practice notes

There’s a thing that happens for me every few weeks where (among lots of other stuff), simultaneously, (a) it becomes safe to radically not know something, and (b) a little “patch of unknowing/not-knowing” opens up and kind of hangs out, doing its thing, and is eventually filled in with new “knowing,” within, I don’t know, a couple minutes to twenty minutes.

This morning, a really big patch of unknowing/not-knowing opened up, and it hasn’t really closed, and it’s maybe getting bigger? Not sure if it’s going to (a) fill in or (b) fill the whole thing, as it were.

Mostly, but not entirely, just little scattered knots left, maybe. They whirly-untwist, with great regularity, without adding twisty-ness elsewhere, on net.

Or, thousands and thousands of hours until something, and/or just this from now on, or (unlikely) a big regime change; unclear.

Still intermittent “spontaneous” and triggered “nigh-intolerable” suffering, amidst general peace, gratitude, and excitement. Looking forward to the possible possibilities of more and more peace, gratitude, and excitement.


[See also: ]

Sometimes, I sort of want to throw in the garbage concepts like arhatship and other milestones. I’d just like to replace it with the concept “better.” I like “better” because it doesn’t assume any particular goal. There’s just better than the last thing. (The reason I use “good” so much in the protocol document and not “better” or even “best” is for local methodological, pedagogical, and philosophical reasons: better can sometimes be problematic for local, in the trenches wayfinding. And best is pedagogically misleading and philosophically twisty.)


I like better not only because it doesn’t assume any particular goal, and one could clarify that as “no particular *fixed* goal.” Better doesn’t make a *thing* out of an end state; it doesn’t necessary connote, assume, or imply an end state at all.

It also doesn’t assume sort of “top-down directionality” or “top-down wayfinding.”

To do better, to go in the direction of better, you just need to take one little step in some better direction.

Ah, but that’s not exactly right.


There is another piece that needs to be added to “better” and that’s “nonmonotonicity.” That is, sometimes, to get to something better, sometimes things need to temporarily get worse. That *dip* is nonmonotonicity. (Monotonicity [as opposed to nonmonotonicity] is never going down [nor sideways??], only going up, but sometimes there’s going up slower, sometimes there’s going up faster.)


Ok, so with “better” and “nonmonotonicity,” there’s still directions/directionality, there’s still *wayfinding,* in terms of (a) what to *do* next, and so (b) where to [hopefully or experimentally] *go* next, for (c) to eventually *get* somewhere (maybe unknown). And that somewhere, the sort of intuitive/implicit/inexplicit/felt *planning horizon* gets longer and longer, farther and farther out, the more skilled and experienced one gets; one navigates deeper and longer nonmonotonicity, as sometimes needed, over time.

And there’s always a next somewhere, and the “final” (not final) somewhere (no fixed somewhere) is always over the horizon. And sometimes one needs to massively backtrack, and that’s ok. There’s time. It’s built in.


And, so, you can just keep going. States, stages, gateless gates, stateless states, unconceptualizable states, pristine states (along some dimensions)—it can be very helpful to have and make maps and milestones. But, traditions recognize that, say, “deconditioning” continues after arhatship. The path always just continues.

You can just keep going—better and better.

Above, I haven’t talked about how all this is sort of “multidimensional.” Things can be multidimensionally getting nonmonotonically better (and so also worse) at the same time, along a vast number of dimensions. There’s local and large-scale tradeoffs, at first. But the sort of “average” of the whole thing keeps getting better and better. And sometimes there’s big dips, even “late stage” big dips. But some biggest dips eventually just never happen ever again.

And eventually one starts exploring something like globality, optimizing the whole thing all at once (via mostly little, local operations), while, challengingly, somehow, everything is mediately/indirectly or immediately/directly connected to everything else. Things deconvolve and de-intertwingle over time, what’s weakly separable becomes weakly separate, gloriously non-interacting, to some degree, and to greater and greater degrees, when it wouldn’t be helpful if those things interacted, but it’s still all connected, somehow. It’s the ultimate puzzle, in part because the final goal is over the horizon and one is learning (and unlearning) better and better goals over time until the idea of a goal itself gets replaced with something better, too.


You can just keep going and going. Eventually meditation blurs and blends with life, being lost in life is the same as being in the meditative state, effortless, costless, engaged, nothing to maintain; it’s just what you are. You get to keep all your tools, they become you, they are you, and also you get to just live, to get lost in life, you can just let go, all the way down, and do what you want because what you want is the right thing to do. (Really right—wellbeing, self-aligned, nonartificial…)

If you have the right method, and by method I mean, sure, some *invariances,* of course, but also something creative, nonstereotyped, fine-grain, innovative, that nevertheless-and-in-any-case can navigate, can travel, in straight lines or along any n-dimensional line, and you just just keep going and going.

Again, you can just keep going and going, better and better.


technical debt and inverse operations

[Thanks to one of my collaborators whose questions stimulated this post.]

One could imagine a model of mind involving the accumulation and cancellation of technical debt. So, say, a person goes through life and has experiences of types A, B, and C, which add imprints of those experiences to their mind:


One could imagine experiences of these types accumulating further:


But, let’s say a person has inverse operations -A, -B, -C. Then, while meditating, or in the midst of life, that person could apply those inverse operations to pay off technical debt:



Let’s say the set of inverse operations, -A, -B, -C are enough for most life experiences. But, every once in a while something surprising and novel happens, like Z.


A person doesn’t have inverse operations for some things, so, all things being equal, over time, for an untrained mind, that person’s (body)mind will slowly accumulate technical debt over time.

Additionally, say a person goes on vacation or starts taking long walks, all things being equal, they will only ever be able to pay off so much technical debt, because they lack inverse operations for “deeper accumulation.”


In the example above, even if a person pays off all their ABC, they’re still slowly accumulating new technical debt, and they don’t have inverse operations for older and very old technical debt D, E, F, G, H, I… (And, they’ll encounter more ABC in life, so there’s sort of a dynamic equilibrium that people find themselves in, absent meditation or other transformative practice.)

(Recall, so-called “technical debt” reduces slack/creativity/flexibility in the mind and begets more technical debt.)

Ok, so, part of what meditation is, is discovering new inverse operations and building (sometimes temporary) infrastructure to support (and discover) more inverse operations.

So, an advanced meditator will be doing a tremendous amount of undoing, via a large collection of inverse operations, as well as plenty of creative doing, for learning and staging future learning, doing, and undoing.

And, the very advanced meditator will sort of have a fine-grain “omnidirectional undoer” running at all times, and will effortlessly, costlessly, fully embody something like that, such that all their actions are sort of fluid and flexible and (relatively) “karmically free,” because all doing (and experiencing) is self-met with undoing, as needed. And, if something super surprising happens, and a lot of novel, not-yet-invertible accumulation happens, there’s a tremendous amount of latent skill that immediately starts puzzle solving for new inverse operations, as needed.

To the degree people don’t eventually get overwhelmed with all their stuff, everyone already has a lot of inverse operations, as it were, and everyone does get new ones, in therapy, journaling, long walks, talking with friends, and so on. Though, for most people, they are net accumulating technical debt versus net decreasing technical debt, over time. And, learning to meditate, eventually, tips the balance of accumulation versus not to the side of net decreasing (nonmonotonically), over time.

(Remember, local accumulation isn’t bad, in a vacuum; it’s extremely useful! Accumulation can be highly strategic for the purposes of future payoff, and so on.)

It can take a long time to sort of “phenomenologically align” with “undoing as such” to sort of knowingly, directly facilitate, participate, allow it as it’s happening. It’ll of course have always already been happening, to some degree, and it comes to happen more and more, unreflectively, prereflectively, and spontaneously, too. Eventually, it’s just a seamless, costless, creative thing that’s happening a ton, along with everything else in the mind, that the mind anticipatorily and skillfully inclines towards, as needed.


So the above is sort of simplified intellectual model, that leaves out stuff about “concrete sensory impressions,” and much more.

And the “real thing” is felt, sensuous, embodied (and intellectual, and daydreaming, and getting lost in life, and everything).

One does more and more stuff that kind of maps-ish to the intellectual model above, by, well, meditating. Wellbeing, relief, insight can be clues of heading in the right direction, though plenty of clues feel pretty bleh, too, contextually.

Meditation is felt wayfinding, meditation is felt puzzle-solving.


micropost: final success stories

Mark 10:51 AM

Looking forward to doing a done-done-done-done-done post on blog… It sort of was a little alarming, like if I don’t post some sort of “final success story” then people will less likely to something????

But I’m like noooo ahhh this is for sure a new, valid, complete(, imperfect, improving) vehicle/yana! Quite possibly far more complete than any contemporary thing currently doing its thing.

Mark 10:57 AM

What would such a post contain, so the right people have legitimate, credible confidence that this particular thing might be provisionally, preliminarily, a good fit for them?


Mark <1 minute ago

I wonder if [claims of done-ness] asymptotically become more relevant over time, sort of? Where, for like years 0-5 (0-2? 0-3?), one evaluates [new instructional material] on its first-principle-seeming merits. [and, all relevant adjacent information; that’s all one can do.] But then at year 5, 6, 7, something, one is starting to look for what the users are doing in the world?

[This is year two-ish, starting a count from version 0 (now version 90-something). But still, maybe.]