Jun 20, 2007

Mindhacking Safe & Simple - Part 1

I suppose the term "mindhacking" scares some people. It might invite the image of a violent psychotic waving an axe and chopping away at someone's head.

The more appropriate image is that of a computer hacker. You're the hacker, and the computer you're hacking is your own mind. What a very curious, very interesting specimen it turns out to be. You MUST investigate further (it's called self-discovery). And so you hack on, because you want to understand your own mind.

The mind is also the only way you can know or understand anything about the universe. So what you're also trying to do is to know and understand your own universe.

There is no separation, you see. Everything you know about the universe, you know through your mind. Light enters your eyes. Sound enters your ears. Things touch your skin. All of these are sense data. None of it has any meaning, none of it has ever had any meaning, except the meaning that your mind attaches to it. That has been the way since you were born. That has been the way since before you were born.

Even what you're reading now is just light from your computer screen passing through your pupils into the back of your eye. The light stimulates the optic nerve which then transmits signals to your brain. The only meaning you find here is whatever meaning your brain attaches to those signals.

You could even put it this way - effectively, your mind is the universe. Change your mind, and you change the _____________.

There I go again. And I promised to make this a safe and simple post. Bad boy, Mr Wang.

Most people know very little about their own minds. (This actually means that they know very little about the universe, but then I shall not go into that. After all, I promised not to be strange today). Let me illustrate. I have an email from a reader, Mr CC Teo. His question:
"Can you give any tips as how to get started in meditation? The reason why I'm not heading out to the bookstores/library to purchased DIY meditation books is I've been warned by friends not to start meditation alone as a newbie. Is there any valid basis for their well-intentioned advice? If there is, is there any good centre of instruction/guru you can recommend?"
Yes, you can start meditating alone. But yes, there is some basis for their well-intentioned advice. The basis is not valid and stems from a misunderstanding of what meditation does. I'll explain.

When you start meditating, and you do it correctly, there will be a disturbing phase you have to pass through. It comes in varying degrees of intensity, and it might get uncomfortably intense. However, the fact that you enter such a phase at all shows that you are really meditating.

During this phase, things are perfectly fine when you are actually meditating. Nothing extraordinary happens. It could even be a little boring, sitting still and quiet for so long.

The disturbing part is when you finish your meditation and go about your everyday life. You go to work or school, you meet your friends, you talk to people, you go to the supermarket, the cinema, the drycleaner. On the surface your daily routine is exactly the same. Your external, observable behaviour is exactly the same.

But on the inside - you can feel that something has changed. Something has definitely changed. Your mind feels disturbed and chaotic. You sense anger in it. You sense deep fear and anxiety. Your mind feels distracted and irrational.

And you sense and feel all these things, many times each day, throughout the day. Even when there is no apparent reason. Even when you're doing perfectly ordinary, everyday things like talking to your mother or buying food at the kopitiam.

Since the only thing you've been doing differently is that you've taken up meditation, you identify meditation as the cause. You conclude that you may be doing something risky or harmful to your mind. You wonder if you might be making yourself mad.

This is alarming. You tell others, "Wow, if you ever want to take up meditation, you'd better not do it alone. You should sign up for a class and get a teacher." And you yourself immediately quit meditating.

This is unfortunate. Because you were actually meditating well, and making good progress.

As I said, most people do not know their minds. One of the key qualities that meditation seeks to develop is therefore mindfulness. Wikipedia describes it as follows:
"Mindfulness is a technique in which a person becomes intentionally aware of his or her thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It plays a central role in Buddhism, with Right Mindfulness being the seventh element of Noble Eightfold Path, the practice of which is considered a prerequisite for developing insight and wisdom. In a secular context, mindfulness is attracting
increasing interest among western psychiatrists as a non-pharmacological means of dealing with anxiety and depressive mood states."
What was happening? You were developing mindfulness. For the first time in your life, you were becoming aware of your own mind. You felt its anger, fear and anxiety, its distraction and irrationality.

But they had been there all along. Your mind had always been disturbed. Your mind had always been chaotic. The anger, the fear, the anxiety, the repressed impulses - they had been there all along. The only thing your meditation had done, up to this point, is reveal your own mind to you.

Yes, the average human mind is very disturbed. Most of us just don't know it. Now you do - you've come to know it about your own mind.

A major revelation - yes? ;)

This is the first step of what meditation can do for you.

47 comments:

LuckySingaporean said...

Given 40 years of PAP rule, I can't think of something more hacked than the Singaporean Mind. It is such a peaceful blissful piece of mental engineering, I would consider it a real masterpiece. Just look at how robust it is, we have like a torrent of price increases in the past weeks and you don't see anyone on the streets. A mind well hacked is a tolerant mind.

Contrary to what Mr. Wang says about the best way to hack one's mind, I believe the best approach is to read the Straits Times twice a day. Once when you wake up and then before you go to sleep. It provides inner strength to changes around us and face up to challenges created by our esteemed govt. What better way to create a HAPPY worker for Singapore Inc.

Anonymous said...

I started experimenting with mediation when I was 12-13 years old. I cannot remember the circumatances which lead me to do that. But I am 31 now.

It was a frightening experience, but the innocence or foolhardiness of youth lent courage to further explore such mixture of feelings.

I stopped after being enlisted to NS.

But today, I still talk to myself sometimes, and wonder if I am crazy. Being aware of myself, has however allowed me crazy amount of critical inquiry skills, and an almost insane ability to read the psychology being words and actions. Yes, I am well ahead of most of my peers at the moment.

No, I do not intend to stay in Singapore.

Mr Wang Says So said...

aware of myself, has however allowed me crazy amount of critical inquiry skills

Yup. Once you realise that it is your OWN mind that is attaching meaning to everything, you naturally start reducing & minimising your automatic, conditioned responses to ANYTHING.

And then you start seeing a little deeper into ANYTHING, and understanding it a little better.

You call it a "crazy amount of critical inquiry skills".

The Wikipedia extract described it as "developing insight and wisdom".

These are just words. The process is the same.

Cappella said...

This reminds me of what a master used to say if you have meditate correctly.

First, the tree is a tree, the mountain is a mountain.

As you progress, the tree is not really a tree, and the mountain is not a mountain.

When you master your meditation, the tree is a tree and the mountain is a mountain.

Once you figure this out, yeah, your mind is so much at peace.

Ned Stark said...

Mr Wang,

Is there any particular guide you would recommend for meditation?

Anonymous said...

Get a better idea of meditation here :

http://www.kktanhp.com/index.htm

boon said...

Hi Wang,

More accurately, your mind is your interpretation of the universe. Change your mind, and you change your interpretation and subjective reality.

What happens out there i.e. objective reality doesn't change. That would require concrete actions flowing from your change.

I'm just curious about linking meditation to Buddhism, they are really quite separate.

I've also noticed a deliberate slant towards Buddhism in your recent posts, is it because you wish to differentiate yourself from the Christianity-dominated PAP?

Anyway I'm all for self-awareness and critical thinking. Which is why I'm an atheist, because the existence of a God really couldn't be justified.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Wang. You make me understand what i went through few years ago.

Mr Wang Says So said...

What happens out there i.e. objective reality doesn't change.

You arrive at this conclusion because you began with the assumption that there is an objective reality.

You might be shocked to discover that there are quite different schools of thought - quantum physics, metaphysics, religion etc -

which have independently come to the point where they cnclude that there may be NO objective reality, or that "reality" is not at all very real.

Eg quantum physics has its superstring theory - someone mentioned this when commenting on my previous post - which essentially says that there could be as many as 11 dimensions (time being the 4th one). In another version of this theory, there are 26 dimensions.

This strange theory developed not out of scientists' whimsical imagination on a lazy Sunday, but out of a systematic search for the "Theory of Everything"

- a theory that would be able to coherently connect all other theories of physics - especially (1) gravity, (2) electromagnetism, (3) the strong nuclear force and (4) the weak nuclear force.

Not that I understand this very well at all, but the basic idea is that the only way (so far) for scientists to reconcile what we know about those 4 phenomena is to propose that reality consists of either 10, 11 or 26 dimensions.

For mathematical reasons, it cannot be any other number. That is, reality cannot consist of 23 or 22 or 15 dimensions.

I'm just curious about linking meditation to Buddhism, they are really quite separate.

They aren't. Meditation is a fundamental aspect of Buddhism. Click here to convince yourself.

In fact, have you ever seen ANY statue of a Buddha which DIDN'T show the buddha to be meditating? Apart from Hotei (the Laughing Buddha), they would be very rare!

boon said...

I'm not familiar with meta-physics, and only did one university module on quantum physics. All those theories are, at the moment, simply theories.

Of course, they might be proven true in the future, but I think it will under very specific conditions e.g. nearing the speed of light or something like that.

Until they are proven, I'm going with the conventional wisdom that there is indeed an objective reality. And your thoughts alone will not change anything but yourself.

Let's take the example of prayers. Do you believe that prayers can affect the "external objective reality" (let's just stick with this term for the time being, shall we?).

By the way, how is what you're saying different from the law of attraction aka the secret?

Regarding meditation, you don't have to meditate to be a Buddhist, and nor do you have to be a Buddhist to meditate. That's what I meant by them being separate.

Anonymous said...

wang, want to share your experiences in meditation. how far along r u?
nimitta? jhana? ...

i think some monks r very good meditators. but i think they r not allowed to share their experience. not unless they r close to death.

me, i want to know how others are doing.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"I'm going with the conventional wisdom that there is indeed an objective reality."

You could. However, you must then be very clear in your mind that you are NOT being scientific.

Thus when you say anything like, "Mr Wang is not being logical", what you really mean is:

Mr Wang is saying things which are not consistent with your own understanding of "objective reality"

and your understanding of "objective reality" is really just your own mind's interpretation of sense data;

in other words, a subjective interpretation.

"Do you believe that prayers can affect the "external objective reality"

Yes, of course. Everyone believes that, except atheists.

According to the Law of Attraction, each atheist, in his own subjective reality, is also right. Because if he completely believes that prayers cannot affect "external objective reality", then his own subjective reality will be one where, indeed, prayers cannot affect "external objective reality".

By the way, how is what you're saying different from the law of attraction aka the secret?

That depends on your understanding of what the law of attraction and the secret is. Like the superstring theory and the efficient market hypothesis, these ideas come in different versions.

Frank said...

What exactly does one do when one meditates, Mr Wang? Do you think specific thoughts or do you try to "clear your mind"?

I find it extremely difficult to "clear my mind" of all thoughts. The very act of trying not to think of anything, is a form of thinking.

Stressed said...

With such high density living in Singapore, where on earth could someone find a quiet place to mediate?

There is so much distactions such the traffics neigbours' yelling, someone's wedding/funeral downstairs or your neigbhour'a alarm ringing upstairs etc

What if I am meditating half way and got distracted. Will I go crazy?

boon said...

wow wang, I am blown away by your illogical comments there. I don't want to get into wordplay and definitions on what is really "subjective" and "objective".

I am more disturbed by:

"Do you believe that prayers can affect the "external objective reality"

Yes, of course. Everyone believes that, except atheists.


In case others misunderstand, let me just repeat that I think meditation can affect me personally, but it won't affect anything/anyone outside of me.

There is no good evidence for the efficacy of praying for others. Yet you choose to believe that, and very strongly too, I might add.

Do you usually believe in something without requiring evidence? I had thought your answer would be no, but now I'm seeing you in a whole new light. I guess everyone has their blind spots.

Anyway I don't think I want to comment on your posts any more. On a concluding note, I think your recent posts have the unfortunate effect of undermining your credibility. Which is a pity.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Actually I am probably more scientific than you, even in these sorts of matters which, in my opinion, are not very scientifically testable.

You may be surprised to know however that there have been numerous attempts to scientifically study the effect of prayer.

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1440-1665.2004.02132.x?cookieSet=1&journalCode=apy

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2005/07/25/a_prayer_for_health/

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/ap_060330_prayer.html

http://www.stnews.org/rlr-2177.htm

http://www.physorg.com/news93105311.html

Etc etc.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Boon, that's a mighty big assertion by you.

You say that Mr Wang lacks credibility because he thinks prayers might work?

Then you must also believe that all Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, Hindus etc in the world also lack credibility.

In other words, in your view, only atheists can possibly be credible.

That indeed is a very big assertion.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I thought I'd paste the entire article here, because I know people may be too lazy to cut and paste the link into their browser.

I like this study, because it takes into account all the other major studies (17 in total) on the effect of prayer:


Does God or some other type of transcendent entity answer prayer? The answer, according to a new Arizona State University study published in the March journal Research on Social Work Practice, is "yes."

David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State University, conducted a comprehensive analysis of 17 major studies on the effects of intercessory prayer – or prayer that is offered for the benefit of another person – among people with psychological or medical problems. He found a positive effect.

“There have been a number of studies on intercessory prayer, or prayer offered for the benefit of another person,” said Hodge, a leading expert on spirituality and religion. “Some have found positive results for prayer. Others have found no effect. Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.”

Hodge’s work is featured in the March, 2007, issue of Research on Social Work Practice, a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of empirical research on practice outcomes. It is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious journals in the field of social work.

Hodge noted that his study is important because it is a compilation of available studies and is not a single work with a single conclusion. His “Systematic Review” takes into account the findings of 17 studies that used intercessory prayer as a treatment in practice settings.

“Some people feel Benson and associates’ study from last year, which is the most recent and showed no positive effects for intercessory prayer, is the final word,” said Hodge, referring to a 2006 article by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School that measured the therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer in cardiac bypass patients. “But, this research suggests otherwise. This study enables us to look at the big picture. When the effects of prayer are averaged across all 17 studies, controlling for differences in sample sizes, a net positive effect for the prayer group is produced.

“This is the most thorough and all-inclusive study of its kind on this controversial subject that I am aware of,” said Hodge. “It suggests that more research on the topic may be warranted, and that praying for people with psychological or medical problems may help them recover.”

The use of prayer as a therapeutic intervention is controversial. Yet, Hodge notes that survey research indicates that many people use intercessory prayer as an intervention to aid healing, which raises questions about its effectiveness as an intervention strategy.

“Overall, the meta-analysis indicates that prayer is effective. Is it effective enough to meet the standards of the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 for empirically validated interventions? No. Thus, we should not be treating clients suffering with depression, for example, only with prayer. To treat depression, standard treatments, such as cognitive therapy, should be used as the primary method of treatment.”

In addition to his inclusion in the upcoming issue of Research on Social Work Practice, Hodge is widely published and has appeared on the pages of Social Work, Social Work Research, Journal of Social Service Research, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, and Families in Society. He has also authored the book “Spiritual assessment: A handbook for helping professionals.”

Source: Arizona State University

JC said...

'I believe the best approach is to read the Straits Times twice a day'

I concur.
Happiness is subjective.
Comparing yourself with someone earning monthly

$ 380 = bliss / maybe concern
$ 1,380 = happiness
$ 10,380 = sadness
$ 100,380 = ...........

Getting a daily dose of ST helps one to exercise self-censorship on one's perception of the world around.

E.g. I've just heard that
'.... the responsibility of caring for the old, should not rest on the state.'

"it is the family that should look after the old ... This is the lowest cost option for any society"

"Payment to family members breaks that link and I think it would cheapen the care that the family members give to their old if we equate that with payment"

Now, gotta hack it into ma brain..

To understand compassion from a Uniquely Singapore view, see this

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/283363/1/.html

Anonymous said...

"With such high density living in Singapore, where on earth could someone find a quiet place to mediate? "

The"quiet place" is not external but internal. Look for "internal" peace not external.

"What exactly does one do when one meditates, Mr Wang? Do you think specific thoughts or do you try to "clear your mind"?"

Treat meditation as watching a movie that goes on in your mind. Be aware of it but do not get attached to it.

Here a good book "As a Man thinketh by James Allen", some of you may consider reading.

angry doc said...

There are studies that show prayer has an effect on clinical outcomes (including one where it was shown to be effective retro-actively, which means the participants were randomised to pray for patients who have already died/recovered; not sure whether there was a cross-over phase in that trial though...), and there are those that showed no effect.

http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/07/prayer_still_us.html

A Cochrane Review in fact found that there is evidence that those who knew they were being prayed for had significantly more post operative complications than those who didn't.

http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD000368/frame.html

The error you are committing here, Mr Wang, is that you are using studies that looked at certain parameters and end results to support your claim that mind-hacking can change everything. That requires evidence that it can and does indeed change everything, rather than say physiological response or certain clinical outcomes. It is as though a scientist studied the effects of an antibiotic on a certain type of infection, and then concluded that antibiotics can change everything.

I return to our amputee. Can prayer generate him a new limb? If so, where is the proof? If not, does that not contradict your claim?

(Yes, modern medicine cannot give him a new limb either yet, but modern medicine never claimed it could give everything.)

Anonymous said...

angry doc said--The error you are committing here, Mr Wang, is that you are using studies that looked at certain parameters and end results to support your claim that mind-hacking can change everything.--

"Nothing is absolute and everything is relative" needs proof too.

A chinese saying that 'There is nothing impossible in this world only when you have doubt".

I take Mr. Wang's message as similar to the above.

Isn't it abit 'drilling the tips of a bull's horn' to harp for proof?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang. I see some muddle thinking there. String theory is supposed to be the one reconciling the conflicting laws of Quantum Mechanics and Einstein Theory of Relativity. Quantum Mechanics apply to the microscopic world while Einstien Theory of Relativity pertains to larger things. Einstein tried to come up with a unifying theory but failed until the idea that the smallest unit of the universe consist of strings. It is still unproven.

Anonymous said...

The laws of Quantum Physics when applied to the microscopic level are well proven and accepted by scientists for a long time now. The problem is this Quantum Laws
are in direct conflict with Einstein's Law of Relativity. For more that 50 years, Scientist have been trying for a theory to unify these two laws until the string theory comes along.

Anonymous said...

The Indian yogis meditated way before Buddhism were founded and they are still meditating.
Praying is also a form of meditation.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I see them all as related - prayer, hypnosis, meditation. In fact, if I may be so bold, I would lump biofeedback techniques, creative visualisation, NLP etc etc all under the same broad umbrella.

Basically, they are all just thoughts.

Anyway, in my opinion, the fundamental problem with all those experiments about prayer is that they pay no attention to how the prayer is done.

These experiments get a big bunch of strangers in to pray for another big bunch of strangers, but as far as I can see, the strangers are pretty much left to pray in whatever way they please. The only basic parameters are the length of time they pray, and how often they pray.

There is no attempt to measure whether these individuals are "skilled" (for lack of a better word) at prayer. Or how they pray.

But I personally see these as THE most critical factors. In hypnosis, we know for instance there is such a thing as deep hypnosis, light hypnosis etc, and the intensity of the effect would vary.

Drawing an analogy, if prayer works at all, prayer too must have its qualitative differences. For example, as a very basic point, does the person praying have very deep faith; or just a little faith. Is he the Pope, or is he a half-hearted Christian about to convert to Buddhism. And if we place an NLP angle into this, we would ask, did the person pray using images in his head, or using words, and what kind of emotional state was he in. Etc etc.

Most of these kinds of questions were never asked in most of these studies. That is why I do not place much weight on any of them, REGARDLESS of whether they show prayer to work or not.

Teck said...

Hi Mr Wang,

This is the first time I'm commenting on your blog but not the first time I'm reading it.

I found this post lacking in logical flow and employing too many hand waving arguments or implicit assumptions as well as a lack of understanding of certain subjects.

From Para 4 to Para 6, about having "no separation" and the "only meaning is the meaning your brain attaches" until "your mind is the universe.." -- What is the point you are trying to make? As I interpret it, are you trying to say that there is no distinction between the brain (or mind) and what we think is external to it? How is that related to your mind being the universe, unless you imply from there being nothing external to the mind, therefore the universe is part of the mind? Or do you mean that the mind interprets the sensory data so it creates its own "universe" (of interpretations) which is different from what someone else viewing the same phenomena interprets it?

And the rest of the post about the experiences one feels if one meditates correctly seem to me too improbable. How is it that all who meditate "correctly" will experience the same effect when their minds, thoughts, feelings and past experiences are so different? What does "correct" meditation mean? Surely there are many different methods.

I'm not convinced by your post, if it is meant to convince by logical argument.

And in one of your replies to readers' comments about objective reality, you mention about quantum physics, string theory and the many different dimensions but you really did not say anything about objective reality. For there is nothing in the physics you cited that tell you 11 or 23 or higher dimensions are not objective reality.

Actually, interpretations of quantum mechanics come in when one tries to answer a question like this: If you measured the position of a particle to be at point A, where was it before you measured it?

Let me reproduce what I read in David Griffith's excellent textbook "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", 2nd ed. here.

------------
The statistical interpretation introduces a kind of indeterminacy into quantum mechanics, for even if you know everything the theory has to tell you about the particle (to wit: its wavefunction), still you cannot predict with certainty the outcome of a simple experiment to measure its position -- all quantum mechanics has to offer is statistical information about the possible results. This indeterminacy has been profoundly disturbing to physicists and philosophers alike, and it is natural to wonder whether it is a fact of nature, or a defect in the theory.

Suppose I do measure the position of the particle, and I find it to be at point C. Question: Where was the particle just before I made the measurement? There are three plausible answers to this question, and they serve to characterize the main schools of though regarding quantum indeterminacy:

1. The realist position: The particle was at C. This certainly seems like a sensible response, and it is the one Einstein advocated. Note, however, that if this is true, then quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory, since the particle really was at C and yet quantum mechanics was unable to tell us so. To the realist, indeterminacy is not a fact of nature, but a reflection of our ignorance. As d'Espagnat put is, "the position of the particle was never indeterminate, but was merely unknown to the experimenter." Evidently [the wavefunction] is not the whole story -- some additional information (known as a hidden variable) is needed to provide a complete description of the particle.

2. The orthodox position: The particle wasn't really anywhere. It was the act of measurement that forced the particle to "take a stand" (though how and why it decided on the point C we dare not ask). Jordan said it most starkly: " Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it... We compel (the particle) to assume a definite position." This view (the so-called Copenhagen interpretation), is associated with Bohr and his followers. Among physicists it has always been the most widely accepted position. Note, however, that if it is correct, there is something very peculiar about the act of measurement -- something that over half a century of debate has done precious little to illuminate.

3. The agnostic position: Refuse to answer. This is not quite as silly as it sounds -- after all, what sense can there be in making assertions about the status of a particle before a measurement, when the only way of knowing whether you were right is precisely to conduct a measurement, in which case what you get is no longer "before the measurement?" It is metaphysics (in the pejorative sense of the word) to worry about something that cannot, by its nature, be tested. Pauli said "One should no more rack one's brain about the problem of whether something one cannot know anything about exists all the same, than about the ancient problem of how many angles are able to sit on the point of a needle."

...

Until fairly recently, all three positions (realist, orthodox, and agnostic) had their partisans. But in 1964, John Bell astonished the physics community by showing that it makes an observable difference whether the particle had a precise (though unknown) position prior to the measurement, or not. Bell's discovery effectively eliminated agnosticism as a viable option, and made it an experimental question whether 1 or 2 is the correct choice. ... for now, suffice it to say that the experiments have decisively confirmed the orthodox interpretation: A particle simply does not have a precise position prior to measurement, any more than the ripples on a pond do; it is the measurement process that insists on one particular number, and thereby in a sense creates the specific result, limited only by the statistical weighting imposed by the wave function.

----------------

I believe the interpretations of quantum mechanics (google/wiki this) is what you are trying to talk about to support your argument about a lack of objective reality. Also read up about Bell's Theorem and Entanglement if you wish to find out more.

Do read some of these links if you are interested:

1.
Is the moon there when nobody looks? Reality and the quantum theory (pdf) by David Mermin


2.
Bell's theorem with easy math.


3.
Myths and Realities about Quantum Mechanics


4.
Research on Hidden Variable Theories: a review of recent progresses (pdf)



I hope I've made some constructive comments here. That's my intention. If I've offended, I'm sincerely sorry.

Teck

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, your recent posts on how to understand one's mind have been very interesting. The title of this post is on Mindhacking. Halfway through, you talked about meditation. I suppose you are implying meditation will make one become mindful, and understand more of one's mind. As a result of a better understanding of one's mind, one can hack the mind to make full use of the circumstances. I guess you will talk about the linkages between meditation, being mindful, and mindhacking in your Part II? Thank you.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Hello Teck, maybe we can learn something through an exchange of Q&A. Let's start:

Name me one thing in the universe which is not in your mind/consciousness.

2nd said...

Boon wrote: "meditation can affect me personally, but it won't affect anything/anyone outside of me".


Yours is an unscientific view and is not how current science view things. Teck has rebutted you (though he may not have meant to) when he he quoted some scientists on this: "Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it... We compel (the particle) to assume a definite position". and this: "A particle simply does not have a precise position prior to measurement... it is the measurement process that insists on one particular number, and thereby in a sense creates the specific result"


An "observation/measurement" can be done either indirectly via a measuring instrument or directly via the mind - a highly train meditative mind can observe/measure something directly.

If you can accept this last italicized part, then the argument that meditation can influence reality is complete, via what those scientists said!

And to quote Teck: this is the current latest (read: most modern) scientific thoughts! So how can you say it is unscientific?

(though I still disagree with Mr. Wang as to what type and how much of reality can be changed by meditation).

2nd said...

Teck,
You have already answered your own question with the scientists that you quoted.

Qn: is there an objective reality?

Ans: There is no objective reality because it depends on how you measure/observe it <-- and this sentence is supported by the scientists that you quoted! And I shall requote it here:

"it is the measurement process that insists on one particular number, and thereby in a sense creates the specific result, limited only by the statistical weighting imposed by the wave function."


In fact, in the well-known double-slit experiment, if you think that light is a wave, and thus set up the experiment to detect wave properties, you will be able to prove that light behaves the way a wave does. (i.e. it did NOT behave the way particles were supposed to behave)

But, if you set upt the experiment to detect particle properties, this time, light behave exactly the way a particle does (i.e. it now does NOT behave the way waves were supposed to behave)!!

I think this is called wave-particle duality and it give "support" to the philosophical idea that reality is what you make it out to be. If start out with "light=wave?", you go about to prove "wave", and you get "wave" as the conclusion!

But if you start out with "light=particles=photon?", you will get the conclusion that yes, it is indeed particles!

So yes, current physics knowledge do lend weight to support the idea that thoughts can change reality (but of course, lending weight is not the same as proof).

2nd said...

>How is it that all who meditate "correctly" will experience the same effect when their minds, thoughts, feelings and past experiences are so different?

They don't experience exactly the same precise effect. But the general effect is the same: they all become very aware/mindful of thoughts and feelings whose existence they previously were unaware of.

Suddenly, they realise that the mind is not stagnant, that there isnt even a mind (in the sense of an unchanging entity otherwise known as a SOUL). What is called the mind/soul is simply billions of thoughts, arising and falling away, one leading to another.

How to verify if what Mr. Wang said is true? I think very simple lah: just meditate lor. If after some time, you get the effect which he said you will get, then there is no need for you to BELIEVE, for then you would have KNOWN...

Abuku Bak Vak said...

Let me forward this perspective.

Praying is a form of mediation. Why? Note that during mediation, you are focusing your mind, or focusing on your mind.

When you pray, you are focusing your mind on wishes (mindhacking?), hopes. Very similiar to mediation isn't it? No offense to believers, but it moves me one step closer to believing that Christ was in India or China (missing years) and learnt Buddhism or Hinduism and translated it into Christianity when he went back.

Teck said...

From Mr Wang to me:
"Name me one thing in the universe which is not in your mind/ consciousness."

I shall try to answer this in the light of my previous comments about the "realist, orthodox and agnostic" views of reality according to quantum mechanics. (Note: there are more, and people ARE trying to talk about mind and consciousness, notably Roger Penrose. Some people think that the wavefunction collapses not when a measurement is made but when a consciousness observes it. But what is consciousness? That's a serious question to some physicists actually.)

Well, if one says that everything is in your mind, or there is no objective reality except when a consciousness or mind observes it, then the follow up question is this: "What is the reality before human consciousness existed? Or before life existed?" Put in another way, "Did the earth exist before life was around to observe it?"

That is a hard question but a necessary question if we believe everything is the mind. (If I read your question correctly.)

Do read these wikipedia articles:
Consciousness causes collapse [of wavefunction]

Schrodinger's cat paradox

the Wigner's Friend Paradox


Comparisons of interpretations of quantum mechanics

Hope you do find the time to read the kinds of questions physicists worry about when thinking about the interpretations of their quantum theory to reality.


----

Btw, I did try meditation. Similar to what you described. My experiences are similar (in a small way) but not exactly what you described.

Teck

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yeah, I know where this is going, Teck. You do too, right? Let's do a fast forward.

I answer, you ask again, I answer, you ask again, and eventually this is where we will go:

1. Nothing in the universe can exist unless a consciousness is observing it

2. Since the universe seems to be continually existing, a consciousness must be continually observing it

3. Since the universe has existed for a long time, a consciousness must have been continually observing it for a long time

4. Since the universe cannot even come into existence unless a consciousness observes it, the consciousness must have existed before the universe came into existence

5. Long long ago, some omnipresent, primordial, older-than-the-Big-Bang consciousness made an observation, and the universe came into existence

6. ""Let there be light" and there was light." So said the Bible.

There. A physics argument for the existence of God, following from the collapse of the wavefunction.

So what are your views?

Teck said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I'm not sure if I quite agree, personally. Point (1) sounds like a logical conclusion of the eventual questions, like you said. But reading the other points made me feel like they were written on a frivolous whim.

It's hard to conceive of a reality whose existence doesn't have meaning when you close your eyes. Einstein's question of whether you believe that the moon does not exist when you don't look at it, IS a serious question. After all, we experience the world through our senses since birth and the idea that a doughnut is round despite not looking at it is ingrained in our experiences. Can you really shake it off?


To Mr Wang and "2nd",


There are serious physicists working on hidden variable theories of quantum mechanics. i.e. theories where the interpretation is that of objective reality.

One successful candidate is the de Broglie-Bohm or Pilot wave interpretation.

In it, the electron that travels through the double slit is a particle. But there is a quantum potential associated with it, and the modified Schrodinger equation that describes the wavefunction also exists. This wavefunction "guides" the particle to move in a definite trajectory. So there is a trajectory and a real particle as well as the wave like interference patterns in this view. And its predictions are consistent with experiment.

So the "wave-particle duality" that reader "2nd" is saying is to be seen in a different light here. It is to be seen as consistent with an objective reality interpretation of the universe. Not as a statistical interpretation.

Working physicists who don't worry about metaphysical problems like this use the Schrodinger equation because it is mathematically easier. As a result, the orthodox interpretation is therefore, more widely accepted.

Bohm was incidentally a communist so universities did not quite want to associate with him. de Broglie had a small voice and his interpretation when first raised during the Copenhagen meeting (where Einstein, Bohr and other physics greats) were present, was drowned out.

I hope you see that one needs to be very rigorous and precise when discussing such issues. At least, in a scientific sense. If you discuss it like it's a philosophy or coffeeshop talk then loosely used terms are of no consequence.

Some links if you are interested:
Bohmian interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

Comparisons of different interpretations of QM.

Mr Wang Says So said...

If you check your own links (the ones you supplied in your prior comment), you'll find one of those multiple PhD quantum physicists type (Fred Alan Wolf) who proposes something even stranger than I did.

My explanation is basically a "tame" version of his. He doesn't even think that the universe continually exists.

He thinks that the universe is constantly *blinking* in and out of existence, depending on whether it is being observed or not.

Hey, don't blame me. HE is the quantum physicist.

Now, if we survey the field generally, I think it's fair to say that we have a group of scientists who have given all this a lot of time and thought for decades ...

... and what they offer us is a number of theories. Some are more consistent with "objective reality" and some are more consistent with "subjective reality" (or multiple dimensions etc etc) ....

and from what I can see, the scientists don't have any clear view on which theory is more or less compelling than the rest.

If I'm correct to say that, then *scientifically speaking* there is no more reason for me to believe in an objective reality than in a subjective reality - is that a reasonable view?

Again let me know what you think.

adam said...

On Quantum Quackery..

In reality, the gap between subatomic quantum effects and large-scale macro systems is too large to bridge. In his book The Unconscious Quantum (Prometheus Books, 1995), University of Colorado physicist Victor Stenger demonstrates that for a system to be described quantum-mechanically, its typical mass (m), speed (v) and distance (d) must be on the order of Planck's constant (h). "If mvd is much greater than h, then the system probably can be treated classically." Stenger computes that the mass of neural transmitter molecules and their speed across the distance of the synapse are about two orders of magnitude too large for quantum effects to be influential. There is no micro-macro connection. Then what the #$*! is going on here? Physics envy. The lure of reducing complex problems to basic physical principles has dominated the philosophy of science since Descartes's failed attempt some four centuries ago to explain cognition by the actions of swirling vortices of atoms dancing their way to consciousness. Such Cartesian dreams provide a sense of certainty, but they quickly fade in the face of the complexities of biology. We should be exploring consciousness at the neural level and higher, where the arrow of causal analysis points up toward such principles as emergence and self-organization. Biology envy.
- Michael Shermer

http://www.rickross.com/reference/ramtha/ramtha16.html

angry doc said...

*Scientifically speaking*, there is not enough grounds for you to state that mind-hacking can make the universe deliver whatever you want to you.

PensiveTabby said...

MrWang> Incidentally, I am reading "Discover Your Destiny" by Robin Sharma, and the ideas from the book are similar to what you wrote. Have you by any chance read this book before?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Teck:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the funny thing about the Broglie-Bohm interpretation is that it violates the principle of locality.

In effect, Bohm is saying that something happening in my home can instantly affect something 10,000 miles away.

Isn't this what Einstein described as "spooky action at a distance"? It kinda spooked Einstein to think that this might be possible.

Eg the movement of some electrons in my home can instantly affect the movement of some electrons in someone's home 10,000 miles away.

If electrons move in my head as a result of electrical impulses caused by me thinking, theoretically they could affect electrons moving in someone's head 10,000 miles away.

Indulge me, please, and tell me how I'm wrong, if I'm wrong.

Bohm tries to preserve some aspects of realism, but in the process he has to sacrifice this idea of the principle of locality.

And once again everyday reality starts to collapse.

Am I not correct? Seriously, if I'm wrong, do tell me why.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Have you by any chance read this book before?

Nope, haven't heard of it.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I'm not sure if I quite agree, personally. Point (1) sounds like a logical conclusion of the eventual questions, like you said. But reading the other points made me feel like they were written on a frivolous whim.

Ok. Let's work with Point 1 then, since it seems logical to you. Note - it is a statement which is logical to you. Nothing to do with me, ok. :P

Point 1 is:

"Nothing in the universe can exist unless a consciousness is observing it".

Now, I will ask you the next question. Just tell me your own view, I am not trying to push you to give any particular answer.

My question is:

Does the universe exist?

Mr Wang Says So said...

By the way, everybody, Teck is a physics teacher! We don't have any quantum physicists today, but a physics teacher will be pretty cool too.

Teck said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the funny thing about the Broglie-Bohm interpretation is that it violates the principle of locality.

In effect, Bohm is saying that something happening in my home can instantly affect something 10,000 miles away.

Isn't this what Einstein described as "spooky action at a distance"? It kinda spooked Einstein to think that this might be possible.


Mr Wang, you are right.

According to Quantum Mechanics, whether the standard/orthodox interpretation or Bohmian interpretation, reality is non-local.

In a similar way to what you stated above, if there is a source of photons always produce a pair of photons (i.e. photon= a "particle" of light) emitted in opposite directions, loosely speaking, if one photon has horizontal polarization the other must be vertically polarized.

These two photons are what physicists called entangled.

If one of the photons is emitted to the left (call it "a") then and the other is emitted to the right (call it "b).

The thing is, there are two possible states "a" is in - horizontally (call it |H>) and vertically (call it |V>) polarized. (The |> is just a way of writing a quantum state.)

Same with "b".

But before you do a measurement, the two-photon system is in a superposition of states, i.e. it is not in state |H> or |V> but in a state of both possibilities
(|H>|V> + |V>|H>)
Read: a=H and b=V, OR, a=V and b=H.

But before a measurement is done, each photon is neither in |H> or |V>, but possibilities of either (superposition of states).

However, once a measurement confirms "a" to be |H> then "b" instantly collapses from the superposition to a definite state |V>. And vice versa.

This has been confirmed by experiment, notably by Alain Aspect. Many other experimental confirmations followed.

So, Mr Wang, Quantum Mechanics is non-local. But physical information still doesn't travel faster than light -- so causality (cause and effect) is not violated.

========================

Now, I will ask you the next question. Just tell me your own view, I am not trying to push you to give any particular answer.

My question is:
Does the universe exist?


It's a hard question, given my knowledge and limited understanding of physics and it's seeming contradiction with everyday experience yet seeming parallel to my experience in meditation.

My genuine answer is (without proof! :)...
I'm not sure! I'm quite confused myself. On the one hand, quantum mechanics tells me one thing -- but I'm no expert. And there are so many interpretations. On the other hand, everyday experience tells us reality is hard and fast. Yet some experience in meditation seem to point to a dual nature of being as illusory.

So I guess I have to verify each point of view before I can really say what I know.

But hey, I love my wife and kids and they should exist even if I close my eyes right? How can they not?

===========================
If you check your own links (the ones you supplied in your prior comment), you'll find one of those multiple PhD quantum physicists type (Fred Alan Wolf) who proposes something even stranger than I did.

Yup, there's so many interpretations. Kinda makes one suspect the reasonableness of physics.

"Many worlds/Multiple universes interpretation" is out of fashion and not taken very seriously by the physics community.

I hear that "Decoherence/Consistent Histories interpretation" is one of the most widely accepted.

BUT, being accepted doesn't mean it's right. Nobody knows which is right. So far. (But some are downright weird and strange, as you pointed out.)

===============================
and from what I can see, the scientists don't have any clear view on which theory is more or less compelling than the rest.

I think some believe certain interpretations to be more on the right track than others. But in essence, you are right. There's no interpretation which has PROVEN correct.

The main problem with the orthodox (copenhagen) interpretation is the problem of measurement -- why does a wavefunction collapse upon measurement? What mechanism causes it?

==============================
but a physics teacher will be pretty cool too.

Oh please.

If you really thought physics teachers were cool, you'd have paid more attention during your physics lessons right, Mr Wang?

=)
Teck

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you, Teck. I think I do manage to establish something very useful for (to?) my readers, when in a discussion like this, I ask a physics teacher this question:

"Does the universe exist?"

And the reply from the physics teacher is:

"My genuine answer is (without proof! :)...
I'm not sure! I'm quite confused myself"


And personally, I think your answer is very wise.

Because the key point I would like to convey here is that "external everyday reality" is not to be taken for granted.

It is NOT at all what it seems.

We cannot even take it for granted that the universe exists.

Teck said...

You're welcome, Mr Wang. =)

I hope you found the links useful or at least, interesting.

Teck