The brain and the default mode network

When you are not focused on the outside world, when you are not engaged in a task, not paying attention or exerting mental effort, there is still activity going on in the brain. In a state like this neuroscientists have observed constant activity in the brain, which they have termed as ‘default mode network activity’. Surprisingly (or not), this activity has been linked to something known as self-referential processing, in scientific jargon. In lay terms, this activity is responsible for consolidating long term autobiographical (related to the self) memories, to calculating the position of the self in a social context, to ‘creating’ the self.
This activity has not yet been linked to any thought content due to limitations in research methods, but we can conclude when the brain is left idle, it directs all energy to strengthen the self.
I was fascinated when I first stumbled into this research area, and began connecting K’s teachings to this phenomenon. When the brain becomes aware of this relentless process, it transforms (or mutates, as K put it).
What do you think about this? Do any questions about this non-stop activity come to your mind? I would really like to conduct research into this area. Please share your insights :slight_smile:


We can all experiment with this - when idle, my thoughts usually go to past or future activities that I am involved in : what clever things I can say or do, or cringey stuff I should avoid doing. Imagining the best and worst me is very exciting.

Yes, it is exciting. Imagining all sorts of scenarios, sometimes even painful ones (might be just me though, and if not Why???). Probably, if we stop making scenarios, we will come face-to-face with loneliness (which we obviously do not like). But I think these are just words to me right now.

Initially, the importance of our imaginary world was its relation to what we call our real world ie. our day to day interactions with other people. eg. practising being cool in my imagination in order to look cool in the mirror.

There is fear in all this activity isn’t there? I think the key is awareness when ever possible to all activity taking place in the brain (day as well as night in dreams) no need to even call it “self reverential” or anything else. Similar to a sort of a constant ‘tremor’?

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Yes. When I learned about the default mode network what occurred to me was that psychedelics and certain activities temporarily bypass it, freeing the brain to communicate with other parts of itself, and changing its default mode from “non-stop activity” to quiet, empty, and alert openness.

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Ohh yes, never thought of it wrt psychedelics. Although K does often say that the mind projects it’s own illusions on stuff like psychedelics. I am somewhat torn about psychedelic effects. Either the brain does temporary enter a state of awareness, but when the experience is recollected by thought, it becomes corrupt, orrr psychedelics enhance/put on display a lot of unconscious processes otherwise hidden from us.
I used to be deeply interested in psychedelics, but after coming in contact with the teachings, that interest waned off.

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More than psychedelics, an intense experience where one must be completely attentive to what’s happening demonstrates how partially present we are due to our conditioning.

Years ago, at a K gathering in Switzerland, a race car driver told me that when he was driving at high speeds in a race, he was so completely attentive to what he was doing that he had to do it repeatedly to feel alive.

At that same gathering, another man described an automobile collision in which, prior to impact, time slowed down, enabling him to position himself for the impact, perhaps saving his life or preventing worse injury than he sustained.

Both of these incidents suggest that the brain can do what it must to stay alive when there’s no room, no time, for “me”.