This post describes the first of my personal encounters with AI that has left me completely in awe of its capabilities. Since 1993 I have been placing the label *mind* at the beginning of paragraphs in my personal journal that I think are relevant to understanding our minds. Here I pass on the results of asking Anthropic’s Claude GPT engine to process 56 pages of paragraphs with this *mind* label written so far in 2023. (Chat GPT-4 was unwilling to process more than ~9 pages at a time). The first paragraph of the 56 pages of text submitted to Claude was the following instruction:
"Claude, please organize, edit, reduce redundancy, condense, find major themes, patterns, connections and write a new version of the following series of paragraphs that I have written:"
The following is Claude's first response to the above prompt (Response 1), then a 'retry' or regenerated version (Response 2) which is shorter and more concise, and finally Response 3 is an even shorter response to the simple instruction: "Claude, please organize and rewrite the following paragraphs of ideas marked with the label *mind* from my personal journal into a continuous text that makes them more understandable to others as well as to myself:"
I am amazed by Claude's responses...
Response 1 (to first prompt above)
-The mind is like space, the canvas on which experiences, thoughts, and feelings arise. It is not any one of the transient appearances within it.
-Thoughts and feelings are evolutionary mechanisms, ultimately serving to defend and propagate one's group. Kindness, compassion, joy - these arise impersonally, they are not intrinsic qualities of a "self."
-From a cosmic perspective, concepts like meaning and purpose play out on a small scale, driven by motivations that evolved to promote altruism and group bonding. Awe, wonder, reverence can be motivators to learn, persist, and reproduce.
-The self is a perceptual construct, an "emotion of ownership" assembled from models of others, emotions, perceptions etc. There is no fundamental self, only the feeling of occupying an expanded space of awareness.
-We exist as multiple input/output processes (eat, breathe, think, act). Various "avatars" or selves arise transiently from awareness, each with its own biases and correlates.
-Language and imagined futures enabled the evolution of complicated selves and societies. But selves dissociate us from nature, from being fully present.
Being vs Seeing
-Awareness can be trained to disengage from thoughts and visceral reactions, to simply observe them without attachment. This allows more freedom in shaping one's experience.
-"Being" means resting as the space of awareness, not caught in any one transient appearance. "Seeing" means identifying a particular self/avatar and its storyline.
-As selves are seen and become opaque rather than transparent, the feeling of being an autonomous agent also becomes optional.
-Equanimity comes from seeing all appearances as equal, not needing to seek or avoid any of them. Pain and pleasure just are.
-Aging can allow more time simply being present vs constantly reacting. The body may dial down metabolic rate when not driven by a storyline.
-"There is no there there" - nothing to obtain, no final place. Just the dance of appearances and disappearance, only the present moment.
-Let reflectivity trump reactivity. Deflect and distill input, only a fraction needs further attention.
-Release identification with any one avatar or self. Be the river and watcher, neither exclusively.
-Set optimal levels of arousal/valence/agency. Dial down judgment, dial up openness and curiosity.
-Practice simple narrative protocols Just take the next step, being gentle, grateful, generous, curious.
Response 2 (to first prompt above)
The mind is the space in which all experiences arise, rather than any one of the fleeting contents within it. My purpose is to stay present, share insights, and care for self and others.
Everything is fundamentally impersonal, arising through evolution. Kindness, connection and community emerge to defend and propagate one's group. Awe, joy and meaning motivate learning and reproduction in an indifferent world.
The self is a construct, an emotion of authorship. My fluid identities are tools, not truth. I aim to be the space holding each "I" lightly, rather than clinging to any one.
Reactive habits link thoughts to feelings. Awareness can disengage this clutch, reducing reactivity.
Equanimity comes from resting as awareness, not any transient contents. Suffering is resisting what is.
Language generated complicated social order, but also dissociates us from nature. AI may allow a return to more natural, animal ways of being. I seek novelty, discern patterns, and train responses.
Advanced age permits more resting in present awareness, not lost in narratives. I cultivate gratitude, generosity, curiosity and play. Small actions matter more than big purposes in uncertain times.
The body's wisdom matters most. Health requires some arousal and performance, but also untethered leisure. Balance is key. I aim for agency, pleasure and calm, dialing these as needed.
I share my path, as it has helped me. But each of us is unique, mysterious. People are not what I wish, but what they are. I offer gentle truth, not judgment or control.
Words appear from the ether, then pass. I craft brief tales, a secular Bible, hoping some may resonate. But nothing lasts. A quiet fullness remains, life's gift.
Response 3 (to second prompt above)
The mind is the space where experiences arise. The self is an illusion, a story we tell. Equanimity comes from resting as open awareness, not any contents.
Human culture requires imagined selves and purpose. But they disconnect us from our fundamental animal nature. AI may free us from excess words and thoughts.
Stay present. Life's meaning is found in connecting, playing, being curious. Avoid sticking to any narrative or goal too tightly.
The body's wisdom matters most. Balance performance with untethered leisure. Calmly surf uncertainty. Dial agency, arousal and valence for wellbeing.
No experience lasts. Appreciate life's brevity. Share insights when inspired, but don't cling. There's no final destination, just this step, then the next.
Treat yourself and others with gentle curiosity, not judgment. We're all equally mysterious. Kindness matters more than control. Stay grateful.
The mind's complexity arises from simple parts interacting. Pay patient attention. Truth emerges slowly, then disappears into the mist.