“…But, to determine more absolutely, what Light is, after what manner refracted, and by what modes or actions it produceth in our minds the Phantasms of Colours, is not so easie. And I shall not mingle conjectures with certainties.
Reviewing what I have written, I see the discourse it self will lead to divers Experiments sufficient for its examination: And therefore I shall not trouble you further, than to describe one of those, which I have already insinuated.
In a darkened Room make a hole in the shut of a window, whose diameter may conveniently be about a third part of an inch, to admit a convenient quantity of the Suns light: And there place a clear and colourless Prisme, to refract the entring light towards the further part of the Room, which, as I said, will thereby be diffused into an oblong coloured Image…”
Newton, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, No. 80 (19 Feb. 1671/2), pp. 3075-3087.
Let’s start this one with a quiz.
But you can’t do that without any background, study, or idea of what you’re being quizzed on. Right? That’s not fun for most people. So here’s what is important to know in order for you to answer this straightforward, single-question examination below. Charles Manson is a notorious musician, cult figure, and convicted murder whose life has been the focus of much media scrutiny. Jiddu Krishnamurti was a philosopher, speaker, and writer of the 20th century who was famous for his keen articulation of reality and humankind. Krishnamurti’s life story is a fascinating account of an influential spiritual teacher; Manson’s is an equally fascinating odyssey from the world of petty crime to celebrity status and, most often, to prison.
Being that both of them were outspoken public figures, there there were ample occasions for individuals to speak with them and interview them on film. And thanks to YouTube I’ve had the opportunity to see some of this great footage of both Manson and Krishnamurti. This past week I was watching a video filmed in the early 80’s On some occasion each of them were asked a seemingly innocuous question – WHO ARE YOU?
So here’s the quiz. WHO SAID THE FOLLOWING? (Manson or Krishnamurti)
Question: Who are you?
???: I am nobody.
Watch these videos to find out.
There is a conference that is held in Tuscon, Arizona in April 2016 that focuses on the science of consciousness. How cool is that???
I will be doing a poster presentation in Arizona this year, highlighting some work I am doing with Brianna Morseth. Brianna is a fellow Mac alum and currently studies neurophilosophy at UCSB’s META lab. Brianna is very interested in the concept of ego death and asked if I would consider working on an open-ended project with her that we could present in Arizona. We’re very excited to open-source our work and will start by sharing the abstract that we submitted 🙂
The Varieties of Selfless Experience: Theological, Neurological, and Ecological Phenomenologies of Ego Death
What is it like to be a conscious, living, breathing self? Moreover, what is it like to lose this sense-of-self through either bodily or ego death? Philosopher David Chalmers states of consciousness that it is “the thing we know about more directly than we know about anything in the world.” This immediate sense-of-self is shared and experienced by us all, as is the eventual fate of biological death. Yet how one relates to death, selflessness, and one’s own mortality encompass much more varied and unique experiences.
Long have sages, mystics, and saints encouraged practices that culminate in self-transcendence: meditation, prayer, fasting, and other undertakings that alter one’s state of consciousness and may even lead to the experience of ego death. Only recently have these topics entered any realm of empirical research. We reviewed existing literature and conducted an interview-based, international survey to further elucidate a basic background of these topics.
Using a mixed-methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative data, we compare and contrast the direct experiences of selflessness and ego death among over one hundred participants from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds. Analysis reveals three phenomenological contexts in which ego death experiences are likely to manifest: meditation and other contemplative practices, immersion in and unification with nature, and consumption of hallucinogenic substances that alter the chemical constituents of the nervous system. In this work we articulate these experiences and extrapolate toward an operational definition of ego death. We then broaden the discussion to address how ego death is contextualized in different traditions, approach an understanding of the underlying neurological processes, and critically examine the philosophical implications of ego death for free will, the criminal justice system, and environmental ethics.