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18 Jul 2023
Video Overview
Contemplative Sciences Center

Nondual Awareness Practices: Styles of nondual meditation deeply informed meditative traditions in Tibet, particularly Mahāmudrā and Dzokchen. For these traditions, awareness of the nature of consciousness is key to understanding the nature of reality, but the subject-object structure – known in Western philosophy as “intentionality” – obscures the true nature of consciousness. This domain addresses crucial questions that concern (a) mechanisms that underlie the techniques for achieving such states and the how effortlessness is alleged to play therein; (b) the very notion of remaining “conscious” without intentional structures, and the relationship between nondual awareness and minimal state of consciousness; and (c) the problem of knowing – how can nondual states tell us anything, if they are not “about” objects? and the key role of reflexive awareness (Skt., svasaṃvitti).  

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  • John Dunne
    So we're going to have two presentations in this session, and I will be doing one of them and then Antoine Lutz will do one and then hopefully we'll have a little extra time for conversation and also manage maybe to not go beyond 4:30. So we may have a may - this session may end up being a bit shorter, but that's OK. We'll see how it goes, see what the energy is like. So I'm not going to introduce myself. You can see that's me. Yeah. John Dunne. So I will say that I am kind of split in different areas, and one of the things I'm especially working on these days is on psychoactive substances, which is really kind of what you say in a purple state when you're working on psychedelics. So that is something of interest that may come up even in this context. So I'm
  • going to talk about sort of I'm going to - Lama Willa kind of refered to some of this. I'm going to backtrack into some more theoretical aspects of nondual awareness. And for some of you, this will be a real review. But I'm also going to be doing this really it's somewhat historically in the sense that I'm going to be focusing on the influence of a particular kind of model coming out of Dharmakirti, which ends up, as we know, because of its citation, both by his name actually in some later texts, ends up being very influential for the emergence of a style of practice that eventually comes to be called Mahamudra, and maybe will dabble a little bit in one of those practices that will actually in many ways be similar to what we did before. So this should hopefully be a review for many people. Just wanted to remind us, right, what this sort of kind of sociological context of of these practices are the these are the of course, the noble truths. And in particular, the idea here is that we can eliminate suffering by eliminating its origin. This is going to be across the board for traditions in India and of course, for the traditions we're talking about, the sort of Dharmakirtian tradition, the source of suffering is ignorance.
  • What does it mean to eliminate ignorance again across the board? Eliminate ignorance is done by seeing things truly, so to speak, yathabhuta- darsana, and this leads one to the correct view, samyagdrsti, about the nature of reality. So that's a context and that, you'll see why that's important, because basically there's going to be a particular account of what it means to see the nature of reality according to this Dharmakirtian model. So let's talk briefly about what the model is, and here we're going to use a model of sense perception, but I just want to invite you to also sort of embrace the mental sense, that is to say there is a sixth sense. So this works more or less mutatis mutandis not just for the five external senses, but also for mental contents as well. So what we have here is a stimulus of some kind, and that stimulus has an interaction with a sense faculty represented by that eye, and what that does is it then creates an image in consciousness according to this model. And that image in consciousness is called the phenomenal form of the object of the grāhyākāra. And it
  • also there is also an image of a sense of subjectivity, the ---- that emerges. And what's important about these to know is that both of these phenomenal forms as a translation then Georges Dreyfus helped me to come up with many years ago, both of these phenomenal forms arise simultaneously and they are also momentary. So that means that there that you can't have a phenomenal form of the of an object without - you can't have this kind of phenomenal representation, if you're willing to hear that word, of an object without also a sense of subjectivity being produced, but they are momentary. They're changing each moment, just like that Abhidarma model we heard previously. They're also ontologically identical to consciousness itself. So they're not different things in consciousness. They're, in a sense, consciousness appearing phenomenally in a particular way, but the ontology here would be that to the extent that anything exists, there's just this moment of consciousness. It's not actually broken into two ontologically, that's only phenomenally that it's broken in terms of the way it appears. So there are going to be certain sequelae.
  • I think maybe some of you can already guess what they are and what this implies about that sense of subjectivity. But we're going to come back to that later. In the meantime, there's something that's really ---, which is that, of course, this is all we have direct access to. We only have direct access to what is being presented phenomenally in consciousness. So just to take an example, you can have a look at the blue dots. And, you know, we can even do kind of, you know, if I do this in class with my undergraduates. So, you know, not that you guys are undergrads, but, you know, if I say point to the color or if I say, where's the color? They say, oh, it's over there. First they kind of shake their heads. So bored of professor Dunne's stupid questions, but -- what's wrong with him today, you know? The color, it's over there.
  • Right. But of course, even like a kind of high school physics version of this is that there is no color over there. There are. There's light reflecting at certain frequencies and - or photons, if you like, reflecting at certain frequencies that are interacting with your eyes, with your visual system in such a way that eventually in some mysterious fashion, that nobody seems to be able to quite explain, you know, it goes and it goes eventually into the back of the brain and somehow moves forward and eventual stream and eventually we see blue. Right now I'm looking at Ken Paller because all neuroscientists can explain how we go from that stimulus to the actual experience? Not I think, but it's so it's a toughie, that so-called hard problem. But what we do know in any case on that model is that blue - there's no blue outside of your mind, even on this kind of contemporary model. There may be there may be stuff outside of your mind of some kind. And that extra mental stuff has certain kinds of properties that when it interacts with your visual system, you see blue. But the blue you're seeing is inside your mind. Right? So that's what this this that's what this system is saying. The only thing you have direct access, everything you're seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting, all of that is within the field of consciousness. So
  • even if there is stuff outside that's causing that or you have direct access to is what's in within the field of consciousness. So if you're going to answer the question, remember this very important question, what's the nature of reality? That means that even if we admit there's stuff outside, it certainly becomes very important to ask, what's the nature of this? Right. What's going on here? Because that's all we have direct access to. If we don't understand the nature of that, then even if there is stuff outside, we're sure we're clearly going to have some problems because we need to understand how that translation process is working, so to speak - sorry, whoops - that translation process is working so that we go to some kind of stimulus into this experience. So we need to understand the nature of experience. That is the key question. What is the nature of experience?
  • And I think that applies whether or not you have an ontology that accepts external extramental stuff. But then, of course, we can ask, is all of this kind of stuff the stuff that constitutes - so one way you can say this, by the way, is you have, let's say, extramental stuff. What's the color made out of when you're seeing the color? I'm curious if anyone wants to suggest what's the blue made out of as you're looking at it? No, no, I'm not asking about the cause of the blue, I'm saying you're seeing blue. What's the blue made out of? No but I mean like that stuff, it's made out of some kind of stuff, right? And I'm not sure of its name, I don't see a name.
  • So one way to think about this is that the what's this stuff is made out of, what you're seeing is mental stuff, is mind stuff. Right, like the actual content, again, if we go back to here what you have direct access to is mind stuff. Now that mind stuff may be caused by some non mind stuff. And the question is, is the stuff that's causing what you're actually seeing right now, is that stuff outside your mind or not? Or, no. Let me put it a different way because it can be different than your own personal mind. Is it the same kind of stuff that constitutes the color that you actually see? Because remember, the color is not out in the world. The color is in your consciousness. The causes of color are out in the world. If you were a bird, you'd see different things. Birds have a much more finely grained visual system for color than we do. So if you were, we would see we'd have different kinds of contents because of different kinds of capacities, but the stimulus would be the same. But in any case, the main point here is this whether or not whatever that external stimulus is, what we have direct access to is this kind of mind stuff. And so then the big question is, is the stuff that's causing the color the same kind of stuff that you actually see or different stuff?
  • And the answer for the Yogachara tradition in Buddhism is, well, first the question that's posed is, well, is it inside or outside? And eventually this is actually a great way that Jonathan Gold glosses this. It's neither inside nor outside, that whole kind of inside outside duality collapses. So a part of so this sort of far end of this analysis for the Dharmakirtian tradition is that essentially that duality of inside outside is false. Now we can demonstrate, they claim they can demonstrate that the kind of stuff that you actually see when you see that color, the kind of stuff that makes up your phenomenal experience is the same kind of stuff that's making up everything else. All right. So understanding the nature of reality, therefore, in some ways is simplified for this by this tradition, because all you have to really do is just understand the nature of experience since it's all the same stuff. So how do you do that, understand the nature of experience? Well you have to, in a sense, see it for what it is. And that might raise
  • the question. Well, then you sort of look at yourself, right? You have a standpoint. So I have a moment of experience presented with an object like a color. And then but that's within my within my consciousness. And then I have a sense of subjectivity, like there's an "overthereness" to the experience. Right. I'm in here. There's over there. And that that that's accounted for by the structure of the sense of a subject and an object. So that sense of structure, then we might, can we look at that structure and observe it? But of course, if we're doing that, we're doing that from the standpoint of consciousness itself. So now we've create we've created a new standpoint. And, of course, that new standpoint, well, that's now a subjectivity holding an entire object, which is this, which means that in a sense, we need to get another standpoint to look at that and now we're into an infinite regress. So this is one of the versions of an infinite of the infinite regress argument that would be familiar to some of you about reflexivity. So the claim here is going to be that the only way, actually, the only way we can know the nature of experiences itself is through something that's going to be called reflexive awareness. So let me demonstrate first
  • kind of what that is and then we'll go back through some more theory. One way to demonstrate that is to just ask. So let's see. Let's make a timestamp here. So and maybe even if you invite you to gaze at the blue dot and you'll get a prize if you can sustain attention, just like this morning, as high as possible on the blue dot. Ready? One, two, three. Boop. OK, so everyone was able to see the blue dot. Great. Can I have a question for you during the time stamp? Were you sitting down? Do people - is anyone confused about whether they were sitting down during this time stamp? Did you have to go like, well, I don't know, I don't I wasn't looking I was looking at the blue dot, and I was not paying attention to my body position, so I have no idea whether I was sitting down. Or is your recollection of looking at the blue dot, does it already include your body position? Did it look like the blue dot was over there?
  • It's like, what's he talking about? Does it look like the blue dot was over there? Yes. Where is that what how is there any doubt about that, like, oh, no, I think it was over here. You your your spatiotemporal location at the time of the time stamp was also part of your experience. So you're knowing your body position, you're knowing your experience. So let's give you another example. Let's let's suppose we go you know, we go on a camping trip to eastern Tibet and it's you know, we get up, it's dawn and early morning and we get out walk out of the tent and take a few steps over and see this incredible sunrise, you know, the dawn just amazing. It's taken by my wife Ana Dunne. And we're seeing the beautiful sunrise.
  • Amazing thing, just totally absorbed in it. And then we turn around and we walk back toward the tent. And I you know, you ask me, oh, how did you feel when you looked at the sunrise? And I go, oh, I wasn't paying attention to my feelings. I was looking at the sunrise. So let me go back and I'll look at the sunrise. Then I'll quickly look in to check how I feel. Is that how it works, right? So at least phenomenally, it does not appear that we have a second order cognition that is sort of knowing these things for us. It seems that our first order experience includes things like our body position, includes things like our emotional experiences, and this is what Dharmakirti would say, and those things are being included without us knowing them as an object. And the way, therefore, that they're being included is they're being - or the way they're being known is their being known through reflexive awareness. They're being presented to us without them being presented as objects. And that means that we know that stuff without them being in a dualistic structure. So
  • that reflexive awareness is already nondual, right? It's already nondual. It's also we can call it transitive awareness and excuse me, intransitive awareness. And this actually comes from the term reflexive here is trying to capture the use of a reflexive pronoun in Sanskrit. So we can say, for example, in Spanish, I can say "yo hablo Espanol" or you can say "se habla Espanol." You can't really do this in English. I can say is "je vois sa" or I can say "sa souse voi" in French, can't really do it in English. I can take a transitive verb and convert it into an intransitive verb. So that's the kind of knowing that's going on here, this intransitive knowing. It's - the metaphor for this is luminosity or prakasa. Key aspect of this, which is already implied earlier by the model, is that that subjectivity is not an agent of knowing. That subjectivity is not a knower, it's just a structural feature because the knowing is happening just by the reflexivity itself. This is where the sort of metaphor of light comes in, like it's if you turn on the light, everything in the room is presented. Likewise, everything in consciousness is presented just by the knowingness of consciousness itself. Finally, this is always happening because any time you have an object -
  • in this theory, you have to have a sense of subjectivity and that subjectivity can only be presented to you nondually by reflexive awareness. So you have reflexive nondual reflexive awareness in every moment of experience. So if we then say what is the nature of this experience? Right. This thing to which we only have direct access. Well, what is it? One way of articulating that is to say it's just that we are conscious, we are aware, we have a knowingness or in the oral tradition they refer to it in Tibetan hawkoai-cha, that knowing this and that knowing this, how does it how are you aware that we are knowing? Well, it's exactly what that reflexivity, that sense of when I if I ask, for example, if I ask you, are you were you aware when I made that timestamp? Does anyone does anyone, does anyone doubt that they were aware if I say boop?
  • So that sense of being aware is something that occurs just by virtue of the cognitive system itself. So I'm running out of time. I don't want to go too much longer. But I will say a couple of last things here that part of what a key feature that you're heard from from Willa here is the role of effort. So I think it's worth going through this, the theory of this very briefly. So basically, our systems work such that in order to survive, we attend to dangers and affordances. This is basically about salience. A conceptual - conceptualizations involve modeling itself as an agent in the world, and this sense of agency involves an effort for prediction, basically. That's what conceptualization is about, that also means it involves mental time travel. It involves especially prospective projection of the self into the into the future, but also retrospective too. And effortful awareness for these reasons necessarily obscures access to nondual awareness, even though it's always happening, we're not aware of it because in a sense, we're always caught in that dualistic structure. So a key feature of this of styles of practice is that you have to actually completely let go of effort, which makes it almost as they say in the oral tradition, it's too easy.
  • It's too easy to do the practice of really letting go and being effortless. So unfortunately, I don't really have time to go through some of these practices, but they're actually very similar to what Lama Willa talked about, and maybe at the end of the session we can return to these kinds of practices. But these are this is almost identical to the - this is from the Chagchen Ngedon Gyatso, the Ocean of Mahumudra by the Ninth Karmapa. This is a very common way of referring to the kind of mindfulness that's cultivated here, which means it's just you're not mindful of anything. This is what --- called us non mindfulness, mindfulness as mere non distraction. And another way of talking about this that you also heard from what Lama Willa talked about is allowing the unadjusted mind to settle on its own. So these are really interesting practices that maybe we'll have time to come back to, but I went too long, so I'm going to ask Antione Lutz now to come up and tell us about a scientific perspective on these kinds of practices. Thank you.
  • So I'll just briefly introduce Antoine, Antoine is an old friend and collaborator. [inaudible] An old friend and collaborator, as you can see, is at INSERM in Lyon, but we spent a lot of time together in the University of Wisconsin where we were working on some of the early adepts studies that some of you may have heard about. So with that, I'll just turn it over to Antione. Yes, so I'm going to try to present some of her work on which explores the nondual awareness practice from the lenses of phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience. And before I start, I just want to make one comment that it's I was very, uh, um, interested by the contrast between the session of this morning and the session we just had when I was really, uh, very, really impressed by the way they present this style of practice when you really sense the role of experience, of the direct experience of nonduality as a central way of knowing. And I just want to say that as a
  • Antoine Lutz
    scientist, it's almost a conundrum because it's really talking about experience, sometimes in ineffable way. And that's almost a challenge for scientists, which are really about objects. So we can leave it for discussion. But it's an interesting question is what type of science would be up to the - able to explore nonduality and the way I'm going to do it in this talk in three steps, I will first present a phenomenological taxonomy to describe nondual awareness practices. Then I will give two example of neuroscientific study and framework that try to understand the consequences or the impact of nonduality on on habit formation in the brain and also in regulation of pain. So, yeah, and first a little quote, just to see what we're talking about from a text from the "Flight of the Garuda", uh, so "When the water is not found after searching, that is a time of bringing the view to the stage of exhaustion. This view without anything to be viewed, which has not strayed into a complete void of blank nothingness, is the present wilfulness, vivid and and unfabricated. This is precisely the view of the great perfection." So
  • how it was described by by John. So that's one of the claim of this tradition, is that somehow some these type of practices are cultivated a capacity, at least temporarily, to suspend certain very basic cognitive structure, in this case, the object subject duality. And and and as John just said, that's that brings forward a sense of reflexive awareness or luminosity. So as a scientist we - here is a simple way, so that's a framework that John proposed a couple of years ago, to define an explanandum for scientific exploratory, scientific study of of different stage of meditation. And so it's a physiological taxonomy of meditative stage when you could say that a mundane perception would be a cognition when it's very object oriented. So it's a sense of a passive object, a solid and real and a and and the reflexive awareness is less salient, as it was discussed by Kate before. And so gradually, through different stages of practice, uh, you gradually, gradually let go of the grasping on the objects or what we call sometimes dereification. And
  • that's announced somehow the sense of subjectivity at the beginning and a reflexive awareness. And gradually you can let go even further or releasing some of the control or the focus of attention and to arrive eventually to states of nonduality when there is a form of suspension of the subject object duality. So how can we scientifically explore that, so I'm going to give you a brief frameworks, and I'm going to use one of the theory on that is commonly used known in cognitive neuroscience, though there are many different theory to account for perception and action or consciousness. And I found this one a useful tool for some of this work. So it's a framework that's called the active inference or the Bayesian brain. And it's a scientific theory not only in perception action, but also of metacognition. So it's it's quite general. And and what is nice is that it's somehow stuck with the same framework that that John described before with Dharmakirti. So it's about
  • the understanding that if you look at the organism, all the organs the brain is is just in touch is with sensory signals from the five senses. And somehow it needs to make sense of it to be able to predict the environment. So how can you what do you how can you account for the fact that you can from this on this on sensory information, reconstruct a perceived sense of reality with this subjective structure? So there is not a clear theory, but the general idea that there is the main function of the of the brain is to develop inferences about the causal structure of the world. So you try to from the sensory information rediscover the - try to generate a generative model. So the brain is building a model about the generative processes in the environment that are causing the sensation that it's receiving.
  • And and so it's an iterative process when gradually the the the brain the brain is is through the interaction with the world is is updating the model based on the evidence it gave moment to moment through a general optimization principle that is called minimizing free energy, so that the general frameworks. And if you apply that to perception, you can see that perception is a is a is cast as an organism's posterior beliefs about hidden state of the world. So you in this case of the blue example you just gave, so that I'm French, I'm going to use a slightly different example. But it's the same idea that you try to integrate the sensory data with the prior beliefs. So if I ask you to look at these images and let's say you you need to act in the world to, for instance, find some food. And what you receive is this is sensory information and it's noisy. Can you recognize the object? Can you raise your hand if you can do it?
  • OK. So now if I give you a clue, like the term frog is some some people can see better. Yes, OK. And now that's what you are supposed to see. OK, so now the interesting. So now you saw it and now let's come back. OK. And it's a French joke. Now, if you see, again, this picture, people who couldn't see the image, can you see the frog now? OK, so that's really illustrate that there is a perception is an active process which is integrating sensory information with prior knowledge, and through this gradual interaction with the world, you can develop your models. In that case, you you learn a new a new a new pattern by recognizing this picture. So now how does it can be - so in the brain there's a whole literature in the emerging field where you can try to understand the type of algorithm or information exchange or mechanism in the brain are also following the same logic. So
  • all the all the level of the brain, so that the brain is organized in different with different within hierarchy. And you can also understand that even within the different layers of hierarchy, they are interacting with each other as with the same principles or one layer as is, is sending a above is sending prediction to the lower below, below a receiving prediction error and so on. And so there is sort of the general principle is can we see also at the higherarchical level? And so I don't have the time to go into detail, but that's a very general principle you could see implemented in the brain, for instance, and it's a way to understand its basic computation and basic functions. So what I like with this framework is that you can then understand that a certain fundamental function like attention can be understood as also a way to regulate the setting of this process and of this representation, so that to give you a very simple illustration. So in green, you got the likelihood that the sensory information, in red you get the prior, the the prior knowledge. And so the perception is somehow in
  • between. And so what you can see is the shape of this distribution is how precise or how much you're going to wait either to your prior knowledge or the sensory information. And to give a very simple example, when you walk in the in the in the fog and or in the dark at night, you can't really trust too much sensory information. You need to rely on your prior to what you see on the left. The prior is much more the given more information of weight to the prior information. But when it's in other context, you have to rely more on the on the on the sensory information. So gathering new information. So then then you, you, you're shaping more, they're giving more weight to the likelihood to sensation. And so, so somehow the one of the role of different mental factors like attention is to to choosing to deploying precision to different layers of information in the brain. And you can understand one framework. So that different model now about meditation as a way to deploy attention to maybe shape it to different prior or different layers of of different different aspects of the system. So we try to take some of this idea is in a in a very simple case. So if you're
  • interested, there is a recent students under Poublan-Couzardot really work on this framework, on these PHDs online. And and so the the I don't have time to actually go into detail, but one idea is that some style of practice, like the style of open monitoring or open presents on nonduality, one of the core function will be to somehow develop the capacity to regulate priors and maybe to regulate prior formation. And that's one way to a very simple way to to say that is maybe as perception is really driven by action when, for instance, when the frog like show is really - the goal is really to to decide about the perceiving the frog to act, many of the state of practice about a form of nonaction when you embody that in the body and see it in the body. And the idea is then I can justify that later, is that it's really the - basic mode of cognition that is facilitating change in reshaping of the tone of this prior model. So we think that's open presence or open monitoring, its function is to regulate prior formation, and but also because it's really about being very aware of what's happening, it's also very, very high precision to sensory aspects. So we can then predict different
  • prediction about different styles of meditation, how it's going to impact prior formation or sensory precision. So both of them will have very high sensory precision, but open meditation will be able to down regulate habits to reduce habit formation. So we thought this idea is a very simple auditory oddball paradigm, which is a very basic task when you present a regular tone which is called standards I which is the sound do do do like that, and sometimes there is a deviant that is randomly presented and these deviants is thought to reflect an error. So the idea that you your brain is casting predictions about the regularity of the blue sounds and somehow the red one is creating error predictions so you can measure the differences in the error potential, and that's supposed to reflect a form of error predictions about this internal model. And so we can then make a prediction that different style of meditation will impact differently. This mismatch negativity.
  • So based on the model - the graph I presented, you could see the slope of the prediction that's focused attention, meditation because of his focus will - ah I have to go faster. So so essentially we have some evidence that that somehow there is a regulation for experts. But the key prediction was really about about open presence as a way to down regulate. And there was only a train that. So it was at a training, the effect of OP showing less mismatch negativity than FA. But the interesting things again here, I don't have time to go, but it's that you can see that there's clearly a difference between both style of meditation announced perceptual saliency - oops sorry. But an awareness tends to to reduce open presence, tend to reduce habit formation compared to FA. So that's just an illustration about the type of experiment we can do to test different theory about a different mechanism of meditation. And then I'm going to present very quickly how you can understand, also, a different way to understand the benefit nondual awareness practices is its relation to its soteriological aspects. So I'm just showing a framework we developed in, uh, before with Cortland Dahl and Richard Davidson, when you can understand a different style of meditation according to three of style of meditations. And
  • you can see that the this nondual practice can be understood as a form of deconstructive of practices that are try to foster insight about the nature of perceptions and emotion and cognitions with a way to to somehow through that understanding of of the nature of perception it's supposed to facilitate or release some form of some type of suffering. So we're going to - we tried specifically to test this idea in order to test this whole notion of the dual arrow of pain. So, yes, as you know, it's a distinction between the sensorial dimension and affective dimension of pain. And we we would predict that this style of open presence will be particularly good at at at reducing the second arrow of pain, and not the sensory one. And we brought in medicine, some expert meditators in the lab of Richard Davidson, and we induce some thermal pain on the wrist. And as you can see, the same logic as before. We contrast two style of meditation, one putting attention on on the visual object versus open presents meditation, and we compare novices and experts. And the finding is
  • that there is a better capacity to uncouple the sensory and affective aspect of pain with expert practitioner are better at, are less bothered by pain, but while feeling the same type of sensory experience. And and we find a different correlate also in using brain imaging when there is somehow less affective anticipatory neural activity in experts versus novice, and that change also the way they habituate to the pain experience. And very briefly, we try to do a second round of nuanced and run of analysis, try to look at specifically the mechanism of that, and we look at the impact of this type of practice on the so-called pain catastrophizing, so pain catastrophizing psychology refer to the exaggerated, negative orientation to actual anticipated pain involves some rumination, magnification, sense of helplessness. It has a very strong clinical implication. And so we found that they are indeed, so yeah, and we design an experiment that's really tried to manipulate some of this to try to amplify the cognitive-affective aspect of pain.
  • And and so we manipulate anticipation and along with the short pain, and you can see that indeed experts are better at uncoupling the sensory and affective aspects of pain, in particular in the long one. So and they are sure less pain catastrophizing. And the key thing is that their capacity to to uncouple the affective and sensory aspects of pain is driven by the self report measure of cognitive - cognitive defusion, which is a capacity to perceive things as just mental, and that capacity is seems to be a good, good predictor about your capacity to not to not to to catastrophize. So we, uh. And that's the last thing that I will leave it for the discussion that I think that there is some finding here that maybe speak to the effortless aspect of of pain. And that was a so we found that there was an order effect in the in the way expert was experiencing pain. So if
  • they start to do for the first block a distraction and then nondual awareness versus nondual awareness and then distraction, we found that the way they were experiencing the, uh, the distraction was different. So if it was preceding by the nondual awareness, there was a better capacity to uncouple, meaning that even when they don't intentionally try to regulate their experience, the fact that they were already primed by this practice really change the way they perceive experience, suggesting that I think in the context of what we discussed, a form of effortlessness over downregulation, uh, of pain. And I will stop here. Thank you. OK, folks, I'm afraid we went a little over time, but, yeah we'll all sit at one table, why not, here we are.
  • Discussion Participants
    So in the interest of time, this we can definitely see if there are questions, comments, reactions from our group and then also open it up pretty quickly. How's that sound? Does anyone have anything they want to ask or comment on, say, off the top of their heads? I'm curious what questions people have. OK, let's go to people. Yes, David. John and Antoine I wish to hear you guys connect what you were just talking about. It seems like there's a connection, but, yes, it's kind of an implicit connection and I'd be interested to hear you guys chat. So I'd say, yeah - the framework presented and then the predictive processing. So I went through the practices part really fast. Fortunately Willa had done some of those practices before. So the idea here in practice, the practice I presented there is what we have often called open presence, Matthieu Ricard coined that. And then there are similar practices that are not full on open presence that sometimes would be called objectless samatha and those samatha without an object, and those same instructions can be understood to be used for that purpose, too. And
  • the point of these practices is to enhance that reflexivity and to and to decrease that subject object structure. In open presence in principle that totally disappears. But whether or not it totally disappears, we - experimentally what we found is that the part of what's happening here, and what Antoine was explaining is precisely because reflexivity is, the enhancing of reflexivity and meta awareness when you could think of reflexivity as a kind of version of meta awareness, part of what's that doing, what that is doing is really downplaying the importance of priors because it's trying it's actually inhibiting mental time travel and therefore also inhibiting at least conscious prediction. And as a result of that, we see certain types of effects like this idea of a second arrow. You get shot with one arrow, it hurts. But the second error is the way one catastrophizes the pain. And a lot of that is about anticipation, actually. So
  • experimentally, we saw that the pain, the pain matrix would actually become active before the pain was given. There would be a signal that pain was coming and then pain, you know, not - untrained subjects, non meditators would actually start to simulate pain in their brains, as it were, prior to the any actual pain. And so that's precisely that, that's a really good example of a kind of prediction, right, which could be important, but is definitely down regulated by open presence or even open monitoring. You want to say more, Antione, or? Yeah, maybe just one point at this. You could you could say that. Well, but why is it useful? Actually, because you're supposed to be if something is dangerous, you want you want to to be able to do defend yourself. So in this case, I think it's so that's one point to add that in this context, it's that they can't really control. So
  • it doesn't make a difference whether they think too much. But what is important that when you look at the effect across time, the different blocks and you get the amygdala that is involved in a particular like fear related processes, you can see there's a down regulation of of these amygdala activation for the experts and not the novice, meaning that there's a cost to to be anticipating too much probably that that would be, so it's an interpretation, that that would be one virtue of being able to do to not to add any stuff that it's also doesn't it doesn't based on habits of avoidance habits. Right. So, yeah. So pain catastrophizing can be actually something that is not just restricted to actual pain stimulus, but that same kind of catastrophizing can occur in other other contexts to other pathologies. So anxiety is is related to catastrophizing itself, highly comorbid with like depression, anxiety and. Yeah.
  • [inaudible] Is the model you presented, John, predictive processing, just in a different framing? That's that's what I want to know. You wouldn't want to, like, push it all the way in that direction. But it's clear that Dharmakirti explicitly says, first of all, if you're if concepts are always dualistic because they're about modeling an agent which doesn't really exist in the way it's modeled, it's about modeling an agent, i.e. self, acting in a world. So it's always got that dualism, even very low level concepts and high level concepts. They always have that dualism. So and they're about prediction. They're specifically goal oriented so that, as he says, you don't use concepts, you know. Well, he uses this very possibly not very PC metaphor, which is, you know, a eunuch doesn't - uh how does it go again? A lustful woman doesn't care about eunuchs. It's a terrible metaphor, really. But his point is that the we don't when we use concepts, we are always trying to get something.
  • So we're trying to predict specifically whether these actions are going to work. So in that sense, it's got this predictive aspect and it's taken offline by the kind of practices that deliberately are meant to downgrade that dualistic structure. So that makes sense? So in some ways, like to say it's predictive processing would be I think that assumes a whole lot of stuff. But does it mean, is it saying that, you know, concept formation is predictive, inherently predictive and inherently dualistic? Yes, for sure. But there's a limitation, I think that I see a lot of parallel in to talk about the object or the content, the perception, I think in the theory about active inference, it's still I think it's still at some level of granularity to talk about the subjective aspect, the reflexive aspect. I think there is something, a missing part that is not clearly articulated in the model right now, but at least to talk about the content of the mind and its regulation about attention, it's it's I can see a lot of overlap. Can you just spell out what you're talking about a little bit more when you said you think there's a part that's missing in the subjective experience? Can you clarify?
  • Well, that's what John was saying, like in the in his model, that he defines, Dharmakirti’s model. There is always simultaneously the sense of a subject that is at its place in the act in active inference. It is also there implicitly in the sense that it's this free energy minimization is supposed to reflect the the point of view of the organism as a whole as an unbodied agent. So it is there in a way, but it's not as fleshed out as explicitly as in the --- in a phenomenological sense. So I still think that there is you can see that in principle it's possible because this framework is what is good is it's taking the viewpoint of the organism. OK, so there is a similarity. But but I think it's a little bit over over interpreting the modelling to say that it's similar to the phenomenological experience of reflexivity, and so they still have work to do when we develop a model of meta awareness, for instance, and let's try to go in that direction. But it's still the - yeah, I
  • just me, I'm not it's still not clear that the connection with reflexivity as such or even or even meta awareness in some ways. If we think of reflexivity as a specific kind of version of meta awareness, exactly what role that plays in predictive processing, especially at a conscious level or phenomenal level, I think is not that clear. Wouldn't it just be modeling yourself as an actor to predict what happens? But that would be one, but here the point in this is a key point of like reflexivity is reflexivity is required for modeling a subject, a sense of subjectivity and body position, spatial temporal location, and it may even be possible to break it into more primitive versions of what we're talking about. But if you had so if you have a sense of subjectivity, et cetera, you have reflexivity on this model. If you have reflexivity, you don't necessarily have a sense of subjectivity. So it's not inherently tied to the modeling of self, and that's I think, you know, something that is really key that I don't know it's - that way of thinking about meta awareness, I think. I don't know how to fit that into a predictive model. Predictive coding model.
  • There's a question in the back and there was a question. OK, yes, so I had a question, though, actually, I think it tied to both parts of the session, but in Willa's talk about Longchenpa, something that stood out to me and then also in the question about vipassana after is that it's a lot of descriptions of people who get really good at the non dual awareness or like open monitoring who are also at the same time practicing the sort of focus, the kind of focus attention meditation that we were describing in the first session. And so I wanted to just say something about how the just note that on the face of it that that should sound weird to you. Right? It's like if I think so, let me tell you. So here's some what - I don't think it is weird, but I think that in the there is a way to tie the two sessions together. But in a way, it's like if somebody were like, oh, I'm going to train to run a marathon and then like, but my strategy is to like, lie down in bed. Like you're saying that I'm going to train to have open monitoring meditation, to be able to like, let my mind wander basically for long periods of time, and my strategy to be able to do that is to learn how to get really good on focusing on one thing.
  • Right? And so I wanted to bring this not to tie the two sessions together because, I mean, Sonam and I, I think part of the way that we originally started thinking about all this stuff is thinking that like one explanation for why it would help to have the one kind of practice is that both of them involve there are these like basic metacognitive signals, like effort and boredom that make your mind constantly move between not only different contents, but also different modes of experiencing the world. Right. Things like mind wandering and things like focus, attention, things like salience driven attention and what you would be good at doing and both things. That's a common factor is taking those metacognitive feelings and, you know, down regulating how much they influence your shifting between different modes of attention. And I think if we don't have that kind of model, I wonder what kind of explanation we can give of the overlap between. Yeah. So just to be clear, if there had been time and I'm not sure, I think I'd just step out. But so in Mahamudra, unlike generally in Dzogchen, we actually very explicitly do a training where you take an object, often a visual object, actually, but also the breath can be used and but they say it's not the alambhana, it is,
  • it's not actually the object, you're not meditating on that object. You're using it as a what they call a jetob, which means a reminder, and essentially what you - because the idea here is you actually don't want to - what would be weird is if you practice jhana and in Mahamudra, that would be weird, because you're not actually trying to absorb yourself in full focus on the object, using the object as a means to, first of all, cultivate the kind of meta awareness, really reflexivity that enables you - so you're doing what, you're doing mindfulness and even and that style of mindfulness in the beginning involves placing the mind on increasing attention on an object. And then, of course, as distractions arise, you're learning how not to get caught by the distraction. You're not to stop the thoughts.
  • You just don't get caught, you don't get on the train, as it were. Right. And then gradually you actually kind of like one metaphor I've heard is, you know, it's like your hands on a buoy in the water and you kind of gradually let go and now you're not, now you don't have any objects. So you start with, like, the breath and then you gradually kind of let go of any object, but you're still in the same state of being undistracted. So that's called ma yengs tsam gyi dran pa the mindfulness of mere non distraction. It's mere because you don't have an object, but you're not distracted. So what's the same about that, the kind of mindfulness there is there's no attention capture. Right. So thoughts or whatever happening, they're not there's they're not capturing your attention. But now what's different is that you've cultivated that initially because it's easier for stability when you have an object and then you gradually let go of the object. So that's I think to my mind, that's the real continuity between those kinds of practices and this kind of practice,
  • which is that you basically are learning how to cultivate that specific aspect of mindfulness, which is where it's described in classical Abhidharma text as having the function of preventing distraction. So you can be undistracted and not on an object, because you're not experiencing attention capture and you're not unconscious, obviously. So that's called objectless mindfulness or objectless Samatha. So to my mind, that's the kind of continuity there. Should be the level three. Yeah, be like level three in that chart. Yeah. I think one of the other things that's super important to keep in mind is that both of these practices are playing around with the cultivation of emersion and pliancy. And one of the things that becomes really important, I think, when you're playing around with nondual practices, is getting into a space where your mind is pliable enough that you can let go. And in the same way, when you're playing around with vipassana practices, what you need to do is you need to get your mind into a pliable and immersive enough state that you can stay attentive to the flow of whatever the experiences are. And it seems to me that that's, if we're thinking in generative terms, one one of the really key points that is going to be shared across these two kinds of practices is being able to get into that immersive and also at the same time pliant space, which frames your discussion earlier a little bit differently. But yep.
  • Yeah, that's super interesting. Hello, thank you again for your presentation today. My question, I think, is that kind of asset in a way which was I was interested in the categories where they're used in psychological studies like focused attention, open monitoring, open presence, I was going to ask about the utility of those. I think you've already spoken to this as far as what they're able to kind of identify. I guess if you have any follow up on, I think you mentioned that Matthieu Ricard had developed the open presence practice. I'm wondering if, like, is that the list is or do we need, is that inclusive of developing kind of categories that cut across different religious traditions in order to study similar phenomenological experiences, wondering if you can speak to that. Another one would be to follow up on this idea of reducing affect and being able to down regulate emotion. I'm wondering if, I'm curious if you have any thoughts on this idea of compassion collapse and the idea that people who are better able to down regulate negative emotions are also those who are less inclined to help because they're able to down regulate the negative emotions that are experienced when identifying somebody who's suffering or something like that. And if you've thought about how the research you're doing relates to altruistic behavior.
  • Altruistic behavior. [inaudible] Well, Antoine and I actually developed the FA OM distinction in an article we wrote with Heleen Slagter and Richard Davidson and anybody else? That was it. In TiCS and which has been now been cited like 2500 times or something crazy like that. So obviously people like that because it was, because before that - it was opening up, right? It was just meditation. But didn't Claudio Naranjo also have opening up - oh maybe, yeah - and concentration as two categories and they seem related. Yeah, but there was so there was pretty - the landscape was kind of bleak. And so it wasn't advancement. But we at the time we tried to acknowledge at the time and actually, Matthieu got a little mad at us for open monitoring, Matthieu Ricard, because it was like, you know, it's not monitoring that's too dualistic.
  • But we were trying to capture of wider range of practices across multiple traditions that involve this kind of enhanced meta awareness and maybe a light touch on objects, but not really, the goal was not focus on objects, and focused attention in contrast with something that was much more about, still involved meta awareness because you have to have that for cognitive control, but that was much more about, you know, object oriented focus and could then encompass the jhana practices. So it's not it's definitely not enough, but it was probably a good start, I would say. I'd say on the second thing real quick and then see what Antoine has to say - one of the things that's interesting about Mahayana practices, right where compassion becomes a much more explicit part of practices, is that those that end up being, you know, those are compassion is really, really important in the nondual traditions. It's important in all Mahayana traditions. But certainly in the Indo Tibetan nondual traditions it's extremely important. So and actually there are practices in I think someone cited, you cited, Shabkar, there are practices that very explicitly involve evoking very intense emotional states and not trying to like down regulate them,
  • but actually to use the intensity of the emotional state as a basis, because then when that emotional state is really intense, right, just like looking at the beautiful sunrise, when the emotional state is really intense, that reflexivity is more active because it's doing its job of presenting that cognitive background. So actually, emotions - it's a little problematic to think of this as these styles which are closely related to Tantra, which where the same thing, happens. They're not really about like down regulating emotions. It's more complicated than that, I'd say. And so just to to compliment what John said to the first taxonomy, it's really about trying to look at a structural environment of consciousness. So it's a phenomenological formulation of of of invariant and the most basic one, which is on the subject of intentionality and reflexivity. And that's very similar to what you see in continental phenomenology for instance. Now, the connection with with, let's say, altruism, it's it's as you know, it's it's it's present also like when you do want attention, you can do automated practice that is done. For instance, the Vipassana tradition, it's also focused attention, meditation, if you want.
  • And so we we present another taxonomy that I briefly flushed out with this typology of meditation that is supposed to more capture the the, uh, the specific role of different families of meditation. And so the, if you want the compassion family, in that sense could be understood as a, um, a training to to to to change maladaptive maladaptive self schema and to be more other oriented and less self-centered. And so, so. All that to say that they serve different purposes, this taxonomy, depending on what is your question, if you answer in the context of altruism, maybe the typology of attentional constructive deconstructive is more helpful if you are interested in more the structural feature of consciousness then the the other approach is useful. And and, yes, it's I know there's a lot to unpack, but that's for some comment. Thank you.
  • Yeah, I'm curious about when we're talking about the preconditions for open awareness, non meditative experiences, set and setting, and I'm just thinking about direct experience, kind of like a Dzogchen practice or retreat where a lot of time is spent preparing for the recognition of the nature of mind. And so I'm curious about as you're thinking about set and setting, you're thinking about non meditative experiences. Is there a direct inquiry that you guys have in terms of setting up the conditions on a conceptual level for the nature of mind, and is that fundamentally impactful for whether or not those non meditative experiences are happening, how they're happening, or is is that part of kind of the set and setting? And the last part of the question I didn't quite get, could you? Yeah, basically, what's the role of recognition of the nature of the mind in a conceptual way on kind of the actual non meditative experience? On the non meditative experience. You mean, like, what impact does that have?
  • I guess it makes you a Buddha, isn't that what they say? But so one way of thinking about this is that the what it means to have recognition and in a technical Dharmakirtian model what it means to have recognition of the nature of the mind is that you are then kind of non dual awareness that is occurring is able to create a subsequent conceptualization of that of the nondual experience. And so people - the idea theoretically is that people go through this all the time for various reasons, like when they fall asleep, but that they, or when they are waking up. But when they pass through these kinds of states, they totally don't know that they are. So they're not, in a sense, adequately prepared for that recognition. There's a lot of issues around how the recognition can occur, like because language is dualistic, can you really help people to see it if you use language? Right, or even if you use symbols and so on, because those are all going to be dualistic. So there are you know, there are issues around how you actually get people to recognize. But then one of the main outcomes in principle of a recognition and there are other people here who can talk about this, too, but one
  • of the main outcomes of the in principle of that kind of a recognition would be that you have a sense of the contingency of your own subjectivity, like you don't really identify with your subjectivity in the same way anymore. So that - which presumably has behavioral outcomes, like, for example, classic one is if someone insults you, it's like whatever. So no, but so, yeah, so that so that there doesn't mean you become dysfunctional, it's just that, you know, these kind of automatic reactions around identifying with with a certain kind of subjectivity, they begin to subside, allegedly. John, can I make a comment? Oh, sorry, Willa. Oh, there's Willa. Oh, yeah. Dog doggie care. I didn't know you were there, [inaudible] Oh, she's so sweet.
  • I just think your question brings up something really important, which is that there's non meditation, and then there's this recognition of the nature of mind, non meditation really sounds like a non doing, right? And then recognition of something is a kind of a doing right. I mean, there's a bit of a something's happening there, right? Something's happening. And I just think this is a really critical tension in these non dual discourses and in the non dual practices, which is the tension between doing and non doing, because even though theorists like we heard Longchenpa like it's not about doing, it's effortless, so forth. Actually, there's quite a bit of little doings in the non doing, right, like even the set up of the set and the setting or or this idea that there is a recognition. So I think I think that in practice, too, in practice, even as it's described in these Namtar and these sort of first person accounts, and maybe in our own first person experience, that tension is there.
  • And so, so and also just to to, big nod to this morning too like all of those practices are held in the canons of these not in which these non dual traditions are practicing, right, they're holding these these the canons, the early Buddhist canons that are all about that focus and effort and the Jhanas. It's not like those aren't part of the training at all. They're kind of in the background as part of the part of the setting. So I just I just wanted to name that what you brought up brings up this really interesting, you know, this interesting tension between doing and non doing. It's a great question. Yeah. Yeah. Andrew had it. I think that's really spot on, Willa, and super important, it's really about dharma dhr-, to hold. So in a certain way, you're creating a holding environment here, right? So the effort is in creating the mandala, the essence container. So
  • in a certain way, when the mandala is created and then you step into that, preliminaries more important than the main practice, classic tantric maxim, then the fundamental result is one, openness and relaxation. And so, therefore, you can have this dialethic kind of approach, you can actually have both, so you create the container with the effort so that when you step into that particular holding environment, then the natural response is openness and relaxation. So I think that's how they fit. I want just to make a little comment from the science part that, um, I was always very impressed by all the other practitioner who came to the lab. They always, the first question is always how is it going to be useful? And whenever there was in the scanner, there was always a setting an intention, some visualization. And so, you know, visualization of the lineage and so on. So there was some always preparation in there before actually doing the practice, which makes me think that now now, since we start to do the research, I mean, what I notice is that at the beginning there was a strong emphasis on attention then a mindfulness. Now talking about more compassion, loving kindness and more and more I see the notion of nondual awareness arriving and being more more popular and and within the scientific community and clinical research. And I, I just hope that there will be that the setting is not going to be lost in the studies. So it's going to be a big challenge, I think.
  • Yeah, I think we're close to time, so I just want to raise this question maybe to draw something out so it doesn't get lost in future conversations tomorrow and over the next few days, which is going back to Bryce's manatee and crocodile teachers. We the conversation tends to move towards cognition and attention and our consciousness. So I wanted to go back to this question of an ecological non duality and just to highlight that, to see if there's a shared theme actually running throughout all or maybe most of the presentations. So where I thought you were going to go with the story of the crocodile was a much more kind of visceral sense of ecological non duality, that Plumwood's body, you know, potentially being eaten and digested by an ecosystem which is a kind of effortless non duality,
  • you know, takes no, yeah, takes no particular skill either. But but in a way, materially, ecologically, we are all embedded in that web that Bryce you put up there and that feature, that materiality of non duality actually is present in some of the other presentations as well. You could hear it in Willa's evocation of the this set, you know, the setting and the crows and the the sky in this cave. There are some kind of ecological context or maybe, as Andrew was just saying, a holding space, perhaps. But my question is whether that is pointing that that possibility of a of an ecological context is actually pointing to what like someone like Merleau-Ponty would talk about as a primordial context. And when we when we evoke phenomenology, we often do it just in terms of cognition. But phenomenology, certainly the way Husserl and Merleau-Ponty took it was was actually pointing at this embodied kind of primordial primordial context or life world or flesh. And,
  • you know, from Merleau-Ponty, and I thought you were going to kind of go in that direction. And I think my question is, is there in all of these examples of non duality, are we pointing back to something pre theoretical, precognitive, pre dualistic before there's a subject and object object split? And that was really obvious in Cat's presentation of a kind of monistic sh- Shiva or some kind of monism before the split. And you could see that with a manatee. You can see that with a crocodile. Right? The manatee is in a kind of primordial non duality, not just because it's floating in the ocean, but that its very flesh evolved in response to its oceanic aquatic environment. Right, and that eyeballs perceive blue in part because the rods and cones of the eyeball have evolved over time in response to light waves, that's a material nondual relational in a relation between perceiving organism in the environment. That is is a loop, it's nondual. So my question here, I just so what I'm trying to draw out is there is some kind of material, ecological, non duality, I don't want to lose that thread. And the second is, is, my question is, is there all of these traditions pointing something that happens before a split, before the subject and object?
  • So great comment, I'd like to take the second point first, the one about the before. It's really important for these Shaivas that Shiva is not before the world. Rather so, and the reason why that's important is because time is something that emerges out of consciousness itself. And that actually is part of what gives rise to subject object structure. So time is actually the expression of the inherent nondual differentiation of consciousness itself. So it's not like there's a primordial non duality and then it splits off into these dualistic worlds. And then the worlds are, you know, like go forward in some kind of causal rather it's that every single moment, just is. The purple showing up as red and blue. But it's never, you know, something that's temporally prior to or other than the worlds that it's creating. It is beyond in the sense that shiva is more than any one world. But that's very different than being like prior to or primordial or something along those lines. And I think that has important implications because there are all kinds of critiques of origins that the shivas would fall into if they were making a claim about like sort of an originary force than creating a world out of itself. No, you don't want to touch that one.
  • Well, so in dzogchen, in some dzogchen cosmologies, there is this idea of like that, the primordial purity that the ---, you know, — was just there was a time before, but mostly and then especially in Mahamudra, you don't see that so much mostly is this idea that, you know, it's really similar to what Cat was saying, that when we're talking about this sort of non dual nature of the mind, we're already in the --- we're in the fourth time, not past, present, future, we're in the timeless time. So like asking the question of before doesn't even make any sense. And of course, in another way, actually, you know, it's never, none of it, the whole duality thing is just it is just an illusion. So it's like it's like you've never been parted from your own nondual primordial awareness. So, like what's before? That's incredibly unhelpful. I know, I'm sorry, but I do want to say real quick and, you know, go, because I want to hear what you have to say. Yeah, I was going to say something about that.
  • One thing that I'm absolutely always unsure what to think about is the move to saying that what all this is in some sense, is consciousness. And I think part of the reason I'm unsure what to say about that is that by the time we've moved to the massively interdependent, whatever it is, it's unclear how that relates to the thing that we typically talk about as conscious. And when we're talking about what is in some sense primordial, not necessarily temporally, but what the, this is, whatever this is, I think there's what we see a couple of different ways of trying to thematize that and to make sense of it, and all of that is concept laden. All of that is anchored to a history of intelligibility and sensemaking.
  • All of it is shaped by the ways that we're trying to embed that in larger theoretical frameworks. And if you come at it like somebody like Val Plumwood, what you see is that world where we live each other's deaths and die each other's life because of the way that those cycles operate. That's something that's deeply, deeply material, but not material in the way that we typically think about the materiality of chairs and tables. It's material in the way that all of the interconnected structure in the world is continually calling into existence differentiation and tearing down differentiation. And that's, I think, a different way of telling the story than what you get if you're a shiva. It overlaps in interesting ways, but it feels at least like the orienting and the anthologizing takes on a different form because of the way that it gets narrativized and because of the way the story gets told. So I'm going to agree with the last part of that, but then say something that does -
  • undoes my agreement a little bit. So consciousness is probably not the right word here. Maybe something like awareness, which might be a little more neutral, is a little better. But you could also do materiality if you have a certain kind of understanding of matter. The reason why I've been playing around a lot with that purple metaphor is that if you think about the metaphor, neither the red nor the blue are more fundamentally constitutive of purple than the other. In the exact same way, neither subject nor object is closer to consciousness than the other is for these Shivas. This is not a reduction to subjectivity. It's not leaving objects behind. Abhinava actually has a number of wonderful, gorgeous verses where he talks about how like the highest accomplishment that Shiva undertakes is presenting as a rock, because that's the ability for consciousness to present itself as precisely what its not, as its exact opposite. And that also, though, is why they push in the direction of some kind of awareness-y type thing, because awarenesses have the capacity to imagine. And it's that fundamental capacity for imagination, for hiding, for presenting as what it's not, that's so important for the Shivas. That's great. And we
  • should probably stop. I'll just say briefly, I also don't think consciousness is really the best word. It's definitely also not in Yogachara, and as I read Dharmakirti not a collapse into some kind of, you know, subjective idealism. But then the way I like to use that word stuff, because it's kind of like questioning, you know, what is it just what is it and questioning the dualism, in this case, the kind of materiality and inmateriality and you know, where tantra goes at least some tantra goes in the end in Buddhism and probably Shavism too, I don't really know this. It's all what they call ---. Which is, you know, or --- in Tibetan, wind energy breath, whatever you want to translate that. So anyway, but I totally like the different kinds of narratives and stuff is such a great point, like where we're starting from, what our priors are. So I'm afraid I think David, we unfortunately, because I'm sure people are getting tired or anyway, I am. And so I think we should probably call it quits for today. Thank you very much for your attention.