Is Happiness the sole motivator of consciousness?

A Leading Memory Researcher Explains How to Make Precious Moments Last

I don’t know that the person interviewed really explains anything meaningful about happiness, but the article has some interesting things to say about memory which are worth highlighting (and which may be relevant also to the ‘images in relationship’ topic):

“Rather than being photo-accurate repositories of past experience, our memories function more like active interpreters, working to help us navigate the present and future. The implication is that who we are, and the memories we draw on to determine that, are far less fixed than you might think… we don’t replay the past as it happened; we do it through a lens of interpretation and imagination.”

“There is this illusion that we know exactly what’s going to happen, but the fact is we don’t. Memory can overdo it: Somebody lied to us once, so they are a liar; somebody shoplifted once, they are a thief. If people have a vivid memory of something that sticks out, that will overshadow all their knowledge about the way things work. So there’s kind of an illusion there.”

“We’re capable of remembering things in extraordinary detail, but we infuse meaning into what we remember. We’re designed to extract meaning from the past, and that meaning should have truth in it. But it also has knowledge and imagination…”

I can appreciate the beauty and freedom of a beginner’s mind from afar but it is not my reality. Memory-based fulfillment seeking is my actual reality. I can even have an image of a beginner’s mind, a real genuine feel for what it entails, put that on a “pedestal” and pursue that - only to be confronted with fragmentation, division, conflict, disappointment, frustration and all that stuff we are all so familiar with.

It doesn’t seem to me to be a matter of seriousness. Seriousness is born of will and of memory. Action based on an idea. Again that is not a mind that has cast off past learning. We know all this. We know what a beginner’s mind, what a mind that sees everything afresh should be. But the doing is not the knowing. We even know that.

I keep returning to the question of what is an insight that is not an intellectual understanding. An action that does not originate from the past, from an image, from memory. An understanding that is not intellectual. An understanding in the present , that has no relationship to any past occurrence or memory - it is all so confusing. What could possibly prompt such an activity?

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Perhaps I ought to have instead entitled the thread ‘An ender’s mind’, to bring out the necessity for having a fresh perception of things! No one will put having an ender’s mind on a pedestal! :sweat_smile:

I think in essence what you say is accurate. We are really asking ourselves what is involved in having an insight which is not based on memory or the past, which isn’t the expression or projection of our knowledge. As you say:

Yet that is what interests me. Even as I realize I must be wary of that interest. Tremendous energy is required to be still. To do nothing. To not interfere. To not create the non-interferer. There is great momentum at play. It’s like trying to stop a runaway train. Consciousness.

Yet not to resist. Not to suppress. To end interest is to begin anew.

Yes, this is the question.

Drugs? Asceticism? Having a near death experience? Climbing up a mountain or scuba diving or hang gliding (over water to be on the safe side!)? Swimming with dolphins? Travelling to somewhere exotic, evocative?

There are probably dozens of similar activities which can bring the mind into a space of fresh perception. But all of these are external, coming from outside, and depend on external sources of stimulus.

Are there internal sources of activity which an ordinary human being has access to - apart from memory and imagination (which are undoubtedly rich sources of creativity themselves) - which can bring about a new perception of things?

(I replied without seeing what you had to say about being still, doing nothing, consciousness - which may all be relevant pointers to this internal activity).

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My feeling is that the brain does for itself what it must when it is as aware of its conditioning as it is of everything else it is aware of.

We are so accustomed to our conditioned response/reaction that we’re barely, if at all, aware of it. We’re so accustomed to being who we think we are in a world we think we know, that we’re inattentive to our constructing and maintaining this identity and world.

It seems to me that if the conditioned brain awakened to what it is actually doing constantly, the shock would be the end of it.

Yes, it seems to me what is needed is a direct understanding of the ongoing way we enhance reality through memory. An immediate perception of consciousness as it streams. A way of looking from outside of our self-created present, not from within it. Which means not being identified with anything. Curtailing all interest, all understanding, all ideas of what I think needs to be done, or what I think is there. In other words, no observer, no invested party, only observing, looking without predisposition.

Perhaps, that is a state of mind that can be experimented with, approached obliquely? For a few moments at at time at the beginning. Perhaps longer as that muscle strengthens. If for no other reason, just for the fun of it? Because it is a fascinating problem.

K once said you first must understand what meditation is before you can possibly begin to meditate. Common sense, really.

I think this is all I mean by the phrase ‘beginner’s mind’: one could also call it having an experimental mind, an open mind, a curious mind, a creative mind, a sensitive mind, a mind that is momentarily astonished, rapt, in a state of wonder… If one has ever been creative, artistic, musical or compassionate, one has had a glimpse of what we are talking about - a beginner’s mind is this glimpse.

So really we are asking: What is a creative mind?

Krishnamurti: One can see very clearly in one’s daily life how contradictory, how confused it is; one’s life as it is lived now, is absolutely meaningless. One may invent a meaning; the intellectuals do invent a meaning and people follow that meaning - which may be a very clever philosophy, but is produced out of nothing. Whereas if one is only concerned with ‘what is’, without inventing some significance, or escape, or indulging in theories or ideologies, if one is tremendously aware, then one’s mind is capable of facing ‘what is’. Theories and beliefs do not change one’s life - man has had them for thousands of years and he has not changed; they have, perhaps, given him a superficial polish; he is, perhaps, less savage, but he is still brutal, violent, capricious, incapable of sustaining seriousness. We live a life of great sorrow from the moment we are born till we die. That is a fact. No amount of speculative theories about that fact will affect it. What does affect ‘what is’ is the capacity, the energy, the intensity, the passion with which one looks at that fact. And one cannot have passion and intensity, if one’s mind is running after some delusion, some speculative ideology.

Beyond Violence| Santa Monica, California | 3rd Public Talk, 7th March 1970

Which implies, for me, looking at the fact with a beginner’s mind… By which I mean a nondogmatic mind, a free-ish mind, a mind that isn’t dulled to looking at ‘what is’ because one has heard about it or read about it before, etc. A fresh or creative or new looking at the facts of oneself…

What is ‘what is’, by the way?

By ‘what is’ are we meaning the psychological facts of day to day life?

Because sometimes people seem to mean nature, or non-psychological phenomena. Because nature ‘is’.

I found it interesting that he used the word “fact” in reference to “what is”. I take it to mean the fact of thought. The fact is we are sorrowful. Our lives are ‘meaningless’, non-creative, unoriginal. In that sense.

Thought, for me - just as we’re talking about it now - is a little bit of a nebulous thing. It only becomes concrete in my understanding when it takes on psychological weight (like a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger) and becomes an actual reaction or emotion, something ‘real’…

What do you feel?

Yes, something like this.

Yes I agree. I was looking yesterday at my thoughts and found myself trying to find the emotional source of them, by the time the thought appears it is almost too late.

The ‘what is’ is also changing from second to second, minute to minute. One moment ‘what is’ could be boredom, or frustration, or a reaction in relationship; and another moment ‘what is’ could be a moment of joy or contentment.

So one needs to be able to move with life as it is happening in order to catch it? Like catching a wave… :ocean:. If one is just a few seconds late then the wave has gone, and another wave is already taking its place.

So one’s mind has to be awake to catch the new wave of ‘what is’?

Or is ‘what is’ the areas of our psychology, of our thinking and feeling, which have solidified, taken on weight, and so are there despite the transient changes of manifestation at the surface?

So the waves come and go, but the iceberg :ice_cube: which has formed beneath the waves has a kind of provisional psychological permanence?

That is a good way to put it. I can sense that underlying presence … fleetingly. Catching the wave of what is on the surface is somewhat more accessible though the energy to sustain even that is lacking.

That brings us back to the kind of discontent - is precursor the right word? - for a receptive mind? For example, there are times when I am not fully immersed in the pulls and tugs of my day to day troubles that the transiency of everything is emotionally striking. That second or two of intense emotion feels very real, directly in touch with life, in comparison to my usual state of mind.

We were speaking before that different people have different questions. Any right question would have the same stilling, energising effect on the mind, or so you would think.

Yes. Probably the way this discontent manifests is slightly different for everyone; or rather the way this discontent manifests can change from moment to moment.

The transience of life is one form, the stark awareness of simply existing without any apparent purpose is another form, or it may be an eruption - as though from nowhere - of some feeling or quality of experience that one has been avoiding, which is latent in the background of one’s consciousness (such as anxiety, angst, sorrow, loneliness, cosmic boredom or ennui, etc).

But, more positively, it might also be an upsurge of wonderment, coming upon a moment of spectacular beauty or unexpected joy; or a moment of nature mysticism in which one feels that everything is part of one, unitary whole.

Probably this accounts for why

Wouldn’t you say?

The important thing, as you say, is that we come directly into contact with life, with our actual life, with the authentic feeling and emotional quality that this has.

One should consider the possibility that there is a genetic factor to this.

Over on the ‘Beginner’s mind’ thread we have been touching on this. I wonder if the reason we do not sustain an awareness of the various “waves” in everyday life, is that we habitually disvalue ordinary everyday awareness?

We discount ordinary awareness partly though habit, through inertia, and partly because of a background fear that our awareness might expose some pandora’s box of terrors.

So perhaps this is why Krishnamurti emphasised the importance of freedom at the beginning: the freedom simply to look at anything, the freedom that is synonymous with taking an interest in anything’s, or being aware of anything. To be aware of something there must be at least a degree of fearlessness, there must be a particle of freedom from fear - otherwise one will retreat into oneself, become unaware. Even here, one can become curious about one’s psychological experience of retreating, withdrawing, becoming inattentive through fear.

So I think that perhaps it is a mistake to wait for the iceberg (of consciousness) to show itself fully, which is to wait for the spectacular or shocking. We can be interested in ordinary mundane experience, which implies having some freedom to look, to be aware, of what is going on around us and within us this second, in the ordinary everyday circumstances of life. I’m not sure it needs to be more complicated or occult than this.