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Friday, February 15, 2013
Personal Reflections ... Science ... Society ...

My last blog entry discussed how important information clearly is. But as to it’s being the core of reality, the most fundamental thing about our universe . . . I myself don’t think that’s right.

Think again about my busy day off (discussed in the previous blog entry), and all the ups and downs that I had based on what information I had and did not have. The reality is that plenty of other information came my way in this time, but did not make much of a difference to me. I listened to the news on the radio, saw various cars and trucks on Route 46, saw the cloudy sky and felt the moderately cold air. Some people were speaking Spanish in K-Mart. Lots of information, but not particularly relevant to me. Despite all the science, it still comes down to the fact that some information means something, and other information doesn’t, relative to the user. Some information “informs”, other info does not. At the heart of the information is the word “form”. Information is abstract and intangible; form happens when things becomes real.

And what does “real” mean? Just what is real? I tried to get in touch with the answer to that question in the morning, sitting in a zendo with fellow Zen students. In silence, in low-information states, we quietly ask, just what is real? What is the ultimate form to reality? And the great Zen-masters reply: what’s real is you. And me. It’s incredibly simple, right under our noses. And yet, very difficult to grasp. What is ultimately relevant is what information is meaningful to you — no, that is too simple, not the whole story. Just as Prof. Giulio Tononi says that a mere information flow from one sensor to one responding device is NOT a sign of consciousness, a flow of information from the world to one person is not that relevant, however important to that one person. The thing that gives it “Zen form” is relationship, interconnection.

Tononi would say that high levels of interconnection between information flows allowing the device on the receiving end to consider the entire picture is a sign of conscious form. (Someone made the point that if Tononi’s equations are correct, then the United States and the world overall certainly are conscious). But the truer form, the thing that Zen masters are interested in, is the interconnection of relevant information from one person to other persons.

What is important to me is important, no doubt; but what is important to the people around me must also become important to me, if I am to reach “Zen consciousness”, if I am to appreciate the truer level of “form” in the universe. Yes, for whom the bell tolls. And I must try to share as much information that is relevant to me with others (which is part of the mission of this blog). The more we all “cross-fertilize” our information flows and appreciate each other’s insights, the more chance we all have of “attaining Buddhahood”. Actually, I get tired of all such “Buddha talk”, as it does get kind of dippy. But dippy or not, we need to see the big picture, the social body, in order to find the best way of living our individual lives. That’s information in it’s truest form, in it’s “realist” nature.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:30 pm      

  1. Jim, I can see your point and I don’t really disagree with it, but . . . I have some points I’d like to bring to your attention. Perhaps you addressed some of these issues in a way that means the same thing as I’m about to say, but I do not recognize that sameness because your expression does not resonate with me. I’m willing to acknowledge that.

    First, I’m not sure how important all the information available is to each and every one of us all the time. Some information is important to some people some of the time; other information has no importance at all to the same people all of the time. For instance: I remember back some years before the Internet (Gasp!) I went to a Barnes & Noble store. I saw all the books that interested me, which turned out to be most of them. I found myself realizing then that so many books were being published I simply could not read everything that caught my interest. I would have to rate the interest of the various things that were of interest to me and choose what to read from there. Otherwise, I would have bought one of most of the books of the store; and they would have all ended up on the BTR (books to be read) pile. Since that time, information has exploded ten thousand fold or more with the Internet, smart phones, Facebook, twitter, etc. I can’t even think of everything that’s available nowadays to obtain information. I question how important all this information is to everyone all the time. For myself, I’ve long ago decided to be very “picky” in what I choose to give my attention to, what I simply give short attention to, and what I simply don’t pay any attention to. I admit what I end up paying close attention to is quite a miniscule amount of information available.

    As to the meaning of “real”: To me, I have difficulty with the word “real”. It seems to me that what is “real” for one person is not necessarily “real” for another. It’s more a matter of what the person *believes* is “real”. Otherwise, how is it the placebo effect works so well so often. And here I include “placebo effect” to include a broad range of things people believe. What the person *believes*, for that particular person, is what is “real”. It seems to me that this “belief” in what is “real” works over a broad spectrum of peoples’ lives – and here I do not exclude myself; in fact, I include myself most particularly. This is a piece of “information” that intrigues me greatly. Many questions arise from this point. I will not ask them as they are not the point I’m trying to make here.

    I also am not sure if one can limit “consciousness” to “flow of information” among people. (You state it slightly different; I’m condensing things here.) Perhaps my hesitation here is that it seems you are limiting “consciousness” to more concrete types of information and not including the intangible and intuitive, to say nothing of the sub- and unconscious information that is available to us all.

    I can’t help but admire your point about “attaining Buddhahood”. But then I wonder about those who do not want to attain “Buddhahood” but have another form of some type of belief that infuses their awareness and being. A broad belief in “something” is important for each and every one; yet I tend to think that it differs (however slightly among even those who think they believe the same) for each and every one.

    Continuing, I wonder: When that point is reach which might well be called the spiritual, have we come beyond what may be called “information”? I think my answer to that would be a definite “yes”. I’d say the word “information” is too small to contain the spiritual. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — February 16, 2013 @ 11:01 am

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