2009.07.06 19:00 - What is Knowledge

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Threedee Shepherd. The comments are by Threedee Shepherd.


    This was a theme meeting where Pema and Threedee discussed different concepts of Knowledge, with the help of Eos.

    Eos Amaterasu: Hi Pema!
    Pema Pera: Hello Eos!
    Pema Pera: And hello Threedee!
    Pema Pera: Hi there Adelene!
    Eos Amaterasu: Wowee - hello Threedee and Adelene!
    Adelene Dawner: Hi, Pem ^.^
    Threedee Shepherd: hi folks
    Pema Pera: Hi Peer!
    Adelene Dawner: Peer, have you met Pema yet?
    Peer Infinity: hi everyone :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Hi Per!
    Peer Infinity: yes, I've met Pema :)
    Eos Amaterasu: & Pila... & Balthus
    Balthus Homewood: Ade, good day to you :)
    Pema Pera: Hi Pila, and hi Balthus!
    Peer Infinity: hi Balthus :D
    Threedee Shepherd: hello
    Balthus Homewood: Hello Eos
    Pila Mulligan: greetings
    Balthus Homewood: Hi Peer :)
    Peer Infinity: welcome to Play as Being :)
    Peer Infinity: as you can probably guess by the name, we do serious philosophical stuff here :)
    Pema Pera: Balthus, is this your first time here?
    Balthus Homewood: It is
    Pema Pera: We get together a few times a day to chat about the nature of reality, and everything else, and we have a wiki http://playasbeing.wik.is/ -- We record our conversations there. Do you mind being included in our blogs?
    Balthus Homewood: I dont mind at all. Thank you for asking :)
    Pema Pera: thank you!
    Pema Pera: as Peer indicated, we are a pretty informal bunch :-)
    Balthus Homewood: So I gathered :)
    Pila Mulligan: hi Eliza
    Pema Pera: Eos and Three, shall we get started?
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi everyone :)
    Threedee Shepherd: hi Eliza
    Pema Pera: Hi Eliza!
    Threedee Shepherd: ok
    Balthus Homewood: Hello, Eliza
    Pila Mulligan: suspended on her petticoats?
    Eliza Madrigal: hehe seems that way :)
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Balthus, nice to meet you
    Eos Amaterasu: Hi Eliza
    Threedee Shepherd: better than being hoisted on a petard;>
    Pila Mulligan: aye, indeed
    Eliza Madrigal: haha..okay...don't want to keep you from beginning with my sillyness :)
    Pila Mulligan: there is a topic for this session
    Threedee Shepherd: I will introduce my *role* by saying that I have done much reading since last monday and now know Pema and I are using the same word "knowledge" in very different ways, although his usage subsumes mine.
    Threedee Shepherd: Without speaking for Pema, it is fair to say his usage equals the concept og "Great Knowledge" as described and discussed in the book "Time, Space and Knowledge" by Tarthang Tulka, a teacher of the Nyingma School of Tibetian Buddhism
    Eos Amaterasu: Can you give me Sanskrit or Tibetan for "Great knowledge"?
    Threedee Shepherd: not I.
    Pila Mulligan: hi Hana
    Pema Pera: It is an original term, introduced by Tarthang Tulku in English
    Pema Pera: Hi Hana!
    Hana Furlough: hi everyone!
    Eliza Madrigal: :) Hi Hana
    Eos Amaterasu: Hi hana!
    Balthus Homewood: Hello, Hanna :)
    Pema Pera: Tarthang Tulku and Steven, Stim for us here in SL, had a series of discussions in the seventies that led to this book
    Pema Pera: and they struggled to find fresh and simple English terms to express their experiences
    Threedee Shepherd: Tulka talks of Great Time, Great Space and Great knowledge. They are sometimes said to be a higher level and our daily usage on a "lower level"
    Pema Pera: The actual text was written by Stim, based on a large number of interviews that he conducted with Tarthang Tulku.
    Hana Furlough: i'm sorry what book are you talking about?
    Pema Pera: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Space-Kno...6933090&sr=1-1
    Hana Furlough: wow this looks amazing
    Hana Furlough: thanks!
    Pila Mulligan: hi Steve
    Eliza Madrigal: Hi Steven :)
    Pema Pera: Hi Steve!
    stevenaia Michinaga: hello
    Threedee Shepherd: Pema, perhaps you should say a bit to get a dialog going between us
    Hana Furlough: hi steve!
    Adelene Dawner: Hi Steve ^.^
    stevenaia Michinaga: waves, don't let me interrupt
    Pema Pera: Well, there are two key points here
    Pema Pera: usually we consider the world to be stretched out in space and time, populated with things and living beings as well as radiation, energy -- in short, as a complex play on the stage of space and time
    Pema Pera: and usually anything to do with understanding, knowing, cognition, is ascribed to brains, books, active and passive localized objects of information storage and processing
    Pema Pera: that's the modern view, in science as well as daily life
    Threedee Shepherd nods in agreement
    Pema Pera: now the traditional religious view, in most if not all countries, is different: that there is or are some kind of God(s) or other entities that have knowledge far beyond what humans can possibly hope to know
    Pema Pera: in some religions these Gods are relatively personal is they way they are described
    Pema Pera: in others there is more the idea of a field or a presence, I'm thinking about Taoism for example
    Pema Pera: What TSK, Time Space Knowledge, is attempting is to present something that incorporates the *experiences* on which both approaches are based
    Pema Pera: by positing an enlarged stage, adding a third ingredient to space and time, giving it the name "knowledge" for simplicity
    Pema Pera: and then by discerning three levels to each of the three ingredients
    Pema Pera: called simpley 1st level, 2nd level, 3rd level
    Threedee Shepherd notes that this elides another view, humanistic agnosticic pragmatism that holds that "this is it'
    Pema Pera: our everyday life and also pretty much all of current science can be described in terms of 1st level space, time. knowledge
    Threedee Shepherd: yes
    Pema Pera: in what way does it omit that, Threedee?
    Threedee Shepherd: please finish the summary, then i will reply
    Pema Pera: it is an interesting point you make, Three: the use of the term "levels" is misleading, or can be.
    Threedee Shepherd: I understand that
    Hana Furlough: i agree -- reminds me of the illusory levels of enlightenment in zen
    Pema Pera: in fact, there is only one reality -- and this is it, right here and now, I think agnostics could agree with that, since they are also open to discovering as-yet unknown new aspects of our current reality, obviously. So instead of "levels", "perspectives" might have been a luckier term to use (Stim doesn't like the term "levels" anymore either, he told us)
    Hana Furlough: yeah -- like the idea that our understanding of it differs
    Pema Pera: In the past we have talked about "relative" versus "absolute" which corresponds roughly to TSK's 1st and 3rd level
    Pema Pera: my image here is that 1st, 2nd, 3rd corresponds a bit to solid, liquid, gaseous -- to use analogies
    Threedee Shepherd: First, let me use a term that "agnostic humanistic Pragmatists" use to name their standpoint, Naturalism.
    Pema Pera: everything is very fixed on the 1st level, becomes more fluid on the 2nd, and fully open on the 3rd
    Pema Pera: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/
    Threedee Shepherd: Naturalism suggests that what Pema called trhe first level, a moment ago, is the ONLY level. and, it is where we should loook if we want deeper understanding of existence.
    Eos Amaterasu: Does deeper imply level?
    Threedee Shepherd: yes, that wiki entry is useful, especially the sentence "They urged that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing ‘supernatural’, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality, including the ‘human spirit’ "
    Threedee Shepherd: no deeper implies "fuller" and I should have used fuller not deeper
    Pema Pera: I would rephrase that, with "perspective" instead of "level": Naturalism assumes that the reality we find ourselves in is the only reality (I agree), and that there are different perspectives we can take on that -- most naturalists just happen to be familiar only with the 1st level perspective, not the two others -- but to the extent that they would experience those, they would simply have to enlarge their views, just like physics, say, had to enlager its views over the centuries. I see not fundamental contradiction
    Pema Pera: I agree, with "scientific method" an enlarged version of the current one -- this method, fortunately, is evolving and growing!
    Pema Pera: quantum mechanics could be could "fuller or deeper" or just "more correct" but for sure goes way beyond classical mechanics
    Threedee Shepherd: The issue is one of "experiencing" the other levels, as through the kinds of meditative exercises in TSK. It IS possible that experience is an illusion.
    Pema Pera: where you call qm to "transcend" classical mechanics is a matter of choice of words
    Pema Pera: anything is possible, Threedee, of course
    Pema Pera: so for me an important pointer is the similarity and recognizability of these kinds of insights across cultures
    Hana Furlough: if experience is an illusion - then what could be real?
    Threedee Shepherd: Which to me, at the least, says the brains of all humans are organized with similar structures that underlie cognition.
    Pila Mulligan: not just the brains :)
    Hana Furlough: which may suggest an underlying unity or interdependence
    Pema Pera: the way I grew into it is very much like falling into the proof of a mathematical theorem -- or seeing a picture looming out in 3D from a 2D field of seemingly random dots; once you see it, you see there is something new and interesting there, that part is unmistaken, as an experience, the question is then what you do with it, how you interpret it and apply it in your life
    Threedee Shepherd: An experience is just that, an experience. the WORDS we use to describe, explain and interpret it are a story we make up after the fact. That story may be an illusion.
    Eos Amaterasu: So you're talking experience, not just logical conclusion (to Pema)
    Threedee Shepherd: yes pila, thanks
    Pema Pera: yes, both, Eos
    Pema Pera: logical reasoning is also a kind of experience :-)
    Pema Pera: you can stumble over a new mathematical conclusion like you stumble over a chair
    Pema Pera: and be equally amazed
    Pema Pera: when encountering something unexpected
    Hana Furlough: lol
    Threedee Shepherd: Pema, this that you said is a key point: "the question is then what you do with it, how you interpret it and apply it in your life"
    Pema Pera: but "experience" is not a precise word here" -- there is no experiencer in the 3rd level perspective -- awareness might be better
    Eos Amaterasu: That's probably where it goes beyong naturalist view - or does it?
    Eos Amaterasu: Cutting the knower - that's an unkown experience
    Pema Pera: yes, Three. The nice thing for me is that it seems to naturally imply so many key points of existing traditions, including wu-wei (not-doing), emptiness,openness, a natural kind of devotion and appreciation, etc
    Pema Pera: well, Eos, it goes beyond the *current* naturalist view
    Pema Pera: just like quantum mechanics goes beyond the 19th century physics view
    Pila Mulligan: a transcendent expereince implies something that it transcends, but it may be just that it transcends one's expectations
    Eos Amaterasu: but it does seem to be an emerging paradigm
    Pema Pera: that doesn't mean quantum mechanics is metaphysics!!!
    Eos Amaterasu: not a all!
    Pema Pera: yes, Pila, exactly!!
    Eos Amaterasu: Exactamente, Pila!
    Pema Pera: what is "it" Eos?
    Pema Pera: in "but it does seem to be an emerging paradigm"?
    Eos Amaterasu: primary dimensionality of awareness
    Eos Amaterasu: along with time, space
    Threedee Shepherd: Pema, i accept "wu-wei (not-doing), emptiness,openness, a natural kind of devotion and appreciation" as what they are, and do neot see a need to generalize from them to "something" transcendent (or whatever word we choose)
    Pema Pera: well, the word "emerging" is very slippery and typically ill-defined, or in fact un-defined . . . awareness to me seems more basic than almost anything else we talk about and judge and try to catch in words -- so to "explain" or "ground" awareness on something else, even by letting it magically "emerge" out of something, always feel suspect
    Pema Pera: that's fine, Three :-)
    Pema Pera: but when physics discovers something new, it is almost always a till-then hidden form unification
    Pema Pera: from electromagnetism, both electricity and magnetism become more clearer
    Pema Pera: and are seen to stem from the same source
    Pema Pera: etc etc
    Eos Amaterasu: Re emerging, I was referring to paradigm shift in direction of seeing awareness as unmanufactured....
    Eos Amaterasu: in a way that fits in the naturlist perspective - reality, nature, is already imbued with awareness
    Pema Pera: in TSK Being is the one "source", Time and Space and Knowledge are aspects, and everything else appears as a play of Space, Time, Knowledge
    Threedee Shepherd: In any case, there is a more immediate issue. Until, or if, I experience the "higher", reading T,S,K is like someone telling me what pistaschio tastes like, or how red looks.
    Pema Pera: yes, Eos, I think it is completely compatible, as you described
    Pema Pera: yes, Three, it is an invitation to look
    Eos Amaterasu: I think there's a kind of non-transcendence that' s important
    Pema Pera: a catalyst to lower the threshold to stepping into it
    Pema Pera: it can help prepare and widen our views, increasing our willingness to see differently
    Threedee Shepherd: agreed
    Eos Amaterasu: "no other heaven", which lets you pay attention to what's right here
    Pema Pera: yes, exactly, Eos!
    Pema Pera: This is it!
    Eos Amaterasu: which might be more than you expected
    Pema Pera: yes, as Pila said too!
    Pema Pera: and as sciences demonstrates every week!
    Threedee Shepherd: I agree that this is it, and that the it is complicated by being subjective
    Eos Amaterasu: Hmm, great point :-)
    Pema Pera: by us tending to be subjective :-)
    Eos Amaterasu: Experience seems irreducibly "triplicate"
    Pema Pera: no need for "us" nor for "being subjective" -- it's just a habit to introduce those two
    Pema Pera: yes, so it's fun to drop experience, exactly for that reason
    Pema Pera: stop, drop, like in the 9-sec
    Eos Amaterasu: 1
    Pema Pera: that's the idea of emptiness, emptying out that three-fold habitual aspect
    Eos Amaterasu: 2
    Eos Amaterasu: 3
    Threedee Shepherd: I think I could repharse and still hold to my point. I am not agruing for "self", I am accepting, though, local concatenation of experience that is not the same for Pema and Threedee
    Threedee Shepherd: I know that Great Knowledge remove all the distinctions, but that can become a tautology
    Eos Amaterasu: Hmm, are we not nothing more than local concatenation of experience?
    Threedee Shepherd: perhaps not, Eos
    Eos Amaterasu: I think we all have pretty individual histories, stories
    Eos Amaterasu: which we inhabit
    Threedee Shepherd: that, and a imprecise storage mechanism for some of that experience
    Pema Pera: "removing all distinctions" -- I would say "appreciate all distinctions", Threedee
    Pema Pera: nothing removed or glossed over or denied
    Threedee Shepherd: yes, but appreciating them removes thm as barriers, which makes the word distinctions rather weak
    Pema Pera: on the contrary, the distinctions can be seen more precisely, I think
    Pema Pera: we can focus totally on the distinctions, once we realize we don't have to struggle with them as barriers!
    Eos Amaterasu: But, since it is an "experience" (at least analogously so), there is an exerimental path to having such experience
    Balthus Homewood: The sum of expirences seems to preclude an additional influence outside of what information has allready been aquired
    Threedee Shepherd: yes but they are all fingers pointing at the same moon. there MIGHT be different moons
    Pema Pera: or so it seems, Eos . . . from a 1st level but not from a 3rd level perspective
    Pema Pera: yes, Balthus, good point!
    Eos Amaterasu: Well, that's the experience, isn't it?
    Eos Amaterasu: Mabye the word experimental is better than experiential
    Pema Pera: The *amazing* rock-bottom point of TSK, and of Zen, and of Tibetan Dzogchen is: there is no path to reach insight/enlightenment; It's all there already, and all we need to do is acknowledge/appreciate it. Would you agree, Eos?
    Eos Amaterasu: Pema, would you say there is an exeperimental path to what your are pointing to?
    Pema Pera: hahaha, simultaneous typing
    Threedee Shepherd: Pema, I agree
    Balthus Homewood: parellel thinking
    Threedee Shepherd: Really, I do agree, yet somehow that leads us to different ways of making the non-journey that is life
    Pema Pera: and yet, I don't want to deny at all, from a 1st level perspective, that it is very useful to practice and explore -- I've done that for decades myself --- both perspectives have validity, in different ways; the 3rd level perspective is more "real" you could say, though.
    Threedee Shepherd: I sum it up as "the meaning of life is, life"
    Eos Amaterasu: WE momentarily seemed to agree - and does it matter if we really did - in that meoment?
    Pila Mulligan: science withholds recognition of a 'truth' until there is a consenus, the contemplative schools freely developed their own theories and descriptions of truth -- for me, it is most interesting to see where we can find common grounds, not just as to science but also among the old traditions -- where is there consensus
    Pema Pera: yes, me too, Pila
    Threedee Shepherd: I understand that , Pila.
    Pema Pera: /nods as Eos
    Pema Pera: I'm curious though, Eos, how you see a "path to reach insight"?
    Eos Amaterasu: It's a paradoxical path, to be sure
    Pema Pera: And yes, Pila, you could say that PaB is a science-oriented approach to spirituality, in the sense you just mentioned
    Pila Mulligan: yoga may be one nearly-consenusal common ground - it is pretty well studied and accepted
    Eos Amaterasu: but it's a path in the sense that it's first-hand experience, not just a syllogistic conclusion
    Hana Furlough: well-said
    Pema Pera: yes
    Balthus Homewood: or other traditional therapy
    Eos Amaterasu: But I think there are very simple instructions that can be lab sessions
    Pema Pera: can you say more, Eos?
    Eos Amaterasu: like, pay attention to between your last thought and your next thought/perception
    Eos Amaterasu: No mysticism there :-)
    Pema Pera looking at his watch, and realizing he has to go off to work, to meet his astro buddies in RL :-)
    Pema Pera: I'd love to follow this up -- how about a week from now, Eos and Three?
    Threedee Shepherd: except that if you "try to pay attention" that is what you are doing, as opposed to attending. There is a paradox there
    Pila Mulligan: bye Pema-san
    Eliza Madrigal: Bye Pema :)
    Eos Amaterasu: Yes
    Hana Furlough: bye pema
    Eos Amaterasu: Bye Pema
    Threedee Shepherd: ok, next week, same time, same station
    Balthus Homewood: So long, Perma
    Pema Pera: great, thanks, 3 & E !
    Pema Pera: bye everybody!
    Eos Amaterasu: I will also leave, thanks all,
    Eliza Madrigal: Bye Eos :)
    Pila Mulligan: bye Eos
    Eos Amaterasu: Three Dee and Squee (Gee?)
    Hana Furlough: bye eos!
    Threedee Shepherd: goodnight. I will end the log here.
    Eliza Madrigal really enjoyed this. Thanks everyone :)
    Balthus Homewood: Take care, Eos
    stevenaia Michinaga: bye
    Pila Mulligan: bye Eliza
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