Monday, January 19, 2015

Waking, Dreaming, Being, chapter six

Continuing from this post:

The chapter begins with wondering if our waking life is a sort of dream, and what is real anyway? Tibetan dream yoga begins with maintaining mindfulness in waking life and treating it as if it were a dream. This creates the habit if mindful attention that can be extended into actual dreaming. However this tradition does not find either state to be more real than the other. Thompson mentions Madhyamaka and Yogacara supporting this view, and I'd say only the Yogacara-influenced Madhyamaka version does so. Bottom line and as noted earlier, both waking and dreaming are illusions compared with the really real, pure awareness from which all phenomenon springs. Through training of this witness, and using it to disidentify with both the waking and dream state, one can enter pure awareness in both the waking and deep sleep state and have direct access to the non-illusory, non-physical, really real.

Western lucid dream techniques tend more toward reality testing in the dream state, like reading a passage in a book and then re-reading it to see if it changed or not. One also does this reality testing when awake to create a habit that carrier over into dreaming. Here the assumption is that the waking state is more real. (This doesn't work with conservatives, as they've lost the capacity for reality testing in waking life.) This perspective takes the waking state, and its measurement of objective reality, to be much more stable and doesn't accept it as illusion. While I'll admit that this approach also has its own inherent biases, and is based on a constructed self awareness, it at least doesn't hold to a metaphysically supernatural really real beyond the pale of natural phenomenon. (It is also metaphysical as the representation model, and as I've argued elsewhere both the above are symptoms of formal operational cognition from different angles.)

In a discussion of how the brain affects the mind and vice-versa, he notes that the former is know as downward causation because the mind is apparently higher or above the brain or body on a hierarchical scale. He finds this misleading but accepts if for now to make a point. (My hope is that he returns to it and explores something more akin to the fold thread but I won't hold my breath.) The point being, it's a two-way street with brain-mind causation based on neurophenomenological experiments, lucid dreaming being one example. Recall that the dream ego's can direct its dream eyes to make movements that cause the physical body's eyes to do the same. If one stops moving the eyes in the dream state this can cause one to wake up. As noted earlier, REM sleep activates some of the same brain areas and waves as the waking state. So some evidence suggests that consciously performing motor skills while dreaming, much like waking imagination, can increase performance on those skills while awake. This is also supported by Lakoff's notion of real reason in that it is metaphorically built on these sensori-motor image schema in a two-way causal relationship.

To be continued, it's a long chapter.

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