A Very Zennie Ad Slogan: “You’re Here. The Hard Part is Over.”

Saw an ad slogan this morning that said, “You’re here. The hard part is over,” and thought, “Wow, that strikes me as very Zen!” What I was thinking of is what zennies (Zen hippies) call “spontaneous Buddha mind.” The groovy qualia of directly experiencing, say, red paint on a wooden fence, is effortless; it just happens. And shifting again your attention, perhaps you next notice a sunflower overhanging that fence. Again, effortless; it just happens. One experience of qualia follows another. Spontaneous Buddha mind.

What you don’t see is the unstable, dynamic, mutually interdependent time and space that went into having that experience in the first place: the neurons sending chemical and electrical signals across your brain; the blood cells supporting your neurons; the dancing atoms supporting your blood cells; the energy from the sun that went into making the tree that became a fence; the dying star, long ago and trillions of miles away, that exploded and expelled the carbon that makes life possible on Earth; the billions of years of evolution that led to a sunflower and you at this moment, together; your act of awareness collapsing (or splitting into two universes?!) the quantum wave function. “You’re here. The hard part is over.” Are you missing it? What are you seeing in this moment? Carpe diem. Momento mori. Carpe momento. Be here now. Spontaneous Buddha mind.

Here’s William Carlos Williams:

so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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11 Responses to A Very Zennie Ad Slogan: “You’re Here. The Hard Part is Over.”

  1. Lawrence Hammes says:

    Read, “Testament”, by Jean Meslier.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      I will, thanks for the book recommendation? Buddhist in theme?

      • Lawrence Hammes says:

        Book is by a Catholic priest that lived 1664-1739, just translated and published in 2009. The book was published after his death at his request. He talks of atoms. By the way the book is published by Prometheus Books. To me this is a religious shattering book.

      • Alan says:

        Jean Meslier may be entertaining reading, but contains the same atheist rambling one gets from Jerry Coyne, albeit three centuries earlier. He is mainly focused on the argument from evil, having witnessed so much from the French crown and the Catholic Church, and rejects free will.
        What is the point in taking seriously someone who rejects free will, anyone who claims that men have not the capacity to form an idea? Why listen to anyone for other than entertainment who believes himself a drone? Why look for reason from one who proclaims themselves incapable of reason?

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Book sounds worth having. And determinism may be the way the world is, Alan. Railing against reality doesn’t change reality. What’s your alternative to determinism? A spook in a bottle?

      • Alan says:

        It does look like a good book if you are interested in that period of history, the French Revolution or the Enlightenment. Meslier was heavily engaging his free will whether he recognizes it or no.
        Bottled or Free Range, do what you will with your spooks. Free Will requires only a brain and a kiss of Darwinian evolution. Free will deniers, to include Meslier, are simply misreading the evidence. Absent a free-will architecture of our brains, birds would not be able to fly nor would humans be able to walk or talk. There are just far too many variables and unknowns for our brain functions to function if they were directed by our DNA rather than our trial-and-error learning (which is a complex, will directed process). Make no mistake, exercising free will is not an option but a requirement to simply function as a bird or mammal. Humans just take it to a greater degree.

      • Santi Tafarella says:

        Alan,

        I just wrote a brief post summarizing Michael Graziano’s theory of consciousness. Based on your views of free will, I’m wondering what you think of Graziano’s theory. Is it roughly in the ballpark of your line of thinking, or do you think it fits better with determinism?

        https://santitafarella.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/michael-graziano-awareness-is-a-schematic-description-of-attention/

  2. Alan says:

    Santi – re: Graziano
    Baby steps, but a start in the right direction. Due to the architecture of neurons bunched into brains, determinism is inconsistent with a functioning brain, even in a snail. Though a snail would not exhibit anything we would think of as free will, the building blocks are there. I’ve only read your summary and not watched the video yet but it seems about half right. First he is starting with humans – the end not the beginning. I started with humans as well. That was a good way to get ideas of what to look for, but soon you have to jump back to something like snails and work your way back up the evolutionary chain.

    I’ve posted a few related comments:
    http://gablog.cdh.ucla.edu/2014/06/reflections-on-reading-raymond-tallis-aping-mankind/
    http://gablog.cdh.ucla.edu/2014/07/thought-experiment/
    http://gablog.cdh.ucla.edu/2014/07/brain-as-computer/

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      But Alan, it seems that if Graziano is correct, then the brain is using a schema AFTER THE FACT to represent (as a place holder in memory) a moment of attention. In other words, the brain computes a moment of attention, experiences it, acts on it, then translates it into a contextual awareness (a painful incident on a hike made me run away; a happy moment at home made me decide to stay married, etc.) that can be communicated to others (and back to oneself). In other words, we don’t have direct experiences that makes decisions, but the brain’s representations of calculated experiences justified as choices after the fact. Put another way, you should separate each moment of the brain’s attention (which is calculated) with awareness (which is attention translated into representation). H20 is experienced as water, not molecules interacting with nerve cells signalling to neurons. The brain is clumping the experience of H20 molecules into schemas of representation for retrieval and social communication. Here’s Graziano: “There is no need for anything to be transmuted into ghost material, thought about, and then transmuted back to the world of cause and effect.”

      • Alan says:

        Santi – Some of your questions are addressed in my linked comments. I will put it together more succinctly when I have a bit more time. Free will came first, consciousness came later as an enhancement. Graziano is thinking of static thoughts but the brain process is primarily dynamic. Otherwise I think he is on to something.

      • Alan says:

        Santi – One decision you have to make whenever you set about explaining a new and /or complex something is what sort of metaphors you are going to employ. Graziano and myself choose different metaphors, so we may sound different when saying the same thing. I also have fundamental disagreements with Graziano’s explanations as a result of our adopting conflicting models for basic brain functions. I suspect that is because he is beginning with his experience of consciousness and evaluating processes which surround that phenomenon while I was looking for processes which led to free will (and was deliberately ignoring consciousness). My model posits that the brain evolved first to control muscles for locomotion, for navigation, then to integrate sensors (or our senses), and what is popularly called ‘qualia’ by many free will supporters (which strikes me funny as this qualia appears to be a deterministic function of the brain). We appear to ‘experience’ water, love, attraction, spring flowers and etc., etc. as reactions to stimulus of significance, and then to use that sensation as a factor in our decision making. For my model, free will developed in the solving of the locomotion/navigation problem. As such, we think in action scenarios, traversing in our dreams a variety of paths and terrains, selecting a direction/reaction that promises the preferred outcome (food, safety, plunder or etc.). For humans, several scenarios are always running, for a variety of situations – where should we go, what to do? What are our friends, partners and rivals doing (that we may take full advantage of, complement or interfere with their plans)? Only the occasional feature of some of these scenarios pop into our consciousness. I would estimate that well over 99% of our decisions never reach our conscious awareness. Just no point in wasting time to ‘mull them over’.
        Never loose sight that our brains evolved to keep us alive in a dangerous world. Brains have been working for hundreds of millions of years to find food, find mates and avoid predators. Such exercises of luxury as justifying a decision have very low priority and are typically used to deceive rather than communicate reality anyway – so require careful processing through multiple scenarios so an optimum deceit is communicated. Speed here is not essential, where a lion requires rapid decisions. Different problems call for different solutions. Complex deceptions, such as justifying one’s decisions, require careful, conscious processing, but have little direct relation to our decision process. Justifications have far more to do with other’s expectations than with your personal needs or motives.

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