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In the morning I was trimming Velmu's hooves. Weather was warm and soon I was sweating a lot. After three legs I had to crouch down for a moment of rest. Velmu took his head very gently next to mine. I closed my eyes and just felt the moment; A thunderstrom rumbeld somewhere in the far distance, and inside my nose I could feel the warm and soft breath of my horse, as his nostrils were almost touching mine. After we were done with the trimming we heard more of the thunder, it sounded like it was going farther away. But that made me think about a particular midsummer of my teenage years.

Together with my younger brother we were spending a summer at our grandmother's place. She had a cozy little house next to a small, peaceful lake. It was raining, and I was with my brother in a small cabin near the house. We were playing a pen and paper role playing game, with self-made rules. While playing we heard a thunderstorm coming nearer and nearer. Suddenly there was a thunderbolt striking somewhere pretty near. We went outdoors to see where it had struck. A smell of ozone filled the air, but other than that we couldn't see anything special. And then, suddenly, everything just went black.

I felt I was floating in the air outside my body. Everything was in a slow motion, I couldn't feel nor sense anything. In a disinterested manner I saw my body from a point about two metres up and behind, and my body was running forward. I thought that I can hear an insanse screaming. Then I figured out that it is my body which is screaming. I saw my body running towards the lake, but I couldn't do anything about it, I was just watching everything from outside. And that way my body ended up being completely under water, at which point I thought; "Now I'd really better stop that screaming, otherwise I'll get water in my lungs." I felt like I was sucked back inside my body and I regained control of my bodily functions. So I stopped screaming, stood up and catched a deep breath of fresh air. My younger brother was running after me, nearly panicked. "It is all right. Let's go indoors" I said, and we went to the grandmother's house. Our cousins came also there, running. They had been in an another cabin, and told that a thunderbolt struck the cabin, shattering all the lightbulbs. After the storm passed we examined the damages. At grandmother's house TV and some other electrical equipment were broken. In our cabin everything was fine, and in the other cabin we could find a nice clean hole drilled through the wall made of logs. (Later on they opened the TV set, and found out that some parts inside it were turned into dust.) So, I was lucky that my brain didn't burn to dust =)

I haven't been reading that much about theories of consciousness, but I guess that some people are arguing that this kind of out-of-the-body experiences are a proof that human consciousness can exists independent of the brain. And then the majority of scientists say that it is still all in the brain, and in a distorted state the brain just develops a distant projection of the situation. Just like we can see dreams about being able to fly - our brain has capacity to imagine how it would feel and how the world would look from a perspective of a bird.

Well, let's try to think about it. To simplify; In our christian western tradition we tend to think that human soul is something non-material, invisible, and maybe not bound by all the laws of physics. Namely, it might be tempting to think that matter is just a complicated piece of machinery, mechanically ticking forward driven by laws of physics - whereas human soul has a free will, and therefore can not be completely determined by mechanical movements of atoms and electrons. So then there remains the question that where does the mechanical functions of brain stop and where does the free consciounsess begin, and how are these two different layers related. As anyhow our consciousness is in constant interaction with our bodily functions. Usually we can control our body, and what happens to our body also affects our consciousness. Clearly, when drinking a lot of booze the state of consciousness gets altered. I guess that pretty much rules out the possibilityt that consciousness could be a completely different element of reality. Of course it still might be that in addition to atoms and electrons and all those other tiny particles there are still some other levels of reality not yet discovered by empirical science. But still, I feel that in the end it would be the same; if there were such an undiscovered layer of reality it would be still just nothing but a part of the natural universe and out there to be examined by methods of science. So, I'm not very fond of any kind of dualistic world view. I feel and think that body and soul, mind and matter are essentially just different aspects of one and the same reality.

Then what happens with the freedom of will? If human consiousness is ultimately made up by pieces of nature, and all the nature is operated by pre-determined laws, then there is no room for personal freedom? Let's have a far more simple example. I roll an ordinary dice, and get a random number from one to six. But is it really a random number? If we knew all the exact variables; the momentum of the dice when it leaves my hand, the qualities of the surface where the dice is going to land and all that, then finally we could mathematically calculate the movements of the dice, and accurately predict where and which side up it is going to land. Theoretically speaking, yes. Only that it would be impossible to measure all the variables needed, and since the dice is going to bounce two or three times, the calculations become so complicated that a variation of 0.000001 units in the initial values might change the whole outcome. So, in daily life it is safe to assume that rolling a dice gives us a random number. Now human brain has millions and millions of neural connections, and all those connections are not just rolling a dice; they are processing and evaluating and storing information. The whole process of processing information becomes so complicated that in daily life it is perfectly okay to assume that people can judge, evaluate, and make decisions and be responsible of the choices they have made.

Then what about life after death? Are we going to get re-incarnated, or taken to a heaven or a hell? Personally; I don't care. I feel that I'll just live and love this life as good as I can. And when I finally die, it will be just an another page in the adventures in the unknown. Either the end, or then a passage to something another; but that doesn't affect so much the way I'm living in the moment. But that is just me - I know people have different beliefs, and that's fine with me, I'm not going to preach my beliefs to others. But, in the philosophical level, I like to think that we can have solid morals, ethics and peace of mind even without any strong beliefs about life after death.

But isn't it a somewhat depressing view to think that our consciousness is nothing but complicated processing of information in the brain? I don't think so. Actually, it makes me think that what all different kinds of information there is in this wonderful universe. For example, let's think about old-school vinyl LP's. Suppose I take two vinyls to a chemistry laboratory. One has Doors in it, and the other has Finnish punk rock. But they analyze both of them at the laboratory, saying: "Both of these contain just same molecyles, there is no difference between these two samples you brought us." Well, but the difference is not in the subtances they are made of; the difference is just in the structure of the vinyl. A set of record player, amplifier and loudspeakers can transform the physical structure of the vinyl to audible sound waves. Thus I can listen to different melodies and rhytms, conveying different moods and thoughts. There is no need to assume that a vinyl LP must have an extra layer of reality to contain the music, nor there isn't a tiny band trapped inside the amplifier playing the music. It is all just vinyl, electricity and air, with different structures, patterns and movements - which our mind is able to understand as music and words with meanings.

As I tend to think that consciounsess might not be a new layer of reality, I'm actually going the other way. I'm beginning to wonder if our consciousness is not only rooted in our brain - it might well be that the rest of the body is involved too. Think, for example, about our immunology system and digestion. Both of those systems are able to learn new things, to develop new solutions, to process and store information, and also to exchange that information with the rest of the body. There are some scientific studies suggesting that even the bacterial fauna inside our guts is affecting our emotional state.

And now we get back to the moment where I feel Velmu's breath in my nose. With my eyes closed I have no visual data about the body language of the horse. And my human nose is not able to distinguish if the horse breath is smelling like fear or anger (but it might still be that my body is able to read and interpret information from pheromones, only that they don't have an odour I could recognize on the level of my consciouss mind). So, anyhow, there I am and somehow I feel that it is safe and comforting to be there. I sense the gentle and friendly attitude of my horse, and to me it feels that the horse senses my peaceful mood. But I really don't know how our moods are transmitted between us. Once again, the scientific explanation might be anything from pheromones to electro-magentical fields. Yet it doesn't make a big difference in our every day life. There just is this phenomenon of being able to sense the mood of other living beings, surrounding them like a halo. Sometimes it is easier to sense it, sometimes not so. And maybe it also is a skill that can be practiced.

a moment of rest
a moment of rest
465 users have voted.


Very intellectual :) it's not common to see emotion and intellect combined so well.

Yesterday I heard this: If life was like a sailing boat then emotion is the sail and intellect is the rudder. Without a rudder you can't steer the boat, but are just drifting with the wind. And without a sail you lose your momentum. So both are needed =)

Dice-roll is a "pseudorandom" macroscopic event. Probabilistic element just measures our ignorance. If the current quantum mechanics is correct (there are no "hidden variables" to be discovered), there are genuinely random microscopic events.

In my mind this seemingly simple question of dice-roll and randomness is connected to a whole bunch of bigger philosophical questions;

1. What is (or should be) the relations between empirical science, our metaphysical views, our (self)conception of humanity and our moral beliefs?

2. Is there genuine randomness or genuine free will? Is the universe just a big machine, or how is conscious deliberation related to the movement of material particles?

3. What is the method of empirical science? Is empirical science capable of verifying or falsifying all of our metaphysical views?

Well, I think we will get back to these in blog entries to come =)

Hi Erkka, on the urw-forum you conclude you must be agnostic.. But that might be just a step away from gnostic instead of the opposite. Because, what is the thing that experiences, what is the I that 'knows' things to be true or false, or judges them? It seemed to me you succesfully used 'logic' [which is what? What are it's 'rules' based on?] to falsify the omnipotence of the brain [or it's constructs] but still choose to use the quite nihilistic label of a-gnosticism for your state of understaning [or 'gnosis' quite paradoxally ;)], not being able to know things.. or that this ability would even matter anyhow. Which seems to contradict your obvious motivation of knowing / understanding things better, or the idea that you could make any progress this way.. Gnosticism at it's core is about the liberation from the 'laws' of nature. Which is quite relevant in the human evolution nowadays where our mainstream education/newsfeed is mostly aimed at keeping us in the dark and 'law'-abiding. Because if you can break them, they're not laws but agreements [at best], natural 'laws' are related to [human] consciousness, not the other way around, even the scientific method [if applied honestly] points quite clearly to this idea.

Yup, "agnostic" is a tricky word, and I have a feeling that it would take a long and detailed text to express in more detail that what I meant, or what I think about knowing / not-knowing.

In some other posts I have talked about "rortyan attitude of irony", which is another way or referring to something like "yes I seek to improve my understanding of the world, but at the same time I'm aware and willing to accept that my understandin will never be absolute but always fallible and partial."

Hehe, but I'll try to post a fresh blog entry in more detail =) Not to convince anyone to adopt my views, but just trying to clarify the way I think, in case we people are interested in trying to understand the way other see this world =) Ah, and thanks for your comment, I find it clearly said, a fresh honest description of some of your views on gnosis!


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