Tranquillitys Secret About

My goal in this book is two-fold: to introduce a revolutionary paradigm for understanding ourselves and the world; and to explain the ancient meditation technique that brought me to the insights upon which it is founded. 

This technique appears in different forms in the spiritual and religious traditions which have used it over millennia. And it has been acknowledged as the most efficacious way to reach a direct experience of mind, or the most direct path to a union with God. But the proper way to use it has been largely lost over the last few centuries along with a clear understanding of why it was claimed to be so highly efficient. 

The primary reason for this loss is the mechanical materialism that frames all our thinking today. Lady Anne Conway, a contemporary of René Déscartes in the Seventeenth Century, was the first to use this characterization of his philosophy as the “Mechanical philosophy.” Although Déscartes’ philosophy was not materialism proper, as he held mind to not be material in nature, his was the most significant move to a cognitive framing of all phenomena as the result of mechanical interactions, and he went so far as placing all non-human animals into the machine category. While a full account of Déscartes’ thought is not useful in this work, I want to use Lady Conway’s term to make a distinction between a mechanical materialism, which materialism has evolved into, and a less severe understanding that is not so destructive of the primacy of two aspects of being human — mind and consciousness — which today are asserted to be simply by-products or epiphenomena of material processes in the brain by strict adherents to the mechanical philosophy.

This frame allows nothing but matter, and all that is comprised of matter, to be entertained as real. Anything beyond that is considered to be nothing more than figments of one’s imagination — so this both limits and structures our thoughts about everything. Even those who believe they have moved on from this limiting understanding continue to be fenced in by language, which is structured by it — so that there is no escaping its limitations via a simple substitution or redefinition of concepts. Rather, it will take a truly revolutionary new paradigm and a concomitant reframing of our understanding of ourselves, this world, and reality, and how they come together in the new paradigm. I characterize the difficulty of this change as being like that of meeting an alien race and trying to work out how they see reality before communication can begin — which is very difficult to do when one’s own view is so limited.

I call this revolutionary paradigm Responsive Naturing.

Responsive Naturing can replace the current paradigm of mechanical causality that is used by science, which reduces everything to matter and its physical combinations and interactions. It can do this because, as you will see, it better accounts for all categories of phenomena, and thus includes all the most important human experiences, such as that of beauty, love, and unity, and also that of a rediscovered structure of the world. Responsive Naturing provides a sound foundation for the sciences, without the imposed limitation to mechanical material explanations, so that both science and spirituality can be founded upon this common understanding of how things work.

This novel paradigmatic understanding of reality intrinsically applies to all dimensions of mental phenomena — be it of perceptions, sensations, or thoughts — and from the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics to the stochastic nature of many physical phenomena, to the often accidental, sometimes fortunate, but never sure, character of all human activities. This makes this new paradigm immediately productive in a practical way — it simply works, as I will show. It empowers us in ways that our disjointed and parochial schools of thought lock us out of completely, opening up new possible methods of looking at problems and finding solutions across disciplines. However, understanding the repercussions of the new paradigm upon one's cognitive frame and the concomitant structure of language is difficult to comprehend simply because it is alien to the existing frame and paradigm. The impetus to make the effort is becoming quite clear, however:

Today, the sciences are ruled by the limiting cognitive framing of mechanical materialism, and over the last century, the limitations of that frame and its associated scientific paradigm of physical causality have become obvious: science has become schizophrenic. On one hand, some scientists say everything is strictly determined by the laws of nature, and neither free will nor conscious intent have any involvement in what happens; but others say that the state of the underlying quanta that make-up everything is indeterminate until consciously observed with the intent to measure it.  Mechanical materialism is why scientists say you have no free will, while you obviously experience that you do — and you are held responsible for your actions by society because you do. It is also why scientists cannot find a non-speculative explanation of consciousness on an evolutionary/biological level, even though being conscious is the most obvious aspect of being alive. And these contradictions have infected every aspect of our lives, and our world, by limiting our ability to see the world any other way. Even the formulation of spiritual doctrines is constrained today by this cognitive frame’s presence in our language. This is not an academic matter, as we see clearly in our failure, so-far, to change the path that has brought us to a global environmental collapse and the ecocide of life on Earth.

What is unique about the book’s approach is that it does not speculate about what might be the case, like so much of philosophy does.  Instead, it relies upon meditative and contemplative insights that were gleaned directly from a dedicated advanced meditation practice over 60+ years of the author’s life. These insights were then confirmed by subsequent research into similar forms of this advanced meditation technique found across the world and throughout human history.

As well, I have discovered just how productive this novel paradigm is in understanding ourselves and our world, by its ability to explain simply, and in detail,  so many of our experiences that today are either inexplicable, paradoxical, or ignored ‘for the present’ until some hoped for mechanical explanation will be found. These are in conjunction with a doctoral-level education in Philosophy and a 30 year career in Software Design. The latter was in part focused on automated software development, during which I was confronted with the unsolvable enigma — within the mechanical materialist understanding that I was enculturated into and inculcated with — of Human Creativity. An enigma that set me on a path to discover how that can be. 

Rather than just present this novel paradigm as a fait accompli, the book’s five sections bring the reader through the stages of:

Volume 1. The Way of Unsaying — The need for the articles in the first volume is not to tell the reader how things are, but to unsay the things that they have heard throughout their lives and have taken to heart. This is accomplished by exposing the logical and explanatory limitations of those ideas that usually go unnoticed. This is necessary to do in order to open the reader’s mind to other ways of accounting for phenomena, and navigating life, so that the reader will understand: first, why the meditation technique is so effective; and second, why the novel paradigm will truly advance human knowledge and enable us to change our way of being in the world. To liberate oneself from seeing the world in a particular way is an extremely difficult thing to do. This foundational text uses a well-known skillful means to unseat the understanding that we have all been inculcated with.

Volume 2. The Way of Contemplation — In this volume, the paradigm of Responsive Naturing is developed, building upon the dialogs in volume 1, The Way of Unsaying. This volume challenges the reader, since breaking free of one’s existing cognitive frame and paradigmatic understanding is not a trivial exercise, and neither is restructuring one’s thoughts to fit into a new paradigm. This section explains what ‘Responsive Naturing’ means, how it works in both spiritual and scientific senses, my specific arguments for why it is the answer to our need for a better way to account for phenomena and experience, and how our way of being in the world can change because of it. I attempt to show, via a myriad of independent fields of study, just how powerful this paradigm is in explaining the various phenomena that until now, either had no scientific explanation, or had an incoherent and never proven one.

Volume 3. The Way of Tradition — This volume provides the reader with traditional descriptions of similar types of meditation to that which I am presenting. These techniques are related by the unusual support for meditation that they use: that of Inner Spontaneous Sound. This information is provided for two reasons: 1) to validate the technique I present in volume 4, The Way of Meditation, by showing the high esteem that these techniques have been held in by all spiritual traditions, and 2) to present a rational explanation for the technique’s effectiveness, based upon responsive naturing. 

Volume 4. The Way of Meditation — This volume describes the practice that I call “Great Responsiveness Meditation” which will allow the reader to: 1) engage in a long-term meditative and contemplative practice in order to attain the insights that are the foundation for the novel paradigm that I am presenting; and 2) to benefit from two unique side-effects of using inner spontaneous sound: one which protects the meditator during traumatic and extreme emotional experiences, especially of the kind now expected because of the current global environmental and societal crises; and the other — which is widely attested to — is an alchemical-like change in the meditator, who quickly displays compassion with no self-centered concern. In Buddhism, this is known as “Mahakaruna,” which is the type of responsive compassion displayed by all enlightened beings. It is a permanent change in how we live our life, and it enables each of us to overcome our worst inculcated selfish behaviors.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

About James
The goal of my writing is to promote an unconstrained science founded upon an inclusive cognitive frame that allows us to go beyond the inherited limitations of mechanical materialism. To advance that goal, I present a novel paradigm for understanding ourselves and our world, which is called Responsive Naturing. The