Quote of the Day
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Leo Buscaglia , posted by Cat Dancer
"Now" is not only a cognitive illusion but also a mathematical trick, related to how we define space and time quantitatively. One way of seeing this is to recognize that the notion of "present," as sandwiched between past and future, is simply a useful hoax. After all, if the present is a moment in time without duration, it can't exist. What does exist is the recent memory of the immediate past and the expectation of the near future. We link past and future through the conceptual notion of a present, of "now." But all that we have is the accumulated memory of the past--stored in biological or various recording devices--and the expectation of the future.
I don’t have a theory of consciousness now. I have had in the past, but each time I decided it was wrong. Doing five years in parapsychology and then having to change my mind about almost everything has made me good at letting go of theories. I think Dan Dennett is right that almost all the theories of consciousness we have today are basically forms of Cartesian materialism in disguise. If you ask, “What is in my consciousness now?”, and you think that there must be an answer, then you are a Cartesian materialist. You are still assuming that there is some part of you separate from your thoughts which owns your thoughts, which experiences them. Every time you ask yourself “Am I conscious now?”, it seems to me you draw a backwards story of what you must just have been thinking about. This gives you the illusion of a conscious self who was already there, but it is an illusion. The stream of consciousness and the person experiencing it are both illusions. The interesting question is then how and why are we so deluded?...
An illusion is something that is not what it seems to be. If I seem to be a persisting self having a series of experiences I am wrong. Actually there are parallel, multiple streams that stop and start and join up. And the self is a verbal construction.
How do identity and consciousness persist through time? Is the self an illusion? Decades roll by; every molecule of our bodies changes many times. Yet our sense of self remains the same; continuous, a unity. How can this be? Featuring interviews with [WIKI]Simon Blackburn[/WIKI], [WIKI]Stephen Law[/WIKI], [WIKI]Richard Swinburne[/WIKI], Robert Bilder, and [WIKI]Roger Walsh[/WIKI].
"Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others. When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you're at the center of the world anymore. By shifting attention toward larger entities and diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, we reasoned that awe would trigger tendencies to engage in prosocial behaviors that may be costly for you but that benefit and help others.
Across all these different elicitors of awe, we found the same sorts of effects-people felt smaller, less self-important, and behaved in a more prosocial fashion. Might awe cause people to become more invested in the greater good, giving more to charity, volunteering to help others, or doing more to lessen their impact on the environment? Our research would suggest that the answer is yes."
How much of our identity or 'self' is truly representative of our own wants, needs, and goals in life and how much does it reflect the desires and priorities of someone else? Are we following our own destiny or are we unconsciously repeating the lives of our parents, living according to their values, ideals, and beliefs? In this thought-provoking book [The Self Under Siege], noted clinical psychologist Robert Firestone and his co-authors explore the struggle that all of us face in striving to retain a sense of ourselves as unique individuals. The self is under siege from several sources: primarily pain and rejection in the developmental years, problems in relationships, detrimental societal forces, and existential realities that affect all people.
Through numerous case studies and personal stories from men and women who participated in a 35-year observational study, the authors illustrate how Voice Therapy, a cognitive/affective/behavioral methodology pioneered by Firestone, is used to illicit, identify, and challenge the destructive inner voice and to change aversive behaviors based on its prescriptions. The theory they describe integrates the psychodynamic and existential approaches underlying Voice Therapy and is enriched by research findings in the neurosciences, attachment research, and terror management theory (TMT)...
Our basic suffering is rooted in a kind of original separation anxiety, which he called a "fear of life." We fear what has already irrevocably happened―separation from the greater whole―and yet we also come to fear the loss, in death, of this precious individuality. "Between these two fear possibilities," Rank wrote, "these poles of fear, the indivdual is thrown back and forth all his life, which accounts for the fact that we have not been able to trace fear back to a single root, or to overcome it therapeutically."
― Mark Epstein, Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
Dr. Deepak Chopra, author of You Are the Universe...said the philosophical underpinnings in India come from the Vedas and Buddhist traditions, where all human suffering is a result of the hallucination of the separate self.
“Our results illustrate that the self-enhancement motive is powerful and deeply ingrained so that it can hijack methods intended to transcend the ego and instead, adopt them to its own service.... The road to spiritual enlightenment may yield the exact same mundane distortions that are all too familiar in social psychology, such as self-enhancement, illusory superiority, closed-mindedness, and [WIKI]hedonism[/WIKI] (clinging to positive experiences) under the guise of alleged ‘higher’ values.”
...Healthy transcendence doesn’t stem from an attempt at distracting oneself from displeasure with reality. Healthy transcendence involves confronting reality as it truly is, head on, with equanimity...
Perhaps it's time for all of these yoga and mindfulness centers to chill on all of the extrinsic purported benefits they are claiming (“Better heath!” “Better sex!” “Amazing concentration!” “Great success at work!”), and just focus on the benefits of such spiritual practices for allowing us to realize that such concerns of the ego are just the ego doing its thing. That awareness, in and of itself, is enough of a benefit to last an enlightened lifetime.
Although [WIKI]Wittgenstein[/WIKI] did not focus [on] emotional problems, his solution to all the problems of philosophy is very similar to cognitive therapy. Here is the parallel: You don't try to solve the classic "free will" problem. Instead, you see through it and give it up as nonsensical, as language that's "out of gear," so to speak. Once you "see this," and understand why it is true, it is incredibly liberating. But it can be a lonely experience, because you suddenly "see" something super-obvious that seems to be invisible to 99.9% of humans. It's as if you had a "third eye," and could see something incredible that people with only two eyes cannot see.
By the same token, when you suddenly "see" that the idea that you have a "self" which could be "superior" or "inferior" is nonsensical, it is also incredibly liberating. This, in fact, is the cognitive therapy version of spiritual "enlightenment." And that's also one of the goals of the TEAM-CBT that my collegues and I have created.