard to keep from degrading into something exploitative over years. Not sure! Want to.

1:10 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Made in Cosmos 💫 Maria Górska-Piszek
@made_in_cosmos
· 22m
Replying to @meditationstuff
From my experience, exploding is a fantastic option, provided you have a safety net of people who love you and will catch you when you fall apart. Without the right conditions it can be extremely dangerous. So, how do we create the right conditions when everyone is in quarantine?
x.noaidi
@NoaidiX
The explosion aspect is reminiscent of research at Brown University through a study formerly known as the “Dark Night Project,” now “Varieties of Contemplative Experience.”

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3
1:04 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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x.noaidi
@NoaidiX
· 18m
Replying to @made_in_cosmos @meditationstuff
The explosion aspect is reminiscent of research at Brown University through a study formerly known as the “Dark Night Project,” now “Varieties of Contemplative Experience.”

View image on Twitter

Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
Is this Cheetah House? I want to connect w them at some point. Me & 1000 other teachers probably think they can help with people who’ve hurt themselves through meditation. I (of course?) think my stuff can, in some sense. Gotta approach carefully, though. https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/protocol-analysis/ …
Meta Protocol
v1.5 (Last updated: 2019-10-13; 08:41 CDT) Contents (0) Notes (1) Retrospective Evaluation of Happening and Doing (2) Dyadic Tight Feedback Loop (0) Notes (*) Note that you can also interleave/weav…

meditationstuff.wordpress.com
1:13 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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Mark (🧘🧪🧙‍♂️💩❤️)
@meditationstuff
· 9m
Replying to @NoaidiX @made_in_cosmos
Is this Cheetah House? I want to connect w them at some point. Me & 1000 other teachers probably think they can help with people who’ve hurt themselves through meditation. I (of course?) think my stuff can, in some sense. Gotta approach carefully, though. https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com/protocol-analysis/ …
Meta Protocol
v1.5 (Last updated: 2019-10-13; 08:41 CDT) Contents (0) Notes (1) Retrospective Evaluation of Happening and Doing (2) Dyadic Tight Feedback Loop (0) Notes (*) Note that you can also interleave/weav…

meditationstuff.wordpress.com

x.noaidi
@NoaidiX
That’s it! The term “citta” was the inspiration for “cheetah,” if my memory serves me. Their research team recently published a paper on the sense of “Not Really Being Here.”https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/imp/jcs/2019/00000026/f0020007/art00008?crawler=true&mimetype=application/pdf …

1
1:20 PM – Mar 25, 2020
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get money, give money: meditation grants and funding redistribution evaluation service

[Doing this now because we may have secured some seed funding.]

As readers know, I make my work freely, publicly available as soon as I feel like it’s safe to do so. In addition to that, if people kick my work around for a bit, there is a free, low-key, low-volume private online forum for which people can apply for access. (Applications are never denied, only deferred, and that’s rare.)

The application process is brief; it’s goal is an attempt to check for self-safety and other-safety.

In any case, I’ve had a lot of practice, now, in evaluating people. It doesn’t mean I’m right! It doesn’t mean I don’t have biases and blind spots! It doesn’t mean there isn’t something terribly wrong with this entire frame! And, feedback loops and meta feedback loops are still being assembled. Sensitive, responsive, humble, humane, fair, consistent, self-bootstrapping, self-deconstructing rigor.

I’m working on it.

I’d also like to offer “people evaluation” available as a service. (Also, I’d like to train people to do this the way I do it. And I’d also like to train trainers. And again I’d like to epistemically and morally, ongoingly, deep-check the whole enterprise.)

I’m now redistributing funding for meditators and for other projects.

You can escrow money (with me as the third-party), earmark it, and I will evaluate people (and projects) and distribute it. I’m still working out what renumeration structure makes sense for me (and trainees) for providing this service, but you can make me an offer!

(Note: My views may change on this, but I currently think it’s karmically untenable to charge money for meditation instruction, as such. I think psychologically/philosophically/etc., charging money for meditation instruction is very functionally/consequentially problematic. I’m still working out my views on this.)

There is currently one initial project which will hopefully receive funds and start distributing soon:

“Quarantine bootstrap pay-it-forward meditation micro-retreat ISAs”

If you:

  • 1) are interested in engaging more deeply with my material
  • 2) self-affirm that they have less than six months of runway
  • 3) on-your-honor agree to fund two more people similarly, within five years, if you can (who in turn each agree to fund two more people, within five years, if they can)
  • (No other strings attached.)

We have one “maybe” donor lined up and we are hoping to receive funds and start distribution soon. Meditation can take as much as 10,000 hours to “complete” (mega scare quotes). So, I eventually want to fund people for one-to-five(!)-years, but this initial funding project will be for about a month of runway per person. That’s so, so, so little, but it’s a start.

Please consider donating! For a default renumeration for me, I don’t know, just fast-guessing, consider earmarking “one month of one person.” So, if you are donating to support five people for Y months at $X/month, then consider setting aside $X for me. Use the contact form above to get started. If you are micro-donating, note that each evaluation takes the evaluator as much as a few hours (even though the applicant only needs about thirty minutes from a cold start), though it averages less, so maybe kick a few hundred dollars my way?? Evaluation is skilled labor, based on thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of work.

Please consider applying to receive funds! Apply using the contact form above. I may not respond immediately, initial priority will be on actually securing funds to distribute, but I will keep track of everyone in a tidy spreadsheet, as one does.

Ok, let’s positive-sum, anti-entropically create ever expanding wealth, value, happiness.

Let’s start now.

 

***

https://github.com/meditationstuff/protocol_1

old meditation meetup description

Many months ago, I started a meetup.com meditation meetup which ran pretty regularly for several months.

(In the distant past, I ran several hundred hours of discussion meetups. Good times. There is a special place in my heart for meetup.com, but I don’t have a sense of it as a company and platform, these days.)

Below is the description of the meditation meetup. In the spirit of general disclosure/historicity/transparency, glorious cringe, and for public posterity, I’m posting it, here.

I was in a weird, not great place, personally. And I was in a weird, not great life situation. So the below is sort of a combination of “me” and “other factors.”

Generally, back in the day, I would post long, super intense, and weird meetup descriptions and then see who showed up. Sort of a hopefully redemptive nigerian prince screening sort of thing: complex bundles of irony, earnestness, self-awareness and lack thereof, for people to kind of tease apart, or not, and then decide whether or not to show up. That tended to work not terribly, and what’s below is in that tradition.

Anyway, so I think the below is sort of a combination of harmless freak-flag-flying (and heartfelt aspiration and invitation) along with some more problematic and insidious stuff.

At the time of writing this current blog post, my contemporary protocol material is now above version 80 (though the versioning increments aren’t semantically precise). In the meditation meetup, I taught version 1 with a dash of 2 and an even smaller dash of 3. So this was sort of the beginning of a something. [sic] I met a bunch of people and a valued collaborator, and a lot of good (and challenging) things happened thereafter that might not have otherwise happened. All of this is still playing out. It’s barely been a couple years.

I had a large number of foam boards with instructions written all over them, spread throughout the room. And then people could sign up on a whiteboard grid to chat with me for 20-30 minutes, out of a series of contiguous time blocks that comprised the entire duration of the meetup. And that was it! No discussion, no lecture or talking. Just come and do the thing and maybe touch base with me. (People could sign up in groups and for multiple contiguous time blocks, so it was possible to do a groupy discussion thing if desired.)

Stream-Entry and Expansionary Intentional Community

What we’re about

a stream-entry-oriented meditation and philosophy center ([…]) for expansionary immortal intentional community: a path for (possibly broken or failed-to-launch) ambitious people who want the world (saved) and also want healing, acceptance, self-expression, intimacy, and community

• (1) There’s a thing • (2) Get the thing • (3) Don’t irreparably fuck up your health, relationships, and future earning potential along the way • (4) Get other people the thing • (5) Create a community • (6) Understand the world • (7) Have a good life and fight the future • (8) Invite everyone… • (9) Go.

Save the World

So, yeah, perhaps you want to do great good, do great work, act with rigor, get it right, heal the entire world, change everyone, live forever, solve metaphysics and crack open the universe, find the dead, experience great love, profound intimacy, have all the experiences, express all the things, show everybody, win all the fights and have all the sex with all the people.

Safety and Intimacy and Comfort

And, so, yeah, on the other hand, perhaps you want warm blankets, intimacy, candlelight, perhaps looking out at a rainy darklit cityscape, safety, sharing a good story, a good movie, maybe raise a kid or two in a community, a village, or not, as the world goes by or burns.

Resolving the Tension

Touching the world versus quiet/fun/safe intimacy: There’s a tension, here. My claim is that meditation (properly conceived and practiced) is a method for resolving personal microdynamic and life-scale complex optimization problems, one way of resolving that tension. Your mind learns about itself at the deepest level and good things happen.

What Next

So, yeah. Come sit with us. Learn my system and/or consult with me if you like. Recommend resources are below. Get the thing. (Learn a method, go deeper over years.) I’m not selling anything, yet. I want to set up a retreat center and get funding for retreat scholarships. And somewhere in there create an institution and paradigmatically contribute to all the things, epistemologically and structurally, and, from there, the world…

~~~

Conduct

• There are things we do here and things we don’t do here. Figure out what we do here and do that. Figure out what we don’t do here and don’t do that. If something unwanted happens, talk to me or talk to someone who will talk to me. Mistakes will happen and will be addressed charitably, but I will ask people to leave who aren’t generally on their best behavior. I want to get more people besides me involved in determining conduct guidelines as quickly as possible.

• Creating a Life Together (https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Life-Together-Ecovillages-Intentional/dp/0865714711/) intentional community book

• Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership (https://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Ethical-Challenges-Leadership-Casting/dp/1506321631/r) book

• http://deconstructingyourself.com/podcast/dy-020-why-good-teachers-go-bad-with-guest-shinzen-young (http://deconstructingyourself.com/podcast/dy-020-why-good-teachers-go-bad-with-guest-shinzen-young)

Safety

• Meditation can be psychologically and physically dangerous. You could die or destroy your life. I’ll ask you to sign a waiver. I hope to get better safety models in dialogue with other teachers and as time goes by.

• Ideally, I’d like everyone who meditates to have a 6-24 month liquid emergency fund, disability insurance, and a well-informed significant other and/or community. I do think that, for some people, things can get really bad. Frankly, I’m not the best person to help people to masterfully avoid that, though I want to get very good at this over time. Things got really bad for me, by the way. Part of that is that I had temporarily stopped meditating but I was doing other practices that put me in the dark night anyway, without my realizing that that’s what was going on. So that seems avoidable. But, if someone is turning the crank, there’s a lot of ways that one can get deep into something bad too fast. If you have a tendency to unresponsively repeat behaviors and/or there are ways in which you’re “fragile” or you have a tendency towards dysregulation, and, even if you’re not/don’t, these are things to keep in mind. Notably, I haven’t played with the Jhanas very much–and facility with these is supposed to give you a smoother ride. The thing I did/am doing are closer to “dry insight.” So, I currently won’t be too much help getting into Jhanas, except abstractly, or knowing how and when they’d be helpful. That’s a gap of mine.

• Meditation can sometimes cause muscle tension (and intracranial blood pressure) to creep up on you and eventually get very bad, and it can take many months to dispel. If someone has e.g. neck/cervical issues or neurocardiovascular issues this is something to keep in mind as a possible physical danger. Sudden involuntary head and neck movements can sometimes be an issue too. I don’t fully understand the risks, here, and, again, how to masterfully mitigate or avoid them.

Me

• I’ve been meditating for over a decade. Only within the past couple years have things really started to click. I laid a lot of groundwork, though, so things are happening pretty fast. If I’d been less arrogant and crazy, I maybe would have gotten help and things would have happened sooner, but I did learn to think critically and nondogmatically about transformative practice. I still have a lot to learn, and I still need to get much better at reaching out to people with more experience. More about me: I wrote on the https://meditationstuff.wordpress.com blog for a couple years. That material is dated, and intermittently cringy, but there’s still good stuff there, and you’ll get a snapshot of me. I have a background in engineering (bioengineering PhD), and, while acquiring that background, I led a double life researching spirituality and phenomenology. […]. I achieved stream-entry a couple years ago with subsequent fruitions, and I haven’t sussed out what third path is in the Theravadin Model, so I may not be there yet. I’m not authorized to teach by any traditional lineage holder or unaffiliated contemporary teacher.

Instructions Teaser

•Describe the pixels and voxels of your sensations as such at the finest grain of space and time. This will initially be very hard… (If you hate noting practice you might like my variant. I hated noting.)

Shitty Stream-Entry Advertisement (you might experience a different emphasis and various degrees of penetrating insight on the first go)

• “Whoa, I’m doing that to myself, and there’s a sense in which I’m just happening, and that was superstitious, and I was mistaking that for something outside of me, and there’s nowhere to go and there’s nothing to do and there’s no escape and also here I am and here we are…”

Resources (I can have a reasonably intelligent conversation though not speak authoritatively about most of these)

• Meditation

• Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (http://integrateddaniel.info/book/) by Ingram

• The Mind Illuminated (https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Illuminated-Meditation-Integrating-Mindfulness/dp/1501156985/) by Culadasa

• Meditation for the Love (https://www.amazon.com/Meditation-Love-Enjoying-Deepest-Experience/dp/1604070811/) of It by Kempton

• How to Meditate (https://www.amazon.com/How-Meditate-Practical-Making-Friends/dp/1604079339/) by Pema Chödrön

• Unlearning Meditation (https://www.amazon.com/Unlearning-Meditation-What-When-Instructions/dp/1590307526/) by Siff

• Five Ways to Know Yourself (https://www.shinzen.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FiveWaystoKnowYourself_ver1.6.pdf) (dated) by Shinzen Young

• Right Concentration (https://www.amazon.com/Right-Concentration-Practical-Guide-Jhanas/dp/1611802695/) by Brasington (https://www.amazon.com/Leigh-Brasington/e/B072NXZ1SR/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1)

• Phenomenology

• Investigating Pristine Inner Experience (https://www.amazon.com/Investigating-Pristine-Inner-Experience-Moments/dp/0521279127/) by Hurlburt

• The Microdynamics of Occurrent (https://www.amazon.com/Theory-Microdynamics-Occurrent-Thought/dp/1498511481/) Thought by Demmin

• Ghosts of Consciousness (https://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Consciousness-Thought-Spiritual-Omega/dp/1557788251/) by Demmin

• Sensation’s ghost: The non-sensory “fringe” of consciousness (https://www.google.com/search?q=sensations+ghost+mangan+fringe) by Mangan

• Folding (https://www.dropbox.com/s/srjro4caxla0pcd/Folding%201.0%20by%20Mark%20Lippmann.pdf?dl=0) by me!

• Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning (https://www.amazon.com/Experiencing-Creation-Meaning-Philosophical-Psychological/dp/0810114275/) by Gendlin

• Dogen on Meditation and Thinking by Kim

• How to Realize Emptiness by Gen Lamrimpa

• Philosophy

• The Critique of Pure Reason (https://www.amazon.com/Critique-Reason-Cambridge-Works-Immanuel/dp/0521657296/) by Kant

• Philosophical Investigations (https://www.amazon.com/Philosophical-Investigations-Ludwig-Wittgenstein/dp/1405159286/) by Wittgenstein

• Principles of Philosophy by Descartes

• Contingency; First Truths; Monadology by Leibniz

• Logical Investigations by Husserl

• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_noncontradiction

• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_sufficient_reason

• Body

• The Way of Energy (https://www.amazon.com/Way-Energy-Mastering-Internal-Strength/dp/0671736450/) (Zhan Shuang)

• Desire/Tantra/Intimacy/Expression

• Techniques of the Selling Writer (https://www.amazon.com/Techniques-Selling-Writer-Dwight-Swain/dp/0806111917/) by Swain

• Scene and Structure (https://www.amazon.com/Scene-Structure-Elements-Fiction-Writing/dp/0898799066/) by Bickham

• From Where You Dream (https://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Dream-Process-Writing/dp/0802142575/) by Butler

• Thought Experiments (https://www.amazon.com/Thought-Experiments-Roy-Sorensen/dp/019507422X/) by Sorensen

• Focusing (https://www.amazon.com/Focusing-Eugene-T-Gendlin/dp/0553278339/) by Gendlin

• Vernacular Eloquence (https://www.amazon.com/Vernacular-Eloquence-Speech-Bring-Writing/dp/0199782512/) by Elbow

• Radical Honesty (https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Honesty-Transform-Telling-Truth/dp/0970693842/) by Blanton

• The Lover Within (https://www.amazon.com/Lover-Within-Opening-Energy-Practice/dp/1581770170/) by Henderson

• The Shadow of the Object (https://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Object-Psychoanalysis-Unthought-Known/dp/0231066279/) by Bollas

• Catch them Before They Fall (https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Them-Before-They-Fall/dp/0415637201/) by Bollas

• Arousal (https://www.amazon.com/Arousal-Secret-Logic-Sexual-Fantasies/dp/0312302428/) by Bader

• Deepening Intimacy in Psychotherapy (https://www.amazon.com/Deepening-Intimacy-Psychotherapy-Transference-Countertransference/dp/0765710129/) by Rosiello

• Other Teachers who I’ve heard good things about but don’t know too much about: Kenneth Folk, Michael Taft, Shinzen Young, Rob Crouch, Vincent Horn…

Past events (63)

Folding and IIED deprecated

[brief, superficial post; but important]

Folding and IIED have been whisper-network (sigh; sorry) deprecated for a while, but I wanted to finally make a more formal announcement. Folding is in the big, long document I published that can be found through the About page above. IIED is a technique that I released on a small scale a few years ago.

Folding

The Folding document starts with very intense warnings, which could have been a bit more measured, grammatical, and less bolted-on. But, it seems like it was a good and responsible thing to do.

By memory, I’m only aware of one pretty bad and one very bad reaction to the Folding technique. (Also, I think some number of people have had intense-but-ok experiences.) In the case of the pretty bad reaction, that person knowingly and deliberately went against the spirit of the warnings, to see what would happen. In the case of the very bad reaction, it seems there were many, many other things going on the same time. And, the person said they didn’t carefully read the document and mostly guessed what to do by sparse skimming and other people’s descriptions.

Further, I’ve had a long time to assess what doing a lot of Folding did to my own system. Overall, I think it’s relatively gentle! But, it seems to produce relatively narrow and diminishing returns. (That said, most existing techniques may be relatively limited on the narrow dimension in which Folding is effective.) What is that narrow dimension? Hard to say; I haven’t thought carefully about Folding for a while.

Folding paired with the Meta Protocol might be an interesting thing to explore. Folding could also be considered a Preliminary/Auxiliary practice under my contemporary meditation protocol.

I don’t consider the Folding document, as a whole, to be deprecated. Plenty of other stuff is dated or didn’t hold up, along with the Folding technique. But, I think there’s some pretty cool and detailed descriptions of my early phenomenological method as well as some interesting phenomenological descriptions. The descriptions might not be as general as I thought at the time, but they still detail a slice of “all possible phenomenology space.” And the methodology might be useful to people who want to use it as a partial basis for their own investigations.

[Update: Briefly, what I didn’t understand at the time I was writing Folding was the role of “the body” (both physical and “phenomenological”) Much more could be said, here, but I’ll leave this as a placeholder.]

IIED

IIED was not publicized on this blog and was released to a small number of people. (“IIED” is an initialism which I won’t expand, here.) IIED could be optionally done with the use of a “tally counter.” I’m writing about the technique here on this blog because I’m not in contact with everyone who I know who at least experimented with this method.

I think this method was relatively safe (and powerful) in limited amounts. But, I think it has the propensity to potentially induce “fly bottle constraints” in a person’s system. That is, some of the changes made by IIED, if ultimately deemed counterproductive (explicitly or implicitly), might be challenging or costly to reverse or otherwise back out of (though certainly not impossible). The use of my newer Protocol material would be one potential way to address problems from IIED.

So, this section can be considered a “public service announcement” (PSA) of sorts. If you were or are a user of IIED, and you have concerns or questions, please contact me.

Elements of IIED have been pretty exhaustively decomposed and incorporated into the preliminary/auxiliary practices of the newer Protocol document (and I believe are much safer in their “elementary” forms). Exploring IIED as such in combination with the Meta Protocol material might be one way to assess whether problematic use of IIED has occurred and might make use of IIED less likely to be problematic.

Protocol

I consider the contemporary meditation protocol document to be my only (conditionally) recommended transformative practice at this time. (–that I’ve personally (co-)authored; there’s a pantheon of other material and teachers out there, some terrible some excellent)