Thursday, February 25, 2016


It is possible to induce a type of non-dual experience of the feeling of being by meditating on the feeling of "I am" (or possibly the feeling of bliss) while by asking oneself, "Who am I?"

SELF-INQUIRY by Sri Sadhu Om at

Chapter 7 from The Path of Sri Ramana, Part One


The nature of the mind is to attend always to things other than itself, that is, to know only second and third persons. If the mind in this way attends to a thing, it means that it is attending (attaching itself) to that thing.


On the other hand, if our awareness is directed only towards ourself, our knowledge of existence alone is nourished, and since the mind is not attended to, it is deprived of its strength...


The feeling ‘I am’ is the experience common to one and all. In this, ‘am’ is awareness. This awareness is not of anything external, it is the awareness of oneself. This is awareness.


The pure existence-awareness, 'I am' is not a thought; this awareness is our nature.


The awareness, 'I am' is not a thought; it is the very nature of our 'being'.


... for those who ... attend thus, 'What is this feeling which shines as I am?' it is suitable to be fixed in Self-awareness in the form 'Who am I?'.

What is important to be sure of during practice is that our attention is turned only towards 'I', the first person singular feeling.

According to Ramana Maharshi, Brahman is sat-chit-ananda, being-consciousness-bliss. He says consciousness and bliss are not different from being. It would seem that meditating on bliss, with the understanding you are trying to understand sat-chit-ananda by asking "Who am I?" would be equivalent to meditating on being. It might be easier for some people to meditate on bliss rather than being because being is a very subtle feeling while bliss produced by meditation can be much easier to focus on.

From Be As You Are The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi Edited by David Godman


Q: Brahman is said to be sat-chit-ananda. What does that mean?

A: Yes. That is so. That which is, is only sat. That is called Brahman. The lustre of sat is chit and its nature is ananda. These are not different from sat. All the three together are known as sat- chit-ananda.

Q: As the Self is existence [sat] and consciousness [chit] what is the reason for describing it as different from the existent and the non-existent, the sentient and the insentient?

A: Although the Self is real, as it comprises everything, it does not give room for questions involving duality about its reality or unreality. Therefore it is said to be different from the real and the unreal. Similarly, even though it is consciousness, since there is nothing for it to know or to make itself known to, it is said to be different from the sentient and the insentient. Sat-chit-ananda is said to indicate that the supreme is not asat [different from being], not achit [different from consciousness] and not an anananda [different from happiness]. Because we are in the phenomenal world we speak of the Self as sat-chit-ananda.

Copyright © 2016 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


When The Buddha was asked if there is a self (an atta, an eternal self or soul), he remained silent. He felt the answer would not help his students understand his teaching.

What The Buddha did say was that anything you can identify is not self and he explained why, and that therefore nothing is worthy of being emotionally attached to.

This can be hard to understand, so here is an explanation:

Suppose you are calm and at peace.

Then someone comes over and says or does something that annoys you. Or something happens that upsets you.

Now you are upset. How did that happen? You didn't want to be upset. You liked being calm and at peace. You wanted to have equanimity and be indifferent to conditions.

Those unpleasant emotions are not under your control. They arise from somewhere unasked. Not by your intentional doing.

Most people consider the self to consist of their body and mind; thoughts and emotions. But if unpleasant emotions are not under your control, if they arise unasked for, not from your own intention, then how can they be "self"?

They are not self.

They are not yours. You don't control them. They come upon you unasked, unsought for.

When you see that, now you can let go of them. Those emotions are not yours, not you. Who cares about them?

This is the illusion that fools people.

They wonder "How can I let go of this unpleasant emotion?"

But they don't see that the very fact that they can't let go of it means that it is not self, not theirs, not worthy of being attached to.

It is like a magicians trick. A misdirection. The unpleasant emotions attract your attention so strongly and distract you from everything else, that you never think that they are not yours.

We all think, "I should be able to handle this without reacting emotionally." But that is the wrong view. That is the trap we all fall into. The right view is, "I can't control this so it's not me or mine." Then you don't care about the emotional reaction and it fades.

Another illusion involves craving. Craving is an unpleasant emotion that often goes unnoticed. We think getting what we want will make us happy but too often craving and chasing after things only makes us stressed, anxious, and unhappy. Seeing craving as not self can help you let go of it just like with other unpleasant emotions.

To see through these illusions, quiet the mind with meditation and observe what happens as unpleasant thoughts and emotions arise. When you notice an unpleasant emotion, craving, or an unwanted impulse, compulsion, obsession. or fixation, say to yourself, in a pleasant, relaxed, friendly way without suppressing or resisting it, something like:

Who asked for that? I perceive it so it's outside me. It's an illusion.

Then remember:

Self is the illusion that causes suffering and keeps us from seeing things as they really are.
Unpleasant emotions tend to feed off themselves. When you are upset, you get upset that you are upset. It's like a feedback loop. Resisting emotions just reinforces the feedback loop with more unpleasant feelings. Rather than trying to suppress an unpleasant thought or emotion, react in a relaxed and pleasant manner. When you see that you did not try to make it arise, that it came unasked for, that you don't own it, that it is not yours, it is much easier to let go of. But old habits die hard, so you may have to repeat the process as the thoughts or feelings recur.

The way to develop equanimity, the way to become non-attached to external things, is by becoming non-attached to internal emotions because the way external things get to you is through the emotions you experience. When you are non-attached it does not mean you are indifferent. When you are not thinking about yourself, you feel more compassion for others not less.

If you are pure awareness just watching the universe unfold, nothing is good or bad, it is only when there is a self that things can happen in relation to that you can have unpleasant thoughts or emotions. When you meditate, notice the absence of mental chatter as you concentrate on saying the numbers while you count the breath or saying "in" and "out" while you inhale and exhale. Notice how peaceful that is and how pleasant that peacefulness is. When an unpleasant thought or emotion arises, try to see how it is the idea of self that that is at the root of the unpleasant feeling. For example, if someone annoys you, is it because their act offends your ego? If you want something, it is because not having it affects your status in the social hierarchy? Who wants? I want. Who likes? I like. Who doesn't want? I don't want. Who dislikes? I don't like. All attachments and aversions, liking and disliking, ultimately resolve to "self". But as we saw above, self is an illusion. Try to see how all unpleasant things resolve into problems caused by the illusion of self. If you are just pure awareness, just meditating on "in" and "out" there is no mental chatter, everything is peaceful and pleasant, there are no problems. But every time unpleasantness arises, self, appearing from nowhere, is at the root of it. Try to observe this transition between "non-self mind" and "self mind". See how the idea of self is always part of any unpleasant thought or emotion. And see how pleasant it is, after releasing the unpleasant thought or emotion, to return to non-self mind. As you do this, learn to abide more and more in non-self mind.

Copyright © 2016 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Non-duality is a term is used to refer to a group of similar experiences that may be described in various ways. Sometimes a person may feel like he is a universal consciousness that consists of all beings and all things. This may be called an experience of oneness, or a unitive experience. Another person might perceive that all that exists is pure consciousness and the self is really an illusion produced when the mind discriminates between different things. This may be called an experience of no-self. Another person may further observe the interdependence of mind and matter and apprehend that there is no firm foundation for either. This is sometimes called an experience of emptiness.

The discussion below could be accepted by a materialist because it describes what people feel they experience subjectively, it doesn't require belief that consciousness is not produced by the brain. However, for completeness, I should point out that most people who have a deep experience of non-duality believe that they perceive that consciousness is not limited to the mind of one person but consists of all consciousness and all things in the universe. The discussion is also not exactly correct. Non-duality, reality undifferentiated by words and concepts, cannot be described with words and concepts. And different experiencers also describe it slightly differently and may disagree on the fine points of what the experience is.


Non-duality is the idea that if a mind does not distinguish between things, then everything can be considered one big thing. When one looks at the universe without distinguishing between different things, everything and everyone is just one big thing. Without a mind to think, "this is a chair", "this is a car", "this is a tree", "this is my self", "this is something other than my self", there is no duality, there is no multiplicity, there is just what is.

For example, suppose you have a room with a chair in it. "Chair" is a human word, a concept that does not exist outside a mind. Without a mind to look in the room and perceive a chair, there is no "chair" anywhere. There is just the undifferentiated non-dual reality. The matter may exist in its form, but "chair", a concept, does not exist until someone thinks "chair" or recognizes a chair. When a human looks into the room, the human sees what is in there and discerns there is a chair. The concept "chair" now exists in his mind. In that instant, duality is created by the mind, for the mind, in the mind.

A person who has realized non-duality, will understand this creation to be the illusion that hides the ultimate reality, the non-dual reality, from most people.

A person experiencing a non-dual mode of consciousness would not experience any separation between himself and the chair. He might, in an experience of oneness, feel that the chair is himself, or in an experience of no-self, feel the chair is the knower.

Once, when a Zen Buddhist teacher gave an introductory class in Zen, he showed a small bell to the students and asked, "What is this?" One student said, "It's a bell." The teacher was silent. Another student took the bell from the teacher and rang it for everyone to hear. The teacher said, "Very good!" The second student was demonstrating non-dual consciousness.

Consciousness cannot exist without anything to be conscious of. So a chair, giving the mind something to be conscious of, creates the mind. The mind creates "chair" and the chair creates the mind. Interdependent, without any firm foundation.

Self is just like that. The mind sees and feels its body and creates "self" just like it created chair. The mind perceives feelings, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, impulses, opinions, awareness, liking, disliking, wanting, not wanting, and creates "self" and "other" just like it created "chair".

In the undifferentiated reality, I and my friend are not different people and we are not the same person. Without mind to think "same" and "different" there is no same or different. There is just what is. Not two. Not one.

Non-duality, when realized due to direct experience and understanding, produces happiness, contentedness, compassion and selflessness. When you make no distinction between yourself and everything and everyone else, you don't worry about yourself, you don't want anything, and you have the same concern for others' suffering that you have for your own. However, the experience does not automatically make you a saint. It does not necessarily produce personality changes that will make everyone love and admire you. And there have been ethics scandals involving a number of spiritual teachers.

Samadhi, a non-dual experience that can be produced by meditation, is the experience of "the before thinking mind" i.e. non-duality, undiscriminated reality, reality undifferentiated by mind. Samadhi is the experience of reality before the mind creates a multiplicity of things and self.

Without the experience of samadhi, the understanding of non-duality is superficial. Without the understanding of non-duality, the experience of samadhi is meaningless. Together they can produce a realization of non-duality.

Further Reading

Copyright © 2016 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Video: Biology of the Baroque: Nonadaptive order cannot be explained by Darwinism.

"Biology of the Baroque" is a documentary that explores the amazing patterns, order, and beauty in biology that go beyond what can be explained by Darwinian evolution. It features geneticist Michael Denton and is inspired by Denton's new book Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (2016).


Human language is so complex and nuanced that it has become impossible to simulate perfectly in even the most advanced intelligent machines as any simple conversation with Siri will show. Human language is varied and textured, adapted to both concrete and abstract conversation across every people group and culture. What makes human language so intriguing is not just a great variety of different languages but their underling similarities. Despite superficial differences, human languages share deep structural similarities. This is why an Australian aborigine can learn German despite the many differences between German and the languages of the Australian Aborigines. The fact that humans, no matter what part of the world they're from, share both language and equivalent higher intellectual faculties means that these abilities must have arisen in the earliest human ancestor and that poses a problem. The capability to compose a symphony understand advanced mathematics or discuss abstract ideas would not have been of any survival value for early man. His needs were shelter and food. The idea primitive man needed our current linguistic or other higher intellectual abilities to survive is untenable. Nevertheless early man must have had this capability because it was passed down to every human in every part of the world. Even today things like art literature or music are understood to be valuable not for survival or reproduction but for their own sake. Such capacities reach far beyond the algorithm of natural selection. They're excessive, superfluous, even a gift. Their very existence is completely incomprehensible if humans are solely the result of Darwinian forces. The case that human language developed step by step through natural selection is further weakened by the fact that no single language gene has ever been discovered. That is the needed complexities seem to have arisen spontaneously in a self organizing emergent fashion.

An interesting example in the video is the mammalian red blood cell. In mammals the red blood cells eject their nuclei when they differentiate from the parent cell type. It is hard to understand how this could evolve because it requires a complicated cellular process and there is no way to explain how a process so complex could evolve gradually because there would be no selective advantage until all the parts of the system existed. In addition, birds keep the nuclei in their red blood cells and birds are much more efficient at using oxygen than mammals, so it is hard to understand why the ejection of nuclei would ever evolve by natural selection.

The video concludes (17:30):

Narrator: Nonadaptive and beyond adaptive order poses an existential challenge to Darwinism because it means there are huge parts of the history of life that not only can't be explained by Darwinian evolution but they are completely outside the domain of natural selection. Natural selection only selects for adaptation. If non adaptive order exists, Darwinism cannot be the whole story of life. If nature is an artist, not just an engineer, Darwinism is in a dire position.

Denton: For a designer, lots of patterns might exist in nature which have, as it were, are deeply adaptive but not adaptive in a specific organism. On the other hand a designer might decide he likes this pattern. He likes the pattern of a maple leaf. Or it's beautiful or its symmetrical or something like this. In other words, on a design hypothesis, you don't need to show that all the order of biology in the world is specifically adaptive in a specific organism.

Narrator: Intelligent design leaves room for nature's peculiarities and novelties because it acknowledges there are some things that are not irreducible to mere adaptation and survival. There are other forces at work in nature besides that of natural selection and death.

Denton: If you imagine that there's a designer behind the world, the designer would be free to choose whichever patterns he wants. But I think non adaptive order poses a far less of a challenge to intelligent design theory than it does to Darwinism. 'Cause Darwinism necessitates that all the order of nature is adaptive or once was adaptive. But if you can't show that, Darwinism can't be shown to be the engine of evolution.

Copyright © 2016 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.

Monday, February 1, 2016

How Meditation Affects the Brain

Scientific research shows how meditation can alter the brain to improve mental health.

There are different neural networks in the brain. The analytical network is used for solving problems. The narrative network produces mental chatter - the internal talking we do about ourselves, our past, and our future. The experiential network1 is active when a person is meditating mindfully. Too much analytical thinking causes callousness, too much mental chatter can cause or worsen anxiety and depression. Experiential thinking increases empathy, compassion and wisdom1. Mindful meditation quiets the analytical and narrative networks and stimulates the experiential network.

Permanent changes in the brain are possible because of a phenomenon called neuroplasticity - the ability of the brain to rewire itself. Whenever you do a task, the neurons involved recruit neurons away from other tasks to help strengthen the current task. When you meditate mindfully, you strengthen the experiential network. However, during the rest of the day, that strength is being recruited away by everything else you do. The way to strengthen the changes in the brain caused by meditation and maintain them over time, is to meditate for longer periods of time and meditate more often. When you are not meditating, try to be in the mindful state whenever possible. Be aware of what you are doing as you are doing it, not thinking about the past, the future, or anything else. Notice the absence of mental chatter as you do that. Everyone needs time to plan for the future, digest and understand their past, and solve the problems in their life, so you shouldn't eliminate those activities entirely, just do them deliberately at times you control rather than letting them control your mind.


1) From my web page on meditation:

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In the transcript of a podcast on, he describes how meditation can quiet mental chatter made up of anxious and depressed thoughts:
If you put people in a scanner and tell them to just do nothing; just rest in the scanner; don’t do anything at all, it turns out that there’s a region in the midline of the cerebral cortex that’s known as the default mode network that just lights up, that all of a sudden gets very, very active. I mean you’re told to do nothing and then your brain starts to use up energy a lot. ... And that’s called the default mode network because when you’re told to do nothing, you default to activity in this mode and when you inquire what’s going on there, a lot of it has to do with my wondering and just daydreaming. And a lot of that has to do with the self-referencing our favorite subject, which is me of course. So we generate narratives. ... it’s also called the narrative mode network or the narrative network. And it’s the story of me.

When you train people in MBSR, you find that another area of their cortex lights up more lateral after eight weeks of training in mindfulness. And that that area is associated with a region called the insula and that doesn’t have a linear, time-based narrative. It’s just the experiencing of the present moment in the body — breathing in, breathing out, awake, no narrative, no agenda. And the interesting thing — and this is the study — when they put people through eight weeks of MBSR, this narrative network decreases in activity and this experiential network increases in activity and they become uncoupled. So they’re no longer caught together in such a way. So this one can actually attenuate and liberate you a little bit from the constant thinking, thinking, thinking — a lot which is driven, of course, by anxiety and, "What’s wrong with me?" The story of me is often a depressing story. And a fear-based story. We’re like driving the car with the brake on, with the emergency brake on. And if we learn how to just kind of release it, everything will unfold with less strain, with less stress and with a greater sense of life unfolding rather than you’re driving through it to get to some great pot of gold at the end, which might just be your grave.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn also says the benefits of suppressing the narrative network and stimulating the experiential network with meditation leads to wiser, more empathic and more compassionate thinking in an interview at:
One pathway is a mid-line pathway, very akin to what is called a default mode, that seems to be functioning when nothing else is supposed to be happening — like being or mind wandering, or something like that, which is what they call the narrative network for self. So like what you tell yourself about who you are, where you’re going, how things are going, how stressed you are, how great it’s going to be in the future, how horrible it was in the past, or vice-versa, how wonderful it was in the past, or how horrible it is in the present. So it is a narrative ongoing story of me. And that occupies a certain kind of brain territory.

They showed that people who are taking the MBSR program showed activity in a whole other, more lateral ventral pathway in the cerebral cortex, again in the prefrontal cortex, which was involved with what they called experiential focus. It’s like no more story, just this. Just this moment. Just this breath. Just this unfolding. And I want to emphasize that it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you are either disassociating or that you’re going to get really, really stupid practicing mindfulness because now you’re just in the present moment and you don’t know what’s really happening and you’ve now gone beyond thought. Not at all. I mean it’s much more an effective, wise and emotionally intelligent way to make use of one’s thoughts and emotions, but hold them in a much, much greater and more empathic, and in some sense, more compassionate and wise container, and that container embraces what I mean when I use the word mindful."

Copyright © 2016 by ncu9nc All rights reserved. Texts quoted from other sources are Copyright © by their owners.