24.11.18

What Is Mind Blowing?

Mind-blown states happen in various ways.
We will require a working concept of Mind, and then we can deal with what ‘blowing’ it means.

Mind

For our purposes, we can say mind is a personal collection of concepts, preferences, and comfort zones. It's precisely what is personally familiar – and what is most familiar becomes invisible in time.

The mind in this sense is what people associate with a box, and hence we have the meme of going outside the box, which is similar to blowing the mind, but only in a limited, specific sense.

So the contents of the box (all that is familiar, or thought to be known) is mind – along with the intense preoccupation with protecting that box, which is the psychological or egoistic aspect of mind.

(Note: Other philosophical traditions, like some forms of Buddhism, use the term Mind usually capitalized, to mean a mental-psychological faculty that has reached a state of order and self-control, a ‘peaceful mind’ – but, we could claim that this term is an oxymoron. I believe Buddhist usages of the term take account of its enigma.)

Blowing

Okay, having our tentative, simple, working concept of Mind, now we can think about blowing it – the most fun part. It's different from going outside the box, because usually the box metaphor only pertains to a certain situation or a goal that needs a fresh approach, or a fix.
You can go outside your box, so to speak, without blowing your mind.
So what we’re getting after here is mind-opening and intellectual expansion to the point of transcending the box, but by forgetting it altogether, either temporarily or permanently. One might argue (and well) that strong, deep realizations are permanent by definition. We might want to take the middle way by wondering if the experience of blowing one's mind does have permanent effects, which just may not be obvious at first.

How does it feel to blow a mind? It's mostly euphoric, as if ascending to a never before visited height, and enjoying the aerial view. In that comparison, there may be some who feel a fear of heights, and who freak out a bit, but it passes.

Moreover, the experience can be ecstatic, because one feels as though the normal location of oneself has shifted, and one can observe that subjectivity from a radically newer and freer point of view – outside oneself yet still aware of being. (This point should bring into sharp question the existential validity of normal, personal, identified points of view.)

Another good analogy in terms of sensation is:

blowing is to the mind,
what
rollercoastering is to the body.

Everybody has felt this mind modification (blown-ness) but one may not know how to think about it. Similarly, everyone has had conscious philosophical thoughts or moods (especially kids and the elderly), but most do not get encouragement to explore them. The broader question is how much attention goes into our deep experiences.

A Gateway

Why is blowing the mind an important experience to describe and better understand? I believe the best answer is that the experience tends to lead to great awakenings in people by giving them a taste, and the hunger, for sweet Understanding. And then, digging Philosophy gives some thinking tools that prime us, so that understandings can flourish.

Seeking out (even craving) blowing one's mind is a useful vernacular image for the much larger prerogative of leading an ‘examined’, well understood life. According to philosophers such as Socrates, the proto-philosopher, that is the good life – the best life, actually.

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23.11.18

On Giving Thanks

24 November 2018, Denver -- It seems to me that gratitude is much deeper, primary, and constant than giving thanks, which expresses gratitude. Apparently gratitude can be an ongoing state of being.

I like this idea. -- I've been pondering how absolutely everything within our consciousness, including our very births, has been imagined, created, and disclosed to us beyond our control.

Everything basically is given to us -- whether someone is a billionaire or an unknown peasant. We all receive gifts as a matter of course in life, and, we do a lot less than we think we do, for whatever we think we have.

And, it seems that a key variant among people is just how well this miraculous principle is understood and appreciated. Is one conscious of the provable fact that there is good reason for constant gratitude?

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1.11.18

The Hospital California

In order to be discharged, after nearly three weeks in that sterile joint, I would undergo the procedure to install a PICC line from my right arm to the top of my heart, threaded through an artery. This would become the valve I could use at home to continue intravenous antibiotics for the next six weeks, 24/7.

One of the medical technicians prepping me before the doctor arrived to insert the PICC line was playing a solid collection of 80s classics, like Tears for Fears’ ‘Shout’. I complimented the musical backdrop, and the three of us began praising that musical era. I even divulged that my go-to band of choice had been The Cure, really my first ‘band’, . . The PICC line installation was the only painless procedure I had experienced as a hospital patient.

*

The mystery of my case was how a person’s hip socket could become infected by Staph (the M.R.S.A strain) in the absence of any lacerations, let alone serious, gory injuries.

I admitted myself to the ER thinking I had a bad tear in my left quadriceps, judging from the sharp pain. Many infectious diseases doctors visited my contagion-control hospital room trying to figure it out -- wearing their bloated, yellow disposable frocks and rubber gloves (M.R.S.A. is not airborne, otherwise they would have been masked, too).

I happened to mention something that occurred about a week before: an ingrown hair in one of my nostrils, and a brief small swelling. The infectious disease doctor clapped her hands as if to say, ‘that’s it!’ -- she said that M.R.S.A. can live happily in noses.  So it all could have started from trying to pry out one of those dry Colorado nasal stalactites. This my friends, is why it is important to ensure that your immune system is as strong as it can be.

The tiny infection in my nostril was like a door opening. Once in the bloodstream the bacteria made a beeline for the weakest area of my body at the time, the hip -- and the rest is history. My ordeal included four operations, a fourteen-inch incision that got stapled shut, and an eighteen day holiday in a quarantined hospital room (with precautions that apparently had made it a little more difficult for nurses to enter when I hit the call button).

*

Back home after being discharged, every night I was dreaming about getting assistance from the nurses in my own bedroom -- in these dreams, I was managing them much more strongly than I could have done in my otherworldly hospital room, sometimes even excoriating their mistakes. To be fair, my nurses and surgeons saved my life, and they remained my heroes regardless of mistakes or scarcity.

In the hospital, I had one episode at night when my assigned nurse and assistant were well over an hour late to arrive with prescribed pain meds during a particularly hard period.

When they did arrive, the scanner would not recognize my ID bracelet, a necessary step before dispensing any medicine -- seemed the situation had become a nightmare. I eclipsed the max ‘10’ pain scale, and had begun to show neurological symptoms of the pain, like shaking feet and tapping hands. When you get that far out, it takes too long to overcome the pain threshold even after swallowing your pills. It was a very difficult, excruciating night. The next day, I had a good talk with the head of nurses.

But in the morning, I watched the sunrise sunbeams stream into my room, and, I had an epiphany about my life (it was, that I had to finish the Ph.D. dissertation and get my degree after a ten year sabbatical of living abroad).

*

Hospitals are strange zones. Many times my tongue got tied up between the words Hospital and Hotel. When you are cozied up in your room, with unlimited food room service, just expected to wait on and further your own healing, one can lose the plot of normal life, with things such as bills to pay.

Room service was available strictly on an old analog phone, a bulky thing, by dialing a special four-digit code. I had a half-depleted blood supply, a bit anemic, and the doctors were encouraging a blood transfusion. Instead of that, I was ordering, on that archaic phone, the pot roast entree, with grilled sweet potatoes, and gravy: the most concentrated and iron-rich things on the menu. My blood strength increased measurably every day, which meant I could stave off the transfusion.

Once I was discharged, I hit reality, my bills, the question of how I would get through the convalescence period, and so on. A friend had mentioned the GoFundMe site, and then I cleared up my view of it. I was a member of Kickstarter, another crowdfunding site, but GFM is like its shadow side, when people’s lives go awry and other people help them get through it. Starting my own campaign* (see link below) turned out to be yet another lesson in humility and in trusting fellow human beings.

* www.gofundme.com/hip-injury-4-surgeries-in-10-days

*

My friends, there is a clear moral to this story. Two, actually.

First, never, ever, fail to understand the initially hidden lessons and meanings of your misfortunes. It may seem clichéd -- but fuck it, it's so true. My time in the hospital was like being held in a mirrored room: for me, at least, it was a fully psychological as well as strictly physical recuperation space. There was a lot of self-reflection, pretty much going on all the time.

Waiting for others to provide assistance was its own humbling scenario. Misfortunes actually are intense and effective times to allow transformations within the personality to occur – especially in the general area of expressing mutual respect for the humans we come into range of, or contact with, on a daily basis.

Secondly, for God's sake, don't pick your nose -- no matter how hard those boogers get. Better just to blow your nose, and get on with your business.

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