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Luis Javier López Arredondo


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Where do thoughts come from?

Where do thoughts come from?
A thought active connections in the brain or vice versa?
If I control my thoughts, do I control my brain connections?
Consciously I do not control my brain... Are my thoughts random emanating of pure subconscious?
Do I really control my thoughts?

Topics: mind philosophy

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    Nov 19 2012: Ever wondered why in eastern meditation practices, the goal is to get rid of all thoughts whatsoever, empty our mind completely? That's because it gives a sense of purity, peace, and ultimate freedom. Nobody can control our thoughts when we do not have any.

    The trick is to tell whether we truly have no thoughts or we just think that we don't. And that requires some thinking.
    • Nov 19 2012: The goal of meditation is to get rid of sense of self. When there is no sense of self, there is no mental 'observer' to observe.
      In deep meditation the thinker is the thought.
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        Nov 19 2012: Good point. We are our thoughts. We are what we think we are. We are a part of the universe and the universe is a part of us. The question of control and free will appears to be circular.

        Down below, I replied to Roy's comment with some references to quantum physics and quotations from Alan Watts that also reflect this view.
        • Nov 19 2012: On quantum level , in meditation , there is nothing in your mind to collapse the wave function ; no ripples of possibility are focused into 'realities'.
          As for Alan Watts, he's great, no question about it, but ...
          Let me quote :
          Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
          see no Dharma in everyday actions.
          They have not yet discovered that
          there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.

          Or maybe i've missed this idea in his philosophy , but i think it's necessary for ' as above so below '
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        Nov 19 2012: I guess, Alan Watt's borrows from Zen a lot. Here are some other quotes from him:

        "Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes."

        "Omnipotence is not knowing how everything is done; it's just doing it."

        I have just discovered Watts a few days ago from a random quotation in gmail header. There are tons of his recordings on Youtube. I'm going to listen to them.

        And thanks for your quotation. I love to discover new sources this way. A brief search revealed that the quote is from Dogen and led me to a few other pearls:

        "Do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment."
        "If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"

        Awesome. Thanks a lot.
        • Nov 20 2012: Arkady,
          why do you like these quotes or thoughts they carry ? Why do you pay attention in the first place ?
          Because these thoughts resonate with the context of your mind and your mind is tuned by the content of your thoughts, which are not yours either.
          Isn't it circular ? :)
          So, we do listen when we think we are thinking ! We take thoughts from the collective pool and contribute to it. Everything is yours and nothing belongs to you.The question remains : where do thoughts come from to fill the pool ?
          And here are my ( :) ) thoughts :
          " I " is collective, " am" is what makes it personal . " am " is experience . And these rare moments of direct experience of ' something' we don't have a name for or too many names : God , the Whole , the Presence... when you do not think nor listen is the source of all thoughts.
          Btw. Mark Meijer is the one/many who you'll enjoy to talk to about Alan Watts :)

          Thank you and enjoy your day !
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        Nov 20 2012: @Don

        I borrow from you and the rest of the people. Here is how it works for me. A few recent examples. I check my gmail. Google shows one-line notes at the top of the email list - a link to the news, a quote, or an ad. This one read: "You don't look out there for God, something in the sky, you look in you. -- Alan Watts
        Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alanwatts253017.html#qiUX7tcQ8DO2UtdX.99

        I clicked on the link and discovered the ones I posted (you can do it too). Then I searched "Alan Watts" - and came across a bunch of Youtube posts.

        Now, I posted some quotes here and got one from Natasha. I searched it and came across this:

        The other time, I received an email from a bank. They had a quote "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." attributed to someone. It "rang a bell" with this video http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html. I like to know where things come from. I looked it up and found that the person quoted wasn't the first to say it. The saying is attributed to Anais Nin, but also to Talmud.

        Songs are most interesting to decipher. I love Mark Knopfler. His songs prompted me to look up many things and names including Sonny Liston, Ray Croc, Mason-Dickson line, Albion Motors, etc.
        Other gems from songs include "We are programmed to receive. You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave", "All we know is just another brick on the wall". I like to look up song lyrics and dig into origins - including nuances from translations.

        It's random. That's how our brain works. Impression -> association -> action -> another impression, and so on. We don't control impression and association. We think we control the action, but it follows from the previous impression and association. It's like a game. We don't really control it, but we can play and have fun.

        ... and also with you
        • Nov 20 2012: HI Arkady you may be interested in the connection between Alan Watts and via, via all the way to Swedenborg. I found this information: D.T. Suzuki called Swedenborg the "Buhda of the North"

          "Suzuki's extensive project ostensibly started when the Swedenborg Society in London contacted the Japanese embassy and asked for a competent translator to render Swedenborg into Japanese. The embassy suggested Suzuki..
          Suzuki agreed, and in due time translated Swedenborg's Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence, Heaven and Hell, and Heavenly Doctrine. He also turned up as an official delegate at the International Swedenborg Congress when it was held in London in 1910, along with other Swedenborgian notables, such as Henry James, the novelist. Letters still at the Swedenborg Society in London indicate that Suzuki also agreed to produce at least one biographical sketch of Swedenborg as a separate little volume in order to promote the sale of the longer more technical works throughout Japan. As well, in 1914, Suzuki was one of the three men who officially launched the Japanese Swedenborg Society, which from then on oversaw the publication and distribution of Swedenborg's works in Japan.

          The rest of the story is well known. Suzuki returned to the United States in the early 1950s and stayed for some ten years. During this time he became the foremost exponent of Zen in the West. ALAN WATTS, who had known him in London from the 1930s, considered Suzuki his teacher. Now, with Watts paving the way, Suzuki influenced psychoanalysts such as Karen Horney and Erich Fromm. (A year before her death, Suzuki even escorted Horney on a three-month trip through the religious shrines of Japan.) He influenced Jazz musicians such as John Cage and his works were avidly read by popular writers such as J. D. Salinger, and poets such as Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder."

          How it all comes together..
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        Nov 20 2012: I think about contradictions by profession. One part of my job requires to improve semiconductor yield. The other part of my job requires to improve quality and reliability. These efforts are opposite to each other. Here is a Zen picture that I have on my wall at work.


        I cannot survive without Zen or "do not judge" thing. I also must learn to humble my opinions. My life was more difficult before I learned how to do that. It's an effort to preserve sanity.

        Thinking of quality makes me philosophical. It makes me think of things like "why do I believe what I believe"? "When do we have enough evidence to 'know'"? The role of errors in our life, etc. I witness every day how people blind themselves to reality and see what the want to see. I observe double standards when people talk about quality of their own work and quality of our suppliers. It's all very practical and very fascinating.

        Re: "So, we do listen when we think we are thinking ! We take thoughts from the collective pool and contribute to it. Everything is yours and nothing belongs to you.The question remains : where do thoughts come from to fill the pool ?"

        This analogy does not feel right. You seem to think of "we" and "collective pool" and "something else" from which thoughts come into the collective pool. The analogy of feeling waves in an endless ocean is better. All thoughts are there. We just need to perceive them.

        And, yes, I enjoy talking to Mark a lot. My favorite quote from him is "What is true and what is useful are completely different considerations". I wonder if it's his or he got it from somewhere else.
        • Nov 20 2012: Maybe we are boiling to semantics here :)
          Knowing exists in a wave form, it's not dual . Can you get information without processing it ?
          Processed information is dual, it is a thought. Thoughts are ' knowledge ' , it's knowing about .Wave/particle duality is universal , i guess..
          Thoughts are real, convincing , highly applicable, can be stored , but not quite true for nothing has independent existence from anything else ; a thought being shaped into words is detached from the whole by the very act of shaping it into words. The analogy of feeling waves in an endless ocean is really better, but 'waves' are not thoughts.
          In a way we 'think' our reality into existence, but it is illusion. To have the opening to something which is really real, that sets the agenda you need to be out of time out of mind and loose the sense of self.
          Sorry, my 'explanation' can only add to confusion, but it's really difficult to tell, you do know that . Maybe it doesn't make sense to you, and it's OK :)

          Thanks for the link, I'll go there in a couple of hours.
          Cheers !
        • Nov 20 2012: Hi, again !
          Maybe you should post your link in the conversation about truth.
          The majority of people can admit that without lying their daily work cannot be done. In fact , lying is so fundamental to our goal oriented, consuming culture that it has ceased to be lying at all and has transformed into a variant of truth. We say : it's part of life and the more we get stuck in it the more we need an antidote, Zen , ' don't judge ' thing helps, it does .
          "The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction." Why do you think we are talking about Truth , God , Love so much these days ?
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      Nov 20 2012: That is total rubish Arkady.
      Thoughts are not just the psychobabble of the Autobiographical selves.
      What the Eastern approach suggests is to bring the identity back to the core self.
      THe core self is not concerned with language. This "emptyness" you talk about is a red herring - the core self in repose does a lot fo thinking - it does it much faster than the A-selves.
      Autobiographical selves are simulations, the core self is the real deal.
      When you compare them, it only seems like the core self is empty - it is anythng but empty.
      You mistake the pathology of being trapped in autobiographical selves for "thought".
      It is not the case when you escape the pathology.
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        Nov 20 2012: Mitch, I'm not sure how to define psychobabble.

        I agree on the point of bringing the identity to the core self. To do that, we need to clean our identity of the junk that we associate ourselves with, don't we? Otherwise, our identity is tied up to that junk. I'm not an expert on Eastern philosophy, so, if you give me a reference or two to improve my knowledge, that would be great.

        Re: "THe core self is not concerned with language."

        I've read that human consciousness originated with language. I don't think we can have a conscious thought without language. If you think otherwise, I'd appreciate if you elaborate your opinion.

        "Self" is a weird concept. It's at the core of itself. Whether it's empty or not - it's a question of faith.
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          Nov 20 2012: Yes, faith has a role. But the mechanism is not understood yet, and it can result in making things worse rather than better.

          We keep saying "human human human" .. you know why?
          Because we subtracted ourselves from the world during the last 2 climate stadials - the Older and Younger Dryas events.
          At this point, humans retreated from the Earth into their Autobiographical selves. We have been around for 150-200 thousand years, or longer. But we have only been insane for the last 25 thousand years - and only intensely insane for 11 thousand years.

          You say "consciousness consciousness consciousness" but no one really knows what that word means. For instance, what is the difference between consciousness and awareness? .. and is it the same as "vitality" or "spirit"? .. few people even attempt to define these things and becasue of that these words have zero meaning.
          The only guy I have seen have a really good go at a definition is Antonio Damasio.
          I am trying to take the lead of guys like Damasio and sort it out against my own direct observations.
          For instance, I simply refuse to accept that animals and plants do not posess consciousness - direct observation contradicts that assertion .. it seesm like a grand arrogance and a poisonous delusion that only insane humans entertain.
          All this malarky about "dominion" and human supramacy.
          ALl poison - spoon fead to us by religions and other vested interests who have a stake in our continued insanity.
          This thing of "language" it is a by-product of the mechanism required to translate (code/decode) what others say - it is an imaginary place, a collection of perception that we call "world-view" in which we cast these imaginary selves to simulate and predict the stuff of communication - in order to widen our fields of perception.
          It is imaginary - it is illusion - if we mistake that for "consciousness". Then - we are, indeed, insane.
          Enough insanity! Faith begone! Give me the truth, not your untestable opinion.
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          Nov 20 2012: Appology - you asked for a link:

          THis guy is very good with the Eastern .. thing .. I won't polute it with meaningless words.
          However, you have to keep in mind that this guy is speaking from within sanity - describing the scenery.
          He cannot enter our insanity and use our insane assumptions without becoming insane. He alludes to some techniques, but the real stuff he is saying is in the gaps between the words. YOu will see for yourself what I mean.
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        Nov 20 2012: Great. Thanks, Mitch. It makes sense now. I'm well aware that "consciousness" is a fuzzy concept. I think, what you say is much in sync with the quotes from Alan Watts I posted below.

        Re: "Enough insanity! Faith begone! Give me the truth, not your untestable opinion."

        I'm afraid, you're up for a disappointment. There is no truth. The truth is in the process of searching it.

        And thank you for the link.
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          Nov 20 2012: YEs,

          I did cross that "truth" bridge long ago.
          My apology for using the word.
          We cannot exceed our fields of perception - all thought and belief is merly perception and perception, when it is functioning in a sane manner, seeks to draw closer to "truth" without ever capturing it, or even needing to capture it.
          What we DO capture is ways of drawing closer. Yes, truth exists, but for living things, it is the process of following it, adapting to it - and this is the joy of life - the journey.
          So. by "truth" I mean "tell me your journey towards truth" - show me the steps that I may follow.
          And then, if you give me steps fo smoke - you commit me to a fall and I resent that.
          I am resolved to remain a very cranky observer.
          I have had enough of the pap and ignorance that people take for knowledge. And I resolve to stop dignifying it.
          We need a new word - "truth" is not enough.
          I observe that many have interests in widening our proximity from truth - their mouths are all full of "god" and "spirit" and "responsibility" .. but i tell you now:
          The mark of a good man is his journey out of darkness. The maps he reveals for all others in darkness is his shining light.
          And if he leaves no maps? He has been consumed by his darkness.
          We are all consumed in the end, but the only thing that matters is if we have reduced the burden our parents and community placed upon us - as was placed upon them by their parents and community for 25 thousand years.
          A good man places a smaller burden on his children than the burden he was violated with as a child..
          Now tell me there is no "truth"?
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        Nov 20 2012: Well said, Mitch.

        Re: "A good man places a smaller burden on his children than the burden he was violated with as a child. Now tell me there is no "truth"?"

        This is YOUR truth. It's called faith. There is no absolute truth for everyone (except for circularity which says "I am true".)

        You say "Faith begone! Give me the truth." You may despise faith, but you need it if you want to get your truth. It may not be faith in God, but without faith, you will be tossed around by the waves of this ocean called life.

        Re: "I observe that many have interests in widening our proximity from truth - their mouths are all full of "god" and "spirit" and "responsibility"... We can't live by the faith of others. We need to get our own. We need to ask ourselves "why do I believe?" and if the answer is "because I was told so", throw it away and find your own faith and your own truth.
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          Nov 20 2012: Faith?

          Ah I get it!

          Faith is observation?

          That's funny, everyone keeps trying to convince me that faith is trusting without evidence. I.E. blank assumption. Was I imagining that?

          SO .. help me out here - what is faith?
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        Nov 20 2012: Again, Alan Watts has a few great quotes:

        "To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float."

        "And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on."

        "Faith is a state of openness or trust."

        "But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."

        "In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all."

        To me "state of openness or trust", perhaps, explains it best. It's not clinging to our own ideas, material things, or evidence - it's trust that, when we need it, "it will be given to us" in whatever form, letting go of worry. I'd say, that was my emotional understanding before I read the quotes. The quotes just confirmed that I'm not alone in this understanding.

        It's not synonymous to credulity or gullibility. Sometimes faith causes a lot of skepticism to what you see and hear. Just like it does for you.
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          Nov 20 2012: Ah - so it's almost like "acceptance".

          Yes, this makes sense.

          I could wish that all had this definition.

          I have observed the phenomenon of "providence", but have long since recognised that it comes from the awareness granted by the thing you call faith - the intelligence of the whole. We can become stuck in issues closing-off everything else, and by the local logic of those issues, the big picture truth - and the opportunities that arise from it, are obscured.
          Providence can exhibit in very subtle ways - and is the result of choosing the harmonious thread in the chaos - the thread that contains providence.
          It is still just causal physics - whether we have the explaination or not. It will be accessible to research if we care to go look.
          There is no mystery in the light of awareness - except awareness itself .. and I suspect even that is no more than chaotic flux of entropy gradients.

          I thank you for your help.
        • Nov 20 2012: Hi guys, maybe it is a bit off topic but our definition of faith is "an internal (spiritual/mental) acknowledgment of truth."
          And truth is what makes sense to us. If we do not understand something, we cannot see it as truth or have faith in it.
          There is real or genuine truth but that is Divine Truth, which is totally beyond human understanding. That's why we have divine Revelation, to at least give us some idea.

          That being said, a person's faith is absolutely useless and meaningless if there is no charity (love of the neighbour) present as well. In fact charity without the other is also useless.

          In relation to that, we have a will and an understanding. The will is fed by love, the other by truth. Those two in balance and applied to life, create usefulness. But here too, one without the other is useless and makes us non-human.

          Our thoughts come from either hell or heaven. We should use our understanding to determine from which source the thoughts came. Then we are hoped to change our will to love and support the thoughts from heaven. That will make us, and this world, better.
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        Nov 20 2012: Mitch, yes, "acceptance" is another word to describe what I said. Thanks.

        I enjoyed this conversation. It's nice to meet a person who is open to listen and understand what others say and mean.

        Re: "There is no mystery in the light of awareness - except awareness itself .."

        "Self" is always a mystery. "Self" always seems like an exception, but it's not. It's possible to be aware of our awareness in which case it's not much of a mystery. Which is a mystery in itself... :-)

        OK. That's enough of that. Rubbish it is...
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          Nov 20 2012: lol! yes rubbish. talk talk talk.

          However, I will promote your definition of faith. I think it is a sound one.

          As to the "self"? well, I'm getting a long way down the track with that one - there is much fluff and nonsense attached to it. For now i am happy with the "entropic flux-loop" understanding.
          And the work undertaken by Damasio and others has cut away a lot of the confusion there.
          Not so much mystery as we would assume!

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