Saturday, May 31, 2014

Our inherently static nature

 In the last post, I was discussing how the mechanical mind has no sensitivity, no feeling.

The mechanical mind isn't anything more than a set of gears that mesh and interact. Its working is intricate, but the results are absolutely as predictable as a computer — and it has about as much as intelligence as a computer, that is to say, none. All of the intelligence that can drive the mechanical mind comes from outside it, from a part of us called intellect, which is connected to the soul.

As such, the mechanical mind is capable of extremely complex operations, and, based on the data it takes in and learns from, will produce consistent and inevitable results from that data, according to the arrangements made in it. There isn't, however, any intelligence behind it: it produces absolutely nothing more than what its machine function dictates. One would think we would have understood this much better now that we have spent so many decades interacting with computers, but it isn't the case.

One of the interesting products of the mechanical mind is the construction of the future; in ancient times, the Zen masters referred to this as the working of the conceptual mind.

The future that the mechanical mind constructs is based strictly on the data it has already taken in, and complicated interactions that produce predictions of a future based on that data. It extrapolates. It has absolutely no flexibility, because it's incapable of understanding anything that lies outside its data set.  It functions, broadly speaking, on a bell curve model; taking in what it knows of the world, it averages it out and attempts to produce a construction that predicts the future.

Nicholas Taleb produced several interesting books on how deeply misguided this kind of model is (The Black Swan and Antifragile); yet we don't see how that applies to our inner world, not quite, anyway, although he attempts to touch on this.

The point is that our construction of the future using a conceptual mind, which is an absolutely habitual thing for all of us, is a fragile circumstance; that is to say, it is a grand construction with no flexibility that is subject to certain breakage the instant it encounters anything that lies outside its range of experience. Persons, businesses, and societies have all collapsed because of this tendency to crystallize the products of the mind into inflexible entities based on assumptions drawn from existing data. The actual intellect — the part that exists aside from the mechanical mind — is a much more flexible entity that is always designed to respond to the now, spontaneously, and with sensitivity, not according to a predetermined set of data.

We all construct futures that are impossible and can never happen; and in fact, we live our whole lives like this, every day, all day long. But we don't realize it; and we don't examine it carefully. It's only like a huge shock — in my own personal case, the death of my sister, or, in the case of the society, an event like 9/11 — that hammers home the point that our mind is a machine, that it produces crystallized, fragile, breakable futures — and that it is supremely unsuited for the actual requirements of life, that is, it has no sensitivity and is unable to construct intelligent responses to these things. This is why we are left aghast when disasters that lie outside our range of experience strike.

This is what intuition is all about — a connection with the feeling part of the mind, which has all of the intelligence, creativity, and flexibility so lacking in the machine we use to conduct most of our business.

Contact with the inner essence, the part of the being that receives the divine inflow of higher energy, can help the intellect and the soul develop so that sensitivity and feeling begin to intersect with the machine. In this case, the flexible entity that is capable of dealing with life is more present; and in this way, we acquire what is called freedom.

Freedom, in other words, is exactly what both Mme. de Salzmann and Meister Eckhart characterized it as: a form of detachment—not from objects, events, circumstances, and conditions, which have an objective reality that we must encounter—but from the inner construction which handles them, the mechanical mind, which we are so deeply invested in.

It is, in other words, not the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions which are the problem, it is our conceptual framework for them, which is static.

The problem becomes obvious to any analytic thinker if we note that objects, events, circumstances, and conditions are inevitably dynamic, whereas a fixed entity with a limited range of responses and gears has an inherently static nature.

It is this inherently static nature, which Gurdjieff referred to as crystallization, that becomes the issue.


1 comment:

  1. Amen! My own saying is:

    "The solution to a problem can never be found within the perimeter of the problem"

    This is almost a synonym to the concept embedded in your post today. A machine cannot do what a machine cannot do, and that is the impossibility of conjecture about the future with only the information already installed. I'm with you 100%. Since we are taught that we are third force blind, can the 'Intuition' you speak of provide the input we are missing?


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