Books about meditation, Zen, transcendence, and all that jazz tend to be deeply mystical — so fuzzy as to be almost useless to an analytic mind. If higher states of consciousness are real then they should build upon, not discard, scientific knowledge. What might a hypothetical Engineer's Guide to Enlightenment look like? It could contain chapters on:
- Neurophysiology & psychology — infrastructure of the brain and general phenomena associated with its functioning;
- Pre-rationality & emotion — non-verbal processes, instincts, and animal drives as evolved for survival and reproduction;
- Consciousness & logic — language, rhetoric, art, reasoning, and their connections to mathematical/algorithmic processes;
- Illusion & confusion — physical disorders of thought, deliberate trickery (i.e., deception or "magic"), naïve misperceptions, and sloppy thinking;
- Enlightenment & obscurity — technologies to achieve altered mental states (e.g., breathing patterns, relaxation, sensory deprivation, psycho-active chemicals, disciplines of focused awareness, martial arts training, etc.) and how to distinguish higher mindfulness from self-delusion.
Elements of the Engineer's Guide to Enlightenment already exist, but only as scattered articles and fragmentary treatments in other sources. This could be a valuable book. Who wants to get organized and write it?!
Saturday, October 09, 1999 at 20:38:37 (EDT) = 1999-10-09