States of Consciousness PDF Book by Charles T Tart


Click here to Download States of Consciousness PDF Book by Charles T Tart English having PDF Size 11 MB and No of Pages 250.

There is a great elegance in starting out from simple ideas, slowly building them up into connected patterns, and having a complex, interlocking theoretical structure emerge at the end. Following the weaving of such a pattern, step by step, can be highly stimulating. Unfortunately, it is easy to get bogged down in the details.

States of Consciousness PDF Book by Charles T Tart

Name of Book States of Consciousness
Author Charles T Tart
PDF Size 11 MB
No of Pages 250
Language  English
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Especially when the pattern has gaps to be filled in, and to lose track of what the steps are all about and what they are leading toward. This chapter gives a brief overview of my systems approach to state of consciousness—a brief sketch map of the whole territory to provide a general orientation before we look at detail maps.

I do not define terms much here or give detailed examples, as these are supplied in later chapters. Our ordinary state of consciousness is not something natural or given, but a highly complex construction, a specialized tool for coping with our environment and the people in it, a tool that is useful for doing some things but not very useful, and even dangerous, for doing other things.

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As we look at consciousness closely, we see that it can be analyzed into many parts. Yet these parts function together in a pattern: they form a system. While the components of consciousness can be studied in isolation, they exist as parts of a complex system, consciousness, and can be fully understood only when we see this function in the overall system.

Similarly, understanding the complexity of consciousness requires seeing it as a system and understanding the parts. For this reason, I refer to my approach to states of consciousness as a system approach. To understand the constructed system we call a state of consciousness, we begin with some theoretical postulates based on human experience.

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The first postulate is the existence of a basic awareness. Because some volitional control of the focus of awareness is possible, we generally refer to it as attention/awareness. We must also recognize the existence of selfawareness, the awareness of being aware. Further basic postulates deal with structures.

Those relatively permanent structures/functions/subsystems of the mind/brain that act on information to transform it in various ways. Arithmetical skills, for example, constitute a (set of related) structure(s). The structures of particular interest to us are those that require some amount of attention/awareness to activate them.

Attention/awareness acts as psychological energy in this sense. Most techniques for controlling the mind are ways of deploying attention/awareness energy and other kinds of energies so as to activate desired structures (traits, skills, attitudes) and deactivate undesired structures. States of Consciousness PDF Book

Psychological structures have individual characteristics that limit and shape the ways in which they can interact with one another. Thus the possibilities of any system built of psychological structures are shaped and limited both by the deployment of attention/awareness and other energies and by the characteristics of the structures comprising the system.

The human biocomputer, in other words, has a large but limited number of possible modes of functioning. Because we are creatures with a certain kind of body and nervous system, a large number of human potentials are in principle available to use. but each of us is born into a particular culture that selects and develops a small number of these potentials, rejects others, and is ignorant of many.

The small number of experiential potentials selected by our culture, plus some random factors, constitute the structural elements from which our ordinary state of consciousness is constructed. We are at once the beneficiaries and the victims of our culture’s particular selection. The possibility of tapping and developing latent potentials, which lie outside the cultural norm. States of Consciousness PDF Book

By entering an altered state of consciousness, by temporarily restructuring consciousness, is the basis of the great interest in such states. The prejudice that our ordinary state of consciousness is natural or given is a major obstacle to understanding the nature of the mind and states of consciousness.

Our perceptions of the world, others, and ourselves, as well as our reactions to (consciousness of) them, are semi-arbitrary constructions. Although these constructions must have a minimal match to physical reality to allow survival, most of our lives are spent in consensus reality, that specially tailored and selectively perceived segment of reality constructed from the spectrum of human potential.

We are simultaneously the beneficiaries and the victims of our culture. Seeing thins according to consensus reality is good for holding a culture together, but a major obstacle to personal and scientific understanding of the mind. A culture can be seen as a group which has selected certain human potentials as good and developed them, and rejected others as bad. States of Consciousness PDF Book

Internally this means that certain possible experiences are encouraged and others suppressed to construct a “normal” state of consciousness that is effective in and helps define the culture’s particular consensus reality. The process of enculturation begins in infancy, and by middle childhood the individual has a basic membership in consensus reality.

Possibilities are partially shaped by the enculturation that has already occurred. By adulthood the individual enjoys maximum benefits from membership, but he is now maximally bound within this consensus reality. A person’s “simple” perception of the world and of others is actually a complex process controlled by many implicit factors.

One of the greatest problems in studying consciousness and altered states of consciousness is an implicit prejudice that tends to make us distort all sorts of information about states of consciousness. When you know you have a prejudice you are not completely caught by it, for you can question whether the bias is really useful and possibly try to change it or compensate for it. States of Consciousness PDF Book Download

But when a prejudice is implicit it controls you without your knowledge and you have little chance to do anything about it. The prejudice discussed in this chapter is the belief that our ordinary state of consciousness is somehow natural. It is a very deep-seated and implicit prejudice. I hope in this chapter to convince you intellectually that it is not true.

Intellectual conviction is a limited thing, however, and to know the relativity and arbitrariness of your ordinary state of consciousness on a deeper level is a much more difficult task. Consciousness, not our sense organs, is really our “organ” of perception, and one way to begin to see the arbitrariness of our consciousness is to apply the assumption that ordinary consciousness is somehow natural.

Or given to a perceptual situation. This is done in Figure 4-1. A man is looking at a cat and believing that the image of the real cat enters his eye and is, in effect, faithfully reproduced on a screen in his mind, so that he sees the cat as it is. This naive view of perception was rejected long ago by psychologists, who have collected immense amounts of evidence to show that it is a ridiculously oversimplified. States of Consciousness PDF Book Download

Misleading, and just plain wrong view of perception. Interestingly, these same psychologists seldom apply their understanding of the complexity of perception to their own lives, and the person in the street does so even less. While there are a great many simple perceptions we can very well agree on, there are many others, especially the more important ones in human life, on which there is really little agreement.

I would be that almost all adult, non-institutionalized humans in our society would agree that this object in your hand is called a book, but as we define more complex things the bet gets riskier. The ubiquity of Input-Processing is a main reason I have elsewhere distinguished consciousness from awareness.

Some kind of “pure” awareness may be a basic from which we start, but ordinarily we experience consciousness, awareness as it is vastly modified by the machinery of the mind. Here Input-Processing in effects places a number of structures between us and our sensory input, and even our sensory input comes through the Exteroception and Interoception subsystems. States of Consciousness PDF Book Download

Which are themselves structures with characteristics of their own. Other subsystems are also structures that modify or pattern basic awareness into consciousness. The systems diagram presented as Figure 8-1 shows awareness in a distinct place, but it really spreads through the various subsystems and so becomes consciousness.

The main function of Input-Processing, then, is abstraction. This subsystem is rather like a vast organization that keeps track of an industry’s progress and problems and, through hierarchical chains, passes on only the most abstracted reports to the president of the company. Input-Processing also generalizes.

Gives a familiar abstracted output to unfamiliar situations that are reasonably close to particular perceptions that have been learned. Thus you recognize this object as a book even though you have never seen this particular book before: it is similar enough to other books to have label automatically applied to it. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free

This kind of generalization may be greatly affected by dominated needs and emotions: all apples look alike to a hungry man. Various aspects of Input-Processing can show extremely large changes in various d-ASCs. There are large quantitative changes, that is, the range of continuous changes in various aspects of Input-Processing may be greater or less than in your ordinary d-SoC.

Your ability to focus attention on particular percepts, for example, may be quantitatively greater or quantitatively less in various d-ASCs. There are also many important qualitative changes that may be experienced as entirely new modes of perception. Some of these may be the activation of latent human potentials.

Patterns may be seen in ordinarily ambiguous data, making it obviously meaningful. An important effect of marijuana intoxication, for example, is the ability to look at normally ambiguous material, such as the grain pattern in a sheet of wood, and see it as an actual picture. New shades of color are reported in various d-ASCs, new qualities to sound. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free

We shall reserve judgment for the moment on whether these are veridical with respect to the actual stimulating objects. Apparently fixed properties of perceptual organization may change in various d-ASCs as Input-Processing changes. Carlos Castaneda {9} for example, describes how Don Juan taught him how to turn into a crow while he was intoxicated with a hallucinogenic plant.

An outstanding aspect of this experience was that his visual field from each eye became split, so that he had two quite different fields, just as if his eyes were on separate sides of his head, instead of the usual overlapping, integrated field. Illusions and hallucinations, frequently reported in d-ASCs, represent important changes in Input-Processing.

The conventional definition of illusion is a misinterpretation of a stimulus that is actually there, as, for example, when on entering a dimly lit room you mistake a coat hanging on a rack for a person. Hallucination is conventionally defined as a vision of something that is not there at all, as, for example, when on entering the same dimly lit room you see a person, even though the room is empty. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free

While it is easy to distinguish these two extremes, there is obviously a continuum between them: there is always a certain amount of random neural firing in your retina, a “something” there. Events and experiences happen at a certain time in a certain place. The naive view of this situation is that we simply perceive the spatial and temporal dimensions of real events.

A more sophisticated analysis shows that space and time are experiential constructs that we have used to organize sensory stimuli coming to us. Because the organization has been so often successful for dealing with the environment, we have come to believe that we are simply perceiving what is “out there,” rather than automatically and implicitly imposing a conceptual framework on what comes in to us.

Ornstein {47} illustrates this in considerable detail in his analysis of time perception, showing that psychological time is a construct, as is physical time, and that a simple equation of the two things is misleading. If we bear in mind that our ordinary concepts of space and time are psychological constructs—highly successful theoretical ones, but nonetheless only constructs. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free

Then we shall be less inclined to label as distortions the changes in the functioning of the Space/Time subsystem reported in d-ASCs. In the ordinary d-SoC there is a small amount of variation in Space/Time sense, but not much. On a dull day time drags somewhat and on an exciting day it goes by quickly, but this range is not large.

The dull hour may seem two or three hours long, a walk home when you are tired may seem twice as far, but this is about the maximum quantitative variation for most people in the ordinary d-SoC. Many other aspects of the space/time framework this subsystem generates are unchanging in the ordinary d-SoC.

Effects do not precede causes, up and down do not reverse, your body does not shrink or grow larger with respect to the space around it. Variations in the apparent rate of time flow may be much larger in some d-ASCs than ordinarily. In the d-ASC of marijuana intoxication, for example, a common experience is for an LP record to seem to play for an hour or more. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free

Since an LP record generally plays for about fifteen minutes, this is approximately a fourfold increase in experienced duration. Ornstein {47} believes that a person’s estimate of duration is based on the number of events that have taken place in a given period, so as more things are experienced the elapsed time seems longer.

Since marijuana intoxication, like many d-ASCs, involves major changes in Input-Processing so that more sensory information is admitted, this experience of increased duration for a single record and for similar events may be due to the fact that a lot more is happening experientially in that same period of clock time.

The converse effect can also happen in dASCs: time seems to speed by at an extraordinary rate. An experience that seems to have lasted a minute or two actually lasted an hour. A rare but especially intriguing experience reported from some d-ASCs is that the direction of flow of time seems to change. States of Consciousness PDF Book Free