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James van der Walt

Social Entrepreneur, Ugesi Gold

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Age old question: Who am I?

The question is simple. Who am I?

Science has proven every 7 years you have a totally new body. Not just your cells are replaced. It’s been shown you don’t have a single atom from your original body. So it's obvious your body has nothing to do with your sense of self.

Next consider your memories. These change over time too. Consider your emotions during a hard time. When it happened, you hated every moment but as time goes by, the pain lessens, and you may even see the good that came from the experience. So what changed? Surely the event didn’t change. Was it your perception?

How about your logic and your way of reasoning? Surely, that is unique! Unfortunately, it's not. Think of what you now know and how you see the world - then think back to your childhood. Your reasoning, goals and ambitions as a child do not remotely resemble your current state of mind. Yet that child is still you.

What if “who you are” is related to all the connections between all these aspects? What if you are the story that connects all these different moments together? This reasoning is flawed too. Consider a biography versus the autobiography of someone’s life. Sure, there are many common elements, yet even this is subject to a point of view. Who you consider you are and what others think of you might be very different.

This led me to look for the core that is "I". This further led me to the idea of using the Law of Projection. Simply put, projection is the act of taking away a level of complexity, while leaving the core image intact. For example: A photo is a 2D image of you. It's lost a lot of details about you but you can still identify yourself. If you concentrate the "I" even more you can look at your name. It's 1D yet still you.

Now the law states you can project again to 0D. Here "I" is both infinite and nothing. Is this the real me? I'm everything and nothing at the same time? A paradox, just like everything else? A fractal pattern. What are your thoughts?

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Closing Statement from James van der Walt

After the long chat it became clear that we are just a choice. Each person has their own opinion of who they are and what their purpose might be. The only important thing here is was you choose well. If you decide on what "I" is then at least make sure it's something you are be happy with.

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    Oct 30 2011: "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." John Lennon. I am the Walrus.
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    Nov 2 2011: Hello Natasha,

    A sage will caution us to seek the truth and live in peace. But, of course, the overwhelming majority, even hearing it won't comply. The strife and horror we create for eachother hinders our progress to attain a higher level of consciousness. All the money, resources and insane armament is invested to kill those others. We and them instead of us. Life on this earth could be paradise if we ever came willing to work together.
    The mystery of "I" could acquire new, exciting connotations.....we could see things through different eyes.
    If we didn't have to cope with human ugliness and greed we still have natural disasters," acts of God" to deal with.
    The resulting fear, living with uncertainty clouds our value judgements. We become aggressive and jumpy.
    "The human condition" is what it is. On a rosier note, we have lived today in our loves and hopes for a better tomorrow. Just do away with "I" entirely and let's all become us. I am fidgeting already......
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      Nov 2 2011: That is exactly it!! Well said. That is what I was trying to prove (at least philosophically). We are everything and nothing just like every one else. We share the same "essence" if you will. There's no you and me. There's only "I" because you and me are the same. Seeing everyone as an extension of yourself makes the words "treat others as you would treat yourself" sound so true.

      I would love to take this idea and see if I can link it to science. The more we show the world that we are 1 the sooner we might start working together. It's a dream but we only have our dreams... so dream big!
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        Nov 2 2011: James, Natasha, Colleen......Good morning, afternoon, evening to us all. The unifying "essence" is available to us all....collective consciousness penetrates our human receiving apparatus: our brains.
        My "I" serves as a depository, filter, transformer to boost or reduce intensity, digesting and editing before we transmit what we have received. We have to have a physical organ to accomplish these amazing feats. And we do them our own way, individually. Could it be that because our biological mass is constructed a certain, unique way, the functioning of the mind is influenced by corporeal directives ? "You are what you eat" comes to mind. The degree of detachment from the common good may be due to overwhelming concerns and worries about securing basic, life sustaining necessities. Procuring fuel to keep our economy going....Is this not a primary concern on a global level as well ? Oil for our cars, food for our bellies.
        Would worldwide harnessing of solar energy and universal eradication of poverty save us from the destructive woes of selfishness ? Greed would still keep us isolated in our "I".
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          Nov 2 2011: We can never destroy greed. It's part of us. We cannot delete our nature but we can balance it. We can set an example for others. It's up to those who know they are connected to start strengthening that connection. Lead by example. Maybe removing poverty will make no difference. Maybe even after trying to save the world it dies anyway. This comes back to the passionate painter. He does not paint because he has to or because he fears he might fail. He paints because he enjoys it. I enjoy having the purpose of trying to save the world. Try and create that perfect dream. Who knows maybe this time it will work.

          Humanity is doing much better than it did a century or 2 ago. Human rights is implemented or being considered all over the world. More and more people have access to education and information. Everyone now has the potential to make something of their lives. We are more aware of our environment than ever before! Sure we might have more suffering but we also have more people. I think there is hope. We will find the perfect balance. We need suffering as a race in order to evolve, to keep the fire burning so to speak. Yet we don't need that rude physical suffering any more. Can we find that perfect mix of light and contrast?

          Sorry for the rant. I'm just stating my dream.
        • Nov 3 2011: Laslzlo, James!
          Why "Greed" is so special? How it can be separated from Pride, Envy... and God knows how many vices we have ?
          I think at the deep root level they all came from one source -- Fear, dig deeper and it is the Almighty instinct of survival, elevated to the social status.
          Remember, Gordon Gecko "Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good..." So, James I agree with you , it is the part of our nature, we can't fight with it , we must balance it.
          With what?- We should evolve, I can't agree more, but
          "We need suffering as a race in order to evolve, to keep the fire burning so to speak. Yet we don't need that rude physical suffering any more."
          - What is suffering then? Our teenagers commit suicide finding life meaningless, is it any better? Maybe we should start with ourselves, and only with ourselves, enlightenment, is a personal endeavour, but it is the state when everything will come with. There is a Russian aphorism "If you want to save Russia, become a saint!" James, to save the world, each of us should try to be better.'Do the best you can with what you have and stay in peace" We rae one and through each of us we all evolve. I believe it's that simple.
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        Nov 3 2011: Good morning, afternoon, evening James, László, Natasha, and all other participants:>)
        James,
        I believe the idea of us all being connected IS starting to be recognized by science...is it not? Scientific methods can now detect energy fields in and around humans, as well as other animals and plants...yes? It is only a matter of time before more connections are recognizable to science:>)Everything starts with a dream:>)

        László,
        You write: "The degree of detachment from the common good may be due to overwhelming concerns and worries about securing basic, life sustaining necessities". Do you suppose that in some respects we (humans) are still living in the survival mode, even in areas where there is an abundance? Could it be that greed dominates sometimes simply because it is "programmed" in our brain, and some people are not aware enough of him/her "self" to realize the abundance?

        James,
        We may not ever be able to "destroy" greed, and I agree that we could balance it with more awareness and understanding the ramifications of greed. I personally have not encountered any content, happy greedy people.....have you? They seem so distracted with the effort to have "enough" that they are missing many good moments of life. Greed is not good for the individual who is greedy, nor is it beneficial to the whole. I totally agree James, that there is power in strengthening our connections...leading by example...be what we want to see. The process gives me pleasure and enjoyment without attachment to an end result, and there is nothing lost. What we focus on expands, and although we are seeing what appears to be chaos around the world, at least we are "seeing" it now because of advanced communications technology. I don't believe there is any more chaos than there has been throughout history. I believe we now know more about it, and that seems like a positive change. Much more chaos, violence and abuse of human rights can happen in isolation, and that is changing.
    • Nov 2 2011: Laszlo,
      I am happy to be you! :)
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    Oct 29 2011: Such a thoughtful presentation. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

    I wanted to comment on the statement "Yet the child is in you." I've experienced walking along a path and really seeing through the eyes of my child. I'm sure it was some kind of deja vu but the feeling came from my childhood. It was surreal and wonderful.

    Who am I . . . my thoughts, I guess. As you say, "I am everything and nothing." Riding along a fractal.
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      Oct 29 2011: Your logical side Lynn, did it away as déjà vu. It could well be what is seemed to be.
      It is nothing uncommon and certainly in a close relation as you are with your child.
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      Oct 29 2011: (cont) ME. MYSELF. full stop*
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          Oct 29 2011: That is why being compassionate is so important. Helping others IS helping you. And there's no such thing as a selfless act. There can be only one ;)
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    Oct 29 2011: As I am, there's a current in the stream.
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      Oct 29 2011: Frans I think you sense it as well. We are not that separate after all. We all share the same "centre". We are all connected.
      The paradox is that we are separate as well. BUT you can still tell others what the world looks like through your eyes and because we are all connected we know what another is seeing. Empathy.


      I'm continuing on my previous post because I got some email to reopen the conversation :) Thanks for joining again.
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        Oct 29 2011: Interesting question James, and I agree that we are all connected.

        I am everything and nothing...an energy being having a human experience:>)

        I contemplated this question a LOT after being told years ago that I would never be "normal" again because of a near fatal head/brain injury, and I continue to ponder the question at various times. I studied various religious and philosophical beliefs, psychology and the teachings of a number of psychologists, and teachers throughout history.

        I have always felt like an adventurer on this earth school, facing life, death and everything in between as an exploration. I've always been fascinated with human behavior...mine included. At this point, with the information I have, I believe that I am a a conglomeration (a mixed coherent mass) of all the energies and learning I have experienced...everything and nothing:>)

        One way I explain my sense of being connected, and yet seperate, is exactly like electrical energy...it flows from the generating station, it is connected, and yet goes into individual homes on one line...seperated again in the breaker box to service various areas in the home. Energy flows...just as we have the opportunity to "flow" through our life adventures.

        Another good way to think of it is as Frans writes...a current in the stream...or a drop of water in the ocean...individual, and yet part of the whole:>)
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          Oct 29 2011: I am energy being having a human experience. Beautifully said :) Thank you for the comment
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        Oct 29 2011: Thank you James. The comment is very much a part of who I am:>)
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          Oct 29 2011: Hi Colleen and James ... wonderful topic ... probably as old as self-conciousness itself, both in our species and individually.

          Just a few thoughts...

          It seems to me that unlike many other words, the pronoun "I" doesn't have a reference... or better yet, its reference cannot be considered content. At the University of Copenhagen, a man by the name of Dan Zahavi is participating in the Danish National Research Foundation: 
Center for Subjectivity Research, where they are using a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the problem of what we mean by the word "self". Here's a link to a series of Youtube videos that might be of interest : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W15koSG9_Xw

          Philosophically, the works of Hume and Nietzsche have been of assistence to many of us.

          The contemplative tradition too, offers a more experiential approach to the question.

          Its interesting that we want to define, to find the limits of, “something” which may or may not have any independent reality, that may be nothing more than a useful social construct, a fiction !

          Is a wave separate from the Ocean ?

          Hmmm?
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        Oct 29 2011: Hi Denis,
        I think/feel that we, as individuals ARE the reference...are we not?

        Personally, I really DON'T want to define, which is why I said I don't like labels....why I feel that the being that is called Colleen in human form is unlimited energy having a human experience....why I say that "At this point, with the information I have, I believe that I am a conglomeration (a mixed coherent mass) of all the energies and learning I have experienced...everything and nothing:>)"

        I believe that to define myself or anyone else is limiting, and I believe that humans want to "define, to find the limits of "something"" because it may offer the feeling of control. I don't mind saying...I don't know...I don't have all the answers, and I don't need to have the answers to some questions. I believe when it is time for me to have the answers to certain questions, the information will be available to me.

        A wave is not seperate from the ocean, nor is a drop of water seperate from the ocean in my humble opinion. We can seperate them by removing the drop of water from the source, and it eventually goes back to the source. We can percieve the wave as seperate if we choose to "see" it in that way, and it is all still connected...is it not?
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          Oct 30 2011: Hi again !

          I whole-heartedly agree with you that our labels provide us with a feeling of control... but more often than not, they conceal the incredible mystery of what is presently occuring.

          I have always been fascinated by those moments in my life when everything in my world falls silent, and I lose all sense of separation from that which I behold... a flower, a sunset, the eyes of my child... its as if all sense of “self” disappears, and all that remains is the mysterious Other !

          So in order to clarify what I was getting at in my previous post :

          What if our sense of separation is sustained by our language and thoughts ?

          What if our assumptions about the independent reality of “objects” and “subjects” turned out to be false ?

          In other words, what if “identity” is merely a projection onto any given experience ?

          For example...

          As you are reading these words, a label is being attached to every unit that is being read, and perhaps there are corresponding sounds arising in your imagination. The same process may occur as you look around at your immediate environment. The focusing and labelling tend to occur simultaineously, and this creates the appearence of a field of independent realities, and at exactly the same time, a sense of separation from these supposed separate realities.

          If you turn “inward”, the same process can occur with your thoughts and feelings.

          But what is creating these labels, and separating out the various phenomenon... and simultaineously observing them ? Is your awareness one with, or separate from, these “individual” events ? The thoughts, the feelings come and go...as do these words... but the awareness, is it really constant, and something ''separate'' from the content ? Or, just as we project a constant onto the stream of our so-called outer experience, we do the same inwardly ?

          We naively gaze through the spectacles of language, and forget we have them on !
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        Oct 30 2011: Hi again Denis:>)
        Yes...I agree that in addition to labels providing a feeling of control, they also, often conceal the present moment. Once we have labeled something/someone, we think we "know", and the exploration stops, thereby preventing us from discovering anything more. As you insightfully say...it actually seperates us from more information.

        I believe that often our sense of seperation IS sustained by our language and thoughts, just as our sense of "self" can be sustained with our language and thoughts. I totally agree that " “identity” is merely a projection onto any given experience". How we choose to "be" in any interaction is often identified by our own labels and expectations, and/or the labels and expectations of those around us. However, for others' labels and expectations to influence us, we need to accept them as our own.

        You ask..."Is your awareness one with, or separate from, these “individual” events?" Personally, I feel connected to everything and everyone, and I realize that I may not be "normal"...LOL!

        I believe it is the thinking process, the ego, and a sense of needing to control, which causes the separating of various phenomenon. Whether or not our awareness is "one with", or "separate from" anything, is a choice. When we let go of the labels, expectations and mind chatter (trying to put things in an order we may understand), I believe we feel more "one with", rather than "seperate from".

        We (humans) create, accept and live with the labels ourselves...I suppose in an attempt to understand and explain our "self"? I find that letting go of the labels and expectations, provides a much bigger picture of "self", than when we label, expect and try to control. So, actually, with an effort to understand and explain by labeling, we prevent our own learning, growth and evolution!
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          Oct 31 2011: I hear ya Colleen... our knowledge can definitely be an impediment – but there are, fortunately, other forms of “knowing” ! (And by the way, thanks to each of you who gave the thumbs up to my entries. This is literally the first time I have participated in anything on-line other than e-mails. Truth be known: I'm a bit of a Luddite... but still...here I am...soooo.... I appreciate the encouragement, and hopefully you can accept my uncertainty around the patterns of communication here.)

          And as to “normality” ... well ... its something we need to shake off anyway!

          From childhood onwards, our family and friends, our schools and other institutions, the media in all its forms, and countless other influences, attempt to “normalize” us. The result is, quite simply, an ego that is often disconnected from any deeper sense of identity that we once had, long before we came to believe in the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves.

          So in asking the question “Who am I ?”, many of us settle for the acquired image, of an acquired identity. We defend it, we promote it, and worst of all : we honestly believe its who we are. Furthermore, not only is this “normal”... its expected of us. Thereby, we become predictable characters, in a story not of our own making, who imagine that we are free!

          If this wasn't so tragic, I would laugh. But the suffering that results from such false identification, is very real.

          We have been literally taught how to see, and how to be: in THEIR world... and that is precisely why the question “Who am I ?” is so valuable in helping us to shed our character armor, and to return us to who we are, prior to the development of our separate self sense !

          There is a space, within each one of us, where all sense of “self and other” falls away... who are we then? That's the mystery, and my deepest interest.

          So... enough of my nonsense... let's get back to the metaphors !
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    Nov 7 2011: Hi James and all the rest of the contributors. My general impression of you as a group is that I'm puzzled by your approach to the question. I haven't read every answer, and I'm sorry for generalisation if it offends anyone. The answers appear arbitrarily intrapsychic / social and their formation light on rationality and heavy on feeling.

    Since I'm very aware of how unreliable an individual's introspective judgement is, I find introspection and intuition poor sources of knowledge compared with more objective facts - ones that have been tested by hard, logical processes of science, and that fit together with other pieces of knowledge in sharply coherent ways (or, if there is dispute, at least we try to be clear about it and it stimulates attempts to solve the puzzle so formed).

    A good approach would have three characteristics, I think. Firstly, it would at least acknowledge what science says about who a human being is, whether one agreed or not. Secondly, it would reflect on the process of forming the answer (as opposed to the substance of it) - by which I mean considering how much weight to put on feelings, intuition, the teachings of ancient religions, modern scientific discoveries, etc. as sources of information, and (crucially) why. Thirdly, it would have to be clear about how it is going to deal with discrepancies between ideas ( i.e. comfortable with paradox or desiring coherence).

    Not only are our positions on these three points very different, it's amazing how apparently unaware you are of yours. Perhaps you just don't mention them because you share an understanding that reason, science and validation suck, while what you tune into inside your heads (hearts, I suppose) is trustworthy, especially as it's supported by what "spiritual teachers" say. Ancient question, ancient answer: I'm a bit of God. The gift of the Enlightenment was doubt. In the 17th Century, people indoctrinated to the ears dared to doubt, hence to think. It's an invitation to us all.
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    Oct 31 2011: I am a mysterious entity, shrouded in nebulous notions about my origin, my purpose, my whole existence. Whatever I know is known from my human understanding . Answers to my queries hang suspended, waiting for my intellect to absorb them. A hologram in somebody's experiment? Or an infinitesimal biological formation who's scope of consciousness is relative, An ant's perceptions compared to a frog's compared to a human compared to......who knows what else is out there ? I am a big questionmark. Some day (not too soon, I hope) I will collapse into a dot, closing the sentence of my existence.
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    Oct 30 2011: I am a spiritual being. I am simply ....... me. Oh sure I have lots of parts and facets, maybe sort of like a diamond. Some facets are clear and sparkly. Others dark spots and occluded.

    I am being. I am me.
  • Oct 29 2011: Who am I?

    Naming is treacherous
    for names divide
    truths into less truths

    We inevitably get involved into creating " less truths" trying to define something, but it's a part of our human condition,
    and "less truths" , are helpful and they work, it's like the real planet Earth differs from a map, "a map is not reality, but it works better for the purpose"
    But " I " on the level of Truth is undefinable, maybe because there is no "me" and others and All is One. Only the continuum is real!
    Listen to this: "Before Abraham was, I am" - what is it if not the picture of timeless continuum?

    James! Great definition" I'm everything and nothing at the same time. A paradox, just like everything else."
    Nothing is where everything came from. I think that paradox in the language of mathematics is "0", and it's the only true statement :)
    And even on the level of "less truths", who is me who inhabit my body in "now" where all my thoughts, ideas, opinions came from? - Entanglement?
    What is actually mine?
    Nothing and everything!
    Should I stop to use quotation marks? :)
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      Oct 29 2011: "Naming is treacherous
      for names divide
      truths into less truths"

      - Beautifully said. :)

      Yes the paradox nature of reality is very strange. For example. How many corners are there on a circle? Infinite or none? Both answers are right.
      • Oct 29 2011: How could it be strange for you, you are the person who said "True=False''?:)

        James ,what is up/down, in/out there in 0D?
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          Oct 29 2011: yes it's very strange! Don't you find yourself strange sometimes? ;)
          The who we are has a possible answer but then the next big question comes. Why we are here?
      • Oct 29 2011: The knower is the known.
        The dream is dreaming itself.
        The thinker is the thought, the experiencer is the experienced.
        Consciousness is its content.

        We are here to say WOW!
      • Oct 29 2011: Ed, what is Selfhood? Is it what Dalai Lama meant "deep mind is always there" ?
        And there is no interruption to the continuity of deep consciousness, not even by death!
      • Oct 30 2011: Thanks, Ed!
        I was confused with Self, because traditionally it is understood as a bright side of Ego,
        but still it is a separation, but now I understand or better, "see" a different motion, not linear..up, from Self to One but spiral, like double helix in dance, floating in all possible directions. Maybe it's even true, because it's beautiful! :)

        Thank us!
      • Nov 1 2011: Hi, Ed!
        Your responses are always the cryptic massages for me :)
        I need to google a lot and I love it! You can't imagine how much I don't know! Hexagram 31 ??? I Ching ???!
        Thanks God, I have never been under the illusion that I know something.
        But "The Law of Attraction" in it's disguise was revealed to me through a documentary or whatever the genre,it was awful, but "a gut feeling', you know, I understood there was a point ! And I see now how it works, from that time when I realised that I need to know... I don't have a name for that .." Everything" :) the teachers started to come to me, and I am so grateful!
        Thank you very much!
      • Nov 1 2011: Frans !
        Thanks for the link, I am listening ! :)
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      Nov 1 2011: Hey, Natasha, nice to read you again. Even nothing or 0 (zero) has to have a name. Emptying the mind to render it empty and succeeding at it takes a certain approach and dedication. Could become a time consuming quest. And, what if I attained at-one-ness? Nirvana could turn out to be a tantalizing experience. Would I want to stay there forever? Could I function usefully while I am fully conscious of being one with the Universe? To become a monk and spend my life in meditation was my calling once. I was not ready to pay the price.
      I didn't want to miss everything else. I would rather give everything a name.
      • Nov 1 2011: Hi, Laszlo !


        Thanks a lot for your comment, and sorry for the delay with my response. Actually i responded immediately, I was here on the page and had some free time in the morning, but at the very moment I was going to press the "submit" button the electricity vanished with all I'd written to you/ / it is a part of our everyday life, here in Ukraine :)/ But i got some time for thinking, while being busy with different things during the day, this question was circling round my mind, how reconcile my "no name'' me with me who is here and now , who is functioning in the society, has opinions,judge, makes decisions...In my vanished comment I said something like:"It is a natural split in human Psyche , we are divided creatures and we should live with it." But I have been thinking and I want to share with you my thoughts :)
        I agree with you, we need to have a name and even opinion, though all opinions are vanity. We judge, knowing "Do not judge!" We make decision as if we have a free will.
        It's our human condition, I don't have a free will ,but i should make my choices as if I do and maybe from that point comes everything-my name, my personal identity, my destiny. Maybe "me" is my responsibility for a tiniest spot I currently occupy in Space and Time, Here and Now. We should never lose the bond with something beyond, God, Eternity, Whole, whatever the name, and remember who we are in the realm of the Truth, it will colour our thinking, influence our decisions and shape our life, our shared life.
        I don't remember who, said " you can't waste your time not injuring the Eternity". I think it was David T./ I am afraid to misspell the name/ , he knew this and left his massage.
        Whatever our choices, we choose to stay here amongst people or become a monk, i am not to judge what is easier or harder, every path has it's own hurdles, but we should never forget who we are.
        We are both, a tiny part , almost nothing, with a capacity to influence everything, and everything...
  • Oct 29 2011: I think Colleen has the right of it & explained it very well.
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    Nov 12 2011: I keep meaning to answer this question. My best answer so far is that I am a body and brain and its functioning, the pattern of which is largely due to the programming of my genetic information and the complex happenings of me in my environment. I'm actually an even more complex ecosystem than pure Homo sapiens: I'm lots of different organisms with completely different genes and evolutionary history, a mostly symbiotic community of lives. I can't remember how many species that makes me, I think it's in the hundreds, and the individual microbes must be in the billions.

    But what about the centre, the real me? Well, in a sense, I don't exist. There is no real me separate from this functioning body-brain system. I'm like a car. A car has an engine, and when it runs it moves about and makes a noise. Modern ones even have rudimentary brains. I'm a bio-chemical machine, evoloved over about 4 billion years to fit Earth. I'm staggered and amazed by the mindboggling complexity and beauty of that evolutionary heritage.

    I'm mortal. When a car stops, nobody asks where it's "run" went. I have a cultural heritage, though, as my species stood up to run about on African plains, freeing their hands to throw weapons, which led to the use of stone tools and fire, abstract language, culture, religion and philosophy, farming, technology and science, almost in the blink of a geological eye. Consciousness emerged in that ape I am.

    As a kid I read the confident opinions of gurus and spent most of my adult life seeking what they said was there, spirit, Reality beyond Maya. Just a few years ago I rejected that as very improbable. Every day that goes by I see it more and more clearly for the illusion it was, how religion would arise naturally in a conscious, mortal ape, and gurus would be confidently wrong. Understanding all this is in its early stages, but I see myself now as matter, despite the persuasive self-delusion, the appearance of a separate subjective "I". Matter thinks and loves.
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      Nov 12 2011: All you are saying is correct. The main things I differ is that I don't believe "I" is purely an internal thing. A form of identity is more than my brain because others know me as well. Some even know me better.

      So yes I'm a sum of my biology and my experiences interpreted by that biology yet there's more to me than that. Quantum physics has shown that we as observers have a very real effect on quantum states. Particles only exist when looked at. Until then they in a wave form and have no fix value. Go check out Bell's theorems for example... Our "biology" are having a quantum effect. This only points to the fact that biology alone can't define "I" since biology is on a different level all together. The rules of the physical (and chemical) universe and the quantum universe don't coincide. If it wasn't for quantum science I would have agreed with you. In fact that was my view for many years but it's no longer an adequate definition.

      The mystics are like philosophers. They sometimes see a pattern in the universe but can't put it into scientific language as they don't have the expertise. This "Oneness" of the universe is very powerfully suggested in the current research. Something mystics has pointed at for ages.

      Now religion turned into dogma. Some ideas are just rough ideas and need expanding. Religion is just arrogant enough to make it law. Science hates religion for that reason. You don't question law you just obey it. Unfortunately science sometimes falls into the same trap. Newtonian science has pointed to a very sterile universe all made up of cause and effect. Even though the last 100 years have been proving it wrong many still want to hold onto "Newtonian Law". There's no such thing as right and wrong in science. It's only the current best answer. It is this basic fact that many scientists forget. There are no "laws" of physics! They are theories always.

      So who am I has to be reviewed as well. We always have to question who we are. Curiosity is the key.
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    Nov 11 2011: I have read your question with genuine fascination and reflected upon it. In the end, I think that my life, my sense of who I am, distills down to the difference I make in the lives of others, especially those I love. This might be my '0D' truth and identity.
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      Nov 3 2011: Hi Kathy

      Well thought out reply. Thank you! Let me see if I can write a reasonable reply.

      *

      The 7 year cell regeneration I got from Waking Life but I remember reading the research years ago but now that you mentioned the research I agree with you. New research has shown that some cells life longer than others. The ones in your eyes never go. I'm sure this was in a TED talk but I can't remember which one. Do you remember? I need to watch that again. Anyway, I'll have to take that out of my argument as it's no longer scientifically correct. Just like the fact that your mind is pure bio is no longer 100%. Plus synapse connections change too...

      *

      Body and sense of self. We do associate VERY closely with our bodies. In fact western society obsess out their bodies. But if we get a new set of breasts or a new face does that mean you're a new person and a new "I"? I don't think so. My body changed since I was a kid and I still think of that kid as me. So I believe that your body plays an important role in your identity but it's the same as you name. It's just a label or database index. It is not who you are.
      Then again maybe we can only see an abstraction of ourselves. If you want to include all your experiences and the effect you had on your environment and the effects your environment had on when you are defining yourself, introductions will get very cumbersome...

      *

      Memories might not change but the filters in our brain does. We can only experience memories through our ever changing brain so the memory details might not change but what you remember from that memory will change.

      *

      "I" Self and "I" Others. Subconsciously we know that we are connected to others and their opinion on us is very important to our identity. You might want to tell yourself you don't care what others think of you but you would be lying to yourself. You can never separate your identity from others. You can only choose how you deal with this. Brene Browns talk on this is brilliant!!
    • Nov 3 2011: Hi, Kathy!!!
      I am glad you are here!

      "Red blood cells live for about four months, while white blood cells live on average more than a year. Skin cells live about two or three weeks. Colon cells die off after about four days. Sperm cells have a life span of only about three days, while brain cells typically last an entire lifetime (neurons in the cerebral cortex, for example, are not replaced when they die)."
      Theoretically, there is no reason why the living thing should not live ad infinitum or at least, as long as a suitable source is available.
      But death does not come suddenly from "out"/ it happens, but it's not the point/ death inevitably comes slowly from within.
      Where do we accumulate time, hence change? Brain cells? Why does a body grow old and die?
      In the King James Bible God says to Adam and Eve:

      "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil , thou shalt not eat of it, for on the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

      There is a sense in which those words belong here . Why death is " the knowledge of good and evil"?
      Our mind, brain cells?
      And I am not asking why transition for something else we perceive as death, because we call it so,
      but is there any connection between our perceiving and permanence of our brain cells?
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        Nov 3 2011: Hi Natasha,

        You still have a lot of questions.
        Our perception isn't related to the amount of brain cells.
        Some people don't have them.
        http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12301

        A small bird like a hummingbird perceives as much or maybe more than we can.
        Also memory we can roam undistorted yet not always accessible for our minds.

        Our body is a vehicle and dies, it dies to sustain life. In its reproduction the body could be seen as the tree of life while the tree of “good and evil” points to our brain. The brain that developed the ability for discrimination and judgment. It is the seat of the Ego that separates itself from nature and exploit it for its own sake. It devours all resources until the world is a desert. The human species is driven out of paradise and still is, for almost three thousand years now.

        Unless we start to unite and rediscover our natural link that is, if we do harmonize and dethrone the Ego to the servant of nature we install our heaven on earth.
        • Nov 3 2011: Hi, Frans!
          I do have a lot of questions still :)
          I agree with everything you've said,I think even that i "know' this,/not the right word, but you understand/ but the idea "the above as the below" always seduce me to reconcile micro and macro. what is going on the level of subatomic particle or in the brain cell can be just mirror reflection of what we are trying to comprehend, searching above,in the realm of Universe, God , Eternity and vice versa.
          Sometimes the idea can turn to be fruitful, sometimes deserves nothing /maybe, now it is the the case/
          My question is: what did happen on physical level when the "shift of focus" occurred? Why did we lose immortality of our body at that precise moment? Why brain cells are not replaced, while everything in our body is?
          Maybe my questions have no sense, maybe, I don't mind :)
          Thanks a lot for the link, I'll go there tonight.
          Thank you!
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        • Nov 4 2011: Kathy,
          for the lack of a better word, Thank you!!!
          The moments of recognition, "aha" moments are precious! It happens when you have a sensation that you've always known what you see for the first time.
          Re-cognition, tiny bits of isolated information, experiences, thoughts, images, dim guesses start to fit together and the obscure outline of the picture start to emerge.
          And no illusion that at last you "know", on the contrary the abyss of unknown extends exponentially!
          I won't ask you questions, it's impossible in the frame of one conversation to hear everything I'd like to, but I hope to see much more of you on TED conversations.

          Thank you/us!
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        Nov 5 2011: Natasha, "the above as the below", what it says is that there’s an intimate relation between spirit and matter. What is spiritually conceived of materialize and this appearance give rise to new perspectives in spirit that will in turn be expressed. On and on this world is created out of this process and new forms rise from old ones and expands in complexity.

        For your other question: why we die after that "shift of focus" isn’t too difficult.
        This development to discern ourselves apart from nature and be self aware can be seen as the birth of the Ego. We identified with the body and acquired the ability to reckon in time. Because to see past and future, the fear of dead was established in our mind.
        And indeed that part we call our Ego dies. It is the accumulation of all our thoughts about who we are, what we stand for and what we do. Yet this is mere the role we filled in for our part in the play of life. Our real being doesn’t die but evolves further without end. This lifespan is just part of a greater life, a flash in eternity.
        • Nov 8 2011: Hi, Frans,
          Sorry for the delay with my response,
          The myth of the fall has many layers of meaning and in a number of surprising ways it foresees the insight that science has reached only recently. That's what I try to reconcile for myself...Maybe I wrongly put it "the above as the below"
          And what is 'complexity" ? Is it always created out of an intimate relationship between spirit and matter? Don't you think that complexity has a will of it's own, "Mind","Ego" will? how much complexity is sustained by "E"? So, it's a long long talk.:) Hope you'll always be around! : )
          Thank you very much!
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        Nov 7 2011: Hello Natasha, this is a reaction on your comment about the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"

        Our take on that is a little different than what others have said but I hope you will have the time to read this short article. It is all about "Thought from the eye closes the understanding, but thought based on the understanding opens the eye." We should not only believe our senses (the serpent)!

        It is an interpretation which gives life, and thus relevance to our source for truth. What do we accept as our source? How can we apply what our 'source' tell us, is it useful.. etc.

        http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/source/Par_AdamEve.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
        • Nov 8 2011: Andriaan!
          Thank you for the link, I've read it, there are some differences in different interpretations, but I think to make a debate out of it is like to discuss:" how many Angeles can dance...."
          Much more important that we start to recognise that the root of evil is "Ego" in any of its outfits Pride, Greed, ....you don't need to go too far to get the word "success " being involved.
          So it's a along, long talk and nothing is off topic here.
          Thank you very much for help !
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          Nov 9 2011: Adriaan, I'd like to thank you for that link. Douglas Taylor's explanation of the parable of Adam and Eve helped me assess the enormity of the gulf that separates people like you and me. Although that is a hard insight to gain, I always work on the principle that it is better to know the truth than enjoy the bliss of ignorance, and it may help me to ameliorate my frustration with religious people, and help my fellow scientific rationalists to forgive and find some kind of peace with believers in spirit, the "Word", etc. I hope people of all philosophies and faiths understand each other better. I have never supported militant atheism, etc.

          My frustration most often arises from religious people's apparent refusal or inability to make the transition that I believe is healthy and wise for humans, and which we made culturally with the dawn of science (probably in the Middle East) and then began to make globally with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment - to doubt words and their origins (even "the Word") and to test reality by experiment.

          One central idea in that article brings it home to me - that to Taylor and his ilk (presumably including you), testing reality depends on using your senses, and that is the central error, evil or sin of humanity. To scientists, it is painful to witness the religous person's reluctance or refusal to question the source of their creation myths and moral parables like those of the Bible, and conversely their readiness to ignore their own sense data.

          In the biblical view of fallen humanity, I guess we appear to keep falling further, while the scientist sees a beautiful human ascent from darkness. Sensory evidence tells us that we once suffered a beastly, ignorant life, ripping raw meat off bones before the lions get us, but your "parable" imagines a perfect Garden before we thought for ourselves and believed our eyes, after which it was all downhill. Archeology is part of Satan's lie, I suppose, to you. Thanks for reading.
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        Nov 9 2011: Hi John, I was hoping that the link would show a different level of Revelation, a meaning inside the literal text. This literal text IMHO is the only source of the great "gulf" you mentioned.
        The Creation Story has done the same. The literal text started many arguments and fights but the internal sense (the real meaning) has actually nothing to do with how this physical world started.
        http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Parable_of_Creation.pdf

        The human condition is such that NO ONE, not even God, can force anyone to believe what they do not want to believe. There are several reasons for that. One is that it is a process of love.
        One example in particular was how Swedenborg grew up to become a famous scientist, inventor, anatomist, statesman, seer and religious writer, who was a member of the House of Nobles.
        He is the most perfect and explicit example of the unity of Science and Religion.

        Science can built a perfect house but it is the spirit that can make it a home. Our body is made up of material that exists in this physical world, which can be examined on a screen or in a test-tube. Our thoughts (WHAT we actually think) cannot be measured or read on a screen because they are one separate degree above the physical. Just like the internal or spiritual meaning of the Bible is one discrete level (and there are more) above its historical writings.

        I very much prefer how my religion can tell me exactly what the meaning of this life is and the next one, while science says there isn't any.

        But again, no one will ever take your freedom away to follow your own truth, because without our freedom, this would happen:
        http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Freedom_No.pdf

        "In the biblical view of fallen humanity," That is spiritually fallen humanity. A baby is the perfect example of how we 'progress' from this perfect innocence to 'well just listen to the news' person. Just because we can start our car from the living room, that doesn't make us a better person.
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          Nov 9 2011: I understood the parabolic meaning, Adriann, and I think you very much underestimate the gulf. Are you suggesting that it is only when one takes a biblical passage too literally that science has a problem with it? That would be wrong. When you interpret it as a parable describing some part of the relationship of humanity and a divine being, that is the beginning of a gulf right there. But when the very essence of that parable is that humanity went wrong by choosing to assess his/her experience, think about it, and hence develop a scientific view, instead of trusting God's Word, that is what struck me as very difficult for us to bridge.

          You may be as subtle about this as you wish. For instance, I see in the first paragraph of the creation article the idea that creation happens in the moment, for a person: "But creation is not complete until the Lord has created a clean heart in a man, until a person is born anew of the Lord, and loves the Lord above all else, and his neighbor as himself." A non-linear, a-historical view of Creation, is very subtle, but it is abhorrent to a scientist because science demands objective evidence of things.

          The Adam-and-Eve article, indeed, replaced one literal view with another - a scheme in which Adam represents a supposed clan of people rather than one, who lived in perfect love of and obedience to God. Taylor even mentoned that our genetic heritage might be considered that of Noah, since Adam's people were drowed in the flood! This is a DIFFERENT literal (and equally fanciful) interpretation of the story.

          I understand that the fall relates to "spiritual" fall, but reject the idea of an adult growing from the perfect innocence of a baby as metaphor for human progress or regress. My point, in fact, is that Taylor's view involves the judgement that we are regressing. Science does not really see us as progressing: it tries to describe accurately what is. Perfection and "completion" don't come into it. Thanks for your reply.
        • Nov 10 2011: Andriaan !

          Thanks for the links, your attention and patience!
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        Nov 9 2011: As you said: "..and hence develop a scientific view, instead of trusting God's Word, that is what struck me as very difficult for us to bridge."
        Well I can only quote: "But if we are ruled only by our sense experience, we do not believe in a spiritual world." and thus die spiritually. It is still a choice, an option, however difficult it seems for you.
        In the next par.
        "A non-linear, a-historical view of Creation, is very subtle, but it is abhorrent to a scientist because science demands objective evidence of things."
        But all this Creation story is about is us, individually, in the here and now! It is a process we go through the moment we accept the fact there is another layer to being human. And yes, that is above what science can measure or detect.. And again that is to protect your freedom to not HAVE TO believe something. What is so "abhorrent" about that??

        In par. 3 you seem to have missed it said "Another MISTAKEN idea that has prevailed for some time is that the disobedience of Adam and Eve was the original sin," "..If we stick to the literal sense only, and if we wish to be consistent, we would have to say that Noah and not Adam was the origin of our human nature."

        "My point, in fact, is that Taylor's view involves the judgement that we are regressing." spiritually!! If you think we are not, then please tell me you are open to the idea of having a spiritual side to you.
        Someone is knocking at your door, right now:) and also thank you for reading all the material.
        Bless you!

        ------------

        Please allow me to add the fact that there are twelve books that treat/explain the rest of Genesis and Exodus with the same amount of detail as the Creation Story was.

        We just went through a 7 week 'journey program' applying every aspect of the Jacob and Esau story to our own life. Both can be regarded as spiritual aspects of ourselves going through the same 'motions'.
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          Nov 10 2011: Adriaan, thanks. I'll try to be blunt. If I choose to assess my sensory data in the light of reason (which you put above as "if we are ruled only by our sense experience"), you believe that I die spiritually. Since I do not believe in spirit (in accordance with my learning and thinking), that is a good thing: I am ridding myself of the illusion. This is the gulf. What you may see as your most treasured quality or relationship, spirit, I see as illusory.

          I don't understand "it's still a choice, however difficult it seems for you" - it doesn't seem very difficult, although it has taken a lot of thinking and learning. I choose not to believe in things that may or may not be pure imagination. Your imaginings, I suppose, are Christian in nature. Perhaps you see Jesus' face. I may have seen the Buddha, or felt Kundalini in my spine. Which vision is real?

          You say that "this Creation story is about us...in the here and now". I'm not sure if you mean the Adam and Eve article or another (I only read that one), but my view is that Taylor is not talking about us in the here and now: he tells us that there was a community, represented by Adam, who lived close to God, senseless and thoughtless (mischievous paraphrasing, I realise) - is that not meant historically?

          Taylor seems to tell us that it is evil to value the sense data, (Eve's eating the 'apple'), and even worse when the intellect is brought to bear on the sense data (Adam's eating it). Am I right in thinking this means we are not to think about what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell, making science a terrible wrong? Have I misunderstood that? How can you or he or anyone profess knowledge, write an intellectual article on the meaning of a Bible story, without reading (seeing) and thinking about it?

          I am open to every idea, including "the spiritual". I spent a lot of time seeking it. It is possible, but more likely to be fantasy. Can't a person imagine unreal things and think them real? How do we discriminate?
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          Nov 11 2011: I didn't answer other important points. You said, "But all this Creation story is about is us, individually, in the here and now! It is a process we go through the moment we accept the fact there is another layer to being human. And yes, that is above what science can measure or detect.. And again that is to protect your freedom to not HAVE TO believe something. What is so "abhorrent" about that??"

          I realised later that it's just possible Taylor meant that Adam is a metaphor for a community of men and women which is also a metaphor for what is happening inside an individual in the here and now. It's a bizarre thought, one level of metaphor explaining inconsistency in another, but that's all I can do to make your assertion fit with his words.

          I hope you understand my take on the "other level". When we "accept the fact there is another layer to being human...above what science can measure or detect", a process begins, which you see as real and blessed. But look what this means: we accept a postulate (you describe it as a fact) that is not accessible to our senses and thinking. That's all science is, measurement via the senses, combined with rigorous, rational thought. So are you any closer to seeing why accepting that "fact" of "another (invisible) layer" is abhorrent to a scientist? We don't accept unsubstantiated ideas because we somehow feel able to assess their reality without any sensory evidence (which is the only kind). You do. Being "protected from having to believe" I just don't get. We need, if anything, protecting from the above "process", which is delusion according to lots of scientific evidence.

          Of course I don't believe we are regressing spritually, since spirit is imaginary. The nearest translation would be that we are becoming shallow, immoral or intellectually lower, and I see a lot of evidence to the contrary. Sensing, measuring and thinking have educated us; we are more peace-loving, democratic, law-abiding, thoughtful and inclusive over time.
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        Nov 11 2011: Hi John,
        "Am I right in thinking this means we are not to think about what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell, making science a terrible wrong?"
        Absolutely not as it is one (beginning) stage in our developing process. But as you know, our senses often don't tell us the truth either. And this is what a famous quote from Swedenborg applies to: "Thought from the eye closes the understanding while thought based on the understanding opens the eye"

        "my view is that Taylor is not talking about us in the here and now: he tells us that there was a community, represented by Adam,"
        Adam is not a group of people it is a first 'belief system". In fact the first stage (Eden) is a heavenly stage. When the belief arises that we don't need God we can do it all ourselves, this heavenly state disappears.
        Also, Cain and Abel are not actual sons but derivatives or developments of that first believe system. Their fight or difference is based on one system believing in truth (faith) alone and the other in good deeds (charity, which is the one that looses the fight).

        I have to go but will be back soon.

        This BTW is what Taylor based his talk on
        http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/writings/Arcana%20Coelestia%2001.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

        And this is the short one on Creation
        http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/source/The%20Real%20Creation%20Story.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
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        Nov 11 2011: Went to our Memorial Service

        "spirit, I see as illusory."
        Simply put, when we give a present, we say "it is the thought that counts" Can science measure that thought in any way? I'm not talking about brain waves or activity inside the brain because they don't tell what the actual thought (motive) is behind what we do.
        It is that invisible part of us that makes up our character. Character is another, un-measurable concept. Although we can certainly perceive the difference between a good and bad character, agree?

        The link to the book above is to show the internal sense of the Bible, which is just as hidden as our character or spirit. But it is that! 'spirit' which makes the Bible the word of God, not the literal text.
        As an aside, what is even more hidden is that it applies not only to several of our spiritual levels but also to Jesus’ level as to what He went through in His life. So far, Christianity is totally ignorant of what He did and why. Want another link :)

        "Being "protected from having to believe" I just don't get. We need, if anything, protecting from the above "process", which is delusion according to lots of scientific evidence."
        What "scientific evidence" are you talking about?
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          Nov 11 2011: Hi Adriaan. "Adam is not a group of people", etc. OK, I'm unable to clarify what Taylor intends, so I'm happy to accept your assertion. However, you say that sensory data and thinking are "one (beginning) stage in our developing process" and that "the first stage (Eden) is a heavenly stage. When the belief arises that we don't need God we can do it all ourselves, this heavenly state disappears". No wonder I'm confused.

          "Can science measure that thought in any way? I'm not talking about brain waves or activity inside the brain because they don't tell what the actual thought (motive) is behind what we do." They might with more research. Neurology is currently indexing a lot of different measurable brain states that appear to correlate directly with reported mental conditions. I find it interesting that you try to rule out the most pertinent area of evidence! If only we were having this discussion 100 years ago, you would not have mentioned it! You remind me of another discussion I'm having where someone asked atheists if they had any evidence for the non-existence of god, adding "And I'm not talking about evolution. This isn't about evolution."

          "What "scientific evidence" are you talking about?"
          I'll find some links for you, but we can do this philosophically ourselves: can you tell me how you know your spiritual intuition is real? You admit that sense data can be mistaken, right? I agree. That is why science involves very strict methods, testing things from different angles and repeating experiments, to rule out human error as far as possible. But if sense data can be mistaken, why not the internal sensing, the "invisible" thing you call spirit, or personal religoius experience? These are not accessible to objective testing. Was my genuine belief in kundalini a delusion, but if I see Jesus, it's the real deal? What if I think I'm an alien? How do you tell? If something is invisible, how do you know it's there?

          We should probably stop. I'm staring into the chasm.
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          Nov 12 2011: Here's something on brain research that should at least open the possibility that thoughts aren't invisible mystical sprit-things floating about your soul. What I wonder is, if God makes us think and feel everything, why does he bother making it look like the brain is doing it? Can he not make me feel something without firing neurons as well in almost perfectly predictable patterns? Why is God making such an elaborate show of not being here, and making it look for all the world like our brains are chemical machines?

          http://www.ted.com/talks/vilayanur_ramachandran_on_your_mind.html
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        Nov 11 2011: Natasha we have all time so we're never late.

        Complexity as I used it is the way matter organizes in more complex structures: Energy, Hydrogen, Elements, Molecules, Amino acid, Cells, Organisms, Nervous system, Feelings, Thought, etc.

        Spirit is the organizing force that like a painter fills his canvas, spirit fills the vacuum.
        • Nov 12 2011: Hi, Frans!!!

          I agree with you, spirit-organised complexity is a beautiful melody, I remember
          " the symphony of Hydrogen" as a definition for universe, it's poetic and beautiful.
          But we humans, like gods can create "complexity" ,but sometimes out of matter only, and it's a noise that leads to more noise.
          How do you feel in a supermarket ? I am always wondering who eats, wears, uses all this stuff ?! I strongly believe that this kind of complexity is not sustained by "E" .
          It makes the gap between spirit and matter even bigger.
          I am almost sure you agree with me now :)
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      Nov 12 2011: HI JOHN I hope you see this Are we running out of space too?

      "Was my genuine belief in kundalini a delusion, but if I see Jesus, it's the real deal?"
      No way! you are not talking to a fundamental Christian but a NEW Christian (Swedenborgian). We base our interpretation of the Bible on what we believe is the Second Coming as given through Emanuel Swedenborg.
      The basic concept is (in my words) If whatever you believe makes you a better person, believe it!
      Christians do not have a monopoly on truth.
      It seems to me that kundalini gives things different names but also believes life is more than the physical.

      "What I wonder is, if God makes us think and feel everything, why does he bother making it look like the brain is doing it?"
      Because our humanness is based 100% on being spiritually free. To have freewill and so determine who we become (spiritually).

      This booklet is based on what and who Jesus is (something Christianity is totally in the dark about) but I hope it helps,
      http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/writings/Doc_Lord.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
      ++
      That talk is really amazing and what Mr. Ramachandran said when starting it, there is an awsomeness about what 'it can do'. The brain is our receiver of spiritual input and change from the internal person, and a controler of our body through our external person. We are two in one. Please allow me to leave another link about our mind (which controles and uses our brain).
      http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/source/TheHumanMind.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

      Wishing you a great weekend
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        Nov 12 2011: Are we running out of space too? -
        No, just the will to live.

        ...Emanuel Swedenborg -
        Ah, author of Life on Other Planets, in which he reports talking with spirits from the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury and Venus, but not from Uranus or Neptune, which hadn't been discovered by the time he wrote?

        If whatever you believe makes you a better person, believe it! -
        And how do you know whether it does? Adriaan, this is very frustrating to me. We seem to be talking different languages. Your statement does not answer the question I asked, which is how you judge an idea for its relative truth or falsehood. You appear to choose not to take the opportunities available to assess ideas, and thus are open to believe falsehoods. You seem to run away from thinking and you seem to fear being made to believe anything you don't want to believe. You seem obsessed with this freedom to believe as you choose. To me "belief" isn't a free choice. I am humble before reality, whatever it is. If something is true, or false, I have no right to decide otherwise. I might not know, but that is different. Whether a belief makes you a better person is another idea, and you haven't a test for it. You can't assess it on whether believing it makes you a better person, can you? Do you ask other people how good you are, anything external to yourself like that? Or do you just assume you're better?

        [why does God make it look like the brain is doing it?]...Because our humanness is based 100% on being spiritually free. To have freewill and so determine who we become (spiritually) -
        So you're saying that God makes the universe a certain way, but then pretends it's another way to avoid forcing us to believe what is actually true? OK, that's "internally consistent", but highly arbitrary.

        You failed to understand Ramachandran's talk entirely. We can prod the brain and make the person have ideas. You believe your prejudice over the evidence, for reasons I haven't the will to try to fathom any longer.
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          Nov 12 2011: "You seem to run away from thinking and you seem to fear being made to believe anything you don't want to believe."
          Are you talking about me or you ?? :)

          "If whatever you believe makes you a better person, believe it!"
          To me a better person is someone who focuses more on the happiness of others than his/her own. This is of course on the spiritual level, the level on which we decide to do good deeds or very selfish deeds. This is not meant to say, this belief is better than that one. This is completely the opposite!
          After we die we are not asked what we believe or what religion we belong to. What will be important is what we DID with what we subscribed to. Religion, like a gun, can be used for good or bad. It is how we decide to use it that makes us what we are, e.g. we can help kids or molest them.
          We have the ability to examine ourselves, to judge ourselves whether something is good or bad. I hope you agree at least with that.

          "So you're saying that God makes the universe a certain way, but then pretends it's another way to avoid forcing us to believe what is actually true?"
          In a way, yes, although God does not pretend anything. When I look around me at the world (in my very limited way) I see proof that God exists in every direction I look. By every leaf I see growing or falling. By the consistency how every child grows up or people experience NDE's and how this 'system' has parallels in the deeper meaning in every story in the Bible.

          "You failed to understand Ramachandran's talk entirely."
          Nothing he said proofed to me that we don't have a spiritual mind. It sounded more like a three year old who talks to grandma on the phone and believes she lives in the phone :)

          "We can prod the brain and make the person have ideas."
          Just like our mind can..

          "I haven't the will to try to fathom any longer."
          Well it was nice talking to you
          Wish you all the best!
          Adri
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    Nov 2 2011: Age old question; age old answer.

    We are the children of the creator of the universe; He is spirit, we are spirit. Our bodies just help us get around until we grow up. Simple really !

    :-)
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    Nov 1 2011: An age old question with a life long answer to me.So I'd rather keep the answer open-ended.( I wonder the difference of the person who i was between the person who i am right now).There's also times that i think i know who i am but it turns out there's so much more i dont know(or dont understand) about myself(who i am and how i am ). I overestimate ,underestimate ...yea , that happens. emm... no simple answer but the understanding is growing gradually.
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    Nov 1 2011: Whoever came up with this gem deserves recognition: " In the winter I am a Buddhist, in the summer I'm a nudist."
    Change is the only constant? Whatever or whoever we imagine ourselves to be, we are in this unstoppable flow.
    Plum to prune.....but the pit remains the same.
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    Oct 31 2011: I am fully influenced and motivated by what I love. So I think it is save to say, I am what I love. This is in not in any way limiting ourselves, in fact we can change and grow our loves.

    Many believe that “I” or “thought” is the person. But there are two powers that make a persons life - understanding and will. Our thought belongs to the understanding, and affection (as parts of love) belong to the will.

    Thought without love does not in any way make a person's life; but thought springing from love does make that life.
    These two powers are distinct from each other, which is evident to anyone who stops to reflect on the matter from the consideration that with our understanding a person can perceive that something his will desires is either good or bad. From all this it is plain that the will is the real US, not our thought, except in so far as anything passes into it from the will.

    James, this great but age old question is 'voiced' here :) Oh and the why is too. I haven't read the whole thing but maybe it even eludes to what the difference is between male and female (spiritually).

    http://www.swedenborg.com.au/eternalQuestions.htm
  • Oct 30 2011: Literally, to discover who 'I' is we need only compile a list of who and then try to match it with 'I'.
    This seemingly obtuse understanding highlights 2 important points. Firstly, the question is part of a tradition - it doesn't actually express what is meant. Secondly, it highlights the difference between identifying someone else and identifying ourselves.

    You appear to be suggesting that you would have trouble identifying your self in a crowd of selfs - I don't think this is actually so. I think you would manage it easily.

    I think you should pursue these two points rather than embark on wild speculations about something that you appear unable to even identify - ask the question you actually mean; and reconcile the difference between identifying others versus yourself.

    The idea that the self cannot identify the self; minds asking what and where minds are; consciousness confused about consciousness - all part of a long muddled tradition.
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      Oct 31 2011: Hi Lawrence. Thanks for the reply

      A few questions. You mentioned tradition. Are you saying this is a traditional definition of "I"? In my opinion the traditional definition is were "I" is just a some of your experiences which I pointed out is not relevant any more. You cannot remove yourself from your environment when defining your identity.

      Secondly. I don't think you would be able to have any trouble telling you self apart from a crowned room. You can identify yourself just as well as you can identify other. All I'm saying is that your identity is not a separate thing. Your identity resides both in your mind and in the minds of others.

      Maybe I'm not understanding you correctly...
      • Nov 1 2011: Thanks James for the questions.

        One of my points was that we recognise others as objects - without the real world we would not see hear touch etc others and would, therefore be unaware of them. We know that we ourselves are also object-selfs. The question is, are we any more than object selfs? If we are, then what is the relationship between this object self and the non-object self?

        As for identity residing in our own mind and in the minds of others, this is questionable. If one says that experience consists of perceptions in the mind (the 'in' is a metaphor taken from our understanding of the real world) then the mind is either an item of experience, in which case it is inside itself (which I think is silly), or it is a word that comprehends the gathering of experience, in which case it is a theoretical and rather pragmatic notion, and its existence is questionable. If you say "I am my mind" then you have stated your identity and you are no longer in a position to say that your identity resides IN your mind. How you know you are your mind and what you mean by saying so become serious questions. If you say "I am my mind and my body" then you will additionally need to address the question as to how these two things are distinct and how they relate to each other - how they contribute to integrated (to some extent at least) experience.
        Note that in my previous post I drew you attention to the problem of minds not knowing what and where they are.
        There is also the tradition philosophical problem of other minds. If our mind consists of all our experience then we have difficulty proposing there is anything other than our own mind (and the notion that anything is IN our minds doesn't make much sense).
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          Nov 1 2011: Okay, I think I'm getting a handle on this and you make a good point

          First, objects... Object is defined as anything with definable properties. Then everything and every combination of everything is an object. So there are infinite infinities of objects. So are we more than object? The question implies we include something undefinable in the "I". This is a choice and there's no right answer. If you think you can ever fully understand who you and objectify your identity then no, you are just an object. If you believe there will always be an undefined element and no matter how much you know you will never know who you are then yes, you are more than an object. This is a very personal question and I believe both are valid answers. According to my theory you are everything but you include an undefined element as well hence I don't think of myself as just an object.

          Next you talk about minds and it being the corner of you identity. This is True. Everything you do and experience has to go through your brain and its filters. You see what you expect to see. As for the mind is experiencing the mind. Mind is in the mind. It might sound silly but I believe it's true. It's called self awareness. Nothing is real like they say in matrix. You mind makes it real. So is the mind real? This is the same question as “Am I real?" It's a paradoxical question which is why it's silly. You mind might have a model of what it thinks of itself but how do you know it's real since you cannot trust anything it tells you. This is the exact reason I started asking this question. There must be axioms to reality. Things that's true whether or not your mind is real or not. Whether it's an object or not. That why I wanted to move back to the mathematical way or reasoning. It always starts with constants. What do you think is true regardless whether your mind exist or not?
  • Oct 30 2011: "I am a particle with a vague recollection of being a wave, which is dreaming itself being a particle."
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    Oct 30 2011: I am an amount of information trying to survive turbulence and fluctuation of the physical world.
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    Oct 29 2011: Who Am I?
    I am who you say I am, I can be no more and no less than that.
    In all ways it is irrelevant who or what I think I am, because what others say of me becomes essentially who I am and was.
    There are a very few people in all of human History who have defined themselves and have actually been wholly accepted for who they claimed to be.
    I am everything that you say I am and none of what you say that I am simultaneously.
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      Oct 29 2011: Consciousness looking in on consciousness. Since we share the same core we are one and all connected yet separate at the same time. I'm aware they you are aware etc. etc. That's why we have empathy. We my never know how another feels or even sees the same colours yet because we are self similar we will always be able to associate with it.

      This makes compassion a must. If you suffer I suffer. Helping another is helping yourself... as long as you don't drag yourself down in process. We are on the same team. So I'm not trying to make the world a better place for your sake, I'm making it better for my sake. We are one and there's no such thing as a selfless act...

      If we can all realize this fundamental truth about ourselves the world would be a better place.
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        Oct 29 2011: Hello James, I cannot disagree with anything that you've stated. That we are interconnected and by extension what we contribute to society we ultimately give in kind to our selves, as a truism though it does not answer the question "Who AM I?" which had been my feeble to answer.
        There is a commercial currently running on Canadian TV, where a guy goes into a shop and while munching on some complimentary cookies provided by the owner, he queries about the stores lack of presence on the Internet. Does the store even exist if it doesn't exist on the Internet? He begins to leave and the baffled owner asks if he was leaving, he answers "was I even here?
        So I think that the question "Who Am I?" is best answered by others who are witness to our contribution or lack there of in our world.
        May your contribution be of such significance that you may in the end define yourself and all else would concur.
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      Oct 29 2011: It's the question that drives us. Creativity. Curiosity.

      I belief that everything starts and potential. Consciousness is presented the first question and as quantum theory points out that all viable options happen at the same time. So light and dark are born. Hence the multiverse theory and the duality philosophy. But this is a large other topic...
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    Oct 29 2011: You are what you've been through (good times or bad times).That's pretty much it.
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      Oct 29 2011: Hi Muhammad,
      I think/feel that what I have experienced certainly has contributed to who and what I am. However, I don't accept that I "am" what I've been through. If that were the case, I could label myself victim of violence and abuse, victim of cancer, victim of a traumatic brain injury, etc. I do not choose to have my experiences define who and what I am. I choose to use the information I learned from the experience in a broader way...make any sense?

      The only reason I clarify this for myself, is because I witness a lot of people defining themselves by their experiences, and that, to me, is sometimes limiting.
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        Oct 29 2011: I agree but why must you say that you were a victim of violence, abuse, cancer,brain injury etc.Lets make it sound positive by saying that you're a survivor of all that you've been through.I'm happy to know that you've been through all of that and came out alive and wiser.Good for you Colleen.
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          Oct 29 2011: You're right Muhammad!!! I am also part of the beautiful gardens which mother nature and I create, a participant in the wonderful sport activities with great friends and fabulous, generous, kind relationships with people I love, etc. etc.

          As I said, I wanted to clarify, because I do think that people often label themselves, and that becomes who they are for the rest of his/her life. I don't like labels:>)

          One particular situation comes to mind...
          When I volunteered in the correctional facility co-facilitating cognitive self change sessions, the offenders would often say..."I'm ADD...what do you expect?" People sometimes define themselves with labels they have been given, or give to themselves, and that is how they live their lives.
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        Oct 30 2011: Very true.I'm not in favor of labels as well.So, is it safe to say that you are what you want to be?
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          Oct 30 2011: Dear Muhammad,
          I think/feel that is very safe to say indeed...it's PERFECT in my humble opinion:>)
          I am what I want to be in any given moment:>)
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    Oct 29 2011: You are everything......a combination of your past experience, your past emotions, your dreams, the things you love, the family that you have, anything that you can think of that might affect, or be affected by you, i think.
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      Oct 29 2011: What about the effects you have on others and the environment... like they said in Gladiator. "What we do in life echo's in eternity"
      The sum just gets so big that you might as well be everything.
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        Oct 29 2011: haha yer i think that is a bit of that, but as the further it goes, the less impact it has, but there is still chances that the thing you do might cause something happen big in the future, just like people leaving cigarette buds in the forest, it might seems like nothing but it might cause big forest fire.
        These things really depends on what angle you look at it, i guess
  • Oct 29 2011: I look at a picture of myself when I was 8. I am not that person anymore, yet I am still the same person only bigger. Who I was then is not who I am now physically, emotionally or intellectually. I look at my grown children and miss who they were 20 years ago. Who I am is in a constant state of change. The real me is who I am in the now. Who I was and who I will be doesn't exist, except for the memories I retain of the me that was. So what is the thread that connects it all ? Maybe my spirit? But thats another ball of wax...