Beyond Physicalism

Many of us have studied Bernardo Kastrup. He offers a new course on Analytic Idealism. Check it out. And when you have integrated this material, then what happens?

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Thank you John for posting this. Kastrup, as we have discussed in our Idea of the World series, is a phenomenal intellectual and a prominent player in the disruption of mainstream physicalism. I plan on taking notes from Kastup’s and the Essentia Foundation’s course, mainly as a refresher, yet knowing there is much that I missed the first few times around.

Yes, integration is separate from my perception of the images and words in this recording. Have I integrated this material? I believe so, through each interaction with great thinkers and through alternate modes of integral reception. What happens next? Bernardo’s arguments are influential, yet as you mentioned in another discussion, he might have blindspots (I think you referenced his dismissal of the arts in one of his dialogues). I am interested in solid frameworks that permit an opening and a deepening of the boundaries. I am interested in transformative approaches that integrate what we already know with what we intuit.


I want to introduce a video series, one that has deeply influenced me recently and has been a refresher on my reading of Henri Bergson, a philosopher that has influenced Bernardo and one that Bernardo (pretty much) completely aligns with. Matthew Cangiano @PureMemory has offered a brief yet profound approach to Bergson’s philosophy as formulated in his first two major works Time and Free Will and Matter and Memory. Matt has entitled it “Bergson and the Occult”. In my opinion, Matt explains the Bergsonian approach in the most presentable manner and I believe one that has not read any Bergson will understand the main points. He manages to do the subject justice in just over an hour of video presentation.

One reason I invited Matt to the forum is simply that YouTube kept deleting comments from me and other participants in the threads on the series. As he points out in the beginning of the recording, this project is a work in progress; he is thinking with Bergson, through Bergson and in my opinion, going beyond Bergson. Comments and feedback from others are very important. While someone like Kastrup has built up his position for years through sound argument, most of us continue to work through our thoughts on that which has transformed us. I like Matt because he is taking this seriously, exploring in real-time, and, rather than seeking to build a solid, sound argument for the sake of argument, he wants the viewer to be transformed and to be transformed himself by others’ confirming and challenging thinking. He is open to feedback and looks forward to a collaborative effort from the community to continue working through the occult implications of the Bergsonian process.

Bergson is a thinker whose thought I integrated into my daily living. “And when you have integrated this material, then what happens?” Once a mind has been changed it can never go back. The Bergson and the Occult series really has taken my thoughts on the occult into deeper territories, or in light of Bergsonian language, into deeper temporalities.

(btw: the art and music in the videos are his own work; I find these a welcome presentation, a step beyond just a talking head)

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Great.

That is a good sign. I liked his intro and wish to renew my interest in Bergson. Deleuze has a small book on Bergson which I would like to get around to. I also found a six part course on Whitehead delievered by the distinquished scholar John Cobb, Jr., So, there are many resources available to us. Matt Segall, recently quizzed Bernardo on Whtiehead, who offered a puzzzled reply. Bernardo doesn’t get Whtehead or Hegel. I found this to be a fresh response as so many philosophers have found an Umwelt that supports them and find other philosophers unreadable. I sense that our forum is a motley crew of outsiders with no academic burdens. We may be on the verge of a wilder philosophy as a result of our cyber nomadic restlessness. As you know, I spend most of my time crafting questions but I always seek a context from which I can formulate a series of questions that might generate a different kind of response. I am always delighted when a question creates a novel response.

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I have read most everything by Bergson available in English but I have been hesitant to offer my take on Bergson to the forum. I feel Matt is great at “chunking-down, chunking-slow” as you say and this is an attribute that my speedy eyes and mind recognize as a worthy trait. Where I might be a good librarian directing you to the appropriate works, others have the ability to take the material and present this in a coherent whole. His other brief recordings on Time and Free Will and the first chapter on Matter and Memory are just as useful for understanding Bergson.

I like this and imagine that our obscure non-academic settings need not be bubbles separated from the core of how the world’s inhabitants see the world. We are the future and we do have a chance to be heard and seen by the world at large.

We have been working on languaging so, in light of the discussion, I could have just as easily said of how time’s inhabitants experience time. Bob Rosenberg in the Consciousness Unbound seminars and in his essay “Precognition” from the book with the same title advocates that we need a new concept of time, one that can account for precognition and other concepts. “Our understanding of time is woefully inadequate to cope with precognition.” He states we have “signposts” left from reports of NDEs, mystical experiences and other altered states. One of my favorite thoughts from Matt’s third video is that, when in a dream state (i.e. when we are free from the spatial necessities of waking life), something like experiencing having two personalities in one body is non-paradoxical; only when we awake and reflect upon it does it become paradoxical. Forcing mystical time into modern physics does not complete the puzzling image. Wilder philosophies: apply here!

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To Bernardo (a cursory sketch)

One remains enthralled
to the thing in itself.

The ghosts of Immanuel Kant
get together for an orgy.

Beyond physicalism: mentalism.
If we can’t touch it with our senses

Then surely with our minds—
these confident words; for mentality, too,

Is a function of language, an instruction
manual at its best, a talking interface—

But that is not it either; so if not with our minds
then with you know what…

[INSERT PHILOSOPHICAL SEX SCENE HERE (take your time)]

One is naïvely real.
There is no copulation in heaven.

And there’s no heaven but that entropic factory
where the cookie crumbles.

One goes out looking for a good time…
You intuit the spirit, but matter still matters.

Our sweet heart whispers: don’t overthink it.
And then what happens?

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Most concepts coming from a materialist science are inadequate for even the simplest kinds of pattern recognition. We get enamoured of our dashboards, dials and gadgets.

From the imaginative musings in your sketch, I take it that you are on your way to a full recovery.

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Thank you for this kind and useful introduction Doug, you have helped orient the project in ways I couldn’t have.

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Greetings, Matthew. As Bergson is your focus many of us would be open to exploring your creative research. We are open to the study of occult subjects and have explored Quantum Poetics, Social Dreaming, Symbolic Modeling, Integral Theory, and many non-orientable surfaces. You might want to check out some of the Cafe meetups we have conducted over the years, just to get a feel for our style of communique. I liked your intro video, which feels very compatible with the kind of discourse culture we are trying to co-evolve here. Let us know what support you might need. We are glad to offer feedback. Doug is an expert guide. Blessings!

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Thanks for the intro John. Im am quite new to participating in forums like this, much of my endeavours into thought have been done alone, so I will take your advice and look at the Cafe meet ups this weekend to help me get a feel for this. That being said I am very excited to engage with others as I believe collaboration to be one of the most exciting ways to novelty, a way outside one’s habits of thought, and one’s self. The areas of study that you mentioned are very close to me, I look forward to conversing in and across these topics. When I read " I am always delighted when a question creates a novel response" I felt a force of excitement in the possibility of connecting with people who see the creative aspect of thought, (which to me, has been quite rare). I apologize in advance if my contributions seem redundant or stiff, I’m sure I will get the flow of it in sometime. Thank you for checking out my video, I am open to any feedback about the series, any connections being made, any clarifications needed and mostly any lines of thought that seem to emerge.

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I’m sure you will, too. And don’t worry about being redundant. I repeat myself all the time. We are a very friendly group.

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Hey, thanks for posting this John, I watched the first video and plan on finishing the course. This is my first time encountering Kastrup. Although the thermo dynamic model argument against naive realism escaped me, I am very familiar with the evolutionary one, I discovered Hoffman 5 or so years ago. I find his theory very intriguing, but have a nagging feeling about it, specifically something about its premise. I haven’t fully fleshed out where this feeling comes from, but maybe discussing it with people, who are more familiar with Kastrup or Hoffman, might clarify it for me.

I’ve often wondered how does Hoffman’s model really differ from the materialists model of perception? The way I see the materialists model in its most basic description is that the brain in some unexplainable way produces what we call our perception. While we might go about our day believing that these perceptions are a view of the ‘external’ world, materialism taken seriously, does not believe this. Materialism must see perception, the emergence of ‘qualia’ as a type of hallucination. The feeling that this hallucination is veridical, comes from that feedback of our interaction with the world, (and the convergence of senses) in short our perception is pointed towards action in the world, we confirm the reality of our perception of the world, by how it allows us to interact. For example I believe the cup is actually there, because my action agrees with it, I can go pick it up. Now if I see the cup and my acting on it disagrees with my expectations, I might believe my perception to be false.

Now isn’t this just what Donald Hoffman is saying? I don’t see how his interface theory is different from the materialist’s idea that red does not really exist in the world but only in our consciousness. The materialist, might be able to measure this frequency, but must admit that that doesn’t tell us anything about what the frequency is actually like. My point is that Materialism taken seriously also puts us in the dark confines of the control panel cock-pit describe in the video, and must admit that it does not know what matter is actually like but only that it is measurable. And is measurability just another way of describing our control over matter? This to me, is a place, quit indistinguishable from Hoffmans.

What is the difference? I think the answer lies in action . I still need to think about this a bit, because of how causation and agency are so interrelated, and what would it mean to be an agent in Hoffman’s model, or in other words what it means to be an agent outside of time. But thats where I see these two approaches differing, not in the status of matter, but in the status of agency. I plan on writing more on this in relation to Bergson’s theory of perception as external , as Hoffman and Bergson seem incompatible at first glance, but that maybe this is just an incompatibility in the language they use. Both are fundamentally pointed towards action.

here is a video I made on Bergson’s theory of external perception, where in short, our perceptions are so real, that they are not even of the world, but rather a part of it, constituting our experience. I think it might connect with Hoffman in interesting ways, despite its seeming contradiction.

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oh I see he is addressing some of these points in the second video, that is exciting. I will watch the rest of the course and hold my questions until then.

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I think there is a difference. Bernardo accepts weak emergence but strongly rejects strong emergence. The difference between weak and strong emergence is key to his argument. Simulation theory of Ridwan Virk and others suggest we are characters in a simulation produced by a hyper computer. This Berardo rejects as another materialist power grab to reduce us to robots, and passive victims within a physicalist grid. Weak emergence is useful for science and social learning. Queer theory, Weird Studies, Social Justice movements of all kinds suggest weak forms of emergence, the emergence of differences that make differences, differences that get selected for by active agents and are creatively adapted to and activated intentionally through structures of feedback. We are active meaning makers with necessery constraints but we are not doomed to become slaves to zombie machines, manipulating us from behind a one way mirror. Most occult and aesthetic theory draw upon weak forms of emergence, too.

About approach.We tend to favor Jeffrey Kripal’s way of balancing Phenomenology, Comparativism and Historicism. This allows for differences that can invite differences that can adjust for wide angles and close ups, frameworks , shifting perspectives and background/foreground gestalts. We tend to prevent the freezing of mind in a brain stuck in a vat that tends to happen in a materailist orientation, then these materialists deny the play of paradox and take the paranormal off the table. We are trying to break that pernicious frame. Or at least, I am.

If you have a chance, Matthew, the current Susan Langer Cafe videos which have been posted are a good place to start. You can get the gist of how we work at our best. We have two more sessions devoted to Philosophy in a New Key, a popular text. If you are in the mood please feel free to join the remaining live calls and add to the vibrations. At the zoom calls we usually figure out what project the group will work on next. We try to cultivate the conditions for the growth of organic intellectuals.

Doug has already expressed interest in bringing Bergson into a future arrangement. In the spirit of Comparativism I would invite a reading of Deleuze’s short book Bergsonism and combine that reading with your presentations on Youtube as a background. This is just a thought. If you have an interest in developing your ideas in a public forum I’m sure some of us would like to sponsor that possibility.

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Interesting, I am not familiar with the distinction between weak and strong emergence, sounds like it could be a useful tool in avoiding the trappings of generalization. So far I have found Kastrup incredible lucid, and can sense that he is an immense force that will help many think beyond physicalism, he has help me distill my thoughts on physicalism through his beautifully simple and coherent analysis. I just have the last video to watch in the course now, and I ordered one of his books. But I am with you when you say, “when you have integrated this material, then what happens”, as undoing physicalism , seems to only be the preliminary work. Now that we are free what are we capable of, what can we think, sure we can create another explanatory system such as analytic idealism, but what does this allow us to do? I am still, in part, in the process of integration or maybe even in someways still in the process of calcination, but production is always the larger goal of thought for me. I believe that comparing thinkers, in many cases, is done in an attempt to identify convergence and divergence; to capture thought. It is obvious that this is not the project on this forum, of which Im very glad, because I think that holding two philosophies against one another can create great opportunity for new ideas. Considering the catalytic potentials I’m sensing between Bergson and Kastrup, I would love to see how these two combine after I familiarize myself with Kastrup further, and start a conversation to see how others might think across these to philosophers.

As for doing a reading of Deleuze’s Bergsonism, I am all in. I have never read the text, but I am a huge fan of his practical philosophy books, the one on Nietzsche had such a profound impact on me, I’ve also read some of his essays on Bergson which are great. Like many, I came to Bergson, through Deleuze.

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These are great questions, Matthew, and I am looking forward to future explorations. As we wrap up the Susan Langer text before Christmas we can review this year, perhaps, and put forward our favorite projects in a next wave of inquiries, readings and experiential learnings. I think Bergson would be one of the influential Integral thinkers we should not neglect. And lots of theories of Time are emerging that we have barely touched upon. I know we try to find the right tempo for bringing forward our preferences. I try to think of what others might like and seek a cognitive blending at a group level. This is tricky as we are in cyber culture that has no clear boundaries except for the ones that we make in these forums and on the zoom calls. The past episodes figure into this planning, even as new influencers come forward and enter into the foreground of our collective attentions. Orchestrating these movements ( beyond the dashboard) is not always as easy as it appears to be. But having an action plan and asking myself what can I/we do with this? is a start. I look forward to hearing others comments and seek a loose consensus. I think Bergson’s influence has been neglected and how his work fits in with current systems of Occult Knowledge is becoming for some of us a pressing concern. As we move out of the Electronic Age, into the Digital, we are reabsorbing TV, and each of us, through the new tools of the Digital Age, becomes an actor upon the world stage, rather than a passive recipient of mixed messages, hiding under the shadow, and so the underground is not so underground anymore. A new Occulture is in the making.This will require more advanced communication skills and a capacity for an ethical/ecological awareness than was required in a closed, top down, society. We need people who can co-regulate affects and conjure with different kinds of metaphorical constructs. I want to shine a bright light upon this trend, and return from the shadows, as many persons are engaged in efficient magic and mythic forms that can enhance mental performance, rather than get stuck in a Physicalist cul- de- sac. And can we figure out how to work with these vital energies that Bergson tapped into in the last century? A new kind of Dreaming is now possible. I think the time may be out of joint but who is going to set it right? A new kind of discourse event is made possible. That is what I hope to carve out a path towards. We are such stuff as pixels are made of. Thanks, Matthew, for sharing your passionate inquiry with us. Welcome.

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I, too, want to say welcome, @PureMemory. I appreciated those two videos on Henri Bergson you produced, especially how you wove together the artistic imagery and sound, the pacing of your speech, and the way explain yourself and your approach to the text.

Your description of Bergson’s theory of perception reminded me of an experience I had in college after I first started studying Zen meditation and was thinking a lot about non-duality. I was taking the bus into campus, staring out the window, and as we turned a corner I was looking at some trees… when it suddenly and very pleasantly occurred that I wasn’t really looking the trees at all.

There was a weird elusive flip sensation and I intuitively understood that my mind was there with the trees—was the trees. My mind was not “my mind” at all but the world itself was my mind. My thinking was not my thinking but that world’s thinking. It was a very cool flicker of insight (or outsight), which as soon as I questioned it, of course, fell back into the conventional pattern. But it was enough of an opening to confirm something in practice which hitherto I only knew in theory.

I have not read any of Bergson’s books—in fact did a whole undergrad in philosophy and had never heard his name. I think it was JF Martel, in Reclaiming Art in the Age of the Artifce (highly recommended), who brought him to my attention. JF and Phil Ford also do the Weird Studies podcast, whose spirit I think you’d like. Of course, later you learn he was once a world-famous personage who lectured widely and dialogued with Einstein, etc. It is weird the blind spots we have.

Sometimes I feel like my philosophical reading choices are just a way of playing whack-a-mole with my blind spots. Other times, to read a particular thinker during a particular time of one’s life feels destined, fateful, and precisely necessary for some larger unfoldment. On another level, one could say that we’re always talking about the same things basically, and that reading different kinds of literature gives us more interesting and convivial ways of talking about those things with other people who share enough of the same sources. We keep a discourse alive, like tending the fires through some long, cold cultural night.

But there’s also the more interesting prospect you raise, which is production value. To me, this is where the limits of Analytic Idealism are almost a priori and by definition constrained in ways I just can’t fit my mind inside of. I say this not having gone through the course, yet having listened to many hours and read enough parts of Kastrup’s writings, I believe, to get the gist. (That said, I would be hard-pressed to tell you the gist, without studying him a bit more.)

On the face of it, Analysis presupposes something is there to be analyzed. But who made that choice and why? For what ends? For what joy? What if we remove the assumption of the given—not only with respect to what it is or what it might be, but also that it may be in any way we imagine it—and instead leave it open-ended how we frame the thing in itself? Of any edifice of thought purporting to correctly describe What Is, I would ask: What for?

I think Bernardo’s work is super useful… especially IF you are looking for the best arguments to convince people who may have a scientistic bent of mind that their materialistic worldview is incoherent and the one you are advocating for (privileging consciousness) is superior. I also think it could be useful in the sort of technological project of reconstituting science in transphysical space. A new metaphysics for a new future science—this could be very powerful. I would also like to learn more about the differences between strong and weak emergence, and why those differences make a difference.

However, I’ve come to feel that creative expression is more important than—indeed, transcends and includes—analytic assertion. If it is anything on a universal scale, consciousness is creative first of all—otherwise there would be nothing to be conscious of (to more or less accurately reflect or describe). And if consciousness is everywhere and working through everything, then anything could be (/ everything is) constituted with creative intelligence of the highest order. It matters how we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think about, and feel the world. Therefore we must be willing to engage in multiple modes of learning and expression in order to amplify our scope. (This is why I advocate for “philosophical sex.”)

I am definitely up for a getting more acquainted with Bergon’s thought, which feels so consonant with and supportive of my own creative endeavors and quests to understand, so I do look forward to more of your videos whenever they can happen for you. I also think it would be cool to read and dialogue together when the time is right. I find that reading as a social practice really enhances my learning, and is much more fun than doing it all by my lonesome. Nice to meet you.

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Frame with a View or a View that has been Framed (& Forgotten the Vastness)?
Frame with a View

Creativity Emerging?

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Thank you for this eloquent thorough welcome, both @madrush, @johnnydavis54 and thank you for leading me here @Douggins . I fear that I can not adequately express how inspiring and expansive it is for me to be acquainted with a group of people who are engaged with creative nature of thought! I have taken some time to watch some of the Cosmos Cafe recordings to get a fell for the groups dynamic, and I am more than looking forward to participating in these.

A smile came over my face when I read the term “outsight” in regards to your experience. Some of the time I feel as though I am at war with the resistance of words, but in some instances a term can resonate in a harmonious and playful tone of clarity. Describing the contemplation of the external nature of perception as ‘outsight’ rings this tone of clarity and playfulness for me, and I think it is quite useful. Although I have not read J.F’s book, I am very aware of the Weird Studies podcast, having listened to nearly every episode, I can say with out a doubt that it has had a profound impact on me. Until recently J.F. was one of the only other voices I had encountered that saw the esoteric potential of Bergson’s thought. I was thinking about sending my video series to them, but haven’t done so yet.

So far I see some of Kastrup’s greatest potential in his razor sharp undoing of physicalism, and his distillation, that leads us to the pure status of ‘the given’. He takes our common place intuitions to their extremes to expose where we have gone astray. As Jung pointed out, the alchemical processes aline with the transformations of individuation, and I can not help but see that thought undergoes these alchemical transformations as well, Bergson and Kastrup seem to be masters of ‘Separatio’. Having had distilled and separated the confusions in our premise that have gone unnoticed, they allow use to ask better questions. A question that they both go on to ask goes something like “how can we account for two apparent orders of reality, my subjective experience and the order that seems to be independent of that.” This question is so beautiful because it presupposes so little, maybe it allows us to go places we can not even imagine. I am still finding out where Kastrup goes, but Bergson suggest that the distinction between these two orders is one that is temporal. This liberate us from having to conceive our lives in terms of Insides and outsides. This has done more than affect my direction of thought, it has changed my experience of walking down the street, or riding the train to work. There is newness here!

@johnnydavis54 your words echo in my mind; “And when you have integrated this material, then what happens?” it keeps me on my toes, keeps me from being satisfied with supplementing one static description for another. I am reminded of a time when I was studying Bergson intensely. During this time I was no doubt integrating the material, but I was simultaneously developing a new type of activity. I had developed, from what I can tell, a new form of meditation. I was not attempting to create a form of meditation based on Bergson’s metaphysics, but since the practice has very much to do with memory, images, and nascent motor mechanisms, it is in many ways related.

Here is a link to the instagram post in which I describe the practice if anyone is interested. (just scroll right to the next slides for the description of the diagram).

I believe that part of thought’s power, is that new views don’t just lead to knew thoughts, but sometimes also give way to creating new activities and new approaches, such as a meditation or way of navigating a city.

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Thanks for sharing that meditative practice, Matt. I think it is interesting that you allow the drawing to unfold methodically over several days, rather than through some all-out or all-at-once improvisation.

Not only are you playing with the duration of your meditative time and the drawing activity, but also with the intervals (which turn out to be both temporal and spatial) between the shapes you draw. This allows for everything that has a chance to happen between one drawing session and the next, which may influence the overall shape that emerges.

Most interesting to me is how the thought-forms become self-existent, once you’ve 3D-printed them, as it were, into existence for yourself. There is a symbol for the form (in the drawing), but the form itself is a shape made of the stuff of consciousness itself. Would you say that? Or is there co(i)llusion between the symbol and the form? I imagine your forms have some stability to them—a kind of para-stability or steady-state etheric persistence—but they require something of your ongoing energy, too, to sustain themselves.

Perhaps such forms could materialize in many different ways without ever being exhausted, like true ontological objects. How many different performances of a Bach fugue are possible? What is amazing is how the fugue itself transforms and seems that it can keep on going forever.

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One thing I noticed is how there is a kind of gradient of mental energy that balances the process, as the earlier layers recede in time, on some level they become harder to recall, yet because the process is cumulative, the more distant layers have more sessions put into them, which counter balances this aspect of duration . One of the main reason I devised the practice to span 7 days was simply to be able to actually solidify the mental structure, in a way that it felt like it could last a life time. Each day of the process feels very different for me, as you might be able to imagine visualizing one shape as opposed to two is a world of difference. Around day four the sessions feel very different as there is much to do, much mental stuff to solidify mentally haha.

This is interesting. In the domain of consciousness what is the difference between form and symbol? To me it seems to collapse. This is maybe a question I pounder by doing the meditation. Every time I recall one of these structures, is it the same structure? is it re-presented, or is it the thing itself? What does “the same” mean here? Is this in line with what you where asking, or did I misinterpret?

Another interesting thing I’ve taken away from this practice, is that I have no way to fully know if the structure has changed. Because it is purely mental, never drawn down, never actualized externally, there is nothing to compare my memory to, it is all memory! How can we know something to be the same in the ever fluctuating domain of consciousness itself? My structures sure feel as if they have not changed, but there is no way to know. and yes they do require a subtle flow of energy to persist as accessible to my individual memory, an energy flow that feels much like tending to a garden. I’ve been tending to the older form for about two years now!

and yet, It is so tempting to draw the form out, but that would defeat the purpose. We are so conditioned to move from virtual to actual, we write thoughts down (so we don’t loose them) but what is the risk of habitually moving in this direction? The risk is that we become blind to the reality of the virtual.

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