Psychology, Philosophy & Non-Dualism
The whole field of psychology can be seen as a misunderstanding about the irreconcilable world views of dualism and non-dualism. The misunderstanding begins with the assumption that reality is in its nature “dual”, consisting of subjects and objects, observer and observed. This is then followed by the assumption that a model of non-dual processes such as “mind” or “human experience” can somehow be arrived at from combining dual principles such as personality traits, genes, or neurotransmitters. The final assumption is that the framework of psychology is a useful way to do this, in order to predict and explain human behaviour and, in psychology’s subset, psychiatry, to make people well.
In psychology, the first dualistic split is traditionally made at mind and body. From a dual perspective, mind somehow arises from body, or is a kind of “software” running on the “hardware” of the body (which is further broken up into parts like “central nervous system” and “brain”). Over time there has been a swing between which of the body or mind is considered “prime” (in dualism, one must always come before the other). Freudian and Jungian psychology tended to favour the mind as the origin of experience. Nowadays, the body has taken primacy as technology has increased the resolution to which the body can be “cut up” and reassembled from ever-smaller parts in order to create human experience. This is reflected in the current fascination with neurotransmitters and, with growing focus, genes. However, those with even a small curiosity toward non-dual practices such as insight meditation and yoga can notice that thoughts can be made to disappear simply by relaxing muscles. If your “mind” is in your “head” running on your “brain”, why does relaxing, say, a leg muscle suddenly relieve anxious thoughts? From the non-dual perspective, the muscle tension is the thoughts. One doesn’t cause the other — they are literally the same thing. The time delay between one and the other is a product of the dualistic perspective that observes it, and which encodes time into the experience as a necessary facet of that perspective.
Although trying to reconcile non-duality into a dualistic world view is categorically futile, the attempt to do so resulting in the field of psychology has not been entirely pointless. Frameworks such as transactional analysis can provide some good rules of thumb to consider when predicting outcomes of human interaction. However, I believe that the attempts made resulting in psychiatry have, for the most part, been so thoroughly misguided and uninformed that they have had often horrifying consequences for patients. A strong example is psychopharmacology, in which a human experience is reduced to a collection of neurotransmitter levels which are then manipulated with drugs to produce a different, hopefully “improved” human experience. The assumption is that the whole is made from parts; change the parts (neurotransmitters) and you get a new whole (human experience). However, you cannot produce a non-dual process such as “a human experience” from dual concepts such as “neurotransmitters”. In fact, you cannot derive non-duality from duality at all (though you can do the reverse, suggesting to me the primacy of non-duality, which I will return to later). Drugging an otherwise healthy child with Ritalin in order create a “normative” human experience should raise red flags for anyone with a capability for seeing the bigger (less dual) picture. But to the dualist the whole is made from parts, so by changing the parts a new whole can be created in one’s own image.
Attempting to reassemble non-duality from dualist principles is understandable — humans are living a primarily dualistic experience, and their models tend to reflect that. Strict dualism is regarded as “science” and strict non-dualism (as strict as can be experienced or expressed by a human) is regarded as “a crock of New Age shit”. Quantum mechanics — e.g. the double-slit experiment — seems to sit eerily on the cusp between the two. From a non-dualist perspective however, the double-slit experiment points firmly to a completely non-dualistic reality, where for the first time experimentally the intention of the scientist was found to directly manifest the result he experienced. From the dualist perspective, such things are “impossible”, and humanity has quietly tiptoed around “quantum effects” for a century, calling them names like “spooky” and generally pretending the whole thing never happened. In psychopharmacology, the same thing happened when it was noticed that patients could “think themselves well”. This was filed under the “placebo effect” and is still regarded as a sideshow pseudoscience by most dualists, whether they admit it or not. And, of course, you cannot make much money from the truth.
The further towards the singularity of “total non-dualism” you head, the more you start to see everything as being reflected in everything else. The whole thing is just one big fractal, the same at all levels, and appears to point to something just out of reach. The placebo effect is a fractal copy of the double-slit experiment. The “free will problem” is the fractal copy of the same thing in philosophy.
Philosophy is psychology (is everything). Any human field — even the “hard sciences” — only ever measure the human doing the measuring. (Even mathematics is simply human perception of reality, codified.) And the part trying to do the measuring cannot quite reach himself. Every human field is therefore categorically futile. That’s okay — if you’re a non-dualist, you realize that the dualist part making the attempt is in this whole thing anyway, and any frustration regresses infinitely to zero (in actuality, the brain claps out and you get a Fruition). From the perspective of the dualist, however, the attempt is completely worthwhile, as he appears to be asymptotically approaching The Answer. “Hey guys, we just need to find this Higgs boson [that we’ve just made up in a private act of creation] then we’ll know how particles get their mass!” “But what are Higgs bosons made of?” “Shut up.”
In philosophy, your leaning towards dualism or non-dualism will tend to be reflected in your taste in philosophers. Extreme dualists will tend to like Descartes, and his “I think therefore I am”. Lots of subjects and objects in that little chestnut. Let’s fade that perfectly dualistic expression slowly into non-dualism:
I think therefore I am
I perceive therefore I am
I am aware therefore I am
I am aware
[Reality blinks out] (Fruition/Nirvana (first definition, “extinguished”))
Once the understanding is reached via direct experience (though the moment during the Fruition blink-out itself categorically cannot be experienced nor defined by the human hardware), Descartes’ pithy proof of self becomes the incomprehensible and paradoxical ramblings of non-dualist Eastern philosophers, such as:
You are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything.
– Kalu Rinpoche
In reality, most humans are heavily bunched up toward the “dual” philosophical leaning, as a fractal reflection of how they experience reality.
Human understanding of reality has reached as close to the asymptote of The Answer as dualism will afford. In fact, all of that progress is an illusion because you cannot reach truth from dualism. The future of human endeavour therefore needs to be based in non-dualism — the understanding that the universe is a single amorphous non-definable “blob” — including “you”, “who” “is” “it” — and that any separation from that blob is necessarily a creative act.
We cannot work from a position of total non-duality because the human experience disappears at that point (hence, the “blinking out” of Fruition in insight meditation). The human experience is necessarily, and by definition, dualistic. However, your perspective can be gradated from non-dual (zero; unattainable) to extreme dualism (definite separate subject, definite separate object).
When reality fades back in after the blink-out — which I have experienced several times — it filters through what are called “formations” in Buddhism. Some of these formations are extremely dominant, such as Good and Evil (whose biological correlates are roughly “nourishing” and “harmful” — everything is in everything; as above, so below). Another “prime” formation is inheritance — symbolized moralistically as karma, and biologically as genetics/epigenetics. Again, these are the same fractal reflections described using different separations.
Psychology & Medicine
When creating a new field of psychology, it makes sense to start off at the closest point to non-dual we can get then look at the largest, most “prime” or dominant formations first. The majority (60%) of depressed patients recover spontaneously upon missing a night’s sleep. Rather than going after the most dual, least prime formations by chasing neurotransmitters, instead let’s meet that experience at its dominant formation: circadian rhythm. Night and day. Asleep and awake. If patients chart their mood hourly against time of day for a week or two they will find exactly when they are supposed to be asleep (feeling bad) and when they are supposed to be active (feeling good), since depression is literally just a sleep state. This is exactly how I manage my “bipolar” symptoms, without drugs. Once the circadian formation is met and matched, mood becomes normative very quickly — in fact I barely get any symptoms at all any more. I now start my work in the early evening, and work late into the night. I will tend to sleep for a few hours then continue productively for the entire next day, then finally go to bed late that night and have a long sleep. Following that long sleep, I will be in a semi-hibernated (“depressed”) state until that evening and tend to relax and eat heavy foods on that day, matching that state exactly as I find it (which leads to minimal suffering). In this fashion my circadian rhythm is almost a “2 days on, 1 day off” system, with occasional short sleeps during the “on” days. On the first night of the cycle, I can literally feel the neurotransmitter cocktail hit as night falls. I am a night owl. No amount of chasing individual neurotransmitters to try to recreate that formation will work. You cannot build a bigger formation (circadian rhythm) from smaller ones (neurotransmitters). This needs to be a primary rule of the new non-dual position.
Regarding heritability, regular readers will know that I am rather enamoured (remember: all separation is a creative act) by the formation of “Neanderthal” and the idea that Neanderthals walk among us. From the position of dualism, Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens genes will mix like paints and someone with, say, 5% Neanderthal genome couldn’t possibly produce a “Neanderthal”. But under non-dualism the formation of Neanderthal is not made up from just genes. There is a history; a story; a karma. The Neanderthal formation is larger than the sum of any smaller formations such as genes. If you learn how to spot Neanderthals, you will never be able to “unsee” that formation; and, meeting them, you know almost their entire life story before they even open their mouths. I will write some in-depth articles shortly about Neanderthal identification, including a traits list.
From the perspective of psychology, I would like it to be acknowledged that the following conditions are Neanderthal conditions, and that they become conditions largely through the process of trying to force a Neanderthal lifestyle formation into a Sapiens cultural formation. These conditions are: bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD, OCD and Asperger’s. Neanderthals are night owls — hence “lunatic”, i.e. becoming manic when the moon was out (as observed by Sapiens). Meeting the Neanderthal’s circadian formation should be the first step, followed by other lifestyle formations such as diet and times to eat. (The Buddhist advice, “Eat when you’re hungry. Sleep when you’re tired” is the best advice for meeting the formations of any species.) Meeting the Neanderthal societal/cultural formation would be the next step by their forming their own communities and “reverting”. The negative sides of these conditions would disappear in a matter of days or weeks.
Under non-dualism, medicine would necessarily bleed into psychology (as would every other field, since these separations are entirely creative acts). When finding a patient has cancer, the current (dualist) approach is to see the cancer as a separate entity which must then be destroyed. Non-dualist treatment however would start from the understanding that the cancer is an inseparable part of the whole, and the first step would be to look for the fractal copies of the cancer in other areas of the patient’s experience — such as in his mind, his mood, his beliefs, his relationships, his lifestyle and his environment. By understanding the formations that gave rise to the cancer, those formations can be integrated and resolved and the cancer will disappear. (Yes, I understand the “good luck finding volunteers!” argument at this point. 😛 )
Philosophy & Science
Similarly, philosophy and science will share much overlap under this new world view since they were never separate in the first place. Science would proceed from the philosophy of non-dualism — namely that all scientific “discovery” is necessarily a creative act (whereby the separations that appear to govern “reality” are purely a product of the “discoverer’s” intention), and also that what we do to others, we do to ourselves. Technological progress would be recognized as a product of intention. An atomic bomb arises from the fervent intention to destroy. Medicine arises from the intention to nurture. The technology we were to create would be decided in advance from philosophical principles of morality (non-separateness) and, for the more fun part, from desire of that which we intend to experience next.
All research into time travel would end, as would any theorizing about relativistic time effects such as “the Twin Paradox”. This is because, in a reality where non-dualism is prime, time literally does not exist.
The primary causality under which we currently study (dualist) reality is “linear causality” — A→B — from where we arrive at the perception of time (notice how time only appears to move forward under that model). This would be replaced with “fractal causality”. Two of the strongly observable “types” (artificial separations) of causality that arise from fractal causality are “similarity causality” and “habit causality”. In short, habit causality states that what has happened before will happen again. From a philosophical perspective, we can choose the habits we wish to see repeating, going forward. Similarity causality states that similar things tend to congregate and/or act as one. We can see this in all species. Both of these “types” of causality are simply different expressions (dualist separations) of fractal causality. They’re the same thing. Understanding fractal causality is the key to operating from non-dualist perspectives.
Once again, notice how linear causality can be derived easily from fractal causality: to get a straight line, you simply “walk around the edge” of a fractal, without ever realizing that is what you have done. But the reverse is not true. You cannot make a fractal from a straight line, because that line would never end. Start and end points are the basis of linear causality, hence “God” or “the Big Bang” at the start of the line (the line being thought of as “time”), and a big question mark at the other end, usually filled in by some human-created “purpose” (such as “the Rapture” or “Endtimes” for the religious, and mindless technological progress / space travel for the scientifically inclined). This non-commutative relationship between linear and fractal causality suggests strongly to me that fractal causality (non-dualism) is prime.
Left and Right Brain Hemispheres
I have hoped that some of you have begun thinking about the left and right brains while reading this. This is no coincidence. Dualist and non-dualist perspectives are mirrored fractally in the left and right brains, respectively. This is also vice versa: the left and right brains are mirrored fractally in dualist and non-dualist perspectives. In non-dualism, nothing “comes first”. The left brain “gives rise” to the dualist perspective just as much as the dualist perspective gives rise to the separation we call a “left brain”! We are always looking at reflections in a fractal.
Getting you thinking fractally is literally the gateway straight into the processes of the right brain, and the key to your having sudden “click” moments after which nothing is ever the same.
If we were to symbolize the operation of the left and right hemispheres, the left hemisphere would be represented by a straight line (hence time, rectilinear design, “progress” and every other facet of dualism you currently consider to be “reality”). The right hemisphere would be represented by an infinitely complex fractal, the pondering of which would immediately enact right-brain processes. Such symbolization is necessarily a left-brain (dualist) act — hence why the symbol for the fractal (non-dualism) is impossible to render under that system. In compromise, to symbolize the processes of the right brain, we can use a circle. From a circle we can derive things like habit (repeating) causality. From a circle it is easy to then move to thinking about that circle as having no start and no end and thus becoming a spiral — which is probably the most basic form of a fractal we can ponder. We are straight into right-brain, non-dualistic processes at that point, as the spiral descends infinitely downwards into itself while also exploding outwards to infinity and blasting outside the edges of your visual field.
Trippy? This is exactly how you enter right-brain states without drugs, and is exactly the sort of thing I intend to be teaching, going forward.
What is Enlightenment?
Mystics have struggled to define enlightenment since mystical practices began. In fact it has even become a source of argument, thus defeating the entire point of enlightenment in my opinion.
I will give that opinion now.
Enlightenment is: Operating primarily from a non-dual perspective.
Becoming enlightened is therefore not a single sudden event (though jumps in enlightenment do appear to happen in bursts) but rather a progressive movement away from dualist to non-dualist perspectives.
In my own personal experience, having made such shifts, laypersons’ notions of enlightenment entailing “moral perfection” start to make more sense. I am not for a moment claiming moral perfection (far from it). However, understanding non-separateness did, extremely tangibly for me, kick-start a process of far stronger consideration of my own behaviour toward others, since “what I do to others, I do to myself”. Such moral imperatives became strongly self-evident following my non-dual experiences. I understand that, to a dualist (as you most likely are), such things appear as sanctimonious preaching, since you see yourself as inherently separate from others — and indeed everything else — and rate your actions based on very simple A→B causal lines. In this respect, I do not intend to preach at all, but merely advise from my own perspective when asked (or when I’m specifically writing about such things). More importantly, I intend to teach the methods whereby such insights can be gained experientially. That is now my primary goal.