in defining self

atoms through galaxies

don’t abide, however

deeper into energy and wider out matter

living between the two

nibbling rounder pis

pulling them together

a self-similar pattern

melting (ti) through (me)

pushing them apart

‘ward radiating

time to self

1080P Dual Monitor Desktop Background

My mom made this desktop background for a dual monitor setup where each monitor is 1080p resolution.  It’s been my background ever since.

Besides being awesome, it’s nice thing that it is big enough that it can be made to stretch across both monitors, rather than duplicating.  So, the left half of the image will appear on the left monitor and the right half of the image will appear on the right.  There are programs you can get to put different images on each monitor, but this is a nice works-out-of-the-box solution.

In Windows 7, I have the “Picture Position” set to “Tile”.  The file itself is around 12MBs, which shouldn’t be any problem for modern computers.  If anyone wants to comment on how to set it up on other systems, feel free.  I don’t have any other OS’s set up at the moment, so I”m not going to get into it.  In Windows 7 and Vista, just right click on the image and save to your downloads folder (or whatever), then you should be able to navigate to that folder and right click and select “Set as Desktop Background”.  However, you might then need to right click on your desktop and select “Personalize”, click down below where it shows the image and then eventually select “Tile”.  If anyone requests it I’ll put better instructions, however, just googling ought to get you there. Dual Monitor Desktop Background By Sylvie Meyers

Yogic Dualism

Traditional Yoga is, philosophically, metaphysically, dualistic.  I don’t actually agree with the dualism of Yoga and its philosophical cohort Sankhya and I’ve spent most of my adult life exploring and elaborating nondualism, but hey, that’s fine: I think it keeps one on their toes to practice something that doesn’t entirely accord with their beliefs: helps protect against dewy eyed nonsense.  Yoga is a practice, not a philosophy.  I like Edwin F. Bryant’s description of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, pg xlv):

a psychosomatic technique of meditative practice

The nice thing about Yogic dualism is that it isn’t the same as Western Dualism, such as that of Descartes.  This post is about that.  Bryant writes (pg xlvi):

In the Yoga tradition, the dualism is not between the material body and physical reality on the one hand, and mental reality characterized by thought on the other, but between pure awareness and all objects of awareness–whether these objects are physical and extended or internal and nonextended [res extensa and res cogitans].  In other words, in Sankhya and Yoga, thought, feeling, emotion, memory, etc., are as material or physical as the visible ingredients of the empirical world (footnote A [see below]).  As an aside, in this regard, Yoga has a curious overlap with modern reductive materialism, which holds that the internal world of thought and feeling is ultimately reducible to neurological brain functioning and other purely material phenomena, as well as with the computational procedures of “artificial intelligence”.  It thereby offers an unexpected overlap with modern functionalist accounts of mind that merits further exploration (avoiding some of the pitfalls in the Cartesian view in this regard, while, simultaneously, unlike Artificial Intelligence, retaining consciousness itself as independent of cognition [footnote B {see below}]).  Pure consciousness, called purusa, in this system, animates and pervades the incessant fluctuations of thought–the inner turmoil of fears, emotions, cravings, etc.–but the two are completely distinct entities.

To use a common rhetorical device found in internet forums: THIS.

Bryant later writes (pg liii):

It cannot be overstressed that the mind merely a physical substance that selects, organizes, analyzes, and molds itself into the physical forms of the sense data presented to it; in and of itself it is not aware of them.  Sense impressions or thoughts are imprints in that mental substance, just as a clay pot is a product made from the substance clay, or waves are permutations of the sea.  The essential point for understanding yoga is that all forms or activities of the mind are products of prakrti, matter, and completely distinct from the soul or true self, purusa, pure awareness or consciousness.

And (pg liv):

More specifically, the soul [purusa] becomes aware of the outside world when images of sense objects are channeled through the senses, sorted by the manas [mind], the thinking and organizing aspect of citta, and presented to the intellect.  Although inanimate, the intellect, in addition to its functions of discrimination noted earlier, molds itself into the form and shape of these objects of experience, thoughts and ideas, and, due to the reflection of the consciousness of purusa, appears animated.  Since the soul is adjacent to (footnote C [see below]) the intellect (and the citta in general), the intellect is the immediate covering of purusa; hence it is through the intellect that purusa becomes aware of these forms and objects of the world.

Footnote A:

As Dasgupta notes, if the mind itself were conscious, then why would its states be sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious?  In other words, if the very nature of the mind were conscious, then all its states should always be conscious–there should be no unconscious or subconscious states in that which is, by definition, conscious.  The fact that this is not the case suggests that consciousness lies in another entity behind the mind, which is conscious of some states external to it but not others.

Footnote B:

Schweizer [Paul Schweizer, “Mind/Consciousness Dualism in Sankhya-Yoga Philosophy”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LIII.4 {1993}: 845-59] states as follows: “If mind and environment are held to belong to the same metaphysical realm, then mental content can both cause and be caused by other physical events.  This at least opens the door to explaining mental representation and the evolution of cognitive structure through appeal to the interaction between an organism and its environment, while it is not at all clear that this door is open on a Cartesian account” (1993, 854).  Along similar lines, he elaborates that AI adopts a computational paradigm, which assumes that all phenomena, whether artificial or natural, are founded on computational procedures evidenced in physical systems.  Since the citta in Yoga is an unconscious mechanism which manipulates the representational structures involved in perception, it can be characterized as computational (ibid, 854).  He further notes that, as in Yoga, “subjective experience is an element which is theoretically extraneous to the research programs of cognitive science and AI”.

Footnote C:

Since purusa is omnipresent, its adjacency with buddhi [intellect] is not spatial; conceptualizing their relationship is one of the main philosophical problems of Hindu thought.

I’ve been saying similar things in my posts (Yoga Sutras 1.2, Yoga Sutras 1.4, Consciousness, and probably elsewhere), but this is all a lot clearer than my jabberwacky.

Footnote A is a very interesting line of reasoning to me.  One could wonder how it doesn’t just move the same problem back a step, since, if purusa is pure consciousness, how can any form of unconsciousness be possible at all?  Basically, I think it is saying that the intentionality of consciousness, the about-something-ness of all conscious states, is not actually necessary to consciousness itself, but is simply a product of the conscious field witnessing or coming into contact with some material reality (measuring).

So, where does my non-dualism fit in?  What we are able to egoically relate to as “awareness” requires a certain density of intentionality.  Without a threshold density of contact with mental goings-ons, we aren’t actually aware of our awareness, like a mirror in the dark reflecting nothing.  Samadhi then is the result of focusing that awareness back on itself so that it is about itself.  Going with the mirror example, which I like, enlightenment, or samadhi, is a spherical mirror of in-angled reflections capturing some light and not letting it out.  Yoga is the technique of in-angling the mirror into a sphere.  At least in my terminology.  Technically, yogically, purusa is unchanging, and so isn’t itself amenable to in-angling.

Home Practice

I used to think “Home Practice” meant moving my laptop over to the yoga area and setting Rodney Yee loose.  Although not quite my introduction to asana practice (Community College), it served me well through the years and the moves.  Oh, I knew that I should eventually get to the place where I didn’t need it, but I wasn’t sure when that would happen and all my past attempts were lackadaisical.  Practicing to Rodney Yee or Tara Stiles or whoever is certainly good, much better than nothing, but practicing without such props allows the space for all sorts of depth that constant glancing up and listening to cues just simply opposes.

Lately, however, I’ve started to discover my own practice.

The most difficult part was getting started.  Do I sit around beforehand and design a sequence?  Desikachar’s chapter on sequencing is a good primer.  One could get lost for years exploring Yoga Sequencing by Mark Stephens.  But ultimately, I haven’t went into that all much, yet.  Should I have someone else design one for me?

At first, I let Yee get me started and then I’d branch off and just start doing my own thing.  The nice thing about that was that a lot of the cues he would be prattling off applied to whatever I was doing even if it was a totally different outward form.  I could tune in and out at my own pace.  I mean, when shouldn’t you tuck the tailbone?  When shouldn’t you lengthen the spine?  When shouldn’t you move to your breath?  Typically it’s obvious, if at all true.

Then, I started doing Surya Namaskara A’s in silence and adding in whatever feels right next while trying to keep in mind some basics about counterposing.

Probably the most prominent change this has brought about is that I’ve begun becoming my own motivator, my own spark.  The thing about class or videos is that someone is there pushing you on.  There is a sequence and each asana has a length of time to get into and hold and it’s almost always challenging.  When I used to try to taylor a solo session I would frankly peter out, my motivation bobbing with my hopelessly distractable mind and challenge would unappear.  Although I’m very self-motivated in other arenas of my life, I’d not quite made the leap to my home yoga practice at that level.

Then, I started to add in Virabhadrasana 3s while making sure to raise that back leg up level with the torso, and then to hold it there for a couple of steady breaths, all without an outside motive force. Et cetera.


4 Handed Days

I was noticing how I have a typical slouch that starts in my right knee and winds around my body up through my left shoulder and neck and out through an ever so slightly tilted head.  The anti-slouch is how I stand in Tadasana.  I push my right hip down through my right psoas and that extends the right leg up the right spine which straightens and lengthens that whole column up and brings my head level.

A common variation of Tadasana or Samasthiti is to have the hands together at the heart in Namaste (Sanskrit: I see you, I recognize your spark [or, in my opinion, addressed to everything that exists, exactly the same acknowledgement]).  Since I was picturing myself going through my day in Tadasana to overcome my habitual slouch, that variation carried over and I was doing it with my hands in Namaste.

Impractical, but then I considered just imagining that I had my hands in Namaste at my heart throughout the day.  I’d have four hands and four arms but I’d let a pair remain invisible and manage their empire of compassion and reverent silence in the background (Rilke).

Adaptive Hallucination

As I’ve been learning more about my anatomy (and physiology), about where things feel in relation to one another (under and behind) my face-centered consciousness, rather than on how they are spatially related on a drawn diagram in front of me, I’ve been developing the ability to actually see.

The visual modality has always been my primary, I think.  I write “I think” because I’ve always been very intuitive, too, and working on adaptively hallucinating my insides has brought these two “forces” together in an interestingly synergistic and metaeducational way.  The “hallucination”, or proprioreception with a dash of creativity (too much and you’re no longer adaptive), itself is developing as a result of exercising it.  Duh.

For me, with my visually specialized mind, this has given me something to remember.  For instance, I have a terrible auditory memory.  You can say something and I’ll likely forget it.  But if you show it to me or write it out I can have a practically eidetic memory for it.  My best bet, when it comes to remembering spoken things, is visualizing something and anchoring to that.

Pairing intuition with a motivation to, sort of, reify the intuited spatial and structural relationships visually has been giving the intuited “stuff” something to adhere to, something to grow from, a matrix.  Sort of like Katamari Damacy, the game where you roll a ball around and things stick to it and your ball keeps growing.


Nietzsche (or Jung?? [reddit]) wrote in a very different context that nevertheless seems apropos:

For the branches to reach Heaven the roots must go down to Hell.

 I’ll pull that sword from the stone, yet.