Univ. of Texas OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute) UT FORUM group on Oct. 21, 2022.
on how our Minds Work
This talk is a densely packed with information. Hopefully this web version will aid you in better understanding some of the points made, and help with letting some of the bottom line sentences sink in.
Since the early 2000s, when I retired
from the University of Wisconsin, I have maintained a blog, called Deric's
MindBlog, describing what I am finding interesting in cognitive neuroscience
and some other subjects. It is accessible through the URL in the previous slide.
From this reading I've learned about work
that has shown, in just the past 10-15 years, that much of what we thought we
knew about how our minds work isn't quite right, our commonsense notions, our
folk psychology that has been around for thousands of years, gets a lot of
I'm going to give you the story that I
think is the most plausible one, but fair disclosure, there are many theories
of how our consciousness works. This slide lists 22.
Don't be frightened by this and the next
slide or two, I am flicking through them just to give you a feel for the
complexity of our subject.
There are four main theories or models of
consciousness, and current experiments I think are making one of these,
predictive processing, the overwhelming favorite. It gives the best
description of how consciousness rises from our biological bodies, our muscles,
blood, and guts, to meet their needs. That's what our minds are for, to take
care of our bodies.
This slide gives you the sources for much of what I'm
going to say today,
Some of the slides are derived from these
references, and I use edited clips from their text to describe some ideas.
So...here is the story I want to tell in
The first topic deals with what we are
learning about how our brains actually work, the second with why much of what
we have thought is wrong, the third topic builds a story of how we invent most
of our emotional and social reality
The fourth topic describes how this modern
description is in many ways confluent with the insights of ancient meditative
traditions. Both show how we can examine, understand, and possibly change what
is happening inside our heads, our behaviors. We can access a very rich mental toolkit to
work our way through to a new understanding of what we are and how we work that
can strengthen our resilience in surfing the challenging times we are in. This
is the forward looking and optimistic side to what I'm going to be telling you.
There is also a potentially unsettling
side to our new understanding, because it saying that much of what we thought
to be our essential or genuine nature, our authenticity, is invented, specific
to our culture, made up, an invention.
So, I will begin with this first topic "We
have predictive brains that construct themselves to face the world"
Part I of talk:
We will start with a simple experiment
that demonstrates that when we look out at the world what we are actually
experiencing is our prediction of what is there, not necessarily what is
What do you see here? Take a second
Lot of blobs.. Not clear? Well, have at look at this:
...and now, do these blobs make any more
sense to you?
Or, another example, can you tell me what
Does this help?
So, now, we go back to the blobs, it's
hard to see anything but the photograph I just showed.
One more example. What about this? More
Does this help?
In each of these examples, I initially was
unable to figure out the black and white blobs, but once I had seen the more
complete pictures, I found myself stuck with recognizing the image now stored
in my brain that best fit the black and white blob...a snake, a fly, and a woman
kissing a horse. These illustrations are taken from books by Lisa Feldman
Barrett and Anil Seth, listed in the references slide I showed earlier.
So, Ask yourself...What was going on here?
When we saw the complete images we stored
them in our archive or library of images, which is vast.
They were now sitting there waiting, as
candidates, as predictions, of possible things in the outside world. You next
viewed some previously unintelligible blobs in a picture, and bingo there is a
match between what you stored and what's out there in the world. You literally
hallucinate the shape that isn't obvious from the ambiguous partial cues first
In every waking moment, we are faced with
ambiguous, noisy information from our eyes, ears, nose, and other sensory
organs. Our brains uses our past experiences, and their associated library of
images, to construct a hypothesis - the simulation - and compare it to the
cacophony arriving from our senses.
This simulation lets our brains impose
meaning on the noise, selecting what is relevant and
ignoring the rest.
What we are now learning is that what we
see, hear, touch, taste, and smell are largely simulations of the world, ..
Simulation is the default mode for all mental activity.
Evolution has wired our brains for
The central idea, proposed by Carl Friston
and others starting just 15-20 years ago, is that the main thing at ALL
biological systems, from humans down to the tiniest animals, do is to try to
reduce prediction errors.
What the brain finds most useful to notice
is surprise, something we are not expecting, it doesn't need to record all the
information coming in, it only needs to flip into a higher gear if there is a
deviation from its expectations.
This is an 'Inside Out' model, as shown in
the top part of this slide, of how our world is generated, our brains are
constantly predicting possible perceptions and possible actions (Left), the
actual perception or action that occurs (Top) is compared with that prediction
If a current perception or action matches
well enough with our prediction, it is our prediction that we experience, if
it does not then the brain must arouse itself to resolve the error (Bottom),
the mis-match between prediction and what is actually happening, this new
resolution then is programmed back into the cycle, added to the library of
hypotheses, of sensing and acting correlations that have worked in the past.
We don't actually go through the process
our high school and college introductory biology texts usually describe, shown
in the bottom half of the slide, that I taught for many years.
This standard 'Outside in' model has been
that our brain passively waits for information from the outside world, when it
receives information it proceeds to analyze it, and then sends the result
forward to the perceiving, deciding and acting parts of the brain. But, what
is this mysterious middle black box, this 'analyzer' where supposedly
everything comes together...all we can see is the firing of nerve cells. There
is no interpreter in the brain to assign meaning to these changes in neuronal
firing patterns. Short of a magical homunculus watching the activities of all the
neurons in the brain with the omniscience of the experimenter, the neurons that
take this all in are unaware of the events that caused these changes in their
firing patterns. Fluctuations in neuronal activity are meaningful only for the
scientist who is in the privileged position of observing both events in the
brain and events in the outside world and then comparing the two perspectives.
A crucial point is that an 'outside in'
process that has to grind out a new solution or prediction for each new input
takes much more energy than just assuming an existing prediction is correct
unless an error is detected. Saving energy is the name of the game in terms of
To give some of the specifics, these next
illustrations, taken from Barrett's books, show what is actually going on in your brain when
you think you are perceiving a visual scene directly.
90 percent of all connections coming into
the primary visual part of our brain, V1, (right arrows) carry predictions
about possible expected visual scenes stored in neurons in more forward parts
of the cortex.
Only a small fraction of primary visual
cortex V1 activity involves getting current visual input from the world (arrows
pointing from left to right.)
Ten times more information goes in the
other direction, (arrows right to left) carrying visual predictions from V1 to
the thalamus on through to control centers that decide which prediction best
matches the input data, and that is what we actually see, the stored
This is the operation your brains were
carrying out in those ambiguous slides I started with, which began to make
sense when you had stored a prediction that matched sufficiently their data.
Without the top down prediction, understanding the blobs is like putting together
a puzzle without the picture on the puzzle box cover.
Everything we do and experience is in the
service of reducing surprises by fulfilling fantasies, models, predictions.
Those fantasies are essentially a library
of prior possibilities. If you hear thunder, the probability of lightning is
Our predicting brain is why we can't
tickle ourselves, because we predict the effect of touching ourselves, only
unpredictable touching by another person feels ticklish. It causes a much
stronger sensation because we can't expect it.
Your eyes are darting about, moving all
the time in small jerks called saccades, but your visual world doesn't move
around, it appears to stay quite still. This is because a prediction of our
eye movements, the technical term is efferent outgoing copy or
corollary discharge, is getting subtracted from our perception. If you or
someone else makes your eyeball move by touching and rotating it, the world
bounces around because that prediction is absent.
Predictive processing is going on,
cucumber, as you listen to me talking. If an unexpected word is inserted in the
flow of words we are hearing, as it just was, cucumber, we can be slightly
startled. Experiments studying this record small changes in brain voltages
Predictions our brains are making are
important in our experience, our prediction of an upcoming movement, the efferent copy, is what intention feels like, how we distinguish a
voluntary from an involuntary action. Our experience of agency, of willing and
causing something to happen is actually our experience of the prediction of the
results of an action already set in motion.
Part II of talk:
Now, what I have just been saying is a
different description from what many of us might have learned in our introductory high school or college biology courses, and this
brings me to the second chunk of this talk. Much of what we thought we know
about how our brains work is mistaken.
Here is the list of what are going to be
my bottom lines, and I'm going to cover these with extreme brevity, this being
a part of the talk I had to condense to even think about getting the talk's
time down to an hour.
The first item in this list of
mis-perceptions is the first part of the talk I just finished, we don't analyze
and recreate our worlds with every new perception and action, analyzing what
is coming in anew each time, from the outside in and then performing a
mysterious analysis that generates a reaction. Rather, we take in just the
smallest amount of information from the outside that is necessary to match with
something in our library of previous perceptions and actions, and then generate
a perception or action from the inside out.
The second misperception is that our
brains actually are composed of three sub-brains, from older to more recently
evolved, the triune brain model, which some of you may have heard of.
A reptilian brain regulating the basic
four F's, fighting, fleeing, feeding, and fornicating, overlaid by primitive
mammalian brain that generates emotions relevant to nurturing newborn animals
to maturity, and a new or neocortex, vastly folded, the locus of our more
In fact our brains aren't built up like
layers of geological sediments from different epochs. Reptiles and humans have
the same kinds of nerve cells and the same common brain manufacturing plan but
over time some parts have gotten larger and reorganized, segregating and then
And everything connects...any thought,
action, or emotion you experience alters, even if subtly, the activity of 90%
of the brain's neurons. The brain is a vast continuous network of
clusters and hubs, not a bunch of parts that work in isolation.
The third point is that there are no
unique brain or body fingerprints of emotions.
This is a statement very much against the
common assumption that we have specific evolved hard wired reflexive circuits
in our brains for fear, rage, happiness, sadness, etc. that flip on and off
like a light switch, ancient and universal basic emotions that are the result
of evolutionary adaptations to conditions of our paleolithic past. They are
meant to go with unique brain and body fingerprints like facial expressions and
changes in heart rate, activation of specific brain areas.
The problem is that continuous effort over
many years has not revealed a consistent, physical fingerprint for even a
single emotion. When you attach electrodes to a person's face and measure
how facial muscles actually move during the experience of an emotion, you find
tremendous variety, not uniformity. You find the same variety - the same absence
of fingerprints - when you study the rest of the body and the brain. You can
experience anger with or without a spike in blood pressure. You can experience
fear with or without an amygdala, the brain region historically tagged as the
home of fear. All of the data showing this or that emotion correlates with a
particular brain area becoming active has turned out to be a bit misleading.
Careful studies have shown that during any thought, action, or emotion you can
observe changes in the virtually all of the brain's neurons, as brain networks
We observe what is called representational
plasticity: We can observe a brain network that becomes active in say, a fear
response. We look a month later, and can find a completely different web of
nerve calls becoming active during exactly the same behavior. The network has
migrated across the brain, doing the same behavioral job.
The fourth point is that the idea that
there are universal emotions, common to all humans, is mainly a myth. Many
emotions that we have thought to be universal turn out to vary between
Brains can make more than one kind of
mind. Much of the evidence for what we have taken to be universal human
emotions is biased, because so many behavioral studies have used undergraduate
college psychology students in psychology courses in Western universities as
their experimental subjects. In contrast with much of the world's population,
they are WEIRD - Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic.
There might well be genetic instructions
nudging the parts of our brains most important in social interactions,
instructions that incline us to universal behaviors such as forming dominance
and submission hierarchies, just as there are genetic instructions for where
vision, hearing, speech, and movement are centered in our brains. We just don't
know how much of our intuitive behavioral psychology might be hardwired and
So, the fifth and final point, our
intuitive psychology can lead us astray on what is innate and what is learned.
Some abilities are clearly innate
Newborn babies can distinguish and react
to face icons.
So the question is: how many of our basic
concepts and emotions are learned from experience, and how many are in fact innate?
This is a tricky question, because
experiments show that our reasoning about innateness is biased by built in
cognitive biases of the human mind.
In our intuitive psychology, concepts like
'object' and 'number' must be learned, but it has been demonstrated that in
fact newborns possess these core concepts. On the other
hand, people usually assume the expression and recognition of emotions is innate, while in fact it
is mostly learned. This is a major topic in the next section of this talk
So, I want to move on from this list of
assertions I've moved through with extreme brevity, all of which continue to be
subjects of debate, to the third chunk of today's talk.
Part III of talk:
We invent much of our emotional and
A steady accumulation of evidence is now
showing that that our emotions are not as built in as we had thought, present
straight out of the box when we are born, but they are put together from more
basic parts. They emerge as we create them from a combination of the physical
properties of our bodies and our flexible brains that wire themselves to fit
the physical and cultural environment we grow up in.
Building a new description of what our
brains are about starts with an evolutionary story.
From the time when animals first appeared,
they were competing for food, eating each other, getting increasingly
complicated organ systems to regulate sensing, acting, digesting, nervous
systems to run the whole show, regulate the body's energy budget.
Energy is used most efficiently, a key to
survival, if an animal can automatically predict and prepare to meet the body's
needs before they arise based on successful actions taken at other times in
similar circumstances, for example managing the body's response to stresses.
Humans and other animals store past experiences to prepare for future action.
This was the message of the first part of this talk.
Fast forward to complicated bodies like
ours, running hundreds of muscles in motion, balancing dozens
of different hormones, pumping two thousand gallons of blood per day,
regulating the energy of billions of brain cells, digesting food, excreting
waste, fighting illness. Your brain's most important job is not thinking, it
is running all this stuff. All of our mental thinking capacities are in the
service of keeping us well by managing our bodies so that we can pass on our
genes. Our very recent invention of human language and fretting about value,
purpose, and meaning is just a thin veneer in the service of this massive
background computation that keeps us alive to pass on our genes to the next
The origins of our emotions, our affect,
lie in this immense regulatory system always producing a storm of sense data
inside and outside our bodies as we move and act in the world. A newborn baby
faces a buzzing cacophony of information coming from inside and outside its
body. It randomly generates movements. It finds that some combinations of
sensing and then acting draw milk from a mother's breast. The baby's brain then
repeats and learns those, storing them in its library of things that work, its
library of predictions.
From the moment you and I were born, we
were creating a world from the inside out, as I was describing in the first
part of the talk, creating more and more sensing and action repertories that
work and help us make sense of the world.
Our feelings, our affect, are the tags we
put on things that work and things that don't work, and we describe and measure
them along two axes, valence and arousal.
Is it good or bad? That's the axis of
valence positive to negative, do I go for it or scram. How good or bad is it?
That's the axis of arousal. You can see from the figure, if you scroll around
the rim of the circle and read the descriptions, how this two axis formulations
lets us distinguish the variety of feelings we can have.
Affect is like a barometer telling us how
things are going, it's the basement level from which we invent more rapid
specific emotions for particular physical and social contexts. Infants
initially develop valence based emotions categories like feeling good or
feeling bad that gradually differentiate into categories of discrete emotions
such as anger and sadness. It is from this basic biological substrate
regulating our life functions that our emotions and thoughts about the world
So, how do we get from this relatively
simple description to our more advanced capabilities, forming concepts, using
language, distinguishing increasingly refined emotional states and labeling
them with words?
Our predictive brains are constantly
generating hypotheses and simulations of what we might be facing in the
future. We build concepts when the brain groups together some things and
separates others. Concepts are tools our brains use to guess the meaning of
incoming sensory inputs. Concepts give meaning to changes in sound pressure
against your eardrums so you hear them as words in a language or as music
instead of random frequency noise. Babies parse sounds streaming in to
gradually infer the boundaries between phonemes, syllables, and words. The
artificial intelligence algorithms that can perform such spectacular tasks are mimicking
this baby all babies have of detecting patterns in confusing input.
Experiments on monkeys and humans show that the brains quest to detect patterns
in the world can lead us to infer that a pattern exists in a completely random
The same process is used to make meaning
of the sensations from inside our bodies. Just like there are parts of the
brain that mainly specialize in vision, sound, touch, smell in the outside
world, there are parts that make sense of the insides of our body. Depending
on the context you are in, from an aching stomach your brain might construct an
instance of hunger, nausea, mistrust, anxiety, longing, i.e. an instance of an
emotion. In every waking moment, your brain uses simulations of past
experience, organized as concepts, to guide your actions and give your
sensations meaning. When the concepts involved are emotion concepts, your brain
constructs instances of emotion.
This model suggests that the emotions you
experience and perceive are not an inevitable consequence of your genes. What
your genes have insured is that your brain has wiring for making sense of
sensory input from the outside and inside of our bodies by forming concepts
like 'Anger' and 'Disgust.' These emotion categories do not necessarily have
a distinctive fingerprint, as I mentioned earlier, and are not genetically
predetermined. One instance of anger need not look or feel like another, nor
need it be caused by the same neurons. Your familiar emotion concepts are
built-in only because you grew up in a particular social context where those
emotion concepts were meaningful and useful, and your brain applies them
outside your awareness to construct your experiences. Heart rate changes are
inevitable; their emotional meaning is not.
If you talk to a chemist, reality is a molecule, an atom, a proton. To a physicist, reality is a quark or a Higgs boson. They are supposed to exist in the natural world whether or not humans are present - that is, they are thought to be perceiver-independent categories.
Evolution provides our minds
with the ability to create kind of real that is different from that of
molecules or atoms, which we take to be observer independent categories, it
allows us to create a reality that is completely dependent on human observers.
Just get a couple of people to agree that something is real and give it a name,
and they create reality. From wavelengths of light, we construct colors.
Looking at a rainbow, we see discrete stripes of color, although in nature a
rainbow is a continuous spectrum of light with wavelengths ranging from about
400 to 750 nanometers. We see stripes because we have mental concepts for Red, Orange, and Yellow,
grouping together certain ranges of the spectrum and categorizing them as the
Concepts of color are influenced by
culture and language. Russian has words for seven rather than six colors, blue
is divided into light blue and dark blue.
Emotions become real to us through two
human capabilities that are prerequisites for social reality. First, a group of
people must agree that a concept exists, such as Happiness, Flower,
or Cash. They are real in same sense that money is real - a product of human agreement. This
called collective intentionality. It is a foundation of every society. Second,
language has to be used to group mental concepts into categories. A hammer,
chainsaw, and ice pick can be grouped under the concept of 'Tools.' Or we can
use language to also group them under the category 'Murder Weapons.'
Many concepts are similar across cultures,
groups have to solve common problems, but some concepts are not. The !Kung
people of the Kalahari Desert do not have the emotion and concept of Fear.
So...Culture helps to wire individual
brains, which then become carriers of the culture, helping to create and
perpetuate it. An example of this would be the sophisticated navigation
techniques that were slowly learned and improved as they passed from generation
to generation over thousands of years in the South Pacific seas, allowing
humans to venture out further and further and colonize remote and distant
islands. Humans don't have culture because they are smart. They are smart
because they have culture.
There is debate over whether some concepts
are innate or learned, as I mentioned earlier, but it seems clear that we
learned most of them as our brains wired themselves to our physical and social
A new view is that there are at least three
universal aspects of the mind - affective realism, concepts, and social
reality. They are inevitable and universal, barring illness, based on the
anatomy and function of the brain.
Affective realism - is saying that you
experience what you believe, When a soldier in a war zone perceives a gun in
the hand of a kid playing with a stick of wood, when no gun is present, he is
actually seeing his prediction or expectation.
Concepts- Our brains chunk even the
smallest physical details into concepts, organizing fleeting bits of sound into
music or language, or light to objects in the world, body changes in certain
social situations into feelings and emotions. This chunking of our experiences
into concepts is what can lead us to assume they are essences, have a
particular genetic basis or place in the brain, when in fact no such things are
Social reality - you are born without
being able to survive or regulate your body budgeting by yourself. A part of
your brain is specialized to wire our brains to fit with the minds of others,
to fit with the social world that others have constructed. Feral children
raised by surrogate animal parents appear to remain locked in the more present
centered mental space of animals - a space that gives no flicker of
reflectivity. Being human requires the cultural context of human communication
through gesture and language that is kept alive, altered, and transmitted by
successive generations. We are tools of our tools.
We invent our own social reality, or the
one we want to live in, and as long as enough people sync with us to invent a
similar one we've got a thing going. We cherry pick which illusions we think to be true and think to be fake,
which religion we believe is the true way. For those of us who believe the 2020
election was stolen and Trump is the true president, that is the case.
When the orthodoxy of one religious or
political sect or tribe conflicts with that of another, the result is what we
are seeing in the news media every day.
Part 4 of talk
So...now, having traced a thread that has
taken us from basic mechanisms that regulate our bodies up through those that
regulate our social life, I want to take take a full stop, take a deep breath
for a moment...and now... I'll move on in the fourth and last section of this
talk to first give a brief description of what is going on in our brains during
what I've been been talking about. And then second, to consider how these insights
into what our brains are doing might prove useful to us.
The awesome library of predictions,
memories, concepts I've been talking about are stored and continually renewed,
refined, reshelved all the time. It never stops, even when we think we are
sitting with a blank mind doing nothing, not paying attention to anything. Neuroscientists
were a bit amazed when the first global measurement of brain activity showed
that our brains are just as active when they are supposedly doing nothing, as
they are when we are engaged and working hard on a specific task.
Our background and ongoing modeling,
predicting, and deciding machinery are managed by major networks in our brains
that can be depicted as in these graphics, the details aren't important to us
These networks have names like the default
mode system, the salience or attentional network, the executive control
network, and others. These networks regulate concepts, predictions, and are
constantly buzzing away, like the hubs in the international air travel network
These networks, particularly the control
network, are averaging out all the stories that are guessing, predicting, what
is going on and letting a winner of the competition emerge. The illusion that
is experienced as the correct one.
Deciding whether we see a B or a 13 here:
Or seeing a triangle or a square in the
centers of these figures
They are not there, of course...we are
hallucinating them, inventing them given cues from our brain stored from past
Our sense of having an 'I' or self is just
like seeing this illusory square or triangle, a similar hallucination, and one
that is essential and useful to us in constructing our selves and our
societies. But that's material for several further lectures, not today.
A piece of information on the brain that
might be most useful for you to take away today is that we have two large scale
brain networks mainly responsible for running our show.
Our attentional network shown on the right
is engaged when we are focused on a task in the present, problem solving, doing
just one thing
The other major network, called the
default mode network, on the left, is active when we are tuning out of a
present centered task, and rather ruminating, mind-wandering, thinking about
past or future.
There appears to be a master switch
between these two main brain systems located in a brain structure called the
insula, which apparently tweaks the brain around between various networks,
mixing and matching them.
The buzzing and the noise of constantly
predicting and recalling brains, the activities in our default mode brain
network are both a blessing and a curse.
Inappropriate predictions and models can
cause chaos for us personally and in the world. The vast background of predictive processing I've been
mentioning is really where it's all going on, where our strengths and
weaknesses reside, where our predictive processing frequently inappropriately
projects the past on to the present.
So, a next question is: how might our new
understanding brain networks and predictive processing be useful in our daily
I point out, as many others have, that
the description of how our minds work that I have been giving you, based on the
findings of modern neuroscience research, is consonant with insights derived
from meditation techniques developed over a thousand years ago in several
different Eastern religious lineages. They describe mind states that can
sequentially access the same layers of predictive processing in our brains that
are being visualized by modern brain imaging techniques.
So, I would like to take you through brief
descriptions of these mind states derived from meditation techniques and their
There is a general consensus that there
are three major or core meditation techniques... which this slide lists in order
of their accessibility and progression from beginning to more advanced. I'm
taking this description from the article by Kaukkonen et al. whose reference is
shown in the above slide.
These techniques form a continuum in which
each strategy can influence predictive processing to gradually break down
increasingly ingrained expectations. Each style can draw us closer and closer
to the here and now and away from more abstract deep processing of our memories
Focused meditation enhances present-moment
awareness of one source of sensory input such as the breath. It exercises the
attentional brain network I have mentioned. A typical instruction for focused
mindfulness meditation might be to pay attention to your breath, and when
attention inevitably wanders, gently return it
to the simple focus on breathing.
Brain imaging shows that during this
exercise when we are following the instructions to focus on one thing, the
attentional network of the brain predominates and the activity of the default
mode network, where mind wandering and self-referential processing detached
from the current environment is going on, are dialed down by the toggle switch
in the anterior insula I mentioned.
The more advanced technique of open
awareness meditation withdraws selective attention in favor of non-judgmental,
non-reactive, observational space in which thoughts and sensations appear and pass
Moving into this style of meditation
shifts brain activity to another network in which Anterior cingulate cortex,
posterior cingulate cortex and striatum are more active. This correlates with
an increase in the activity of the calming or parasympathetic part of our
autonomic nervous system in which our vagus nerve is central, a slowing of
heart rate and an increase in heart rate variability.
This progressively disables clinging to
expectations generated by predictive processing. Instead of being immersed in
thoughts or emotions a more open inclusive seeing presence emerges that
detaches from and observes them.
Within this open awareness, the transient
appearance of an emotion like anger can be seen, as if from a third person perspective,
as a process of angry-ing, different from being highjacked by the emotion and
immersed in experiencing yourself as an angry person. The open awareness of
seeing the angry-ing versus being an angry person offers the option of choosing
between those alternatives. Ditto with being able to distinguish being a
fearful or desiring person from observing yourself fear-ing or desire-ing.
A further deconstruction of predictive
processing occurs in the non-dual meditative process in which the observer
present in focused attention and open monitoring meditation, that can verbally
report on the meditation experience, that observer vanishes. Subject and
object disappear. Awareness means being aware that we are present without being something as such. While it seems like this must be a rarified state accessible
only to advanced meditators, there are a few simple exercises that can give
ordinary folks like ourselves a brief glimpse of what the experience is like.
This slide shows some summary bottom lines
for this fourth section of the talk:
Or, more briefly:
Which cooks down to a nugget of self-help
type advice that we all might be better served by paying more careful attention
in the here and now than we usually do.