Transformational Thinking

The Human Consciousness Programm perhaps could be compared to the personality, but the HCP also includes all of the autonomic stuff, like sensory processing. I was playing with this a bit today while walking. I do a 2 mile loop most days with my dog, Diogee. While we were walking, I was playing with my sensory perception functions. Like switching awareness to the visual: Focus on that for a while, and notice how I can focus on different things, and how other things fade into the background when I do so. Similarly, switch my awareness to my hearing, and notice how I can focus my attention on a bird. Or there! That’s Diogee walking beside me. Or the sounds of my own footsteps. Or the sounds of my own breathing. And now switch to the emotional state. Ahhh! I have some anxiety going on. What is that about? OK, I need to pay some bills.

Again, thinking about thinking, as broadly as possible, and especially if I include things like emotions and sensory awareness in the generic term “thinking”. All while engaging the “Watcher”, or unbiased, nonjudgmental observer, as the yoga crowd likes to call it. The part of me that can observe myself.

I was pondering how similar this approach is to Christianity in many ways. For example, while I utterly reject the idea of sin, listening intently to my own thoughts makes me acutely aware of my own dysfunction. I definitely know that I am far from perfect, which is certainly consistent with the idea of sin. Also, the act of reprogramming is very similar to repentance. After all, the Greek word translated as “repent” in the NT literally means to turn down another path, or to change your mind. Repentance never really worked for me very well, though. I have analyzed why it didn’t, and near as I can tell, due to the cultural issues within Christianity, I was focused on the wrong things. Like sex, once again.

I was immediately told after I got saved about how bad sexual lust is, and how I should never, ever masturbate. This from all of my male Christian single friends. I, like the lemming I am, immediately take a solemn oath with my buddy to never masturbate again, ever. Broke that one within 24 hours, with great condemnation. This thing had me balled up for years, during which I made no real progress spiritually. All this negative energy about masturbation and male heterosexual desire, generally.

Eventually, I figure out that all of my male single Christian friends were masturbating just as much as I was, and were all just as condemned. And the message from the pulpit only made it worse! I was actually invited to seminars where I could be set free from masturbation!

Of course, that’s all bollocks. Masturbation is something I should keep private but certainly not condemn myself for. It is a harmless and healthy release, after all. And sexual desire is a great thing overall. I wouldn’t be here without it! So deciding that a basic autonomic response like sexual desire is somehow “sinful” doesn’t help me at all. Although I have no doubt that my male single Christian friends were well-meaning, they were obviously just as deluded as I was, and the culture was keeping them just as immobilized. This example is one of the most glaring, but there were many others.

In order to help me spot things that are broken inside me, I basically set up a watcher to keep track of my emotions and to tell me if I am feeling anything negative, like resentment, sadness, sullenness, loneliness, or fear. Once I spot that, I go after what’s driving it. Generally, given enough time and thought, I can figure it out. Almost always, there is some form of selfishness or greed behind it. Like insecurity over Ruth leaving me. That’s really my selfish little greedy desire to keep her with me. Fear over the impact on my life if she were to leave me, etc. Not wanting to have to endure the pain, discomfort and stress of a break-up. And so forth.

Solution: Understand and accept that Ruth can leave me if she likes. She is perfectly free to do so, and there is nothing that I can do to directly prevent it. I do not own her, regardless of what the Marriage contract might say. Would it be painful if she left me? Definitely. Would I survive? Very likely. Would it make the slightest difference in the lifespan of the universe? None at all. And, after all, I don’t even know if I am going to take my next breath. So how does creating a stressful emotion like insecurity help either me or Ruth? Am I not simply detracting from both our joy, peace and happiness by surrendering to a parasite emotion like insecurity?

And it’s all about stressing about the future, anyway. Which, again, does not exist. Worrying about the future is meaningless. (Not to say that I do not need to be responsible and make plans: I do. That’s different from fear, worry or stress, though.)

How then shall I live? First, by loving Ruth as unselfishly and purely as possible, I will be a person she wants to be with. My insecurity and persistent need to be constantly reassured sure as *&^# won’t do that! Instead, I will cultivate an attitude of quiet, humble confidence. I will aspire to be a person who will lend to her joy, peace and happiness. I will enjoy the present moment that I am spending right now in her presence, and cherish the journey that brought this amazing creature to me.

So, by carefully and methodically listening to my own thoughts, I am trying to become a better person. Inherent in that process, though, is a sense of humility. The more I get inside my head, the more aware I become of my own imperfections and need to be more empathic. How broken and selfish I am. And, hopefully, I make some progress in the quest to become more selfless and empathic in the process. Again, a similarity to taking on the mind of Christ from the Christian perspective.

Of course, there is no end state. This process will keep going on for the rest of my life.

More later.

Sexual Programming

In my last post, I indicated that I would let my readers in on what happened when I deconstructed the Marriage Module, and made some modifications. I will do that, but, as I have been taking a bit of heat lately, I thought it would help to review, once more, the terms of the experiment.

All scientific experiments start with a hypothesis. That is a statement which will turn out to be true (and proven) if the experiment is a success. Otherwise, the hypothesis will either be false or unproven. Got it? OK, then, here is the hypothesis:

Although Human Consciousness evolved, it developed in a manner which makes it very similar to a piece of software. Thus, it has the ability to process, store and retrieve data, and perform certain calculations. Essentially, Human Consciousness is a mechanism, a natural phenomenon, with  discrete properties and capabilities, and these can be studied by a careful, meticulous observer, simply by listening to the thoughts in one’s head.

The experimental procedure, then: I will listen, carefully and often, to my own thoughts. In the process of doing this, I will discover some interesting insights about the nature of human consciousness, and record them in this blog.

I have been told that this is pseudo-science. I submit that this is as valid an experiment as any. I do not have access to a large lab like the one that will be used by the Human Connectome Project, which was the beneficiary of a major federal initiative recently. Certainly, the goal of this project is very similar to mine: To understand the nature of human consciousness. In the case of the HCP, they will use neuron mapping technology to fully explore and understand the hardware (wetware?) of the human brain.

My approach is different: I am going after the software. Given that the human brain is effectively a general purpose computer, understanding the hardware is of some value, certainly. But the real intelligence is always in the software. It is possible that the HCP may crack that too. But I submit that it will eventually take an approach like mine where folks sit around and think about what they are thinking (possibly combined with neuron mapping) to get into the nitty gritty of how the software of Human Consciousness really works.

At any rate, the only inner consciousness I have direct access to is mine. And this is something I decided to do, crazy as it seems. Certainly, my recorded impressions of my own brain’s activities is valid experimental data. Completely subjective, to be sure. But recorded by a person who is reasonably careful and meticulous.

At the end of the day, all of this is really about me. That’s why all of my messages in this blog are in the first person. I am journalling here. Understand clearly that I do not necessarily agree with myself all of the time. So here goes.

Now, in terms of what happened when I deconstructed the Marriage Module, like I said last time, that one is interesting. One aspect of my Marriage Module is that it contained an assumption that I had some form of ownership or control over my wife in the area of sex. There is actually support for this in the bible. 1 Cor. 7:4 states:

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

Now, given that I supposedly have authority over my wife’s body, then I could somehow enforce that authority and force her to have sex with me. Right?

The way this was working out for me was not so good. When I became aroused and my wife did not want to engage, then I would become sullen and resentful. This made me a not nice person. And it caused my wife to be turned off in the area of sex. Not good. I was actually sabotaging myself!

I decided this was bad programming. So I rewrote it. I decided in my own mind (and communicated to my wife) the following new terms for our sexual relationship:

  • I want to empower my wife to enjoy herself sexually to the maximum extent possible for her. As much sexual enjoyment as she wants, and no more.
  • Thus, I completely set my wife free from all sexual expectations from me. If sex is not delightful today, then we will not have sex. (And I am absolutely OK with that.) We will cuddle, hold hands, gaze longingly into each other’s eyes, or whatever. Emotional intimacy, in other words. Most importantly, intimacy which is not linked to sex, which is the type of intimacy that I learned that my wife craves.
  • Also, I had a frenetic sense of anxiety about my own performance. This was because I was effectively impotent for about six years of our relationship, due to some serious complications from a major health problem in my own life. Amazingly, my wife did not leave me during this period, nor was she unfaithful to me. In my mind, that makes her one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Anyway, I decided in my own mind (and communicated to my wife) that I surrender all anxiety about my sexual performance. I don’t care if I respond or not. It’s like worrying about the weather anyway. Whatever happens, happens, and I will enjoy that.

Once I got these ideas across to my wife, the response was absolutely stunning. Our relationship is doing better than it ever has. Wonderful!

This is one of the first modules I tweaked. I discovered a few things along the way on this one. First, the reprogramming only works when I face the truth of whatever dysfunction or delusion I am dealing with at the moment. Also, the change must be sincere on my part. There is no way that I can fake this. Otherwise, it simply doesn’t work.

Also, I am not suggesting this is a panacea for all human ills. It has helped me greatly though, and as I have said before, I would not want to go back to the way I was before. No, thank you!

More later.

Reality

While I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I got another big piece of the puzzle. There is a module called the Reality Module which is responsible for creating my experiences. This is how it works inside my head.

I have senses which receive the data I call the primitive data types. These include (and there may be more):

  • Images (this is the primary sense in humans)
  • Sounds
  • Tastes (a complex subject, more later)
  • Smells (ditto)
  • Touch experiences
  • Sexual experiences (different from touch, more later)
  • A time-based datatype I call the Moment
  • Pain, itching, and other discomforts
  • Body awareness other than pain (includes things like sneezing, urinating, etc.)
  • Emotions (probably the most interesting, more later)

These various sensory datatypes are tied to pieces of hardware in the human body. Things like ears, eyes, touch sensory organs in the skin, and so forth. I have a dedicated Module in my HCP which processes each of these input streams. Each sensory module feeds the output of that process to the Reality Module.

Think of the Reality Module as a kind of Master Control Program (remember Tron?). All other Modules in the HCP (pretty much) run inside the Reality Module. This module takes the input it receives from the sensory modules and maps it onto a filter. I call this filter the Context.

Assume for the moment that there is an objective, absolute, reality. I still maintain that this idea is unproven, and unprovable. The world may be an illusion, nothing more. But for purposes of this discussion, please assume that there is an objective reality. Let’s call that reality the sum total of the environment around me. We will refer to this reality as the variable R.

R is constantly changing, though, as reality flows along the temporal stream. And so I as an organism in the environment am receiving a constant stream of input reflecting an image of that objective reality. This is the first distortion: My senses are far from perfect, and so I see only an image (constantly darkening as I age) of whatever R actually is. Call that reality S, for sensory reality. And S<R, always, because S has the distortion of my physical body, with my limited, failing hardware.

Then comes the big distortion: Reality takes that input and maps it onto all other modules in the entire HCP. Again, the Context. This is effectively the set of assumptions in the form of culture that I possess as a human. The value of S will then again take a big swack, and we get the state that I call D, for delusional.

Yes, oddly I know that I am still delusional. And I always will be, as long as I am running this piece of software in my head. The best I can do, from what I can tell, is to optimize the process. As I told my wife that I want on my tombstone:

Maturity consists in accurately perceiving reality and appropriately responding to that perception

A practical example may help. I have a module running in my head I call Marriage. All humans have this module, pretty much. It is a fundamental nature of humans to be married. All cultures have their particular take on marriage. But everyone gets married, pretty much. Given that, this module looks to me to be a built-in, i.e. instinctive module.

Now, my particular culture has a form of marriage referred to as Monogamy, but in practice is much more like polygamy. Essentially, my wife and I enter into a fiction in which we both agree to behave in a manner in which we believe that we will both be completely faithful and loving to each other. And then we are able to make the assumption that we will each be there for each other no matter what.

As I told my wife tonight, this is obviously complete hogwash. All I would have to do is to be sufficiently insufferable, cruel, arbitrary, dishonest, and just plain mean, and my wife would flee from me. I know this utterly. However, by living inside a Context which contains this particular form of Marriage, I am able to pretend that the outcome of my life does not depend on me. That I cannot blow it sufficiently to completely drive away my wife. This reduces my stress and allows me to behave in a much more calm manner in all of my interactions with my wife. Unless, of course, I let go of that particular delusion. Then what happens?

Well, that one turns out to be pretty interesting.

More later.