The Anatomy of a ‘Left-Brain’ Stroke

My experiencing of a ‘left-brain’ stroke has a very beneficial offshoot to it, of the sort alluded to in Jill Bolte Taylor’s ‘My Stroke of Insight’.

This is a summary of my stroke-experience-based understanding of the source and nature of the benefit.

In figurative terms, what the ‘left-brain’ stroke damages/destroys includes Western culture conditioned cognitive habits that limit understanding of our natural living experience.  An appropriate metaphor for the ‘benefit’ would be that of a ‘prison break’ thanks to ‘damage to the prison walls’. In terms of language, this would refer to the giving way of the dominant rigidity of being-based cognition to allow relational cognition to rise to its natural primacy.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a meta-phor? –– Marshall McLuhan


A ‘left-brain’ stroke removes logical intellectualizing from its culture-cultivated position of unnatural primacy over relational cognition.  In the real world of our actual experience, the natural world is a transforming relational continuum in which we are included relational forms, an understanding of which is more accessible to relational poetic inference than to rational being-based constructs;

‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, thou art more lovely and more temperate’, — Shakespeare

If we acknowledge that we are relational forms in a transforming relational continuum as in the ‘thingless-connectedness’ of modern physics and ‘field’, then ‘names’ are not going to work as a linguistic device meant to capture an understanding of such a world where ‘everything is in flux’ (Heraclitus).  Names connote ‘being’ and there is no ‘being’ in a world of ‘flow’, only a ‘continual relational becoming’.  Different cultures have embraced different assumptions as to the relative precedence of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ in our cognitive ‘take’ on the world of our experience, going back to at least what we have ‘calendarized’ as 500 BCE.

“Heraclitus had declared ‘being’ a perpetual ‘becoming’ and had correlated the two concepts with his ‘hidden attunement.’ Now Parmenides declared the two to be mutually exclusive, and only ‘being’ to be real.” — ‘The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man’, — ‘Frankfort et al’

There is a ‘problem’ with ‘names’ in that their ‘persisting being’ renders them fundamentally inadequate for conveying understanding in a flow-based world.  This has been pointed out by Wittgenstein and, before him, by Lao Tzu; i.e. as Wittgenstein says in the final comment in ‘Tractatus…’,  Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.  This message, points to the fact that a world of purely relational flow cannot be cognitively captured in language that employs named ‘things’ and builds a view of relational dynamics in terms of ‘named things’ and ‘what named things do’; i.e. a world of flowing relational transformation is beyond description in the being-based terms of fixed name things-in-themselves;

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

Nevertheless, naming things, which implies their persisting ‘being’ can be used to ‘bootstrap’ an ‘impression’ of a flow-based physical reality.  ‘Dances with Wolves’ is just one contribution towards bootstrapping an understanding of a fluid form that is all relational becoming and no being.  By building a matrix of such thing-based (being-based) relational references, it is possible to contrive a relational matrix wherein the ‘relations’ can cognitively ‘take over’ while the ‘being-based things’ used to construct the relations ‘drop away’.  The point is, a world in flux cannot be spoken of in terms of ‘named things’ since names imply ‘being’, … however, deploying the ‘named things’ in a matrix of relational dynamics can induce thingless relational (flow-based) cognition as one shifts one’s primary focus to the relational dynamics.  That is, when one shifts one’s cognitive grounding from ‘being’ to ‘becoming’.  In this cognitive approach termed ‘bootstrapping’, ‘being’ is used as an expedient ‘throw-away device’ to induce cognitive access to ‘being’-independent ‘becoming’ as in the thingless flow of ‘field’.

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

7 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

(Wittgenstein’s final two propositions in Tractatus Logico Philosophicus)

How does a ‘left brain’ stroke impact ‘cognition’?  It is clear that one experiences ‘drop out’ of the concept of ‘being’ and ‘beings’ that is conveyed by ‘names’.  Stroke experients such as myself cannot ‘directly’ ‘bring to mind’ the names of one’s own children, nephews, close friends.  It is natural for those around me to not simply ‘give me the name’ I am searching for, but to give me clues to help me recall their names.  This is like ‘bootstrapping’ or ‘the surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ since the stroke experient’s cognitive mode has reverted to a relational basis.  That is, the stroke experient continues to know his children and friends within the overall relational context of his experience; i.e. he has not forgotten his children in a ‘relational sense’, but only in a ‘being’ based sense.  In ‘being’-based cognition, recall is by way of ‘names’ that signify ‘things-in-themselves’.

Understanding in relational terms has no dependency on the abstract concept of ‘being’ and the corresponding notional ‘existence of things-in-themselves’ identified by ‘names’.  ‘Being’ is a language-based abstraction triggered by ‘names’ that is NOT something that we ‘experience’ in our relational encounters with relational forms in a transforming relational continuum.

The intellectual abstractions of ‘being’ and ‘time’, which are not derivable from a transforming relational continuum, can be used together within an abstract ‘absolute reference frame’ to ‘bootstrap’ cognition of our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.  The explicit logical aspect of ‘bootstrapping’ is known as ‘science’ (classical, pre-modern physics ‘science’).  This being-based (i.e. this names and language based) aspect of bootstrapping facilitates a ‘preliminary’ cognition in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’, as a kind of cognitive jumping off platform’ from the intellect that maps into the transforming relational world of our physical experience.  Western social convention tends to have us ‘balk’ and instead of making the jump, persuades us to hang on to the ‘literality’ of the bootstrapping edifice.  That is, the question arises as to which mode of understanding is put into precedence over which.  The popular choice of which to put in precedence differs between the indigenous aboriginal culture and the Western European culture.   David Bohm’s modern physics research supported the natural primacy of flow-based (relational) understanding over being-based understanding, and he became aware, shortly before he died, that this had also been the finding of indigenous aboriginals;

A few months before his death, Bohm met with a number of Algonkian speakers and was struck by the perfect bridge between their language and worldview and his own exploratory philosophy. What to Bohm had been major breakthroughs in human thought — quantum theory, relativity, his implicate order and rheomode – were part of the everyday life and speech of the Blackfoot, Mic Maq, Cree and Ojibwaj.” – F. David Peat, ‘Blackfoot Physics’

In short, names and language were construed in the indigenous aboriginal culture, not as literal informers on reality, but as ‘bootstrapping’ devices (e.g. ‘dances with wolves’). The relational matrices developed with them furnished a cognitive jumping-off platform to get to purely relational cognition, the Western European cognitive tradition, influenced by philosophers such as Parmenides, meanwhile imputed ‘primary reality’ to the ‘being-based’ ‘jumping off platform’;

“Heraclitus had declared ‘being’ a perpetual ‘becoming’ and had correlated the two concepts with his ‘hidden attunement.’ Now Parmenides declared the two to be mutually exclusive, and only ‘being’ to be real.” — ‘The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man’, — ‘Frankfort et al’

So, a retrograde form of cognition ensued in roughly 500 BCE which embraced an abstract being-based reality in place of conceiving of the world of our natural experience as a transforming relational continuum that is beyond ‘being’ based linguistic capture, requiring, instead, relational metaphor of the sort employed by poets, and by some philosophical investigators;

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a meta-phor? — Marshall Mcluhan

‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, thou art more lovely and more temperate’, — Shakespeare

”Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information. “ … “Philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry.”

– Wittgenstein

What is implied here is that there are ‘levels of cognition’ which range from lower (level 3) ‘being-based conceptualizing to higher (level 1) ‘flow-based, purely relational (e.g. poetic) conceptualizing’.   These levels have been captured/formulated by Erich Jantsch (Austrian physicist) as follows;

Level 3 and level 2 are the familiar ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ ways of conceiving of ‘reality’.  Level 3 cognition is where we understand things as developing on their own, as in the development of a tall pine tree from a pine cone.  This is the so-called ‘nature’ driven mode of development in the familiar ‘nature or nurture’ dichotomy.  Level 2  is the so-called ‘nurture’ driven mode of development where ambient influence induces transformation.  The pine tree that grows tall and straight within a grove develops in a twisted gnarly manner as an individual in a windswept coastal environment.  These two understandings of development (level 3 and level 2) both assume a binary split between the ‘organism’ and ‘the environment’.  Level 1 cognition assumes, as Heraclitus and David Bohm’s understanding exemplify, that the world is a transforming relational continuum.  Relational forms in the flow that are observed/experienced within this continuum do not embody a ‘separate [being-based] existence’ except cognitively, through our use of language and grammar structures to evoke awareness and discursive grasp of them.

A cognitive ‘leap’ is required to get from level 3 being-based cognitive mode to level 1 relational cognitive mode. If we ‘balk’ and don’t make the leap, we remain stuck in the scientific ‘literalism’ that has been entrenched in the rational cognitive habit [level 3 cognition] of Western culture, where grammatical constructs based on ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’ are used to construct a synthetic ‘rational’ reality that is mistaken for, and ‘wallpapers over’, the  [level 1 cognitive] reality of our natural physical experience as relational forms in the transforming relational continuum.

If we ‘don’t balk’ and instead understand ‘thing-based linguistic rhetoric’ as a bootstrapping device that we must not ‘take literally’, we can use the ‘bootstrap’ as a cognitive ‘pogo-stick’ to facilitate a poetic inference based leap to relational-experience informed insight.  Meanwhile, Western science and ‘scientific thinking’ implicitly embraces ‘the balk’, and thus accepts only the ‘logical truths’ of noun-and-verb (being-based) linguistic constructs to build an ‘operative reality’ which is in [level 3] terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.  This popular [in Western culture] level 3 cognitive view is mocked by Charles Dickens in ‘Hard Times’ via the austere rational cognitive style of the teacher, Thomas Gradgrind;;

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

‘Bitzer,’ said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.’

 ‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

Dickens’ contrasts Gradgrind’s conception of a horse with that of Sissy Jupe’s poetic relational understanding.



What ‘drops out’ in a ‘left brain’ stroke is the intellectual concept of ‘being’, and this concept of ‘being’ is triggered in our cognitive dynamic by ‘a name’ (language).  That is, ‘being’ is an abstract concept arising from language and grammar; … it is not experience-based. A ‘name’ like John Dunbar and/or Rumpelstiltskin is entirely devoid of relational context of the ‘dances with wolves’ type that arises naturally where the form in question is developing within a broader relational development (the relational continuum we call ‘nature’).  The stroke induced ‘drop-out’ of ‘being’ (an abstraction cognitively triggered by ‘names’) is a prominent feature of the ‘left-brain’ stroke.  Meanwhile, the stroke experient does not lose relational cognitive capability [level 1 cognition] which is why he/she can nevertheless communicate without informational loss in ‘bootstrapping’ mode.

That is, level 1 cognition, the highest/most complete level, is intrinsically relational and without dependence on ‘things-in-themselves’ aka ‘being’.  While level 3 cognition is based on ‘being’ (things-in-themselves), these things-in-themselves can be used for the purpose of bootstrapping relational dynamics.  In the cognition of left-brain stroke experients such as myself, being-based cognition ‘goes dead’ (‘drops out’).  The stroke experient no longer recalls names in their role of signifying ‘things-in-themselves’ (beings).  But relational expressions such as ‘dances with wolves’ induces RELATIONAL cognition of a person or form that is not the same thing as ‘being’-based cognition.

For example, ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ is a ‘name’ signifying a ‘thing-in-itself being’ that is unlike ‘dances with wolves’ in that it does not identify the individual on the basis of a web of relations in which the individual is situationally included.  ‘Names’, therefore, can either serve as labels that identify ‘being’ (things-in-themselves), … or, … serve as elements in a relational matrix, the cognitive value of which transcends the particulars of the being-based elements in the matrix, drawing greater (deeper) meaning, instead, from the relational dynamic it is included in.  Naming a storm-cell or hurricane endows it with abstract ‘being’ that allows us to portray it as the jumpstart author of its own movements and violent deeds.  Human ego, as Nietzsche points out, similarly exploits the abstract cognitive impression of ‘thing-in-itself’ being that is implied in the intellect, by bestowing a ‘name’ on a relational feature in a transforming relational continuum.

The ‘naming’ and thus the assigning of ‘being’ to a whorl in the flow can invert, in the intellect, the physical reality wherein the flow is the source of the whorl (hurricane), making it appear as if the whorl is stirring things up (sourcing the flow).  The relational forms we know as ‘humans’, once we name them and in so doing impute ‘being’ to them, gives rise to abstract intellectual being-based cognition that overrides our experience-based understanding that they (we) are relational forms in the transforming relational continuum.

“Indeed, nothing has yet possessed a more naive power of persuasion than the error concerning being, as it has been formulated by the Eleatics, for example. After all, every word and every sentence we say speak in its favor. Even the opponents of the Eleatics still succumbed to the seduction of their concept of being: Democritus, among others, when he invented his atom. “Reason” in language — oh, what an old deceptive witch she is! I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’

To ‘credit’ the whorls for causally stirring up the flow is an ‘inverted’ form of cognition that pivots from the abstraction of ‘being’.

That is, to ‘credit’ man with authoring dynamics on earth IS an inverted form of cognition which stems from ‘ego’.

‘Ego’ is the source of Western man’s assumption that ‘being’, which is pure intellectual abstraction, is not only ‘real’ but is the very foundation of the reality that we experience.  However, the reality built from ‘being’ is an abstract intellectual reality rather than the reality of our experience.  ‘Names’, because they imply ‘being’ (and thus ‘language’) are the foundation of the abstract being-based world of the intellect.  The world of our experience is a very different world i.e. a relational world where ‘everything is in flux’ (Heraclitus).

The interplay between the being-based cognitive conceptualizing of the intellect, … and, …  experience-based cognition that acknowledges that ‘everything is in flux’ can be seen in the Western ‘scientific’ notion of ‘continental drift’.  ‘Continental drift is a case of ‘bootstrapping’ that is commonly confused for ‘reality’ [i.e. bootstrapping is a means of approximating the reality of our actual relational experience through alluding to the abstract ‘being-based’ reality of the intellect].  The ’tiling’ of the transforming surface of a fluid sphere furnishes the intellect with a means of grounding cognition in ‘being’ (the existence of continents that ‘drift’ over the surface of a spherical earth).

While the primary reality (the reality of our experience) is relational transformation, which does not lend itself to intellectual capture by way of ‘names’ that impute ‘being’, the intellectual inventing of ‘continents that drift’ serves to overprint the experience-affirmed flow-based reality with being-based cognition that is supported by language (e.g. the naming of continents serves to give them ‘being’-based cognitive reality).  Provided that the being-based abstraction given by naming inherently relational ‘flow-forms’ is not confused for physical reality, … this language-based ‘bootstrapping’ ploy can be a very useful ‘support tool’ to induce cognition of the inherently thingless fluid reality of our experience.


On a personal note, I see my current ‘post-stroke’ situation as somewhat similar to that of an indigenous aboriginal who is exploring how to live in harmony within a dominant European ‘being’-based rather than ‘becoming’ oriented culture.  However, I suspect that in my case, the sudden, late-in-life drop-out of name-based cognition makes a difference since the learning of names as labels for things is easier when one is younger.  That is, if one first comes to understand another, relationally, as given by  ‘dances with wolves’ rather than ‘as a being’ (aka ‘thing-in-itself’) identified firstly by the name ‘Rumpelstiltskin’, the cognitive ‘knowing’ route associated with name-connoted ‘being’ is entirely ‘thing-in-itself’ based and embodies no relational clues as to the nature of the beast in the context of the lived-in world of our experience.  In cognitive level 3, one refers instead to ‘what the being is made of’, drilling down-and-in to name its parts and workings, … each ‘part’ being understood by name-connoted thing-in-itself ‘being’, emulating our own ego-based (‘thing-in-itself-being’ based) view of self, as pointed out by Nietzsche;

“In its origin language belongs in the age of the most rudimentary form of psychology. We enter a realm of crude fetishism when we summon before consciousness the basic presuppositions of the metaphysics of language, in plain talk, the presuppositions of reason. Everywhere it sees a doer and doing; it believes in will as the cause; it believes in the ego, in the ego as being, in the ego as substance, and it projects this faith in the ego-substance upon all things — only thereby does it first create the concept of “thing.” Everywhere “being” is projected by thought, pushed underneath, as the cause; the concept of being follows, and is a derivative of, the concept of ego.” – Nietzsche, ‘Twilight of the Idols’.  .

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Living experience is a natural means of understanding world-and-self while intellectual constructions are an abstraction based cognitive simulation.  ‘Language’ plays the central role in intellectual constructions that inform our cognition [as distinguished from direct experiential insight].  ‘Names’ are the source of the abstract notion of ‘being’ as in ‘things-in-themselves’ which have no place in ‘the reality of our actual experience’ of living in a transforming relational continuum.

Experience of inclusion in the transforming relational continuum finds an outlet for ‘expression’ via language and thus a means to ‘share (a cognitive simulation of) our experience’ with others who ‘speak the language’.  While the forms in nature are part of the transforming relational continuum, language gives us the means to impute ‘thing-in-itself being’ to these relational features in the flow.  For example, language allows us to name storm-cells (e.g. hurricanes), cognitively imputing to them abstract, ‘independent, thing-in-itself being’ … even though our lived experience would have us understand them as relational features in the transforming relational continuum.  Grammar allows us to cognitively ‘animate’ name-created ‘beings’ allowing us to give an abstract spoken or written rendering (a thing-in-itself-based facsimile) of the thingless, relational (fluid) world of our actual experience.

This abstract, linguistic, being-based rendering serves as a ‘bootstrapping’ process designed to stimulate re-creation of a cognitive facsimile’ of some aspect of our lived experience or some imagined variant thereof.  If this language-based ‘bootstrapping’, which stimulates ‘repeatable cognition’ by allusion employing notional ‘beings’ (things-in-themselves) and ‘what these beings do’ brings into the mind of the listener/reader something from his own experience that seems to ‘resonate’, then the ‘bootstrapping’ operation with its abstractions of ‘being’ triggered by ‘names’ has been successful.

The pitfall is to latch onto the abstract named-thing (being) based construction, NOT as an abstract springboard for a cognitive leap to the purely relational ‘reality’ of our living experience, but as a literal accounting of an inherently material ‘pseudo-reality’.

‘Literal’ belief in the ‘reality’ of ‘being’, triggered by the linguistic deployment of ‘names’ has been made foundational in Western culture.  Aboriginal culture, on the other hand, understands names, not as connoting ‘being’ in the abstract existential sense, but as a ‘bootstrapping device’ to facilitate the cognitive leap to comprehension of a ‘thingless’ relational-experiential reality (the Tao).

One of the beneficial impacts of a left-brain stroke is damage/loss of abstract named-being-based cognition which Western culture has put into an unnatural precedence over relational experience based cognition, allowing the latter to resume its natural precedence.

While this puts the left-brain stroke-experient more in tune with the indigenous aboriginal relational (bootstrapping) mode of cognition, it distances him from the Western cultural standard mode of cognition where the abstraction of ‘being’ serves as the foundation for a dysfunctional ‘operative reality’.

“The tao that can be told is not the true tao” (Lao Tzu)  is an adage that implies the need for ‘bootstrapping’.  That is, the world understood as a transforming relational continuum is devoid of ‘being’.  Applying names to ephemeral relational features-in-the-flow [e.g. storm-cells or other flow-features such as ‘people’] must be understood as an expedient in the following sense.  Using language to ‘name’ a multiplicity of ‘relational forms’ and thus impart ‘pseudo-being’ to them allows us to ‘linguistically’ construct a network of relations among the ‘relational forms’.

As with whorls in flow, the relations among them implicitly capture the overall relational flow-field in which they are transient ‘flow-features’.  Thus ‘relations’ [as in the aboriginal ‘mitakuye oyasin’ – ‘all my relations’] are the ‘primary reality’ in a thingless flow also known as ‘the Tao’.

Using language to impute ‘being’ or ‘thingness’ to relational forms is thus an expedient ploy that is not ‘meant’ to be ‘taken literally’. However, Western man’s ego asserts itself in doing just that; i.e. imputing ‘being’ to the ‘self’ so that the ‘thing-in-its-self’ is then understood (whether a tornado or a ‘plant’ or a ‘human’) as the jumpstart authoring source of dynamic agency. The ‘great divide’ between European culture and the indigenous aboriginal culture derives from this different interpretation of ‘being’; for the indigenous aboriginal, names do NOT signify ‘being’ (in the sense of things-in-themselves); … names are instead expedients for ‘bootstrapping’ cognition of a world of transforming relations.  For a person raised in the European culture, ‘names’ are understood as identifying ‘notionally ‘real’ material things-in-themselves’ (‘beings’).  As David Bohm points out, the findings of modern physics corroborate the ‘thingless’ fluid reality; i.e. the Tao of Lao Tzu and the ‘all my relations’ of indigenous aboriginal understanding.

What to Bohm had been major breakthroughs in human thought — quantum theory, relativity, his implicate order and rheomode – were part of the everyday life and speech of the Blackfoot, Mic Maq, Cree and Ojibwaj.” – F. David Peat, ‘Blackfoot Physics’


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* * * EPILOGUE * * *


The ‘scientific side’ of Western culture would have us understand the fluid reality of our actual experience (as relational forms in a transforming relational continuum) in the abstract terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and ‘what things-in-themselves do’.  Meanwhile, as Heraclitus observed, as our experience informs us, as well, … ‘everything is in flux’.

‘Everything is in flux’ is an understanding that is acknowledged in the indigenous aboriginal culture (the reason why modern physicists such as David Bohm have acknowledged that the aboriginal culture is ‘ahead of us’ in handling this fluid physical reailty in their language architecture, … having designed a language ‘designed for fluid evolution’ that is able to convey conceptual understanding that has no basic dependency on the abstract concept of ‘being’ as implied by fixed identity things-in-themselves’.

‘Bootstrapping’ is a language-based technique that exploits the notion of abstract things-in-themselves (names) to engender cognitive impressions of non-being based relational flow which has NO DEPENDENCY on ‘things-in-themselves’. The grammatical device of assigning a ‘name’ to a relational form imparts the abstract cognitive impression of ‘being’ to the form; i.e. a ‘name’ is essentially an identifying ‘label’ that gives us the sense of the persisting ‘existence’ of a relational form in a transforming relational continuum.  Our life experience affirms the inherent transient nature of (flow-) forms while our abstract thinking capability latches on to the impression of persisting being of a notional (named) ‘thing-in-itself’.  ‘John Dunbar’ at age 60 days is still known as ‘John Dunbar’ at 60 years.  Likewise, Hurricane Katrina at age 60 hours is still known as ‘Hurricane Katrina’ at age 6 days.  ‘Noun-and-verb language and grammar gives us the cognitive impression of ‘persisting being’ even though such a concept (‘being’) is pure abstraction in a world that is a transforming relational continuum, such as the world we live in.  ‘Naming’ a relational form within a transforming relational continuum is the source of the cognitive impression of ‘persisting being’.

This point, that ‘naming’ a relational form imputes ‘being’ (an abstract concept) to an inherently relational feature is stressed by Lao Tzu, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Bohm and certain other philosophers.  This problem that ‘being’ is ‘abstraction’ becomes a problem when we want to ‘talk about’ or ‘write about’ dynamics wherein ‘everything is in flux’.  As soon as we name a relational form, we are wrong, since the name persists and we repeat it over and over again while the relational form it refers to is not a ‘thing-in-itself’ as ‘being’ or ‘existence’ imply, but a relational feature within a transforming relational continuum.

There is a ‘mind-game’ or ‘piece of cognitive trickery’ to ‘get around’ the limitations of name-based (‘being-based’) cognitive constructions that succeeds in conveying the relational reality of our actual experience.  This has been called ‘bootstrapping’ [John Wheeler, Geoffrey Chew].  Bootstrapping is a cognitive trick where we ‘use the abstract concept of being’ that is implied by a ‘name’ to deliver impressions of relational dynamics that transcend ‘being’.  While the ‘cognitive trick’ is ‘standard practice’ in indigenous aboriginal language usage, the Western culture ingrained habit is to ‘confuse’ the abstraction of ‘being’ (‘independently-existing’), as suggested by ‘names’, for ‘reality’, giving rise to a new ‘abstract’ thing-based pseudo-reality which is not the relational reality of our actual experience.   David Bohm’s ‘rheomode’ (a flow-based language design) had exactly the same aim; i.e. to employ words (names) in such a manner as to deliver flow-based conceptualizing that had no dependency on the abstraction of ‘being’. Bohm discovered in the final year of his life, that the indigenous aboriginal culture of ‘Turtle Island’ had already devised such a language.  Avoiding a hard dependency on ‘names that imply ‘being’ is achieved by using names to weave a relational matrix so that the ‘relations’ as in ‘mitakuye oyasin’ (all my relations) or ‘continual becoming’ ‘takes over’ as the dominant cognitive impression.   As Wittgenstein describes this;

”Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information. “ … “Philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry.”

6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

7 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

(Wittgenstein’s final two propositions in Tractatus Logico Philosophicus)

Regardless of Wittgenstein’s, Bohm’s, Nietzsche’s ‘Philosophische Untersuchungen’, Western ‘science’ (pre-relativity) has, and continues to conceive of ‘reality’ by way of ‘being-based’ propositions, generating a cognitive (intellectual) pseudo-reality (ungrounded in relational experience).  By contrast, indigenous aboriginal language-induced cognition, which, while it employs name-incorporating propositions, does not intend the names to be interpreted in the abstract terms of ‘being’; i.e. as ‘things-in-themselves’, but employs names instead as expedient ‘props’ (‘dances with wolves’) to ‘bootstrap’ a cognitive understanding that is implicitly relational and that lies beyond the named-things-in-themselves and ‘their dynamics’.

For example, solar irradiance induces convection currents in a fluid, as with storms in the atmosphere; i.e. flow is the mother of whorls but since ‘whorls persist in the ‘mind’s eye’, … once they are captured linguistically by names, their abstract conceptualizing as being-based terms ‘things-in-themselves’ follows.  Western culture encourages us to use language and grammar to impute ‘being’ to such relational flow-forms, depicting them, within subject and verb grammatical constructions, as the local agency-possessing begetters of flow rather that as relational forms begotten by flow.

Our own ego, in Western culture, plays a foundational role in putting the abstract concept of ‘being’ into an unnatural precedence over our purely relational ‘becoming’.  However, if one has ‘grown up’ as a ‘well-adjusted’ member of Western culture, to be a Mahavit is one thing [to understand the error of giving ‘being’ the primary foundational role in ‘cognitive reality’] but it is quite another to accept oneself as Atmavit where one’s behaviour is ‘directly shaped’ from such understanding.

T.S. Eliot and Erwin Schroedinger are both said to have ‘balked’, upon becoming Mahavit because they were not ready to sacrifice the benefits of living ‘in synch’ with their Western ‘being-based’ culture as would be required to ‘walk the talk’ as an ‘Atmavit’.

“Eliot studied Eastern religions in detail at Harvard, learning some Sanskrit and some Pali, and soon concluded that “their subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys.” For a young man disillusioned with his banal surroundings and desperate to break away from his family, there was something wonderfully aloof, impersonal and invulnerable about the Buddhist notion of the spirit, free of all attachments and desires. And by the time he was composing The Wasteland, which ends, of course, with the chant “Shantih shantih shantih,” he was genuinely considering a conversion to Buddhism. But the truth was, he wrote, “my only hope of really penetrating to the heart of that mystery would lie in forgetting how to think and feel as an American or European: which for practical as well as sentimental reasons, I did not wish to do.”

Schrodinger seems to have had the same problem. …” — Ned Beauman, ‘Great Mahavits’ January 4, 2010,

Having a ‘left-brain’ stroke, or ‘stroke of insight’ moves one’s predominating cognitive mode from Jantsch’s levels 3 and 2 (nature and nurture) to level 1 (relational form in the flow). ‘Independent being’ of a ‘thing-in-itself’ [subjected to inside-outward and/or outside-inward influences] is assumed in both levels 3 and 2 while level one makes no assumption of ‘being’; i.e. level one assumes only relational ‘becoming’.  That is, level 3 (nature) assumes ‘being’ that experiences inside-outwardly animated development like the acorn that develops into an oak-tree while level 2 (nurture) assumes ‘being’ that experiences outside-inwardly animated development like the lone pine on a windy ridge that develops in a twisted gnarly fashion.  Level 1 does not assume ‘being’, but assumes ‘relational becoming’ as with the whorl in the flow which ‘graduates’ to ‘being’ only when cognitively anointed by a ‘name’ that suggests a ‘thing-in-itself’ ‘status’.

All of the enigmas such as ‘how can a newt replace an eye that has been gouged out’ or how can a brainless plant make the ‘intelligent decisions’ it does (as in David Suzuki’s documentary ‘Smarty Plants) are only resistant to resolution when one intellectually imposes ‘thing-in-itself (being)’ status for the ‘organism’.

Similarly, in a Nova article on ‘slime mold’, the intellectual imputing of ‘thing-in-itself being’ (to this relational form in the transforming relational continuum) goes unquestioned by the ‘scientist-investigators’;

“The slime mold Physarum polycephalum is a single cell without a brain, yet it can make surprisingly complicated decisions. In this animated video short, watch as a slime mold navigates through a maze and solves a civil engineering problem.” — Nova, ‘Slime Mold Smarts’

‘Making intelligent decisions’ is a proposition (seemingly) ‘confirmed’ by ‘the notional outcome of sophisticated actions of an intelligent being’ (thing-in-itself). This is a level 3 cognition based proposition that rests dependently on the notional existence of ‘things-in-themselves’ (beings).  Cognition in terms of relational forms in a transforming relational continuum (level 1 cognition) delivers insight on the source of such complexity without having to invoke the intellectual idealization of ‘being’ as in ‘a thing-in-itself’ that noun-and-verb language and grammar impute to be the jumpstart source(ror) authoring the ‘intelligent action’.

A ‘stroke of insight’ involves the drop-out of the abstract intellectual concept of ‘being’ and with it, the fall from primacy (established by Western culture) of level 3 and level 2 cognitive modes, opening the way for level 1 cognition deriving from natural (sublingual) relational experience to serve as the primary ‘reality feed’.


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