Synecdoche (Part One): Little Person


New Zealand, air hostesses from 1965. Courtesy NZ governement archives

I am just a little person, one person in a sea of many little people who are not aware of me, yet each potentially a simultaneous understanding of the other; each, in a sense, a simulacrum or synecdoche for all others: if I understand myself sufficiently deeply, then in that moment I understand the other, however remote my presence to them. This is not to say I can appreciate their specific complexities, of course, and the detail, the true intricacy of any given life, remains forever removed from that quota of awareness I am privileged to. Each little person, tagged with their own unique package of characteristics, is still a synecdoche though, potentially at least, for all the little people out in the sea of otherness. The word means literally ‘take with something else’, so conveying the idea that even a partial representation alone is sufficient to apprehend the whole, or vice versa.

This sounds rather fanciful to the contemporary mind, conditioned as it is in a belief as to the total, inarguable individuality of each little person. What an appealing belief this is too, for this same little person here finds a seemingly plausible counter to a reluctantly intuited sense of homogeneity, which word itself derives from the Greek ‘homogene’, meaning ‘of the same kind’: Homo Sapiens. Even though each of the little person’s internal organs are replaceable with those fished from the sea of many little people, even though their blood, hair, bones, limbs, eyes and hands can be substituted with biological or manufactured alternatives, still the little person resists the evidence, demanding their status as a uniquely enduring entity. It is of course the mind itself that insists upon countering the intuited and actual homogeneity, and the mind, so the little person believes, belongs to them.

New Zealand, air hostesses from 1959. Courtesy NZ governement archives

This raises a problem, for if the little person’s physicality is all but totally interchangeable, then at what point during this theoretical process does the supposed possessor of the mind cease to exist? When does the point arrive at which we can no longer claim the mind belongs to any little person? If we hold to Physicalism, or Hard Materialism, we assert the mind belongs, if not to the little person, then to the organ of the brain. Should we be an Eliminative Materialist, we say there is no mind, and so no such question arises. I resist these philosophical perspectives, for to me there is a non-locality of awareness, meaning it arises both within as well as about what we think of as the little person, and whilst we call this aware experience ‘mind’, I do not adhere to any Cranialism; it’s not exclusively headstuff. In accepting this, we logically must ask whether the mind is under ownership.

Ownership implies agency, or self-determination, and it is belief in this that makes the little person feel unique and autonomous, directing their life just as all others would theirs. Yet this owning agent is never verifiable other than as consciousness, for it is only ever a belief that resides within and as that consciousness. Now, all conscious displays are themselves non-local simulacra, representations of otherness that are neither the little person nor any owning agent, and which clearly may never be evidenced outside of consciousness. This means the little person is always a thought-construct, a put-up job forged by mind and subsisting in otherness but never in essence itself. Should this hypothesis obtain, then the little person is a synecdoche for the entirety of others in kind; this is because every little person, being a fabrication of mind, comes into apparent existence in an identical manner.

New Zealand, air hostesses from 1970. Courtesy NZ governement archives

Where are we? We heard that the mind persists in countering a reluctantly intuited homogeneity of all the little persons. Further, we said the mind forges each little person as a thought-construct, and that the little person does not exist as an enduringly instantiated entity – just like a house, a car, or a computer, its parts are interchangeable. Beyond this, we learned the mind produces only conscious effects as verification of its own fabrications, and that these subsist universally for all the apparent little persons, being as they are culled from the same sea of otherness. And lastly, we found that the hypothesis as a whole demonstrates that each apparent little person is a synecdoche for the sea of many little people. So, in understanding myself sufficiently deeply, then in that moment I understand the other, which was the assertion of the opening paragraph and a challenge to the curious mind.

In the ‘Ship of Theseus’ paradox, a parallel question is raised: in replacing a wooden ship plank by plank, are the ongoing resultants still the original ship?  In point of fact, only the conception itself endures across the constant transitioning. The ship, as known, is not a wooden construct; it is a thought-construct, a fixed conception presenting to any observing little person, all of whom create each the other in identical fashion. Each parallel the ship in that their structure constantly mutates whilst a sense of enduring selfhood smears out across the whole, forged in mind in homogeneous ways. Now, if the little person turns the mind in on itself reflectively, they in time realise that they must be more than a thought-construct, a belief. They see that the little person whom they believed they existed as was a synecdoche: a motif in play which in its perfectly clear seeing brings knowledge of all of its kind.


Images courtesy of New Zealand government archives:

123 thoughts on “Synecdoche (Part One): Little Person

  1. This is brilliant – and a fine choice of images to accompany the posting. Thank you for this, it was very illuminating and I felt I could connect with your reflections. Peace, Harlon.

    • Thank you so much for your interest and kind response Harlon; I appreciate both immensely. I am pleased you enjoyed the graphic side, and must admit to struggling a little to find some images that perhaps might work – if nothing else, they are quite amusing in a playful way I think. Peace, Hariod.

  2. Hariod, this, as with everything I’ve read of yours, is of an immense magnitude. I love it, albeit that I feel unqualified to make an intelligent comment. However, I’ve thought something of this before but could never have expressed it with such force and clarity. Is my finger, ‘me’? If I lose an arm, is the arm, ‘me’? If I lose my . . . , well, let’s not go there; but I could go on until I get to the head at which point I’d lose my argument, although I believe the head too could survive being just a head with the proper technological hook-ups – doesn’t make a pretty picture though.

    And somewhere I’ve read that all our cells change every seven years. True or not, many do and therefore we’re not the same person, at least physically, we were . . . well, even moments ago. Are we just cells?

    Perhaps, we are not the owners of our mind either, but rather it is owned by external influences – the sea of otherness. I believe this to be self-evident for most people and to varying degrees for everyone else.

    I love this line: “. . . still the little person resists the evidence, demanding their status as a uniquely enduring entity.”

    I’ll tend to the video later once I’m out of the office. (Shhh.)

    • I am flattered beyond words by your generous compliment Peter, and greatly encouraged that what I had thought was a rather modest offering (this month and as per usual), has been met with anything of that kind – thank you.

      This business of ownership, self-determination, agency and so forth, is clearly something you have considered deeply. I was struck by how your thoughts seem to echo my own in a piece I wrote a while ago: And in response to one or two of your rhetorical points, here is an extract from that piece:

      “Our body comprises only cells, almost all of which die in a cycle lasting a few short years. This occurs naturally in order that the body may develop as it must – a process known as ‘apoptosis’, meaning programmed cell death. In an adult, 50-70 billion cells die in this way each day. So, we’re separated from our own cells at an astonishing rate. One minute they constitute what I am as an alive being and the next they’re dead, decaying within us and awaiting to be scavenged by white blood cells which smell their death. Am I separate from the dead ones yet identical with the live ones? No, they’re both part of what I am, which is neither entirely alive nor dead, not inside or outside any ‘self’.”

      Extrapolating from the above quoted statistic, which I believe to be perfectly accurate, then we can see that during every second of our life around 700,000 of our body’s cells die away; that is quite astonishing don’t you think Peter? Still, the thrust of this piece is really that in coming to know how we construct ourselves – our identity, how we habituate responses, the dramaturgical social displays, the narrative about ourselves which we internalise – is more-or-less procedurally uniform, however great the variance in detail and magnitude. If I see how I put myself together and inhabit this construct of selfhood with personal identity, then I at once see how we all do it. I also understand that whatever the causal factors may be, my mind, body and nervous system, being largely identical to others as regards the manner in which they may respond, are effectively a simulacrum of you and the next person, so will respond to those causal factors along the same pathways and within the same limitations. The key of the tune may change, but the song remains the same.

      Now, stop slacking and get back to work my friend; you have poetry to write and causes to stimulate in a bid to wake us up from our collective somnambulism. And don’t give me any of this ‘stuck in the office’ sob story; I know full well the pastoral idyll within which you dwell. 😉

  3. Thank you for this thoughtful article and clear argument. I so enjoy following your thinking Hariod, with dictionary close at hand of course! It’s amazing how your brain can capture and hold so many pieces at once. I have a tendency to gather them in a big bundle and then put them through a sieve!

    This is what my sieve brain loved the most: “Now, if the little person turns the mind in on itself reflectively, they in time realise that they must be more than a thought-construct, a belief. They see that the little person whom they believed they existed as was a synecdoche: a motif in play which in its perfectly clear seeing brings knowledge of all of its kind.”

    And also this: “The key of the tune may change, but the song remains the same.” 🙂

    Part two will be intriguing to this little person!!

    Thank you my friend. ❤️

    • Ah Val, you have hit upon my great weakness, or one of the many, which is that I love to learn and use interesting words. This one, ‘synecdoche’, I came across only recently when watching a Charlie Kaufman film featuring the wonderful work of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and which was called Synecdoche, New York – a wordplay on the actual place Schenectady County, New York. I could not resist using it as the theme chimed so well with what I was thinking of writing about, and only hope that you and others can forgive my little indulgence.

      The section you quote is of course the hub of the matter, although this will only be apparent to those that know it already quite possibly. I am trying of late to write in a manner that lays a little challenge before the reader, and what I mean is that any piece should invite the reader to think themselves to any conclusion rather than have me spell it out, so to speak. I probably overstepped the mark in my attempts to do this in the previous post, and likely succeeded in alienating one or two readers along the way. I can accept that; this is not a numbers game, as you know.

      Thank you too my friend, Hariod. ❤

        • Yes, I thought Kaufman’s film was excellent Val, and I tend to enjoy ones that lean towards matters of the human psyche, or psychology, yet don’t stray too far into self-indulgence and pretension – a little of that is okay though. I’m not a great one for stories and plots, and sci-fi leaves me cold, as does fantasy and period drama I’m afraid. I’m glad you liked the music; Jon Brion is one of my favourite film score composers – something of an up and coming John Barry perhaps. ❤

  4. Interesting contemplation Hariod.

    I think all essence is in the structures, the patterns, which are themselves constituted of more fundamental patterns, which are constituted of even more fundamental patterns. What is real? It has to be in the patterns themselves, because even the most fundamental things we currently know about, elementary particles: fermions and bosons, may themselves be patterns of even lower level patterns. Reality may be structure, information, all the way down.

    Often, when people realize that the things they took as fundamental realities are actually patterns of lower level realities, they’re naively tempted to declare those things as illusions. But doing so assumes that the lower level components are less illusory, which is itself illusory. When all is illusion, it’s time to redefine the word to a more pragmatic utility.

    • Thank you for casting your acute and erudite senses over this piece Mike; it is an honour to have one as learned as yourself pay attention to my modest and mercifully infrequent outpourings.

      You rhetorically ask ‘what is real?’, and I must straight away say, unsurprisingly, that I have not the slightest idea, nor do I even think too much about it to be frank – “Call it a dream, it does not change a thing”, as Wittgenstein apparently said. Perhaps it is correct to say that the essence of phenomena resides in their structures, or patterns, yet maybe it is valid to consider the concept of reality as itself being relative? Is reality anything more than a construct we came up with that seems to have application within the levels of observation our species is capable of making, yet beyond that the notion itself becomes increasingly meaningless, especially to minds that could never comprehend it even if it were to have meaning and obtain in some other dimension of understanding? I suppose that sounds a little anti-intellectual, or sceptical; forgive me. We can observe levels of integration of information, and perhaps it is so that the complexity of these observed integrations gives rise to unique phenomena, even to consciousness itself perhaps? Yet surely there are limits in our capacity to apprehend some final extrinsic expression of reality, if such a thing exists out there beyond our ape brains.

      Yet this is all really way beyond my capacity to juggle meaningfully, or productively, and I find myself returning to what presents here, in this awareness, in this aging and increasingly decrepit body (how is your shoulder by the way?), and to how, within my considerable limitations, I can live contentedly and at ease. I may be misinterpreting your words Mike, but you seem to be suggesting that the little person, even though s/he may be a thought-construct, a put-up job as I called it, s/he is nonetheless valid and non-illusory. If so, then I agree that s/he is non-illusory because, well, even dreams and what some deem to be illusions are presentations to actuality; they are experiences and have validity as such. The issue is, that the little person creates problems for herself or himself, or other little persons, and that these problems are often unnecessary, or at least, unwelcome. In seeing the little person for what it is, as a put up job, s/he doesn’t necessarily disappear, but s/he is known, is taken less seriously, and causes less mischief, whether s/he is masquerading as myself or as the other. Real or unreal, we can, I suggest, live more contentedly without her or his constant intrusions into life.

      • Thanks Hariod. I never realized that I hadn’t commented here before. Glad to have broken that ice.

        My shoulder has been very slowly getting better; thanks for asking. But I’m right there with you on the aging and decrepit body thing.

        I might have misunderstood what you meant by ‘little person’. I took it as referring to the self. But maybe you mean an overly narrow conception of that self?

        • Yes Mike, by ‘little person’ I do indeed mean that presumption that we carry around with us as a given, the putative and un-evidenced self, not as the consensually agreed upon social construct, but as an internalised narrative formation that morphs, perpetuates, sustains and embeds as belief – the ‘self of me’ is what I erroneously think I am as a person when I mistake the map for the territory. No one can quite put their finger on it when questioned, yet it remains a cherished belief/presumption, an evolutionary given of the human condition it would seem. I do realise that is all much narrower a definition than the social construct, and nothing whatsoever to do with any putative metaphysical Self as some sort of universal consciousness or what have you.

          • Ah, okay. Thanks for the clarification.

            Well, I do see the self as existing. I see it as a nexus of relations, of everyone and everything that has ever influenced us, including our genetics, and of everything and everyone that we will ever influence. The nexus is centered on the brain, since it’s the one thing that, if we remove it, the self vanishes.

            I think it pays to remember that it is a nexus, which may not match naive views of the self. That may just be another way of saying what you’re saying (albeit far less poetic). But I definitely do think the nexus exists.

            • I would clearly have to accept your conception as a perfectly sound one which could well be deemed the self, or self-like Mike. I differ though, in that I rather take the notion of ‘self’, however applied, to indicate autonomy, as being an entity not dependent upon other conditions for its enduring actuality. Perhaps there is a danger of conflation in considering any loosely interacting arrangement of phenomena as some sort of self-entity, and for me, this is what we do when we regard ourselves (words become tricky!) as somehow encompassing a self-entity or having one contained within us – the pineal gland, the heart, the brain, the solar plexus or wherever we fancy the seat of it may be.

              The man in the street, if you ask him whether he is, or possesses, a self, invariably affirms that he is one or that he possesses one, perhaps as his putative soul. In the former case, when we ask him what his self is, he responds vaguely, presupposing what he posits as something with agency and as an experiencer of experience (i.e. my self), saying something like “well, you know, my self is my body, my mind and er . . . everything in me”. However, none of those things enduringly instantiate within or about him; they are all conditioned phenomena which arise and pass away dependently and with incredible rapidity – 700,000 of his body’s cells die every second for example (Apoptosis). In the latter case, the putative soul is only ever that, a supposition which never can be evidenced nor even inferred reliably – a myth.

              If the self is a nexus of relations, where does it begin and end? We can say that place is the brain, yet the brain is dependent upon externalities for stuff to process. You are of course correct, if we take away the brain there is no self (if there ever was one). The same applies if we take away externalities including physical time: without access to the stuff with which the brain forms its memories and thought proclivities, nothing exists for it as an image, no world and no self to imagine. So, the brain and nervous system are clearly the nexus between what I posit to be a pure imagining of the self, and the world, yet I fail to see how we can make the leap in claiming the nexus is the self itself, and that is leaving aside my requirement that any self be enduringly instantiated and non-dependently originating.

              I suppose what we have here is different requirements for what constitutes a ‘self’ Mike, and given that, then neither is more correct than the other unless one set of criteria is somehow flawed or nonsensical, which I don’t think either are. You envisage the human self as a localised nexus of interrelations which manifests in the brain, and I see that as not qualifying for my own criteria of any enduringly instantiated, discrete, autonomous, and non-dependently originating phenomenon. I suspect we would both agree and presume that the self, if it exists, is not any soul-like ‘substance’ that has some magical capacity to transmigrate from this body or realm to that, lovely though that conception is.

              • Hariod, I’d agree that we agree about any ghost in the machine self. Actually, I think we agree ontologically across the board. It’s all in the blasted definitions. 🙂

                At a pragmatic level, I do see a coherent case for the self as an autonomous social construct, as long as we remember that all social constructs emerge from lower level psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, etc, and that the self as social construct isn’t anything fundamental to reality, to whatever extent anything actually is. The social self isn’t ultimately a source of novelty, but since we can’t know every ultimate influence, every causal chain, it works to treat it as an autonomous agent.

                • Thank you so much for contributing as fulsomely as you have done here Mike; your words enrich my own understanding and I feel certain will do the same for others, on whose behalf I thank you also.

  5. What an elaborate essay again! We are not the body; I agree. I like the boat metaphor and the pictures. When I saw the first picture, I was tempted to ask which of those you are. Then I remembered that I have no clue whether Hariod is a woman’s name or a man’s name. So I thought, what the heck, she/ he is awareness. It does not matter where or whether she/he is on that picture. They all look alike anyway. All that matters is that long elaborate essays are born via this point in consciousness, which greatly enhance my vocabulary and which are food for thought. Reading lots of near death experiences has convinced me that I am not the body. Consciousness lives on after the death of the body.

    • Oh, I do hope I did not ‘elaborate’ too much for you Karin; I try to keep my articles to around 800 or so words, which is about a gentle four-minute read, or less. I also only post once a month, as I am conscious of not wanting to impose too much upon those such as yourself that have been gracious enough to subscribe for feeds here.

      I find your take on the gender issue refreshing Karin, and personally feel it is unimportant in this area of discussion really. To have a name that is a bit ambiguous – can a mere name be androgynous? – seems helpful for both author and reader, as sadly, the gender biases of old persist on both sides of the matter. So, take your pick; or not.

      I tend not to invite discussion on what we might call ‘religious cosmology’ Karin – things like rebirth and transmigrating souls in the Pythagorean sense. Consciousness, which is awareness with knowledge (‘con-science’), is conditioned and itself conditions; on this we can all at least agree. What ‘lives on’ (your term) after death, I could not say.

      Thank you very much for taking the time to run through this piece Karin, and for adding your kind, sensitive and generous reflections too. Please do feel free to come back at me with any further points of thought should you feel moved so to do; you are certainly a most welcome and respected guest here.

      • Thanks for your kind response, Hariod.

        That your posts are elaborate essays was meant as a compliment; that is your unique way of expressing reflections about life. The posts are not too long for me; I like to read a lot. It is a pleasure to read your posts, which are so profound and thorough.

        I do not know either what it is that lives on after death, since I had not had a near death experience myself. But I have read accounts of other people who have, and I find it stunning that Pam Reynolds, for example, was able to report that the saw for the skull operation [she underwent] looked like an electric toothbrush. She had not seen that tool before. And she was able to see it even though her brainwaves were measured during the operation and were zero.

        Stories like this one compelled me to revise my worldview. They compelled me to revise it as much as relativity theory and quantum mechanics did; but I understand that you choose not to discuss this and respect that.

        • Thank you once again for your kind words of support dear Karin, and I am of course aware that you were not being critical as to my ‘elaborations’. Having said that, I invite feedback of all hues, and am far from anticipating complete concord between my own views and those of readers here, many of whom are far more learned and educated than myself, yourself included of course. My last article here prompted a small amount of controversy for example, and I accept that in writing on what are to some challenging topics, certain negative reactions may at times be elicited.

          I have in the past read the odd book or two about rebirth, and one, the name of which escapes me though the author was Indian, was highly compelling and included many extraordinary anecdotal accounts that were very hard to fault. My training was in orthodox Buddhism, part of which is of course the doctrine of rebirth, and that, within the context of ‘Anatta’ (non-self or no-soul), so the whole conception is distinct from the metempsychosis of ancient Greece. The problem is, no one really knows Karin, no matter how convincing and plausible the anecdotes are.

          Because of this, rebirth and all matters related to the fate of the putative soul, are within the domain of religious cosmology, or if you prefer, cosmologies of faith. That does not mean they are necessarily false of course, though they are dependent upon faith itself, or a willingness to believe without final verification. For this reason, and notwithstanding that as a lifelong, serious meditator I have had certain unaccountable experiences in this area, we may well agree that this fascinating subject does not particularly lend itself to fruitful and productive public discussion.

          Thank you so much for your further engagement and most interesting additions to the comments here Karin.

          With much gratitude and respect,


  6. We’re the we
    in the sea . . .
    it’s so beautifully
    We’re the sea
    yes, I see
    how articulately.
    I am you
    ~ you in me ~
    yes, it’s clear.

    Savory food to mull over, you! Thank you. ❤

    • How utterly delightful and kind of you to coin some verse in response to my rather cumbersome offering Meredith. I think your lines are perhaps best read rather than heard, given the first two of them; although perhaps the wee word ‘wee’ does not have the same connotations in American English!

      Much love, and many thanks dear Meredith, Hariod. ❤

  7. Dear Hariod,

    This was like a magnificent road trip for me, one I want to take again so that I can look out the side window too. Your thoughts are profound to me and certain words you use pop out in blinking color – I love the video too. I am not very intellectual yet the ‘motif’ touches the heart of a little person.

    Thank you dear friend; hugs and love,

    Meg xxx

    P.S. I am still not receiving notifications of your postings.

    • Hi there dear Meg, and thank you so much for having what I trust was a none-too-strenuous wade through yet another of my obscure little offerings. I was saying to a commenter earlier that I am trying to make some of my articles a little more challenging, not because that serves any great purpose in itself, but because when it comes to so-called ‘spiritual’ matters, it is perhaps useful to think one’s own way to a fresh perspective. And that – seeing new perspectives – is really what the spiritual search is all about is it not? Knowledge passed along in carefully arranged passages of words is all very well, yet if we are not invited to test ourselves against what is being said, then we glean nothing of great value in my opinion. Perhaps it is a little like your own narrative creations, wherein the reader must fill in the blanks, so to speak, even though this may be with colours not envisaged by yourself as author. I intend to balance these slightly challenging little pieces with others that are perhaps rather more straightforward to comprehend, and hope that in the meantime I do not lose too many readers along the way, and certainly not yourself of course. Lots of love, Hariod. ❤

      P.S. On the subscription issue, have you checked your Reader in the section 'Blogs I follow'? If you are unsure, then from the 'Reader' tab at the top of the page, drop down to 'Blogs I follow', then click the little cog icon next to those words. Then scroll down the blogs listed to find this one, and click 'edit'. Where it then says 'send new posts by email', make sure you select 'instantly', 'daily' or 'weekly', if it currently is checked as 'off', which I can only think it must be.

  8. As usual, I think I will have to make a second (and probably third*) pass over this post when I’m feeling less tired, dear Hariod. 🙂 I was obviously thinking along the right lines though, because the boat paradox arose in my mind as I began to grasp your theme. There is still much reflection required though. This ego is currently “resisting the evidence”. 🙂

    *Please note that this is not a complaint – I thoroughly enjoy being challenged by your writing. 🙂

    • You clearly were grasping the matter very well Sarah if the Ship of Theseus paradox sprang to mind prior to my referencing it in the article. I have made mention to a couple of commenters here that I am trying to make my articles that deal in so-called ‘spiritual’ matters a little more challenging than others. One may wonder why, but I feel that new perspectives come into being more forcefully when derived largely from one’s own efforts, rather than being received pre-formatted by others so to speak.

      As you know, the spiritual path is about discovering such new perspectives, and also challenging old ones, so whilst much of the work is a kind of Via Negativa as to our beliefs, the remainder includes a degree of reconsideration, of thinking along different lines. One of the major obstacles in all this is the notion of our own uniqueness, wherein we come to believe that our challenges and accumulations in thought are somehow exclusive or distinctive to ourselves. Whilst the complete package is undoubtedly that, the elements are shared with all others, being as we respond as the human animal typically does, and which is more or less generically.

      Disabusing ourselves of this egocentric notion of uniqueness can be a helpful bridge to cross, lessening self-importance and self-concern as a result. I borrowed the Little Person motif from the film featured in the video, and plagiarised the opening lines of this article from the song in that same clip. It seemed to me that in thinking of ourselves in that way, as just another little person with much in common with all others, we may begin to balance the erroneous and conceited notions of uniqueness with something more realistic and ultimately helpful. In any case, I thank you greatly for indulging me in all this Sarah, and for your frank and generous reflections.

      Hariod ❤

  9. P.S. Sorry about littering your blog with all those smiley faces. I truly am very tired. Also, I forgot to mention that, as usual, I loved your choice of images, and the music was beautiful.

    • Oh, I think that smilies are a wonderful way of conveying the emotional tone behind our words when there is little space for elaboration, or when doing so in words would be tedious or pedantic; so please do not apologise Sarah. And thank you once again for your kind and generous words of encouragement; they are greatly appreciated. H ❤

  10. I love the pictures you picked to go with your post; they brought back memories as well as making the point!

    I had an experience years ago of going to bed with one long held opinion and plan, and then waking up with a totally different one. It was a big jolting, and I pondered who actually is in charge of my mind – it didn’t appear to be me. And I had another experience many years ago when I felt immense grief that I didn’t believe was mine. I sensed it was the grief of the women in Bosnia.

    I don’t know that either of these events relates to what you are talking about here, but I think it might, and it definitely came up for me as a result of reading your post. What I do know, or at least believe, is that who we think we are is only a tiny speck compared to what is actual reality, and that reality is beyond our comprehension.

    • Thank you Karuna, I am pleased that you appreciated the photographs; it was quite tricky finding images that conveyed the idea of both our individuality and uniformity all at once. It is amusing to think how fifty or so years ago many of us may well have considered these ladies to have all but epitomised sophistication and chic – not quite ‘jet-setters’ but vicariously so. It was an age in which flying was perceived as glamorous, the preserve of the wealthy and exotic – the sort of thing that Liz Taylor and Richard Burton did, but not the ordinary little people like us.

      Thank you also for your two anecdotes, both of which are indeed pertinent to the article. The development of compassion and empathy is, as you well know I am sure, largely dependent upon us having clarity with respect to our own psychological make-up: our emotional constitution, the ways in which we form proclivities, deal with fear and desire, act out roles, and so forth. We glean an intimate knowledge of how the bundle of phenomena we experience in life gives rise to particular responses and intentional stances, which in turn partly inform the sense of selfhood.

      We see also that this unfolding process, or variances of it, are given in identical ways to all people. The detail remains unique to each individual, yet the uniqueness itself still results from patterns that we as humans have no option but to conform to, given the homogeneous nature of our nervous systems and brain functioning, let alone any similarly homogeneous societal or cultural conditioning. In short, the greater the degree to which we understand ourselves, then the greater capacity we have for understanding and empathising with others, for seeing them as they are.

      With much gratitude and all best wishes,


      • I often remember when I was young that when we flew somewhere on a plane then we dressed up in our best clothes – so different than today.

        I understand the post even better by reading your comments here. Thanks!

  11. I think that perhaps what you are saying is that the ‘self’ is something arbitrary that we choose to apply a label to. Similarly, we call a table a ‘table’, although we could equally differentiate between ‘dining table’ and ‘coffee table’, or treat each and every table as a distinct object, or even refuse to entertain the idea that a table is a coherent concept. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you mean.

    • Thank you for your interest and contribution Steve; I greatly appreciate both. Yes, it is in part to do with clarifying distinctions between the conceptual world and actuality. Theseus’ ship remains as an enduringly fixed conceptual construct despite its actuality constantly undergoing a transitioning, even to the point of no longer being existent as it formerly was in any physical respect. Smearing out across the whole we overlay the concept and percept of ‘ship’, and erroneously take them as being the ship as it is in actuality, which of course they are not.

      I was also keen to convey the idea that in coming to understand ourselves, which largely does involve untangling the conceptual from the actual, we come also to see the other as they are – not as they think they are, but as they are in respect to those same processes of mind we have understood about ourselves. If I see how I put myself together as a little person called Hariod, I see also how those I meet do similarly for themselves. And given that we engage in a collective aberration in respect to actuality, I understand the other as I do myself, not in detail but in process.

  12. Your choice of images are stunning Hariod; they are extremely complex, yet immensely harmonious – a great match for the ideas you have presented. The squiggly parts that make up my brain, turned to planks whilst reading, and began playing Jenga. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, please do look it up; I believe it to be a wonderful antidote to your article.

    You always seem to make your articles interactive, playful, engaging, and of course, thought provoking. I especially love the title and use of [the motif] ‘little person’. What a unique way to describe such concepts.

    When does the point arrive at which we can no longer claim the mind belongs to any little person? I’m unsure about this, yet the words ‘point’ and ‘claim’ feel as though they would be non existent at such a transition, if you could call it that, even?

    Thank you,

    Love, Jessie. ❤

    • Hi there Jessie! I am delighted that the images meet with your approval; I was looking for something that conveyed the idea of individuality and uniformity all at once, whilst wanting something a little ironically humorous. Did you know that the bonnets in the top photograph is where the air stewardesses would have stored their packets of peanuts for the travellers? You may have noticed the little man person in the bottom right of that picture who is patiently awaiting the end of the shoot to ask the ladies if they can spare him a packet or two. You know the sort – peanut vulture!

      Jenga does indeed appear to be a suitable antidote to my caliginous offering, although sleep is probably the more likely adopted amongst readers here, and I must confess, I even dozed off myself during the sculpting of each paragraph, which is not untypical of me when in creative mode. Nonetheless, I am once again delighted that twixt block building, and perhaps naps too, you found something of value amongst the wreckage, and the phrasing of your rhetorical question on the matter of ownership suggests you already have more than an inkling as to the answer.

      Thank you very much for your interest and unique contribution dear Jessie.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Individuality and uniformity – ah I see, perfect. On the peanuts living under the bonnet hats, I’m unsure what to believe here, but you seem to know a lot more than me. Do they really, or did they really store them there, once upon a time? And as for peanut vultures, they really should expand their nut tastes.

        Sleep was definitely not something I endured during reading, no. A couple of match sticks wedged between the eyelids would be a suitable resolution, for you, if need be (I am by no means a doctor).

        About sleep – do you find you dream, much, if at all these days?

        Jessie ❤

        • I quite understand your calling into question the bonnet-nut hypothesis Jessie. However, just take a look at the third lady in from the left; her nuts have clearly overbalanced, and the look on her face indicates that she can hardly wait to nip off and rearrange them. The other lasses are clearly more at ease with their bonnet balance. May I ask, what are your favourite nuts; let me guess – Macadamias? They are a royal nut to be sure, and I have it on good word that the queen of England munches them as her preferred choice. Pecans, Brazils and Almonds, despite their excellence, and also their suitability for containment within bonnets, hardly get a look in at her various palatial abodes, and nor within the hidey-holes of her gilded carriages. The Macadamia, as well you know, is also known as the Queensland nut.

          On the question of dreaming, which we ought treat with more seriousness, then it seems to me that this is a difficult question to answer accurately. Nothing happens to awareness in sleep as compared to wakefulness, other than that memory largely runs idle, and it is memory that serves to give us knowledge of the world. We might say that memory is what turns awareness into consciousness; it converts our lucid potential to apprehend and perceive the world, into representational objects of knowledge, and the Latin words ‘con science’ mean ‘with knowledge’, as you know. The ancient Buddhist term ‘sati’, which is translated as ‘mindfulness’ in the West, actually means ‘memory of the present’. Accordingly, when we think we’re being ‘in the moment’ and aware of things, we’re actually running in memory mode, or in the representational imagery of (just) past phenomena.

          So, in sleep, awareness continues throughout, and if it did not, then we would never awaken when the alarm clock rang in the morning. In that process, memory is switched on, awareness morphs into consciousness and we have knowledge of the sound and feelings experienced, and also that they indicate in thought that it’s time to get up. This is a shorthand explanation of how the human nervous system and brain operate generically in respect to sleep, awareness and memory. Now, there are many myths circulating in spiritual circles, amongst which is that self-actualized people no longer dream. I suspect this idea was borne out of the fact that such people no longer lend any credence to their thoughts as facsimiles of actuality, or as actuality itself – they no longer inhabit their thoughts, so to speak. As a result, it is perhaps true to say that they would think less than previously, and as dreaming is thinking, so dream less too.

          For myself, then I really have little idea of how much I dream, and all I know is that I remember very little of any dreaming that does perhaps occur. Dreaming is largely thinking without memory, or rather with only very limited traces of memory accessible as source data. Patterns of imagery punch through, say when we’re preoccupied over some issue, and the mind has little to play with other than these traces of imagery and feelings, it not having full access to memory nor very little sensory input. Because of this, it’s all highly imaginative, and the lack of data input dictates as much. However, the imagination can be incredibly revealing, if not altogether reliable, and I suspect that those who analyse whatever dreams they are able to recall, or those that dream lucidly (consciously), have much to learn about themselves as a consequence of such efforts.

          Please forgive me if all of this is familiar to you Jessie, or if you are an expert on dreaming and know much more about the subject than I do. I quite accept that my own knowledge on the matter is sparse, and would be happy to have you fill in any gaping omissions as regards what has been said.

          With much gratitude and respect,

          Hariod. ❤

          • Bonnet balance via nut storage has hardly, if ever, sounded so splendid, given its newly factual awareness within these temporal lobes. I’m not so much an avid consumer of nuts, yet people have found comparisons, somehow, of the apparent me to one. Macadamias though, especially baked in honey, are a dear favourite, and when living in Queensland were a right treat. But here in the South, pre-soaked almonds are my go-to nut. Our family even had an almond tree, but the birds made an absolute mess of it each year. The blossoms in spring were mesmerizing.

            I was hoping you would go into some depth about the dreaming. Thank you; it has given me something to ponder, and if anything tidied up a few loose ends, or a couple of question marks. And by no means am I an expert in, or on, anything. It’s just that I have observed that dreaming has dramatically reduced – plus some curiosity.

            “Dreaming is largely thinking without memory” and “the mind has little to play with” – what fantastic ways to describe such phenomena.

            Thanks H, always a pleasure.


            Jessie. ❤

            • Ooh, macadamias baked in honey sounds deliciously decadent and irresistible. In France you can buy jars of walnuts in honey, and they are a speciality of the South-West region. Greek or Australian honey would likely be better still of course. I used to own a house which had three walnut trees in the orchard garden, so that was a splendid autumn crop; no blossoms like your almond tree, but wonderful trunks and bark, and impressively statuesque nut-bearers.

              Thank you for the lovely exchange Jessie; always a pleasure for me too.

              With metta,

              Hariod. ❤

  13. Dear Hariod,

    Thank you for another hearty and creative dose of your monthly column, whose core theme I consider the relinquishing of the strangely attractive but ultimately false notions that hide out in our consciousness.

    I loved the movie Synecdoche, New York and have watched it twice, probably a good four or five years apart. I feel I need to watch it a third time to understand it fully. Even without understanding it intellectually, it gave me that sensation, like art in its various forms sometimes does, that some awareness of pattern is being triggered within me at a deep level.

    Your piece this month brings up some interesting ideas. Turning to our recent conversations regarding particle physics, and the discussions of pattern here in an earlier comment thread, I am reminded of a phrase Mendel Sachs used in his books and philosophical papers. He described particles, stars and other observables as correlated modes of a single continuum. He felt Relativity Theory implied there was ultimately but one thing – for lack of an intelligent term – and that all appearances were localized representations. I don’t think this is too far off of your premise here. In a sense the whole universe would be a Ship of Theseus, though I am not sure if it is applicable to scale the paradox up to the whole universe, or think I even understand what that means.

    I sense the most important point here is the insight that because our experience of a ‘self’ is fabricated through various highly enticing means common to the physical and mental systems that we share, understanding what is truly occurring leads to insight into what is occurring for all people. And I think this is extremely important. Although I came at it from a very different angle, learning to understand human commonalities with other people was very important to learning how to listen, to forgive, to develop compassion, etc. We begin to see how we could be the ones who have done the things we don’t think ought to be done.

    I can’t help but return to the notion that every ‘self’ is relational, in the sense that it is dependently arising, to attempt to use the terminology you used above. And yet if every ‘self’ is a correlated mode of a single continuum, do we not also gain insight into the nature of that whole continuum, and not just of one another? In other words, can we suggest that what we discover in ourselves and one another is perhaps a glimpse of the movement of something greater which is the wholeness of it all, the universal Ship of Theseus? I sense that in Buddhist thought there emerges from the teachings of Non-self and Interbeing the sense that everything arises relationally, with mutual dependence. As if each ‘thing’ was bootstrapped into existence through correlations to every other ‘thing’. But what is said of the entire ensemble? That whatever-it-is that constitutes the entire field of interdependent phenomena. Does that exist?

    I feel we are synecdoches of that also. Now – fire up that contrarian artillery!? 🙂

    Much love my friend,


    • Dear Michael,

      Firstly, my thanks once again for your incredibly helpful and generous reflections, which as always add so much to the narrowly condensed perspective I put together in my own words. Secondly, there will be no “contrarian artillery”, which when deployed, is usually done more in a selfish bid to test my own ideas to destruction rather than annihilate the honest offerings of others, least of all yours dear fellow. On the contrary (ha!), your own thoughts here run very much along the same tracks as my own, and whilst I had been beginning to wonder whether I had succeeded in gaining any sort of traction with readers through this piece, you ameliorate such concerns, particularly by the words rendered so eloquently and clearly in your fourth paragraph.

      You stretch the point I make in the article into areas I am far from being qualified to comment or make even any mildly useful conjectures upon Michael. Still, I can very readily accept the idea of awareness as your “single continuum”, in much the way that some of those at the cutting edge of the Science of Consciousness posit it as a fundamental property of the universe, or perhaps as a linking mechanism within a Panpsychist perspective. If we take that back into the human animal’s common experiences of Non-self and Non-duality, then one can hardly arrive at any other conclusion, for that is precisely how it appears, and it does so with an obviousness and force that so dwarfs the perceiving mind which attempts to rationalise it in now redundant terms.

      I think we always arrive at a paradox in taking the discussion into such territory, for on the one hand we have those non-dual experiences, or glimpses of a unicity/continuum, and on the other we have a world of apparently ontologically distinct physical entities – stuff with boundaries, limits, a fixed place in space. I get the impression it is different for each of us, or can be, yet what first made sense of it for me, in a nonsensical, paradoxical way(!), was in accepting that the world and consciousness both exist, and yet are identical. That is not very helpful, other than to say it makes perfect sense within such experiences; it was for me on first encounter the best fit possible for a rational mind that futilely insisted upon some sort of explanation, however inadequate.

      Why is there such a difficulty in making sense of your continuum, or which by other names may be known as Non-duality, or Non-self? I think the answer must be that the rational mind can only operate within the dichotomy of subject and object; it simply has nowhere to go once the non-dual is perceived, or better to say apprehended. To the rational mind, all phenomena are either distinctly this or that, self or other, here or there, subject or object, experience or experiencer, thinker or thought. In coming into play, the rational mind immediately sets up the dichotomy from which it cannot escape. Yet if we allow for awareness subsisting both within and without the rational mind – i.e. non-locally – then, and only then, can we find an explanation for these glimpses of your continuum, which by definition must transcend the subject/object dichotomy.

      Anyway, enough of all that. You appear to be the first here that is aware of the film Michael, or certainly the first that has made mention of it. I agree, it is one of those that one views and then shortly afterwards thinks “that was good, now I need to watch it again to understand it.” I plagiarised the opening lines of the theme song Little Person for the opening words of this article (see video clip), and the film itself was the inspiration for the writing of course. I appear to have inadvertently induced the very same effect in my readers as we both experienced after first having watched the film though, and I do hope I am not driving little persons away too swiftly given that need to re-read my little offerings in the hope of gleaning anything at all from them. Oh well!

      Much love and gratitude as always,


      • Hello Hariod,

        I have tracked down a few quotes and ideas that may (or may not) interest you regarding the reconciliation of the world and consciousness, or what you might describe as Panpsychism. This first passage is from a book called The Universal One, written by Walter Russell in the 1920’s. Walter was a genius in many ways – an artist and mystic I have made reference to on occasion. I believe he wrote The Universal One following a particularly lengthy inner discourse with Universal Mind (for lack of a better term), that lasted for about forty days. Anyway, I submit the following:

        “There is but One universe, One Mind, One force, One substance.”

        “Man is Mind. Man is matter. Mind and matter are One. God is Mind.”

        “All nature is a series of orderly tonal periodicities of the One force, assembled into the complex idea of thinking Mind, and registered in light, or matter, or energy in interchanging potentials, all of which are variable, yet comprehensible and measurable states of motion of the One substance.”

        “Man’s concept of the sublime Being as the Creator of a material universe different in substance from the spiritual universe is a mistaken concept […] ‘Creation’ is an apparent integration in continuity of that which already exists in substance. It is a periodic change of state of the One unchanging substance.”

        I was going to offer some other thoughts but I fear I will take up more space than is merited. In an effort to turn this back to your original article, it does seem to me that if we come to understand the manner in which our individuality arises, and discover that we are ‘all the same’ in terms of how the experience of our apparent separateness is manufactured from a continuum, and further perhaps discover that what we access in the silence of our own being is far greater in scope or extent than the limits of our bodily presence might suggest, we come to that great insight of being able to comprehend one another very deeply.

        I have come to think of the situation thusly: some invisible, formless, massless and immeasurable movement of consciousness – what Walter Russell calls the “thinking of Mind” – produces transient ‘records’ in the One substance, as the ever-changing patterns of the ‘world’ we see and experience. They are fully unified in the sense that there is absolutely zero possibility to interject a slippage or breakdown in the linkage of the invisible and the visible. They could not come apart and wander off independently. They are fully unified at every point.

        I do wonder when reflecting on the researcher, whose name I have forgotten, who demonstrated that decisions are made before arising in local awareness, that they might not simply be measuring the sequence of one ‘record’ relative to another. Meaning, all measurable quantities follow from an invisible movement, the way waves in water are echoes of a passing disturbance, and might it not be the case that a deeper level of ‘decision-making’ than the limbic system is at work? Could the physical structure of the body not simply be a precisely-tuned apparatus for receiving and amplifying particular desires or ‘thinking’ of a far vaster Mind than we typically comprehend?

        I’ve used up all my welcome, my space, and my questions. But one more: is there going to be a Part 2 planned Hariod!? 🙂

        Thank you for your tolerance, my friend.


        • Hello Michael,

          Last things first: You have far from used up your welcome, nor the many gigabytes of space apparently still available here under my hosting contract. You can stretch your legs as much as you like, and I know for certain that many readers here appreciate greatly you so doing. Above all, I have always wanted this site to be a forum of exchange and respectful discussion. After all, if I want to blow my own horn in the dark, I can always write a book. And the last of the last things that come first, is that I will indeed write a Part 2, but as this has befuddled a fair few, as did my previous post, then I shall need to come up with something more tangible to chew on in terms of structure. The theme will be Synecdoche: Little World, or something close, and I would like to gently begin to explore the way in which we put our respective outer worlds together – or is it just me that does that? Oh, one more last, last thing: the researcher whose name you had forgotten was Benjamin Libet.

          Your man Walter Russell was completely unknown to me before now, and so I made a point of reading about him on Wikipedia and looking at book reviews on Amazon, which were almost universally glowing. What an extraordinary man! I can only respond to these quotes within my own limited framework of experience and even more limited intellect of course, yet I had wondered if you had included them because of something I said, and rather buried, in my previous comment to you: “the world and consciousness both exist, and yet are identical.” I noted then that such words are not very helpful, other than to say that they make perfect sense within such experiences (of non-duality). Whether or not this was what triggered your further response and called to mind Walter Russell, I don’t know, although I can see the parallels, particularly so in the second of the quotes – perhaps excepting the God bit.

          A part of me wants to resist using terms like ‘one mind’, or ‘universal consciousness/mind’ Michael, and I understand why Advaita means precisely that in any literal translation i.e. ‘not two’, or ‘non-dual’. It is in one sense monistic – in that it rejects mind/body dualism – whilst allowing for multiplicity too, and that, I know, seems paradoxical, as does the experience itself to the apprehending mind. My resistance comes because in stating the case positively by talking about ‘one’ this or a ‘universal’ that, it conjures spatial imagery, and we can’t help but conceive of something stretching out over space and time. That is almost certainly not Russell’s intent, yet it is the effect I think, though perhaps you would disagree?

          I come out of the Via Negativa, or Neti-Neti, kind of negation of the erroneous, and am wary of slipping into positive descriptions that never quite work. The hearing, rational mind cannot but be trapped into a subject/object dichotomy, and also a paradigm of locality, or space and time. Once we state something positively it becomes an object set in opposition to an understanding subject – the gearbox of comprehension in which we are trapped – all of which contextualises within an imagined paradigm of space and time, and we’re firmly rooted within the world of appearances from which we sought escape. Spiritual teachers have to wrestle with this, and so often will appear to contradict themselves, which they are, yet it is unavoidable. Enough of this, let’s move on to your own ideas.

          Wow Michael, that is incredibly deep, and I find myself feeling my way into your meaning step-by-plodding-step, for I am, as always, rather slow on the uptake. You seem to come close to a god-conception, though as with Russell I suspect you back away from any God-as-Creator-Being formulation. Perhaps you see that as I do, in that it’s uncomfortably close to a spiritualised yet ultimately anthropomorphic vision – good for illustrating possibilities perhaps, but ultimately ontologically unlikely in the extreme. The question that floats to mind is this: Can humankind ever partake in this conception of yours or does it forever remain abstracted from our experience? Are we at best a sort of demiurge that reflects a greater vision but never truly participates in or becomes it? Perhaps much of our belief in any such conception rests upon the reliability of inference, albeit that the source materials for that inference – transcendent experiences and the like – are undoubtedly to be had and are productive of much of original worth to the reflecting and inferring mind. I would love to hear your thoughts on these matters dear Michael, and although neither of us can come up with anything definitive, that seems little excuse for not clawing our way forward in the dark as best we can.

          Much love, Hariod.

          • Hello Hariod,

            Thank you for the Benjamin Libet clarification, and also, yes, your comment about the unity of consciousness and the world sparked a memory of Walter Russell’s writings and the thought of some potential similitude. Russell was indeed an extraordinary man. As one example of the insights he obtained during the visionary period I described, he completed a novel periodic table of the elements placing the elements into wave octaves, and in his table he predicted the existence of several elements that were previously unknown to science – notably tritium and deuterium. They were subsequently discovered, though not because of Russell’s tables directly.

            I do understand the idea that just about any positive formulation of ultimate reality we might offer is inherently limited and falsifiable, and thus potentially misleading. Nevertheless, I often find such pointing at the ultimate reality to be insightful in at least a poetic way; never quite in a literal sense, though. Taking the words at their discrete values and attempting to deduce a meaning from any particular phrasing often distorts and confounds any meaning I find, which lingers around and near the words, but never can be quite found in them. We will always be quite able to take exception to one another’s words, though I do much enjoy what emerges when the conversation transcends these efforts at discrete formulations, and relaxes into what holds the overall thread of feeling and insight. It’s the poet in me.

            I cannot say as to whether this is a god-conception or not, and I’m not actually sure what a demiurge is though I’ve looked it up a few times. I’m wary to use the G-word and nearly deleted it from the passage above, for I understand and appreciate your wariness of the term. When we dance around that word, I sense we are missing one another more often than not, for what you may think I mean when I use the word never quite feels like what I mean, and since the G-word has so many historical and discrete definitions that are anthropomorphic and widespread, it is surely all but impossible for you or anyone else to know what I mean when I use that term differently than established conventions. I assure you I do not mean a discrete and independent being who thinks and emotes like you and I do. In fact, I don’t know quite what I mean at all, though I do mean that some paradoxical to our reckoning and integral vastness not bound by constraints with which we are familiar as particular beings, is occurring timelessly, and is the very substance and opportunity of existence itself.

            When I say that I think what is visible is a record of the invisible, that is probably the simplest way to say it. And when I mean visible I do not just mean visible to our eyes; I mean any energetic phenomena. Everything that registers a tangible effect, such as the flickering of a photon upon a wire, a sound that the most sensitive instrument conceivable could detect, or a packet of energy that is capable of transformation events when passing through fields of potential or in combination with other energetic packets, is so, only because it is an imbalance. Only imbalance registers motion. Only imbalance registers attractive potentials. Only an imbalance can leave a mark. In order for any physical sense, instrument, device or apparatus to register an occurrence, some imbalance or potential had to be discharged or promulgated. And so the entire, continuous, interconnected system of physical phenomena is for me a vast and singular system in which all viable elements are passing the baton of imbalance.

            I hope I’ve explained it well, though I’m not sure. It’s kind of like a puzzle in which one piece is missing, and the pieces can be configured in myriad ways. Meanwhile, all the pieces are trying to get back to their spot in the seamless, whole puzzle. Each piece moves to try and fill the adjacent opening, but in doing so a new opening is created, and so the entire system reacts to that, and it just goes on, and on, and on. All sorts of interesting pictures and patterns could emerge, and the rules of engagement for the pieces could be the ‘natural laws’ scientists are bumping into all the time. Although quite obviously they do not necessarily need to be permanently defined or adhered to in all cases just because we humans wrote them down.

            But balance is invisible, latent and undetectable. It is dimensionless, and I might even say that the sum total of all the pluses and minuses in the physical system is zero. If you start with zero, you can end up with virtually anything at all by converting zero to +1/-1, and so on and so forth as many times as you like, and squirreling away a bunch of +1’s in one area and -1’s somewhere else, but the sum total is always zero. I have no idea if this is ‘true’ but it’s a way of visualizing and comprehending the manner in which all imbalance represents the innate desire to recover what was lost, to return to balance. Something like this, though not this exactly, may be occurring in my opinion.

            The visible, being but the record of the invisible, has no power at all. It simply is the echo of how the pieces of the puzzle were shifted around. The power is all in the zero, the invisible, the dimensionless, the unregistered. And all awareness is integral to this zero. It is not separate from humans. It is not separate from dogs or rocks. It is not separate from grains of sand or entire galaxies. It is not separate from the energetic imbalances that create pretty pictures of what it thought about. It is obviously astoundingly complex in it’s experience-generating sleights of hand, perhaps in its actual workings to produce the experiences that we have, but nonetheless, ‘it’ is not separate from anything whatsoever, for ‘it’ is the zero from which all energetic phenomena emerge. ‘It’ is no farther from us than our own awareness. It is who and what we are. ‘It’ is not anthropomorphic in the sense that it exceeds all of my faculties to truly comprehend, and yet, as I said ‘it’ is the most intimate presence of being within me.

            Something like this is what Russell tried to describe in his writings, though better than I have here. The visible is essentially ‘made of’ the invisible, the ‘substance’ of the visible being ‘Light’, and ‘Light’ being the one medium in which thought is registered, and thought being a singular field of whatever thought truly is. Overall, this obviously cannot be explained or described. I daresay I shouldn’t have tried. 🙂

            It remains paradoxical, as you say, though I feel – paradoxically – that I understand it. I feel it the way one might say they understand the experience of life. That understanding cannot be parsed, but it is plain to see on all that is.


            • I have read your further comment twice through very carefully Michael, and feel as if I have come close to what you are intending to convey, and which is itself a monstrously difficult task for which you are to be commended. It is a very beautiful conception, and I of course see that applying the term ‘god’ to it, in some way does nothing but sully it, perhaps far more so than any valiant effort to lay it out in reasoned terms, such as you have.

              And I agree with you, why should we not strive to at least create pointers to whatever it is that we sense or know to be beyond the normal paradigm of consciousness? Here, I come back to the question I posed in my comment of 5.30 p.m. on the 18th: “Can humankind ever partake in this conception of yours or does it forever remain abstracted from our experience?” Do the pointers carry sufficient power to transform potential (idea) into actual (what is)?

              One answer might be that no such transformation is necessary because we already partake in the reality of the pointed to conception; it is just the case that we imagine ourselves not to be and so blind ourselves to the gem on our foreheads, so to speak. I rather warm to the simplicity of this, for it not only applies Occam’s Razor on behalf of dullards like me, it also has the merit of holding life intimately; here, now, this is it!

              If you have the energy and the leg-stretching inclination, please feel free to add further reactions dear friend.


              • Hello Hariod,

                I’ve been wanting to get back to this but have been side-tracked. I read this response and there arose the feeling of gratitude for the generosity of your making space here for such a discussion.

                I offer the following with the preface that I would like to understand your question better: “Can humankind ever partake in this conception of yours or does it forever remain abstracted from our experience?” I don’t think I fully grasp what you are asking, for I don’t quite know where you think human beings reside in relation to this continuum-dance of the seen and the unseen, and I obviously didn’t explain that little part. 🙂

                But I think the answer to the question is the one you yourself have already offered, which is that we do indeed already partake of the reality I have described. Any effort to try and describe the manner in which we do so, or the weighting coefficient of our individual contributions to the whole, would fail miserably. I think it is sufficient to say that we are a microcosm, a fractal, and a ship-of-Theseus type of holonomic dynamic of construction precisely similar to the whole, though not all of the whole – a synecdoche, if you will. For the argument would be that the aspect of ourselves that is unseen is not separate from the unseen in what I have described above, and is integral to it, though perhaps blessed with the opportunity to express in unique and local ways. And those parts of us that are seen and visible, are just as I have described above. Our bodies are seamlessly interwoven into the entire fabric of physical reality as very specialized baton-passing dynamics that appear to be independent, but of course are not; while the invisible part of us is always immersed in the singular unseen. But paradoxically, these are not separate, and are perpetually interwoven – not two – the seen being the recording or after-image of the unseen, etched upon the unseen.

                The paradox here is trying to explain where the seen and the unseen meet. How do they intermingle? Russell suggests the most fundamental ‘material’ of the seen, is Light, which is something like an everywhere repeated primordial imbalance produced in the cosmic stillness by thought; though this wouldn’t be anthropomorphic thought. This would be thought so perfect and profound I cannot begin to grasp it. And yet it is the very thought in which we share, everyday, as cosmic synecdoches walking around without a clue as to what’s really happening! 🙂 It is the thought we touch in moments of unity, compassion and Love.

                If you keep asking, I might keep going!



                • Thank you so much Michael; I recall on one occasion referring to your “inestimable powers of endurance” soon after we first exchanged a few thoughts, and you once again prove my rather ungracefully expressed assessment to be correct – “inestimably generous nature” would seem an altogether superior and embracing description though.

                  Getting back to my clumsily posed question: “Can humankind ever partake in this conception of yours or does it forever remain abstracted from our experience?” I can see that this may appear unclear, and for that I must apologise.

                  The question attempts to ask whether, in direct experience – meaning as an apprehending awareness – the theory can be confirmed, or is it always a codified abstraction? Can Russell’s ‘Light’,
                  ‘Thought’, ‘Unseen’ and ‘Imbalance’ ever become self-evident in our individuated and ‘seen’ apprehending? You answer this in part by suggesting that they do, as we ‘touch’ upon unity, compassion and love; although the touching is not synonymous with Russell’s conceptions it would appear, and are but partial reflections of them – an inference of them as, perhaps, valid theories.

                  Then again, theories are vitally useful, and one might draw a parallel with gravity: a phenomenon we never experience directly, though only by inference. When I jump from a very high place, say as a parachutist, I do not experience gravity, but rather wind pressure, sound waves, particular kinds of movements and visual references. None of these are gravity itself, but solely the effects of it permitted by the limits of my sensory system and its sentience. However, unless I am aware of some theoretical property that accounts for these effects, then I run the risk of endangering my life, so I live by the theory. Another interesting example is the concept of ‘wetness’; we all know what it is, yet in fact we never experience it, much as we think and insist that we might. If we place our hand within a bucket of cold water, very slowly and with exquisite attentiveness, all we in fact experience is pressure and temperature fluctuations – never something we call ‘wetness’, which remains only an inference, a generic term for a grouping of other very specific sense contacts.

                  It seems there is no wrapping-up to be done here my friend, and besides, given your busy life I think that I have tested even your own generosity more than it is fair and reasonable to do. The exchange has been, as always, both a pleasure and a learning, for which many thanks dear Michael. If, on the other hand, you feel something has been missed or stated incorrectly, then you are of course most welcome to comment further.

                  Hariod ❤

  14. Hariod, as with all of your posts, you make us think beyond that which we see. Your video choice is just the perfect accompaniment too!

    Take this sentence of yours: “Yet this owning agent is never verifiable other than as consciousness, for it is only ever a belief that resides within and as that consciousness.” This is a complex subject I feel, for those who can only see themselves as separate little people. I doubt many can step outside of themselves to see how each thought, each action, and each reaction, connects us to one another, and how, if we take that further step, we have each within our own minds and thoughts created the perceived world around us.

    Your images reflect how we follow trends – the air hostesses all dressed the same, individual yet the same. And how we too are influenced via trends, our minds linking into what, the need to feel part of a group? And those who are different, who want to take their individuality that one step further to be noticed – maybe the tattoos, or the piercings, or the hair dye – is it the insecurity of wanting attention, or the opposite of hiding behind a mask, a tough exterior hiding a vulnerability within those outward hardened shells?

    We are all of us [in effect] vibrations; each oscillating within the frequency we inhabit, either projecting positively or negatively, some more powerfully so than others, each juggling for position within our social frameworks. In family, we jostle for love and to be liked, or simply just to be noticed. And those frequencies gain momentum within our careers and community, as our thought patterns of learned behaviours meld us into the people we become.

    We are all of us part of that whole life energy, and which ever way it swings, we are all particles within the total energy of creation. Each thought, like a conductor, contributes to the pulse and rhythm of life; yet we should learn to use those thoughts to their best effect within the total manifestation.

    Hariod, your post is so intriguing; it really is genius. You have such a beautiful mind that always holds my attention captive. I apologise for airing my thoughts aloud here; I didn’t realise how I had waffled on until I looked up. 🙂

    Hugs my good friend, Sue. ❤

    • Dear Sue,

      There is no need in the least to apologise for airing your thoughts as you have done here, and in that so generously and insightfully too. One of the great pleasures of having a website such as this, is that commenters of all persuasions appear so as to offer their perspectives, and whilst a good number of us are facing in similar directions as regards our thoughts, then the expressions come out in manifold ways. For example, you see much of what is discussed in terms of us being ‘energy’ forms complete with a power of thought which extends far beyond our typical capacity to comprehend, I think it is accurate to say. Michael appears to lean more in the direction of us being in essence expressions of love, and similarly sees our typical obscuration from that same knowledge, albeit that we are never prohibited from love other than by our own misguided means. Others, perhaps like myself, Mike, and Tina, tend to convey our own understandings within a loosely philosophical context, perhaps bringing in ideas about how the mind may work so as to create our respective little worlds. Others still, perhaps such as Karuna and Karin, view matters more cosmologically, though with ever-respectful nods to faith and soteriological doctrines. Then there are the left-fielders, like Jessie and Sonmi, whose artistic visions are no less philosophically profound, and may well eclipse those of a drier, more rationalising bent, for all I know. What I can say is that however we may choose to express our respective understandings, it is nothing short of a privilege for me to be able to provide this platform, and for wonderful people such as yourself, all those mentioned as well as those not, to come here and consider my own offerings is humbling and an honour indeed.

      Much love to you dear Sue,

      Hariod. ❤

      • Hariod, what a beautiful analysis of our various thinking. 🙂 And as always you bring your own wisdom to the table of discussion. The privilege, I assure you, is all mine. 🙂

        Love and light your way dear Hariod. xx Sue

  15. This is fun to play with. I think of the little person self as a short hand construct created by our brains. Just as the visual cortex creates a partial reproduction of what is within our field of vision, our brains create a sense of an independent self, which gives us some evolutionary advantage. The sense is so strong, we can be fooled into thinking ‘I’ am a literal entity. Meditation is an antidote. Thought provoking. Thanks.

    • Thank you for indulging my modest lucubrations, and also for your altogether more concise reflections. Undoubtedly, the little person self has conferred evolutionary advantages, though I wonder whether over time the construct will evolve out of existence now its worth has been served; after all, who needs it? o_O Your mention of meditation being an antidote struck a chord within, and I recall decades ago discussing with an abbot of a monastery whether Buddhist practices aimed at transcending the self were akin to leapfrogging what were in any case inevitable evolutionary progressions. He asked me how long I wanted to wait.

  16. Love this, Hariod – and it immediately calls from memory the lyrics to I Am the Walrus: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” And yes, a person who is inordinately attached to their personhood would have trouble with your assertions, or what I consider simple reality.

    How else to explain the thoughts that arise in my still mind while contemplating nature, or the answers to queries that have dogged me for many years? My knowing now is that these ‘answers’ have always existed, yet I did not have the ability or spaciousness to recognize them years ago – Native Americans did not ‘see’ Columbus’ ships at first (speaking of ships), because they had never observed ships before – this vision completely transcended any known reality, for them. As Hawaiians are wont to say, “same/same.”

    When we, collectively as humans, reach a critical mass of understanding our synecdochical qualities, mindfulness will no longer be a ‘theory’, or even questioned. Perhaps then we will truly and unconditionally love ourselves and thus one another. At least that’s my takeaway. 😉

    • Thank you so much for your kind consideration of my thoughts here Bela, and also for your most interesting, informed and thus informative reflections. Your walrus appears to be as sagacious as an “elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna”, which is saying something – though quite what I’m not entirely certain I must confess.

      On your main point, then you may know there is a fascinating little book written by a Frenchman called Jacques Hadamard which deals with how several of the great creative and scientific minds of the last century came about their discoveries. The very striking conclusion is that the final step, or the final realisation, comes about seemingly as if out of nowhere, though most certainly not as a direct result of discursive or empirical thought processes. Those procedures of reason, though initiating the overall process, at regular points go into incubation (Hadamard’s term), and this may be for an extended period of many months, but in any case will happen simply by virtue of the mind turning away to attend to other matters. These periods of incubation, Hadamard concludes, are what allow the mind to access what are, as you say, answers which pre-exist beyond itself, in other words to grasp what is out in what I wrote of as the ‘sea of otherness’, and in which the mind constantly participates would we consciously but know it.

      [ ]

      Anyway dear Bela, I have a day of leisure before me and am considering spending this afternoon “sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun”. It looks a little changeable outside, but should the skies open then never mind because, well, “you get a tan from standing in the English rain” too don’t you know? And what to have for afternoon tea I wonder? Ah, it can only be “semolina pilchards” today I think.

      Lots of love,


      • Heh-heh, yes, I’m with you on my bafflement to the rest of the lyrics, though those [previously quoted] in particular arise spontaneously in consciousness, from time to time.

        Enjoy your English garden and tea! Last time I was in England was 1974, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rain. 🙂 I suspect too much has changed since then for me to enjoy a leisurely pace on and off the London tube, yet some things may not ever change, teatime being one.

        Loving our connection.

        • Yes indeed Bela, the line you quoted has a deep philosophical meaning, coming as it did from George introducing the other band members to Indian philosophy of course. I had the pleasure of meeting George on many occasions, and was always struck by his calm and very attentive nature, and also his grounded and humorous persona. On the night he was attacked by a knife wielding intruder at his home Friar Park, he was being carried away on a stretcher, bloodied and bandaged with a punctured lung and head injuries to the awaiting ambulance, as a member of the household staff who had only been recruited the previous day looked on in shock. George asked for the medics to pause, and then looked up at the new employee saying to him ‘so, what do you think of your first day?’

      • I once worshiped the Great Lawd of Protractedness, we had a close relationship, we’d go on long, long walks; then her sister, Brevity, caught my eye a few years ago. She was a nymph, alluring and challenging; I felt dirty courting her, but I loved her secret knowledge, too. 🙂

        • One word: foreplay. Or is that two?

          ‘Old habits . . .’ [protractedness] as they say, speaking of which:

          Two nuns are ordered to paint a room in the convent, and the last instruction of the Mother Superior is that they must not get even a drop of paint on their habits. After conferring about this for a while, the two nuns decide to lock the door of the room, strip off their habits, and paint in the nude. In the middle of the project, there comes a knock at the door. “Who is it?”, calls one of the nuns. “Blind man”, replies a voice from the other side of the door. The two nuns look at each other and shrug, and, deciding that no harm can come from letting a blind man into the room, they open the door. “Nice tits” says the man, “where do you want these blinds?”

  17. All the world’s a stage and the actors aren’t so different. I’m glad our individuality is not as unique as we pretend. My mind feels lonely enough. I wonder what the ramifications would be if we all suddenly realized how alike we all are. The paradox you bring up reminds me of the one about teleporters:

    If a teleporter worked by reforming all our cellular connections at our destination and banishing them at the origin, can we still call the formed individual the original? What about a malfunctioning teleporter that forms a self at both the destination and the origin point? Which self is the real self? Is there an original and a copy? Are they both copies? Our cells are naturally replaced just like the wooden planks of Theseus’ ship. Can we really pretend that the time it takes to replace every piece makes a difference?

    Our experiences, memories and genes form us. But research suggests that every memory is simply a remembrance of the last time we remembered it. Experiences are largely reliant on chance. Genes degrade. We are made of the same stuff as grass and apes and supernovas and everything in between.

    I think these questions matter, but it is more important that we recognize our commonality and embrace it. Empathy is the answer.

    • Gosh Madalyn, what a wonderfully astute and challenging comment you have provided us with; and were I to have positioned ‘like’ buttons here in the comments I suspect yours would attract the most presses by some margin. I would most likely cheat and give it five, nay let’s say seven, but please don’t tell anyone; I wouldn’t want it known that this little person is a big cheat when it comes to such things. I have a reputation to protect after all, and my little person would cower in shame should it become known as a sham.

      You place a hypothesis upon another of the same with your thought experiment, and I’m inclined to stick with ships and little persons, even though the latter are themselves hypotheses as well you know. Your final question relating to this has me intrigued as you ask “can we really pretend that the time it takes to replace every piece makes a difference?” Are you saying here that a change in a thing does not constitute a change of that thing? In other words, are you saying that not only does the ship/little person remain as a conceptual constant, but that they do in some other way too, despite their replacement parts?

      Empathy is the answer you say, and indeed it is. That is the somewhat hidden yet central point to this article of course. Our challenge is to arrive at that place of empathic skill, and to simplify we might say we can go outwardly in learning about the world, inferring how its occupants operate, feel and respond based on what we learn through outward observation, or we can go inwardly and learn about ourselves from direct and subjective experience. Views differ, though I am very much of the position that the latter is both more effective and comprehensive. May I ask, what would you say Madalyn?

      With much gratitude and respect.


      • You flatter me greatly, Hariod. My little person is doing a little dance. 🙂

        I don’t have any confidence in my point of view. These ideas are abstract to me even as they surround us. I think change is the default. All matter is constantly in a state of flux. If all we are and all we know is change, do we really change at all? Perhaps never. Perhaps always. It’s all we have ever done, all we’ll ever do. There is no constant. There never was.

        Those are my thoughts on the matter, but they are subject to change. Which perhaps proves my point. 😉

        As for your question on empathy:

        I think there is a lot to be said for knowing and loving yourself before attempting to know and love others. Self-understanding is a firm foundation from which to learn about the world and its inhabitants. However, I don’t think it is a matter of choosing inward experience or outward observation. Except in extreme situations, we are immersed in both our own thoughts and our interactions with others throughout our lives. Personally, due to my upbringing, I spent a fair amount of my life wondering what was normal in my own mind and in relationships. I constantly wondered what was okay and normal and what was not. It was not until I had gained several true, close friends that I began to grasp the normalcy of my humanity. I’m naturally empathetic, but I truly began to humanize myself and all others when I finally realized how similar we all are. So I think the best way to hone empathic skills is to see and to feel. Knowing ourselves, we know others. Knowing others, we know ourselves.

        • This is marvellous Madalyn; you impress me deeply with the breadth and humility of your perspective. I am something of a relativist myself, and so in your writing of one’s ideas being abstract to oneself, then I relate well to that. When you say that all we are and know is change, and question whether therefore we really change at all, you bring us back to the question of quite what this apparent and ever-changing subject is – the ‘we’ that may or may not be changing. Something exists quite obviously, and the body/mind system is an integrated one to some extent. Is it correct to regard a localised display of ephemera as somehow constituting an enduring self-entity? Mike from Self Aware Patterns (see above) clearly thinks it is, though for me the fact of existence as change – just as you say – means that in calling the whole a ‘self’ we conflate the conceptualisation of appearance with actuality. In the end, we come back to the question of to what degree the words matter, and I think it was Wittgenstein who said “call it a dream, it does not change a thing”.

          On your further wonderful thoughts, I can only accept them in full, adding that the development of understanding and empathy comes in differing forms, and my attempt at a simple classification of outward and inner workings is not without its failings, for none of us operate within a vacuum. Having said that, then seeing our own ignorance, and freeing ourselves from it, seems doubly difficult if we never look ourselves hard in the mirror. It takes an unusually open mind to uncover one’s own erroneous views without self-examination, and I was never sufficiently so possessed it must be said. Consequently, I had to spend decades going inside, so to speak, turfing the contents of the mind’s recesses out into the harsh open light so as to see they in part constituted what I am. On the other hand, “the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things” as Brutus said, and your points are both well made and true Madalyn.

          Thank you very much for enriching the discussion here so fulsomely. H ❤

          • Thank you so much for inducing this engaging conversation. It has been most exhilarating and enjoyable.

            I think you are on to something with the comparison of appearance versus actuality. However minimal our connecting strings may seem, it is impossible to deny their existence. As you pointed out, our names and definitions for the connections change nothing.

            I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts on empathy and self-examination. May we always imagine others as complexly as we understand ourselves.

  18. Many questions sprang after reading your post Hariod. I am definitely not at your level of understanding so please bear with my confusion. Listing the thoughts as they came:

    If I am not the ‘I’ that I understand as ‘I’, then who am I?

    Whoever this ‘I’ may be, if this ‘I’ is also not the owning agent of the (my) mind then who or what is directing this life?

    We have this whole theory based on ‘positive thinking’ that encourages us to think positively and direct our lives towards the greater good of all, but if I look carefully, I notice that ‘my’ mind is not really under ‘my’ control, for if it was I would make it think thoughts I am comfortable thinking, and yet that doesn’t always happen.

    Are we then being driven, or are we driving? And where does the whole concept of personal responsibility go if at least at some basic level we were not some form of ‘I’?

    Again, I don’t refute the absolute interconnectedness of all that exists but I still feel we must be distinct beings within that oneness.

    One at heart, ‘I’ send love ‘your’ way!

    • Thank you so much Precious Rhymes, for opening yourself to this thorny discussion; if I may say as much, you do so with acuity and distinction. The questions you raise of course go to the central matter of philosophy, the one which still to this day produces advocates of more than one hue. I shall respond as if to yourself directly as well as to the readership more generally if that is okay. So, where to begin?

      We can all accept that we exist more or less as we conceive ourselves to exist in part, which is to say as mind/body systems. Even the wilder reaches of theoretical physics are now being reigned back to reject notions of observer created realities. We also can accept that we each of us have a social identity, in effect a social construct of selfhood; this is a narrative construct that gets played out dramaturgically in public, and amongst family and friends. Having such a construct enables us to communicate and engage effectively; it allows us to participate in the world absenting what would otherwise be perhaps a rather frightening spontaneity and unpredictability, and we wear this narrative cloak with ease, or sub-consciously. In all likelihood this kind of narrative self came about as a result of evolutionary imperatives.

      We are so used to wearing this narrative construct that it is as if we totally inhabit it. In other words we assume ourselves to be identical or synonymous with it, and yet it is only ever a narrative embedded as belief. The narrative morphs and adapts dependent upon conditions and the passage of time, yet we each of us identify with it both as a constant and as what we are in actuality. This narrative sustains and perpetuates itself within an on-going stream of mentation and representations of sensory contacts, and in spite of this changeability, still we regard it as what we are in totality or in essence. We regard it as our ‘self’, or the essence which is the ‘self of me’. Yet the term ‘self’ must surely connote something autonomous (self-determination), independently standing (not caused by means of external agency), and equally critically, enduring in time (conforming to constancy). If these criteria are not met, then the status of ‘self’ necessarily falls short in some respect.

      Our minds have evolved to conceive only in terms of subject and object, which is to say, this as against that, here as against there, and of course, self as against other. In other words, the mind is caught within the gearbox of its own comprehension, which has a default state of a dualistic dichotomy of subject and object within which all percepts and concepts must fall. The mind cannot create or represent phenomena without an implicit co-opting of this dichotomy. For example, when you ask “if I am not the ‘I’ that I understand as ‘I’, then who am I?”, then the question presupposes a subject as the ‘who’ of ‘I’; there remains an insistence on sustaining the subject conception even when we question its nature or existence – that is the gearbox we are trapped within. If we then go on to ask “who or what is directing this life?” as you did, then once again we presuppose a directing subject or hierarchical entity which has agency over our life. We are reluctant to accept that the mind may simply be operating with volition, or that the Limbic System leads us to feel our way towards any apparent choice. Instead, we impose the controlling agent of the ‘self of me’ upon all of our thinking.

      I am being a little blunt in all of this Precious Rhymes because I can see that you understand very well the nature of the problem, and most likely could have written these same, or similar, responses yourself. Still, it is always useful to air thoughts publically, to exchange ideas too, and also to pose rhetorical questions which is what I believe yours to be. As I said before, I am making these points as much to the readership generally as to yourself in particular. So, just taking your penultimate point about personal responsibility, then that raises tremendous problems within law of course, for if Free Will is shown to be illusory, then on what basis may we prosecute? Everyone is let off the hook by virtue of their not being in possession of their minds and so not responsible for the actions the mind initiates. The lawyers can blame it on my synapses and dendrites, but not on any ‘self of me’, and so not on my being in total. If there is no Free Will, then I must be allowed to walk away.

      I completely accept your final point Precious Rhymes, which is that “we must be distinct beings within that oneness”. What does the word ‘being’ suggest? It has both a verb-like quality as well as a noun-like one. Being connotes a beingness in the former sense, and something static and distinct yet alive in the latter. We exist in our minds as both, given the mind cannot but form distinctions – the dichotomy referred to earlier – and yet each of those recurrent momentary distinctions are themselves all within an ephemeral flux of beingness; they are not separate from that. That is why each of us, given the right conditions and a degree of sensitive acuity, see that there is indeed a unicity, or a oneness, whilst also knowing that the phenomena which constitute us have a certain distinctness. It is a paradox to the rational mind, which insists on either subject or object; yet in these transcendent moments of oneness we see subject and object are mind constructs alone; we see that they persist as an appearance and yet within a knowledge that bridges the gap between them, much as if the world and consciousness both exist, and yet are identical.

      Very many thanks for your interest and for your most perceptive reflections Precious Rhymes; I only hope you can forgive me for waffling on so here, though it is helpful to do so as part of an open forum which many silently participate in.

      Sending love and great respect your way my friend,

      Hariod. ❤

  19. Everything is connected.

    After reading so many stunning comments, I am left with mine own offering falling short somewhat. But that’s what sprang to mind, and having seen the film (thanks to your good self), and feel it slice open the word synecdoche so beautifully, I can confidently say exactly the same of your writing above.

    This is beyond dazzling writing H.

    – Sonmi upon the Cloud ❤

    • Nothing offered by you could ever fall short in my estimation Sonmi, and your synoptical three words impact with more force than my meandering eight hundred. I find it hard not to blather on beyond that which is entirely necessary, and was only recently reminded elsewhere by new subscriber John Zande (see above) that protractedness in the end loses out to the allure of brevity. This seems to be paralleled in the creative arts, and often we see the fussiness and obsessive technicality drop away as the years progress. Something is amiss then, as six decades and more has elapsed and yet here I am still, bloviating periphrastically ’til the cows come home.

      – Hariod bloviating kisses to Sonmi ❤

      • “Bloviating periphrastically”. Well now, that alone has me happy, for two such words do I rarely come across of an evening. Or afternoon for that matter. But be not so harsh on yourself, you can’t help being proper clever and stuff.

        – Sonmi enjoying the palaverous nature of the piece from upon the Cloud ❤

        • Glad to bloviate a little happiness your way; and thank you for ‘palaverous’ which is new to me; it makes me think of Round the Horne for some reason.

          – Hariod bloviating round the horne o_O

  20. Thank you for your recent visit to my humble blog! Your post has made me think of who/what I am. Perhaps I am just part of the universe at this moment. The comments and your replies have been worth reading also!

    • And thank for your visit to my humble blog too Coastal Crone; you are a welcome and respected guest, rest assured. Please feel free to put forward your perspective at any time should you revisit, whether it be contrarian or not. I am far from being any authority on matters here, and am always keen to learn from others with differing views and perspectives. My name is Hariod by the way, and I am pleased to meet you.

  21. Ah! Where to begin; just where to begin. My head is spinning because, although I can’t presume to say that I have completely understood everything written here, I know that it has made an indelible mark on my psyche, on my soul. Hariod, when I read your posts and the following comments it is like I am hearing something that deep down I know and yet have forgotten. Your comments and those of your incredible followers take me on a journey with different views, and the road changes, so I may get a little lost at times, but I know that I will arrive at a place that feels familiar and that I have a better road map on how to get there in the future.

    There are so many thoughts to comment on, I truly feel overwhelmed in this moment – I am still adjusting to the new medication. 😉 I never thought I would ever have writer’s block, but I stare at this computer screen and my fingers don’t respond. It is not really writer’s block as much as it is my inability to corral the thoughts I have that appear to be swirling above my head, each one shining and saying, “pick me!” I pull one down with a lasso and the others either appear so sad they weren’t chosen or they get all bossy and try to intervene. And now at the risk of sounding like a complete cock-a-doodle, I will just say, “thank you.” This whole experience has been very profound, and it will likely have me working hard to sort it all out, yet I am grateful for this. ❤

    • Thank you so much dear Lorrie, for taking the time and effort to wade through my monthly offering once again, particularly as I know you have had your recent knee surgery and its attendant after-effects to cope with, which are not at all insignificant. I truly appreciate your interest and the generosity of your support, and together they encourage me greatly in striving to improve my meagre short form writing skills. Let me now move on to the question of comprehension in all this if I may, which is the main thrust of your own response.

      Firstly, I do completely appreciate that some of my offerings here are a little oblique and hard going. This is in part due to the aforementioned lack of skill on my side, though partly also due to the nature of the subject matter. Whilst my own efforts cannot be compared creatively nor imaginatively to Michael’s – whom we both greatly admire – there are perhaps some similarities. I sometimes find myself struggling to extract meaning from our mutual friend’s poetry, and yet I have to remind my rational side that this really is not the point. The key thing is to allow for some effect to wash over us, to be open to some interior chiming with the poetic forms that our own conscious words are not able to reconcile. This state of affairs is contrived in the art itself of course, otherwise why should we need poetry at all? As a poetess yourself, you quite naturally take all this as a given, so please forgive my ramblings on the matter.

      For the benefit of all readers, then put another way, something operates at a sub-conscious level which, in spite of that, takes its effect within us equally well. Whilst I am not a spiritual teacher, nor anything of the kind, some of those who are will stress to their audiences that they should not place too much emphasis on understanding with their rational minds what is being said. This may seem absurd, and yet it is good advice in metaphysical matters, perhaps you might agree Lorrie? You say that you recognise something in the above, that deep down you know what is being said and yet have forgotten. Well, I might suggest that this is perfectly sufficient, and that to force oneself to regurgitate up to the conscious level knowledge which one is already in full possession of, is something of a redundant exercise. I think you understand perfectly well what I am struggling to express, perhaps somewhat unnecessarily in your case.

      With lots of love to you dear Lorrie,

      Hariod. ❤

      • Dear Hariod! I just read your response for the third time; the first two were read back to back and tears were streaming from my eyes. I walked away with a half hour in between and now just read it again – tears welled in my eyes this time as well. I am thrilled that you understand exactly what I was trying to say and you sent it back to me in the most beautiful words.

        Hariod, I feel there are so many things that I know and yet am not consciously aware of. When I read your words, or Michael’s poems, or many others we have in our community here, it is like I find another little piece of the puzzle, another little piece of me. Things come at precisely the moment when they will make the most impact, or when I am ripe for learning or remembering. The feeling that this creates is one of supreme connection, like I have tons of electrical cords extending from my body and with lightening precision they wander across the miles and connect to the thoughts, feelings, even to the actual ‘little person’ whose words I read. One can search for this feeling, but there is nothing like it when it happens spontaneously. I want you to know that this feeling is very powerful, and very loving and kind, and you often present me with this kind of gift and I am grateful!

        You responded so astutely to Sue, grouping your followers based on different perspectives or philosophies, and I just wanted to say that I think your assessments are spot on. It shows how much you care for your readers and that you really know them – bravo! 🙂 Oh, and the painting nuns, I’m not likely to get that image out of my mind for a while!

        And thank you for your concern and well wishes; I am getting stronger every day. I do not like the medication I must take, but that is too bad because it is not a matter of choice. It will hopefully only be another two or three months that I must take them. It has been a bit of a challenging year in many respects. There may be moments of a small pity party, but generally I feel so blessed because I can see the good no matter how dark the room becomes.

        Oh, and thank you for calling me a poetess. 🙂 I don’t think I ever really thought about that before; I just write the words I see behind my eyes.

        Much love to you, Hariod! ❤

        • I am terribly moved by your heartfelt words dear Lorrie. How these connections that you describe with your electrical metaphor happen, I shall never know, yet they do indeed happen, and like you, I am grateful that is so. Just today I had been sensing a great feeling of loving connection, as if something or someone was touching my quiddity in ways that remained opaque at best to me; yet it seemed to matter not in the least whoever or whatever it may have been, or even if it had been anything or anyone at all beyond the feeling of goodness and kindness itself. You call this a ‘supreme connection’, which seems to suggest well a kind of hyperrealistic empathic quality, or some such, without wishing to suggest any personal powers in the least, for I am truly very ordinary in all regards. Words break down into meaninglessness, and the feeling is all that counts – glad to share it with you, Hariod. ❤

          • I don’t believe for a moment that you are “truly very ordinary in all regards” ! 😉 Quite the opposite, actually! And I am so happy for you to experience that beautiful loving connection. I agree: “the feeling is all that counts.”

      • P.S. If you like uniforms David, then stand by for Synecdoche Part Two next month, when I hope to drag some fine outfits from the old mahogany wardrobe – purely for your, and your, delectation alone. 🙂

        With metta, Hariod.

  22. Hariod, I am not sure if I grasped this piece of yours well or not. Most of the words just flew over my head, but still there is a tid-bit that my limited brain grasped, and from that understanding I would like to add this: We are more than bones and skin; some say a whole universe is within our minds, and that we can explore many worlds if only we knew how to control our consciousness. As spirit in human form, we have limited boundaries; yet this body contains many possibilities; we just need to direct and explore our hidden capacities. I have taken some of this from a holy book, which went too much in a spiritual direction. I have no idea if it even relates to what you have written, but wanted to share what little understanding of your article I could. Good day! 😀

    • Thank you very much indeed for taking the time to read through this offering of mine, and also for adding your candid and generous reflections. I should say that I tend largely to avoid either writing about or discussing religious cosmology per se, because belief is naturally a very sensitive and personal issue, and when we talk about other worlds and realms of existence, then we really are in the domain of hypothesis and belief, if not religion itself. I do understand that many religions posit these other realms and complex cosmologies, and that some assert they remain accessible to the human mind in this life, subject to the cultivation of certain mental states of concentration.

      The idea of spirit or soul possession is an ancient one of course, and we should rightfully respect those cultures, societies and individuals that still hold to such constructs. The same should be understood within the pre-scientific context in which they originated, as they may not translate at all well into the contemporary understandings of physiology, neuroscience and so forth. Having said that, then human consciousness is far from having been explained, and to the extent that there is any Science of Consciousness, opinions are very much split on what it actually is. At the cutting edge, some are even positing it as a fundamental property of the universe itself.

      With much gratitude and respect,


  23. Hariod, once again you have expanded this little mind of mine. I have long suspected that I (if I may be allowed to use such a blatantly now-obvious misnomer) am indeed the littlest of the little people. And happily situated, I am, or this being who imagines herself to be. I take comfort in knowing that I am just one little person adrift in this sea of humanity, each of us attempting to make quite a spectacle of each little speck of existence. It is enough for me.

    • Thank you eM for casting an eye over this piece and for adding a reflection; I appreciate both very much. Were you indeed to be the littlest of the little people then that would indicate a state of deep self-understanding of course, as the more we see the falsity of the constructs we create and inhabit, then the smaller the little person becomes and the more so our authentic being becomes apparent in inverse proportion. I am a little unsure, being a little person myself and capable of only a little understanding, whether your comment is not purely self-effacing, and perhaps therefore quietly indicative of that same situation, one in which to state “it is enough for me” (as you have) indicates that one is indeed amongst the littlest of the little people, and hence dwelling in a state of great advancement. I rather suspect that may be the case with your good little self in fact eM. ❤

      • There are moments when I am self effacing, even humble, yet I only wish there were more of those moments. Humility is inner strength, is it not? Acknowledging, accepting, and especially appreciating my littleness brings more contentment and happiness. At least it seems this way to me. Thanks for an intriguing and inspiring read. Your intellect always reminds me that thinkers and scholars still exist in our world. And that, I think, is a very good thing. 🙂

        • Happily, your further words confirm my initial assessment eM, and you are indeed possessed of great maturity of knowledge, and an altogether inspiring humility too. Thank you also for your kind words of appreciation, and I am delighted to receive such generous words of encouragement. H ❤

  24. Your play on [the term] ‘synecdoche’ took me back in time by several decades, to the English grammar class in school where ‘synecdoche’ was explained as a figure of speech in which the part conveys the whole. So are we, in a broad sense, seven billion plus synecdoches floating around the global space with each one claiming ego-driven identities and profiles of culture and geography, based on specious definitions and divisions?

    The concept of a Universal Consciousness is very clearly stated in the Upanishads. The temple is not just a place of idol worship, as widely considered to be; temple means cosmic body or embodiment, a place where ‘Jeevatma’ or individual consciousness communes with ‘Brahman’ or ‘Paramatma’ or ‘Universal Consciousness’, where synecdoches eventually realise themselves as nano particles of the universal whole.

    I am keenly looking forward to your part 2 on the same subject, Hariod.

    Best wishes.

    • You are of course correct Raj, the Westernised term ‘Synecdoche’ is applied to figures of speech – such as I might suggest ‘little person’ is – and as I make clear at the start of the article, the word in short means ‘take with something else’. It derives from the Greek ‘Synekdokhe’, meaning ‘the putting of a whole for a part; an understanding one with another’, literally ‘a receiving together or jointly’, and is from ‘Synekdekhesthai’, which is to say ‘supply a thought or word; take with something else and join the two in its receiving’. I hope I have not taken too much of a liberty in my use of the term.

      So, when we bracket our understanding of individuals or groups thereof into figures of speech such as the generic term ‘little person(s)’, we take such figures of speech as our bracketing, yet they remain symbolic not just of the individual or group, but of all of their kind. You being identified as ‘Rajagopal’ and I ‘Hariod’ are useful, culturally and socially recognisable hyponyms, yet we both construct our egoical and self-reflective identity and respond in our sentience in exactly the same ways. We are identical animals in all practical purposes – different as hyponyms, yet the same as synecdoches.

      You ask, I think somewhat rhetorically, whether the figures of speech, or the social and egoical identities just referred to, are specious definitions and divisions. My own take would be that they are indeed wrong at one level, yet perfectly valid at another. At the level of consensus reality, which is the level at which we conduct our lives, survive and perpetuate as a species, we create a stratification that reduces even so far as the individual (little) person, and this is all valid and necessary. Yet at a functional, biological, psychological, emotional and physiological level, the individuated definitions and divisions are indeed specious, or superfluous.

      You go on to reflect interestingly on Indian philosophy and cosmology, and perhaps that is a fertile and interesting extension of what is under discussion here. When I write in the article about understanding oneself fully, and in so doing understanding the other, then this most certainly touches upon the doctrine of Advaita, and upon its actualisation in direct experience. In this, the human animal sees both themselves and the other as mind constructs, yet both are also known as material actualities occupying space and time, not just as figments of consciousness.

      In seeing oneself and the other as, in some ultimate sense, falsely individuated mind constructs, rather than as the discrete and autonomous entities they previously were exclusively believed to be, then the whole edifice of a subject/object dichotomy which rendered the world into lots of little persons, or things, is seen as both partial and partially erroneous. One cannot say it is entirely erroneous because there is indeed an individuation in space and time, yet the apprehending awareness is unequivocally known by itself as non-local and seamless. I hesitate to say it is seen as ‘one’, but it is rather ‘not two’ i.e. ‘advaita’ = ‘non-dual’.

      Many thanks for reading and also for your most interesting comment Raj; I appreciate both greatly.

  25. Hi Hariod,

    As I read this post of yours, I was once again confronted with something thought-provoking. What jumped out at me were these lines of yours, and I quote, “Beyond this, we learned the mind produces only conscious effects as verification of its own fabrications, and that these subsist universally for all the apparent little persons, being as they are culled from the same sea of otherness.”

    Of course, the mind puts in enormous efforts to reinforce, and indeed solidify, its own fabrications. In fact, our minds are full of complex models that have got created over time, relating anything and everything. So much so, that these models allow us to have only certain perspectives and be open to certain possibilities, blanking out others which do not align with our mental models, or ‘fabrications’, as you have put it.

    So what are these models? These are the Worldview (model of reality) and frames of reference (mind-sets) that we have – that is, by our network of unexamined ideas, beliefs, biases, prejudices, social and cultural embedded-ness, and taken-for-granted assumptions about the world and whatever specific aspect of the world with which we are dealing, that limit and shape the way in which the world, others, and we ourselves occur (show up) for us – including its structure and operation, and our perception of ourselves when dealing with that situation. Our Perceptual Constraints are invisible to us. As a consequence, when being with and acting on what one is dealing with, one cannot take into account what is hidden or distorted by these Perceptual Constraints. Secondly, our Perceptual Constraints distort our own ability and thereby limit our own opportunity-set for being and action.

    So, these constraints of ours which shape our thinking and actions, which have put us ‘on the rails’, which has made up who we have ‘wound up becoming’ lead to us to perceive what are merely fabrications of the mind, as our reality.

    Great post!


    • Hi Shakti!

      Thank you so much for your wonderful contribution to the discussion, and also for giving your time to read and consider the whole; I greatly appreciate your kindness. It is interesting that you have highlighted the one sentence in the article that I was a little unsatisfied with, yet left it as it was for fear of becoming bogged down in too much detail. It is gratifying for me to know that you have understood it so well, as I think it is a little ambiguous in truth. I was pointing back to this earlier section of the piece in that summary:

      “Yet this owning agent is never verifiable other than as consciousness, for it is only ever a belief that resides within and as that consciousness. Now, all conscious displays are themselves non-local simulacra, representations of otherness that are neither the little person nor any owning agent, and which clearly may never be evidenced outside of consciousness. This means the little person is always a thought-construct, a put-up job forged by mind and subsisting in otherness but never in essence itself.”

      What binds my own words, which step outside of pure mind function and processes, and your own, which deal explicitly with those, is that we are here dealing with the fallibility of mentation as a whole. One might say that the trick then, is to recognise this fallibility, whilst necessarily remaining reliant upon mentation itself in very large degree, as we must. So, we balance this reliance with a rejection of the possibility of any mental construct representing actuality. This leaves the challenge of how we come to know ourselves and others if perception is an unreliable witness.

      You will doubtless have your own ideas of how we may tackle this problem, and which I would be keen to hear if you have time. For myself, then I found that the phenomenological reductionism of Vipassana Buddhism was tremendously helpful, at least in terms of bringing one to a point where one sees the fallibility just referred to, and being completely certain of it. The process is not so much a case of progressively approaching our true actuality, for we do not know how to, but rather one of ‘reversing away’ from all that it cannot be, including perception itself.

      With much gratitude and respect,


  26. Great post – constructed by your ‘Google-in-your-head’. 🙂

    Replace your mind with someone else’s mind, and what would happen? Self would feel to be in another body, and the self that occupied Hariod would cease to exist. Would the awareness of Hariod still be there, or would that also become the awareness of the other mind? Is awareness just a subtle form of mind?

    • Thank you very much Bert, your appreciation is humbling, even though the credit ought go to the ‘Google-in-my-head’ as you amusingly call it. Writing is very much a process of searching data, the sifting of priorities, the ordering of display; and then there are those occasional little pop-ups: ‘make tea’, ‘scratch head’, ‘stare into space’, ‘what time is Federer on court?’, ‘Bert asks such great questions’. 🙂

      When you write of replacing minds, then I suppose we have to define what we mean by the term ‘mind’, and agree also on whether such a thing exists at all. You seem to imply that it is something ontologically separate from awareness – a thing or group of conditions abstracted from awareness. Okay, if we allow for that, which I’m not at all sure we can, then the result would be a cognitive dissonance of the most extreme order, quite obviously.

      The ‘self’, as I think of it, is a narrative that gets embedded in memory and which updates via the stream of mentation and its associated ongoing sensory processing. So, in your scenario, suddenly I have an incredibly complex embedded narrative that insists I am the self of Bert (or Bjork, or Alexis Tsipras), yet my sensory processing keeps presenting totally contradictory data. The likely result would be an instant and terrifying insanity.

      Now, what happens over time? Assuming I survive this existential madness, then gradually Hariod’s brain assimilates data which increasingly supplants the pre-existent data and which itself is the narrative of Bert. Why? Because the self-narrative that I inherited from you, as with all self-narratives, is a morphing entity; it can change and develop dependent upon new data. My Bert-ness slowly dissolves, the madness recedes, and a new self of Hariod emerges.

      What do you think, and have I approached your question correctly?

  27. To rephrase the thought experiment:

    To replace one mind with another, probably one would need some agreement, so insanity wouldn’t be necessary. I wouldn’t think of putting your mind in Tsipras’ and neither in Bert’s – I wonder which of these are more insane.

    Hariod’s mind would not suddenly wake up in Björk’s body; I assume some adjustment period would be needed. If one could keep Björk’s mind temporarily asleep in a yottabyte datacenter, and a month later put her back, that would certainly lead to some awkward situations, mostly concerning other selves relating to the physical appearance of Björk during the ‘replacement’.

    In my definition of ‘mind’, memory, experiences, Google-in-your-head, and self, are all inside that mind, and would be transplanted, but all physical memories and physical system administration would be left in the original Björk brain. The body machine would not be replaced. Somehow, I suppose mind is entirely in the brain, although self/mind doesn’t feel like it. There probably is included the subtle ‘awareness’. The ‘self’, being a construct in memory, and hence the brain, is hence physical.

    I was only asking myself whether awareness could be separate to this mind or not – a question I have asked before while writing the ‘Google-in-my-head’ stories in early 2013.

    It would be very awkward if the awareness of Björk would still be there while Hariod’s mind took over. That would lead to a very strange situation related more to some horror movies, or to something like Dissociated Identity Syndrome.

    Being here and now, then ‘ontologically’ and as a phenomenon, there is still a difference between self and awareness. My dementing grandmother was aware of her condition, losing her self and many other aspects of her being, but awareness left a lot later (if at all).

    • Yes, I think I probably would need to agree before allowing Björk as a stranger to live inside my brain, although who exactly would it be interesting for? I think I also would be very reluctant, to say the least, to have my own mind be dropped into anyone else’s head – it would be far too embarrassing, but again, for who?

      Bert, you say: “In my definition of ‘mind’, memory, experiences, Google-in-your-head, and self, are all inside that mind, and would be transplanted.” You go on to say: “The ‘self’, being a construct in memory, and hence the brain, is hence physical.” Maybe this needs clarifying. You are saying that mind and brain are not synonymous, yet the two statements do not reconcile as I understand them – one says the ‘self’ is a phenomenon arising in immaterial mind and the other that the ‘self’ is physical. Perhaps you are saying that mind is not synonymous with the brain but rather is merely dependent upon it?

      Anyway, your main point seems to be questioning “whether awareness could be separate to this mind or not”. Some are positing that awareness, or some degree of what we might think of as subjectivity, could be a fundamental property of the universe; others, that subjectivity in some form or other persists in all integrated groupings of information – a kind of panpsychism of material ‘things’, whether biologically-based or not. The problem in untangling it all is that we can never escape the cognitive mechanism that is itself under examination; in other words there can be no objective analysis. Science is trying to overcome this by using mathematical formulas as possible proofs, yet that renders everything purely theoretical of course, or abstracted from life as we know it.

      What we are left with is our ape brains (no offence Madame Björk), and whatever may present to them as part of individuated awareness. If we take what I and others might call the ‘experience of non-duality’ – you doubtless have your own terminology – then we can perhaps point to some progression with your interesting question. This progression is deeply paradoxical though, as you already know very well, because it allows for the existence of both a material world, and of awareness too, yet apprehends both as being identical at the same time. The dichotomy of subjectivity and objectivity dissolves, so there is no meaningful ‘here’ and ‘there’, ‘self’ and ‘other’, nor any experiencer of this experience, yet spatial referencing remains nonetheless. What is not referenced spatially is awareness itself; it is no longer thought either to coalesce around any ‘self’, nor to project from or arrive at any ‘self’.

      This makes no sense whatsoever to our determinedly rationalising ape brains, and yet this, or some otherwise-worded variant of it, is just what the ‘experience of non-duality’ is. Whether that constitutes any sort of progression in understanding I don’t know, because the question sets terms of reference that may not apply – ultimately the notion of separation does not have any relevance as awareness itself is not spatially referenced. So Bert, when you investigated the question of “whether awareness could be separate to this mind or not”, what were your conclusions, if any?

  28. No conclusions – that’s why I tried to tickle your brain in order to start this dialogue to getting a little deeper on the subject.

    [1] Well, I see the brain as the physical seat of many functions, and ‘mind’ which I most often call ‘mental mind’ to end the confusion, in my definition does not contain the hormonal system. That [hormonal system] sends us to food and drink and sex, [as well as] inborn behaviour which we might call ‘instinct’, and the emotions of sadness, happiness, anger, surprise and disgust, which also come upon us without any thought. Fear and love seem to be antipodes in any level, if we can talk about levels (physical, hormonal, emotional, mental, trans-mental?).

    [2] Intuition seems to come from an unknown sense; perhaps awareness lies in this level too. But mental mind with memory, memory-implying self, memory leading to the Google-in-our-head, thought, logic, reasoning, concepts, opinion, neuroses, mental feelings (shame, guilt, hate, jealousy), seems to be a solid block on its own inside that physical brain.

    [3] Intuition might sometimes activate the Google-in-our-head to tell us something and will act as a sense, and sometimes it just comes out of nowhere unfiltered by mind as an answer to whatever.

    [4] Awareness can be actively aware of all of this. But is awareness just a task manager inside mind? Is it mind looking at itself (meta-cognition)? I could not yet completely eliminate the first two, and the truth can only be reached by eliminating the false.

    [5] I also strongly strongly question non-duality. I see it as a concept in most people’s head leading to the duality between duality and non-duality. I notice that during silence of the mind, there is no non-duality, neither is there duality. One sees without the eyes of mind, but this unfiltered vision is also limited.

    [6] Awareness is aware of the silence. And sometimes not. Awareness is not essential to silence, it only brings it to the foreground. Next mind could do something with this foreground and the silence might go.

    [7] Intuition brought me an insight into the strange expression: ‘the subject is the object’, where we identify with the foreground, whatever we see, hear, intuit or think, filtered or unfiltered. But this is just a deeper knowledge of self, perhaps fundamental, yet unimportant.

    [8] So what about this awareness – where is it, what is it, why is it, is it indeed a holon or force-field made by all those particles we consist of? Or is it just a function of mind? And then we didn’t say anything about intuition yet. 🙂

    [9] Yes, we cannot escape our sphere of thought while writing this and will never write any truth while using words, but one has to define the words that do not exist yet, to have a spoken dialogue between those who have experienced the same phenomena.

    • Thank you very much for your generous and very interesting additions Bert. I have taken the liberty of numbering your own paragraphs so as to make it easier for readers to reference back to your original wordings.

      [1] Clearly, the brain and nervous system is, as you say, “the physical seat of many functions”. What you call ‘mental mind’, I refer to as ‘consciousness’, which itself means ‘with knowledge’ of course. So, if there is any object of knowledge, however subtle, that presents by means of consciousness, or what you call ‘mental mind’. I call mental lucidity without any object ‘awareness’, purely so as to make what I think is an important and necessary distinction. You, it appears, call this ‘silence’. Both of us, I think, agree that this ‘awareness’ or ‘silence’ need not of itself block the apprehending of a concurrent ‘consciousness’ or ‘mental mind’. In other words, we can still go about our business in the world with the two overlapping, contradictory though that may seem. So what, why are these distinctions important? Because crucially, apprehending pure lucidity (my ‘awareness’) or ‘silence’, convinces us beyond all doubt that mentation in all its forms is both limiting and partial; it cannot provide the deeper understanding that so many of us seek, and which lies beyond conventional knowledge, which is always conceptual, perceptual, and representational.

      [2] Intuition, I have always regarded as something akin to ‘thought at the speed of light’ – a kind of non-verbal thinking that reaches what is unknown the fast way, rather than plodding towards it in empirical, linear thought processes. Again, your ‘mental mind’, and what appears to be a ‘solid block’ of brain product, is indeed that, a bundle of conscious and unconscious knowledge, the conscious being made so by means of representation i.e. re-presentation – and that requires the use of a brain organ.

      [3] That sounds not only plausible but also likely. Maybe the Google-in-our-head simply seeks to uncover patterns that pre-exist in any already intuited knowledge, and we take these pattern-searches to be rationality in operation? Why are they conducted – simply to confirm belief and bring certainty to intuited knowledge? Are they necessary? Perhaps so as an evolutionary imperative.

      [4] Leaving aside our differing terminologies, then I would say consciousness (but not awareness) operates at two levels. Firstly, there are the discrete representations of sensory contacts (mental or physical) – an apprehended sight, sound, taste, touch, scent, or thought. Then there is a time-shifted superimposition, or meta-level representation which is largely what we navigate the world with. This is a mind-created ‘reality’, yet which we mistake for being a true actuality as it appears, not the loose facsimile it in fact is. Again, this meta-level representation, or superimposition, is an evolutionary imperative, and one in which we become distanced further still from any actuality in our historical acquisition of language.

      [5] Yes, Nondualism should be understood as a rebuttal of mind/body dualism and hence of the assumed dichotomy of subjectivity and objectivity. It does not explicitly posit a monism, and should definitely not be thought of as being a synonym for what some call a ‘Universal Consciousness/Mind/Self’. There is still a material world, and things within it; they are not merely thought-forms. That is a mistake of Neo-Advaita. The spiritual seeker thinks that they as a subject inhabit a world of objects, and that one such potential object is what they conceive of as non-duality. They also conceive of their search as a subject acquiring, or absorbing into, an object (non-duality). In other words, they cannot escape the dualistic dichotomy even as they conceive of the end game. This is because the brain evolved to think only in such terms. Nondualism asserts that awareness can leapfrog this constant creation of a dichotomy, and in so doing the individual sees that subject (self) and object (other), as apprehended, are only mind creations. Nonetheless, Nondualism does not reject a multiplicity of phenomena; that is why it is called ‘non-duality’ and not a name which suggests a pure Monism – it is simply and literally saying ‘not two’, which does not imply ‘one’.

      [6] Here, I go back to what I said in [1] above, which is that my ‘awareness’, or your ‘silence’, need not of itself block the apprehending of a concurrent ‘consciousness’ or ‘mental mind’. We are getting caught in differing terminologies a bit when you say “awareness is not essential to silence; it only brings it to the foreground.” I would for my own purposes rephrase that as “consciousness is not essential to silence; it is awareness devoid of consciousness that makes silence apparent”.

      [7] We appear to have had very similar experiences. The only thing I would say is that I don’t think there is any ‘identification’ during this experience. It happens for, and is apprehended by, an individual (you, me, Tsipras, Björk), yet at the same time you, me, Tsipras and Björk understand that consciousness constructs, as thought-forms only, these apparent and actual individuals. A seamless, non-local awareness (to use my word) embraces all such conscious constructs yet sees them for what they are, rather than mistaking them for what they represent. So, the bundle that is Björk no longer imagines itself as a ‘self’ or subject identifying with any phenomenon or experience whatsoever.

      [8] I do not know what awareness is. All I know is that there are experiences, which you yourself appear to have had, which reveal it to be a non-localised phenomenon. That means it is not itself spatially referenced. Consciousness references phenomena spatially, and regards itself as being localised, but awareness does neither.

      [9] Here, I am reminded of Wittgenstein’s words: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent”/ “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen”. Perhaps I should have started with this Bert! 🙂

  29. [0] Reality is eating the time [available] to answer this thread. Unfortunately, silence is a state and not a stage.

    [1] Nothing to add.

    [2] Two types of intuition: [2a] Intuition before words (what you call ‘thought at the speed of light’) – like finding something that thought cannot retrieve from memory but your brain has stored anyway. [2b] Intuition that is not related to thinking at all [but instead is] usually brought [about] by not thinking; [it occurs] during some wakeful phases of sleep, or during silent ‘walks’ through nature or art.

    [3] [2a] and [2b] can both feed the mind as an input.

    [4] Perhaps I just don’t understand your words. [4a] Awareness is something that I don’t know where to put, although I’d like to put it close to [2b]. [4b] Meta-cognition is the mind thinking about itself; but is it possible that awareness is the same thing but done as [2a]?

    [5] We understand each other.

    [6] I feel that when I wake up, my thoughts are ‘off’, but most of the time, I’m not aware of this – is this the same as what you express?

    [7] Nothing to add.

    [8] I have no reference to time during awareness – but it might still be local.

    [9] I know him too well. 🙂

    • [0] Understood, and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to respond Bert.

      [1] Okay, so your ‘silence’ seems to be my ‘awareness’ by another name.

      [2] We could do a lot hair-splitting here. It seems that in very deep contemplative concentration, we can sometimes detect the seed of thought, which is non-verbal, yet which is known as the verbal thought prior to its ‘opening out’ in words that hence become ‘heard’ in the head. So, when you say [2b] is brought about by not thinking, perhaps that is a tricky distinction to make? Thinking can be verbal, visual, auditory, and also just any effect of mentation, unless we confine its meaning to be that purely of expressions in language. Your [2b] is, I think, the somewhat mysterious source of human invention and all truly original thought: Your [2a] seems akin to a retrieval system which is hidden from consciousness; the information appears to be intuited because of this.

      [3] Yes.

      [4] You said: “Meta-cognition is the mind thinking about itself; but is it possible that awareness is the same thing but done as [2a]?” I think [2a] must be considered a process, or function. Like everyone else, I have no idea how the qualia that appear as consciousness – the subjective redness of red, or the scent of a rose – arise out of the material brain and nervous system. We know a great deal about the function and process of sight and smelling, and also about their correlations with brain states, but what the subjective experience of redness and sweet-smelling roses actually is, and how it comes to exist at all as knowledge, remains a mystery. So, to reply to your question as best I can, I would say awareness is not ‘the mind thinking about itself’ intuitively, because again, that merely describes a process or function; it takes us no closer to what awareness actually is. One could of course say that reflective consciousness is ‘the mind thinking about itself’, or that consciousness is a reflex response to sense data.

      [5] Good, and apologies for my previous long-windedness on this.

      [6] Leaving aside what happens when we awaken from sleep, then I think you are perhaps pointing to what the Buddha (reputedly) comments upon in the Synopsis of Fundamentals found in the Middle Length Sayings from The Pali Canon. To paraphrase, then the wo/man in the street ‘recognises Nibbana as Nibbana’. Because Nibbana is not an object of consciousness, it is not recognised perceptually, and neither can it be recalled from, nor stored as, memory. If we think about it retrospectively, we are at once removed from it, or at least are blocking our apprehending of it. I am only placing this within a Buddhistic context because you phrase yourself in the way that you do, which is suggestive of being aware of not being aware of anything, including even yourself, yet without the thought that you are not aware of anything. In other words, consciousness backs off into pure awareness, which knows itself as itself, and not as an object representing itself – there is no subject/object dichotomy going on here. Please understand Bert that I am not getting into anything here that may be construed as ‘enlightenment’, which I believe to be an erroneous construct as commonly understood. That is another story for other people to talk about and make claims to if they must.

      [7] Me neither!

      [8] If awareness is local, then where is it?

      [9] 🙂

      Thank you very much for your engagement Bert, and do please feel free to dispute or discuss further if you have the time or inclination; you are most welcome to do so.

      • [I am] wanting to answer 2, 4, 6, and 8 subject by subject.

        Starting with [2]:

        [2b] We somehow channeled this topic to where I talk about the LDD. Let’s keep it to ‘intuition’ here, i.e. ‘trans-human (inter)connections’. Of course, I have no proof, and it is dangerous to interconnect 2b with ‘telepathy’, but the source seems to be the same, if not related. Like all input, this one too is filtered by ‘mental mind’ and its unconscious machine, so it is becoming a thought afterwards – just like the interpretation of a sound I hear. Can I prove this? No way.

        [H2.3] “It seems that in very deep contemplative concentration, we can sometimes detect the seed of thought, which is non-verbal”. Yes, but what is the ‘seed’ of that thought? Is it an input, or a mind process?

        You reference: The Mathematician’s Mind: The Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, by Jacques Hadamard. I’m sure that the grinding process will subconsciously lead to insight. There is also the research of John Kounios, also illuminating a lot of fantastic insight. See:

        • Thank you very much Bert; both myself and readers here appreciate your valued input.

          [2b] To be clear for readers, we are here talking about unbidden and intuited knowledge of any kind, including that which could not have been derived from unconscious processes. So, some is a result of incubated thinking, and some simply cannot be explained in terms of any apparent origin, but it is all intuited knowledge. If we talk about your ‘trans-human interconnections’ Bert, then we may as well stick our necks out and at least call some of it what everyone else does, which is ‘telepathy’, and which is a different category of intuition. Although pretty much all scientific investigation has drawn a blank in research on this, if we engage people who practice mental disciplines of concentration, then we find a loose consensus that telepathy is a real phenomenon. Nonetheless, it does not happen by means of volition – i.e. it cannot be willed to occur – and that is why evidence for it cannot be gathered under laboratory conditions. No one knows when or if it will occur, and we seem to be dealing with a faculty that is tapped at the very outer reaches of any normally functioning mental receptivity. People who first come to concentration meditation practices will often report a significant uptake in these apparently telepathic occurrences over whatever they may previously have experienced. It tends to be mundane things like knowing when the phone is about to ring, or knowing someone is about to specify a particular number, perhaps having similar thoughts synchronously with others, or dreaming the same dream as a partner, or maybe humming a tune that is in the other’s head. It seems to me that awareness is not a localised phenomenon, yet it manifests locally as consciousness, which itself is brain dependent (hence locality) and where knowledge gets stored and manipulated. We therefore presume that all knowledge is brain derived, and that its genesis is the brain; yet this may not be correct, and the ubiquity of telepathic occurrences among certain groups points to some other possibility which can only be theorised about by the brain which is exclusively prohibited from seeing its functioning. Our ape brains are not evolved to allow a transparent, uninhibited access to awareness, and in the same way that consciousness itself must be selectively filtered in meta-level mental representations, so too awareness – if accepted as being non-local – must be censored, not by the brain itself, but the evolutionary process of the brain organ. In the experience of non-duality, we get the paradox of consciousness occurring simultaneously with a metaphorical ‘crack’ opening up in awareness, and so we apprehend a multiplicity of phenomena as always, yet know the whole as a seamlessly integrated awareness: not two [i.e. as consciousness and objects of it] yet also not one [i.e. as awareness without multiplicity]. It is the apprehended enfolding of consciousness within awareness, one might say, and the fact of telepathy seems to endorse this sort of conception.

          What I termed the ‘seed of thought’, is the mind implicitly knowing what is known in verbalisation, yet prior to its opening out explicitly in verbalisation. You wonder if it is an input or a mind process, and I think perhaps we need to allow for it as something non-local becoming local. This means it doesn’t change its nature in essence, nor travel across space. In a loosely analogous way, these words were typed after they appeared as symbols in my localised mind and then hours later became localised symbols in yours – they occurred as thought at different points in time and at differing locations, yet never existed as thought in between, and nor did they ever travel as thought. Yes, in this analogy we can trace physical waves bouncing around satellites and in computers, but we can never trace any real origin, because that is incomprehensibly complex, and in fact infinite in nature, it not following any traceable trajectory. So, to think of the seed of thought as having an origin inside or outside the mind may be posing the question wrongly if we allow for thought being just one form of any holding of knowledge. More concretely, then when I ‘see’ the seed of thought, it is like a tiny icon of light in the mind; it has an image-form just discernible to mind, but is only decipherable once the icon opens out in verbalisation. If attention diverts at any point the opening out is not detected – either the opening out does not occur or I get two phenomena which I can only infer as being related. If attention remains fixed, then it is ‘seen’ that the seed is the same knowledge as the opened out verbalisation i.e. it is one knowledge blossoming, so to speak.

          I will look into the link with interest Bert, and thank you for it.

  30. Reblogged this on Today’s Thought and commented:

    Having watched the video, Little Person, the words struck my emotions to the point of tears, as I realized it was my story, having raised a daughter in an adventure filled life with an alcoholic wife until her passing after 37 years. A Little Person said, “I Know You”.

  31. In response to your question as to whether I had seen the movie, Synecdoche, New York, then no, but I shall.

  32. This is such a brilliant post; so very deep, yet understandable as well — a true testament to your brilliance. Wow, I am so impressed and gratified. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    P.S. I couldn’t see where to click “like” — sorry.

    • Thank you so much for your kindly generous words of encouragement and for your interest in my writing — both are greatly appreciated. As for the ‘Like’ button, then I think I did away with it a few months ago, and so it can only be done through the WordPress Reader. Comments are always greatly more appreciated, though. 🙂

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