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quiXilver

Voluntary vs Involuntary

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quiXilver

Does the world happen to me?  Or am I happening to the world?

Or is it a contiuum of both?  There are no waves with only crests. 

Do I breathe?  Or am I breathed?  Or is there breathing and at times, I become consciously aware of it... like life?

 

I readily identify with the conscious aspect of my awareness most keenly.  But what of all the aspects of life that are utterly involuntary, that arise and unfold, underneath conscious awareness?  Are these not me as well?  Do I, if I own my body (which i contest but nevermind that for now), do I own that which arises in my body involuntarily as readily as that which 'i choose' to do?

Of awareness... only the slimmest sliver of it manifests in the 'waking conscious mind'.  The vast majority of it, inhabits the sub-conscious awareness of the trillions of individual cells that comprise the being of my body and the simultaneous unfolding of their processes.

I am not one organism known as a human, aside from on certain scale of magnification.  Become more myopic and the smooth seeming skin of my hand, becomes a craggy mountain range.  On another level even more myopic, it is a collective tribe of similar individual cells, working individually and together to house my muscles, bones and veins.  All without my conscious awareness.

 

On a certain scale, i am but a flea, moving about on a moist bit of molten rock, circling and indistinct speck of light, in a sea of unperceived light.

Which is most real?  The voluntary, or the involuntary?

Where does the line cross between that 'which i choose to do' and that 'which i am compelled to do?'

 

So many processes unfolding in the life I call 'mine'.  Most beneath conscious awareness.

Hormone production, secretion and absorption.

Meal digestion.

Hair, and nail growth.

All occur while I sleep.

 

Women grow entire human beings, while doing other things...

 

Where does the organism stop and the ecosystem begin, when the ecosystem is comprised entirely of organisms?

 

What i used to claim as voluntary... i often now experience as compulsory, and after the fact, looking back and analyzing, I'll come back with an explanation of 'why I chose it'.

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XenoFish
1 minute ago, quiXilver said:

Or is it a contiuum of both?

It's both. You are independent of the world, the world is independent of you, both exist together objectively while you experience it subjectively. 

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quiXilver

it does seem to interestingly oscillate between the two... but only in certain spheres... heart rate, breathing, blinking...

 

 

We can often intend to focus on a certain thought, but to maintain that indefinitely becomes increasingly challenging.   but like your own experience with Western Magick.  The holding of one specific thought... in perpetuity, in high detail... is quite a feat.

And for most people, they simply cannot choose to stop thinking alltogether for example, without years of training and skill.  Is that a process that is mine then?  When I can't consciously control it?

 

Thinking, like breathing, blinking... most often involuntary, at times voluntary.

Can I be said to 'own these' then?  To be in control?

I'm fascinated by the line where involuntary strays into voluntary and vice versa.  It seems related to the thinking and belief conversation but in another sphere of awareness...

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XenoFish
14 minutes ago, quiXilver said:

We can often intend to focus on a certain thought, but to maintain that indefinitely becomes increasingly challenging.   but like your own experience with Western Magick.  The holding of one specific thought... in perpetuity, in high detail... is quite a feat.

Not really. We call those thoughts beliefs. Beliefs shape our perception and focus. 

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quiXilver

Are beliefs voluntary?

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quiXilver

I used to consider the environment and what happens in it to be involuntary... and my own body, my own localized awareness I call 'my mind, in short what I consider my 'self' and what it does, to be voluntary.  Though this veil has thinned considerably lately.

Many aspects I formerly assigned as voluntary do not necessarily resonate as such...

But did I volunteer for life?  Did I choose to be me?  Did I build my heart and skeletal structure?  My neurological process?

Do I choose my personality?  Do I even own my own body?  Can I prevent it from developing disease and aging? 

 

Some aspects of what I call me, seems voluntary yes.

But far more, seem to arise spontaneously, or at times, even somewhat predictably, in accord with co-arising principles of nature.

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XenoFish
5 minutes ago, quiXilver said:

Are beliefs voluntary?

Depends. Beliefs can be conditions such as a child's beliefs and chosen as a we get older. To choose to believe in something might be an emotion based thing. The only way to be certain is to ask oneself how "How do I feel about this?". 

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quiXilver

My skin used to be what I considered 'the boundary' that separates me from the rest of the universe.

Lately, it's experienced as the utter bridge, along with my senses, that connects me directly to all else.

voluntary and involuntary, aware and unaware

ever unfolding... dancing even.

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XenoFish
1 minute ago, quiXilver said:

I used to consider the environment and what happens in it to be involuntary... and my own body, my own localized awareness I call 'my mind, in short what I consider my 'self' and what it does, to be voluntary.  Though this veil has thinned considerably lately.

Many aspects I formerly assigned as voluntary do not necessarily resonate as such...

But did I volunteer for life?  Did I choose to be me?  Did I build my heart and skeletal structure?  My neurological process?

Do I choose my personality?  Do I even own my own body?  Can I prevent it from developing disease and aging? 

 

Some aspects of what I call me, seems voluntary yes.

But far more, seem to arise spontaneously, or at times, even somewhat predictably, in accord with co-arising principles of nature.

I think you think too much. You exist. Enjoy the ride and change the view point/focus as needed. 

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quiXilver

:rofl::wub::lol:  you echo my wife and at times, I wholly agree...

 

deeply, gratefully... these bursts are short lived and interspersed with many hours of languid wei wu wei, 'being without forcing', simple raw presence and awareness in a blissful emptiness.

 

sometimes it arises spontaneously... other times, i use breathing techniques, stillness and walking or qi gong, to initiate it. 

kind of like Volutarily Dancing... Involuntarily...:w00t:

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quiXilver
3 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

I think you think too much. You exist. Enjoy the ride and change the view point/focus as needed. 

The shifting viewpoint is what I'm describing... how the view has shifted is experienced as unfolding, involuntarily, via the experience of raw beingness, stillness, silence and life.

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XenoFish
1 minute ago, quiXilver said:

:rofl::wub::lol:  you echo my wife and at times, I wholly agree...

 

deeply, gratefully... these bursts are short lived and interspersed with many hours of languid wei wu wei, 'being without forcing', simple raw presence and awareness in a blissful emptiness.

 

sometimes it arises spontaneously... other times, i use breathing techniques, stillness and walking or qi gong, to initiate it. 

kind of like Volutarily Dancing... Involuntarily...:w00t:

The only reason I say it, is because I've done the same. It can be maddening. It could be just me, but the more I try to make sense out of everything the less sense it makes. I no longer think it is all that important to know. Does it even matter really? I doubt it. It's fun to stretch the mind with different ideas and concept for sure. Though it might be best to shift the view from time to time. 

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XenoFish
1 minute ago, quiXilver said:

The shifting viewpoint is what I'm describing... how the view has shifted is experienced as unfolding, involuntarily, via the experience of raw beingness, stillness, silence and life.

This is different from how I see it. It's all about paradigm shifting to me. Though we might have a miscommunication regarding the concepts we're discussing. Wouldn't be the first time that's happened to me. lol

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acute

If you go back in time and tread on a butterfly, it'll be dead.

Hope this helps. :tu:

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quiXilver

Yea, it's heady territory and the semantics involved in the definitions and personal experiences of what those terms point to, make esoteric conversations inherently challenging.

 

I thrive on them though, from time to time, as bones to chew.  In one aspect they give my wolf mind something to chew when he won't shut up... and then, in the inevitale ensuing silence that comes when the wave passes... there are often down the line, potent moments of realization and poignant insight, discovered growing from the seemingly answerless seed/bone planted/chewed days, weeks, or years before.

 

 

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Aaron2016

Homer gave a very intriguing answer.

 

 

 

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Hankenhunter
11 minutes ago, quiXilver said:

:rofl::wub::lol:  you echo my wife and at times, I wholly agree...

 

deeply, gratefully... these bursts are short lived and interspersed with many hours of languid wei wu wei, 'being without forcing', simple raw presence and awareness in a blissful emptiness.

 

sometimes it arises spontaneously... other times, i use breathing techniques, stillness and walking or qi gong, to initiate it. 

kind of like Volutarily Dancing... Involuntarily...:w00t:

I get that walking in the wood. Even when I hunt. The world narrows down, my breathing is controlled, relaxed to become one with the environment. Silent, invisible to all but the smallest creatures. That moment when a animal walks by within feet of you still unaware it's not alone. Time stalls, elation and peace combine to create a new state. Sometimes I ruin it by shooting something. Then the dance starts anew with a new day.

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quiXilver
6 minutes ago, Hankenhunter said:

I get that walking in the wood. Even when I hunt. The world narrows down, my breathing is controlled, relaxed to become one with the environment. Silent, invisible to all but the smallest creatures. That moment when a animal walks by within feet of you still unaware it's not alone. Time stalls, elation and peace combine to create a new state. Sometimes I ruin it by shooting something. Then the dance starts anew with a new day.

Wow, well described mate.  Samadhi.

To have the clear boundaries of one's own, usual individual sense of awareness, soften or even dissolve utterly with that of the environment.

When the definitive experience of organism and environment merge.

It happens rather regularly for children, who easily get lost in play in the early years of life.  They become the play and their sense of self as separate from play, dissolves into pure playing.

 

I recall moments in life, not days.  And the moments that most resonate through the ages, arose spontaneously, involuntarily and shattered my local notions of my former boundaries of self and other.

 

Voluntary... is increasingly experienced as a redactory, post event analytical explanation, for what was in the moment, a compulsive response of conditioned behavior, to stimuli.  Like, I see why the ancients described the relationship of conscious to unconscious as akin to the flea and the elephant.  The flea says "let's go to the beach!"  Yhr Elephant trundles off to do elephant stuff.... then the flea says:"yea! nice shade in the jungle, glad i chose this instead of the beach."

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quiXilver

Can we ever wholly and definitively delineate where the boundary between voluntary and involuntary resides? 

Between self and environment? 

I may seem like a separate individual person.  Yet the cells of my body are comprised entirely of what is not human, of the food that was grown in soil across North America and at times, the world at large.  No matter how many bananas I eat, I remain human...  without any knowledge, skill, training or effort... I can alter any food i eat, into human parts to keep me alive.

It seems akin to being able to be aware, of what one is not aware of?

Is this the proverbial immovable object, being met by the irresistable force?

 

In zen it is said... when satori is realized... 'the only thing left is to have a really long laugh at the pure simple obviousness of it'.

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quiXilver

the line between voluntary and involuntary can seem quite arbitrary in cases where it used to be stiffly considered voluntary

if we consider our voluntary self to be comprised of those group of actions that we feel we have control over...

and all the rest, is what happens to us...

 

consider this:

 

when you decide to open your hand... do you feel you have control over this?  it's voluntary yes?

but ask yourself... how is it that you decide to open it? 

Do you first decide to decide?

 

you don't do you?

you simply decide.

and how do you do that?

 

and if your answer to that is fuzzy... then perhaps so is the line between what is considered truly voluntary and involuntary, or if you prefer, compulsive to a degree, or an expression of conditioned response to stimuli.

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RoseDancer
On 10/23/2019 at 10:56 PM, quiXilver said:

Does the world happen to me?  Or am I happening to the world?

You may find this interesting.

https://www.organism.earth/library/document/83

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quiXilver

While it hovers about conscious vs un/sub, the aspect I'm sharing is this experience that an increasing sphere of actions I used to assume were result of my direct conscious control are experienced as conditioned response to stimuli.   It's surprising.  In the moment, action arises naturally and plays out.  After the fact, or at times, during it.  I may come up with a reason why I'm doing it... but in presence, I'm more and more experiencing what I used to consider conscious choices, by the time they manifest in action, have already been decided in the unconscious and play out through conditioned response.  Choice is often assigned only after the fact, if a moment is analyzed.

This blurring between subconscious impulse response and consciously choosing process.

Actions I used to consider conscious, voluntary choice under my total control, are increasingly experienced as conditioned responses arising involuntarily.  And it often only becomes a choice at all, if and when I go back and analyze it to explain it, or mull it over.

 

How often do we ask ourself... "Why did I do that?", or "where did that come from?"

These questions seems like a marker for it. 

 

Hope that helps.  I'm not selling anything here, just sharing what is a fascinating and ever intensifying and expanding aspect of awareness over the last 30 years since this question was first proposed to me by a beloved and deep thinking friend back at University. 

Perhaps a simpler way of saying it is this... my experience of actions in life seems to be revealing as far more spontaneous and less consciously controlled, than I previously experienced, or assumed them to be.  That my interactions with my environment are more cohesively impulse driven and less compartmentalizedly, individually expressed and controlled...  (rereads it...) nope that's not simpler at all... lol  but that was my best shot for now.

Cheers for taking part in the conversation.  So many wonderful, keen minds here.  What a blessing!

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Horta
On 10/24/2019 at 8:56 AM, quiXilver said:

Does the world happen to me?  Or am I happening to the world?

Or is it a contiuum of both?  There are no waves with only crests. 

Do I breathe?  Or am I breathed?  Or is there breathing and at times, I become consciously aware of it... like life?

 

I readily identify with the conscious aspect of my awareness most keenly.  But what of all the aspects of life that are utterly involuntary, that arise and unfold, underneath conscious awareness?  Are these not me as well?  Do I, if I own my body (which i contest but nevermind that for now), do I own that which arises in my body involuntarily as readily as that which 'i choose' to do?

Of awareness... only the slimmest sliver of it manifests in the 'waking conscious mind'.  The vast majority of it, inhabits the sub-conscious awareness of the trillions of individual cells that comprise the being of my body and the simultaneous unfolding of their processes.

I am not one organism known as a human, aside from on certain scale of magnification.  Become more myopic and the smooth seeming skin of my hand, becomes a craggy mountain range.  On another level even more myopic, it is a collective tribe of similar individual cells, working individually and together to house my muscles, bones and veins.  All without my conscious awareness.

 

On a certain scale, i am but a flea, moving about on a moist bit of molten rock, circling and indistinct speck of light, in a sea of unperceived light.

Which is most real?  The voluntary, or the involuntary?

Where does the line cross between that 'which i choose to do' and that 'which i am compelled to do?'

 

So many processes unfolding in the life I call 'mine'.  Most beneath conscious awareness.

Hormone production, secretion and absorption.

Meal digestion.

Hair, and nail growth.

All occur while I sleep.

 

Women grow entire human beings, while doing other things...

 

Where does the organism stop and the ecosystem begin, when the ecosystem is comprised entirely of organisms?

 

 

Excellent post. Genuinely, thank you for your thoughts. These are great questions.

My thoughts on it are in line with a scientific understanding of how nature works (that we know of so far) and with neuroscience, as a basis at least.

It looks like the "conscious self" is no more than an illusion created by the brain. It doesn't do what we all accept with certainty that it does. At least no experiments confirm that it does, and plenty of experiments indicate the opposite.

Then again the "self" drops in and out regularly anyway. So much of our day is spent in anything but a really conscious state, if we analyse it.

The same with thoughts, they appear to our "self" already formed, from somewhere else and "we" take ownership and credit for them. We will find if we really look, that decisions are similar. At best we can be aware of them in close to real time, but often they appear as if out of nowhere.

 

Quote

What i used to claim as voluntary... i often now experience as compulsory, and after the fact, looking back and analyzing, I'll come back with an explanation of 'why I chose it'.

Great observation. I think we are little different to any other critter this way. The major difference being that we have the very strong illusion/delusion that what we do and all our thoughts are chosen or created by a "self" (which in reality seems expert at post hoc rationalising). I think it is easy to realise that something else is going on, if we really look at what is happening. Though for most people, the implications of this are abhorrent and they guard the idea of the little homunculus inside their head even to the point of being very emotional about it.

My conjecture is that the "conscious self" is a social and culturally derived mental construct. We aren't born with it, we develop it. Communication, particularly in the form of complex metaphorical language plays an important part in this process. It somehow develops and allows for this mind space that we call the "self". Although not religious in any way, I find it fascinating that there are ancient systems of philosophy/thought that are based around the idea that the "self" is the great illusion. I think they might be right.

 

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Habitat

See the source image

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quiXilver
51 minutes ago, Horta said:

Excellent post. Genuinely, thank you for your thoughts. These are great questions.

My thoughts on it are in line with a scientific understanding of how nature works (that we know of so far) and with neuroscience, as a basis at least.

It looks like the "conscious self" is no more than an illusion created by the brain. It doesn't do what we all accept with certainty that it does. At least no experiments confirm that it does, and plenty of experiments indicate the opposite.

Then again the "self" drops in and out regularly anyway. So much of our day is spent in anything but a really conscious state, if we analyse it.

The same with thoughts, they appear to our "self" already formed, from somewhere else and "we" take ownership and credit for them. We will find if we really look, that decisions are similar. At best we can be aware of them in close to real time, but often they appear as if out of nowhere.

 

Great observation. I think we are little different to any other critter this way. The major difference being that we have the very strong illusion/delusion that what we do and all our thoughts are chosen or created by a "self" (which in reality seems expert at post hoc rationalising). I think it is easy to realise that something else is going on, if we really look at what is happening. Though for most people, the implications of this are abhorrent and they guard the idea of the little homunculus inside their head even to the point of being very emotional about it.

My conjecture is that the "conscious self" is a social and culturally derived mental construct. We aren't born with it, we develop it. Communication, particularly in the form of complex metaphorical language plays an important part in this process. It somehow develops and allows for this mind space that we call the "self". Although not religious in any way, I find it fascinating that there are ancient systems of philosophy/thought that are based around the idea that the "self" is the great illusion. I think they might be right.

 

I need to revisit Julian Jaynes and his work on the Bicameral Mind and Consciousness after reading your response.  What a wonderful way with phrasing you have.  Thank you for sharing!

Edited by quiXilver
misspelled the author's name

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