Sakiko has started a blog at . Expect lots of cat pictures.
Sakiko has started a blog at . Expect lots of cat pictures.
Once upon a time there was a small toad named Nathaniel. Nathaniel was despised by everyone who knew him. Not because he was a toad, or because he pulled the wings and legs off of flies before he ate them, but because he could not be trusted.
One day at the forest tavern, where all the small forest creatures went nightly to get drunk, Nathaniel announced that he was never going to pay back the money he had borrowed from his little woodland friends. And he borrowed large sums of money from just about everyone.
So they killed him. And then they pulled his legs and arms off and ate him.
She’s clearly a brilliant student and athlete, but maybe not such a great web designer, judging by her MIT home page (now offline, but still available in Google’s cache).
To set the record straight, technically it was not a printed circuit board but rather a “prototyping board”, as pointed out in this fellow MIT student’s blog . OK, thanks for the clarification.
My Uncle Bill died in his sleep last week at the nursing home in Lewiston, ID where he was spending his final days. He’s been cremated and his ashes will be scattered on the Alaskan ocean where he fished for salmon in his second career, alongside those of his late first wife.
Which of the following two statements is Dogen more likely to have made?
1. We should unite body and mind to see and hear things, because this will allow us to grasp them directly, unlike a reflection in a mirror
2. Striving with body and mind to look at and listen to things may bring us closer to reality but ultimately is not the enlightened model
We are looking at an often-overlooked portion of Genjo Koan, which the overwhelming consensus says is correctly interpreted as (1). But I think it’s (2). How about you?
Let’s start off looking at the Tanahashi/Aitken translation:
When you see forms or hear sounds fully engaging body-and-mind, you grasp things directly. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illumined the other side is dark.
To oversimplify, he’s saying that full engaging body-and-mind is good, reflected stuff is bad, and that one side being dark is good again.
But first let’s make some minor stylistic criticisms
What other clues do we have about what the sentence might mean?
But beyond purely textual analysis, we can also think about what Dogen is likely to be saying. Modern neuroscience teaches us that every perception is mediated through a series of neural subsystems. In other words, there is no such thing as “direct” perception, much as we might like to think there was. Even buddhas have optic nerves and a primary visual cortex.
I’m therefore going against the tide and interpreting this paragraph as follows:
Straining with body and mind to take in sights, or straining with body and mind to take in sounds, may get you closer to reality, but this is not the way the mirror reflects things, or the way the moon and the water work. Focusing on one thing, you will lose sight of the others.
Bob and Sakiko got married on Tuesday, November 14, 2006.
I’d like to thank the readers of Numenware for their insightful comments and the value they add to the blog.
Actually, the greatest number of comments came on an obscure post about a trivial English grammar issue. For some reason, huge numbers of readers from India believed I was offering some kind of English lessons. I wish I could figure out how to monetize these guys!
Next most popular was 34 readers commenting on my post about Charles Shaw’s $2 wine. Must have gotten picked up somewhere. As long as they click on my Google ads, I’m fine.
My post on sushi restaurants near my house generated 24 comments. My favorite was
My two interests are Neurotheology and Sushi and those two roads have guided me to this informative website….
Thought-provoking comments included those on the article Science and Buddhism on craving and suffering and The End of Faith. On my post on Bill O’Reilly: unlikely neurotheology advocate , the actual interviewee who appeared on Bill’s program made a comment. Some of the comments were very personal: on Religious music in your brain, one reader commented:
I am constantly hearing Christmas and religious hymns whenever I am not concentrating on a task. I also hear some old popular songs ‘Tammy’ & “The Bells of St. Mary’s”, “Star Spangled Banner” Every tune is in the same beat of 3/4 time. How do I stop this, it is driving me mad.
No one bothered to comment on one of my favorite posts, God and the brain in your gut, although it got some trackbacks. Nor on Peak experiences on mountain peaks , although it got picked up by Mind Hacks, nor on the article about dried squid entrails. My post about Sanyo: washing machines and global symbiosis yielded a request for a user’s manual for one of their washing machines.
The longest comment, by far, was on my post Book review: Living with the Devil , where Nordron, a Buddhist monk from Dharmasala, gave a thoughtful, detailed Buddhist perspective. Rhawn Joseph himself commented on my post about him and warned me that the picture I was using was wrong (since fixed).
I have been blessed with thoughtful, informative comments which add, I think, to the overall value of the blog, and not too many of them to be overwhelming. Thank you again.
Can our brain sense that it is going to be able to recall something before it actually does?
Ken Jennings’ brain can. Jennings (picture) won more than $2,000,000 in 72 straight appearances on the US game show Jeopardy. In this game players “ring in” if they think they know the answer, then have five seconds to give that answer. Jennings, in many cases, is clearly ringing in before he knows the answer, then often takes nearly the entire five seconds to come up with the inevitably correct answer.
It thus appears that Jennings has the metacognitive ability to sense whether or not he knows the answer before that answer has actually been retrieved from the recesses of his brain. The explanation that he simply rings in on topics which he knows well (movies in his case) is too simple. It seems that something more sophisticated is at work—he appears to actually know whether or not he knows something before he has fully retrieved that knowledge.
In computer science terms, perhaps Ken’s strategy could be compared to “precompiling” a database query, or calculating retrieval cost in advance.
What is the model for human memory that could explain this? Is the “do-I-know-it” recall act a rougher, abbreviated, accelerated version of full retrieval, or is it a different process altogether, possibly accessing an alternative, compact, pre-indexed “high-speed” version of the knowledge?