Return

Subud Vision - Feedback

Merin Nielsen - An alternative explanation of the Subud exercise in psychological terms

Out of touch with our true nature or reality.... From Andrew Hall, December 20, 2011. Time 21:33

Merin,

I have really enjoyed your article, and want to offer the following comments.

You begin your argument for a speech-and-idea based rationality overlaid on a pre-linguistic rationality with the assertion that we "notoriously sense that we are somehow out of touch with our true nature or reality" and from there proceed to what I see as a series of speculations, beginning with "our prehistoric ancestors might have been more in touch with the real reality"... "half a million years ago, they engaged in highly complex social interactions, but their mode of rationality must have involved a non-symbolic scheme of assimilating and responding to environmental data.."etc.

From my own experience, I am aware that hours in front of my computer screen can leave me fatigued and carrying around fragments of thoughts and unresolved questions at a level below my immediate consciousness. Similarly, I have some food sensitivities which I now understand can leave me feeling dull and thick-headed. I think all these may be
common sensations for a 60-year old person whose body is aging and seems more vulnerable to environmental stresses
as I grow older. Certainly, I doubt my ancestors evolved through several million years to end up in my situation
living and working in a largely artificial environment.

So I guess the first point I would make in response to what you have prompted in me, is that awareness and whatever rationality we are capable of is very much centred in our bodies, with whatever limits and potential goes with that
situation.

After that, thinking back over my life, I am aware of the predeliction or capacity to lose myself in an imaginary
world, whether that be in the compelling narrative of a novel or movie, or in ideas. As you suggest, I think these
are human attributes which have made human culture possible.

But whether these imaginary worlds are "real reality" is an interesting question. How would we know "real reality"
if we experience it?

Several years ago I came across Iain McGilchrist's book "The Master and the Emissary" which I've mentioned to you
several times. In it, he references the book "Madness and Modernism" by the psychiatrist Louis Sass which argues
that there are similarities between modern art and thought and the schizophrenic mindset - making a conscious effort
to distance oneself from one's surroundings, suspend normal assumptions and subject the world to a detached
scrutiny. McGilchrist observes that this activity in the non-mentally ill is "normally confined to philosophers" and
asserts that "the belief that this will result in a deeper apprehension of reality ignores the fact that the nature
of the attention we bring to bear on anything alters what we find there. Adopting a stance normally found only in
patients suffering from schizophrenia is not obviously a recipe for finding a higher truth."

This quantum nature of consciousness, that the nature of the attention we bring to bear on something alters what we
find, is to me a humbling thought. Whatever the argument that I can construct or imagine, does it ever bring me
closer to "real reality?"

As I reflect on this, I think it a human chacteristic to construct imaginary worlds and to see these as very real.

When I say imaginary, this may discount the power involved. Perhaps a better word to use is possible. I think we humans
are built to project ourselves into different possibilities. Why and how we evolved with this capacity is an interesting question set.

If what I am saying has some explanatory power, I think the value of the latihan may be that it helps us disengage from whatever set of possibilities that we are fixated on or have immersed ourselves in and so give space and allow other possibilities to rise into our awareness.

And perhaps the latihan gives space and opportunity for my aging body to stretch and move and shake off the rust from my sedentary modern lifetsyle, and so stimulate my aging brain to rise and follow whatever evolutionary dance it is fated to, like a flower opening in the sunshine.


From Merin, December 21, 2011. Time 2:41

Hi, Andrew,

You provide wonderful comments. Below are my responses.

>> But whether these imaginary worlds are "real reality" is an interesting question. How would we know "real reality" if we experience it?

-- I think 'real reality' just cannot be known conceptually; but it can be known non-conceptually.

>> . . . argues that there are similarities between modern art and thought and the schizophrenic mindset making a conscious effort to distance oneself from one's surroundings, suspend normal assumptions and subject the world to a detached scrutiny. McGilchrist observes that this activity in the non-mentally ill is "normally confined to philosophers" and asserts that "the belief that this will result in a deeper apprehension of reality ignores the fact that the nature of the attention we bring to bear on anything alters what we find there. Adopting a stance normally found only in patients suffering from schizophrenia is not obviously a recipe for finding a higher truth."

-- I agree with these observations, while noting that the final reference to "higher truth" represents an incredibly vague and essentially unreal (though perhaps far from useless) concept!!

>> Whatever the argument that I can construct or imagine, does it ever bring me closer to "real reality?"

-- Probably not, since argumentation is inevitably conceptual / symbolic, and therefore ipso facto 'once-removed' from analogue or 'real' reality. But hey, to that extent that we remain non-conceptual beings, we continue to live in real reality so that's reassuring maybe. Moreover, the unreal realities that we inhabit, which are our constructed socio-linguistic worlds, are not necessarily all that terrible, are they?? They're never entirely divorced from real reality, after all (though extreme cases of schizophrenia can appear to be). I think it's useful to recognise that real-reality is simply not accessible conceptually, and useful to accept that, conceptually, it's possible to encounter ONLY somewhat unreal worlds. These are highly fluid, and apart from needing to be firmly grounded in the body and the senses, such realities also need to be socially grounded through constant contact and communication with our fellow human beings. They may nevertheless be extremely interesting, creative, enriching, expansive, personally rewarding and socially useful.

>> When I say imaginary, this may discount the power involved. Perhaps a better word to use is possible. I think we humans are built to project ourselves into different possibilities. Why and how we evolved with this capacity is an interesting question set.

-- Both' imaginary' and 'possible' seem reasonable to me, although the concept of possibility is not at all straightforward. As for why and how humanity acquired this capacity, well, it's part and parcel of the capacity to manipulate symbols in the manner of fully-fledged language, allowing individual organisms to share and jointly process arbitrary information. At face value, this represents a spectacularly powerful species survival mechanism.

>> If what I am saying has some explanatory power, I think the value of the latihan may be that it helps us disengage from whatever set of possibilities that we are fixated on or have immersed ourselves in and so give space and allow other possibilities to rise into our awareness.

-- I think that's a good way to see it, although, as my article suggests, I'd stress the value of conceptually-generated reality staying in better touch with its underlying pre-conceptual basis.

>> And perhaps the latihan gives space and opportunity for my aging body to stretch and move and shake off the rust from my sedentary modern lifestyle, and so stimulate my aging brain to rise and follow whatever evolutionary dance it is fated to, like a flower opening in the sunshine.

-- If I were given the authority to invent a new word that everyone would accept, I'd put forward a new version of 'we' (along with 'us' and 'our') which extended the meaning to automatically encompass all people and all subjectivity. It wouldn't refer to "you and me and (possibly) them". Instead it would refer to "you and me and everybody else, as well as everything".


From Michael Irwin, December 27, 2011. Time 21:49

Merin: "analogue or 'real' reality" Since analogue is conceptual dealing as it doees with a comparison, how can it be equated with 'real' reality that by my understanding can not even be spoken of.


From Merin, December 27, 2011. Time 23:18

Hi, Michael,

I see that the word is potentially misleading, but I'm using 'analogue' in the sense of, say, the method to calculate weights with old-fashioned balance scales, as opposed to reading the calibrated indicator needle on spring scales, and even further opposed to noting the digital read-out provided by electronic scales. Another example of the sense in which I'm using the word is the means by which a pianola (or player piano) reproduces recorded sound, as opposed to the means embodied by an electronic digital player. In principle, of course, it all comes down to physical cause and effect, but balance scales and pianolas 'translate' information with relatively little intermediate calibration or encoding. Electronic devices, on the other hand, involve more stages of intermediate translation. These tend to lose 'fidelity', but facilitate more efficient interception and manipulation of particular data.

Regards, Merin


Add Feedback to this page / Communicate with us

Use the form below to


Very sorry but feedback forms now permanently closed on the Subud Vision site

Return