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RTP Discussions • View topic - Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

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Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby uconnuser2013 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:52 am

Do you think it's possible, and possibly necessary, that the future of human evolution includes the interaction of us humans intervening with the biological nature of the brain. I understand that, as a student of psychology in university, psychiatrists today find it perfectly legitimate to prescribe patients with mood stabilizers (i.e. lithium) mood enhancers (i.e. Prozac, etc) and other chemicals to clients that come to them with abnormally difficult ways of functioning. So from a "moral" standpoint it seems that society accepts this practice with relatively little resistance, and, as most of us can see, certainly promotes it. From this I ask you if it were possible to engineer some kind of pill/device that could "enlighten" the entire human race. Some sort of pill/device that both awakens and brings the mind to some kind of supreme balance. For one do you believe in what the Buddhists would call Satori or Enlightenment? And if so do you think this state of mind could be engineered for all of humanity, and could possibly be the next step in our evolution?
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:15 pm

As a long-term reader (and poster) in this forum, I'll try to express my own thoughts about your question, uconnuser2013, but rest assured that our host and administrator will give a profound answer in due time, though he recently told me that he doesn't get informed of new posts by the phpBB forum software automatically, so patience you must have.

I'll answer with a question instead: how do you define 'enlightenment'? You speak of a pill or device that awakens the brain and brings it to supreme balance - well, every morning when I wake up, so do my higher brain functions - that's what waking up essentially is, and in general, my state of mind is quite balanced (exceptions prove the rule - and these exceptions are usually self-induced [drugs, sleep deprivation] or sometimes triggered by unusual external events [grave news from friends/relatives]).

So I guess what you're really thinking about is a universal cure for mental illnesses, but as the brain is a very complicated construct and the imbalances/illnesses differ in a wide range, I'd say that in the foreseeable future no, there won't be such a pill. It'd also put a lot of pharma industries out of business, and most psychiatrists in one go :wink: . And as a very broadband pharmaceutic, it'd have lots of unwanted side effects.

Reconsidering, I guess what you mean does already exist: I'm no expert in medicine but aren't these simply tranquilizers?

Finally, what you would like a pill for is implented into the brain already, it's called sleeping. Read more about it here:

I didn't read the article, I just dug it out for you because I've heard about the study some weeks ago. Hope it helps.
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby uconnuser2013 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 1:48 am

I appreciate the feedback, and the interesting article about how sleep clean up our brains. I guess I should start by saying I have been reading much literature about what the Buddhists call enlightenment. And from my research, into the vast amount of literature available, I found that this state of mind is highly valued, and looked upon as one of the highest achievements a human can reach. Also in my readings, I discover it takes many many years, possibly a lifetime or possibly never reached at all, of mediation to achieve this state of mind. From what I can understand, an enlightened state of mind is free from all illusion, free from all judgments, and sees the world as it is truly meant to be seen, reality as it is with no thoughts or useless chatter to cloud our perception. I guess what I am asking is not simply the next prozac or some form of mind expansive LSD, but a process that could quicken the attainment of enlightenment in humans. I believe that enlightenment is possible for humans to achieve, what I don't know if there could be a process, besides the natural route of meditation and good deeds, that could quicken this frame of mind for the ordinary individual. And yes, originally I may have set out to try to discover some cure for those with a debilitating "mental illness", but as I myself began my own serious self reflections with the help of mindfulness in everyday life, I quickly began to understand that we as humans are all a little "mentally ill".
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:12 pm

Okay, I see it's religion you're really interested in.

Until only some weeks ago, I thought that Buddhism was, from all major religious belief systems, the least dangerous, but when I stated this as an ironic by-comment in another blog, I immediately got informed that there were buddhist war-monks in the past (especially the Zen flavour in Japan) - which I did know but didn't think about at that certain moment - and in modern times (less than a year ago and still ongoing) the buddhist majority in Burma (Myanmar) is suppressing the islamic minority rather recklessly. I'm not sure at the moment, but if I remember correctly, some people even got killed. You can investigate that on your own if it matters to you.

So I think religion in our modern world is a niusance and should be abolished. Of course in the still more archaic parts of the planet where educational possibilites are still very limited, there's still a certain necessity because we humans seen to have a built-in need for knowing how nature functions, and if we don't have access to a rational explanation believing something someone told somebody (that's the root of religion as I see it) is better than nothing. Only when those who tell these stories aggregate power over others, telling them that their god or prophet or whatever has superpowers and might not be amused if the believer/victim does something which the storyteller doesn't like, the danger starts.

Now to the core: working your whole life meditating and clearing your mind of all thoughts and wisdom, so to say erasing what you know, does that really sound like an achievement to you? To reach a newborn-baby like brain at old age? Dying then and not having learned anything about the world really? Nirvana is what they call that, and to me it sounds like zombification. Premature brain-death, maybe :wink: .

Don't know how much time of your life you've spent reading religious books, but from my humble point of view almost everything else one can do is more fulfilling. And 'enlightenment' is just a marketing buzzword.
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby HarryStottle » Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:20 pm

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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:00 am

Interesting comment as mostly, Harry.

I have to concede that my interpretation of 'enlightenment' as a marketing buzzword was a metaphorical shot from the hip. In my personal experience the word is mostly used in a religious/esoteric context. Basically I guess it should mean a state of consciousness where human is 'one' with the universe, having potenial access to all information that exists therein, but there's also a or countless supreme super-being(s) (=gods). They (gurus and priests) teach that we can get there through meditation, prayers or rituals (and giving them money/devotion/power in exchange) in our foreseeable future or after death, respectively.

And that's, in my humble opinion, bullshit.

There's apparently no information of the whole universe stored in our bodies, nor do we have telepathic powers. Of course we're all made up out of materia that condensed after the 'big bang' of our universe (more accurately, according to a recent scientific theory, the bang our universe bubble in the foam of the multiverse) and processed by stars. So there's effectively some (very) tiny fracture of that big bang in each one of us. But from that fact we cannot conclude that we have a built-in quasi magic power that we just have to awaken (only takes 12 lessons for €200 each and I'll teach you that :lol: ) and then we're superman (or the hero of your choice, I like Asterix and Obelix, I'll get the new comic at my birthday. Just 13 times sleeping!).

Your interpretation of 'enlightenment' I would describe as 'altered consciousness' :mrgreen: .

On your statements on authoritarian abuse of such drugs while sponsoring p... I mean big pharma we're singing from the same sheet again. It's noticeable in Europe, too. Although broad-band treatment of adolescents with ritalin (which is prescribed here in central Europe mostly, at least that's what I hear from media) and doping for adults (not only in sports, but also for students and in business, is at least considered a problem already, because of health risks.

I ask myself whether it's really necessary having to enhance ourselfes and wearing our minds and bodies out just to be able to compete with others and earn enough money to support ourselfes and our families, just like drilled monkeys. And when someone can't keep the pace anymore, he or she is considered ill and hopefully treated, more often - regrettably - on the way downward the social spiral. Burned out.

Although it's surely better to burn out than to fade away (that's a quote, guess I don't have to mention the origin, but just for the record: ), the simple solution would be that all of us worked less hard, long and often, getting a fairer share of the overall income, and had more time to relax and do whatever we really want to do. I do that, and I'm a happy citizen not wanting to revolt, but to evolute. No danger to the state nor society. I've got lots of hobbies and a demanding wife (who wants a dog, after years of discussion I'm meanwhile done [as in fully cooked] and consenting... don't be surprised if a hopefully well-educated dog accompanies us next summer in London, but to find the right one will probably take at least one or two years more, so most likely we'll meet without canine company), zero time for bad behaviour.

Sigh, I life in my personal utopia. And I like it.

People should just occupy themselfes with some science. They'd learn (among many other things), that cooperation was the key to success for the human species, not competition.
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby uconnuser2013 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:56 am

My good friend stone 1. Science is very important and I believe too that people should do a great deal of research into matters of science, but also a good amount of research into consciousness, particularly ones own. I am sorry to hear how much distaste you have for religion and how you think it is a nuisance and should be abolished; I did not mean to spark any debate over religion on any level whatsoever. Now to address your view of meditation. I am afraid you may have been misinformed of the true intention of meditation and its benefits. It seems to me that your understanding of meditation is an act of clearing ones mind, of all thoughts and wisdom, erasing what you know etc. Meditation aim's at not clearing ones mind of all thoughts, because from the position of a beginner, this is quite an impossible task to achieve. I imagine if this were the true purpose, it would turn many practitioners astray from the very beginning. Contrary to this common misconception, meditation aims to have the practitioner simply become aware of ones thoughts, how one reacts to the thoughts arisen, and simply to bring oneself back to focus on ones mind and how ones mind “works”. The practitioner aims to release oneself from unhealthy or negative attachments or reactions that one has as thoughts arise in meditation, or throughout the course of ones day. That's right I said it, meditation is not simply the act of sitting on a rock in a dark cave with a candle. Meditation can apply to all aspects of life, eating, walking, driving etc. A very simple example that I have become aware of in my own life was discovered that when I drive, and let's say someone cut me off, I used to become very angry at that person and quickly my mind would turn into a sort of rage response and reaction mode with little to no awareness of this habitual reaction happening to me. My mind would race with all sorts of negativity towards that person, affecting my thoughts, my driving, and quite possibly the rest of my day afterwards and everyone and everything I come in contact with. What meditation does is allows you to see, how it is you react to situations in life, what thoughts accompany these reactions, and how you can liberate these negative habitual tendencies that, in truth, benefit no one. So instead of reacting with rage, holding onto that rage, and letting it take over my whole day, I simply become aware of the emotion. Just the simple recognition of the emotion within us, at that moment, can be enough to change our whole day around.
Now imagine for a moment practicing this way of experiencing life for 20, 30, or even 40+ years. Imagine the insight you would have into the way you have essentially "wired" your brain to react to daily life. Every moment of everyday you have a chance to become aware of your own thoughts, reactions, and intentions. But of course, if you are perfectly happy with the way you do things (and many people are) then that is truly wonderful, I am happy for you and your success and so maybe meditation isn't for you. But some people greatly benefit from its potential, and by no means does it have to be religious based. Now’s a good time to briefly mention what the Dalai Lama once said, "Buddhist teachings are not a religion, they are a science of the mind." And that brings me to my simplest interpretation of enlightenment as purely an all-encompassing awareness. I myself am reaping the many benefits of mindfulness meditation in my life, and I am doing it without bowing to statues, giving away all my money, begging god and so fourth. If you are at all interesting in learning more I suggest reading some literature by authors such as Jack Kornfield, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hahn and many others.
As for the question you proposed Harry, about a red pill and the blue pill. I too thought about what it would be like to become enlightened and then possibly wanting to go back to the way I was before. But then it struck me after reading your account of an experience you had in your own life. Without even describing my own view of enlightenment (though I do have some disagreements with the view you have proposed) you seem to have indirectly answered your own question. And please correct me if I have misinterpreted this in anyway. "For a trivial example, I learned, as a kid (perhaps 12 years old) that I could deliberately reduce another human being to tears just by talking to them. My success both shocked and shamed me. I have never done it again. I wish I hadn’t done it in the first place but I would argue that the experience contributed to my present “enlightenment”. The fact that you said you wish you hadn't done it, and that you have never done it again contributed to your present enlightenment. So just given that brief example, couldn't you say that given the red pill to enlightenment means you have all the knowledge now similar to that experience after you realized you hurt that boy? Once this knowledge was realized, would you want to hurt the boy ever again? So in the same way, taking the pill of enlightenment will have you realize not solely how you hurt that boy in that one instance, but it will apply to every aspect of your life. In every situation you will have the "enlightenment" “the knowing of the cause and effect of pain” before even having to hurt someone, because you know what the consequence is for both you and the other. So let me ask you Harry, now that you've taken the red pill of enlightenment (understanding the pain of hurting the boy) would you take the blue pill and reverse what you now know?
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:06 pm

First things first, uconnuser2013, I would be grateful for not adressing me as a 'good friend' (yet). That word has eroded since the inflationary use of digital social networks, and I guess we'd both agree that after just sharing some thoughts about meditation and enlightenment it's far too soon for such an intimate salutation.

Secondly, please do your readers a favor and bring a bit more structure to your statements. Possibly you're not used to online posting, but it's rather hard on the eyes to navigate through such a wall of text like your last post. Please just make some paragraphs where appropriate, and every reader will be thankful.

Now for an answer, allright, my interpretation of meditation was seemingly a bit uninformed, but what I tried to express was that one can't get to any conclusions or new wisdom without learning from experience and outer sources. Spending years and years pondering one's own thought processes just to become, how should I put it, a good human being avoiding to hurt other people's feelings, seems to me a bit over the top, in order to avoid saying egocentric or even narcistic.

For me, from how I was brought up by my parents and educated by my teachers, all of that - the sensible interaction with others and with nature, came rather easily. Of course feelings of others got hurt by me and I was hurt by others, but that's an essential part of life from which we (should) learn to react better in the future. And like Harry said, I regret some things I've said and done but they were an essential factor in learning how to behave and I wouldn't want to miss the experience. I guess that's the best way to develop a stable psyche.

Now that I'm approaching my midlife years, I can faithfully say that I live in harmony with my social and natural vicinity (or neighborhood, english is not my primary language, so I don't know which of these words fits best) - but of course there's always things one can improve - gradually. And if there's something that I don't like, I try to change it to the better, by talking to the involved people or changing, for instance, my consumation patterns (fair trade instead of discount shit, for instance). That's what I'd call personal evolvement.

And I didn't meditate a single day in my life (just tried staring into a candle as an adolescent for sometime, it's nice to let one's thoughts wander, but for me it was just a playful experience).
The folowing is just a little joke, not to take seriously: If I had the choice, I'd prefer masturbation over meditation :lol: :oops: .

I'd be interested in your quote of the Dalai Lama about buddhist teachings being a science of the mind. Could you explain that in more detail?
I guess most scientists would disagree with that quote, because one can't be the scientist and the object of science in one person, and self-experimentation most of the time doesn't come up with valid results.
So how on earth should buddhist teachings qualify as a science of the mind?
Or am I completly misinformed (again) and buddhist temples are, indeed, science labs? How are the experiments set up then? And please describe that in your own words, I don't have enough time to read any books about that.
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby HarryStottle » Wed Nov 06, 2013 1:01 am

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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:19 pm

This topic has kept my mind pondering during the recent days and I've come to the conclusion that I should practice my english skills some more. What I've written before was partially based on a misunderstanding because I've translated 'enlightenment' for myself in a religious sense. Your definition, Harry, is covered by the german word 'Aufklärung' which means drawing rational conclusions from fact-based information, like the philosophical concept from the 18th century. The english word covers both meanings, and because uconnuser2013 started the topic with the question of believing in Satori/Enlightenment (the german word is 'Erleuchtung'), hence I've been stuck on that definition.

But a pill that enlightens somebody (in the rational context) - how in hell should that be supposed to work? In my opinion everybody has to enlighten her- or himself through learning (facts, hopefully) and practicing logic.
in Leonard Nimoy's voice: .
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby HarryStottle » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:50 am

you may, on this occasion, be right about it being a language issue, or at least culturally related. In the english speaking world the strongest connection to "Enlightenment" is what we call "The Enlightenment" which is commonly subtitled "" so we have a strong predeliction to assume that enlightenment is associated with rationality.

I think the meaning you associated it with would be more appropriate to "transendence" and "spirituality"

As to how or whether it would work, that's not really an obstacle to asking the question. It's a rich source of fantasy stories, the most recent of which is part 1 (the only good part) of "The Matrix". But actually it's not that bizarre a possibility. Given what we're learning about and similar technologies which directly influence the brain (and, indirectly, the mind) and what we also know about drugs which change the brain (from lsd to modafinil) I don't consider it impossible that a "Rationality Pill" could be created.

Certainly, if I was involved with its design, the main thing I would seek to include would be "amygdalic suppression". I am personally convinced that the most negative aspects of human behaviour are those triggered by the amygdala - the reptile remnant which provides our "kneejerk" responses. Very useful for prompting speedy flight from predators. Very damaging to intelligent discussion. It's the bit that makes us speak before we think, or, as we see in so many online forums, even write before we think, which is why so many degenerate into flame wars. It's the bit that fuels racism and road rage or drunken violence and vandalism.

And it is precisely that part of the brain which, I suspect, Spock's Vulcan ancestors managed to suppress in order to overcome their own species' propensity to violence. Of course, they achieve it through long years of meditation and practice. But there's no obvious reason why a chemical couldn't shortcut the process...
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Re: Can We Program the Human Race to be Enlightened?

Postby Stone1 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:57 pm

Allright, thanks for the explanation. I guess the reptile part of my own brain must be rather vestigial then, because I almost never fell for a 'kneejerk' response in my tiny life, and I always found it hard to understand why other people sometimes behave like that. Even when I'm drunk I'm quite likeable. A bit overenthusiastic and more self-assured than I should be perhaps, but not prone to antisocial behaviour.

I'd agree that for some people though, such a pill - of course prescribed by a competent doctor - might make the world a better place for generally peaceloving creatures like me (in such a world, I'd gladly become a pacifist :mrgreen: ).

On the other hand, and I'm far from a neurologic expert, but I'd object that it could dangerous for a human if the amygdala is strongly suppressed. I'd say that in dangerous situations we need this part of the brain to ensure our survival, so that reaction takes over thinking and we can quickly dash out of the way (of an approaching truck for example whose driver is distracted by a digital gadget our just reading a newspaper), for example - such things happen still, and it's fine with me that I know this only from rumors.


post scriptum: I liked the first Matrix film, too, and several years ago there was a lengthy article which, along with some hundred comments, fascinated me through several nights. It's in german again, so do yourself a favor and don't dig into it, because we both already know the synopsis: it's possible that we are simulated, but if so, it wouldn't matter anyway. And if my memory doesn't fail me, you've written about that topic already, in your book or on this forum.
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