Re: virus: A kitten

Eric Boyd (
Tue, 04 Jun 1996 00:15:33 -0500

Hello All;

First: a warning. This is the longest email message I have ever

Due to an overwelming response in the "I don't understand" sense, I'm
going to see if I can't spell out exactly what I meant with my kitten
story and why "the forth way" with it's emphasis on self consciousness
is really a different path to the same end that Zen leads too. Big
objectives, now here "I" go...

First, "the forth way". I have a book of that title by P.D. Ouspensky,
and in it is given some transcribed leactures, by Mr. Ouspensky himself.
The very first thing he says in the book is that words are bunk. Then,
of course, he goes on to use them... Anyway, he talkes alot about "self
consciousness" and how it is the path to enlightment. He says you must
try to maintain your consciousness, no matter how difficult. Observe
yourself. In his words "Wow! Here I am!" He then talkes about "false
self" and "multiple I's". And then finally the truth is revealed. The
reason, he says, that we have so much difficulty maintaining
consciousness, why we have so many "selves" (one for every situation) is
that there /really is no self/ as we are now. The self is just a
product of the world surrounding you. This is where the Zen stops.
This is where my knowledge of the "rightness" of what he says stops as
well. [1]

This is what I mean when I say that self consciousness is a key to
dissolving self identity. The longer you look for yourself, and the
harder you try, the more obvious it becomes that in fact "you" is simply
an illusion. There does not exists any being "Eric Boyd", although my
physical body is /of/ the world. My name depends on my identity, and
that depends on /the self/ which is an illusion. Call my name and I
will turn, however, because the illusion is grounded so deeply in my
subconscious that "I" cannot remove it...

Now, some relpies

Alan Ferguson wrote:
> I have made several attempts to reply to this message. It seems to
> have some meaning to it but the more I try to pry the meaning out, the
> more it eludes me. You may have intended this as a Zen Koin. If so
> forgive my unenlightenment.

Wish it had been so, but no. It was an honest attempt to say something,
although I sure now I did not get it across.

> 1) the kitten is unaware of self.
> 2) "self" is an illusion.
> therefore: kitten is achieved enlightenment.

Ummm, sort of. I'm going to link this back to the forth way, but first:

Robin Faichney wrote:
> Surely what corresponds best to the image of the kitten
> chasing its own tail is the *unenlightened* state. Sure, it's
> innocent, but it's also ignorant. It doesn't realise that what
> it's chasing is actually part of itself, and so goes frantic
> trying to "capture" it. Immediately on realizing that there
> is no such duality, that it already "has" what it's chasing,
> because it *is* what it's chasing, then it could chill out,
> kick back and enjoy the show.

You are right, Robin. I would say that the enlightned state actually
comes at that realization (question: did the kitten make that
realization when it stopped chasing it's tail?) Anyway; here is the
example in full:

The kitten chasing it's tail represents the Zen disciple (Zen trainee?)
attempting to acheive enlightment. He goes round and round in circles,
thinking forever "If I can only eliminate desire I will have won..." all
the while desiring enlightment. Enlightment will only come when the Zen
trainee realizes the /futility/ of his own actions; when he understands
that ultimatly it is an illusion that /one/ can /have/ anything. [2]
Similarly, the cat will only acheive enlightment when he realizes that
what she chases after is nothing but herself, something that she already
possesses. Not if I could just act in accordance with how I speak, all
would be great.

Alan also said:
> 1) The kitten is unaware that its tail is part of itself.
> 2) you and your sister believe the tail is part of the kitten, and
> it will move when the kitten moves.
> 3) the kitten is unable to catch its tail.
> therefore some of the kitten's self awareness concepts (memes) flawed.

No... me and my sister recgonize that the cats actions /are/ entirely
futile. In a sense, you could say that we are /enlightened/ about the
cat's situation. If only we had tails!

> > Self awarness is a kind of an illusion.
> We agree on this point. By saying this, your self awarness memes are more
> developed and are more useful than someone that does not say this. Your
> self awarness memes are so much beyond the kittens, in richness and subtly
> that comparisons are difficult. Why you would ever want to emulate the
> kittens mode of self awareness is beyond me.

It doesn't matter anyway... I am a cat [3]. And a dog and a sheep and

> > "Become aware of the "illusion" of self and you can abolish it."
> Err.. who is doing the abolishing? :)

This is the problem about talking about these things. Damn language
assumes too much.

As Prof Tim said:
> "So many words are spent in pursuit of silence."

Alan again:
> Think of a hologram. The image it forms is a kind of an illusion. Knowing
> that the object the hologram depicts, does not exist in physical space,
> does not cause the illusion to go away. It does mean however, that you
> are capable of seeing the hologram on two levels. You perceive the
> hologram just the way you always have. You can also perceive that the
> object viewed is caused by a trick of physics and light.
> The physics of how holograms form images is known. It is my belief that
> the mechanisms that the brain uses to form the image of the "self" will
> also be known. For now, it is worth considering just how useful having
> an image of "self" is to an organism's survival.

Damn useful, I'd say. That's why it's "hard-wired" (yes, I'm saying
that the illusion of self is actually in our gene's, not our meme's.
But you can't sue me because I don't really exist! ha!)

Compare your holograms to this painting:

In front of a window, viewed from inside a room, I placed a
painting which depicts precisely that section of the landscape
obstructed by the painting: that is, the tree of the painting
concealed the tree located behind it outside the room. In the mind
of the viewer, the tree exists both within the room, i.e., in the
painting, as well as outside in the real landscape . And that is how
we see the world: we see it as something located outside of us
despite the fact that what we see is only a mental representation
of that which we experience within us. - Rene Magritte

Neat, eh?

Before I end this honkin' message, I'm going to talk some more about
different ways to dissovle the subject/object duality. Really, this
ties right in with the quotation above.

Because of the way we precieve objects, it is clear that ultimatly
objects are subjective. Think back a little to when John said:

> Consider human eyesight: between individuals, there are differences. I have
> a friend with partial color-blindness. I have another who wears radically
> thick glasses. I, myself, wear glasses. Now, dogs & cats have a wider
> peripheral vision, narrower field of focus, and are (theoretically)
> color-blind. Bugs see things radically differently than humans.
> Which is the One True Sight?
> Take it further, to disciplines: An artist will look at a flower
> differently than a botinist will. Both are interested in form, but motive
> for looking will be different, and details in the flower may be glossed
> over by one, and given utmost importance by another.
> Which one has the True Perception?

All objects are ultimatly precieved /subjectivly/ and thus are not
really "pure" objects. The subject affects them. Personification is,
of course, the same kind of thing. Ascribing human attributes to "mere"
objects is equating object and subject.
In a similar vain, self consciousness can be seen as the "objective"
view of subjects. Saying "This is me" is ultimatly equating yourself
(the subject) with an object (your body) and so all subjects (or at
least the most important one: you) are objects. It could not be

Objects are subjects. Subjects are objects. Where then is the duality?

Food for thought, eh?

[1] For those interested, the book then goes on to say /how/ you can
develop a self (unifying all of the "part" selves, dissovling /false
emotion/, removing mechanicalness, etc.) He then says that once we have
"true self" we will have enabled all of the higher functions... higher
emotional state, higher intellectual state... blah blah blah.

[2] I think that this realization would not go over well here in the
capitalistic countries. After all, the consumer society is all about
ownership and "rights". I don't think the absolution of property will
ever come about here... but intellectual property rights... well... I
don't beleive in them, how about you?

[3] Funny how this entire sentence falls apart when you start removing
the words that are misleading... first the "I" goes... then the "am" (a
form of "is", right?) goes... then the cat (an object) goes... and we
are left with a meaningless sentence.