nen and the hall of mirrors

30 09 2013

While reviewing my experience of math and buddhism, an interesting guy named Brendan used ‘nen’ to evaluate where I was in terms of my understanding of mind. I admitted I hadn’t heard of the term, and he then sent me a pdf of this book, Zen Training Methods and Philosophy. Here is my initial and immediate response of my live reading of Chapter 10, ‘Three Nen-actions and one-eon Nen’.


Generally, wrt nen… reflections, meta, the hall of mirrors, and stabilising a third stable state. Ie, not getting lost in the reflections.

compounding temporal experience

The writer is talking about this in terms of sequential time, hence the level of complexity that quickly arises as observations compound reflections. It is this compounding across a period of time that gives rise to higher levels of mind, or consciousness. I am not sure if the nen that are talked of are these ‘compounding’ mental functions, or a complete and artificial simplification of the model of mind, something we tend to do when modelling mind.

I haven’t thought about this ‘compounding’, or more inaccurate though perhaps more resonant in the reader’s mind, ‘compressive’, function of the mind. When my mind echoes this response as I read, I am aware that I am not forcing previous thought onto this reading, but that whatever comes out changes in relation to what is read. This is live reading. I don’t go back chasing after the ‘accuracy’ or ‘truth’ of previous thought. I don’t have anything ‘fixed’ in my mind. It is all variable. My model of mind is plastic. It takes the shape of what whatever is concurrent, like most all of my interaction.

subjective calculus

From my limited experience, and going on a massive leap of intuition, I have applied calculus to subjective time. That is, meditation is the experience of subjective reality as time tends to zero, subjectively speaking. Thus, I have mapped arising and dissolution of thought to mathematical functions. This chapter is examining the thoughts that arise in the micro-second window in a mind which is at rest. That is, a rather sophisticated mind, like a calm lake, a flat horizon, and thus witnessing the arising of a thought/feeling/observation/stimulus-response.

Most of my experience is in the storm between people, and this level of sophistication of mind is seldom operational in presence with others. First Question: are you capable of this level of flatness or clarity of mind, when engaging others? I initially meant this as a question for Brendan, but it holds true for anyone reading this.

The article goes on to reveal this compounding effect, and the continuity of mind that is composed of previous states of mind and new observations as they happen, and the state of mind we have just mentioned which is to nullify observation and pacify mind through ‘mu’. Sweet.

It is next to impossible for a person who is not trained in zazen to throw himself voluntarily into the condition of listening itself.

Beautiful. The next wrt music, is lovely:

The sound itself has passed away, but it is held in this present instant in its living phase.

fractal consciousness

Can’t help but read this as an attempt to capture the fractal aspect of mind, first in its fractal compounding into the moment, and then as the releasing or decompression of the moment into memory and living presence.

An observation: there is still no mention of ‘pre-conscious’ and ‘post-conscious’ processes. The writer collapses back to a timeless description. Is this because of the nature of what is being talked of, or because our means of communication, the model of mind — in the act of verbalisation and representation — simplifies, reduces and thus we confuse the model for our own reality. Hence the need for the Reflexive Imposition.

Incredible attempt, though. Absolutely incredible. I am looking forward to more.

mapping subjective experience and objective experimentation

Mapping of nen and short and long term memory as understood by western psychology and objective experimentation. Because the writer is now weaving between internal subjective experience and external objective experiment, he adds a speculation, which is rather sensitive.

The feeling of the continuity of our ego is also brought about by the identification of mood, which continues to be felt at every moment and has been handed down to this moment.

I call this the momentum of mind, the various quanta of mind that persists through time, eg the personality of the person. I’m loving this. I think this material could be lip-jived onto music like the other material and can be very useful for long-term exploration. There is definitely enough substance here which should be verified by internal experience. Second Question: Have you validated this speculation, regarding the process of long term memory, mood, and self-identification?

half-way through and my mind is tired

This kind of material is enlightening, but tricky to sustain. There is freshness upon reading. A liveness, as mind reformulates integrates. The medium of a book is strange, amazing and yet dangerous. I am aware that my reading is occurring in the resonance chamber of my own mind. To keep up this level of freshness, is tricky.

So, I shall leave it for now. This material is high quality and dense. There is primary understanding, and as with any modelling of mind and its representation, we can slide too easily into what we think, object of mind. To remain fresh, in such a medium of writing, is demanding. I look forward to following up the second part of this, though it may be some time before I can return to it. I may benefit from engagement with live mind, eg Brendan’s. I hold more stock in live mind, in the space between, than in the medium of words caught in books, regardless of how incredible this book is, and undoubtedly, the mind that composed these words.

Incredible book, and gratitude to the author and to Brendan, to the accident of self that enables my mind to appreciate even 1% of this, and to those who make progress in this exploration.

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