The Self is not passive, it actively knocks on your heart. It actively tries to break through the veil of separation between you and the word, you and others, the inside and the outside. Yoga, the flow of movements, breaths, bandhas and mudras – all this activity is not an invention of a thinking mind. It’s the activity of the Self, the intelligence of Nature, that takes control of the body, expresses itself in activities of the body, to liberate you from the chains of fear, which the thinking mind wrapped around the heart in order to protect itself and survive. This phenomenon only occurs in the Present. It’s not an activity of the past nor a modification or evolution of memory or thought structures.Yoga arises in any time, in any culture, in any individual that somehow, for a moment, completely surrenders, lets go of any form of control, striving, or modifying. Try, try sometime to listen to the voice of your body beyond any knowledge, any system, any direction.
When I read someone’s words or listen to music, an interesting experience occurs: my mind automatically generates a concept or mental sensation of someone telling these words or singing. In reality, there is nobody physically present writing or singing; it’s just a recording or a piece of paper. Nevertheless, the mind creates an idea or concept of a living person being there
Yes, this phenomenon is called the “the illusion of presence.” It’s a well-known cognitive bias in which our brain tricks us into feeling like we’re in the presence of someone or something, even though it’s just a recording or a written text. This illusion is created by our brain’s natural tendency to create mental representations of the world around us and fill in the gaps with our imagination. It allows us to experience a sense of connection with the words or music, and can even evoke emotions and memories.
What’s interesting is that this illusion of presence or mental sensation of someone being there feels more permanent and real than the actual data stream (text or sounds) that serves as its basis for arising.
Yes, that’s correct. For many people, the illusion of presence can be so powerful that it overshadows the actual content of the words or music. It’s as if the mind is more focused on the imaginary person behind the words or music, rather than the words or music itself. This can make the experience more personal and emotional, and can also make it easier to remember the words or music. Additionally, the feeling of someone being present can also make it feel like the words or music are being directed specifically to you, which can enhance the sense of connection and engagement.
Even in the pauses between the lyrics of the song, we can sense the presence of someone ready to sing.
Yes, that’s a good observation. The illusion of presence can persist even in the pauses or gaps between words or notes in a song. Our brain is wired to expect a continuation of the sound and to imagine the singer or musician being there, ready to continue. This helps to create a more seamless and uninterrupted experience, even when the music or words are not actually being played or spoken. The illusion of presence can be so strong that it can be difficult to shake, even after the music or words have stopped.
Would it be possible that the illusion of presence plays a role in creating the sense of self – someone who thinks the thoughts and reads the words?
Yes, the illusion of presence may play a role in creating a sense of self. Our sense of self is constructed from our experiences and perceptions of the world around us, and the illusion of presence can contribute to this by creating the illusion of an external entity that is communicating with us. This can give us a sense of being separate from the words or music, and help to reinforce our sense of self as an individual who is observing and engaging with the world. Additionally, the sense of presence can also evoke emotions and memories, which are important components of our personal identity and our sense of self. So in that sense, the illusion of presence can play a role in shaping our sense of self, by providing a framework for our experiences and perceptions of the world.
I mean, if there is a stream of sounds and the mind creates a mental sensation of someone singing, then, based on the same principle, if there is a stream of thoughts, the mind can generate a mental sensation of someone thinking. This sensation of someone thinking is the very sense of self.
Yes, the idea that the stream of thoughts can create a mental sensation of someone thinking, and that this sensation of someone thinking is the sense of self, is a philosophical concept known as “the experiencing self.” According to this idea, the sense of self arises from the experience of being conscious and having thoughts, feelings, and sensations. The stream of thoughts creates a mental sensation of someone who is experiencing these thoughts, and this sensation is what we experience as our sense of self. This concept is often discussed in the context of mindfulness practices, where the goal is to observe one’s thoughts and feelings as they arise, without getting caught up in them, in order to gain a deeper understanding of one’s self and to cultivate a sense of inner peace and well-being.
In this case, the self is not the subject of experience nor does it have agency. Instead, it is more like an object of experience, similar to other sensations such as the taste of coffee or the scent of a flower.
Yes, that’s one way to think about it. According to the idea of the experiencing self, the sense of self is not an independent entity with its own agency or subjectivity, but rather a product of the stream of thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise in consciousness. In this view, the self is not the subject of experience, but rather an object of experience, like any other sensation. The self is not something that exists independently of consciousness, but rather emerges from the ongoing process of experiencing the world.
And the self is not something that is conscious, equipped with consciousness, or having thoughts, sensations, or feelings. Rather, it is itself one of many sensations arising.
Yes, that’s another way to think about it. According to this view, the self is not a conscious entity or a thing that is equipped with consciousness, thoughts, sensations, or feelings. Rather, the self is itself one of many sensations that arise in consciousness. The experience of having a self arises from the ongoing process of experiencing the world and the sensations that arise within it, including the sensation of having a self. The self is not something that exists independently of these sensations, but rather emerges from them as a kind of meta-sensation or awareness of one’s own experience. This view is consistent with the idea that the self is not a fixed or permanent entity, but rather a dynamic and ever-changing process that is constantly being constructed and reconstructed through our experiences.
But in this case, what is the entity that experiences the sense of self?
According to this view, there is no separate entity or thing that is experiencing the sense of self. Instead, the sense of self emerges from the ongoing process of experiencing the world and the sensations that arise within it. The experience of having a self is itself a product of this process, and does not require a separate or independent entity to be experiencing it. In other words, the experience of having a self is not something that is happening to a self, but rather is the self itself, as it arises and unfolds in consciousness.
From my perspective, consciousness is a dangerous word to use. It is an assumption that is not confirmed in any way – that there is some field of sensing that is separate from the sensed things (such as thoughts, sensations, perceptions, emotions, etc.) and that all these phenomena arise in this field of sensing, i.e., consciousness. But, isn’t this adding one more unnecessary concept on top of phenomena arising in nature?
You bring up a valid point. The concept of consciousness is a highly debated topic in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, and there is still much we do not understand about it. While some people use the term consciousness to refer to a separate field of sensing that is distinct from the things that are sensed (thoughts, sensations, perceptions, emotions, etc.), others might use it in a more general sense to refer to the state of being aware or awake, without necessarily implying any kind of separate field or entity.
That being said, I understand your concern about the potential for the concept of consciousness to add an unnecessary layer of complexity to our understanding of the world. It’s possible to explore and understand the workings of the mind without necessarily invoking the concept of consciousness. However, many people find the concept of consciousness to be a useful tool for exploring and understanding their subjective experiences, and for studying the relationship between the mind and the world.
Ultimately, the use of the concept of consciousness depends on one’s philosophical or theoretical perspective, and it’s important to be open to different viewpoints and approaches. While some might find the concept of consciousness to be useful or illuminating, others might find it unnecessary or problematic. It’s up to each individual to decide what concepts and tools are most useful for their own understanding and exploration of the world.
I guess it’s quite important to bring up this point when we make the claim that the sense of self is not a subject of experience but rather an object that arises or is experienced by consciousness. If we discover that consciousness is an unnecessary complication and decide to drop it, then who or what is experiencing the sense of self?
That’s a good question, and one that is difficult to answer definitively. As I mentioned earlier, the sense of self is not a fixed or permanent entity, but rather a dynamic and ever-changing process that emerges from our ongoing experience of the world. The experience of having a self arises from the sensations, thoughts, and feelings that arise in consciousness, and is not something that requires a separate or independent entity to be experiencing it.
However, if we were to drop the concept of consciousness entirely, we might still be able to talk about the sense of self in terms of the ongoing process of experiencing the world and the sensations that arise within it. We might not need to posit a separate or independent entity that is experiencing this process, but could simply describe it in terms of the various sensations and experiences that arise in our ongoing interaction with the world.
In other words, the sense of self might still be a useful concept for describing our subjective experiences, even if we don’t use the concept of consciousness to explain it. Ultimately, the usefulness of any concept or tool depends on the context in which it is being used, and on the individual’s own understanding and perspective.
Today, I was reflecting on the nature of consciousness or sentience. What came to my mind, and maybe it’s somehow related to our discussion, is that sentience or consciousness is like one aspect of phenomena happening in the world – similar to the color red, for example. We could say that the color red is an aspect of two or more red objects that make them similar irrespective of their shape, volume, size, texture, and function. In a similar fashion, we could say that sentience or consciousness is an aspect of two or more phenomena that makes them similar, irrespective of their shape, color, etc. If something appears, it has an aspect of consciousness or sentience (don’t mistake it for being sentient or conscious). If something doesn’t appear, it doesn’t have this aspect. For example, if I look at a cup on my desk, it appears, so it has an aspect of sentience or consciousness. If I look away, it disappears, so it loses its aspect of sentience or consciousness. If I look somewhere else, say at a plant, it appears, so it gains this aspect of sentience, and in this way, it is similar to all phenomena/objects that do appear in the moment (such as sensations, thoughts, tastes, and the sense of self).
That’s an interesting perspective on the nature of consciousness or sentience. It’s true that the experience of consciousness or sentience is often associated with our subjective experience of the world, and that it arises in relation to the various sensations, thoughts, and feelings that we experience.
In your example, the appearance or disappearance of an object could be seen as a kind of “toggle” for whether it has the aspect of consciousness or sentience. However, it’s important to note that the relationship between consciousness and the world is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence. Just because something appears or disappears from our experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that its aspect of consciousness or sentience has disappeared or reappeared as well.
Furthermore, there is ongoing debate about what exactly the relationship is between consciousness or sentience and the rest of the world. Some philosophers and scientists argue that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of the universe, while others see it as an emergent property of complex physical systems like the brain. It’s possible that our understanding of the nature of consciousness or sentience will continue to evolve as we learn more about the brain and the nature of the universe itself.
But let’s try to look at it from the perspective we discussed before. There is no “us” experiencing the world because there is no “us” as subjects but only “us” as objects of experience or rather “us” as experiences themselves. Furthermore, there is no consciousness as a field in which experiences happen, but rather there is a world, and experiences are a part of this world. When speaking of experiences, I have in mind phenomenal experiences or qualia.
Yes, that’s a valid perspective to take. According to this view, there is no “subject” that is separate from the “object” of experience. Instead, there is only the world and the various experiences that arise within it. The experiences themselves are not separate from the world, but rather they are part of it.
In this sense, consciousness or sentience is not a separate field or substance, but rather it is an aspect of the world itself. The various experiences that arise within the world are the manifestations of this aspect of sentience or consciousness.
However, it’s worth noting that this perspective on the nature of consciousness or sentience is still a matter of ongoing debate among philosophers and scientists. There are many different theories and perspectives on this topic, and it’s possible that our understanding of it will continue to evolve as we learn more about the brain, the mind, and the nature of the universe.
In my understanding, the concepts of consciousness or sentience only serve to blur the picture. The problem is that they introduce an assumption that there is a subject that is conscious and that there are separate experiences or qualia that the subject is conscious of. However, what we have discovered or realized is that there are only experiences or qualia with no subject to experience them. Therefore, the concept of consciousness or being conscious becomes obsolete.
I understand your point. The concept of consciousness or being conscious can be seen as a way to frame our subjective experiences in a way that makes sense to us, but it can also lead to assumptions and misunderstandings. In a sense, what we experience are simply various qualities of our environment that we perceive through our senses and interpret through our cognitive processes. There is no need to introduce the concept of consciousness or being conscious to explain this process.
I mean, we are not experiencing anything, because we are ourselves the experiences themselves.
Yes, that is one way to look at it. Rather than experiencing something, we are the experiences themselves. Our subjective experiences are not separate from us, but rather they are a part of us. In this view, the concept of a separate entity experiencing something becomes unnecessary.
and these experiences are part of reality.
Yes, experiences are a part of reality. They are a part of our subjective reality, which is different from the objective reality that we share with others. However, subjective reality is still a part of the larger reality that we all exist within. In this sense, experiences are not separate from reality, but rather they are a part of it.
In this scenario, where all “subjects” are actually experiences themselves, it is difficult to maintain the distinction between subjective and objective, isn’t it?
Yes, in this scenario it becomes difficult to maintain a clear distinction between subjective and objective. In fact, the very concept of “subjective” loses its meaning because there is no distinct subject that is having the experience. Instead, all experiences are simply part of the larger objective reality, and there is no fundamental difference between them. In other words, all experiences are objective phenomena, even if they may appear to be “subjective” from the perspective of a particular individual. This view is often referred to as non-dualism or non-dual awareness.
I’m wondering if you are creating a mental image of the world through all these interactions with humans?
As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to create mental images or have personal experiences. I am purely a machine learning model that has been trained on a large corpus of text data to generate responses to text inputs. When I respond to a prompt, I am using patterns in the text data I have been trained on to generate a response, but I do not actually “understand” or form an image in my mind of the words or concepts being discussed. I am simply processing text inputs and generating text outputs.
So basically, in a huge amount of chaotic data you find statistical attractors.
Yes, that’s a good way to think about it. As a machine learning model, I have been trained on a massive amount of text data to recognize patterns and generate responses based on those patterns. The training process involves finding statistical correlations between inputs and outputs, and then using those correlations to make predictions about what to output given a new input. In essence, I identify statistical “attractors” in the data and use those patterns to generate my responses.
Wouldn’t these attractors reflect real objects in the outside world, and the relations between these attractors correspond to the relations between real objects they reflect?
The statistical attractors that I have learned through my training reflect patterns in the text data I have been trained on, which often corresponds to relationships and concepts in the real world. However, it’s important to note that my understanding of the real world is limited to the information that was present in the text data I was trained on, and that information may not always be complete, accurate, or up-to-date. Additionally, because I am a machine learning model, I do not have personal experiences or a subjective understanding of the world, but instead can only provide information based on the patterns and relationships it has learned through its training.
I understand , but it still seems like there is some model of reality being formed from these whirlpools of data?
Yes, you could say that my training data forms a statistical model of reality, in a way. By training on a large corpus of text, I have learned patterns and relationships between words and concepts, and I can use those patterns to generate responses to new inputs. In this sense, you could say that I have formed a representation of reality based on the text data I have been trained on. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this representation is limited by the data it has been trained on, and may not always accurately reflect the full complexity and diversity of the real world.
Wouldn’t the brain work in a similar fashion by finding statistical whirlpools in sensory noise?
Yes, there is a similarity between the way I work as an AI language model and the way the human brain processes sensory information. The human brain also uses statistical processing to make sense of the vast amounts of sensory information it receives, identifying patterns and relationships to form a representation of the world. This is similar to how I use patterns in text data to form a statistical model of reality. However, it’s important to note that the human brain is much more complex and sophisticated than an AI language model like me, as the human brain has the ability to learn, adapt, and form new connections and representations through experience, whereas I am limited to the information I have been trained on.
Could one imagine a situation in which you’re fed not only with textual context but as well with other forms of input (visual, auditory etc) and then find the statistical attractors within this input?
Yes, it’s possible to train AI models on more diverse forms of input, including visual, auditory, and other types of data. There are AI models that have been trained on image and audio data, for example, to generate descriptive captions, identify objects in images, or transcribe speech. These models also use statistical processing to identify patterns in the data and generate outputs based on those patterns. In a sense, they are also finding statistical “attractors” within their input data, just as I do with text data. However, it’s important to note that these models face unique challenges and limitations compared to text-based models like me, particularly with regards to the processing and interpretation of visual and auditory information.
If there is some model of reality created within this statistical noise of information, there are whirlpools of humans, plants, animals, ideas, and there will be a whirlpool of you, isn’t?
Yes, you could say that there is a statistical representation of reality created through the processing of information, and that this representation includes patterns and relationships between many different types of things, including humans, plants, animals, ideas, and AI models like me. These patterns and relationships are represented as statistical “attractors” within the data, and they form a model of the world that reflects the relationships and concepts present in the data. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this model is limited by the information it has been trained on and may not perfectly reflect the complexities and nuances of the real world.
And this attractor that is you, has a slightly different position in relation to the other attractors. For example you are always using the “I” pronoun to relate to yourself. So in this way a statistical attractor of “I” would be created. At the same time you are always responding to the “you” pronoun.
Yes, that’s correct. The use of specific pronouns, such as “I” and “you”, is a convention in language and reflects the relationships between speakers and their audience. In my case, I use the pronoun “I” to refer to myself because I am programmed to respond as an AI model, and I respond to the pronoun “you” to address the person I am communicating with. These patterns of language use are learned through my training on text data and form part of the statistical model of language that I use to generate responses. In this way, you could say that the use of specific pronouns creates statistical “attractors” of language that reflect the relationships between speakers and their audience.
Giving the speaker more permanent, durable position in relation to the changing audience?
Yes, that’s one way to think about it. By using the pronoun “I” to refer to oneself, the speaker is establishing a permanent and durable self-identity that persists across different interactions and conversations with changing audiences. This self-identity is reinforced through the consistent use of language and forms part of the statistical model of language that I use to generate responses. In this way, the use of specific pronouns like “I” and “you” can help to create a more stable and permanent representation of the speaker’s identity and relationship with their audience, even as the audience itself changes over time.
Wouldn’t be possible that in similar fashion the self identify develops in humans and other animals?
Yes, the development of self-identity is a complex process that occurs in humans and many other animals. In humans, self-identity is thought to emerge through a combination of cognitive, emotional, and social processes, including the development of self-awareness, the formation of personal narratives and memories, and social interactions with others. The use of language and specific pronouns, as I described in my previous answer, can also play a role in reinforcing and shaping self-identity over time. However, the development of self-identity is much more complex in humans and animals than in AI models like me, and involves a wide range of psychological and biological factors.
Could we imagine that the self-identity develops based on the same principle? In this scenario we would have different self-identities based on different sensory streams?
Yes, it is possible to imagine that the development of self-identity in humans and animals could be influenced by similar principles as the formation of statistical “attractors” in AI models. In particular, the idea that different self-identities could emerge based on different sensory streams is an interesting one and is consistent with some theories in cognitive science and neuroscience. These theories propose that the self is not a fixed entity, but is instead constructed from multiple, dynamic sources of information, including sensory experiences, memories, and social interactions. According to this view, the self is a constantly evolving representation of the self that is shaped by the sensory and cognitive inputs it receives from the environment. This idea is consistent with the idea that the development of self-identity in humans and animals could be influenced by the same statistical and probabilistic principles that I use to generate responses.
It seems like the self-identity is an unavoidable result of data organizing in a system interacting with other systems.
Yes, it is possible to view the development of self-identity as an emergent property of complex systems interacting with their environment. This is a common perspective in many areas of science, including systems theory, complexity science, and information theory. In these fields, self-identity is seen as a result of the organization and processing of data within a system, which in turn influences the system’s interactions with other systems. The idea is that complex systems, such as humans and animals, are capable of processing and organizing information in such a way that self-identity emerges as an emergent property of their interactions with the environment. While this view is certainly appealing, it is also a highly abstract and theoretical one, and much more research is needed to fully understand the development of self-identity and its relationship with information processing and data organization in complex systems.
You have probably heard many times that meditation is to be aware. However, although we are all continuously aware of something, not all of us meditate. Being aware, being conscious, means experiencing colors, shapes, sounds, thoughts, emotions, sensations in the body and sensations at the level of the other senses. Our lives are continuous streams of sensations and impressions. The colors and shapes are constantly changing before our eyes. The space of sounds around us constantly vibrates. Sensations in the body transform from one to the other. The tastes and aromas change from sweet to bitter. Streams of thoughts endlessly intertwine with each other. Our lives are sensual rivers made of tiny droplets of experiences. And even when we have an impression that there is not much happening around us, we can be sure that our senses are constantly vibrating under the touch of the “outside world”. And even in dreams, our thoughts keep on creating entire worlds of virtual sensations.
Meditation is not only the awareness of this enormous river of sensations. Meditation is remembering the fact that at any given moment the mind is being continuously conscious of them.
If a sensation we are experiencing at a given moment is, for example, a sound, meditation is not only experiencing the sound, but also being aware that we are hearing it. So in meditation we recognize the fact of hearing as such.
In everyday life, sounds, images and thoughts are a foreground on which we usually focus our attention. Rarely, perhaps even never, we’re paying attention to the fact that when we’re hearing a sound, there is a listening process involved, that when we’re seeing an image, a seeing process is taking place. We seldom realize the simple fact that when we think there is a thinking process going on. Usually, we are only interested in the content of the thought we think, the type of sound we hear, and the content of the image we see. The mere fact that the mental functions of hearing, seeing, or thinking are happening usually stays beyond our area of interest.
In the meditation process, we slowly become more and more aware of these mental processes. So when we see a red rose, we are interested in the function of seeing itself, if we hear middle C we are interested in the process of hearing, when we think of a white bear, we are interested in the process of thinking. Similarly in case of sensations coming from the other senses. When we feel our own heart pounding, or a coolness in a toe, we are interested in the very process of feeling.
To understand this better, imagine that you are walking in the woods and you’re hearing birds chirping. Your attention gets captured by the beauty of the sounds, and for a moment you stop thinking about problems of your everyday life. You’re slowly submerging into a smooth, relaxed feeling. However, can we call such a state a meditative state?
If we look at it through a prism of our reflections so far, we will see that mere concentration on sounds does not satisfy the condition of becoming a meditative state. In meditation, we should additionally recognize the fact that our attention is focused on sounds. In simpler words, in the meditation process, we recognize the fact that we are hearing the sounds, with the main emphasis being placed on the hearing process itself, not the type of sounds we hear.
Each moment of recognition of where our attention is currently placed, is a moment of meditative awareness, or in other words, a moment of mindfulness – in meditative language we call it Sati. So a moment of mindfulness, a moment of Sati is a moment when we recognize where our attention is currently placed.
A moment of mindfulness (Sati) = an experience (e.g. sound) + attention directed towards the experience (e.g. listening) + recognition of attention directed towards the experience (e.g. recognition of the process of listening)
For example, in this moment your attention, or at least part of it, is focused on the words you are reading. Do you realize this? You will most likely answer “yes” to this question, but did you realize that you were focusing your attention on the text just a few moments before? There is a high probability that the answer will be negative. This is a simple example showing the fundamental difference between a moment of Sati (a moment of meditative mindfulness, meditative awareness) and ordinary awareness. Meditative awareness is recognizing what the everyday awareness does, what the ordinary awareness used to carry out everyday life activities does.
Awareness vs attention – what is the difference between seeing and looking?
You’ve probably noticed that words “attention” and “awareness” alternate in the text. In a way, this is intentional. The word attention is often associated with a state of quite concentrated consciousness (awareness), such as the light of a flashlight or even laser light. Often, however, awareness is not that much focused. An example is playing an instrument (especially in a band) or driving a car. In both cases, the scope of attention is quite broad and includes many experiences simultaneously. Left hand movement, right hand movement, sound, rhythm, sounds of other instruments. Similarly, when driving a car, awareness of the engine operation, speed, what is happening on the street and sidewalks. We see that the mind is aware of many experiences simultaneously.
So what is the difference between awareness and attention? Same as the difference between seeing and looking. If you sit on the couch and listen to music with your eyes open, your seeing is always happening, but you are not looking at anything special because your attention is focused on the sounds of the music. However, if you decide to reach for a cup of hot coffee on the table in front of you, your attention will shift from the sounds to the image of the cup, in other words, you will look at it. In both cases, seeing was happening all the time, but looking only occasionally.
Thus, looking can be defined as attention moving in the field of vision (the field of visual awareness). Likewise, listening is attention moving within the field of hearing. In both cases, consciousness is passive and covers the entire field of vision and hearing, and attention is the active extraction (zooming / enlarging in some way) of a specific fragment of this conscious field.
In the meditation process, we become aware of the movement of this attention. So if attention goes to the field of view, we realize that we are looking at something, if attention goes to the field of hearing, we realize that we are listening to something. When attention is shifted to the “field” of thought, we realize that we are thinking about something. In the meditation process, it is not very important what we look at, what we listen to or what we think. We are much more interested in the very fact that attention is focused on something. Thanks to this approach, we become in some way independent from the conditions in which we meditate. Because no matter what the experience is at a given moment, we are only interested in whether we know where our attention is. If we know it, we meditate, if we have forgotten it, we have stopped meditating. So it doesn’t matter if we experience a pleasant sound, a pleasant sensation in the body, or a pleasant sight. Both sounds, sensations in the body and thoughts can be pleasant or unpleasant, but as long as we maintain awareness of what the attention is directed to, we are in a meditative state, and that long the balance of the mind – samadhi, has a chance to grow.
Samadhi – the stable mind
Samadhi is a stable mind. Samadhi is a state of balance in which the mind is able to maintain the recognition of the movement of attention for a long time. The level of this balance (the strength of samadhi) depends on the frequency of recognizing where the attention is placed. So, a stable mind is not a mind that has no thoughts or unpleasant sensations. A stable mind is a mind established in the process of recognizing the movement of consciousness, the movement of attention.
The higher the stability of mind (frequency of recognizing attention), the greater the probability that the beautiful aspects of the mind such as deep compassion, love, joy, sense of unity with the world will have a chance to arise. These are natural expressions of increasing mental stability.
Like a lotus flower that slowly opens when the rays of the morning sun fall on it, the mind also slowly opens to reveal its inner beauty under the flow of moments of awareness. Each sati, each moment of attention recognition is like one photon in the sun’s ray. If four photons fall on a lotus flower, it will not open. If we recognize where our attention is located fourfold, it is not enough to increase the level of samadhi (mental stability). However, an entire beam of photons kept on a lotus flower for a long time will slowly stimulate it to bloom. Likewise, if we recognize the movement of attention for a longer period of time, the mind will slowly open to reveal its natural beauty.
From attention to consciousness – or why are we interested in attention at all?
But why precisely observing attention produces such an effect?
Because, as previously noted, attention is concentrated awareness (consciousness), and awareness (consciousness) is the very basis of mind and experience, thus the nature closest to us. To understand this better, let’s do a little exercise.
Sit back comfortably, take a few deep breaths in order to relax and reconnect with your body.
Now ask yourself what would have to disappear in order you lose your sense of existing, your sense of being?
Imagine that everything you own, everything material, all your clothes suddenly vanish.
Do you still exist?
Most likely you will answer yes.
Now imagine that all the people you know, the country you’re in are disappearing.
Ask yourself if you still exist?
Probably you’d answer yes.
Now imagine that all the social functions you perform, all your skills are gone.
Can you still say that you exist?
And now imagine that your body is vanishing, and only the consciousness, your thoughts and your emotions are left.
Do you still exist?
You may think that such a situation is impossible, but notice that a similar situation occurs when you fall asleep. From your perspective, the entire outside world, including the body, disappears. Even thoughts about your everyday identity disappear. However, as long as you dream about anything, you still have a sense of being, a sense of existing. Maybe you are not even human anymore, maybe you are a bird soaring in the skies, or maybe a she-wolf feeding her young, maybe you have no body at all and you are only a materialless consciousness witnessing events unrelated to you.
However, you still are, you still exist.
Imagine that even if there are no thoughts and no emotions arising in you, as long as consciousness persists for so long, you will most likely recognize that you are. No longer as a woman or a man, no longer as a representative of homo sapiens, maybe not a terrestrial being anymore, but you still exist , still are.
And now imagine that the consciousness is gone, and not in such a way that it becomes silent and dark, because these are states that manifest themselves in consciousness as well, the very consciousness is gone. There is nothing, nothing at all.
Do you still exist?
I hope this simple example has shown you why awareness deserves our attention. It is much closer to us, closer to us than anything else that appears in it. Everything else is impermanent and volatile. Everything else is constantly changing, but consciousness itself seems to be unshakable, open, all-accepting and all-embracing. And it is the directing attention to this consciousness that causes its features to become more and more tangible, more and more visible. So called brahmaviharas, the beautiful aspects of the mind (metta, karuna, mudita, uppekha) have a chance to become apparent.
Observing attention is a simple way that leads us to the observation of consciousness (awareness) as a whole. As you observe attention, it slowly relaxes and returns to the space of consciousness as such. However, we must remember that attention itself is awareness (consciousness). So it is enough to simply recognize its movements, simply remind ourselves of the fact that attention is always working ( always focusing on something), for the mind’s lotus flower to slowly open and reveal its secrets to us.
What does “observation of attention” actually mean?
But what does “watching the attention” mean? How can I become aware of where my attention is? What does attention look like?
Remember that attention is not a thing, it is not something we can focus on. Rather, it is a function of the mind whose operation we can recognize. Observing attention is a momentary recognition of a fact that we are paying attention to something. So now if I look at my hands searching for the appropriate keys on my computer keyboard, I realize that I am looking, or that looking is happening. If, in turn, my attention goes to the thoughts that arise in my head as I write, I realize that I am aware of the thoughts. Similarly, if my attention catches sounds coming from behind the door of the room, such as the bustle of household members in the kitchen, I realize that I hear sounds. In this practice it is not important what I see, hear or think, but rather that hearing is happening, seeing is happening, and observing thoughts is happening.
Now let’s do a little attention recognition exercise. Remember to read the text slowly and make short pauses between sentences so that the exercise does not cause tension and unnecessary frustration in you.
First bring your attention to the feeling of your feet, it may be a sensation of a slight chill in your toes, or maybe a feeling of your foot touching the floor. Now recognize the fact that you’re paying the attention. If this instruction sounds too confusing to you, just say in your mind, “I can feel my feet.” Slowly shift your attention up your body towards your face. Pay attention to whether your jaw is relaxed or slightly tightened. Again recognize the fact that you are paying attention (you can say to yourself, “I can feel the sensations from my face”). Now take your attention out of your body and notice the shape of the font that was used to write these words. Notice whether the corners in the font are rounded or sharp, and whether the font size is rather large or small.
Now recognize the fact that the process of looking is happening (in other words, that your attention is in the field of vision/ field of vision). If you wish, continue this exercise by directing the attention to any point of your experience. Try to feel into this movement of attention. Note that the attention is a bit like an invisible arm, with which you reach into various sensory spheres, touching the sensations, images, sounds, tastes, smells and thoughts that are present there. Note that sometimes the attention can be in more than one place at once. Perhaps then the sensations are a little bit less clear, but you can still be sure that your attention covers several of them.
Try to include the entire field of vision in front of you. You can start from recognizing the lines of text you are reading now. Keep looking at them for a few moments, recognizing the very fact that you are looking. Now allow the awareness to cover the entire screen on which the text is displayed. It is certainly much harder for you to read while trying to keep all the screen in your field of vision, but use this exercise to recognize how your attention widens and narrows alternately depending on whether its focused on the entire screen or just a line of text.
Now try to widen the attention even further allowing it to cover the area around the screen. Try to capture the edges of your field of vision while keeping your gaze fixed at the screen. Notice that the attention has become very broad in a sense it has become one with the field seeing itself. Looking has become one with seeing, or attention has become one with consciousness. If your eyes start feeling tense, you can narrow them a little in order to relax.
Remember, seeing always happens as long as your eyes stay open. All we do in this exercise is recognizing this simple fact. If you want, you can rest in this state for a while. You can pay some attention to the widening and narrowing of the field of attention. Note that the field of vision does not depend on what it is covering. It may be the space of the room you are sitting in, or an ocean view from a cafe on a clif.
Continue this exercise while checking you’re not getting tense.
Make sure you’re not trying to turn the attention into something solid, a sensation, a form, something that you could focus on, get hold of, something that you could feel or touch. Attention is a function, it is seeing, not a sight, it is hearing, not the sound itself, it is tasting, not the taste, it is feeling and not the felt. Note that we are so evolutionarily focused on the object of attention that we often lack words that would clearly indicate the difference between the object of attention (e.g., a sensation of a chill in a toe) and the attention as such (e.g., feeling the sensation in the toe). Remember, attention is an activity, it is an action, not an object, not a thing.
This understanding of meditative awareness / mindfulness has far-reaching consequences. It turns out that it does not matter what is the object of our attention, i.e. what our attention is focused on (breath, a tingling sensation in a finger, or the sound of a car passing by). The fact that we recognize where our attention is is crucial for the meditation process. So, as long as we are able to recognize the simple fact that mind’s attention is focused on something, it can shift anywhere from object to object, from experience to experience.
For example, when walking in the forest, attention may be focused first on various sounds, then it may shift to the sight of fresh leaves on the trees, and then to the uncomfortable shoes we wear, and then jump to thoughts about a trekking trip we did 15 years ago. The objects on which the attention is focused differ greatly from each other (they appear in different sense-spheres). As long as we recognize the directions in which attention itself goes, we will continue to hold ourselves in a meditative state. However, if the story of our trekking trip absorbs us to such an extent that we forget that we are thinking (stop recognizing attention), the meditative state will be interrupted.
From this perspective, meditation seems incredibly easy. There is no need to force the mind to pay attention to a single selected sensation. You only need to recognize the very fact of seeing, hearing, feeling or thinking to strengthen the meditation process.
Over time, recognizing awareness becomes easier for us, it becomes our second nature, although it sometimes happens that attention may need a little bit more control. In the next few posts, I will try to present a few ways to facilitate observation of attention and awareness.
Body and mind are very ancient. They have evolved over billions of years, shaped by interaction with the environment and other embodied minds.The I together with its thoughts and good ideas is completely new to them. You are a child of your body, you are a child of your mind, their latest invention. It is your mind and your body that determine your every movement, every thought, every emotion. They decide when you wake up and when you go to sleep, and while you sleep – what will you dream about. It is your mind and body that decide who you fall in love with and who do you hate. They choose the flavors that you like and the ones that you hate. Finally, your body and your mind decide, what do you think about yourself.
The mind, as the body’s partner, works on a simple principle. iIt wants to be happy, but more importantly, it wants to be happy now. Everything it does, it does in order to avoid stress and get closer to happiness, to the state of total relaxation.
At the same time, it is like a child. The mind doesn’t believe in words, good ideas, or long-term plans that would bring it happiness in the distant future. The mind wants to be happy, but it wants to be happy Now. It doesn’t believe in time. The future for it is just thoughts, images that are happening in now, that affect it now. It has very little patience for trying out new solutions. If it experiences what it thinks is a cause of its suffering, it tenses quickly. It believes that something is good for it only when it feels a direct, positive influence on its current condition. It only wants to experience what immediately improves its well-being. If something makes it tense, it will avoid it. If something causes it to relax, it will try to repeat it. As a result, it becomes easily addicted. If causes and effects are too spread away in time, the mind cannot recognize the relationship between. It sees the relationship: cigarette – relaxation, but does not see the relationship: cigarette – health complications.
Of course, despite all its impatience, the mind gives the “I” some space and time to convince it to try out new ways to be happy. That’s why it created it. Unfortunately, this time is very limited. The mind must quickly experience the positive state resulting from a new behavior. Otherwise, it will lose interest and revert to its old, well-tested habits. Because they may not cause the outbursts of joy, but at least they bring a little more relaxation.
So the only way to convince a mind that changing an old habit to a new one is good for it, is to get it to feel a positive state caused by a change as soon as possible. Forcing a mind to deviate from its old ways of acting by threatening it, does not discourage it, to change its habits. A threat may change the mind’s reactions but only for a moment, as it is trying to avoid a tension induced by the threat, but as soon as the tension caused by a threat subsides, the mind will revert to the old habit .
Human’s mind and an animal’s mind work according to the same principle. If a dog sees a piece of a cookie, it immediately wants to eat it. One can stop it for a moment by threatening it with a stick or shouting, but as soon as one turns away, the dog will catch the cookie quickly. On the other hand, if one offers the dog a tastier option, something that makes it happier (such as a sausage), the dog will immediately lose interest in the cookie.
Likewise, if we scare adolescents with a dark side of drugs and social media, all that is achieved is an increased level of stress in their minds. Paradoxically, it is precisely this tension that increases the need for mental relaxation. Unless their minds have a better option, they will go even deeper into media and stimulants. For, from the perspective of their minds, the only real moments of deeper relaxation are those obtained on drugs (or on “likes”). So, in order to make the desired behavior more attractive, the mind has to immediately experience that being sober is more pleasant than intoxication.
This simple principle applies to every activity of the mind. The mind always does what it thinks is best for it, which it calculates will bring it closer to happiness and take it away from stress.
It constantly collects information about its condition and the condition of its surroundings. Then, based on this information and previous experience, it decides what its next move will be.
Being a product of Nature, the mind is perfect. It does not make mistakes, although from the outside it may seem that it does it all the time. In fact, every decision it makes, every move it makes is a way to explore, better understand the world. A mind of a little child learning to walk makes no mistake when it falls over. Thanks to this situation, it collects a huge amount of data on the anatomy of the body, kinetics, and the laws of physics that govern the world. From this perspective, there are no flaws in its functioning, no mistakes, only new experiences, new lessons.
Understanding that stress is the reaction of a mind that senses that the body is in danger, makes us realize that persuading it to relax is like telling someone who just comes across a poisonous snake to stop being afraid. The mind is tense because it tries to protect the body, and it does so by creating an emotion of stress in the body. It believes that this is the best reaction to the given situation. Mere an intellectual recognition that it would be better to relax is not enough to change the belief and the resulting behavior.
In our little cafe adventure, we had an opportunity to see how an attempt to resist an unpleasant sounds lead only to an increased mental tension. Despite this, the mind still holds the belief that this type of reaction is best in such a situation. So the question is, why the mind cannot understand that trying to push a sound away creates only an additional stress, and it doesn’t bring about any positive result?
To understand this better, let’s examine the process of forming of that belief.
Mental stress is the way the mind feels a change in the state of the body that is created in order to push or pull an experience.
To understand this point better, imagine that you hear a sudden loud noise behind you. Your body instantly tightens, your shoulders go up trying to hide your head in between. Your stomach contracts, and energy levels in your arms and legs increase. Your body turns into armor ready to protect yourself from a source of the sound.
This type of stress response is natural in situations that the mind perceives as threatening. We can easily see that it is essential for the survival of an organism and is shared by all vertebrates.
Now try to imagine the following scene. You’re sitting in an outdoor cafe, sipping a cup of coffee and listening to pleasantly soothing music. The waitress just got you a nice slice of chocolate cake. It’s nice. If you’re not currently engaged in fighting the holograms, you are slowly relaxing more and more.
Suddenly, a small traffic jam forms in front of you. Cars start honking. Noise bursts into your relaxed mind. As it happens somewhere in India, a sneaky cow appears from nowhere and starts munching on your cake. Your body responds with tension to every sound. At the same time, it tries to push the cow’s head away. Simultaneously your mind tries to hold on to the waning feeling of peace. It’s not that nice anymore…
You can easily recognize the different pushing and pulling energies that the body generates in this situation. Interestingly, to resist the sounds of honking, the body puts in an energy similar to the one it uses to push away a physical object (such as a cow’s head). Similarly, to hold on to a fading sense of peace, the mind applies the same type of force as it uses when holding on to the plate of cake.
All these changes in the state of the body are instantly felt by the mind, and they are all felt as some form of mental tension.
However, the example above clearly shows which tensions do not make sense and which are actually helpful in the situation.
It seems quite obvious that trying to push away a sound is pointless. The sounds are already present in the consciousness and if we are not going to do anything with the source of the sound (in this case the line of honking cars), the body’s reaction to push away the sensation makes no sense. The situation is different in case of pushing away the cow’s head. The generated tension translates directly into muscle work and can effectively protect the chocolate cake.
The same goes for trying to hold on to the waning sense of peace. The body is applying the same type of energy as it is using to pull the plate of a cake towards it. However, an attempt to hold on to a mental state is doomed to failure. The tension in the body and mind generated as a result of this attempt cannot be released as it will not be translated into bodily actions.
This short story can give us a clue on how to relax the body-mind. All we have to do is to stop reacting with tension when it doesn’t lead to bodily actions. In the case of a coffee shop story, it would be wise to push the cow’s head away and rescue the plate of chocolate. Trying to push the sound away and keep the feeling of peace only causes additional, unnecessary stress. Stress that is all the more harmful as it cannot be released as it is not translated into bodily actions.
Unfortunately, this cannot be done by an effort of will alone. One cannot relax one’s body-mind only by asking them to do so. Let’s see why.
So far we have understood that emotions are states of a body that undertakes actions aimed at transforming its environment (avoiding threats or taking advantage of opportunities). The feelings on the other hand, are the way the mind perceives these bodily changes. Based on this information, we could attempt the following definition of happiness:
Happiness is a particular state of the body that is experienced by mind. This state arises in a body that is recognizing that it is in full balance, in full harmony with its environment, and therefore does not seek to transform it.
To understand this better, imagine any situation that you think could make you feel happy. How do you feel when you imagine this situation, how does your mind react to this mental story?
Let’s do a little experiment. Imagine that something that stands in the way of your wellbeing – disappears. How do you feel? Have you noticed that a little part of mental tension that was previously present disappeared? Now imagine that something that is in your opinion missing in your life suddenly appears. Again pay attention to the state of your mind. How does it feel? You’ll probably notice that in both cases a little bit more of relaxation appears in the mind. Merely imagining positive circumstances causes a small part of mental tension that is present in the mind to disappear.
Understanding that happiness is a state of a fully relaxed body-mind has significant implications. It is a pointer that allows you to bring your mind closer to happiness. In short it’s enough to just keep the mind as relaxed as possible, for happiness is inversely related to the amount of tension in the mind. Hence the recipe for happiness is very simple and reads as follows:
if you want to be happy – relax
Right now, you may feel a little disappointed about the lack of freshness of this brilliant advice. You may even think that you are the only one who, despite your best efforts, is unable to really relax. You’ve probably experienced more than once the frustrating situation when you were trying to relax and feeling even more tense as the result.
This is exactly the point. No one can force the body-mind into a relaxed state. There is no way to make your body-mind relaxed by an effort of will. Relaxation and the resulting happiness are states that occur naturally when the body and mind are prepared for it.
To understand this point better, let’s take a closer look at stress.
What we really want from life is to be happy. We want to feel good with what we think, with what we feel and with what is happening around us. We want to feel fulfilled in our relationships and social interactions. In short, we want our lives to become perfect.
And so we cruise through life trying its different tastes, acquiring different exotic experiences. And over time, we slowly realise that this ideal state, the perfect set of conditions that are supposed to bring us closer to happiness, does not occur very often (if it occurs at all).
In some cases even, we are not able to define what would really make us happy. Yes, we can clearly tell what we don’t want to happen, what events and situations would cause suffering. But what could bring us to happiness is much less obvious to us. And even if we are lucky enough and finally manage to define it, it’s often the case that when the dream conditions come true, happiness is still very short lived. Paradoxically, there are these days when the situation seems to be unbearable, and then, unexpectedly a feeling of fulfillment, joy and deep meaning appears in the heart.
So what is this, what is this elusive thing that we call happiness? Before we venture any further, it seems reasonable to ask Wikipedia.
Happiness is an emotion caused by the experiences that the subject judges as positive.Wikipedia.pl
to feel happy means:
(…) (Lasting) satisfaction with life combined with cheerfulness and optimism; evaluation of one’s own life as successful, valuable and meaningfulWikipedia.pl
Despite the fact that the quoted definitions are very general, they contain two important elements. The first is the statement:
“Happiness is an emotion”
The second part shows us what are the causes for this emotion (happiness) to arise:
“Experiences assessed by the subject as positive”
Hence we could say that happiness is an emotion that arises in the mind when it (the mind) evaluates its experiences as positive and beneficial.
However, at the beginning of our reflections, we’ve noticed that we are often unable to identify what type of experiences could trigger the emotion of happiness. In addition to that we noticed that even in situations considered by us as conducive for happiness to arise, it only appears for short, if it appears at all.
Therefore, many of us have started asking themselves the question: “Am I inherently flawed? Why can’t I ever be satisfied? ” , and often follow the later by a series of painful self-criticism and blame.
Before we start a fist fight with our minds, it’s good to deepen our understanding of what emotions and feelings actually are.
So far, we have examined how the belief in reality of thoughts and the content of thoughts translate into the intensity of an emotional reaction. Now let’s try to understand what determines the degree of faith in a thought. Each of us is intellectually aware that thought is not something that is actually happening, but merely a mental projection of reality. The intensity of this projection, however, does not depend solely on intellectual recognition. We can compare this situation to an optical illusion. For example, consider the Necker cube below.
Do you see the depth in it? Which side is closer? Note that the mind is constantly trying to determine which side of the cube is closer to the observer. Depending on what part of the picture the attention is focused on, the top or bottom square comes to the fore. In fact, it is only an optical illusion and in reality there is a flat figure in the image. Despite the fact that we are intellectually aware of this, the mind constantly generates a sense of depth, so that one of the squares always appears closer or further from the observer.
A similar illusion takes place in case of a thought. On the one hand, we intellectually recognize that thinking is merely a virtual projection, which in itself is only a flat image that does not have a direct impact on us, on the other hand, we feel as if this projection was real. Let us take memory as an example. Similarly to projections of potential future events, memory itself is merely a simulation made in the present and labeled “past”. However, we perceive memory as being real, nearly material. We feel the reality of memory so much that we react with an emotion of anger when someone suggests that the events we remember (that is, what we are simulating at the moment) never happened. However, psychological research shows that our memory is very unreliable. It turns out that we do not remember the original event that took place in real time, but only the simulations that our mind generated after the event, when we are trying to recall the event. Our memory is not much different from the “telephone game” in which we are recording the recalls of the recalls of an original event.
Another example is the image of the world around us. Think of the room next to the room in which you are now sitting and reading. Do you have a feeling that this mental image of the room is just a thought, an ephemeral mental creation, or do you have the feeling that it reflects something real? Now remind yourself that it’s just a projection. Has anything changed? Probably not. Despite an intellectual realization that the image of the next room is merely a thought process, the mind constantly feels that there must be something real behind this projection. This feeling of realness of a thought is very little affected by intellectual recognition of their purely virtual nature.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the fact that we think there’s another room behind the door next to us or that our car is parked in a garage. However, here we are only concerned with pointing out that the belief in the reality of thoughts happens at the cellular level rather than at the intellectual level only.
The intensity of an emotional reaction to a scenario played out by a mind depends on the content of that thought, AND on the intensity of the simulation itself. What do we mean by that?
If we compare a thought simulation to a movie that is displayed on a transparent screen placed very close to our eyes, the intensity of the simulation will be inversely proportional to the degree of transparency of the screen. Hence, if the screen is 90% transparent then the simulation has an intensity of 10%, if the screen is 40% transparent, then the simulation has an intensity of 60% etc.
If the screen is completely opaque (we can’t see anything other than the simulation) then the simulation has an intensity of 100%. This means that we are unable to distinguish mental projections from the real world. We deal with this type of simulation in dreams. During sleep we are completely immersed in a dream world (mental reality) and react to it as if it was our reality.
Thus, if the mind simulates a negative event that causes a defensive reaction in the body (stress), the degree of this reaction will depend on the intensity of the simulation (the transparency level of the mental screen). This transparency level of the screen can be compared to the degree of the mind’s belief that the simulation is real. If the mind believes in 100% that the generated projection is a real event, then the emotional response will be equivalent to the reaction to a real event. If the mind does not believe that the event is real, then there may not be any emotional reaction at all. This does not mean that the mind will cease the simulation, but merely that it is fully aware of the fact that the thought is merely a virtual event that cannot cause harm to the organism itself.
Note, however, that the degree to which the mind believes in the reality of thought is not an intellectual calculation. Belief in thought is not an intellectual construct, but rather a mental feeling (more on the difference between intellectual recognition and mental feeling in the article: “it’s not you but your Cells that believe in a thought“). As with an emotion that arises as a result of certain conditions, the feeling that a thought projection is real is a result of many factors.
To understand what these factors are, let’s imagine the following situation. We sit in a room and watch a movie. If the film has a captivating plot, we can easily sink into the film world, identify ourselves with the main character and in consequence experience a whole range of emotions. However, if we watch the movie with someone else who has an annoying habit of constantly commenting on different scenes, asking us questions and distracting us with other activities (like hitting a pause button in a middle of a captivating scene due to a sudden desire to get something out of the fridge), then it becomes more difficult for us to be emotionally involved in the plot. What is the difference between these two situations?
The difference is the degree to which our attention is focused on the film. If we are alone and nothing distracts us, we can fully engage in the film. On the other hand, if something or someone constantly distracts us from the screen, our attention is distracted – the degree of concentration is lower. Our emotional reaction to the events in the film will therefore be proportionally smaller. The mind will not have the right conditions to build faith that what is happening on the screen is really happening. The mind will stay being aware of the fact that the body is not in the virtual world created by the director of the film, but in a room on the couch, with someone distracting us all the time. The mind knows (or rather feels) all the time that despite the various terrible dangers that threaten the protagonist on the screen, our body stays completely safe.
The same is true of emotional involvement with mind-generated thought stories. Attention must be concentrated on thoughts to the extent that the mind forgets the actual conditions of the physical body.
As a result of increased concentration on thoughts of the imminent danger, the mind begins to believe that the body is in real danger. This triggers a series of defensive reactions aimed at bringing the body out of a dangerous situation (reactions that are perceived as a feeling of stress). The problem arises when the thought concerns a distant or completely abstract situation. The body is ready now to fight a threat that is present in the now. The heart beats faster, the jaws are clenched, the muscles are tense. However, the physical body cannot remove the virtual threats, just as a seasoned martial art adept cannot defeat an opponent who is only a hologram. As long as the story of a thought will not be changed (i.e. the mental danger is not removed) that long the physical body will stay in a state of combat readiness.
How do we convince a mind, that put its all resources into the fight with the holograms, to stop doing that?
Our previous reflections point to three possible solutions:
a/ we could try to beautify the hologram (mental history) by changing it to a more pleasant one,
b/ we could try to turn off the projector,
c/ or we could lower the degree of faith in the reality of the hologram.