You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

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You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:01 am

Dear friends

While prepping for tonight' dinner, I was listening to an amazing interview with the German philosopher Thomas Metzinger on consciousness and the (not) self.
Here's the blurb from the radio station website:
You are NOT a Self! - bodies, brains and the nature of consciousness
German philosopher of mind Thomas Metzinger is one of the world's top researchers on consciousness, instrumental in its renaissance as a respectable problem for scientific enquiry. From out of body experiences to lucid dreaming, anarchic hand syndrome to phantom limbs - his investigations have taken him to places few dare to go. Be spooked, bewildered and amazed.


Radio transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/s ... transcript
Download audio: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/ ... 091010.mp3
streaming audio: http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/pl ... t=Saturday 10 October 2009&p=1

So impressed was I with his interview, I went onto Amazon and ordered his book: The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self.

I am eager to hear your thoughts on the subject of Metzinger's work.
Kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby pink_trike » Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:31 am

[video]
Ben wrote:Dear friends

While prepping for tonight' dinner, I was listening to an amazing interview with the German philosopher Thomas Metzinger on consciousness and the (not) self.
Here's the blurb from the radio station website:
You are NOT a Self! - bodies, brains and the nature of consciousness
German philosopher of mind Thomas Metzinger is one of the world's top researchers on consciousness, instrumental in its renaissance as a respectable problem for scientific enquiry. From out of body experiences to lucid dreaming, anarchic hand syndrome to phantom limbs - his investigations have taken him to places few dare to go. Be spooked, bewildered and amazed.


Radio transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/s ... transcript
Download audio: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/ ... 091010.mp3
streaming audio: http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/pl ... t=Saturday 10 October 2009&p=1

So impressed was I with his interview, I went onto Amazon and ordered his book: The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self.

I am eager to hear your thoughts on the subject of Metzinger's work.
Kind regards

Ben


Here's a talk he gave at U.C. Berkeley about his previous book Being No One: Consciousness, the Phenomenal Self, and the First-Person Perspective. I tried to read it once but I have very little patience with philosophy books that run somewhere around 700 pages.











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Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 10, 2009 4:31 am

Thanks Pink
I'll check those videos out when I get my bandwidth sorted.
If they're anythng like the radio interview, they'll be worth checking out.
The book I ordered isn't so big, at around 260 pages and its aimed at the lay audience rather than fellow academics.
One thing I did get from the radio interview is that he is an avid 'meditator' and the 'B' word was mentioned, so I am keen to look at his bibliography to see how much of his theories is based on Buddhism.
Kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:00 pm

Hello Ben, Pink,

Ben ~ I've ordered that book also - look forward to reading and discussing with you. Doesn't it get you that the postage costs as much as the item down here in neverland?

Pink - thanks for the videos - I've watched the first two so far and will continue later today.

metta
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:36 pm

Absolutely Chris
But it beats ordering it through a bookshop and then having to pay for the postage as well as a hefty mark-up!
Hopefully, we'll receive our copies at the same time!
metta

Ben
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:46 am

Thanks Ben, Interesting talk.

Mike
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby zavk » Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:05 am

Chris and Ben: Are you aware of the Book Depository? Free shipping worldwide.

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/97 ... rrency=USD

Ben wrote:One thing I did get from the radio interview is that he is an avid 'meditator' and the 'B' word was mentioned, so I am keen to look at his bibliography to see how much of his theories is based on Buddhism.


I've often encountered writers/thinks who do not engage directly with 'Buddhism', but yet arrive at ways of understanding that coincide with the Dhamma.

On that note, I stumbled across a few interesting thoughts in Terry Pratchet's Reaper Man the other day (I have quite a few of his books lying around, my partner reads them mostly):

Personalities come to an end. Only forces endure

Where you get personality, you get irregularities.

Where there is personality, there is discord.

To become a personality is to end


Will find time to watch the videos. Thanks Pink.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:40 am

Hi Ed
zavk wrote:I've often encountered writers/thinks who do not engage directly with 'Buddhism', but yet arrive at ways of understanding that coincide with the Dhamma.

I'm interested by those writers that do come to conclusions that coincide with the Dhamma, and the process that lead to their discoveries. A couple of years ago i was put on to Sam Harrris' 'End of Faith' by a co-practitioner friend. And his interest was spurred by flicking through the book's bibliography which mentioned a work or two by U Ba Khin. As one reads the book, it is clear that Sam Harris has a respect for the transcendental meditative traditions within Buddhism. A position that doesn't seem to be shared by his colleagues Christopher Hitchins or Robert Dawkins.
metta

Ben
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby zavk » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:48 am

Yes, Sam Harris seems to exhibit more skillfulness in the way he expresses his ideas than Hitchens and Dawkins who, in my opinion, seem to overlook ethical considerations in their zealousness.
With metta,
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby appicchato » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:27 am

Personalities come to an end. Only forces endure

Where you get personality, you get irregularities.

Where there is personality, there is discord.

To become a personality is to end


Classic...
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:29 am

Actually, there was an excellent Q&A on ABC1 two weeks ago whch was panelled by Christopher Hitchins, Waheed Ali, a catholic priest and a number of secular figures - no politicians this time. It was the Christians and Muslims who appeared to have the voice of reason against the shrill yet barely concealed vituperations and childish stereotyping and chides of Hitchins. Hitchins did himself no favours that night!
If you have time I recommend it!

God, Sodomy and the Lash

Panellists: Christopher Hitchens, author and radical atheist; Father Frank Brennan, Jesuit intellectual and social activist; Waleed Aly, politics lecturer; Sally Warhaft, author and founding editor of The Monthly; and Anne Henderson, biographer and deputy director of The Sydney Institute. more ›

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s2695716.htm
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby pink_trike » Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:23 am

I find many (perhaps most) of David Bohm's conclusions coincide with the Dharma.

---

It is proposed that the widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, etc., etc.) which are now preventing mankind from working together for the common good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of the key factors of their origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and "broken up" into yet smaller constituent parts. Each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent.


The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it.


Then there is the further question of what is the relationship of thinking to reality. As careful attention shows, thought itself is in an actual process of movement. That is to say, one can feel a sense of flow in the 'stream of consciousness' not dissimilar to the sense of flow in the movement of matter in general. May not thought itself thus be part of reality as a whole? But then, what could it mean for one part of reality to know another, and to what extent would this be possible? Does the content of thought merely give us abstract and simplified 'snapshots' of reality, or can it go further, somehow to grasp the very essence of the living movement that we sense in actual experience?


.. man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted as independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.


Quotes are from Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980
Last edited by pink_trike on Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby zavk » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:03 am

Ben wrote:It was the Christians and Muslims who appeared to have the voice of reason against the shrill yet barely concealed vituperations and childish stereotyping and chides of Hitchins.


I did catch a bit of that. But I stopped because I couldn't bear to watch--as you say--the vituperations and childish stereotyping and chides of Hitchens.

pink_trike wrote:I find many (perhaps most) of David Bohm's conclusions to coincide with the Dharma.


David Bohm, as you are probably aware, had many conversations with Krishnamurti. I know some people have reservations about Krishnamurti, but he had on several occasions expressed his respect for the Buddha. I don't know if you have seen this, Ben, but he once had a conversation with Goenka: http://www.buddhanet.net/bvk_study/bvk22c.htm

In fact, there is a study on Buddhanet examining the relationship between Buddhism, Vipassana, and Krishnamurti: http://www.buddhanet.net/bvk_study/bvk002.htm (There is a section in the study that examines Krishnamurti's thoughts on sensations--might interest you, Ben.)

I especially like this beautiful poem that Krishnamurti purportedly composed where he expressed his devotion to Buddha (this from a man who went to great lengths to denounce all 'isms'): http://www.buddhanet.net/bvk_study/bvk22a.htm

The Immortal Friend
(Poem)

I sat dreaming in a room of great silence.
The early morning was still and breathless,
The great blue mountains stood against the dark
skies, cold and clear,
Round the dark log house
The black and yellow birds were welcoming the sun.

I sat on the floor, with legs crossed, meditating,
Forgetting the sunlit mountains,
The birds,
The immense silence,
And the golden sun.

I lost the feel of my body,
My limbs were motionless,
Relaxed and at peace.
A great joy of unfathomable depth filled my heart.
Eager and keen was my mind, concentrated.
Lost to the transient world,
I was full of strength.

As the Eastern breeze
That suddenly springs into being
And calms the weary world,
There in front of me
Seated cross-legged,
As the world knows Him
In His yellow robes, simple and magnificent,
Was the Teacher of Teachers.

Looking at me,
Motionless the Mighty Being sat.
I looked and bowed my head.
My body bent forward of itself.

That one look
Showed the progress of the world,
Showed the immense distance between the world
And the greatest of its Teachers.

How little it understood,
And how much He gave.
How joyously He soared,
Escaping from birth and death,
From its tyranny and entangling wheel.

Enlightenment attained,
He gave to the world, as the flower gives
Its scent,
The Truth.

As I looked
At the sacred feet that once trod the happy
Dust of India,
My heart poured forth its devotion,
Limitless and unfathomable,
Without restraint and without effort.


Beautiful! If only I can weave words as he did.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby PeterB » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:52 am

If it were not possible to discover or rediscover many of the the basic truths of the Buddhadhamma without recourse to the treasure chest that contains it, the Buddhadhamma would be less convincing. However there will always be limits to what the unaided human intellect can discover or rediscover no matter how lofty or refined those intellects might be. Only a Buddha could discover or rediscover the truth of Dependant Origination for example. All attempts to point to that axiomic doctrine outside of the Buddhadhamma are always much less than convincing, and I have seen Advaitins and Taoists among others try to do just that.
To the degree that non Buddhist thinkers support what the Buddha rediscovered they are of value. In the end though there is no Refuge to be found in them. What the Buddha rediscovered cannot be seperated from the means of self verification which he also rediscovered , nor from the Community of those who are the imperfect caretakers of that which he discovered.
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:32 am

Thank you Pink, Ed, and Peter for your kind responses.
Pink, I wasn't aware of Bohm's writings and thanks for those exerpts. They gave me great pause for thought.

Thanks Ed. yes I was aware of Goenkaji's meeting with Krishnamurti. Did you also know that John Coleman wrote about his various meetings with Krishnamurti in The Quiet Mind. Coleman was also a student of U Ba Khin and during his quest on the path, met various teachers and personalities, Krishnamurti being one. Thank you also for sharing Krishnamurti's amazing poem. I spent the day either reading poetry MN82 (Bodhi translation) or thinking about something a dhamma-friend wrote. What is it about this path? On the one hand it invites one to investigate the nature of reality for oneself and as soon as one does so, it inspires such incredible devotion. Sometimes, it just blows me away.

Peter, thanks for your post. Yes, undoubtedly, those writers outside of the Buddhadhamma, their discoveries are inherently unsatisfactory, but I find them interersting none-the-less even if to see how close they come to the Dhamma.
metta
Ben
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby PeterB » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:41 am

Certainly Ben. I didnt mean to overegg the pudding in my response. Or suggest that there is no value in views that compliment or even challenge, the Dhamma.

with metta.
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:47 am

No dear friend, you didn't overegg anything!
Its always good to be reminded where our only refuge lies.
metta

Ben
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby PeterB » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:44 am

:anjali:
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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby pink_trike » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:47 pm

There are many gates to the Dharma that lie outside the fences of Buddhism. Buddhism is particularly thorough and relatively intact, but to say that it is the only way to The Truth is an attachment to form. Buddhism claimed ownership of The Dharma by conflating the Buddha's teachings and the principle that orders the phenomenal world, but claiming and conflating doesn't make it so.

I draw attention to my avatar and to Ben's...
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

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Re: You are not a self: radio interview with T Metzinger

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:36 am

pink_trike wrote:There are many gates to the Dharma that lie outside the fences of Buddhism. Buddhism is particularly thorough and relatively intact, but to say that it is the only way to The Truth is an attachment to form. Buddhism claimed ownership of The Dharma by conflating the Buddha's teachings and the principle that orders the phenomenal world, but claiming and conflating doesn't make it so.

I draw attention to my avatar and to Ben's...

Thank you for this view. It is a fairly commonly held view, and over the years one finds it stated in different forms fairly frequently. It is not a view that I hold or share. Indeed it is a view that while commendable in its breadth and inclusivist or universalist nature is actually conradicted by the teachings of the Buddha himself at various points. I cant help thinking that the words " cake" and " eating it " apply here.
Also, could you please point to the concept of " Dharma" gates in the Pali Canon ?
I am unfamiliar with it in that context.
:anjali:
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