Please note: The video of this presentation is on Vimeo here and the Q&A session is here.

A Decisive Experience of Now

“ταὐτὸν δ᾽ ἐστὶ νοεῖν τε καὶ οὓνεκέν ἐστι νόημα”
“It is the same: awareness and that because of which there are the appearances.”
(Parmenides, fragment B8, line 34)

Having the habit of sitting for long periods, abiding, with hardly a thought, focused on the reverberations of the manifestation of my form arising as characteristic inner spontaneous sounds, colors, and lights, I was amazed one day when something unusual happened.

Suddenly, I realized where I was. It arrived as a flash of recognition, not as a thought, for this was different — it was not so much something added to what was happening, as something suddenly no longer there. It was that bare perspective that normally abided, a characterless perspective which didn’t so much disappear, as it did reverse, no longer lost immanently within the sounds, colors and light, but present clearly. And that clearing was remarkably familiar.

That bare perspective, that had been abiding as the audible and luminous naturing, suddenly paused, unmoving, unabiding, unhitched, just there, clearly present, holding all that was arising as a mother holds her newborn child — still attached, lovingly, while the naturing continued, not separate in any way, as if stillness and motion were not different. And this is when I realized “I” was the Now — the pure, unchanging, unmoving presence immanent in the naturing. This clear Now is the “ing” of all possible descriptions of what is happen-ing. The quality that all the words I tried to use to name it, ending in “-ness,” were always after.

And I realized that this was definitive. This was the pure truth, at least as much as would ever show its face on this side of the Event Horizon. This was now! The Now which was no thing at all but in which all things appeared.

And it later dawned on me, that this is how Science and Spirituality would find their common ground. We discriminate, distinguish, dichotomize, and vivisect so many things out of the vast array of the appearances that we experience, naming them as we go, so much so, we can’t see the ground because of the forest we have created with our thoughts and words.

This is that ground. And it is ever-present in every moment of experience. We just don’t see it. We can’t break through all these cuts and bruises we have inflicted on the Truth. Now, this bare perspective that is the ground, the place, the venue, for everything that arises, is covered over and hidden by the myriad entities that we automatically carve reality up into in every moment of experience. Found in everything by our discerning mind, not realizing that all that there is, all that appears, and all that we experience, are not many things, and are not different in nature, we take this commonality to be a pervasive container of it all. Yet, the source and the ground for all that is, is truly indistinguishable from it. We confuse ourselves, and call it Time.

The Now is not a time, nor is it Time itself. It is Presencing — the presence that is this naturing that arises as all that appears. It is that which sites all times, allowing the possibilities to present. It is the venue of all experience, all consciousness, all awareness, all being, and imbues it all with the character of duration.

How can anything endure if there is no perspective? Finding it awkward, we make the perspective a view from nowhere, but there is nowhere else. The Now is the clearing that is that perspective. Whatever arises does so Now. Whatever passes away does so Now. Whatever is held to endure does so Now — this bare, clear perspective of Now, is characterized by limitless names, all pointing at abstractions of the Truth. But this is not a perspective from nowhere. This is the perspective for the very being of “to be,” the naturing of nature, the knowing of the known, the wakefulness of the awake, and the cognition of the cognizable.

It is this perspective that we grasp hold of, uncomprehendingly, and announce “I am.” And it is this misunderstanding that is the foundation for all dualistic grasping. Yet it is also the basis of all scientific knowledge because it makes it seem like time is passing and things are happening, each according to its nature. This passing of time is the conceptual time that we cognize as the fundamental dimension of all studied things, and of all practical knowledge. Call this perspective awareness (or any of the myriad of names deployed for it) and you clarify nothing, but call it Now and all becomes clear.

Phenomena continuously arise and seem to endure for a while, yet I’ve directly seen that nothing has such a single, permanent, independent, truly existing self, so how could they endure? Even so, in the experience of enduring for a while, I’ve directly seen that phenomena are evanescent, so that though there has to be a time for each to exist, a time unique to each and every phenomenon, these times cannot be real themselves for there is no entity called Time.

So time must be something about phenomena, not something that phenomena exist in — and this is called its duration.

And I’ve seen how each phenomenon has a formal appearance, so that this essence is the playing out of their form. But when would those times be and how would they become? What other is there?

Thought is useless to see the answer. Instead, I realized that Now, when it clears, is the only “when” that makes these forms of time appear. And this was the perspective that I saw barely as “me,” as I held tightly to what appeared to be. But Now is the real presence here, so I see the Real evidenced by all that comes to be and passes, and all that does, exists. But what exists is not other, so the Real encompasses it all, all of this activity, in this clear presence I know now.

It happens now and then as I abide, that the clouds of appearances part and this clearing, and all that it upends, cuts through it all. I remember this in every passing moment, greeting each as an old friend in new clothing, as I continue along my way.

We will have to clarify our way of speaking about all of this.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

Introductory Comments

I am going to briefly describe a new paradigm for thinking about how the world works.

This will entail a brief discussion of the difference and interaction between a paradigm, its foundational cognitive frame, and how our language is structured by both, and in turn ensures that we adhere to both, by limiting our thoughts with its structure and strictures.

I will then explain how this novel paradigm explains the fluid motion that we see while watching videos or films.

This is a practical application of this novel paradigm. One that the paradigm was not designed around, in fact. This paradigm initially was meant to explain how we can think thoughts and reason about them.

There is a great mystery as to how we see fluid motion in videos and films, which has no adequate or plausible scientific explanation at the present time.

I have picked this phenomenon because it occupies a very large amount of time for each of us every day. Our eyes are actually seeing still images being projected very quickly, for a very short period of time — 40 ms or less in fact — but only if the images contain continuously coherent content do we see motion. The processing needed to recognize that content and its coherency makes it unlikely that the brain can be doing this alone. And in fact, it’s not just humans that see fluid motion when presented a video or film. Apparently, even parrots (and other species) see it, and yet they have markedly smaller brains.

Finally, I want to explain how this paradigm of Responsive Naturing can be so helpful to us in understanding our own life, our hopes and dreams, and our free choice, and how those are manipulated, misdirected, and twisted into consumerism for the benefit of others.

I will be showing exactly how our affective responses to each moment of our lives adds weight to certain possibilities, so that they are more likely to occur. That our affective responses are considered evidences a concern for all beings by this Responsive Naturing.

First Contact: Cognitive Frames, Paradigms, & Language

“What are the challenges to instantiating this paradigm?”

I want to first define what I mean by a Paradigm, and by a Cognitive Frame:

What is a Paradigm? It is a philosophical and theoretical framework within which theories, laws, concepts, and experiments performed in support of them, are formulated within science — and more broadly: any philosophical framework for understanding how reality works.

What is a Cognitive Frame? It as a rigid axiomatic understanding which restricts what is acceptable for thinking, and excludes what is not, based solely upon commonly-held ‘obvious’ truths that we are enculturated into, inculcated with, and to which we add our own self-derived, limited, understandings of our world. Because of this, our understanding necessarily remains incomplete, inflexible, and ultimately, contrived.

It is my contention that overcoming our cognitive frame — and our language which is structured by it — is extremely difficult. Language in particular keeps us locked into our current cognitive frame to the extent that it does not support the new cognitive frame. For example, in traditional meditation, it is notoriously difficult to communicate a meditative insight using our everyday language, and in fact, the attempt is frowned upon because the effort changes the memory of the experience. Poetry helps. It is the same for experiences that occur during the use of psychedelics, by the way.

Our current cognitive frame is Mechanical Materialism — I use the qualifier “mechanical” to honor Lady Anne Conway, the 17th Century English philosopher and contemporary of René Descartes, who was the first to describe his philosophy as the “mechanical philosophy.”

Humans have discovered only two ways to change our cognitive frame:

First) Traditional meditation practices crafted to the production of profound insights. This is not mindfulness meditation that I am speaking about. The attainment of enlightenment can be adequately described as an absence of any cognitive framing.

Second) Through the use of psychedelic substances. Which is seeing a renaissance of active scientific research once again — though use of these substances remains largely illegal around the world.

I believe there is one other way: to educate humans from birth into a new cognitive frame.

I am speaking here of teaching them a different language, one crafted to the new paradigm, and educating them in the new paradigm itself. This is how society today, and throughout time, enculturates and inculcates its current cognitive frame and paradigm. Language binds a people together, but it also binds the people to an understanding of reality. One could almost see it as a weapon — not to use against enemies, but to use against our descendants in order to maintain our understanding of reality. Today, we see the same effort within philosophy and science. Max Plank’s comment that “science advances one funeral at a time,” is a reflection of this. Without a complete break, change comes only incrementally and slowly, as our language must shift first.

Owen Barfield’s book “History in English Words” is a particularly useful portrayal of how language changes. Take for example the prefix “auto.” Originally it meant ensouled and self-moved. As the current paradigm took hold in the 17th Century and later, “auto” morphed into meaning mechanical.

In Benjamin Lee Whorf’s book “Language, Thought & Reality,” he asserted:

“The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscope flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds — and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and describe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it in this way — an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language. The agreement is, of course, an implicit and unstated one, BUT ITS TERMS ARE ABSOLUTELY OBLIGATORY; we cannot talk at all except by subscribing to the organization and classification of data which the agreement decrees.”⁠1

The Paradigm of Responsive Naturing Briefly

Never once was, never will be, since now is at once total: One coherent.
(Parmenides, fragment B8, lines 5–6a)

The following is a concise description of the novel paradigm of Responsive Naturing:

A. Responsive Naturing is a nonmaterial substratum of cognizance immanent within space, but not in space (ref. The 14th Century mystic Meister Eckhart’s sermon about the difference between wine in a barrel and the wine that is in the staves of the barrel, you can apply that here). And this cognizance is not mentality, nor mind — it is instead, that by which mentality and mind are natured. That is to say, all mental events arise in the brain, but not created or caused by the brain. The demarcation between this substratum and that which is actually natured is called the “Event Horizon.”

B. This means that there is no consciousness, no awareness, as conventionally understood. Why is this done? The foundational point that I must make, which is from the profound meditative insight that I have been blessed with, is that we are not directly aware of things outside ourselves, that awareness is not like a mirror, and being aware is not personal — but it is perspectival. We are only aware of what is happening within ourselves, and this activity of being aware is an impersonal recognition of what is happening within us. This does not mean that we are completely disconnected from the outside and from each other. It means that we are aware of the outside world and each other as a result of our sense perceptions, as you would expect, but those perceptions go through a process that involves the body’s nervous system, the brain, and the recognition of the patterns of brain activity that are the correlates of specific perceptions which is already known as a pattern of possible naturing — that is to say, it is recognized, and that recognition is within the substratum of Responsive Naturing. We are not directly aware of anything outside of our proper being. However, this substratum is omnintrinsic* to all beings and is the store of what can be called wisdom.

*The neologism “omnintrinsic” means intrinsic within every natural thing.

C. Why is there no awareness or consciousness?

1st. Consciousness has never been found, and correlates of conscious activity in the brain are only indicative of consciousness if we are working within a cognitive frame of materialism, and specifically mechanical materialism in which everything is a material mechanism. The brain being the big mechanism. But we have been unable to find consciousness there. Suggestions that we have, all involve a redefinition of what the word consciousness means. For example that it is information.

2nd. If consciousness is in our brain then there are phenomena that are necessarily nonrational*, which means unexplainable. I am speaking here of phenomena that do not arise from the processing of sense perceptions — visions, for example, or meditative insights. My meditation uses what I call inner spontaneous sounds — and specifically sounds of the four elements, Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind — which do not arise as the result of my auditory system. And the biggest and most important nonrational phenomenon is thoughts. How do we create our thoughts? As I will explain further on, it is impossible that we create our thoughts, because that means that we somehow know what the thought is to be before we think it, and that is impossible in our current understanding of reality. Placing the origin of thoughts in some from of subconscious process, merely sweeps the problem under a rug.

* Nonrationality is the result of the exclusion of large swaths of human experience by our current Cognitive Frame. Because it does not encompass facts of our interior life — those events that are not susceptible to being reduced to interactions of matter — so they are simply ignored. This leaves us bewildered as to how to explain these non-acceptable phenomena that we experience in our lives.

3rd. If consciousness is in our brain, then we have no way to be conscious of anything outside of our bodies during certain extraordinary events — for example, Near Death Experiences, feeling the character of another person’s mind (something that made my life very difficult as a child), having out-of-body experiences, and others. But the biggest, and most unacknowledged, because we don’t think deeply about it, is the felt duration and motion of our lives. More on this later.

To continue:

1. In this paradigm, every natural thing is a living being with an ontogenetic form that defines the potential of that being’s development. For example, we are all human. This potential is modified — both naturally and accidentally — as the being is informed* over its life.

* The intended meaning of “inform” is its original etymological sense as first used in the 14th century: of giving concrete form to something, or to make known in an actual sense, rather than a conceptual one.

2. The local process of informing a form is what I call a sæculum. A sæculum is a ‘coming together’ for a potential processual morphogenesis — i.e., a life. A sæculum is the cognizant, but impersonal, responsive naturing of that particular ontogenetic form — its actual process of being natured is called its ontogenetic information.**

** Information is the proper name of the process of informing, described above.

3. Note that there is no independent self-nature (own being) anywhere, in any being. This means that nothing has self-existence. This responsive naturing is omnintrinsic — that is, responsive naturing is shared intrinsically within all sæcula. This means that there are no entities anywhere. Think waves on an ocean as being the sæcula, and the ocean being the potential of all sæcula — except there are no waves, and no ocean.

4. What is the actual ‘raw material’ involved here? Sæcula. Every complex being is comprised of a sæculum that is entangled in an organized way with other sæcula according to its ontogenetic potential, and those other sæcula are contained within the sæculum. This is a body. Each and every one of those contained and entangled sæcula is potentially entangled in an organized way with more sæcula, until a terminal level of sæcula is reached. This will be in the quantum realm. This accounts for organs, cells, organelles, molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. I call this the deeply-nested and recursive organic structure of ontogenetic forms.

Organic, here, means having a systematic coordination of sæcula. And systematic means natured according to an ontogenetic form. All of these sæcula have their proper information.

5. The informing by the sæculum is responsive to what the ontogenetic form’s fate is at each moment, fate being the sæculum’s actual state in each moment. One’s fate being where we start from, not where we end up. This takes into account what part of that potential is possible Now, given the current context of that and all other sæcula that are entangled together in that moment. The only constraint being that in each reconfiguration, what is natured is coherent and continuous with that fate and what is possible given the extant context. The attentional focus upon the possibilities of this Naturing is modified by intention and desire, if any is within the capacity of the being, and that attentional shift ‘boosts’ certain possibilities in the current context over others. All the entangled sæcula are attentive in some way that is limited by the potential of the sæculum’s ontogenetic form. Note, that I slipped a small point in just above: there is no time as conventionally understood. This naturing natures a timeless reconfiguration that is cascaded through all of the actual sæcula of this particular being — a system wide collapse of the being’s probability ‘wave functions’. Note that this removes the schism between the quantum and classical levels of physical phenomena.

6. When a sæculum ‘dies’, its constituent sæcula, if any, continue or die depending upon each sæculum’s potential and their particular entanglement. Dying means becoming unentangled from the prior entangled sæculum or sæcula, thus becoming merely matter.

“Matter”, as used in this new paradigm, means accumulations, heaps, clouds, mixes, solutions, etc., of natural beings which, while the accumulation may have a nonrandom structure, there is no organizing principle — no ontogenetic form — and thus no lifespan, for such accumulations. Within an accumulation of non-entangled sæcula, these sæcula are matter to each other. Because a sæculum is what ‘energizes’ an ontogenetic form, you can think of it as a form of energy, both potential and actual. Today, Physics accounts for matter, energy, and their interactions, while ignoring the being of the constituents of matter.

When a simple sæculum dies it becomes dark matter.

7. This naturing then, which we can only know through the evidence of the formal appearances — because they are intelligible — can be seen to have three indivisible aspects:

(a) That there is no entity involved in this responsive naturing — neither as a real thing, nor as a being, because that which is real can only be said to be the active principle of the essential naturing of the formal appearances within this Totality, and it certainly cannot be any formal appearance that manifests, such as a ‘supreme being’. This allows us to have science as a means of developing knowledge.

(b) That this active principle is cognizant — because that is the essential nature of this activity: knowing through the genesis of form (“sciomorphogenesis”).

© That this naturing is responsive — everything happens as an indeterminate (i.e. creative) spontaneous response to current facts, latent coherent ontogenetic potentials, the contextual extant possibilities, as well as affective intents (attention, intention, and desire), if any, depending upon the capacities made possible by each ontogenetic form). This excludes a causal mechanism or actor, such as that found at the heart of Determinism, Materialism, Physicalism, Pantheism, and Intentional Design, and all of their derivatives.

Note that the intelligibility of this naturing is only possible because our thoughts and reasoning are similarly natured, and it is the activity of responsive naturing and its cognizance of what is natured that is the repository of all formal patterns, including those that we designate as a priori knowledge and intuitions of logical and mathematical truths. Thus, mentality is actualized within a brain by naturing the thoughts within it. This overcomes the paradoxical impossibility of our thinking our own thoughts, which I spoke of earlier. The meaning of mental events, that is, the recognition of the mental events, are in the substratum as a potential ability to nature something, such as the intricate constructions of language statements that are a concept.

Given all of this, responsive naturing is not Panpsychism, nor Idealism, as both experiences and thinking are at the level of an individual actualized being; but the source of both is not the brain — which has only an ancillary involvement.

Going a step further, the evident fact that the salient character of this activity is coherent order — and not chaos — shows that this activity of responsive naturing can be and should be seen, not as a result of a primordial coin-toss selecting which way it would go — order or chaos — but as an ever-present concern to nurture and care for all ontogenetic forms that appear throughout this manifested universe. This is not a soteriological activity, nor is it teleological — it is simply the axiomatic concern displayed by the activity of Responsive Naturing.

Finally, this naturing can be understood to be a divine creation — however, it is an evident, axiomatic fact without any need for recourse to a divine origin. The difference between these two understandings is a personal choice, without any prejudice. Thus, it encompasses both science and spirituality. There is one more thing I must explain, but I will do so after we first examine the apparent motion in video and film.

What is Apparent Motion in Film and Video?

The Myth of Persistence of Vision

Video: Animation basics- The optical illusion of motion — TED-Ed (Posted July 2013)


1. Narrator calls apparent motion an illusion. It’s not. It’s really there. An illusion is a hack of our visual perception that makes us see something that is not actually perceived. An example of an illusion in film is the Kuleshov Effect. I will use an example from an old Hitchcock film to show it to you.

Video: Kuleshov Effect

The Kuleshov Effect is used in the 2016 film “Arrival” in which a repeated scene with the main character, portrayed by Amy Adams, has no discernible affect — no outward expression of emotion — in each repeated scene, yet we infer different feelings for the character, depending upon what happened in the scene just preceding it. Kuleshov, who pioneered this hack in the 1910s and 20s, asserted that filmmakers could harness the emotional reactions that viewers brought to a particular scene and fundamentally change their perceptions. This is an illusion because we are not actually perceiving the affect, but adding it to what we are viewing. This is not at all what is happening in the apparent motion of video and film. We perceive fluid motion, not the actual flashing still images — as long as the conditions of speed and coherent continuity are met.

2. When Hugo Münsterberg states that apparent motion is ‘superadded’ by the action of the mind, he was referring to the operations of the brain. I will show you just how formidable these operations must be, and therefore, how unlikely it is that the brain alone accomplishes them in realtime.

3. Narrator: “Form, color, depth, and motion”: these are switched to different areas of the brain by the retina. This process is called “encoding” by scientists. These encodings are brought together by “the continuous interaction of various computations in the Visual Cortex that ‘stitch’ those different aspects together and culminate in our perception.” Note that actual motion, the fourth category mentioned, is seen by our eyes and is encoded as motion. But how does that happen? And how does it relate to the apparent motion in video and film?

4. Narrator: “In order to create the illusion of motion via successive images we need to get the timing of our intervals close to the speed at which our brains process the present.” But note, the present is now, so the speed of these computations must be instantaneous! So how is that overlooked?

5. Narrator: “Generally speaking we lose awareness (of seeing separate images) around 100 ms or 10 fps.” This is false as can be seen in the next short video.

Video: Random Images | 24 FPS Strobe SEIZURE WARNING!

This video shows that we do not lose awareness of seeing separate images when those images are random — we see each image clearly.

Activity: First, assure yourself that you can see each image that appears and identify its contents. Then try quickly blinking your eyes in order to see frames held longer, before it is overwritten the next time you open your eyes. This is a persistence of vision. But try just closing your eyes and note that you do not see an image with your eyes closed. This shows that images don’t stick around because there is a ‘chemical reaction’ in the eyes. But what is happening? The truth eludes us at the present time. Note that it does not create motion.

Picture: Double Vision — my iPhone produced this photo taken of the video playing on my laptop, that I just showed you. It shows the effect not of persistence of vision, but the frame rate being quicker than the ‘shutter speed’ (exposure time) of my camera. We do not see such double exposures in this video of random images — our vision is perfect.

Quote: Mary C. Potter and her team at MIT did a study of how well we can detect the meaning of a random image in a stream of images as I just showed you. In describing the results, she found that “The results of both experiments show that conceptual understanding can be achieved when a novel picture is presented as briefly as 13 ms and masked by other pictures.”⁠2

Note: 13 ms is approximately 77 fps. These images were random.

Takeaway: We do not ‘lose’ awareness of the images, as this second video clearly shows. Instead, if certain conditions are met, an apparent stream of fluid motion replaces the static images.

Think about the kind of processing that needfully must take place in the brain for the presentation of apparent motion: the brain must see the second image before it can know that the content of these images are coherent with one another, or not, so that it knows whether or not to show the first image as it is, or as fluid motion instead! Why would our brain have this faculty already before the appearance of human filmmaking? There are no naturally occurring films in the wild.

They no longer do animation this way, using individual illustrations painstakingly drawn by hand. Today, computers are used to ‘render’ the action using models of possible physical movement of each character and directions for what they must do in each scene. Toy Story, the first wildly successful computer-animated film required 800,000 machine hours and 114,240 frames of animation in total, divided between 1,561 scenes that totaled over 77 minutes. Pixar was able to render less than 30 seconds of the film per day — that’s how computationally intensive the process was. How unlikely it is that a human brain does this in that manner of computing individual pixels in order to construct apparent motion — and yet, it is constructed.

This is a big issue.

Let’s continue and see how Apple describes the workload of processing pictures and video on its iPhone.

Now, I want to make something clear here. I am using a few short videos to show just how much work is involved for a device to process pictures and video, but I could just tell you, so why am I showing the videos? Because I want you to pay attention to how much focus is given to the energy efficiency and speed of the devices. Interestingly, I have been so far unable to find any scientific paper which talks about the brain processes involved in doing this kind of Bayesian inference processing in the brain, that talks about the energy and time necessary to do so. That is not just for pictures and video, but nowadays for the underlying process of all perceptions.

Video: A16 Bionic Silicon

4 trillion operations per photo — approximately 100 trillion (1014) operations per second for 24 fps video — and that is just for processing each of the 24 images.

Note: When you take a photo with an iPhone, the camera captures several frames at different exposures. The A16 Bionic chip, then uses machine learning (Bayesian inference) to analyze these frames and identify different elements in the scene, such as people, sky, background, and objects. This corresponds to the “encoding” of image components in the brain. Once the elements are identified, the chip applies different adjustments to each one. For example, it might brighten up a person’s face, enhance the color of the sky, and bring out the detail in a building. These adjustments are made on a frame-by-frame basis, ensuring that every part of the photo looks its best. After the adjustments are made, the frames are combined into a single image. This final image retains detail in both the light and dark areas, has accurate and vibrant colors, and looks balanced and natural — in an attempt to replicate human vision.

Video: Apple Action Mode: This is a very real issue. Our view of our surrounding environment is steady, even while our body is bouncing around — including our eyes. How is the stability of that view maintained?

The task for the camera system and our brain are somewhat similar — and given our current paradigm and cognitive frame, the brain must be doing this. There is no other possible answer, and this shows itself in the absence of any concern for energy, time, or heat dissipation needs in current scientific explanations.

Today some number of scientists see all of our perceptions as being constructed using Bayesian prediction (Anil Seth, in the UK, for example). But these scientists never mention the time the brain will take to process the prediction, nor how the brain implements Bayesian inference, nor what the resource requirements of doing this are (which must very resource intensive).

To co-opt the name of a recent Academy Award-winning film — the brain does Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, Now!

Quote: “In the light of contemporary discoveries about visual processing, the simple myth of persistence of vision appears as naive as the story of Adam and Eve in the light of contemporary anthropology. But just as anthropology is hard-pressed to replace the myth of creation with an equally satisfying story, so contemporary psychology is in the embarrassing position of having destroyed our faith in the unity of psychology and aesthetics as bound up in the myth of persistence of vision and yet remaining unable to supply a surrogate explanation to bridge the basic schism in our film theory.”⁠3

Quote: “If we viewers process the motion in a motion picture the same way we process motion in the real world, then we must ask how we process motion in the real world.”⁠4

The Solution: Responsive Naturing

It is the Coherent Continuity between images, as well as the speed of arrival of those images, that determines whether we see flashing individual images or fluid motion.

Let’s think about how Responsive Naturing can do this.

A first image comes in all by itself — we see that image.

A first image comes in quickly followed by another without any coherent continuity between them — we see those as separate images; but remember to recognize their possible coherent continuity, both images must be processed first. Interestingly, early modern humans had the same brains as we have. Think about that. Where did we get the ability to do this processing? And for that matter, where does a parrot get it.

A first image coming in quickly followed by another image with a coherent continuity of shared contents — we see smooth fluid motion, not the images that our eyes are actually seeing. So on top of the additional processing to recognize the coherent continuity, the fluid motion must be constructed. It’s a problem if the brain, as a material mechanism, has to use Bayesian inference to figure out if the contents are coherent. But then the fluid motion must be constructed. But how? Contrast that with Responsive Naturing. But remember in Responsive Naturing the recognized patterns of what is natured are there in the substratum, and the recognition of the naturing recognizes what is natured by pattern matching — matching the pattern of the encoded pieces of an image as represented by the neural activity in the different parts of the brain that those signals get sent to. So Responsive Naturing doesn’t need to do calculations.

This structure of stored patterns of past recognitions is very similar to the posterior events that Bayesian inference spends large amounts of time having to calculate and assign probabilities to. But Responsive Naturing natures according to potential and possibility, so this naturing has no need to compute and assign probabilities — they are already there in the recognized patterns. How efficient! No Bayesian processing to do.

A key point is that while Responsive Naturing presents a simpler solution to how video and film is recognized and converted into fluid motion, it still needs to be explained how the fluid motion is informed. The answer is simple and significant. It is the recognition of the coherent continuity found in each reconfiguration. That is, our embodied lives are constructed motion also. It’s the same fundamental process that creates all motion: the motion of our lives, the perceived motions in our environment, and the motions inferred in flashing coherent still images. The key evidence is that random images are seen exactly as they are, even up to a speed of approximately 77 fps, according to recent research, so it is the recognition of the coherent continuity between images which are determinative as to what we see — and that coherent continuity is what we experience.

If this is NOT the case, then there is a significant problem with natural selection: why would our ability to construct fluid motion have evolved? There are no naturally occurring movies found in the wild. What possible benefit would this ability to see fluid motion have given us, in the absence of any naturally occurring phenomena? Our visual system sees motion directly and has for tens of thousands of years, as evidenced by the techniques used by our early human ancestors in their cave paintings.

If it is the case, then we also have an answer for the Bayesian prediction crowd’s failure to explain how the brain does its calculations, or what its energy and time demands are, or even the heat dissipation required for such a difficult task: all experience arises in the same manner, via the recognition of coherent continuity within the patterns of neural activity in the whole body. This is why we have a brain: to do analog signal processing, and maintain autonomic functions. And this is why we aren’t directly aware of our whole body, rather than mediated through nerves and senses: so that this information can be recognized by its patterns of neural activity once it arrives in the brain.

There is no time, there are no entities, awareness will never be found, and what we perceive is constructed out of the recognized patterns of neural activity in our brain as it performs analog signal processing of sense impressions.

Our view of the world — that which we see all around us — is in the brain, but placed there by responsive naturing.

The operations of the brain are dependent upon energy resources, processing complexity (‘time’), and, of course, have to obey the laws of thermodynamics — these three being among the contextual conditions that this naturing ‘takes into account’.

The naturing of each reconfiguration is not resource limited, or at least, is not limited in the way that what is natured is limited, and is only constrained by the absolute necessity to maintain the coherent continuity of that which is natured.

We can see similar constructions with all of our senses: binaural ‘beats’, taste synergies, touch sensations elicited in different parts of the body, etc. In each case, we perceive something that is constructed, and do not perceive what is actually sensed.

One more thing: If we insist that apparent motion is constructed by our brain alone, then we must ask why the brain has this faculty, since there are no naturally occurring films in the wild. I keep repeating this, because it is an important point. Either we accept that Natural Selection is incomplete or wrong, or we accept some paradigm like Responsive Naturing — which explains both.

What’s in this for us?

Free Choice:

We choose what we pay attention to.

We choose what we intend to do.

We desire what we want to have in our life.

This is Free Choice.

By making this clear in the paradigm of responsive naturing, I am explaining not only the information of all natural beings, I am also pointing out that this process of naturing takes each of us into account in the reconfigurations that it natures.

And in poetic moments, I call this concern, even loving concern, because there is often a little creativity in what response comes, that moves us ever-closer to our individual intended goal.

But WARNING: these three aspects of our freedom to choose: attention, intention, and desire are manipulated, prefigured for us, and twisted into consumerism, to such extent that we never can be sure that it is we who are choosing, rather than being programmed.

This understanding makes clear what we need to change if we are to be free. And by being free we can choose individually, a different way to be in the world and be towards each other. This is immense.

Tranquillity’s Secret

I am in the process of editing and finalizing a significant book in four volumes (1,400 pages total), for publication, titled: “Tranquillity’s Secret.” I want to mention what these volumes contain, because they illustrate what is, in my view, involved in adopting a Kuhnian “revolutionary paradigm,” rather than a more genteel paradigm-shift into something with a little more wiggle room than our current paradigm.

Volume 1 is called The Way of Unsaying: its purpose 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. Before learning a new paradigm, we must loosen the hold of our present way of understanding the world — and in the paradigm of Responsive Naturing, that understanding lies in the substratum, being the record of everything that has occurred in our life to the present moment. This is why mystics use unsaying, which is an apophatic performance.

Volume 2 is The Way of Contemplation: it explains what Responsive Naturing is, how it works in both spiritual and scientific senses, my 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.

Volume 3 is The Way of Tradition: is a review of traditional descriptions of types of meditation that use what I call “inner spontaneous sound” in order to quickly attain a direct experience of the nature of that which we call mind.

Volume 4 is The Way of Inner Meditation: it describes the practice that I call “Great Responsiveness Meditation.” This is the practice that brought the insights that led me to the formulation of Responsive Naturing.

Tranquillity’s Secret is presently available to read on

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།


1. “Language, Thought & Reality,” by Benjamin Lee Whorf, edited by John B. Carroll, 1956, pgs 213–24

2. “Detecting Meaning In RSVP At 13 ms Per Picture,” Mary C. Potter, et al., of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in “Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics,” 2014 76:270–279, DOI 10.3758/s13414–013–0605-z

3. “The Myth of Persistence of Vision,” Joseph Anderson & Barbara Fisher, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Journal of the University Film Association, Fall 1978, Vol. 30, №4, Topics In Film/Video/Photography Theory (Fall 1978), pp. 3–8 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the University Film & Video Association,

4. “The Myth of Persistence of Vision Revisited,” Joseph and Barbara Anderson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Journal of Film and Video, Vol. 45, №1 Spring 1993: 3–12.

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