A Clarification on the Fusion of Occident and Orient
Related: metaphysical ideas in other people's work.
There is within this general work a profound fusion of Occident and Orient or Western and Eastern world views. I use the terms Western and Eastern purely as general descriptive terms for the dominant traditional metaphysical attitudes within those two cultural streams, although there has at all times been aspects of both attitudes in both cultures. I could also use the labels empirical and transcendent, or mechanistic and mystic. I do not imply any racial or geographic connotations by the use of 'Western' and 'Eastern' but merely the dominant metaphysical paradigms associated with those cultural streams. Many aspects of this work may initially create confusion for some who are used to dwelling entirely in one or the other, particularly for any Western minded people who do not comprehend the Eastern perspective or even give it serious credence. Hence this discussion is intended to provide some clarification for people who are approaching this website from a traditional Western world view. There are several ideas presented on this website that are almost entirely comprehensible from within the traditional Western world view and may be of great utility in the context of worldly agendas such as traditional science, engineering, IT industry and many practical interactions with systems in the world. Most of the mathematics and system science and software concepts are amenable to such development. However the rest of the ideas regarding the nature of reality are incomprehensible from within the traditional Western world view and would most likely be extremely confusing if interpreted from that perspective. This is due to certain oversights throughout Western history that have limited its world view to consider primarily the empirical aspects of reality. It has not entirely overlooked the mystic dimension of life but it has consistently supressed it. See some quotes from and assortment of mostly Western and Christian mystics, these are taken from the book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ.
See these defintions of what I mean and don't mean by the terms empirical and transcendent. In brief, 'empirical' refers to that which is a product of experience whilst 'transcendent' refers to that which underlies the experiential context.
An “empiricentric” world view recognises only the directly empirical aspects of reality and ignores and misunderstands all other aspects of reality. It is a very subtle form of "common-sense realism" that assumes that because we experience "the world", then it must be an absolute reality and it has unquestioning been relied upon as the foundation for virtually all non-mystic enquiries into the nature of reality. Thus the empiricentric approach attempts to comprehend reality only through the lense of an empirical world view (for an example of this see these two paragraphs). Thus when discussing issues within the empirical world one can rely on Western assumptions about the world but when discussing issues within the wider reality one must go further than Western minds are generally used to.
Here is a very brief summary prior to the detailed discussion: the Western world view proposes that the "common sense" world of the senses is the foundation of reality, i.e. the world of material objects in space, and that the goal of the search for truth is to discover how that world functions, hence the development of materialist empirical science and an institutionalised exoteric religion based around the individual ego and adherence to commandments that relate to actions in the world. Thus the Western world view has resulted in a complex and elaborate science of the detailed functioning of the empirical world, which I make great use of throughout the scientific analysis, giving rise to things such as SMN, FDIS's, software prototypes and so on, which are essentially a detailed analysis of the empirical world, which is based upon an understanding of its deeper foundations. The Eastern world view proposes that the world of the senses is an elaborate construct of the senses and the mind that is based upon an underlying reality, thus one must overcome this construct to see through to the underlying reality that is the cosmic oneness, Brahman, Sunnyata or "the uncarved block". Hence the development of yoga, meditation and a personal religion based around individual transformation and direct intimate union with reality. Thus the Eastern world view gives a detailed metaphysics of the nature of reality, which I make extensive use of in understanding the deeper reality that underlies the empirical world and this gives rise to such things as the computational paradigm, SMN, IST and many of the essays. Indeed, via the use of the analogy of computation and virtual reality I develop a conceptual framework that seemlessly unites the two world views; showing in detail how the two combine and how the empirical world arises out of the prior transcendent context.
In the Eastern approach one develops oneself as a “being in the world”; purifying ones mind and eradicating patterns of false beliefs and other agitations such as ego and desire. Then one approaches an understanding of reality by direct participation in it and direct experience of it through the agency of ones purified being. In the Western approach one believes that one already has direct access to reality via ones senses, this goes unquestioned, and one approaches an understanding of reality by the use of theoretical enquiry and the development of complex myths that are woven out of the objects of sense perception. The two are perspectives on significantly different aspects of the cosmos and together they provide a deep and holistic view of the whole reality. This unification is explored via the computational paradigm. The benefits of the Western approach in regards to the detailed analysis of the empirical world are not discussed here since much is widely known about the utility of modern science for comprehending the empirical aspects of reality. In this essay I mainly focus on the inadequacies of the Western approach in regards to deep metaphysics and the benefits of the Eastern perspective in this regard so that people who wish to explore the deep metaphysics here can get a better feel for the overall ideas, and possibly diagnose the sources of any confusions that arise.
There are profound and subtle differences between this particular work and that of traditional Western science, they have significantly different fundamental goals although they cross over in the region of system science (indeed system science is so general that all 'things' converge within it). Throughout its history Western science has been seeking deep knowledge of the phenomena of the world, it takes the "objective world" as a given and seeks to understand it in all its various manifestations. In this it is seeking to develop reliable collaborative methods whereby people may systematically work toward a general intellectual understanding of the phenomena of the objective world. That is the pragmatic and practical dimension of science within the world, that conforms with the traditional Western world view and is what most people think of as science. It is a worthy endeavour and has great promise within the world, indeed if one restricts one's field of endeavour to the objective empirical world then Western science is quite adequate in most respects.
I on the other hand am not a Western scientist but a being in the world and a seeker of truth without any particular allegiance, however I lean more toward Eastern science, which is closer to mysticism than Western science, however the concept 'mysticism' is shrouded with much misundertanding, especially in the West. I seek to understand the world 'itself' as a phenomenon, I do not take it as a given, it is one of the main focal points of the enquiry, thus I begin with no assumptions as to its nature and I seek to determine its nature. Thus I go beyond the traditional Western world view and am closely aligned with the Eastern world view. I do not ask "what are all these things and how do they interact to form the world?" (thus assuming the existence of the many 'things' and of the world itself from the outset) I ask "what is this?" as in "this experience of a world", and I have come to realise that 'this' is a state of being, it is an experience within consciousness, it is what arises when the underlying reality is interpreted through one's biologically and culturally programmed senses and mind. Thus the enquiry must go deeper than just "the world" and enquire into what underlies the appearance of the world, only then can one ascertain the nature of reality. Thus I seek not only a science that is applicable within the empirical world but one that is also applicable within the transcendent realm that underlies the world. Thus this work seeks to comprehend the WHOLE of reality and it thereby encompasses both the materialist and the spiritualist paradigms.
In both Western and Eastern sciences the starting point for the enquiry into the nature of reality is direct experience, but that means different things to different people. A person focused outwardly into the world (like many people) will perceive and experience a world of people, places and things so they say that that is the foundation of their enquiry into truth. But a person focused inwardly (like one who meditates or stills their mind) will experience awareness or consciousness itself so they say that that is the foundation of their enquiry into truth. One person takes consciousness for granted, assuming that it gives them undistorted access to 'reality', and they focus on the content of consciousness and the other focuses on consciousness itself. Thus one says reality is composed of objects in space and the other says reality is composed of consciousness or the coherent flow of information or computation. Mysticism proposes that consciousness is more fundamental than the objects of consciousness, which are simply modifications of consciousness, just as the computational paradigm proposes that computation is more fundamental than empirical forms, which are patterns of information that arise via the process of computation.
Many people are familiar with the fact that different dog breeds have very different temperaments and there are vast differences between dogs and cats and between all animals. The world that they perceive, experience and believe in is largely a product of their biological makeup, thus a mole experiences and believes in a very different world to an eagle. Not only do different organisms vary but there are cognitive attitudes that are deeply biologically programmed into all organisms based upon the contingencies of being an organism, thus if one seeks a clear view of the nature of reality all of these need to be taken into account. But underlying much of human thought is the idea that human consciousness somehow has 'direct' access to 'reality', but this is just like parochial people believing that only "other people" have accents and that they themselves speak 'normally'. There lies within much of our analysis of reality a deep anthropocentrism and empiricentrism who's roots go so deep that it cannot be overcome easily. We are programmed to unquestioningly identify with our cognitive experience and one must overcome this programming to hope to be able to approach reality, otherwise one dwells in a "human world". An example of the ramifications of this empiricentric bias is that whilst one is dreaming one believes in the dream world, regardless of how bizarre it seems one is fully identified and immersed in that world. The same underlying and unquestioned belief intrudes on all aspects of our experience of reality and must be overcome to approach absolute truth otherwise one dwells in the world of relative truth or the world of appearances. Thus before one can seriously approach absolute truth one must first enquire deeply into consciousness, not in an external 'psychological' manner that works via a mythology of "the world" but in a deeply subjective manner that explores one's own experience of consciousness and that subtly delves down to the root of consciousness. It is that root that is the computational essence of reality and which underlies the coming into being of all empirical forms. Know that root and you know God and the cosmos.
The Western view that consciousness is a product of the functioning of matter ignores the fact that we only come to know matter via the agency of consciousness, thus one is working via a layer of assumption regarding the nature of consciousness and how it manifests to our minds the very experience of matter in the first place. One must first question consciousness and only then question the objects of consciousness, not the other way around, this has led to many paradoxes and superstitions regarding the nature of consciousness in the West (even to the denial of its existence). The idea that the objects of consciousness (matter) are more fundamental than consciousness, and the implicit empiricentric assumptions therein, leads to a mechanistic or materialistic metaphysics of reality. It is like an artificially intelligent being that arises within an artificial reality simulation of a world who takes themselves, that world and their experience of that world for granted and looks only 'outward' into their perceptual experience. They thereby seek to explain that world entirely in terms of the objects of their experience, which they assume are "simply existing" without any underlying cause or foundation. Thus without questioning how it is that they come to perceive anything at all, they hypothesise that the objects that they perceive have properties called 'existence' and 'behaviour' and these come together to produce all that they know, including themselves and the very phenomenon of consciousness.
Thus they propose that the empirical phenomena within the simulation are in fact the foundation of causality and are the essence of reality. But in this case the phenomena arise out of the process of computation and simulation, not the other way around. This is the fallacy of the empiricentric world view and the principle difference between Eastern and Western metaphysics. Indeed the 'objects' upon which these simulated beings base their metaphysics have formed within their minds via perception, but they propose that the objects implement the very mechanism and phenomenon of perception. Empiricentrism goes far deeper than just "materialism" and "objectivism" since even those who are deeply subjective still believe in an empirical world populated by separate subjects. But the underlying reality is a universal Oneness, without separation, it is by the perceptual entropic fragmentation of this oneness that the world itself comes into being for those who perceive it. If they had first enquired into how it is that they perceive anything at all they would have turned inwards and discovered by direct experience the computational process that is their innermost consciousness and that manifests themselves and their entire world; this computation is the innermost being of every empirical form within that simulation space. Then they need not become entangled in a world of appearances that manifests a vast kaleidoscope of changing arbitrary forms, which they need to empirically explore over aeons in order to finally get to the bottom of their world (i.e. quantum physics, information theory, relativity of perception and so on).
Any 'situation' is not just that which is observed but also the observer and the process of observation. This has generally been overlooked in the West and is only recently being seriously questioned through the agency of quantum physics and by opening up to Eastern mysticism. The totality is the true situation, the empirical world is that which is observed, but then there is perception, psychology, belief systems, culture and so on, all of which influence what modifications arise in consciousness (or what is observed) and how it is interpreted, experienced and conceptualised. But consciousness is entirely internal and subjective, one cannot observe it "out there" so one must develop oneself as the experimental apparatus, only then can one experience it and come to know it, thus one cannot successfully attain truth with an unbalanced and agitated mind and only engaging in the intellectual pursuit of truth; such things lead to confusion. Furthermore, underlying all of this, how does observation actually take place? How do the observer and the observed come together to form that which one may call a 'situation'? ... It is through the flow of information. As soon as one extends the situation to include the observer and the process of observation, then information and its computation becomes the principle quantity; it is what binds, constructs and animates the entire world that we experience. Matter and causality are simply the empirical 'shadows' that are cast within our perceptual worlds by the transcendent computational processes.
What many scientists don't realise is that science is a belief system, one that for many people goes unquestioned. It contains within its core an implicit empiricentric belief system, that unless it is question restricts one to an entirely empirical world view and makes all other aspects of reality incomprehensible. Whilst operating entirely within the world it need not be questioned, but if one seeks to understand the essence of the world itself and the underlying reality then all assumptions must be questioned. The starting point for any truly deep enquiry is not the scientific method or philosophical epistemology or any other high level cultural constructs. To know truth we must put aside the scientist or philosopher within, cease to be modern individuals in society, cease to be humans, cease to be that which we perceive ourselves to be through our senses, even cease to be the 'I' character that we all assume that we are - none of these are fundamental - they are lenses that distort the view. They all rely on unquestioned beliefs; the belief in the voracity of our biological senses, belief in the view of isolated physical existence that arises through the senses, belief in "the world", belief in the idea of 'humanity' and all the myths that have been woven around that such as our supposed direct access to reality, belief in society and consensus and politics and subtle peer pressures that influence us both consciously and unconsciously, belief in the articles of faith that underly the philosophical and scientific paradigms, belief in words as reliable referents to reality, belief that the vast edifices of symbols and relations have some direct contact with reality. If one assumes that the empirical objective world IS reality then some of these beliefs are well founded, but first one must make that assumption. However the Eastern perspective questions that assumption from the outset and it discovers that the assumption is unfounded and that whilst the empirical objective world is a definite experiential aspect of reality (Maya) it is only a small component of the totality of reality. This is the difference between relative truth and absolute truth; relative truth is that which relates to the empirical context of the objective world which is a virtual construct and absolute truth is the transcendent framework that manifests the empirical world itself.
All the objects out of which relative truths are woven are objects of the senses and the mind. All the things, bodies, senses, humans, words, society, philosophy, science and so on - all these things are objects and phenomena within the 'story' of the objective world "out there" thus they rely on belief in the concept of the objective world "out there" and they arise from the I-thought that creates the central egoic character who is the one that experiences the world "out there". All these things and phenomena are assumptions that rely on an unquestioned belief in the "objective world". But there is no proof of that, there is only a deeply held and biologically programmed belief that is produced by the voracity of the senses and that is all. Indeed it is the egoic I-thought and the very concept of the world "out there" that is at the heart of the enquiry into reality, they ARE the illusion that veils reality, thus to implicitly encode them into the starting point and the very mechanism of the process of enquiry, as the traditional Western world view does, is to cripple the enquiry from the outset. This fault has plagued Western science and religion throughout history whereas through Eastern sciences such as yoga it has been discovered that once the I-thought is uprooted the entire objective world illusion evaporates and one realises that one is "All that Is" and this is one's natural state at all times. Even whilst one is engaged in delusion one never leaves one's underlying natural transcendent state.
This overcoming of objectivism does not leave us with futile 'solipsism', that is only a concept that has meaning for those who believe there is only the objective world and that pure subjectivity is an abomination. Indeed, in an truly objective world, one who is purely subjective would be an abomination. But in reality there is no inner and outer, these are part of the empiricentric illusion. To use the virtual reality game analogy, in absolute truth there is no game environment with characters in it, some of which are objectively focused and some subjectively focused. In absolute truth there is no game and no characters at all, there is the flow of pure information, pure computation, pure consciousness or pure Light, there is only Brahman or God. But in the context of relative truth (within the simulation or the empirical universe) there is a game environment (physical universe) and there are characters (empirical beings), but they are not "simply existing physical systems" like they seem to be, they have a much deeper causal foundation. Thus to believe that the world of the senses is all that exists is to dwell in illusion, but one may dwell in reality, knowing one's true self, and still take part in the game, but one knows that one cannot die just because one's character dies, one is the computer itself, one Is God. This is referred to in the Vedic tradition as sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi or the state of uninterrupted embodied enlightenment.
To begin to enquire into the deepest truths we must become pure consciousness stripped of all sophistication (i.e. corruption of the primal essence), only then can we begin to properly enquire. Ultimate Truth requires absolute sacrifice, all else is indulging in the illusion, one cannot think like a contemporary scientist and hope to approach absolute truth, one must return to a timeless state of mind, one that doesn't change with each new scientific or cultural fad, but one that is intrinsic to the nature of consciousness itself. If ones seeks advantage in the world through pragmatic knowledge then one is restricted to seeking relative truths since absolute truth itself is not pragmatic, it serves no purpose within any agenda since all agendas are story lines within the world illusion; absolute truth is beyond all agendas, all stories and all characters, it serves only the Whole. For example, it may transform your entire state of being and exalt you to ever greater Life but if all you desire is a better job and more money then focusing on more worldly matters would be more likely to get you those. Truth might make you rich and famous but it might also send you into utter poverty and obscurity; these are all just concepts within the empirical world and absolute truth operates on a much deeper level.
In regards to system science and science in general one can talk about science "in the world" or one can talk about the nature of reality - they are different subjects, although they are subtly related. Many people are by now quite familiar with system science in the world and there are many others who are familiar with the nature of reality but an understanding of reality is not a simple application of system science to the empirical world. The nature of reality is a deep and profound mystery that requires a lifetime of commitment and total sacrifice in order to be able to fully approach. Those who attain the absolute reality are not great scientists, they are Buddhas or Christs or saints or yogis; they are mystics. System science can lead one to the gate onto the path toward the realisation of reality, thus I work with system science amongst other methods, but to fully attain the truth of reality one must go a great deal further than system science can take one. It is simply the science of the world illusion, it can explain the nature of the empirical world, it can allow one to function more coherently within the empirical world and it can provide the motivation to look beyond the illusion of the empirical world. But looking beyond the illusion cannot be undertaken by any intellectual process using words and ideas, it is a process of intimate engagement and communion with reality itself, not merely thinking and talking about reality. Just as one does not satisfy one's hunger by talking about food, one must intimately engage with it.
Thus it is said by some mystics that all words and ideas dwell entirely within the illusion and thus keep one trapped entirely within the illusion. In the strictest sense that is correct but in practice that statement can be misleading. In general most words and ideas do in fact do this but conceptual frameworks such as Vedanta, mystic Christianity and the computational paradigm allow the mind to intellectually comprehend the general nature of reality. They channel transcendent truths into the world illusion and thereby weaken the grip of empiricentrism, this is the purpose of all sacred knowledge; i.e. knowledge regarding the essence of reality and not simply the appearances and forms within the world. Hence by the careful use of such conceptual frameworks one can come to comprehend the reality of the meal and develop an appetite for it, thus they can bring one to the edge of the world illusion and open a gate onto the path that leads to liberation from illusion. Thus they serve as a valuable guide for any who are lost within the world of appearances and relative truths. Thus, intellectual seeking is by no means futile; for those firmly within the illusion it takes wisdom and tireless effort to escape it, and in this the intellect is a powerful tool.
Hence I seek to help in the development of the scientific method of collaborative seeking, that involves countless rational minds engaged in communication within an empirical intellectual context and which plods its way toward the truth over countless generations. But I realise that ultimately this is all a fiction within the illusion, it is all a relative truth. For myself I do not rely solely on such methods, I seek to develop them for the benefit of souls still lost within the illusion, but I also employ other far more effective methods for the attainment of truth such as raja yoga. I seek to understand intellectually as well as I may and to express that understanding, but primarily I seek to embrace truth personally and commune with the universe intimately, not just intellectually and scientifically via a complex story of things and phenomena "in the world" that revolve around a fictitious egoic character. Ultimately the truth cannot be approached through empirical means based upon the evidence of the empirical senses. One can work ones way toward a realisation of the nature of the illusion and thereby develop a desire to look beyond it but ultimately one must let go of all intellectualising to go beyond the illusion. The direct experience that guides me upon my path is an intuitive vision, I cannot 'prove' this to anyone, it is entirely subjective, but neither can anyone 'prove' the existence of the objective world. The only 'proof' of either is direct experience and all other forms of proof assume the existence of the objective world as their foundation. That which guides me is the voice of reality itself within me, I am not a separate egoic object in a mechanistic world, the cosmos is alive and intelligent and it communes intimately with any who open up to it. Our innermost being is the innermost being of the cosmos itself and this is our true nature, even in the midst of the deepest delusion this never ceases to be the case, it is this that is referred to as the soul or atman.
Hence I work on two levels. One work is the attainment of union with Truth and the other is the intellectual speaking about truth. They are separate but related works. Thus on the one hand I have invested great effort into developing intricate scientific methods such as IST/SMN and also much speaking about the nature of reality because these are of benefit in bringing one to the metaphorical 'edge' of the illusion and this work has helped me to approach that edge. I am interested in helping to further develop such general methods because they can be of great utility within the world, and may thereby ease the burden of being in the world, and they may help others to find the edge of the illusion and to develop a hunger for reality. The development of an intellectual approach requires the collaboration of people such as scientists, philosophers and so on who have given considerable thought to such intellectual methods.
By all the words and ideas on my website I personally do not thereby work towards truth itself in an intellectual manner, it helps bring me closer to the edge but it cannot take me beyond the illusion. Indeed, the purely intellectual work and the speaking about such things is generally an impediment to my ultimate progress toward truth, but I undertake it out of compassion for those lost in the illusion and because it is my 'duty' or my dharma (intrinsic inner law). In such work I simply erect sign posts or leave a trail of crumbs as I work my way through the maze of relative truths, subtly directing people toward exit points from the world illusion. My own enquiry into truth is conducted mainly via pure contemplation and meditation, where any words or ideas are crude replicas of the intricate subtleties therein. I work primarily with holistic states of being rather than symbolic words and conceptual frameworks, but I indulge in them because it is my dharma that I am to externalise certain things, thus words, ideas, theories and mathematics are necessary for that.
Thus there are two distinct contexts in which we may communicate, we may take the world as a given and then speak intellectually about system science within the world in a traditional manner or we may speak about the nature of reality, but to speak about the latter requires great subtlety and perseverance. To intellectualise about it without any attempt to directly experience it is like one who has never eaten food and tries to understand it by simply speaking about it, which inevitably leads to confusion of some kind; it is quite unscientific to avoid the evidence of direct experience. Experience is the source of all meaning behind words, if one had never experienced food one would not know the true meaning of the word 'food' and all the other words associated with food. Thus in regards to empiricists who come by this website and who wish to know more, one requires an open and agile mind, and I would recommend extreme caution and sensitivity in approaching these ideas; this is the most subtle, profound, sacred and misunderstood of ALL subjects of enquiry. I would also recommend some form of introspection and working toward self awareness; i.e. purifying and stilling one's mind, and developing oneself as a being in the world so that one may become one who is capable of Knowing. There are many ways of approaching truth depending upon ones proclivities, I have personally loosely followed the path of jnana yoga and raja yoga with countless eclectic augmentations but each to their own. However the fundamental method is to "still the mind" and "overcome the ego"; like the surface of a pond, little can be seen in the reflection when it is disturbed by countless egoic thoughts and desires. But if you wish to remain entirely within intellectual confines based upon traditional assumptions about the nature of reality then we can still discuss system science "within the world". Either way there is much to be resolved and I'm happy to pursue either enquiry.
I trust that this has helped clarify some things and that there will be many sincere and fruitful discussions and collaborations in the future. It is my work to engage with the world and to shed some light on these subtle issues, thus I will seek to fulfill this duty to the best of my ability, but not to become attached to any outcomes; whatever will be will be.
Related: metaphysical ideas in other people's work.
For those who consult the I Ching, the inspiration to write the above was a reading asking, how to meaningfully engage with materialistic, mechanistic, Western or academically minded people without undue confusion? The response was  Lake / Fire – Water / Fire. Then having written the essay I asked what the great sage thought of it and received  Fire / Earth – Fire / Mountain.