Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meditation, aggregates and the self

Expanding on the Harris post, as to relating meditation to the Buddhist aggregates and a sense of self, following are a few posts from the IPS 'fold' thread using a Thompson article:

We've seen some of this earlier in this thread and elsewhere, the aggregates being, body, emotion, base mind or core attention, volition and consciousness. He relates the 3rd and 5th to open monitoring and concentration meditative techniques. Granted both have a focused attention and monitoring function and activate both aggregates. The latter monitors wandering away from and return to a selected object of focus. The former monitors wandering away and a return to focus on whatever is present. It activates more the base level and inhibits selective attention.

Further reflection on the last post relates to earlier posts in the thread. And themes I've been harping on for some time. One being it takes an egoic-rational operation with the capacity of deliberative and selective attention to 'meditate.' Aka, the fifth aggregate of 'consciousness.' Or in Damasio's terms, the narrative self. Now the monitoring comes from the 3rd aggregate, this base or core awareness but one with ipseity, unlike gross body awareness or slightly more subtle emotional feeling tone. To put it in Damasian, the body and emotions obviously have attention but lack human ipseity. And after it emerges it translates body and emotions in particularly human ways distinct from the animal world, with which we share these aggregated 'levels.'

Going back to forms of meditation, we need the selective attention to choose a focus. We need the base core awareness to monitor the basal attention of the body and emotions. And we need the volitional will to hold the selected object in awareness, be it a particular object or whatever object arises. The process activates all the aggregates and aims at their integration, which integration never gets off the ground without the synthetic ego. Which recall earlier is much more than the 'I,' or the increasing degree of ipseity of the last 3 aggregates, as it has gone back to bring forward the body and emotions in balance and equilibrium. Again, the fold which doesn't necessarily get more complex and higher but more integrated and deeper.

Now to complicate this further, as if that isn't enough, if Luhmann is right the aggregates are not transcended and included levels but are separate systems altogether that nonetheless interact via structural coupling. And as suggested earlier, perhaps individually they continue to undergo development on their own given their continual coupling as a more complex assemblage. It's not so much that the higher integrates the lower but that equivalent and separate systems synergize in a more integrative coupling in a strange, democratic mereology.

To summarize, spirituality then is not so much about the base mind state but about integration of the various aggregates. Same with it being more about an integration of the different levels and lines of socio-cultural engagement. Spirituality then is more about an integration of in-out, self-other discussed earlier in the thread. Hence integral postmetaphysical spirituality.

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