The 4th Position

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Those we meet along the way…

  1. The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt.
  2. Incognito, David Eagleman
  3. Thinking Fast and Slow, Dr. Kahneman

We are going to be covering some incredible material, and so I am bringing in some heavy guns to show it to you from several different angles.

The iceberg represent you. And the portion of the iceberg that is above water represents everything you think you know, remember, or expect. This includes your self-image, identity, and worldview. It is you now, in your daily life, and all the talents and abilities you imagine you bring to a problem. 

The portion that is below the waterline is the 4th Position, we call 1eye. 

What I want to do is convince you that the submerged portion of the iceberg exists, that it would be wondrous to access it, and then how. 

 This is a real problem because the greatest part of you, is not addressed with language. Right now your comprehension of yourself, your mind, and your culture is limited to what is “above the waterline.”  You suspect that there is much more. It is the, “itch in your mind..” that Morpheus asks Neo about in The Matrix. It is why you have read this far. There is so much more to you and your mind, that is not acknowledged because your culture, except for the small cult of scientists, is too primitive. 

Take a look at the iceberg again. Now try and feel the immensity that is your totality. I didn’t say “yourself,” because that is just the portion above the waterline. Just try and feel your totality. And we want to live with all of ourselves. As you begin to grasp the 4th Position, you see why this book is written the way it is. For me to rely on words alone means I am only using the above water portion of the iceberg. I have to access the rest, and so I use poetry, movies, music, quotes, anything that will resonate below the waterline.  

 Now if there is something within some of us that serves as a basis for the idea of 1eye, for the below the waterline portion of our metaphor, then you couldn’t hide it completely, and it would be given various names in narratives, and social custom. And so we have the already mentioned movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, while culturally there are; vision quests, creativity, religion, and intuition. But while the life parameter thus referred to, is part of the common dialogue, there are no courses to develop these talents, and those who claim them are often ridiculed. 

There is no Yoda at UCLA, nor a Morpheus at Harvard. This is because, metaphorically, the educational system is run by those who are “blind”, and they would attack those given to what they call “extrasensory perception.” To succeed, in the land of the blind, one must not use any visual abilities, and so they are lost. Those who have such, “Learning Disabilities,” are sent to remedial stick-tapping, and forced to repeat Groping 101. This is a tragedy. 

I remember long ago there was a cartoon in Playboy about a man who had wings and could fly, which he very much loved, but to conform to his wife’s demands, and to have an office job, he cut them off. Part of the purpose of this book is to keep those of you who can, flying.

I am about to launch into an attempt to make you believe in a part of yourself beyond words, using words. I will do this in two ways. One is using your imagination, and the other is quoting experts in neuroscience. I am trying to use the totality of yourself by invoking thought and feeling. Let’s start with “feeling.”

Imagine how valuable it would be for you to comprehend an ability you were never aware of. In a culture of the blind, it would be sight, in the land of the deaf, it would be hearing. To comprehend this possibility of a special ability, imagine that you lose a common one. Suppose you wake up one morning and everything is in shades of gray. You have suddenly become color blind. You rub your eyes, splash water on your face. You close your eyes thinking that when you open them, you will see color, but you don’t, and by now you are getting very worried. You rush to the phone and start making calls. You are panicking and you hear the calm voice telling you, “If this is a medical emergency, hang up and call 911.”

“It’s an emergency for me!” you think.

At last you get an appointment and off you go. And all the while you are driving you are thinking of the colors you don’t see. You are desperate to remember the blue of the sky, the red of your car. You almost weep, but you have hope that the doctor will know what to do. 

But he doesn’t. He does the whole thing, eye drops, looking in your eyes, eye tests. You fumble your card, pay, and go out the door. After a week of futile searching and calling all over the United States for help, you finally get an email with a promising solution. The email describes your situation exactly; you feel that the writer knows what he is saying, and you believe that he can help. But it will take one year of sustained effort to see color again.

Now, would you be able to make that effort, or would you crap out halfway? 

After a while, you would get used to your colorless world, and the constant daily effort of the exercises would wear on you. Perhaps you skip one day, then two, and then you forget the whole thing.

Or maybe you don’t. You are disciplined, determined, the lack of color is worse than a prison to you, and you execute each lesson with total determination and effort. After a year, you can see all the colors and it is intoxicating. 

To summarize so far, I asked you to imagine sight in the land of the blind, and hinted how, in the worldview of our own culture, what doesn’t fit the dark age thought system we still use doesn’t exist. Then I asked you to imagine being color blind so you could grasp that there are different mental parameters, and not everyone has them. The point being that the mind of the “Ronin,” is like having eyes in the land of the blind, and that it is as real as color vision, but as difficult to comprehend as if you never had it. 

It’s there, but it’s not easy.

What if you had been born color blind, and you were presented with the same choice? You are reading a book much like this one, and the author claims that if you put in a year of intense effort, you will have a visual experience that is wonderful. Note that I can’t use the word “color,” in the conversation.

So you say, “Like what?” 

“I can’t describe it, you are told, “But it is wonderful. You will enjoy seeing in an incredible, wonderful way.”

“Exactly how?” You ask again.

And what could the answer be? How do you describe color to a person who has never seen it?  Just to make this a little more intriguing, some women can see a color that no man, and few others can.  

How motivated are you to see that color?

How do you convince people to learn something they haven’t experienced? Like teaching a color-blind person to see color, if that were possible? The things that you might learn from various books are trivial in comparison, because this is transformational. And so it is part of our mnemonic.

But most of your efforts at learning and change revolve around the idea that some combination of words, arranged in a manner called “logical,” or “rational,” is all it takes. But obviously this doesn’t work. There are hundreds of millions who wish to stop smoking or alter their eating habits, but they can’t. For the most part they know more than you about the evils of smoking, and they have read dozens of diet books. The information alone doesn’t do the job. There is much more going on than just talking to yourself. You have to comprehend this, and then use this knowledge.

I just walked you through a thought experiment to try to get you to grasp the totality of your being. Now I want to bring in the scientists. Each of them has written a book that is a best seller, and that I recommend. 

A very popular book, often quoted, is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. I present the following quote as to convince you that there is more going on inside than you talking to yourself.  

“Psychologists have been intensely interested for several decades in the two modes of thinking …System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.

System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.

The labels of System 1 and System 2 are widely used in psychology, but I go further than most in this book, which you can read as a psychodrama with two characters.  

When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book. I describe System 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2. The automatic operations of System 1 generate surprisingly complex patterns of ideas, but only the slower System 2 can construct thoughts in an orderly series of steps. I also describe circumstances in which System 2 takes over, overruling the freewheeling impulses and associations of System 1. You will be invited to think of the two systems as agents with their individual abilities, limitations, and functions.”

Now consider the iceberg in terms of System1 and System2. Give that some thought and then go onto  David Eagleman’s Incognito   The Secret Lives of the Brain .  He says:

 “The first thing we learn from studying our own circuitry is a simple lesson: most of what we do and think and feel is not under our conscious control. The vast jungles of neurons operate their own programs. The conscious you—the I that flickers to life when you wake up in the morning—is the smallest bit of what’s transpiring in your brain. Although we are dependent on the functioning of the brain for our inner lives, it runs its own show. Most of its operations are above the security clearance of the conscious mind. The I simply has no right of entry.

Your consciousness is like a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive engineering underfoot.” 

David is wrong. His worldview prevents him from accessing the 1eye Position, and if you read that book you will see that he has an ax to grind in a war on freewill. As Ronin we have, “..right of entry” and will use it always. But with that in our back pocket what he is saying is huge. Right now you are reading words, and your universe is the reader and the read. David Eagleman is saying there is so much more. That there are other parts of you, and you are reading to them also, so to speak. When you enter the arena each day, they are going with you. You have to acknowledge them, and in doing so they will be of tremendous assistance. Now you are a team so to speak. But contrary to David, you are not a “tiny stowaway..” you are the captain, if you follow the program. But that’s later.

Right now I want to make a small side trip because there is a difficulty in comprehending this, because the model of the universe, where everything is predictable, logical, is really linguistic nonsense. It would be good to rid ourselves of this illusion, so let’s start with that primitive idea of the “objective” universe.  The idea that we are all having the same experiences, except from different vantage points is well illustrated by a frequent science fiction theme. In these stories it is possible to enter another mind and function in much the same manner as you might drive different cars. I suggest that if you could “switch bodies,” you might go mad. 

Perhaps you would fall down, lost in a confusion of strange sensory input. When you think about it, there is no reason to be sure that the experience you call “Red,” is the same for everyone. In fact the colors aren’t out there, your brain manufactures them, and perhaps what you manufacture is different from what others do. This is a good spot to relate an anecdote from David Eagleman’s Incognito, wherein the blind learn to see. 

“When Mike May was three years old, a chemical explosion rendered him completely blind. This did not stop him from becoming the best blind downhill speed skier in the world, as well as a businessman and family man. Then, forty-three years after the explosion robbed him of his vision, he heard about a new surgical development that might be able to restore it. Although he was successful in his life as a blind man, he decided to undergo the surgery.

After the operation, the bandages were removed from around his eyes. Accompanied by a photographer, Mike sat on a chair while his two children were brought in. This was a big moment. It would be the first time he would ever gaze into their faces with his newly cleared eyes. In the resulting photograph, Mike has a pleasant but awkward smile on his face as his children beam at him.” 

“The scene was supposed to be touching, but it wasn’t. There was a problem. Mike’s eyes were now working perfectly, but he stared with utter puzzlement at the objects in front of him. His brain didn’t know what to make of the barrage of inputs. He wasn’t experiencing his sons’ faces; he was experiencing only uninterpretable sensations of edges and colors and lights. Although his eyes were functioning, he didn’t have vision.

 And this is because the brain has to learn how to see. The strange electrical storms inside the pitch-black skull get turned into conscious summaries after a long haul of figuring out how objects in the world match up across the senses.”…Vision does not simply exist when a person confronts the world with clear eyes. Instead, an interpretation of the electrochemical signals streaming along the optic nerves has to be trained up.”

An entire book could be written on that above passage. But it all could be summed up into just a sentence also. Consider what you just read above, and then regard a favorite pair of quotes: 

“The knower, the knowing, and the known, are one.”

 

“The universe is the joint product of the observer and the observed.”

 

So far we have been using our iceberg model, and I have told you what I think of David Eagleman’s denial of freewill. Let me present another quote from one of my favorite books, the Happiness Hypothesis. The author is Jonathan Haidt, and he says:   

“Modern theories about rational choice and information processing don’t adequately explain weakness of the will. The older metaphors about controlling animals work beautifully. The image that I came up with for myself, as I marveled at my weakness, was that I was a rider on the back of an elephant. I’m holding the reins in my hands, and by pulling one way or the other I can tell the elephant to turn, to stop, or to go. I can direct things, but only when the elephant doesn’t have desires of his own. When the elephant really wants to do something, I’m no match for him.

,… you need to understand how the mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict. We assume that there is one person in each body, but in some ways we are each more like a committee whose members have been thrown together to do a job, but who often find themselves working at cross purposes.”

 

What we are doing with our mnemonic is harnessing the power of the elephant.  We need to have everything going for us as we enter the arena and face our problems. We can’t do this with words alone, which is all the Rider is capable of. We need the full force of the elephant behind us. We need to train him, and be able to summon him when needed. To do this we need Elephant Talk. Elephants don’t speak English any more than your dog or goldfish do. And this is what tripped up David Eagleman so that he thought himself a helpless “stowaway.”  

This book is partially written in Elephant Talk. That is: images, visualizations, narratives, poetry, and quotes that go straight to the gut.  With these we can talk to the elephant. When you see a movie it isn’t the logic of it that grabs you. It’s the Elephant Talk. You have noticed how the movies have theme music, situation music, and yet in your own real life when the shit hits the fan, where is the music? 

Music is Elephant Talk. 

Gotta repeat an important point here. You have developed language and all the other disciplines in order to serve the Elephant. That is just our gimmick. Other creatures swim, fly, blend in, whatever. But we have language.All your achievements, and those of others, are based on what the elephant wants. If you don’t want to be a powerless rider on an elephant, learn to talk to him in his language. 

The mnemonic is based on Elephant Talk, and that is why it will make you incredible. 1eye is the critical ability that your culture claims doesn’t exist. It is the stuff of genius, both physical and intellectual. No great Olympic performance can be reasoned or thought out. There is no amount of reasoning or deduction, or logic, that could have produced the innovations of Leonardo de Vinci, nor could any study of physics, no matter how through, even if conducted by the greatest artificial intelligence, have produced what Einstein did, who said,  

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

 I call that gift 1eye, and I want you to remember it. You do that by using the mnemonic, and doing the following exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other names for 1eye

The Void

Power of Positive Thinking

Sub consciousness

Sports psychology

The not-self

Meditation

Zen

The Secret

Tea Ceremony

Prayer

Vision Quest