What are your opinions on enlightenment/self-realization and what are they based on?
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02-02-2015, 05:43 PM
Some good questions
(02-02-2015 01:24 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  ...the scientific evidence for our true nature, with the spiritual recognition of what we are.

I have no clue what you are talking about. What is our "true nature" and what scientific evidence supports that? What is "spiritual recognition" and what are we?

All very good questions.

Our "true nature" is as awareness, oneness with the cosmos, and not as the separate-self constructed by memories, habits of the mind, etc.

Well, the scientific evidence that supports it, is all of it. But to be more specific, big bang cosmology and the fact that we all came from an infinitely dense singularity ~13.7 billion years ago. Biological evolution points to the fact that we are an animal that evolved from inanimate material. That we are as we are, because the universe is as it is. As Carl Sagan would say, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Psychology and studies of consciousness also point to the fact that the idea of some "self" existing within the contents of consciousness is illusory, and the basic premise in which we live our lives as a discrete person is false.

Spiritual recognition, much like the Matrix, can't be told, but can only be experienced. However, there are 1000's of books trying. But until you get a taste of the food on the menu, all you're doing is eating the words.

What we are is awareness.
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02-02-2015, 06:03 PM
Questions with some answers
(02-02-2015 01:46 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  As a long-time atheist and skeptic, I recently came to the recognition of what is commonly called enlightenment/awakening/self-realization.

What does " came to the recognition of" mean?

It's a way of saying that I didn't discover something new, but rather I realized what had been always present.

Can you define "enlightenment/awakening/self-realization"?

I can try. They refer to the recognition that what one is, cannot be found in the mind. Thoughts, feelings, sensations all are spontaneous arisings in consciousness. However, if they're arisings, where are they arising? They are arising in awareness.

The contents of the mind are like the clouds in the sky. They appear and dissipate seemingly endlessly. Enlightenment/awakening/self-realization occurs when you stop looking at the clouds, and turn around see that you've been the sun, illuminating the clouds the whole time.

Since it is so simple, and always present, it's easily overlooked. If I were to ask you whether you are aware and you exist, you would intuitively know that you are. However, knowing something intellectually, and recognizing something, are two very different things. So enlightenment/awakening/self-realization goes beyond the intellectual recognition that one is awareness, to the abiding recognition as that awareness.

Quote:I'm currently writing a book that synthesizes the scientific evidence for our true nature,

What is our 'true nature'?

Awareness.

Quote:with the spiritual recognition of what we are.

What is 'spiritual recognition'?

I commented on that in another post recently, please refer to that one.

Quote:Since this book is going to be aimed towards atheists/skeptics, I wanted to do some research and engage in some dialogue with other like-minded individuals about the topic of spiritual enlightenment.

I accidentally deleted your question about spiritual enlightenment, but hopefully I covered that sufficiently in the above post. If you wish for me to clarify things further, I'll do my best

Quote:What are your thoughts on this matter?

Still don't know what matter you are talking about.

Quote:What language, arguments, scare you away from entertaining it as a possibility?

Why do you assume I am scared away?

I just know from my experience, that until I had what is commonly referred to as a spiritual/mystical experience, I had no interest or inclination into any of these topics. So it's incorrect to assume that you're scared away, but if you are, I'd like to know why.

Quote:Is there anything that has been convincing as to the possibility that one can recognize the illusory nature of the self and live life accordingly?

'illusory nature of the self'? Really?

What's the problem with this term; please elaborate. Thanks!
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02-02-2015, 06:03 PM
RE: What are your opinions on enlightenment/self-realization and what are they based on?
(02-02-2015 05:43 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  As Carl Sagan would say, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Sagan could be very poetic at times. It is one of the things I liked least about him although it was probably good for reaching many.

Quote:Psychology and studies of consciousness also point to the fact that the idea of some "self" existing within the contents of consciousness is illusory, and the basic premise in which we live our lives as a discrete person is false.

I think I actually agree with that. What I don't see is that there is anything except the illusion so if you are positing any sort of universal conciousness of which we are a part then I ask again where the evidence for that is.

Quote:What we are is awareness.

Well, I hope others can figure out what you are driving at. I understand all the words but the sentences aren't really coalescing into anything meaningful.

If you aren't AlephBet, you sure sound like you are pushing the same sort of woo, just without the high level of crazy.

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02-02-2015, 06:18 PM
Agreed
(02-02-2015 02:51 PM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  I'm currently writing a book that synthesizes the scientific evidence for our true nature, with the spiritual recognition of what we are. Since this book is going to be aimed towards atheists/skeptics, I wanted to do some research and engage in some dialogue with other like-minded individuals about the topic of spiritual enlightenment.
Hopefully it will be better than Sam Harris's Waking Up. It wasn't bad, exactly, but it was disappointing.

I hope so too! ha

I was also disappointed with Sam's efforts on the matter. By the time I read it, I had been steeped in spiritual and nonduality/vedanta literature for many months and so it offered nothing new. If you're looking for a more direct approach to 'waking up,' what finally did it for me was a book by the nondualist author John Wheeler called 'Awakening to the Natural State'.

(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  What are your thoughts on this matter?
If we're on the same page as far as thinking of "spiritual" as being a particular kind of psychological and psychological as being a particular kind of physical, we probably won't have much disagreement.

Yeah, nothing pseudoscientific about my idea of spirituality.

(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  What language, arguments, scare you away from entertaining it as a possibility?
I'm not frightened of words like "spiritual" if I know that they're meant in a rational, naturalistic sort of way. Once things start trending towards dualism, Platonism, or supernaturalism of any kind, I'm out.

Agreed! This is one of my main impetuses for writing the book; there's not enough lucid secular spiritual literature out there, free from "religious mumbo jumbo."

(02-02-2015 12:38 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  Is there anything that has been convincing as to the possibility that one can recognize the illusory nature of the self and live life accordingly?
For me, it was seeing that a lot of people have appear to have done it at one level or another. Yes, it's almost always steeped in a pile of religious mumbo-jumbo, but it struck me that it seemed like there was probably something real, but "merely" psychological, behind it. What little reading I've done on the scientific side of this seems to back up my suspicions.

Yeah, that was the same for me. Although my idea of enlightenment was completely different from the recognition that occurred. It's not an achievement, and it doesn't instantly make you some blissed-out sage. It is simply the recognition of what we are and always have been. There are still thoughts and feelings, nervousness and excitement, but they are seen for what they are, temporary appearances in the clear and ever-present awareness.

What little reading is it that you've done on the scientific side of 'this'? In doing research for my book, anything I can read that I haven't yet I'm more than happy to look at.
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02-02-2015, 06:26 PM
Awareness Existing
(02-02-2015 05:33 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 05:17 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  So, the "spiritual recognition of what we are" is both an acknowledgement that we are awareness existing,

I might agree with that; still not entirely sure what you mean by it though.

Yeah, exactly, what does it mean to be awareness existing? Well, it means that you are not your thoughts, but the space in which thoughts arise.

Quote: and that we are not a separate self.

That is even less clear. When you say that, and "we are not apart from the universe" are you just saying that conciousness is a product of the physical rain which is a part of the universe? Or are you saying that conciousness is part of some greater conciousness? If the latter, I don't see any evidence of that.

To not be a "separate self' means that the continuity of the person brought about from memories (which are just thoughts in the present moment) is a fiction. The 'self' arises simultaneously with the thought. Without thoughts, there is no 'self', just as what occurs when one is in deep sleep. They are resting as the awareness in which they are, and are not identifying with the contents of the mind.

I accept fully that consciousness is a product of the physical brain. It would have been tough to make it through my MA in cognitive psychology without accepting that. haha

I go where the evidence goes.
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02-02-2015, 06:47 PM
I should have made my title shorter, so I wouldn't need a new post title every time.
(02-02-2015 06:03 PM)unfogged Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 05:43 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  As Carl Sagan would say, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Sagan could be very poetic at times. It is one of the things I liked least about him although it was probably good for reaching many.

Quote:Psychology and studies of consciousness also point to the fact that the idea of some "self" existing within the contents of consciousness is illusory, and the basic premise in which we live our lives as a discrete person is false.

I think I actually agree with that. What I don't see is that there is anything except the illusion so if you are positing any sort of universal conciousness of which we are a part then I ask again where the evidence for that is.

Right, if it's an illusion, what is it that is seeing the illusion? If you are not your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, what are you? Have you ever sat back and just watched your thoughts appear and disappearing. Trying a guided mindfulness meditation is good for this, or just sit quietly for a minute and observe what's arising; thoughts, sounds, smells, whatever.

Now, if you are watching the contents of consciousness, obviously you are not the contents of consciousness. So again I ask, what are you? To answer, since we're all the same, you are the emptiness, space, being, awareness on which the contents of consciousness appear and disappear.

If the contents of consciousness are the waves, you are the ocean that remains untouched by any momentary appearance of a wave.

I'm not positing any sort of universal consciousness, or anything pseudoscientific like that. At least I don't intend to, so if I ever steer into that territory with my language please correct me and let me know.



Quote:What we are is awareness.

Well, I hope others can figure out what you are driving at. I understand all the words but the sentences aren't really coalescing into anything meaningful.

If you were a fish, how would I describe water to you? How does one explain to someone what they have been their whole life?

What would it take to make the sentences coalesce into something meaningful. This is why I'm here after all. Break it down for me. Are my terms too flimsy? I'm open to any advice/criticism/questions, whatever you can throw my way.

If you aren't AlephBet, you sure sound like you are pushing the same sort of woo, just without the high level of crazy.

Out of curiosity, I'll have to look up this AlephBet and their posts. Certainly not him/her though.
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02-02-2015, 06:57 PM
RE: What are your opinions on enlightenment/self-realization and what are they based on?
(02-02-2015 05:43 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 01:24 PM)unfogged Wrote:  I have no clue what you are talking about. What is our "true nature" and what scientific evidence supports that? What is "spiritual recognition" and what are we?

All very good questions.

Our "true nature" is as awareness, oneness with the cosmos, and not as the separate-self constructed by memories, habits of the mind, etc.

Well, the scientific evidence that supports it, is all of it. But to be more specific, big bang cosmology and the fact that we all came from an infinitely dense singularity ~13.7 billion years ago. Biological evolution points to the fact that we are an animal that evolved from inanimate material. That we are as we are, because the universe is as it is. As Carl Sagan would say, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Psychology and studies of consciousness also point to the fact that the idea of some "self" existing within the contents of consciousness is illusory, and the basic premise in which we live our lives as a discrete person is false.

Spiritual recognition, much like the Matrix, can't be told, but can only be experienced. However, there are 1000's of books trying. But until you get a taste of the food on the menu, all you're doing is eating the words.

What we are is awareness.

Define "awareness". Show me EXACTLY what peer-reviewed studies "point" to the "self as illusory".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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02-02-2015, 07:20 PM
RE: What are your opinions on enlightenment/self-realization and what are they based on?
Quote:I'm currently writing a book that synthesizes the scientific evidence for our true nature

This looks eerily similar to something I read about synthesizing the gospels of , well, whoever wrote them.
Veridi-something if I remember correctly.
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02-02-2015, 07:56 PM
The illusory sense of self
(02-02-2015 06:57 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 05:43 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  All very good questions.

Our "true nature" is as awareness, oneness with the cosmos, and not as the separate-self constructed by memories, habits of the mind, etc.

Well, the scientific evidence that supports it, is all of it. But to be more specific, big bang cosmology and the fact that we all came from an infinitely dense singularity ~13.7 billion years ago. Biological evolution points to the fact that we are an animal that evolved from inanimate material. That we are as we are, because the universe is as it is. As Carl Sagan would say, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Psychology and studies of consciousness also point to the fact that the idea of some "self" existing within the contents of consciousness is illusory, and the basic premise in which we live our lives as a discrete person is false.

Spiritual recognition, much like the Matrix, can't be told, but can only be experienced. However, there are 1000's of books trying. But until you get a taste of the food on the menu, all you're doing is eating the words.

What we are is awareness.

Define "awareness". Show me EXACTLY what peer-reviewed studies "point" to the "self as illusory".

Defining something that is beyond labels and conceptions is going to be difficult. All our communication is based on constructs of the mind, so how does one go about defining the surface in which the constructs of the mind occurs? I will try though.

Right now, you are seeing and hearing things. You are aware that you are seeing and hearing things. Awareness is the place in which the seeing and hearing is occurring.

That the self is an illusion is a position built from a vast number of peer-reviewed studies.

Two books I can recommend that delve deeply into the neuroscientific evidence for the illusory sense of self are 'Being No One' by Thomas Metzinger and 'The Self Illusion' by Bruce Hood. Sam Harris also a chapter on the illusory nature of the self in his book, 'Waking Up'.

I will try to find specific peer-reviewed studies that deal with the broader topic of the illusory sense of self as that will certainly come in handy for my research. If/when I do find them, I will be sure to point you towards them.

I should point that out subjective experience of the self is real in so far as most people take themselves to be a self. However, when one goes searching for the self, or the seat of consciousness, they find that it's a cobbled together construction of various brain processes and has no real existence other than in the present contents of consciousness.
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02-02-2015, 08:07 PM
RE: What are your opinions on enlightenment/self-realization and what are they based on?
(02-02-2015 07:56 PM)Spirtic Wrote:  
(02-02-2015 06:57 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Define "awareness". Show me EXACTLY what peer-reviewed studies "point" to the "self as illusory".
Defining something that is beyond labels and conceptions is going to be difficult. All our communication is based on constructs of the mind, so how does one go about defining the surface in which the constructs of the mind occurs? I will try though.

Right now, you are seeing and hearing things. You are aware that you are seeing and hearing things. Awareness is the place in which the seeing and hearing is occurring.

That the self is an illusion is a position built from a vast number of peer-reviewed studies.

Two books I can recommend that delve deeply into the neuroscientific evidence for the illusory sense of self are 'Being No One' by Thomas Metzinger and 'The Self Illusion' by Bruce Hood. Sam Harris also a chapter on the illusory nature of the self in his book, 'Waking Up'.

I will try to find specific peer-reviewed studies that deal with the broader topic of the illusory sense of self as that will certainly come in handy for my research. If/when I do find them, I will be sure to point you towards them.

I should point that out subjective experience of the self is real in so far as most people take themselves to be a self. However, when one goes searching for the self, or the seat of consciousness, they find that it's a cobbled together construction of various brain processes and has no real existence other than in the present contents of consciousness.


The BRAIN is the place where seeing and hearing is taking place. Renaming the brain "awareness" is simply woo.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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