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How well do you think you breathe?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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gerard

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Oct 3, 2002
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I forgot to mention something that my teacher told me:


>>>I remember treating a "Kundalini burnout" patient very early in my Qigong training - this guy had lost all of his left brain functions and couldn't do any linear functions at all. He was really miserable and was living a life that he described as "just existing."

It's hard to say in such an instance whether the person started out so imbalanced and the Kundalini Yoga just amplified it to the point of collapse, or if he was not taught correctly.

The stories of this sort are way too common to be dismissed. I can think of several more just off the top of my head.

Personally, I think you have to be a little 'nuts' to explore something as weird as Qigong in the first place. This is why, as an instructor, I am extremely particular about who I will teach. At this point I only teach privately to a very select few.

I think a good argument can be made for the idea that people drawn to such disciplines have innate abilities that need to be developed and carefully cultivated.

As to where to draw the line? A left-brained answer would take at least a medium-sized book. The right-brained answer is that a competant instructor must be able to see the student (in the Castaneda/Don Juan sense) to determine if he/she is ready to pursue the discipline.

I suppose my favorite analogy is that of a stick in the ground. A small stick placed just a bit off of perfectly vertical will be just fine. If you take a Sequoia tree sized stick with the same degree of off-centeredness, it's very much more likely to fall over.

In this analogy, it is the Qigong, and particularly the Nei Gong practice that converts the little stick into a Sequoia. A good teacher will make sure the stick is centered, balanced and has a good solid root before applying the "fertilizer" of advanced disciplines>>>

These words impacted me because almost a year ago I wanted everything. I was just a fool, full of passion, determination, etc. (full of emotions). Today most of that stuff is gone. I mean I have learned that life is simple, but we make it too complicated with our egos. Definitively chi gung has helped me to calm down, relax and adopt a different attitude towards life:

"Be simple,
Desire little
Put others first... (Tao Teh Ching).

And I also was the opposite of the following:


"By retaining his humility,
the talented person who is also wise,
reduces rivalry.

The person who possesses many things,
but does not boast of his possessions,
reduces temptation, and reduces stealing.

Those who are jealous of the skills or things
possessed by others,
most easily themselves become possessed by envy..." (TTC)

And for the non-believers of my post:

"Like the sheltered, fertile valley,
the meditative mind is still,
yet retains its energy.

Since both energy and stillness,
of themselves, do not have form,
it is not through the senses
that they may be found,
nor understood by intellect alone,
although, in nature, both abound.

In the meditative state,
the mind ceases to differentiate
between existences,
and that which may or may not be.
It leaves them well alone,
for they exist,
not differentiated, but as one,
within the meditative mind".


Or:

"All things are microcosms of the Tao;
the world a microcosmic universe,
the nation a microcosm of the world,
the village a microcosmic nation;
the family a village in microcosmic view,
and the body a microcosm of one's own family;
from single cell to galaxy. "

And these words were written around 3000 years ago well before Einsten decided to formulate E=mC^2. So nothing has been discovered in the West that the East hasn't already proven.





I had enough of computer writing. No good. Enough for now...

Love, gerard.
 

gerard

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Oct 3, 2002
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And I said that no more computer writing. I have just realised that I missed to answer Eric Fattah and all the non-believers at the same time:

Eric... I know how you feel. But who cares, this life is just a drop in the ocean and many of its molecules are blind to realise what they are, but we must love them because they are us and we are them.

Non-believers, I was like you too. Science and mathematical logic are only a product of human brain. There is something else out there that meditation will help you to unveil.

Love, Gerard.
 

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
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but....how well do you think you breathe?

I'm just a 29 year old man, who happens to really like the water. I have a great gal at home. I like my job. I love my family. And I know I have a true zest for life.

I guess my western-minded, American fast-food mentality simply wanted a little constructive advice to help me breath a bit more efficiently. (I do think that yoga may still have the potential to help.)

What I can not, and will not do is put all other aspects of my life on hold to pursue such an endeavor. Too many good people are counting on me.

It comes down to priorities. My #1 is not myself anymore, and I can honestly say that I am a better person because of this.

Thank you for all your words gentlemen. In a subtle way, I truly do appreciate your efforts. But I would rather you hold me in contempt, than disappoint those who are important to me.

Best of luck on your quest.

Sincerely
Ted Cummings
 
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uvjagt

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Nov 4, 2003
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you are all monkeys...

Rather smart monkeys but still monkeys
I have just started studying biologi and have done very litlle yoga.
I am amased what you can do with yoga and think we can do alot more than we think.

1) The heart is a muscle that can not be controlled, but it can, I have seen it and tried lowerng my heart rate dyring statics

Bears and hedge hooks can lower their heart rate when sleeping in the winter, some kind of animal meditation?

Erik fattah told about a yogi stopping his heart for 17 secs, maybe he did not stop it but lowered his HR to 3 beats per minut?

And I am sceptical about levitatin beacuse if it was possible why can no animal do it? It would very usefull to be the strongest in the selection.
All we can do diving deep holding breath survive low temps etc is copied from nature.
By the way some nematodes (small round worms) can stop their metabolisme, normally when animals stop their metabolisme they are dead... It is called cryobiosis and they can go from living to cryobiosis in half an hour, hundred years after when it rain they wake up in half an hour eat, reproduce etc and mayby going back to cryobiosis if things turn bad... Talk about 8 min as something, even the worms are laughing out laughter ; )

Very interesting thread, and good we can discuss this
 

ash

New Member
Nov 5, 2002
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A very interesting thread indeed.

It will always be difficult to reconcile the views of the believers and non-believers, whether it be religion, politics or the metaphysical. It's a great achivement just to keep the discussion calm and reasoned.

From my point of view, I am not a sceptic for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have seen things with my own eyes that I can't explain. Secondly, I would hate to think that man is so limited as to be unable to master both body and mind on levels we can't quantify. For example, a friend of mine is a martial artist who also practices chi-gung. He has amazed me over the years with his abilities and it's all the result of constant dedication and practice. Some might say that everything he can do can be written off to pure physical conditioning but I don't think so.

I believe that there are phenomena that can't be measured by the science currently available and I believe that certain individuals can accomplish what is apparently impossible. In time, I think we'll be able to document and prove or disprove all of it.

However, I also think that Ted was spot on with his very eloquent post in this thread.

The world may well be nothing more than an illusion and this life may just be a drop in the ocean but I am part of that world and it's demands tie me firmly to the reality I see around me.

In time, with sufficient dedication I might be able to levitate, or to stop my heart but the time and effort it would take is simply too much for too little return. Maybe I am just ignorant of the true value of that return? Some may choose to further explore their world on an internal level but for me there is so much ocean that I'll never see it all and I'll choose to keep exploring on an external level.

I am still totally fascinated by what others are achieving on that internal level.

This quote comes to mind:
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed." - Albert Einstein

Thanks for all the excellent input thus far.

Ash
 
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Fred S.

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Sep 22, 2001
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paradox

Although I'm not an expert in this field, I think there is a funny paradox in practising serious yoga (or using advanced pranayama) for freediving performance.

From what I've read I understand that yoga is a system to attain "Self Realisation" or the destruction of the Ego. This implies that yoga can't be properly practised if you practise it for a specific goal, like a maximum breathhold.

According to the masters it is very likely to develop extraordinairy abilities if you practise very hard and with the right attitude, but those powers (siddhi's) can also be very distracting or even destructive to further progress: being able to impress people with these powers can of couse be very tempting to the Ego. Furthermore they probably loose their powers if they use them for Ego-purposes. That's why it is not very likely to see a yogi setting a WR Static of 2 to 3 hours (Eric F. pointed this out somewhere in this thread). And I'm really convinced that some are certainly capable of doing that.


:duh
 

Tommy Engfors

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Jul 29, 2003
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Eric,

You are right about all these demos of people doing "impossible" things. I have searched on the net since I last logged on here (yesterday) and there is plenty of reference and articles about all the people mentioned so far in this thread (some of it is certainly interesting reading, no irony). Maybe I was a bit unclear when I talked about lack of (substantial) proof. Let me try again. If I say I have an invicible friend for instance, and you ask me to prove it, then I can point to the ground and say he walked by just minutes ago. Disbeliving me, knowing I could have faked them, you ask me to have him walk by again, but I respond he doesnt want to and has gone home.
Well, in that case, what little 'proof' I just presented was not very substantial. I could be faked. Same thing with moving needles. It can be faked. I am not saying you faked anything with your straw, but you could have. In principle. Anyone could. An amazing claim needs correspondingly substantial/solid proof. If you say you have found life on mars, you better have some pretty unambigious evidence to support that. Simply because it is such an astonishing thing. You say you can fly - then fly. Go to a packed beach and fly over the tourists so everyone can see your special power. But don't fly in a little room in front of a camera.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying everyone is necessarily a fake, I am just saying they have yet to convince me. At least some of them.

You say I simply don't want to see the proof, but that is exactly what I want to see. Why has Swami Rama failed to convince me? Because showing you can radiate visible light from your chest by means of a polaroid photo is not substantial enough. It can easily be faked. He spun a needle? Well, why not let him spin my needle, or anyones needle. Why not let him spin other objects. Let's truly test his powers. Can he spin a needle made of wood? Iron? Can he spin water? Can he only spin things? Does he have to be in a closed room with only two people witnessing it? If that is the case, then why? Can a videocamera record the light he emits? Can he do it live on stage? How many lux is the intensity? These are serious and valid questions, and the answers can only be taken seriosly if the evidence is solid as rock. It has to be that good. Lowering the standards is just to do an injustice to everyone. If we really want to know for sure, then we must set the bar high.

You could of course argue that no matter how strict the rules and circumstances of a demonstration, one could always say it's not good enough. That arguement, however, has the drawback of loosing credibiltiy as the evidence grows in strenght. If I say I can speak english, and you happen to speak that language, you can easily test my claim by just talking to me. It would be pretty hard for me to fake. But if you choose to test me by just asking me to utter a single sentence in english, then there is the possibility of me knowing only how to say a single phrase. The demonstration in that case is a weak one. If the matter is important, for instance if you want me to work for you as a salesman in an english speaking country, then it would be in your interest to test me further, for instance by chatting with me. The evidence has to be strong because of what is at stake. Exact same thing with levitating yogis and life on mars.

I am not impossible to convince. The universe we live in is as wierd as hell, and the things discovered so far easily outrank any fairytales. I prefer to keep an open mind. The reason I haven't bought the claims of some of the people we have discussed, is because what they are selling doesn't look like it has been tested enough. I am sure you can agree on that. You too wanted some kind of confirmation about your straw experiment. You realised maybe something really special was going on and decided it merited further investigation (and second opinons). I would have done the same thing had I spun the straw. Not sure if I would have dared to draw the same conclusions or speculated about it in the terms you expressed, but I would agree it was odd.

In conclusion, I don't really disagree with you, your examples are very good, odd things have been demonstrated by these people. I am just reluctant to belive certain portions of their feats because of the (in my opinion) 'crummy' evidence. I hope this post made that a bit more clear. Just don't think I can never be convinced. I am just conservative (some say stubborn, but I didn't hear that!). :)
 

efattah

Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2001
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Tommy,

Fair post. I suppose that some people are 'early adopters' and others are 'laggers.' When Columbus (or others) first speculated that the Earth was round, probably on somewhat weak evidence or theories, most people thought that such a claim was 'extraordinary' and needed extraordinary evidence. Fair enough.

However, the people who are willing to take a leap of faith in the beginning, and believe things on weak evidence, are also the people who gain the most, learn the most, profit the most, and so on. Einstein created his general theory of relativity on the 'principle of equivalence', which had no evidence at all. He took a leap of faith, and eventually (after a long time) others were convinced.

So, each person can decide to be an 'early adopter' or a lagger. However, those who choose to be laggers seldom accomplish much or benefit much.

There are still people today who believe the Earth is flat.

Today, 'paranormal' ideas may be 'fringe' or questionable, just as a 'round Earth' was questionable back then. However, a hundred years from now, I believe that these things will be accepted as obvious, just as the 'round Earth' is accepted as obvious. Still, even when these things are obvious, there will still be people who won't believe, just like the people today who still believe that the Earth is flat (The 'flatlanders' society).


Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
 

efattah

Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2001
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As an extra comment, there is also the group of people who don't believe that astronauts have walked on the moon.

Tommy, perhaps you can tell us what is the most 'fringe' idea which you believe. Do you believe that the Earth is round? Do you believe that astronauts walked on the moon? Do you believe that wormholes exist? Do you believe that some yogis can stop their hearts? Just curious to see where you draw the line.

Personally, I have a different view in many areas. When we say that 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,' I agree, but I do NOT agree on what the definition of an extraordinary claim is.

If someone claims 'there was life on Mars once in the past.' Is that an extraordinary claim? Not to me. In fact, the claim that 'there was never ever life on Mars'; that is far more extraordinary and would require massive evidence to convince me!

My experience is that almost anything is possible. So to say that 'levitation is impossible' is an EXTRAORDINARY claim, especially since it is virtually impossible to prove that something is impossible. It would require a huge amount of proof to show that levitation is impossible; you would have to understand every single law of the universe, and physicists themselves admit to understanding only 1 or 2% of the workings of the universe. How can a person who understands 1 or 2% of the universe claim that something is impossible?

When I speak to skeptics, I often remind them of Descartes. Descartes showed the world that each person can prove (to himself) that he or she exists, but nothing else can ever be proven. Your whole life could be a dream or a hallucination. Descartes used the 'evil genius argument'. He said:
"Suppose I take the most skeptical approach possible. I don't believe that anything is real. There is an evil genius which is deceiving me every minute of every day; everything I see is fake, fabricated by this evil genius. Let him deceive me all he wants; the fact that he deceives me proves that I must exist."

What I find ironic is that 'skeptics' seem to believe that the world around them is real, even without any evidence to support that. They forget that there is no way to prove that the physical world exists at all, there is not even any evidence to support that it is real. If the physical world can't even be proven to exist, then how can one argue about whether this or that is impossible in a world which may not even have its own independent existence? Perhaps there are only 'minds', and all we see is just a creation of our own minds, somewhat like the movie the 'Matrix.'

I ask skeptics; why do you believe that the world exists and is real, when you have no evidence at all to support that idea?

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
 

gerard

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Oct 3, 2002
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Hello

Someone mentioned Biology. OK I'll introduce some of it. You'll find it attached to this email. A friend of mine at University gave it to me a while ago.

In that attachment you'll find that Dr. Robin Baker, who worked a while ago in the University of Manchester in England found that magnetite crystals are also present in humans, exactly in front of the pituitary gland. This is precisely the point which Taoists and Yogis cite as the Upper Elixir Field (upper dan-tien in taoist jargon) or celestial eye (the famous third eye). It is one of the most powerful energy centres in the human system, and when opened through the practice of chi gung, meditation and kundalini yoga, it provides perceptions and insights that are called witchery in western thought. These insights are obviously innaccesible to the uninitiated. However, once these high spiritual attainment is achieved it would be silly to utilise them for profit (as some humans do). According to the highest mystical traditions, the manifestation of esoteric spiritual powers is a clear sighn that the practitioner is approaching the highest state of awareness (enlightenment). Having such powers is a blessing of the Universe and as such it should be respected, kept quiet but above all the practitioner should not place too much value to them or get too attached or the path to spiritual immortality will be distorted. Such powers range from luminous visions of deities, energies or cosmic phenomena that appear in the mind's ear, and sudden insights into the past, present and future. Visions of deities may indicate the power to communicate with higher spiritual entities in other dimensions of the Universe. Telephatic powers and Clairvoyance are quite common signs of spiritual power. But again, careful or we can lose track in our path and get either too attached or end up like that Kundalini patient my teacher treated long ago. Guidance under the close supervision of a meditation master is encouraged.

Once regarded as the body's master gland, the pituitary has been recently overshadowed in importance by the tiny pineal gland, located right in the middle of the human brain, just above the pituitary. The pineal gland secretes a wide range of vital neurohormones, such as melatonin and serotonin, which influence basically all human functions, including moods, sleep/wake cycles, appetite and sexual drive. This gland has been found to be highly sensitive to the slightest fluctuation in the Earth's magnetic field, and these fluctuations directly influence its secretions of 'vital essence'.

*Note:

"Let me address here that men should never waste jing (vital essence or semen) simply because it accelerates their aging process robing them from the power of longevity. It’s a well know fact that women have always enjoyed higher immunity and resistance to disease, recover more quickly from illness, and live longer than men. I explain here a bit further this concept:

According to the Taoist and Tantric views, the ravages of aging are caused by progressive depletion of hormone production and the dissipation of vital energy. Since essence (jing) is the ‘root’ of the Taoist Trinity, with energy as the ‘stem’ (chi) and spirit (shen) as the ‘blossom’, the entire plant may be nourished simply by cultivating the roots, which consist of blood, biles, enzymes, hormones and other forms of ‘essence’. Of all of these elements, hormones exert by far the most profound and powerful physiological influences, even in the most minimal quantities, and of all Taoist regimes, disciplined sexual intercourse provides the most direct stimulation to vital hormone production and endocrine balance. While sexual excitement remains one of the most effective means of stimulating vital hormone production in both men and women, women have the additional mechanisms of menstruation and pregnancy to promote production of sexual hormones, even in the absence of sexual intercourse. Men on the other hand, have no such alternative mechanism, and for them sexual intercourse remains the best way to stimulate hormone production. As a person gets older, it stands to reason that sexual intercourse grows ever more important as a form of preventative therapy against disease and aging.

However excessive ejaculation of semen breaks that hormonal balance and ultimately affects our vital essence stores, since their replenishment is very slow. The body must work harder to fully replenish semen supplies and re-establish proper hormone balance. When ejaculation frequency exceeds the capacity of the body to fully replenish semen, men experience chronic fatigue, low resistance, irritability and other symptoms of essence and energy deficiency. How to solve this dilemma? Solution:

1. Either ‘Dual Cultivation or Tantra’ (shwang-shiou) with a Taoist partner (I guess it would be hard for non Taoist women to accept something like this knowing that they are eager to have children. But if you find one ‘chapeau’).

This link will be helpful: http://sivasakti.com/articles/tantra/sexercises-art11.html


2. ‘Solo Cultivation’ (dan-shiou), which involves sexual massage.

3. Regulating ejaculation frequency (I follow here Master Sun Ssu-Mo’s of the Tang Dynasty advice):

1. By the age of 30 men should stop masturbation since they start to lose vitality. Obviously daily ejaculation is suicide in terms of lost longevity.

2. By the age of 40 he must practice ejaculation control as a habit during sexual intercourse. No daily ejaculation.

3. By the age of 50, his ejaculation frequency should be no more than once every 20 days.

4. By the age of 60, most men should completely eliminate ejaculation (but not intercourse). Exceptionally healthy men with strong libidos can continue emitting semen around once a month.

5. By 70, if healthy men may ejaculate only once every 100 sexual encounters.

• What’s all this Taoist esoteric stuff about some may argue? It’s simply that 20% of human semen is composed of cerebrospinal fluid (composed of releasing hormone (RH) secreted by the hypothalamus that signals the pituitary gland to secrete follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH); follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH); luteinizing hormone (LH)) testosterone hormone produced in the testes, and a significant amount of zinc. Frequent ejaculation thus result in a chronic, critical deficiency of zinc, symptoms of which include loss of memory, mental confusion, paranoia and hypersensitivity to sunlight.
• Relationship of this sexual stuff to meditation: As your vital energy stores are full and Yin & yang are balanced you’ll nourish your spirit better, and therefore an improved and a deeper meditative state are achieved. The Taoist rule before embarking in serious meditation is to avoid loss of semen for at least 100 days (especially if ‘Microcosmic Orbit’ practice is sought).


Gerard.
 

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gerard

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Cont.

The pineal is therefore likely to be even more sensitive to the far more radical electromagnetic fluctuations caused by power lines, broadcasting stations, computer terminals, and other electronic technology. Earth’s magnetic field has a strength of 0.5 miligauss; the power lines running through your neighbourhood, home, and office, generate a 100-miligauss field.

Besides the magnitude of magnetic fields, human energy is also influenced by the frequency at which they pulsate. Earth’s field pulsates in a range of 1-30 Hz, or cycles per second, with the greatest field strength occurring between 7 and 10 Hz.
This is exactly the frequency at which the human brain operates under normal conditions. It is also the frequency that ‘chi gung’ practice restores throughout the human energy system. Hence, the human body has a dual sensory system: the ordinary nervous system, which controls the limbs, motor functioning, and the ordinary sensory organs, such as eyes and ears; and the electromagnetic control system, which is sensitive to micropulsations of Earth’s field as well as the high-frequency pulsations produced by human technology (being power lines, computers, cell phones and TV the worst offenders).

The EM system regulates the vital energies of the organs (Five Elemental Energies in TCM: wood, fire, water, metal and earth), senses injuries on the surface and interior of the body, triggers repair and healing responses, mediates the secretions of the pineal and pituitary glands, manages the immune system, and operates through the human energy system network (meridians in TCM) and their vital points. This electromagnetic system can be directly regulated and balanced through ‘chi gung’.

If you still don’t believe this, human bioenergy fields were first photographed in Russia using ‘Kirlian photography’. This method actually photographed the vital chi that is common to all life forms in our tridimensional Universe. Spiritual people refer to it as ‘aura’, the Chinese ‘chi’ and Western physicists ‘bioenergy’. Dr. Thelma Moss of the University of Berkeley in California has conducted extensive research on human and plant bioenergy fields, and has come to the conclusion that the green fingers displayed by talented gardeners is due to their strength and healthy balance of their energy auras, which they transmit to plants through contact with their fingers.

It is also well known in the East, and recently confirmed by Western science, that the hand is a very powerful conductor of chi, and this is the basis of the ‘laying on of hands’ healing method (for instance used for centuries by Shaolin monks. I recently watched a footage of a monk gifted with the power of healing using his hands. It was unreal. The thing is that you don’t need to touch your patient for obvious reasons. However such a healing power has its downside, which is reduced vitality and accelerated aging of the healer).

Now, you might think what has to do all this stuff with freediving? You don’t have to be a radical Taoist to be a freediver but by adopting some of its practices (chi gung meditation, herbal supplementation and controlled ejaculation for men) performance will improve. If you want to be serious about all this stuff sooner or later you’ll realise that freediving itself is not the goal. But that’s another story and I am here to offer some guidance in terms of improved freediving performance.

Thanks for putting up with me.

Your friend, Gerard.
 
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Adrian

Deeper Blue Beachcomber
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Re: but....how well do you think you breathe?

Originally posted by unirdna
But I would rather you hold me in contempt, than disappoint those who are important to me.

Ted,
Your post on taking care of your family is a nice touch of balance. In one of the most important writings on yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, it says that "yoga is not for one who eats too much or eats too little, or sleeps too much or sleeps too little." In other words it advocates balance in all aspects of life.

In Vedic tradition, (from where yoga comes) a man passes through several stages in life, including marriage and maintennance of the family, and when one reaches retirement then it is a good time to dedicate onesself to spiritual matters more fully.

There are two types of people - householders and recluses. The vast majority of us are householders, we work and live and enjoy life in what we call "the real world".

The recluses are those people who decide to be monks, nuns, sadhus, yogis living isolated in caves in the Himalayas or in the jungles.

It's just like anything in life, if we like trains a little then we just enjoy riding them to work, and if we like them alot we start to study to be a railwayman and end up dedicating our life to it. Same with yoga or meditation. You can spend half an hour a day or two or three hours or more, depending on what you want from the practice and how fast you want to go. You can get excellent results for half an hour or one hour, as long as it's done regularly. No need to neglect any other aspect of your life.

Most of us are weekend freedivers, but if bitten by the bug to be a great freediver, one has to put a lot of energy and dicipline in all aspects of life, training, diet, constant practice, sponsorships if possible to help pay for everything and it ends up being a fulltime job.

But in no way I'd advocate dismantling a family or obviating ones present responsibilities especially to loved ones. It goes against the grain of life, of love to do this. And you'ld probably create such a stress in yourself that would take years to recover from, apart from hurting those you are closest to. Knowing one's place in life (or one's destiny) is vital o our well-being, and the fastest form of advancement. If one would stray out of one's destiny (dharma), even to take up a spiritual practice, it would be damaging.


Adrian
 
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Tommy Engfors

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Eric,

Please bear with me here (goes for others reading this as well!), this is a long reasoning answer to your question in your last (excellent) post ( where you asked me what do I think is extraordinary). I have tried to make the answer to that clear to myself as well as to you in the most honest way I can (the answer wasn't as obvious as I first thought!). I also tried to make the post a bit shorter but then felt the reasoning got cramped and was maybe not logical enough.

Anyway, I agree about "extraordinary". It needs to be defined.

One way could be to say that anything not "ordinary" is extraordinary. Although true, it really doesn't say much. What is ordinary? We need to start there. Let's define it as anything that is common (plenty/frequent in existence or occurence).

By that definition a road car, say a Volvo, is an ordinary car. At least where it can be bought by most anyone with any sort of income and can be seen on most any street or road. Saying that I have seen a Volvo downtown today is therefore not making an extraordinary claim. At least not if I live in Sweden (which I do) where they can be seen everywhere by everyone. A half of my friends own one as well. But what if I live in a poor third world country somewhere in the middle of Africa where cars are unheard of and almost never seen. Then saying I saw a Volvo, although certainly possible, is no longer making such an ordinary claim. You could say the claim in that case, is at the least, less ordinary. This way to phrase it ,is very tempting, if you know Volvos are plenty in certain other parts of the world and therefore certainly in existence, why not a few in Africa then, even though most cannot afford them. But what I am really saying then? My definition above said ordinary is someting common (plenty). How can I say less ordinary then? Both "plenty" and "less" imply a domain with a certain range. Like the borders of a country (where borders define what is france or germany)? Let us look into this further.

'Less' means a smaller amount of something in a comparison. A car is less heavy than a main battletank for example (a smaller amount of weight units), or going back to the cars; a few Volvos in my African country, compared to the plenty of Volvos in Sweden. The african ones are less common. If less common equals less ordinary, then one can at agree that some things are more or less ordinary. 'Ordinary' then does have a domain. It can be more or less. But how much less? How does one measure such a thing in an exact way? Do I count the Volvos in Sweden and then count the ones in Africa? Where does that lead me? That my african volvo sighting is 4 million cars less ordinary than my simliar sighting in Sweden? If I had the ability to really know how many cars are in both countrys, I could say the above, in principle at least. 'Ordinary' therefore requires some level of existence/occurence larger than zero. As long as that requirement is satisfied we can talk about more or less ordinary sighting claims.

But what if there are no Volvos in that african country? If for some reason, there does not exist a single Volvo there. Is that the same thing as Volvos, in that case, being an extraordinary thing? The answer is yes. We can clearly agree that Volvos in that african country are outside the domain of "ordinary". They are beyond 'less common' (less ordinary) because they don't even exist (in that country). This leads us to conclude that Volvos are ordinary in Sweden but extraordinary in the african country. At least in the case were there are no african Volvos.

At this point my original definition is not good enough ("Ordinary is anything that is common (plenty/frequent in existence or occurence). It says that it has a domain, but not how large, where it ends. If I rewrite it in accordance to the above reasoning it should say "Ordinary is anything that at least exists or occurs". However, that is still not quite good enough, let me carry on a little further.

What happens if I still manage to spot a Volvo in the Volvo empty country (the african one)? Am I then making an extraordinary claim? No, not if I really saw a Volvo. But if you live in Canada and have never heard of Volvos existing in that particular african country, then to you, I would probably be making an extraordinary claim. I phone you and say I am looking at a Volvo where no Volvos are ever known to exist. Clearly I am saying something that you don't hear every day. You choose therefore not to belive me (declaring my claim extraordinary) until I can provide some kind of evidence. This leads us to conclude that what is ordinary to me (although maybe not very common/very ordinary) can be extraordinary to you. This means the word "ordinary" therefore, is not only dependent on something existing (according to my last definition) but also on ones frame of reference. If I can't alter your frame of reference (by finding a way of proving my claim for example), then my claim will remain extraordinary to you.

Introducing frame of reference into this, requires a further rewriting of the definition of what ordinary is. Something like this:

"Ordinary is anything that at least exists or occurs in such a way that an observer can observe it".

There you have it.

This is how I define 'ordinary' and therefore also what is extraordinary.

Going back to our previous posts with this definition; Anyone saying yogis can levitate, is to _me_, therefore making an extraordinary claim. That doesn't mean yogis can't levitate. It just means I won't acknowledge it until I can see some kind of proof. If the proof is convincing enough (hard to fake even in principle), then I will have to (if I want to be honest) alter my world view. I will simply have to include levitating yogis as something that is within the domain of the ordinary (i.e entirely possible).

Phew.

Again sorry for the long post. This is how I reason when I try to clarify things for others as well as myself. I know I get a bit twisted at times... :) I still hope it made sense (even if you do not agree with it).

On another note: I have read every single post in this thread as they have appeared (it has taken time read some of them!) and let me say this: Wow. Some smart people here! Why aren't you guys working for Nasa. Or maybe you are. It has been fun sticking around anyway! In fact I would probably stay even if I lost my diving interest. Keep it up guys. And thanks Eric for thought provoking questions. Now I am off to bed... :)
 
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efattah

Well-Known Member
Mar 2, 2001
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This is quite interesting.

My view is opposite from most people.

For example, some people are convinced that everyone is dishonest. Those people think that everyone is lying until they are proven to be telling the truth. They also think that everything is impossible until proven to be possible.

In my view, I believe everything someone says, until they are proven to be a liar.

Likewise, I believe that everything is possible, until proven to be impossible. It is extremely difficult to prove that something is impossible. That is why any claim which says that 'such-and-such is impossible' is an extraordinary claim, because it is almost impossible to prove that something is impossible.

If a claim says:
"Such-and-such is impossible"

Then that claim is extraordinary to me. All other claims are ordinary (unless I have evidence that the person is a liar).

So, if you phone me from Africa and say that you see a volvo, even in a country where no volvos are thought to exist, I will immediately believe you, for two reasons:
1. I accept that a person tells the truth until proven otherwise
2. I accept that all things are possible until proven to be impossible

I would ask myself:
1. Do I have any evidence that you are a liar? No.
2. Do I have any evidence that volvos in Africa are impossible? No.

Therefore your claim of a volvo in Africa is an ordinary claim (to me), and doesn't require special evidence.

Suppose a scientist says he has found a bacteria in a meteorite from mars.
1. Do I have any evidence that he is a liar? No.
2. Do I have any evidence that life on mars is impossible? No.

Therefore I believe the scientist.

If the President of the U.S. says that uranium has been found in Iraq:

1. Do I have any evidence that he is a liar? Yes.

Therefore his claim would require extra evidence!


I would ask anyone reading this forum to tell me of something which is impossible, and has been proven to be impossible. I think you will find it very difficult to find even one example.


Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
 

Tommy Engfors

New Member
Jul 29, 2003
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Interesting thread indeed.

I would have to agree about something not proven impossible, must logicaly assumed to be possible. But even you must agree that some things, at the least, seem, impossible.

This brings us to the topic of lies.

Saying current life on mars is impossible, is saying something extraordinary indeed. As is saying there have never been life on mars. How can we possibly find such a thing out? Talk about a challenge. That is not, however, the same thing as saying it seems that way. It seems life cannot exist on mars.

In that context, a scientist making the claim he has found evidence of life there, a fossil for instance, is saying he has found something, that at least seemingly, is extraordinary. At least to me.

Why? Have I proven life on mars impossible? No. But I know it seems like an impossible thing (because of what we know is required for earthly life and the fact that the universe seems consistent in the way it operates), and therefore I have to accept the possibility that this particular scientist is lying. Have I seen evidence he is a lier? No. Do I need to? No, because I know people are capable of lying.

The very fact that we can tell lies, require that claims need some kind of evidence to them. At least if we want to know for sure.

You said you locked the door. Fine. I can belive that. But if I really want to _know_, I must go and check the door myself.

In reality I belive what most people tell me in most everyday situations. It becomes a matter of being pratical about things. I only become a disbeliver when sufficently much is at stake. Like when I am about to part with a large sum of my savings. Money always seems to bring out the greed party in us. At least in some of us. In such cases it pays to think about evidence rather than faith.

Do you belive everything the used cars salesman says?

Do you belive me when I say I have x-ray vision?

Do you belive everything a child says?

Do you belive everything a fortuneteller says?

I find you a very brave man indeed, if you truly mean you accept all things told to you as true if the person telling it is not a proven lier. Granted, it does mean few claims are then extraordinary and it certainly means the mind is keept very open. Problem of course is that you risk walking around with false knowledge. You might go around 'knowing' there is life on mars for instance. Or for that matter why not Venus? Santa Claus is just around the corner and your neighbour has pink pigs with wings in his backyard. All this because you think what is not proven impossible is, logicaly enough, still possible (agreed) AND therefore you are prepared to accept virtualy all claims as within the ordinary (without investigating).

Personaly I am glad I am not that open minded myself. I do assume people lie. Not always, but certainly sometimes. I am sceptic because I want to know. For certain. I want the truth as much as anyone, but I don't trust anyone. I don't trust claims of telepathy or telekinesis. I do trust evidence of telepathy or telekinesis.

How do you think the justice system would work if everything not proven impossible was just accepted right away? Without requiring strong evidence? Where would that lead us? Probably back to the old, bad days. Faith in people was much stronger back then. The result? Well... Ever heard of 'wich hunt'?
 

loopy

Deeper Blue Hypoxyphiliac
Oct 24, 2002
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My bad I should've clarified myself better... I didn't mean for solving FLT to be impossible, I meant for the actual content (ie finding a sum of two integer powers higher than blah blah blah) to be impossible.

I guess we can extend that analogy, and say that anything that has been proven mathematically is impossible (based on the current laws of mathematics) but even that is kinda a misnomer... its all well and good to say that it is impossible to ever find a right angled triangle where the hypotenuse length is not the square root of the sums of the squares of the other two sides, or another triangle where the sum of the angles is not 180 degrees, but what if there is a flaw in our logic calculating this result? What if there is something that we messed up (we are after all human) and have ignored some pertinent case? Sticking with the triangle example, this was found many years ago - if we adopt a different approach to the problem (ie use non-Euclidian geometry) we can find that not every triangle has an angular sum of 180 degrees, and that not every triangle has a 'correct' hypotenuse length.

I guess the only true thing that we can prove to be impossible is something based on definition. For example, if we define the set of integers to be 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc, then it is impossible for the number '2' to come after the number '3', by definition. We can't even assume logic to be correct (which is in itself another paradox, because logic is by definition... logical :)) - we might be able to say '2' never comes before '3' and '3' never comes before '4' so that logically '2' never comes before '4', but again, that is an observation, it has a human element and might be wrong. In this instance, by the definition, we can see that this is correct ('4' is defined later in the sequence than '2'), but we cannot assume it is correct just by using 'logic'.

So what does that make of the ordinary/extraordinary? I'm a very firm believer that anything at all is possible, even the impossible. This is based on neither fact nor proof, but simply a belief. Then again, if we introduce the human factor, we can proove that there is a possibility that any proof at all (which is not a definition, but derived from such) has the possibility of being wrong. So if we try to proove that something is "impossible", unless it is defined as such (ie the word "impossible" will always be "impossible" because it is defined that way), we have to acknowledge that there is a possibility that we've gotten it wrong.

There's one more very important result which was derived from a very logical man named Kurt Godel last century. Godel claims that in any system there are methods and ideas which cannot be proven as either true or false - essentially, imagine an idea within a system that says "this idea is impossible to prove". If we can "prove" that it is impossible to prove, we have a contradiction, because it has not really been proven, and hence the statement has not really been proven at all.

There are many things in our world, which we cannot explain, which it is impossible to prove or disprove, or say it is impossible. I can clearly state that last week I decided to do a CW dive to 500m, yet it is impossible for you to prove that I did not.
 
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Will

Freediver
Jun 20, 2003
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This thread has established:
· Nothing can be proven impossible
· Therefore anything MIGHT be possible
This argument is as watertight as a nuclear submarine. The moot point seems to be:
· How MUCH evidence do you need
However I believe this is the wrong question, and is getting us off on the wrong foot.

Consider the arguments:
1. Teleportation might be possible
2. Teleportation might not be possible
3. Teleportation is possible
4. Teleportation is not possible
Statements 1 & 2 are irrefutable, however statements 3 & 4 both require proof. As Eric has pointed out statement 4 is more difficult to prove than statement 3. However both statements are born equal, and should be approached from the CENTRE.
A sceptic is someone who says neither 3 nor 4 have been proven, therefore I will believe in statement 4.
A dreamer is someone who says neither 3 nor 4 have been proven, but I like 3 therefore I will believe in statement 3.
A positivist is someone who says there is better evidence for 3 (or 4) therefore I will accept statement 3 (or 4) as the best model.

Consider the arguments
1. Shakespeare’s favourite colour was warm (red, yellow etc)
2. Shakespeare’s favourite colour was cool (blue, green etc)
Which do you believe? For my part I have no evidence to support either statement, therefore I have no belief. It would be silly of me to have a bias towards either statement until we have evidence. I feel that this is how we should approach statements of possibility.

Positivists like Eric and Stephen Hawking step right up and pin the tail on the donkey - if the evidence for the theory outweighs the evidence for the antithesis (or other models) then they will accept it. I would like to think I subscribe to this method myself.
This thread gladdens me because it reveals that many freedivers share this positivism. Which makes me think it is a healthy sport.

On a semantic note I think there should be a distinction between belief and acceptance. To illustrate, Dostoyevsky succinctly describes the distinction between people who want to believe, and people who don’t, with a passage (Brothers Karamazov) that runs something like “___ believed not because he saw ___, but because he wanted to believe in the first place.” Eric, would I be right in saying that you wanted to believe that the straw could be moved with your mind? For my part I accept your testimony as fact, as the idea of your lying seems absurd. However belief is harder to come by - it hides in the gut, and cannot be forced out with reasoning alone. Which is why, as you’ve already mentioned, we need to ‘experiment’ ourselves. This is where the immutable line is drawn between the proactive experimenters and the inert sceptics and dreamers.

Truth will only ever exist in space-time, but we do the best we can.
 

Alun

Well-Known Member
Oct 5, 2001
763
83
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i've really enjoyed this thread, for the sheer entertainment value! :)
 
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