I decided to move some posts over here from the announcement section, as this is more than the announcement of the Science and Nonduality Conference. I'd like to explore the relationship in the title, since as I said I've gone roundabout on this topic in several threads. I'd like to bring the relevant posts from those threads to bear in this one, focusing on how nonduality can be postmetaphysically reframed in light of this neuroscientific research. For now here are the posts so far from the previous thread.

Here's an interesting seminar in the upcoming Science and Nonduality Conference connecting image schemas with nonduality. Recall I've done this is a number of threads.*

Image Schema May Reveal Something New About the Relationship Betwee...

Dr. Frank Echenhofer (Professor of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies)

"Over the last 15 years there has been a very interesting development within linguistics that may offer new insights regarding the relationship between dualistic thought and nondual experiencing. This development has been the research and writing regarding image schema, all artfully explained in Mark Johnson's book The Meaning of the Body. An image schema is one of many recurring pervasive cognitive structures that are formed from our bodily interactions, our linguistic experiences, and our culture. In contemporary cognitive linguistics, an image schema is considered an embodied prelinguistic structure of experience that shapes the mapping of conceptual metaphors.

"Research studies in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience support this notion of image schema. This presentation will provide a new look at the relationship between dualistic and nondual experiencing in light of what is known about how image schemas shape our experiences."

* As a few examples, see this and this link.

Echenhofer mentioned Mark Johnson, who with George Lakoff wrote my embodied nondual Bible, Philosophy in the Flesh. In my research I came upon this book available free at scribd, From Perception to Meaning: Image Schemas in Cognitive Linguistics (Mouton de Gruyter, 2005). The following excerpt is from Johnson's introductory chapter "The philosophical significance of image schemas":

“The chief problem with Kant's account is that it is based on an absolute dichotomy between form and matter. He thought there could be 'pure' form—form without empirical content—and his problem was to explain how this form could get connected to the material aspects of experience.... Kant's general metaphysical system... seems to me to be too laden with a disastrous set of fundamental ontological and epistemological dichotomies.... However, what is worth salvaging from Kant's account is his recognition of imagination as the locus of human meaning, thought, and judgment. Kant correctly recognized the schematizing, form-giving function of human imagination. Imagination is not an activity of alleged pure understanding or reason, but rather is an embodied process of human meaning-making that is responsible for the order, quality, and significance in terms of  which we are able to make sense of our experience. What Kant called the 'faculty of imagination' is not a discrete faculty, but rather multiple processes for discerning and utilizing structure within our experience.

“Moreover, we must not think of imagination as merely a subjective, idiosyncratic private 'mental' operation to be contrasted with objective thought and reason. Imaginative activity occurs, instead, in the ongoing flow of our everyday experience that is neither merely mental nor merely bodily, neither merely cognitive nor emotional, and neither thought alone nor feeling alone. All of these dimensions are inextricably tied up together in the perceptual and motor patterns of organism-environment interaction, which provide the basis for our patterns of understanding and thought. What we identify as the 'mental' and then contrast with the 'bodily' dimensions of our experience are really just abstractions from the embodied patterns and activities that make up that experience. What we call 'mind' and 'body are not separate things. Rather, we use these terms to make sense of various aspects of the flow of our experience. Image schemas are some of the basic patterns of that flow.

“It took the non-dualistic philosophies of people such as William James (1890), John Dewey (1958), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1962)--and later, the burgeoning work of neonate cognitive neuroscience—to articulate a richer embodied view of imagination, meaning, and thought. James, Dewey, and Merleau-Ponty all shared the fundamental insight that mind and body are not two things or substances

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Hi - again, I am using this thread to post a related research factoid. Though there may be a more pointedly relevant thread on IPMS, among other topics, this one deals with neuroscience, perception, and meaning.

I like this sort of research a lot that slices through life with questions that I hear in my own inner vernacular which are like, how do we know what is real, and what is brain effect, brain noise, brain construction, brain confabulation, errant association and abstraction, illusion, delusion, AND from this article, "hallucination."

A person has an extraordinary experience from being touched by God, probed by aliens, seeing a brilliant light off a deity, or perhaps the descent or ascent of a light into oneself. Where are these objects of our subjectivity coming from. Are our perceptions and interpretive conclusions about them from outside and we are simply witnessing them, or are our brains generating them, or what?

You know - the many forms and contexts that are discussed - how do we know what is real?

One factor of these complex phenomena, whether more cause or effect or by-product, is that anatomically there is a fold in the cerebral cortex that is measured (statistically) as significantly shorter in those who hallucinate, for example, those who can not distinguish what is more interior from what is more exterior.

Here are a few sentences from this pop-science reportage from BBC:


http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34832284

'A study of 153 brain scans has linked a particular furrow, near the front of each hemisphere, to hallucinations in schizophrenia.
This fold tends to be shorter in those patients who hallucinate, compared with those who do not.
It is an area of the brain that appears to have a role in distinguishing real perceptions from imagined ones.
Researchers say the findings, published in Nature Communications, might eventually help with early diagnosis.
The brain wrinkle, called the paracingulate sulcus or PCS, varies considerably in shape between individuals. It is one of the final folds to develop, appearing in the brain only just before birth.
"The brain develops throughout life, but aspects such as whether the PCS is going to be a particularly prominent fold - or not -may be apparent in the brain at an early stage," said Jon Simons, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, UK.

...

"We think that the PCS is involved in brain networks that help us recognise information that has been generated ourselves," she explained. "People with a shorter PCS seem less able to distinguish the origin of such information, and appear more likely to experience it as having been generated externally.
"Hallucinations are very complex phenomena that are a hallmark of mental illness and, in different forms, are also quite common across the general population.
"There is likely to be more than one explanation for why they arise, but this finding seems to help explain why some people experience things that are not actually real."'

There seems to be no doubt that our brains are mediating and filtering our experiences , Ambo . I'd be shocked if anyone has any experiences once the brain in clinically dead . The software for the brain seems to be the mind and I would tend to think the mind is real . I would tend to think the abstract concept Pi is real .But if my mind experiences a ghost I would also think it's fare to ask if the ghost is real ? But how could we know if the ghost is real if it can't be measured with any instruments that would be subtle enough to register that level of 'existence'? Would that mean the ghost isn't real? My mind registered it. Why has the room become frigid and why is my spine freaked out? Okay, maybe Casper is only a funny cartoon, but Casper is real in my imagination:) The aforementioned would be premised on normative structures and not those within any kind of clinical pathology. 

But sure , Bigfoot is definitely not real!

I feel compelled to add, Ambo, that it's a personal quirk of mine that suggests these questions are far too complex to be answered at this time as our species is far too primitive . We've managed to destroy countless lifeforms within 100 years . We pollute everything with no regard or reverence for life whatsoever . We spend trillions murdering those who don't have our ethnic genes or religious convictions , and I could go on and on . I suggest that humanity is suffering some kind of delusional hubris to think it can answer such questions within such primitive parameters . This is not to take away from what we do know ! We know how to exploit the fuck out of everything and everyone for profit! I suggest such behaviour is primitive, also . See, Balder is right! I can turn every conversation into a critique of capitalism ( a very primitive  form of exchange) .

I think also, Ambo, that a part of what your getting at is also along the lines of what is soul? And what is spirit? Are the very notions themselves schizophrenic? I would suggest-for the purpose of the thread- that soul be thought of as deep caring for all living things and that spirit be thought of as a type of necessity to scream that caring from the rooftops in an otherwise polluted and demented society . 

Just for fun here is a link of 45 minutes past clinical death:

http://www.lifenews.com/2014/02/26/man-comes-back-to-life-after-bei...

On this type of soul and spirit ? It's metaphysical speculation, imo, which can neither be confirmed or completely denied or refuted . I see it as counter-productive and primitive:) to argue over such things . I believe this was the path the Buddha took on this issue . It's an interesting question as to whether an IPMS should be dogmatic in its spirituality and assert its own view as being the only true religion .

Though it would be interesting to me to get additional reportage on the particulars of these asserted facts, it sounds remarkable, amazing.

Your extension by analogy of the factoid of anatomical structure associated with capacity to 'triangulate' locus of phenomenon, more internal or more external, to the categories of "spirit" and "soul" is an interesting stretch as I hear it. And, yes, above my pay grade :)

Thanks, Andrew, for the appreciation and considerations of implications.



andrew said:

I think also, Ambo, that a part of what your getting at is also along the lines of what is soul? And what is spirit? Are the very notions themselves schizophrenic? I would suggest-for the purpose of the thread- that soul be thought of as deep caring for all living things and that spirit be thought of as a type of necessity to scream that caring from the rooftops in an otherwise polluted and demented society . 

Just for fun here is a link of 45 minutes past clinical death:

http://www.lifenews.com/2014/02/26/man-comes-back-to-life-after-bei...

On this type of soul and spirit ? It's metaphysical speculation, imo, which can neither be confirmed or completely denied or refuted . I see it as counter-productive and primitive:) to argue over such things . I believe this was the path the Buddha took on this issue . It's an interesting question as to whether an IPMS should be dogmatic in its spirituality and assert its own view as being the only true religion .

Hmmm... this forum still exists!  Hi.

These are funny sorts of conversations.  Although we want to inquire from our inner quibbles and learn more about the general mechanisms of life we also are shadowed by a cryptic blindspot.  We start out our inquiry as if "real" was a pretty obvious and well-understood concept.  How real is phenomenon X?  Ur... um.... I suspect that what I mean by "real"  might change between the beginning and end of a sentence.

But what a lot of work it would be to pre-clarify several different meanings of "real" before beginning.  Maybe I would then never begin.  But now clearly (sic) I am muddying the very water I wish to see through.

----------------------------------

How do we distinguish "subtle" from "subjective"?  There seems no reason why a more canny science could not measure the massless and qualitative and form-al elements of reality.  But there may remain an unmeasurable purely subjective aspect.  Or perhaps not.  Like Descartes, I am inclined to feel that science it always the establishment of maximally coherent correspondences between epistemological quadrants.  An subjectivity is one of those quadrants.  Then perhaps it can be enfolded within measurement...

-----------------------------------

The old (Wilhelm) Reichian definition of a schizophrenic is somebody who is admirable sensitive to the information and energy streaming through their organism BUT unable to encounter it as their own. 

It besieges them from without. 

They cannot triangulate it the same as others. 

Julian Jaynes, of course, presumed that prior to the Axial Age all human beings experienced this most of the time.  A reduced integration of brain hemispheres creates an echo effect whereby neural cross-talk is perceived as incoming forms from an unknown "other source".

-----------------------------------

Spirit, although frequently used as term for Nonduality, has this character of inspirational animation.  Spirited.  That makes it a very basic quality.  We like to act like soul is very basic, inherited simplistically by babies, but it may not be.  It could be "significant" rather than "fundamental" in Wilber's terms. Soul may be a product.  Something that is (or is not) put together or grown from certain elements of ourselves during life. 

"This precious human birth!" say the Buddhists.

I was a Buddhist for a while.  In our sangha we spoke of Buddha's reticence on these issues but it was circumstantial rather dogmatic.  Most of Siddhartha's teachings were very dependent on who he was talking with.  Practicality varies. 

We understood, in that sangha, that a "soul" was an important part of Buddhism but that (a) it was ultimately a non-eternal conglomerate of emptiness like every other form (b) it does not pass simply and like one unified entity from lifetime to lifetime in response to socially obvious moral deeds.

So, in a way, the soul is a schizophrenic...

Layman! Bro-dude, so good to see you and that you still exist - more or less, so it seems, from this bag of skin's POV, this PCS, this right-left toggle-boggle. Really, good to hear your probing and evocative voice, here, as well.

I'm glad that you engage further Andrew's deriving and raising of the analogy to spirit and soul. I felt that maybe I had shut down the conversational issue with my glib and deflective, 'above my pay grade.' Though as you elaborate in musing on spirit and soul seems to stretch a bit far from the specifics of what this research has been willing to speculate about PCS length, I now get that these points of interest of Andrew and yourself are of course plenty in the neighborhood. Across the history of human development and various impractical expressions, we have seemed to navigate, moment by moment, the what is real/what is not real question. Bio-survival is related to this question. Higher level enrichenings about spirit and soul as well.

"I think the value of this is that it probably helps us think slightly more broadly about hallucinations in schizophrenia, in terms of it not just being about language areas of the brain - but involving a more distributed network of regions, and implicating, in particular, cognitive control or higher-order cognitive functioning." http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34832284

You and Andrew and I obviously are finding more value than the scientifically conservative mention in the above quote.

Each time that you mention the benefit of clarifying whether in an instance we are meaning more "subtle" or "subjective" my ears perk up. Thinking about it now, as a simple geometric modeling, they overlap. Yet of course they aren't opposing, symetrical, or mutually exclusive categories. Subjective awareness can be be engaging what is subtle or gross or perhaps causal. Intrinsically subtle events and conditions can be pointing to subjective processes or a more palpable and measurable objective nature, when we notice them, again recursively, subjectively.

Though in my life and minor contemplations I haven't penetrated very far into what might be "spirit" and "soul", I like that you are bringing forward one possible meaning of soul that can get lost in conflations. That soul can be largely a cognitive construct/experiential conglomeration and abstraction more than a more 'essential' character that is sometimes passed along in conversation. Something like that, if I understand you close enough.

Science/scientists, as in this study, have often been very conservative in their appraisal and maybe understanding of complexity. I like how this article acknowledges the multi-factorial nature of schizophrenia, hallucinations, and discernment/conclusions about what is real. They are studying this paracingulate sulcus in the frontal region of the brain, yet they mention other contributing areas for different clinical contexts like the auditory cortex region, and you suggest a likely reality schism due to limited integration of the right and left hand hemispheres, which probably varies plenty among people. There are even more, of course, like oscillations of input among the main 'triune brain' elements.

My sense based on this article so far is that this suggested PCS function may be distinct in actually 'triangulating' inner/outer reality then the other types of confusions and conflations resulting from a complex brain that has evolved in seeming fragments and specializations and integrations - a convoluted history. That's what comes to mind at this second.

Layman Pascal said:

Hmmm... this forum still exists!  Hi.

These are funny sorts of conversations.  Although we want to inquire from our inner quibbles and learn more about the general mechanisms of life we also are shadowed by a cryptic blindspot.  We start out our inquiry as if "real" was a pretty obvious and well-understood concept.  How real is phenomenon X?  Ur... um.... I suspect that what I mean by "real"  might change between the beginning and end of a sentence.

But what a lot of work it would be to pre-clarify several different meanings of "real" before beginning.  Maybe I would then never begin.  But now clearly (sic) I am muddying the very water I wish to see through.

----------------------------------

How do we distinguish "subtle" from "subjective"?  There seems no reason why a more canny science could not measure the massless and qualitative and form-al elements of reality.  But there may remain an unmeasurable purely subjective aspect.  Or perhaps not.  Like Descartes, I am inclined to feel that science it always the establishment of maximally coherent correspondences between epistemological quadrants.  An subjectivity is one of those quadrants.  Then perhaps it can be enfolded within measurement...

-----------------------------------

The old (Wilhelm) Reichian definition of a schizophrenic is somebody who is admirable sensitive to the information and energy streaming through their organism BUT unable to encounter it as their own. 

It besieges them from without. 

They cannot triangulate it the same as others. 

Julian Jaynes, of course, presumed that prior to the Axial Age all human beings experienced this most of the time.  A reduced integration of brain hemispheres creates an echo effect whereby neural cross-talk is perceived as incoming forms from an unknown "other source".

-----------------------------------

Spirit, although frequently used as term for Nonduality, has this character of inspirational animation.  Spirited.  That makes it a very basic quality.  We like to act like soul is very basic, inherited simplistically by babies, but it may not be.  It could be "significant" rather than "fundamental" in Wilber's terms. Soul may be a product.  Something that is (or is not) put together or grown from certain elements of ourselves during life. 

"This precious human birth!" say the Buddhists.

I was a Buddhist for a while.  In our sangha we spoke of Buddha's reticence on these issues but it was circumstantial rather dogmatic.  Most of Siddhartha's teachings were very dependent on who he was talking with.  Practicality varies. 

We understood, in that sangha, that a "soul" was an important part of Buddhism but that (a) it was ultimately a non-eternal conglomerate of emptiness like every other form (b) it does not pass simply and like one unified entity from lifetime to lifetime in response to socially obvious moral deeds.

So, in a way, the soul is a schizophrenic...

Hey Ambo, Layman! Good to hear that your still kickin'! 

Maybe we could start with what schizophrenia isn't? If we take the link I posted, does this mans experience make him a schizophrenic ? i would argue, no. This guy may have experienced something completely real and it is being interpreted by cultural narratives and conditioning . I once saw a doc. on this little old westernized lady who could paint the most intricate buddhist mandala's wherein she had no prior knowledge of this culture . I hardly see how that is schizophrenic when it amazed even the Dali Lama. 

Nevertheless, i come at this topic from an alternative perspective that i doubt anyone in Integral will concede . I believe we are primitive ! I believe the conditions on this planet today prove my hypothesis . Why is it then that a primitive people think they could know the finer frequencies or dimensions of existence should they be real . if I were a master of the game i certainly would not reveal such knowledge to a people who would abuse it . 

But sure , I believe, theurj, is correct when he asserts that there is this non-dual natural ground that exists and  arises from our historical inheritance . Whether that is a part of a larger oceanic phenomenon is certainly an interesting speculation ; and whether there is something more than an oceanic ass-holon is also an interesting speculation; one that is not impossible or can be entirely refuted . Such possibilities fall under the parameters of faith , IMO . 

Yo, yo & still further yo.

The PCS may play a special role correlated with triangulation of realms or sources of information -- just as the Reticular Activating System has a special role correlated with detection and bare distinction making (and therefore also with many kinds of meditation).

A schizoid mind (one which suffers distress, dysfunction and disturbed relationships as a result of inability to experience ideas and impressions as either moderate or internal phenomena) bears an eerie resemblance to what we all have -- in our various states of self-integration.  

One the odd things about treating schizophrenia by adjusting the brain's dopamine levels is that, basically, it leaves the structures of the mind alone and adjusts one of the "volume knobs".  The possibility then arises that the apparently schizoid structures may be quite normal in many respects.

Of course schizosis also resembles what we typically call supraconscious or psychic phenomena.  And it may be that experiences of factually informative hallucinations and higher visions may stand out as schizoid relative to the production of a future degree of self-integration.  Does a Buddha, so to speak, experience angels as being "within" or "a normal part" of his harmonized self-experience?  Is it schizophrenia, in this sense, to experience anything as if it were informing us from "outside"?

Again we confront an interweaving of subtle & subjective.

Again the possibility that a "soul" may be the result of work done to invent a consistency out of our fragmentary and diverse sources of internal data.  A harmonic entanglement of subtle energetic patterns. What that would mean is that we say (a) many of the subtle features arises in the schizoid mind are real elements of sou, but (b) lacking this integration they are nonetheless pathological and in most cases functionally invalid.

A little snippet from your last post , 'and in most cases'.

What have we here? A little wiggle room perchance? Na, couldn't be:)

Hey, LP, a part of what i do is to try and get a sense or overview of what any particular group or person believes and espouses . If you don't mind, maybe I can mirror what it is I think you've come to experience and believe . Ok? No! Ok, I'm gonna give it a shot anyway(haha) and please make more accurate what I get incorrect . 

Like Jayne's , you seem to think that all humans throughout our history suffered bio/psychic experiences that are in fact hallucinogenic  because of the way the brain is structured and how it developed? That at different times and at different places some humans learned a way to integrate that schism . Meditation is the method I presume that alleviates this fractured psyche? That once one masters meditative disciplines the process heals the schism within the brain and said human becomes whole and enlightened to reality and  realizes reality is wholly natural? 

There is a religious system espoused by certain people that alludes that this is exactly what  has happened throughout our history and that there are rare humans that somehow developed into extraordinary levels of development . This group would say the angels are really advanced humans known in these circles as ascended masters? Or in some Buddhist schools as masters of the rainbow body? This group of people assert god doesn't exist in any of the ways humanity has asserted in its past .

Nay? yay? andrew's an idiot?

Here is one link to Jayne's :

http://genealogyreligion.net/all-mixed-up-julian-jaynes

When I first read Jayne's I did find the hypothesis interesting and still consider it possible , but minimally so. Most academics no longer consider the idea as being tenable . I should probably note that if the theory were true it would not have been meditation solely responsible for integrating the hemispheres; some other developmental process would most likely accounted for the unification . Myself, I believe the notion is incorrect and that humans today are not much different then they were 30,000 years ago, ergo; this theory is not a sufficient argument against humanities religious experiences . That such experiences are phenomenological goes without saying . Definitive conclusions about reality based upon interior experiences ? Not enough data there to say anything for certain...

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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