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Old 01-07-2011, 12:12 PM   #1
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604

I had promised to post a thread about Plato's theories of knowledge. Instead I had a nasty headache last night so I didn't post although I did think about it. This morning I get up feeling better, but just now something started that I want to post about.

I suffer from migraines. Sometimes before the migraine hits there is a thing called a migraine "aura". For me it is a visual disturbance that is somewhat hard to explain. The world just seems "different". Perceptions of distance and proportion seem "off" for lack of a better term. I remember once as a teenager having an aura strike in class that left me in a panic attack. I distinctly remember staring at a dime I had in my hand. It looked so small. And my hand so huge. I remember hearing the teacher call my name. I looked up and it was like she was 1000 miles away at the other end of the room. You know that cinematic effect where things distort and zoom away? Yeah, that was going on in my head. Weird.

Anyway, these aura sometimes include something called "Scintillating scotoma". These are odd little blobs of light/dark/weird stuff that appear in the visual field. It is literally a visual disturbance (which might just be a nice way of saying a visual hallucination). Right now I'm having an aura (yes, I just took my drugs -- we'll see if it aborts). And right now there is a big honking blob of flashing, weird stuff floating right in front of my computer screen making typing this really difficult.

So... like I said I was going to post about Plato and how his theories related to knowledge and transmission and issues in Aikido. But that seemed like a gigantic endeavor and I now think (through my rather muddled brain) that this is a good starting point that is a bit more accessible.

So let's jump in. Right now there are shimmering "Floaties" in my visual field. I can see them. They are visible. Just like my hands, the monitor, the computer, the table, etc. Even if *you* can't see them, they're floating right now in front my computer screen.

So here's the question. Scintillating scotoma exist. I can see them. I am experiencing them directly via my senses. There is no question that scintillating scotoma exist in some sense. The *real* question is defining exactly what we mean by "scintillating scotoma exist". Or better yet, exactly what does it mean when I say that "I can see scintillating scotoma right now and they exist."?

So... What does it mean when someone says "I can feel my ki flow and it exists."? Is it the same? Is it different? Are there different "levels" of existence? And how "real" are they?

Okay, I'm giving up. Migraine setting in. Time for a dark room and a hot cup of tea... I'll be back when things are better.

I will say... The "aura" is sure real to me. The scotoma "exist" in some sense. And having your perception of the world "falter" in a sense is a very disconcerting thing. And *that* also raises questions about the meaning of "knowledge" of the world, even of those more "solid" things like my computer screen, table, hands, etc... But that's for later...

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Old 01-07-2011, 01:20 PM   #2
Thomas Campbell
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 407
Re: Existence.

I (thankfully) don't suffer from migraines, Keith. I admire someone who can transform their migraine experience into a phenomenological discussion on the experience of ki.

So... What does it mean when someone says "I can feel my ki flow and it exists."? Is it the same? Is it different? Are there different "levels" of existence? And how "real" are they?
So I've become interested recently in near-death experiences (NDEs) and explanations for what people who have undergone NDEs seem to consistently report (e.g., "moving towards a light at the end of a tunnel"). I am not suggesting that migraines are NDEs (although maybe a really bad migraine feels like it ). Rather I'm looking at the nature of the existence of these experiences for the people who have NDEs.

There is some very interesting literature out there, covering a wide range of "scientific" and not-quite-scientific perspectives. One of the more intriguing explanation/extrapolations involving NDEs comes from Simon Berkovich: http://www.nderf.org/Berkovich.htm.

An information scientist, Berkovich explores the idea that

DNA information in living organisms is not complex enough to explain the quantity and diversity of information processed in and by the organism as a whole, and by the brain in particular. Instead, it is postulated that the DNA information serves as a unique identification key for a given organism, like a "barcode." As such, the brain is merely a transmitter and receiver of information, but not the main place for storage or processing of information (i.e. memories) . . . "
Maybe ki results from bodily interaction with this out-of-body source of information, which, like the "dark matter" of current cosmological theory, "involves activities beyond ponderable matter." (cue Twilight Zone theme music).

Just speculatin'. The broad range of phenomena for which the Chinese term qi is used include things not in your body.

But in terms of actual training, I'm with David Orange on his recent epiphany, about becoming attuned to and working with qi phenomena within the body (e.g., internal connection through fascia).

OK, my cup of tea is now empty. Anyone else pouring?
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:32 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Janet Rosen's Avatar
Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,340
Re: Existence.

Eek. My sympathies. I have had migraine w/ aura (and also aura w/o migraine) for years (If you have not read it I totally recommend Oliver Sacks' book simply titled "Migraine").

I think that neurological manifestations, be they pain or aura or the movement of energy in the body, are real to the person experiencing them. When I have scotomas, I know YOU can't see them and I know the images are generated within my brain but they are real. When I cut myself, my pain is real.

If you'll permit somewhat of a digression: One of the things I learned decades ago for self-care of migraine, long before taking up aikido, was to "move energy" or chi from my head, deemed in TCM to be too warm, to my hands, deemed to be too cold.

I know of people who learned to to this in a lab setting via biofeedback but I've always been sensitive to my body's internal environment and deviations from the norm, so was able to do it pretty easily by visualization and focus. And yes, a thermometer demonstrated that my hands were having increased bloodflow as the temperature went up.

So when I did start aikido, it wasn't at all hard for me to accept the shorthand of "ki" for the movement of energy within my body. It's not magic, it's learning to use visualization, breath, focus and intent to consciously affect one's autonomic nervous system.

By the way, I also recommend the novel "Lying Awake" by Mark Salzman (yes the guy who wrote the wonderfully funny "Lost in Place" about being a kung fu-besotted kid and "Iron and Silk" about going to China...) - I never expected to enjoy a novel about a nun but it raises very interesting questions. What are the implications when your religious visions may be caused by a neurological problem?

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:33 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 428
Re: Existence.

Hi Keith,
I read about that aura and were looking for that, only found this artist
http://www.elmundo.es/elmundosalud/2...117727201.html but I know there are more and well known, great painters. Just telling you that my teacher also suffers migraine, it is horrible. I had a headache but from a cold, just an aspěrine and thats it. I hope you are feeling better, take care
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Old 01-07-2011, 03:54 PM   #5
C. David Henderson
Location: Santa Fe New Mexico
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 606
Re: Existence.

Well, then there's this -- when Keith starts talking about the "floaties," I started seeing ... stuff in my field of vision too.

Still real, to me.

I've been thinking from the opposite direction lately -- when I look at something and see red, and you see red, because that light stimulated certain cones in our eyes, its really not different from any other sensation; rather, its just one we happen to (reproducibly) share.

Not that the sunset isn't red (among other things).

But that it exists for us as the experience of a red sunset, which it's not.

Keith, I hope you are recovering.


David Henderson
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Old 01-07-2011, 03:58 PM   #6
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
Re: Existence.

Hi Keith, hope you're feeling better.

I don't know what you take for your migraines or what your view on nutrition is but in the past I have found for some people magnesium helped, ( it would definitely help in relaxing the muscles and tendons)
For some zinc with copper helped and I put this down to the beneficial effects of copper on the nervouse system.

One very good one which a lot of people loved was a herb you can get in most health shops called Agnus Castus. ( I must point out here they were all women who connected the migraines to hormones, however it seemed to do the trick for them) It works by restoring the hormone balance in the body. Anyway, I'm sure if you don't already know you could look up nutritional advice on the net.

On your point of existence and reality I see it this way. If a person is experiencing and viewing something then obviously at that moment it is real. If I create with my 'imagination' a rose on the table and sit there looking at it then it is real for me and yet another would not see it. If I view something, let's say the wall in front of me then I am looking at something which others would agree they can see as well, thus we have the physical world.

So all are realities. So the point I'm making here is that if someone can perceive something then it IS a reality. The next question therefore would be what type of reality is it?

Too many people jump on the idea of if they can't see it then it's not real. If the thing being viewed or experienced is of the mind then it would be called mental and once again that would be looked down on when it shouldn't be because it's a reality, something to be accepted, learned about, understood and then with enough understanding put into perspective and dealt with.

Unfortunately we live in a society that is taught just to get rid of which may be fine short term but doesn't lead to understanding at which point we would have a better reality.

The mind exists. The physical universe exists. Imagination exists. Different phenomena exist. Ki exists. What needs to exist as far as I'm concerned for those who want to increase their awareness is a better acceptance of realities, thus putting them in communication with them, and increasing their understanding of them at which point they will then have gained a better reality.

Good thread. Regards. G.
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:35 PM   #7
Dojo: Aikido Institute - Oakland
Location: Oakland
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 80
Re: Existence.

Hi Keith,
your post made me think of some random connections, so ill share:
--i have participated twice in a 10-day Vipassanna meditation retreat (i have written a post in the past about it--somewhere in here). aside from long hours of meditating, the retreat also consists of daily dharma lectures by the current head of Vipassana. I am specifically reminded of his talks for 2 reasons:
--he mentioned that his teacher and predesesor had nasty migraines, and it was his claim that Vipassanna meditation cured him of it, and was thus the reason why he got so serious about it
--in the talks, questions of existenialism, ontology, epistomology, etc, were constantly at the forefront, i think because one of the goals of meditating is to do a sort of self-audit wherein one examines very closely how real-world stimulae gets interpreted and internalized by the body. in the Vipassanna view, i think, it is thought that anything which the body experiences as a sensation is real in the sense that that body takes it on--thus the experience to the person is indeed real. However, the teaching is that we as humans have the ability to perceive with great focus how most of those felt sensations are actually caused by us in our own minds (thus, the nutz and bolts of the meditation is to learn how to recognize how/when we create sensations for ourselves, as well as to dig up old experiences where sensations are still alive in the body).
--also, for what it is worth, regarding the element of ki, it is interesting to note that we were specifically told NOT to incorporate any outside practices that we had, including anything having to do with "chi" or "ki". I never quite figured out why they disallowed that, but your post has me wondering again.

anyway, sorry if my post caused more questions than answers
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:42 PM   #8
jbblack's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido of Roseville
Location: Carmichael, CA
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 81
Re: Existence.

Keith sorry for the pain. Perhaps it is also an opening. This comes to mind:

I have thrown from me the whirling dance of mind
And stand now in the spirit's silence free,
Timeless and deathless beyond creature-kind,
The centre of my own eternity.

I have escaped and the small self is dead;
I am immortal, alone, ineffable;
I have gone out from the universe I made,
And have grown nameless and immeasurable.

My mind is hushed in a wide and endless light,
My heart a solitude of delight and peace,
My sense unsnared by touch and sound and sight,
My body a point in white infinities.

I am the one Being's sole immobile Bliss:
No one I am, I who am all that is.

(revised 22-3-1944)

Sri Aurobindo

For the pain of awakening people used to go to an ashram to let the experience unfold. Yes it hurts and perhaps there is a reason that is not seen - yet.

The kabbalah approaches it in this way:
The science of Kabbalah explains that there is no perceptible reality at all outside us. We influence nothing outside us because we perceive nothing outside us. Outside us, there is only constant Upper Light. The entire world is within us, and we feel that we are influenced from the outside because we are created this way.

If we exit our world, we begin to see how the Upper Light gives birth to ever newer pictures of the world within us. This entire world then becomes small and restricted. We see how the Upper Light determines the way we perceive ourselves and the environment, and we ultimately begin to control this process.

The stories I have read of those who slipped the bounds of everyday reality all describe something unlike anything we had ever imagined.

Enjoy your tea and explore.
Cheers, Jeff
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Old 01-07-2011, 04:56 PM   #9
Location: Aahus
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 83
Re: Existence.

That is what's so fascinating about this world; it never stops surprising you!

While I'm sorry for your migraine, you do strike something very interesting. Because who are we and what is our world made of?

Down to the core, it is energy. And that we are able to manipulate this in a certain way is not suprising but maybe it is also visible? I was told a story about a karate instructor here in Denmark whom I know but have yet to meet.
Him believing in chinese medicine and the chakras of the body I was told that when he meditated and opened his third eye he would actually physically see objects in the room shivering like heat waves and becoming transparent to a certain degree.
And he is certainly not a fake, holding 2. and 4. dan in two different karate schools and 5. dan hapkido. to name a few things.

Last edited by Aikirk : 01-07-2011 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:24 PM   #10
Dojo: Aikido Yuishinkai dojo Leiden
Location: Leiden
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 3
Re: Existence.

I know and see the "scotoma scintillans" from own experience (but without the "migraine" (headache). Only are some things distorted and some smells strange. And I need extra sleep. Aikido-practice I avoid then.
Hope, that you are not frequent suffering from these.

"Things can be anything" is what comes up in my mind. And "there is so much happening, what can actually mean so much". Each person moves in its own way. And things are distorted in many ways, what doesn't mean they are not happening. And so on. Using words for this is difficult and too narrow in explaining..

Aikido is as much a personal path, as meditation is.

B.T.W. this forum is happening in the future of 01-08-2011 (on my computer)...
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