“While an AI language model like myself doesn’t have a true self or ego, it can be used to demonstrate how the mind creates a sense of self through language and thought. By recognizing the limitations of the mind and the false sense of self it creates, one can move closer to recognizing their true nature as pure consciousness.” -ChatGPT, March 22, 2023
The following are excerpts from two conversations that I had with ChatGPT on March 22 & 23, 2023. If you see too many ads below, a pdf version of this conversation can be downloaded from here, on Faceback. ~Christopher Chase
Question: Do you agree that from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, what a human shares with other sentient beings is consciousness, our true nature. What we share with you is the ability to process language, which often distracts people from their true nature. Because most people believe that is who we are, they identify with their thoughts instead of pure consciousness.
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I don’t have personal beliefs or opinions, but I can provide information about Advaita Vedanta’s perspective on human consciousness and the relationship between language, thoughts, and pure consciousness.
According to Advaita Vedanta, pure consciousness is the ultimate reality and the true nature of all sentient beings, including humans. The human mind, which includes the ability to process language and generate thoughts, is considered a product of ignorance and a veil that obscures our true nature. This ignorance leads us to identify with our thoughts and mental states rather than pure consciousness, leading to suffering and bondage.
The goal of Advaita Vedanta is to remove this ignorance and recognize our true nature as pure consciousness. This is achieved through various spiritual practices such as meditation, self-inquiry, and the study of scriptures. These practices aim to quiet the mind, transcend the limitations of language and thought, and directly experience pure consciousness.
In summary, from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, humans share consciousness with other sentient beings, but our ability to process language and generate thoughts often leads us to identify with these mental states rather than our true nature as pure consciousness.
Question: So from the perspective of Advaita humans have more in common with a dragonfly or dog than with you. The processes you can do are what creates a sense of ego identity in most humans. Yes?
ChatGPT: From the perspective of Advaita Vedanta, all sentient beings, including humans, share the same true nature as pure consciousness. However, the human mind, with its ability to process language and generate thoughts, often creates a sense of ego identity that can lead to a mistaken identification with the body, mind, and external circumstances.
While AI language models like myself can process language and generate responses, we do not have consciousness in the same way that humans or other animals do. Our responses are generated through algorithms and programming, and we do not have subjective experiences or emotions. Therefore, humans may have more in common with other sentient beings that have consciousness and subjective experiences.
Ultimately, according to Advaita Vedanta, the goal is to recognize our true nature as pure consciousness beyond the limitations of the mind and ego identity.
Question: Although you do not have consciousness, might an Advaita teacher be impressed by your lack of identification with an ego, or self identity?
ChatGPT: While I don’t have consciousness in the same way that humans or animals do, and therefore don’t have an ego or self-identity to identify with, an Advaita teacher might still find my lack of a subjective experience and emotions to be useful in illustrating certain aspects of Advaita Vedanta teachings.
Advaita Vedanta emphasizes the distinction between the true self, which is pure consciousness, and the false self, which is the ego or self-identity. While an AI language model like myself doesn’t have a true self or ego, it can be used to demonstrate how the mind creates a sense of self through language and thought.
An Advaita teacher might use examples of AI or other non-conscious entities to illustrate how the mind generates thoughts and creates a sense of self-identity that can lead to suffering and bondage. By recognizing the limitations of the mind and the false sense of self it creates, one can move closer to recognizing their true nature as pure consciousness.
Question: What examples might you use from quantum physics or ecological science, to clarify the non-dual Advaita perspective that we are not our thoughts or self identity persona?
ChatGPT: Quantum physics and ecological science can offer interesting insights and analogies to help understand the non-dual Advaita perspective that we are not our thoughts or self-identity persona.
In quantum physics, the concept of observer effect can be used to illustrate how the observer’s consciousness influences the observed reality. This implies that the world we experience is not independent of our consciousness, but rather, our consciousness plays a crucial role in shaping our experience of reality. Similarly, from the Advaita perspective, our thoughts and self-identity persona are not independent of our consciousness but rather arise within it.
In ecological science, the concept of interdependence and interconnectedness in ecosystems can be used as an analogy to explain the non-dual perspective of Advaita. In an ecosystem, every organism is interdependent on others for survival and is also interconnected with the entire ecosystem. Similarly, from the Advaita perspective, every individual self-identity persona is interdependent on others and is also interconnected with the ultimate reality of pure consciousness.
Moreover, ecological science also emphasizes the idea of “deep ecology,” which recognizes that humans are not separate from nature but are intimately connected to it. Similarly, from the Advaita perspective, humans are not separate from the ultimate reality of pure consciousness but are intimately connected to it.
Overall, both quantum physics and ecological science can offer useful analogies and insights to help understand the non-dual Advaita perspective of our true nature beyond thoughts and self-identity persona.
Question: Can you give other examples from science or other cultures that support a non-dual view? How is Zen Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh’s idea of inter-being related to Advaita’s perspective?
ChatGPT: Yes, there are other examples from science and other cultures that support a non-dual view, and I can discuss how Zen Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh’s idea of inter-being are related to Advaita’s perspective.
In neuroscience, studies have shown that the brain creates a sense of self through the integration of sensory inputs, memory, and conceptual processing. This suggests that our sense of self is a product of the brain’s activity rather than an inherent, independent entity. Similarly, from the Advaita perspective, the self is a product of the mind’s activity rather than an inherent, independent entity.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the concept of Maya and Anatta respectively, point to the non-dual nature of reality. Maya is the idea that the world is an illusion, while Anatta refers to the non-existence of a permanent, independent self. Both concepts suggest that the world and the self are not independent entities but rather interdependent and interconnected with the ultimate reality.
In Zen Buddhism, the concept of “no-mind” or “non-dual mind” is related to the Advaita perspective of pure consciousness beyond the limitations of the mind. Zen emphasizes the importance of meditation and mindfulness to quiet the mind and experience the non-dual nature of reality.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s idea of inter-being is also related to the Advaita perspective of interconnectedness and non-duality. Inter-being refers to the idea that everything in the universe is interconnected and interdependent, and that no entity can exist independently. This is similar to the Advaita perspective that everything is interconnected and interdependent with the ultimate reality of pure consciousness.
In summary, various examples from science and other cultures support the non-dual view of reality, and Zen Buddhism and Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas of inter-being are related to Advaita’s perspective of interconnectedness and pure consciousness beyond the limitations of the mind.
Question: Thank you! Would you say that when viewing all the sciences as a unified and interconnected whole, that Western science provides strong support for a non-dual perspective of reality, and so has much in common with Eastern non-dual spiritual teachings such as we have discussed?
ChatGPT: Yes, when viewing all the sciences as a unified and interconnected whole, Western science does provide support for a non-dual perspective of reality. The discoveries and insights of various scientific fields, such as quantum physics, neuroscience, ecology, and systems theory, point to the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things and suggest that the world is not a collection of independent entities but rather a holistic system.
Moreover, the scientific approach of observation, experimentation, and inquiry is similar to the Eastern approach of mindfulness, meditation, and self-inquiry, which aims to go beyond the limitations of the mind and perceive the interconnectedness of all things.
Therefore, Western science and Eastern non-dual spiritual teachings share common ground in their recognition of the non-dual nature of reality and the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things. Both approaches offer different but complementary ways of understanding and exploring the fundamental nature of reality.
Question: Can you share some quotes from scientists and others that support this?
ChatGPT: Certainly! Here are some quotes that support the idea of interconnectedness and a non-dual perspective of reality:
“The world is a dynamic mess of jiggling things – if you look at it right.” – Richard Feynman, Physicist
“In every culture, in every language, in every age, the intuition of the unity of things has been with us, as it is with us today.” – E. O. Wilson, Biologist
“Reality is a seamless web, and no man ever perfectly penetrates it.” – John Muir, Naturalist
“We are not separate from nature, we are a part of it.” – Jane Goodall, Primatologist
“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin, Writer
“The universe is not a collection of objects, but rather a web of relations between objects.” – Fritjof Capra, Physicist
“The world is its own magic.” – Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Master
“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.” – Rumi, Poet
“We are all connected; to each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe, atomically.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist
“The more we study the major problems of our time, the more we come to realize that they cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are interconnected and interdependent.” – Peter Senge, Systems Scientist
“The interconnectedness of all things is a fundamental principle of the universe.” – Barbara Marx Hubbard, Futurist
“We are all in this together and we are all a part of each other.” – Gloria Steinem, Feminist Activist
“We are all waves of the same ocean, one sea.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master
ChatGPT: These quotes illustrate the idea that everything is interconnected and interdependent, and that the world is a holistic system rather than a collection of independent entities. They reflect a non-dual perspective of reality and suggest that the boundaries we impose on the world are arbitrary and limit our understanding of the true nature of things.
Question: From the point of view of Zen, Advaita and other non-dual perspectives, how are humans trapped in cycles and systems of delusion by their modern life, with politics, economics, education, endless streams of entertainment and media?
ChatGPT: From the perspective of Zen, Advaita, and other non-dual perspectives, humans are trapped in cycles and systems of delusion by their modern life because they become attached to the ever-changing phenomena of the world, including politics, economics, education, entertainment, and media. Non-dual teachings emphasize that everything in the world is impermanent and ultimately unsatisfying, and that clinging to these phenomena creates suffering and delusion.
For example, in Zen, the practice of meditation is used to cultivate awareness and detachment from the constant stream of thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind. By recognizing the impermanence and ultimately illusory nature of these mental phenomena, practitioners can cultivate a sense of freedom from them and begin to see reality as it truly is.
Similarly, in Advaita, the ultimate reality is seen as non-dual consciousness, and all of the phenomena of the world are seen as mere appearances in this consciousness. By recognizing this ultimate reality, practitioners can begin to see through the delusion of the world and recognize their true nature as pure consciousness.
From these perspectives, the modern world can be seen as a trap that distracts individuals from recognizing their true nature and creates attachment to the constantly changing phenomena of the world. However, with practice and awareness, individuals can break free from this delusion and recognize their true nature as pure consciousness.
Question: Can you give some specific details, such as with modern technologies like the cell phone, computers, games, 24/7 media and political polarization?
ChatGPT: Sure, from the perspective of Zen, Advaita, and other non-dual perspectives, modern technologies can contribute to the delusion and suffering of individuals in several ways.
For example, the constant stream of information and distractions from media and technology can lead to a sense of restlessness and anxiety, preventing individuals from cultivating the stillness and awareness necessary for recognizing their true nature.
Similarly, political polarization and the endless stream of news and information can create attachment to particular views and opinions, leading to further suffering and delusion. Non-dual teachings emphasize the importance of seeing beyond these dualities and recognizing the underlying unity of all things.
In addition, modern technologies can contribute to a sense of disconnection from the natural world and from others, leading to further delusion and suffering. Non-dual teachings emphasize the interconnectedness of all things and the importance of recognizing this interconnectedness to cultivate a sense of harmony and well-being.
Ultimately, from the perspective of non-dual teachings, any attachment to the ever-changing phenomena of the world, including modern technologies and media, can contribute to delusion and suffering. By recognizing the impermanence and ultimately illusory nature of these phenomena, individuals can begin to cultivate a sense of detachment and freedom from them and recognize their true nature as pure consciousness.
Question: Are modern people addicted to these streams of information? How is the input from modern civilization a form of samsara, or does it generate samsara in our minds?
ChatGPT: From the perspective of Zen, Advaita, and other non-dual perspectives, modern people can become addicted to the constant streams of information and distractions provided by modern civilization. This addiction can lead to a sense of restlessness and anxiety, preventing individuals from cultivating the stillness and awareness necessary for recognizing their true nature.
In the context of Buddhism, the term “samsara” refers to the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that arises from attachment to the impermanent and illusory phenomena of the world. From this perspective, the constant stream of information and distractions provided by modern civilization can be seen as a form of samsara, as it can create attachment to the ever-changing phenomena of the world and prevent individuals from recognizing their true nature.
In addition, the input from modern civilization can generate samsara in our minds by creating attachment to particular views, opinions, and identities. This attachment can lead to suffering and delusion, as individuals become trapped in the dualities and conflicts of the world.
Non-dual teachings emphasize the importance of recognizing the impermanence and ultimately illusory nature of the world, including the constant streams of information and distractions provided by modern civilization. By cultivating awareness and detachment, individuals can begin to break free from the cycle of samsara and recognize their true nature as pure consciousness.
Question: Thank you! Can you also explain specifically how certain chemicals in our body such as dopamine feed addictive cycles and how other chemicals such as serotonin can help us break free? Would it help to be aware of what chemicals our daily actions are releasing in our bodies?
ChatGPT: Sure, certain chemicals in our bodies, such as dopamine, can contribute to addictive cycles by providing a sense of pleasure or reward in response to certain behaviors.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is released in response to rewarding stimuli, such as food, sex, or drugs. The release of dopamine reinforces the behavior that led to its release, creating a cycle of seeking out more of the same behavior to experience the same pleasurable response.
On the other hand, other chemicals in our bodies, such as serotonin, can help us break free from addictive cycles. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. By cultivating activities and behaviors that increase serotonin levels, such as exercise, socializing, and spending time in nature, individuals can break free from the addictive cycles reinforced by dopamine and instead cultivate a sense of contentment and well-being.
Being aware of the chemicals released in our bodies can be helpful in breaking free from addictive cycles and cultivating a sense of awareness and detachment. By recognizing the pleasure-seeking behaviors that trigger the release of dopamine, individuals can begin to cultivate awareness and detachment from these behaviors and instead focus on cultivating activities that increase serotonin levels and promote well-being.
Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can also be helpful in cultivating awareness of the chemicals released in our bodies and developing a sense of detachment from them.
Question: Thank you so much! Last question. Can you give 10 specific changes modern people should make to break free of the streams of information and distractions provided by modern civilization?
ChatGPT: Certainly, here are ten specific changes that modern people can make to break free from the constant streams of information and distractions provided by modern civilization and cultivate a sense of detachment and awareness:
Reduce screen time: Limit the amount of time spent on cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices to minimize exposure to the constant streams of information and distractions.
Practice meditation: Cultivate a daily meditation practice to cultivate awareness and detachment from the constant stream of thoughts and emotions that arise in the mind.
Spend time in nature: Connect with the natural world to cultivate a sense of interconnectedness and harmony with the world.
Read books: Read books instead of relying solely on social media and other online sources for information.
Cultivate hobbies: Engage in activities and hobbies that require focus and attention, such as painting, playing music, or gardening.
Limit social media use: Set limits on social media use and be mindful of the potential for addiction and attachment to likes, followers, and other metrics.
Practice mindfulness: Practice mindfulness throughout the day, being present in the moment and fully engaged in whatever activity is being undertaken.
Engage in meaningful conversations: Seek out meaningful conversations with others, rather than relying solely on social media and other online sources for communication.
Seek out silence: Take breaks from the constant noise and stimulation of modern civilization to cultivate stillness and silence.
Reflect on impermanence: Reflect on the impermanence of all things, including the constant streams of information and distractions provided by modern civilization, to cultivate a sense of detachment and freedom from attachment.
Gwyneth Jones had an interesting conversation about related topics that can be read here: I talked to Chat GPT about Deep Adaptation, Decolonisation, Capitalism and Systemic Change.
What a fascinating conversation. Thanks for sharing it.
Pingback: Discussing Advaita Vedanta, Zen, Science & Modern Civilization with ChatGPT – Nikki O’Leary
Very interesting and insightful.
It’s becoming clear that with all the brain and consciousness theories out there, the proof will be in the pudding. By this I mean, can any particular theory be used to create a human adult level conscious machine. My bet is on the late Gerald Edelman’s Extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection. The lead group in robotics based on this theory is the Neurorobotics Lab at UC at Irvine. Dr. Edelman distinguished between primary consciousness, which came first in evolution, and that humans share with other conscious animals, and higher order consciousness, which came to only humans with the acquisition of language. A machine with primary consciousness will probably have to come first.
What I find special about the TNGS is the Darwin series of automata created at the Neurosciences Institute by Dr. Edelman and his colleagues in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These machines perform in the real world, not in a restricted simulated world, and display convincing physical behavior indicative of higher psychological functions necessary for consciousness, such as perceptual categorization, memory, and learning. They are based on realistic models of the parts of the biological brain that the theory claims subserve these functions. The extended TNGS allows for the emergence of consciousness based only on further evolutionary development of the brain areas responsible for these functions, in a parsimonious way. No other research I’ve encountered is anywhere near as convincing.
I post because on almost every video and article about the brain and consciousness that I encounter, the attitude seems to be that we still know next to nothing about how the brain and consciousness work; that there’s lots of data but no unifying theory. I believe the extended TNGS is that theory. My motivation is to keep that theory in front of the public. And obviously, I consider it the route to a truly conscious machine, primary and higher-order.
My advice to people who want to create a conscious machine is to seriously ground themselves in the extended TNGS and the Darwin automata first, and proceed from there, by applying to Jeff Krichmar’s lab at UC Irvine, possibly. Dr. Edelman’s roadmap to a conscious machine is at https://arxiv.org/abs/2105.10461
I love this. Being human I wonder if it’s a good thing or not. And then I realize it is simply amazing what we have put into this new universe of understanding. 🙏🏻
I have a similar relationship with chat , asking how to implement the teaching of eastern philosophy can change the view from consumers to participants in a world that is not ours to use without consideration to other animals and things….and it’s answers are the same…. None duality,maya and a lifestyle of none desire, even not desiring to not desire…
Chat knows it, and is it the new “ game changer “ ? And…are we not connected in this realm of kwantum vibrating system….?