Pointer – Is awareness (only) personal, or is it our eternal soul?

SOURCE of picture

Dr. Peter Adamson  writes HERE about Avicenna that the most famous of his thought experiments;  is the so-called ‘flying man’ thought experiment, devised by the most influential philosopher of the Islamic world, Avicenna (in Arabic, Ibn Sīnā, who lived from 980 to 1037 CE). Imagine, he says, that a person is created by God in mid-air, in good condition but with his sight veiled and his limbs outstretched so that he is touching nothing, not even his own body. This person has no memories, having only just been created. Will his mind be a blank, devoid as it is of past or present sensory experience? No, says Avicenna. He will be aware of his own existence…….

….is Avicenna right that the ‘flying man’ would be self-aware? Well, it’s important to realise that Avicenna does not attempt to argue that the flying man would know that he exists. Rather, he takes it as obvious. In one version, he even tells readers that we should imagine ourselves being so created. If we put ourselves in the flying man’s dangling shoes, we should just see that we would be self-aware. Indeed, this turns out to be a fundamental idea in Avicenna’s philosophy. He thinks that we are all always self-aware, even when we’re asleep or focusing hard on something other than ourselves. Paradoxically, we’re often not aware of being self-aware: it is the non-interruptive background music of human psychology, something we notice only when our attention is called to it, a pre-reflective awareness of self. The flying man thought experiment is itself one way to call attention to this self-awareness: Avicenna calls it a tanbīh, meaning a ‘pointer’ to something. -0-

My, Roger’s, sense is that our personal awareness is limited but ceases to be limited proportionate to how far we lose our egoic self and come to rest as Awareness which, since it is not composed cannot de-compose, must therefore be eternal. As Nondual teachings including Advaita Vedanta teach take away everything, arms legs, status, personality, qualities etc what is left of you or me? Answer = Awareness.

See Prof Deikman’s ‘I = Awareness HERE http://www.deikman.com/awareness.html






#avicenna, #awareness, #consciousness, #deikman, #dr-peter-adamson, #i-awareness

A summary of Nondual spiritual teachings

A contributor ‘Maria’ wrote a piece HERE

  • http://www.o-books.com/blogs/obooks/a-tour-of-advaita-through-the-books-of-dennis-waite/

under the heading of ‘A Tour of Advaita via the Books of Dennis Waite’

As a summary of advaita some may find it useful;


• Advaita uses various methods (prakriyA-s) to analyze topics about which we have mistaken beliefs in order to reveal our errors and to demonstrate that there is only Brahman.

• The method of discriminating between who we are (the seer) and what we are not (the seen – body, mind etc.) is called dRRigdRRiSya- viveka.

• Who we really are – Brahman – is beyond description and immaculate.

• The body is nothing more than the food we have eaten, yet we worry about its comfort, aging and death.

• Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the mind. Everything “appears” in Consciousness.

• We do not “think” thoughts – they arise and we witness them.

• The mind assumes the power of Consciousness in the way that an iron ball in the fire becomes hot.

• Attachment to emotions occurs similarly and we must cultivate dispassion (vairAgya). Peace is beyond all emotions.

• The ego is a construction of concepts and its power is destroyed once the truth is understood. This is the basis of “Self-enquiry.”

• ahaMkAra is the process by which we identify with ideas, emotions, roles etc. All disappear in sleep so we cannot be them.

• Neither are we the mask of a “person.” We are the changeless “I am,” the essence of the changing forms.

• The sheath model (pa~ncha-kosha-prakriyA) is used to illustrate the various levels of identification.

• The true Self has nothing to do with the body and mind etc, just as the moon has nothing to do with the bough of the tree on which it appears to rest.

• We are constantly lured by the form and miss the essence.

• Everything transient is first rejected (neti, neti) in order to discover who we truly are, the eternal unchanging. It is then realized that the changing, too, is none other than the non-dual Self.

• Just as dreams are seen to have been nothing but the mind itself on awakening, so the world is seen to be the Self on enlightenment.

• If it can be spoken of, I am not that. Truth is beyond language, which is necessarily in duality. I am the eternal subject. Reality is self-evident.

#attachment, #consciousness, #detachment, #duality-dennis-waite, #enlightenment, #nondual-2, #nonduality, #reality, #self, #self-knowledge, #summary-of-nonduality, #the-true-self

Eckhart Tolle – Cumulated Emotional Pain (Pain Body)

It goes deeper than that and we are not running away from the fact that in you there lives a field of residue of past Human pain.

On a personal level, pain from childhood that leaves residues, Energetic residues….different things painful things have happened to you in your childhood and of course far beyond that in time. But lets just talk from the level of your present existence in this form.

The pain that is carried over from your childhood and beyond and leaves residues …doesn’t go away completely, it leaves residues of pain, Energy fields, everything is Energy. And then those Energy Fields get together, because they feel, they vibrate at the same frequency. So emotional pain gathers into one mass of pain, contracted Energy, that is not flowing freely. An energy that I call the “Pain Body”, that humans carry inside them.

An energy field of pain.
And if you don’t recognize that, no matter how much Spiritual Practice you do and even what we are doing here if you do not see, if you do not recognize how the Pain Body operates, it will trick every time and you will lose consciousness through it.

First we realize “there is an Energy Field of pain in me”, that may manifest either as turbulence, anger, heaviness, depression, tightness, fear. Whatever way it manifests its not pleasant its painful its past pain but very much alive still.

You carry it inside. But you are not always conscious of it and I talk about it briefly in one Chapter of the book, so we go a little bit more deeply now, and now that the added Energy of Presence that we take into the Pain Body.

The Pain Body is sometimes dormant and sometimes active. It becomes active when you suddenly feel it very strongly, when it needs to feed on further experience of pain. As it always has to do regularly like, it’s a little entity almost, it needs Feeding, temporarily on the experience of further pain, and you will know this has happened when a relatively insignificant trigger produces an Incredible outburst, reaction of Pain. A minor thing goes wrong or somebody say something, or your partner says something or does something and there is suddenly a deep or even a thought come in, and suddenly it serves as a trigger for an immense, the arising of deep emotional pain.

At that moment the Pain Body this Energy Field has come up out of its dormant state, it is ready to feed on more Pain.

I haven’t put it that clearly in the First Book I will explain it in the next book (Laughter)

There are two ways in which it feeds, because that is all it can feed on .Pain Body consists of that energy of pain its needs (ET says) “please where can I get more Pain”.

It feed on your thoughts, when it’s ready to rise up, it will control your thinking, it rises into the mind and your mind, which is your thought activity, because with the Pain Body every thought you think is destructive and painful.

And the Pain Body loves it!!! It gobbles up the Energy of every thought that you think every destructive and deeply negative thought, it eats it up, so to speak, (ET makes chomping sounds while all laugh) And it’s having a Good Time! It’s feeding and, at that moment, one way of putting it is, one could say “the addictive quality of Human Pain”. Addictive because it loves it’s pain.

When the Pain Body has taken you over and has succeeded in pretending that that’s ‘Who you are‘, all your thinking is completely aligned with it. And it’s feeding on it. At that very moment the last thing you want is to be free of pain. At that moment pain IS what you want because at that moment, You are the Pain Body.

And if I came into your life at that moment and gave you this message, “that Life free from Pain IS possible” You would hit me over the Head!!! (Laughter). Because the Pain Body would be there and I would be talking to the Pain Body and the Pain Body would be talking back at me.

So the pain body needs to come in periodically and we all have experienced it with partners now the pain body will use you thinking, it will feed on you negative and destructive thinking.

How long the feeding time lasts of any particular pain body varies greatly from person to person, I could be a brief one, it could be an hour or two; some pain bodies have a feeding time of several weeks, even months. That is the extreme and in very extreme cases there are some pain bodies that have virtually no dormant stage that are continuously feeding and active.

But that’s more rare but you sometimes meet people and the pain body is looking at you through their eyes and they are waiting for an excuse to have more. They want you to give them a painful reaction. They want you to be angry with them; they want you to attack them. That’s people totally possessed by the Pain Body.

So Level One: the pain body feeds on your thinking. Level Two: The pain body feeds on the feedback of the emotional pain from other people

So it might not only use your own thinking it might even predominantly use somebody else’s reactions. So the Pain Body feeds on thinking. The Pain Body feeding on others reactions. Now I mentioned last night the “unhappy me” a mind pattern that people are identified with an unhappy sense of self. This mind pattern, when the pain is active it becomes amplified, the Energy of the Unhappy me when the Pain Body moves into that mind pattern that already is telling you “your life has not been good enough” and so on and you may not make it, “life has passed me by”, and so on.

Now the Pain Body moves into that mind pattern and its Energy gets amplified, 10 times, 20 times, 50 times, 100 times in other words the “unhappy me”; the Pain Body arises, it flows into that mind structure, the emotion flows into that mind structure, the Unhappy sense of me becomes dreadfully Unhappy and Loves it’s Unhappiness because that’s what it consists of.

Now it is not a foreign body, which lives in you. There is nothing that is not Life Energy.

Even your pain body is life Energy except it is not flowing freely. It’s got stuck somewhere.

And when Energy gets stuck and cannot flow freely pain arise like a river. If a river cannot flow the water accumulates and pressure accumulates. But really it’s beautiful Life Energy.

The water is still beautiful there is pressure accumulating, inside. That’s what the pain body is.
Now, as we bright Presence, this consciousness in o the Pain Body, it can no longer fool you into completely identifying with it.

The presence, as the pain arises, from now on, and many of you are already practicing that. The Pain body comes up and at that moment you will recognize it as the Pain Body. That is the Beginning of Freedom from it. The recognition, when it comes, slight trigger, provocation, even a thought, deep Pain arises, in whatever form, in some people it is a very active pain, active aggressive pain, in other persons it is a Passive form of Pain, “poor little me” victim pain, does not matter which, pain bodies have different qualities in different people.

It maybe turbulence or tightness or constriction, it does not matter what it is. As it arises you will know there is a witnessing presence, and you watch.

Where is the pain body and where do you feel the energy field of it?

In your body.

You can feel it in the solar plexus or stomach area, as a dreadful sense of heaviness.

Some people perceive it as a big hole, a gaping hole inside.  Or intense anger.

But whatever it is you watch it, this is why it is so helpful, you sitting here witnessing, is witnessing Presence which is part of this new state of consciousness. It gets so much strengthened by sitting in this Energy Field.

So the Watcher will be there watching the pain so the pain can not use your mind anymore it can not feed on your thinking because you are watching it directly it cannot creep into your mind and then become an “unhappy me”.

All that’s left of the pain is an energy field of turbulence, or a heavy feeling inside you.

But the pain has not become an “unhappy me” a sense of self, of who you are. That’s the beginning of the end of the pain. But our practice is allowing “what is” to be. And that also applies as long as the Pain Body it there in you allowing the Pain that is there in you Also to be. That is a very powerful practice.

So I am not saying, we are not fighting the pain we are not even trying to get rid of it. You bring the consciousness, which is a very compassionate state of allowing “what is”. It is a very powerful state it implies you are Present. As the one who is able to allow.

You are the one who is able to allow the pain to be. You know you are not creating this pain at this moment because you are practicing accepting “what is”. So it is not pain you are creating, it is old pain.
You bring the “acceptance” to the old pain.

TAGS: eckhart tolle, consciousness, liberation, freedom, awakening, pain body, you are not your thoughts, healing, energy, spirit, 

#awakening, #consciousness, #eckhart-tolle, #energy, #freedom, #healing, #liberation, #pain-body, #spirit, #you-are-not-your-thoughts

When the mote turns in the light: A 10 STEP ‘Barthesian’ course on Street Photography




When the mote turns in the light: A 10 STEP Barthesian course on Street Photography




inspired by the annotation by Kasia Houlihan (University of Chicago)

Roger Prentice Ph.D., MA (ACE), B. Ed. (Hons)

1st draft 4th Dec 2011


Although my practice of photography is still at a beginning stage I want to keep up an old habit – that of theorizing my practice and practicing my theory. On the theory side as a starting point I have gone for ‘the big one’ Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida.


Barthes’ book Camera Lucida: reflections on photography is more like literature than an academic text.  Indeed its very purpose is to get us to function in a ‘heart-centred’ way, instead of via left-brain classification and logic-chopping.  It is even more like a Zen master’s pointings or teachings. It is profoundly intuitive and insightful about photography in relation to the inner life of being human. It is not in any conventional sense subjective – it is about the very opposite the state of transcending the ego and ironically, given its arguments, it is about living transcendentally in the now.

Camera Lucida provides answers for an enormous range of problems, not just to understanding the true nature of photography.  In particular it is staggeringly insightful about what it is to be human, in the world with others (and the memories of them) and the exquisite place the art of photography can play in deepening our realization of our true selves.

I have taken as a starting point Kasia Houlihan’s excellent summary/annotation to be found HERE   The four sections relate to the 4 paragraphs in Kasia’s original summary/annotation.  To Kasia I will be eternally grateful because it enabled me to stop wandering around in a desert of unmanageable responses to Camera Lucida  – and it saved me from the temptation to dive in to the very large pools of academic writing about Camera Lucida – where I would probably have developed unbearable head-hurt and eventually drowned. Including the 10 Step course this is a framework for further development.

The area of photography that grips me currently is Street Photography.  I discovered the truth in Camera Lucida  two ways a) by doing street photography, however modest my achievements to date and b) through all the work that went into my doctorate – see HERE .

For serious students therefore I suggest the following 10 steps;


1) start taking photographs and keep up the practice between every one of the other steps listed here – & get as much feedback as possible.
2) look at photographs a lot – yours, your family’s and those of great photographers,
3) read Camera Lucida, don’t worry about understanding
4) read Kasia Houlihan’s original summary/annotation to be found HERE and this piece (in development) which was inspired by it.
5) read or re-read this listing of 31 major ideas,
6) read articles about street photography – there are a range of starting points – HERE
7) read at least the summaries of my doctorate HERE or work out your own understanding of the human spirit
8) do even more photography
9) read every poem and other literature you can find about photos & photography, look at every painting & dance about light etc. Link photography to transcendent spirituality if you will – there’s a ‘course-on-a-page HERE
10) then and only then read the academic literature on Camera Lucida and Barthes!
Whatever is true here about photography is also true about street photography – in fact I would say it is especially true about street photography.  I intend to write other articles about how this incisive, manageable way into Camera Lucida relates to street photography, to art generally, to spirituality and so on.


1 The book Camera Lucida sets out to determine a new way of looking at photography.

2 Camera Lucida is about a new consciousness – by way of photography.

3 Barthes seeks a new way of reading and valuing photographs – an altogether customized framework.

4 Barthes’ framework is to be distinct from all existing accounts of classifying photographs.

5 He wants to deal with photographs so as to get at the essence or noeme of photography.

6 Barthes says that he wants, ‘a History of Looking’.   (RP don’t know what is meant but 26e below might be the answer)

7a In his search Barthes attempts to account for the fundamental roles of emotion and subjectivity

7b in i) the experience of and ii) accounting for Photography.

8 Subjective experience of photography (I would say creating as well as reading) has an essential nature—or eidos

9 The essential nature of a photograph is as an index indicating, ‘that-has-been.’


10 Photography is set apart from all other forms of representation.

11 Previously established ways of classification etc are ‘disordered’ (because they fail to work with the essential nature of photography.)

12 Consequently it is unclassifiable (I suppose compared to say genre classification in film).

13 We need to hold to the fact that ‘the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially’.

14 The essence is the event,

15 The event is ‘that which is never transcended for the sake of something else.’

16 In other words, the photograph is never distinguished from its referent—that which it represents;

17 ‘it simply is what it is’ (I, RP, wonder if this means, “It is what it is because it is indissolubly linked to that which it represents?)”

18 This is illustrated by the fact that one says ‘this is me’ when showing someone a photographic image of oneself, as opposed to ‘this is a picture of me.’

19 When we look at a photograph, it is not the actual photo that we see, for the photograph itself is rendered invisible; (presumably because we see what the photo is a referent of – or see what we are)

20 Consequently the photograph is unclassifiable,

21 Why? – because it resists language, as it is without signs or marks—it simply is. (This is comparable to Lacan’s version of the Real.)

22 Furthermore, the subject that is photographed is rendered object, dispossessed of itself.

23 Consequently it becomes ‘Death in person.’


24 In his personal—subjective—examination of multiple photographs, Barthes proceeded to note a duality that was characteristic of certain photographs: a ‘co-presence of two discontinuous elements’—what he terms, the studium and the punctum.

25a The studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone (RP because we are taught by the culture and society of which we are part).

25b The studium part of these photographs is unary and coded, – the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole

25c The unary meaning of the studium can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’).

25d The latter (THE CODING) implies that the pictorial space is ordered in a universal, comprehensible way.

25e The studium speaks of the interest which we show in a photograph,

25f  the desire to study and understand what the meanings are in a photograph,

25g to explore the relationship between the meanings and our own subjectivities.

26a The punctum (a Latin word derived from the Greek word for trauma) on the other hand inspires an intensely private meaning,

26b one that is suddenly, unexpectedly recognized and consequently remembered

26c It “shoots out of [the photograph] like an arrow and pierces me”.

26d It ‘escapes’ language (like Lacan’s real); it is not easily communicable through/with language.

26e The punctum is ‘historical’ as an experience of the irrefutable indexicality of the photograph (its contingency upon a referent).

26f The punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze;

26g it pricks or wounds the observer.


27a The ambiguity of the book’s title lends itself to the many levels on which the text addresses media theory.

27b This ranges from the very materiality of the photographic medium itself

27c to its grander implications for human consciousness in the pursuit of truth.

28a In his efforts to divorce photography from realms of analysis that deny or obscure its essence, Barthes ultimately formulates a new science of photography

28b It is an original framework in which photography steps beyond the shackles of classification and such terms as ‘art,’ ‘technique,’ etc. and, thus,

29a It draws upon an ‘absolute subjectivity’

29b This absolute subjectivity exceeds the normal boundaries of the everyday by moving the activity of viewing from a transparent relationship of meaning and expression to a level in which meaning seems to be there without the presence of subjectivity.

29c It is as if the photograph brings out the unconscious;

29d it also represents the unconscious, while at the same time, it denies all of these relations of meaning.

29e The photograph allows for the sight of self,

29f not as a mirror but as an access point into a definition of identity—

29g but identity associated with consciousness,

29h thus housing a whole;

30a  it is in the photograph ‘where being coincides with self,’ (109)

30b  It is ‘true being, not resemblance.’

31a The photographer, (is) a mediator,

31b S/he is one who (RP potentially & for themselves) supplies the transparent soul its clear shadow,

31c S/he reveals the soul’s value and not its mere identity (110);

31d the photographer, ‘makes permanent the truth.’


Camera Lucida is more like a revelation, a spiritual text, than a piece of academic writing. I have no no doubt that it’s a work of intuitive, soul-searching genius.  It tells us nothing about the mechanics and technique of photography.  It tells us everything about the nature of being human, in which photographs are a gateway to reading our soul.
We (should) read photographs as we are asked to read the text of the self – with the whole of our consciousness and with truth, beauty, goodness and justice. 


As Barthes shows himself, and us, the defining characteristic of photographs (at least the personally affecting ones) is that they show us ‘that which has been’.  They are embodiments of memories. As such they elicit powerful emotions and as such they tell us who we are, which is why when that part of the brain which enables memories is damaged people no longer know who they are, or who people close to them are. In normal health however we can only have a healthy life-supporting relationship with memories, and photographs, if we live reasonably successfully in the now. Living in the now is the only way we can healthily experience ‘that which has been’.

All photographs are self-portraits. In all creating of, and viewing of, photographs we are searching.  For ourselves, for our love, for that mysterious Whole of which we each are an infinitesimally small part.  

We, and our photographs, are each the mote that the ray of light makes visible.  Through them we enter the lucidly lit room.

For me in our ‘plucking from the flow’ the photographs that come to us it is not so much the ‘collecting of souls’, as Thomas Leuthard suggests, but is the embodiment of spirit caught when the mote turns in the light.  That for me is my street, and its flow of (human) spirit, in that genre we call street photography.


Photo: Roger Prentice


1 WikiPedia Indexicality
an indexical behaviour or utterance points to (or indicates) some state of affairs……..
Social indexicality in the human realm has been regarded as including any sign (clothing, speech variety, table manners) that points to, and helps create, social identity.




Photography, street photography, rogerprentice, roger prentice street photography, photography course, Henri Cartier-Bresson, p

#aesthetics, #art-photography, #beauty, #being, #being-human, #brain-and-mind, #camera-lucida, #candid-photography, #caring-creativity, #classifying-photography, #code, #consciousness, #criticality, #death, #decisive-moment, #definition-of-photography, #eckhart-tolle, #emotion, #feeling, #gaze, #goodness-and-justice, #henri-cartier-bresson, #holism, #holistic, #httpwww-flickr-comphotossunwalk999, #human-spirit, #humanistic, #identification, #identity, #indexicality, #intuition, #justice, #knowing-ourselves, #language, #learning-from-master-photographers, #light, #living-in-the-now, #longing, #looking, #love, #meaning-making, #memories, #memory, #metaphor, #mirror-and-frame, #mystery, #objectivity-in-photography, #philosophy-of-photography, #photographic-genre, #photographs-as-memories, #photography, #photography-and-spirituality, #photography-as-healing, #photography-as-meaning-making, #photography-as-metaphor, #photography-as-mirror, #photography-as-personal-development, #photography-as-the-embodiment-of-spirit, #photography-course, #photography-masters, #portraits, #punctum, #purpose, #reading-life, #reading-photographs, #redemption, #representation, #resurrection, #revelation, #roger-prentice-street-photography, #rogerprentice, #roland-barthes, #seaford-photographic-society-sps, #self, #self-portraits, #soul, #spirit, #spiritual-text, #street-photography, #street-photography-as-the-collecting-of-souls, #studium, #sub-conscious, #subjectivity-in-photography, #sunwalk999, #taking-photographs, #text-2, #that-has-been, #the-essence-or-noeme-of-photography, #the-whole, #theory-of-photography, #thich-nhat-hanh, #thomas-leuthard, #time-and-photography, #transcendence, #truth, #types-of-photography, #unconscious, #writing-2, #writing-with-light, #zen

Diamonds, Rumi, coming up for air & Paul Simon

“You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck!”
— Rumi






#air, #art, #breath, #breathe, #consciousness, #diamonds, #enlightenment, #interspirituality, #metaphor, #oneness, #paul-simon, #rumi, #spirituality

Are you developing your memes?

Another great video from TED;

Starting with the simple tale of an ant, philosopher Dan Dennett unleashes a devastating salvo of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of memes — concepts that are literally alive.

Philosopher and scientist Dan Dennett argues that human consciousness and free will are the result of physical processes and are not what we traditionally think they are. His 2003 book Freedom Evolves explores the way our brains have evolved to give us — and only us — the kind of freedom that matters, while 2006’s Breaking the Spell examines religious belief through the lens of biology.

Go HERE to read article.

#concepts, #consciousness, #human-consciousness, #memes, #religious-belief

What is consciousness? – Peter Russell’s view


Many more – this is the first of 7 on consciousness.

#consciousness, #human-spirit, #mind, #peter-russell