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July 17th, 2020
The portions of this episode that are in italics have been generated by GPT-3 from OpenAI.
This episode is another collaborative effort undertaken with GPT-3, the newest technology from OpenAI. This episode seeks to explore the topic of meditation with this machine. As with the previous episode, number 823 entitled AI Collaboration, Tinkered Thinking and GPT-3 will take turns adding a paragraph to the episode at hand in order to build a cohesive piece that reads as though it was written by a single mind. GPT-3’s contributions will be conveyed in italics. Tinkered Thinking will initiate this episode on meditation by writing only the next two words of the succeeding paragraph and allowing GPT-3 to fill in the rest of the sentence and succeeding paragraph.
Meditation is a state of consciousness and it is not a complete departure from thinking to arrive at this state, but an improved immersion in the processes of thinking and an awareness of thinking as such, which is enhanced by being freed from the immediate desire to have things the way one would like them to be and the need to make them fit into the way one would like things to be.
In one sense, meditation is the practice of accepting the moment as it is, unedited, and unvarnished by our perspective when it is laden with memory and desire. To make progress to this end is to place distance between our raw experience and our default response to that experience.
It is human nature to be in a constant state of conversation with ourselves, and what this has become, what we call, “thinking,” is very often negative and distracting. When our default setting is triggered we are constantly engaged in justifying or defending our beliefs. When in the presence of stimuli, we are evaluating and critiquing. When our past comes back to us we reactively have a desire to repeat or undo our mistakes. At the root of all of this is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of death, fear of being alone, fear of being with others. The self is a collection of learned fears; fearful reactions to thoughts, feelings and events. Meditation, or the practice of accepting what is, helps us to appreciate the fullness of what is by freeing us from clinging to our personal desires, which often determine what we believe is true and relevant, to instead see the moment for what it is without the delusions of the past or anticipation of the future.
Meditation is a gift of the mind that serves to cleanse us of our broken thinking and to put us in touch with the living moment, not as an interruption of our thoughts, but as a medium for resolving the riddles of thinking and interacting with our surroundings, with ourselves and with others in the purest and most effortless manner. Meditation can be the key to seeing beyond the barriers of isolation and fear and experiencing a kind of clarity that is inexpressible in words.
When we achieve the ability to separate our sense of identity from our experience, we inhabit a context that permits for more options, a wider perspective and more points of view. The simplest form of this can be summed up by the question: Do I want to act upon the anger that I am currently feeling? The unmeditated mind is likely to act reactively while intoxicated by the inspiration of such anger. But the practiced meditator has developed the ability to pause, and then consider options.
This all sounds very simple, but it's not. The mind resists this kind of mediation because the mind has been nurtured and validated by this world. In a way, the mind is like a drug addict that has a physical dependence upon emotions and events in order to feel validated and purposeful. Meditation, on the other hand, suggests that life without thought is preferable to life with too much thought. This will come as a challenge to many because the mind has become dependent upon its thoughts and it fears that without these thoughts, it will die.
In this sense, it's curious to think of any given thought as an organism. We use the word 'meme' to describe concepts that compete in ways similar to genes. Might we also say the same thing about entire perspectives? Perhaps the reason we can be so stubborn is simply because the ideas we currently hold are simply trying to resist irrelevance and extinction? The key benefit of meditation in this discussion is that we gain the ability to separate from the identity generated by these perspectives and by doing so we are free to consider options that can potentially lead to a better, more fulfilling life.
Part of the problem with the mind is that it will tend to indulge itself and strive towards habits that make us comfortable in the moment, while rejecting anything that doesn't serve that goal. With this mindset it's easy to see that much of life is the creation of a mirage. A mirage can be seductive. Many live within this illusion in a dream-like state. In many ways, we can view reality from this perspective as a dream from which we awaken as our perspective moves closer to align with the actual. For example, there is no longer the person I once thought of as myself. There are no longer desires or fears of the person I used to be. The person I was is like the face in the mirror that was once familiar, but the face looking back at me today is clearly something else, though still entirely recognizable. It is through the practice of meditation that we are able to step back and observe this change, but in a way that isn't forced or dramatic. It is a gradual shift that happens to us slowly over time. It is the ability to witness this shift as if it were happening to someone else. This level of detachment takes practice. It takes attention and openness.
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