The Echoes of the Mind

Introduction

Psychology is the study of the human mind. The mental and behavioral patterns of an individual comprise a person’s psychology.

The idea of a mind is a euphemism for mentation: mental processing, which includes thoughts and emotions. The term mind is too convenient not to be used, but it is a misdirection.

Your mind tells you that the world comprises objects in motion. This object orientation obscures that the world is motion involving the appearance of objects which are more accurately portrayed as quantized processes in constant transition. Energy, not matter per se, defines experience.

Social psychology studies the internal dynamics behind interpersonal interactions. Whereas social psychology is on mental states associated with sociality, sociology studies group behaviors and societal dynamics.

Sociology bifurcates into 2 focal areas: macrosociology and microsociology. Macrosociology studies societies. Microsociology is about how people behave when together: the artifacts of interacting social psychologies.

As an academic discipline psychology lacks a widely accepted paradigm. Since antiquity, history is littered with various schools of thought about what makes us tick. The discordance continues to this day – awfully peculiar, considering that all the evidence lies within.

There are 2 basic camps of psychology: philosophical and physiological. The philosophic approach employs introspection to plumb inner depths, taking into account observations and life experiences to discern how the mind works.

In contrast, the empirical view eschews such rumination as woolly. Empiricism supposedly relies solely upon observation, which is woolly indeed. While empiricists ostensibly limit themselves to observing behaviors, philosophy – the study and elaboration of concepts – must be applied to make any sense of what has been observed. The mind is a symbolic processor. Theories are inductive hypotheticals. Trying to understand the mind without reference to abstractions is like trying to apprehend electronics while studiously ignoring the flow of electrons.

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When a philosopher says something that is true, then it is trivial. When he says something that is not trivial, then it is false. ~ German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss

Historically, psychology theories have been framed by perspectives on the natures of perception, mentation, and existence itself: psychology as natural philosophy.

The extensive failures of psychological theories, as with other endeavors at understanding, owe to overlooking fallacies in assumptions. In accepting untrue premises about the nature of the mind, its contemplators have promulgated facile nonsense. Such is the rich and sorry history of psychology.

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One overarching fact overshadows psychology and sociology: people readily succumb to their biology. Many motivations and behaviors amply demonstrate that humans are just another animal whose cunning is by no means exceptional.

The greatest ruse ever perpetrated is that people are rational, in the sense of being reasoning machines. (Rational and reason semantically dance as partners. Ultimately, the terms come down to agreeable cognition which may pass as good sense or sound judgment. There is intrinsic subjectivity in the definition, albeit sometimes abetted by social consensus, which is subjectivity amplified. The motivation behind almost all reasoning is desire, not the cool indifference that typifies how people think of “rationality.” Further, seemingly unsound judgment that plays out to profit is commonly called “genius” – so much for the metric of rationality.) Human desires and behaviors are dominated by biological urges. The inclinations of our minds follow our evolutionary descent. And yet… there is something more at work within: an innate desire and capacity to mentally escape the confines of the biological shell in which we all are encased – that there is an elevated perspective and consciousness to which one may ascend.

Perception

“The eye that sees is not a mere physical organ, but a means of perception conditioned by the tradition in which its possessor has been reared.” ~ American anthropologist Ruth Benedict

We understand ourselves and the world through our perceptual power. Perception is our gateway to all that we experience, and thereby the ecological device by which we construe actuality.

“The inborn bias to see the world in a particular way also irredeemably shapes our perception, and ultimately our knowledge about the world.” ~ American cognitive scientist Christof Koch

The world does not passively impose itself on our mind; rather, it has to be actively interpreted. ~ English developmental psychologist Bruce Hood

“Our unconscious doesn’t just interpret sensory data, it enhances it. It has to, because the data our senses deliver is of rather poor quality and must be fixed up in order to be useful.” ~ Indian cognitive scientist Vilayanur Ramachandran

Sensation is the process of garnering information for the mind. Sensation turns sensed stimuli into representational patterns. (The physiological correlate of sensation – translating stimuli in electrochemical nerve signals – is unavailing to understanding. Moreover, perception as brain activity, however measured, is meaningless. Neurobiology is not a science of any significance.)

Perception turns sensed patterns into symbols and makes sense of them. Perception begins by matching a symbol with recalled similars; pattern-matching from memory to categorize. This pattern-matching affords identification.

Perception then proceeds to derive meaning of identified symbols, and to valuate them. Once a mind decides what something is, it then determines if the symbol is worth any more attention than it has already got. If not, the mind moves on to the next abstraction.

Perception is a highly selective subconscious process which fills in missing data bits with conjectures for contextual completion. Hence, the internal representations that comprise our lives are nothing but fabrications.

“Perception is a simulation, not reality itself.” ~ American psychologist Charles Tart

Illusions

Under certain circumstances, perception distorts sensation to satisfy the mind’s own inner logic. Illusions illustrate how perception is a process of fabricating mental representations which are invariably expressionistic.

 The Moon Illusion

“Regardless of its elevation in the sky, the Moon’s angular size at the eye remains the same. Yet the horizon Moon may appear to be nearly twice the diameter of the elevated Moon.” ~ American psychologists Lloyd Kaufman & James Kaufman

The Moon appears much larger as it rises over the horizon than when it is directly overhead. Many people think this is because the Moon is closer to the Earth when rising – not so.

The eye sees the Moon at the same size regardless of azimuth. But when the Moon is on the horizon, the mind figures it is farther away. This is because interposition cues, such as trees and buildings, indicate distance. Overhead, there are no such distance cues. Consequently, though the sensation is of a selfsame size, the perception is that the Moon is more distant when on the horizon. To compensate for this incongruity, the mind inflates the size of the Moon on the horizon.

(Another Moon illusion involves pareidolia: promiscuously perceiving patterns where none exist. Whereas westerners see the dark splotches on the Moon’s surface as forming a face (the man in the Moon), easterners see a rabbit pounding mochi (for rice cakes) (in Korea and Japan), or making the elixir of life (in China).)

“The horizon Moon is perceived as larger because the perceptual system treats it as though it is much farther away.” ~ Lloyd Kaufman & James Kaufman

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Italian psychologist Mario Ponzo posited the Ponzo illusion in 1911, based upon his insight that the mind judges an object’s size in a spatial context. His illustration was of 2 parallel horizontal lines of identical length, juxtaposed with converging lines which suggest linear perspective. The eye perceives the 2 lines as the same length, but the mind lengthens the top line, even though it is not consciously perceived as farther away.

Along the same lines, German sociologist Franz Carl Müller-Lyer devised the Müller-Lyer illusion in 1889. The original illusion was to ask viewers to place a mark at the midpoint of the arrow shown. Invariably, the mark is placed toward the tail.

The variation more commonly seen nowadays is of 2 line segments: one with fins inwards, the other with tails out. Both shafts are of equal length, but the one with 2 tails is always perceived as longer.

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“A key goal of vision is to detect objects using any information that happens to be available.” ~ Vilayanur Ramachan-dran & American cognitive scientist Diane Rogers-Ramachandran

To make sense of the world, the mind regularly infers. Visually, the mind completes figures from partial sources.

The mind’s bias is to see the image above as rings around a cylinder. But, with mental effort, a different take is possible: C-shaped metal arches, with sharp ends facing forward.

The mind’s completion algorithm is so strong that it may override our knowledge of the natural world. An impossibly elongated cat is seen in the figure at left.

 Illusions of the Blind

Some sightless people employ echolocation to identify objects. They too are subject to optical illusions. In one experiment participants were asked to pick up 3 boxes by a string. The boxes all weighed the same but were of different sizes. Sighted individuals invariably succumbed to size-weight illusion: the bigger boxes felt lighter. Blind study subjects did not experience the illusion. But the ones who relied upon echolocation to first assess the boxes did.

Perception sets expectations and vice versa.

Cultural Influence

Culture affects perception. When viewing scenes, Westerners tend to focus on details – an analytic survey of objects. In contrast, east Asians are more aware of contextual relationships: how objects are related to one another – a more holistic style of perception.

People who live in areas with lots of buildings are constantly exposed to architectural angles. The Müller-Lyer arrow illusion works well on them. In contrast, those who are not surrounded by angular architecture are less susceptible to the Müller-Lyer illusion.

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The shaping of a Weltanschauung (worldview)  is partly biological, partly cultural, and partly reflective of individual psychology. Humanity’s shared worldviews have determined how societies, civilizations, and planetary ecology have been molded. The results have been needlessly costly artifices at the ultimate cost of self-preservation.

Industrialization has been viewed as a competitive economic necessity aimed at achieving better lives for those who adopt it, whereas it has proven an engine of inequities and irreclaimable environmental destruction. The positive perspective lingers as the mountain of facts supporting the negative outcomes grows: an example of cultural rigidity in respecting traditional thinking.

The Human Condition

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.” ~ English novelist David Mitchell

Psychology and social psychology are studies of mental ecology: the interfaces of internal and interpersonal interactions respectively. Sociology studies the behavioral ecology of human tribes as superorganisms.

Organisms are not so much objects as they are processes with environmental byproducts. Living is an ecological gyre.

Desire seeks gratification, however fleeting and thereby repetitious. Though every measure of satisfaction is taken entirely within one’s own mind, its accomplishment is invariably an ecological exercise.

Reality

The proof is beyond the scope of this book, but an understanding about the nature of existence is critical to comprehending the mind, and thereby psychology. (Spokes 5 extends only to the echoes of the mind. Fuller explanation of reality and the root of Nature is found in Spokes 8: The Hub of Being; an introduction to which was had in Clarity: The Path Inside and Unraveling Reality: Behind the Veil of Existence.)

Nature – the exhibition of existence – is an entertainment platform. Actuality emerges from a weaving of energetic immateriality.

“A mirage is the real thing. It’s just not what it looks like.” ~ American spiritualist William Horden

The physicality of the world is illusory. As quantum physics instructs, the quantization of matter is an outgrowth of localized energy fields coherently composed.

“Abstraction is real.” ~ German-born American educator and artist Josef Albers

At root, energy is nothing more than an abstraction: an overarching concept physicists use to describe invisible forces which affect observable matter (which itself is made of energy). Underlying the proximate physicality of seemingly objective phenomena is a platform for shared subjectivity. The coherent force behind Nature emergently (instantly and continuously) creates what we call existence.

“This vast panoramic world is the reflection of the Cönsciousness.” ~ Indian guru Nisargadatta Maharaj

Just as physical bodies are localized energy fields which comprise an entangled fabric, a unified field of Cönsciousnesspopulates life with consciousness in granular form: whence the appearance of sentient organisms. Consciousness also inhabits cells and organic molecules such as proteins. Any entity which requires awareness of its environment to make decisions possesses consciousness.

(Consciousness is similarly actualized as a diversity from a unicity as occurs with all forms of matter-energy as expressly explored in physics. The same mechanism of natural localization and quantization that physics posits for the appearance of matter is how the unified field of Cönsciousness populates individual consciousnesses in mind-bodies. Existence is an infinite diversity which is paradoxically gyrally entangled. As science has amply demonstrated, our everyday comprehension of Nature is a laughable simplification. So much goes on behind our awareness and beyond what empirical science can show us or explain – hence the need to set the record straight with Spokes.)

Consciousness is the platform for an individual’s awareness. Awareness is the faculty for experiencing actuality.

Though the conduit may be not be sensed, seemingly individualized consciousness is always connected to the unitary source: every consciousness entangled within the universal field of Cönsciousness. Awareness is expressed through the mind, which fabricates the dualities of mind-body and self-other which we experience as the world.

“No psychologist can claim that science has been able to describe how a human mind can construct conscious experience.” ~ American psychologist Matt Tompkins

Just as our lives at their epitome are pure entertainment, Nature is the platform for entertaining Cönsciousness: whence the majestic mirage we experience.

Matter-energy is an entangled unity. But the mind conveys to us an illusion of physicality, mischievously masking the energy which propels Nature.

(Electrochemical brain activity (in creatures with brains) only roughly corresponds with mentation. Mind-body synchrony is one of many masterful strokes that makes the material world so convincing. Just as matter as made of energy, it is the mind that acts as convincer of an objective materiality that is always only a subjective experience: all you every know is from and in your mind.)

“Matter and mind are not separate. They are aspects of one energy. Look at the mind as a function of matter and you have science. Look at matter as the product of the mind and you have religion.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

The Mind

The mind conducts a grand ruse that fosters endless phantasms which take ethereal form as ideas, emotions, and beliefs. Paying heed to the fabrications that come to mind is the source of mental illness. Silencing the mind sufficiently to appreciate the distinction between actuality and reality is mental health.

The Collective – the mass of humanity – are deluded believers in what their minds feed them, and so are subject to suffering from their ignorance. There are 2 facets of ignorance: lacking relevant information (fact-ignorance or fignorance), and having the wrong worldview (perspective-ignorance, or pignorance). Pignorance is the root problem, which can be cured through diligent self-control aimed at living in meditation and thereby elevating one’s level of consciousness to enlightenment and beyond.

The mind is not just the conveyor of sensation and a tool for problem-solving (willmind). Instead, through felt emotional deficits, a self-activating agent of the mind (nattermind) preys upon the Collective: fabricating fears and hopes through fantasies.

“There is no such thing as peace of mind. Mind means disturbance; restlessness itself is mind.” ~ Indian guru Nisargardatta Maharaj

Just as we seek to control the world before us as much as we may, to maximize our enjoyment, the mind seeks to control us for its own entertainment. To succumb is to live in the shadows of the past, to be in thrall to the inner voices that beguile and look to a future that never comes to fruition.

One is either a creature of the mind or its employer: either ruler or slave. The Collective are serfs who may believe themselves to be masters.

To conquer the mind is to live in the actuality of the moment, to view oneself and the world as processes, not through a false filter of anticipation or bias. Only with clarity can you experience the rich ripeness of living, where it is enough just to be, and even more rewarding to work toward positive accomplishments: just because the entertainment of doing is part of being.

As all stories are of conflict and resolution, the mind tries to generate its own entertainment: a soldier in service to the unified field of Cönsciousness. If enlightenment were easy, the entertainment value of our world would be sorely lacking. Therefore, the mind has its nefarious role as deceiver.

(From a species perspective, the fervor of nattermind correlates with the ease of counterfactual thinking. Humans are especially prone to paracosms: flights from actuality. Nattermind is an evolutionary artifact, engendering imagination and mental noise which respectively enthrall and enslave.)

Quieting the mind clears the connection between individual consciousness and the universal field (Cönsciousness), thereby broadening personal perspective and enlivening acceptance and contentment. (Cönsciousness is the unified, noumenal field which diversifies via localization. Individual consciousnesses are bound to mind-bodies, down to cells and sentient molecules such as proteins.) To experience life in alignment with Cönsciousness is the state of realization.

“The realized one knows that all this is the play of ignorance.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj

Synopsis

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” ~ American social psychologist Daniel Gilbert

Living is an ecological gyre. Desires propel; many are biological, others social and cultural – only a relative few are entirely of personal whim.

A multitude of sensory data form a sensation comprising a set of representational symbols. Sensations are processed in the mind into a perception: a meaningful comprehension from a construed creation, not an accurate account. Illusions illustrate how tenuous perception is. Cultural inculcation colors perception, and so influences all cognitive processes.

The mind is a symbolic processor oriented toward pattern-matching. Every experience is an abstraction. The materiality we experience is a fabrication of our minds. That we share the same specter owes to our being in Nature, which is a multimedia presentation put on by the force of coherence for the entertainment of Cönsciousness.

Nature is the exhibition of existence: actuality. Actuality is not reality: that which appears to us is not the essentiality of what is. Our perceptions of Nature – what we call the universe – are pinhole observations of an immeasurable canvas. As matter is made of energy, that canvas is composed of a coherent cosmos of concepts which is misinterpreted as unfailingly substantial at the insistence of the mind.

That the world seems durable does not portend its authenticity as reality. Dreams are engagingly ‘real’ as we experience them. Duration does not define reality.

The mind has a dual agency: to provide perceptions which represent the world so that we may act upon the stage of Nature, and conversely to deceive us into believing that actuality is reality so that we may struggle and suffer in perspective-ignorance (pignorance), thereby enhancing the entertainment platform with our follies.

Full attention to the present moment is willmind. In contrast, the incessant chatter of the mind is nattermind.

You may strengthen the connection between your consciousness and universal Ĉonsciousness by the habitual practice of meditation to quiet nattermind, thereby elevating your state of consciousness: gaining clarity and enjoying life for what it really is. Comprehending the architecture of existence helps establish proper perspective, thereby relieving pignorance.

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” ~ ancient Greek philosopher Socrates