The units of reality | Scientifically Spiritiual 3

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So far in this series of posts we have looked at what the meditator does, which is to investigate life at the level of the most basic awareness of sense-door phenomena in order to understand himself, his mind and his mind-body interaction better, so that he can live a life that will make living more joyful! We have also explained a bit about this base-level perspective of subtle phenomena and what makes it different than the normal perspective of gross, integrated phenomena.

In this post we will offer some, for the scientifically minded person, satisfying explanation of the units of the phenomena under investigation of the scientific meditator. But first off, let’s recap the units used by the conventional physical scientist!

These units are of the dimensions of mass (kg), length (m), time (s), light intensity (Cd), electric current (A), amount of mass (M) and temperature (K). Take any object in the universe (except of course for dark matter, which most of the universe consists of, but never mind that for now because no one has any idea what it is anyway! LOL #PhysicYouSuck!) and you can describe it with these units: This object will weigh something and consist of a certain amount of basic molecules, have some shape or length-in any direction, temperature, emit something with a certain intensity and periodicity and conduct electricity so or so much. From these basic units follow many other possible properties which can be described as combinations of these seven fundamental ones. For instance, the object from before may exert force onto something else, which is measured in Newton (N). But Newton is really just a mix of the seven fundamental units, namely 1N = 1 kg*m*s^-2. Or the object may go so or so fast? How fast it goes, is a measure of just two of the seven fundamental units; meters and seconds -> meters per second.
This pattern continues, and the seven fundamental units remain the ever sufficient base, characterizing all that we can observe.

One revelation made by the scientific meditator, is that these seven units don’t work at all when one wants to get to know our inner reality, the one of direct experiences of sense-door phenomena. When our consciousness comes into contact with a sensory impression, none of the seven physical units work to characterize the experience. So what are the units of reality at this said level?
It’s example time, baby..!

We did have an example with coffee a couple of posts ago about experiencing the flavor of coffee when taking a sip, compared to the science explaining why and how we taste something. We saw that no matter how hard we tried to characterize the chemistry of the tongue, the biochemistry of the coffee-tongue interaction and whatever happens in the brain simultaneously, this gave no insight into how the coffee actually tasted, but rather how our body and brain worked to give us the experience.

Similarly, anything we see, smell, hear, feel or think about cannot be described by any physical science. If we hear something, we may use physical science to describe the sound waves, the way these originated, the way they interacted with the ear and the brain – but not the sound we experience in and of itself. Not to say that these physical occurrences are not related, because they are. But they are not our experience in and of themselves, they are just causing it.

So in order to characterize things we feel in an objective way, we must start out by observing, a.k.a. meditate! We must delve into the field of inner reality and experience what these sensory phenomena have of characteristics and which units can be used. Here is what this meditator finds:

  • Ear-hearing phenomena
  • Eye-sight phenomena
  • Tongue-taste phenomena
  • Bodily feel phenomena
  • Mind/mental phenomena

These phenomena are of different dimensions altogether, because they do not express each other at all and the only way to know any of them is by direct experience of each individual one. Just like it is absolutely impossible to describe the dimension of length in any way with descriptors of the dimension of time, it is also impossible to describe anything heard with something seen and so forth.

For me there is especially a lot more to be said about the bodily-feel and mind/mental phenomena, as the mind/mental phenomena is a kind of special one and because bodily-feel is the tool of the meditation which I practice, Vipassana.

The mind/mental phenomena are special because these phenomena are not really directly correlated to the physical in the way the others are. “Where is the mind located?”, one may ask. I don’t know, do you? It’s not really as simple as saying “The mind is located in the brain”, because although this may be the physical object that gives rise to our experience of mind (although not it!), we do not actually experience the mind as being the brain. In fact, aside from the fact that we know that we have a brain, from school or whatever, we don’t have any experience of the brain at all. We have never seen, smelled, heard or tasted it. We may have felt something in the head, but for all our objective observation goes in and of itself, that could be anything, really. We just experience this mind thing that the brain may or may not be responsible for. Or in other words, we can only objectively observe mind – not the brain!
The mind as we experience it has content similar to any of the five other senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. We can think in terms of all of these: We can think of something heard or seen (the most common ones), but we can also think of something tasted, smelled or felt!
The mind recycles the impressions we have from the other five sense-doors and is not capable of anything else, than mixing these around in one big mumble jumble chaos. Then if we’re not crazy, we can keep some coherence in the chaos and pick and choose some cool and useful things here and there. I’ll just repeat: there is no ‘new dimension’ in the mind other than the other five ones.
There are many more things to be said of the mind, but the dimensions, are as mentioned here and when looking at the units of the experienced mind, these fall into hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling.

Bodily-feel, as mentioned, is the tool of my meditation of Vipassana. The reason for this is complicated to explain, so for now I will just give a brief presentation:
Any time there is a phenomena at any of the six sense-doors, there will be a resulting reaction at the bodily-feel sense-door. I’ll say that again, differently: All that we can be directly aware of at the level of consciousness and any of the six sense-doors has an effect, like an echo, on the body which can be experienced in terms of bodily-feel phenomena. When we think, there will immediately after be an echo-reaction on the body in terms of something we can feel. When we smell something, there is a reaction on the body. When we taste, hear or feel something, there will be a reaction on the body that we can feel.
This is a huge insight concerning the mind-body interaction, gained by observing our experiences at the level of subtle sense-door phenomena. This becomes vitally important in a future post about why this meditation works!
The dimensions, or units, of bodily-feel phenomena are temperature, wetness/dryness, mass and airy-gaseousness (is that a word?). This is why old-school hippie philosophers and cool ancient monk-dudes say that there are just four elements in the universe: Fire, water, earth and air. So, in that way there is some sense to this crap (because honestly, when I first heard this I was like oh these stupid, non-scientific idiots!)
Anyway, these are the units of bodily-feel. They differ from, but of course relate to, the physical properties of temperature, water content, mass and air content. But we do not experience temperature in Kelvins, feel humidity in relative number of H2O molecules, feel mass in kilograms or nor do we feel air content in number of O2 or N2 molecules or something like that. We feel warmth, heaviness, wetness and lightness/airy feel.

OK, I think we’re done here. That was a bit about the fundamental units used by the scientific meditator. If anyone, like me, needs to be intellectually clear about what they are doing before they dedicate themselves to a serious meditation practice, then this kind of reasoning is very helpful. Therefore the technical, perhaps a bit boring stuff before we can get to the juice stuff.

The juicy stuff is of course only gained by each serious meditator for him or herself, but reading about it may of course provide some motivating for getting that serious meditation done. The next post will be a bit of this juicy stuff: Insights of a Scientific meditator!