May 10, 2003 22:33 | Bits / Culture / Technology / WebBlogging

ps -ax

For years I've been playing with the idea that man created the computer in his own image. Memory, I/O, software, hardware, etc. Most of my friends have heard about the "scripts" I've "written" and "run as background processes" in my mind to, for example, make sure I never lose my keys or leave the house without my wallet. We all program our brains, and sometimes have them programmed for us. I could go on, but tonight I'm interested in exploring the subconscious, and to do that I'll look at the CLI, or Shell, or Terminal, or whatever your operating system calls it. For the purposes of this article I'll call it the terminal, because I'm a Mac OS X kind of guy.

Think of the Terminal as the window into the subconscious of your computer. Now, let's turn that around and see if we have a Terminal of our own; a window into our own subconscious. Keep in mind that the Terminal not only allows us to peer in, but also to effectuate commands... and run scripts...

On Unix, when you type and return the command "ps -ax", you are shown all the processes your system is running at that moment. If I had a Terminal on MY system (let's call is BoriX, shall we?) and I ran "ps -ax", what would it show me? Much the same I'd expect (humor me with a temporary suspension of disbelief here). It would tell me that my HeartBeat process is up and running, as well as my Respiration, Visual Acquisition, Auditory Acquisition, etc etc (probably more like a thousand processes just to keep each going, but let's keep it simple).

For some functions of the Central Nervous System, we have a certain amount of conscious (GUI?) access and control over. For example, most of the time we are unaware of our breathing, but at any moment I can decide to take a deep breath, or hold my breath. When I say so, I release the process back to autonomous control. With some training and discipline, it appears we can do the same with the heart. This makes me wonder: to what extent is the CNS "in control" or at least "aware" of the myriad processes in my body? Does it track cell production for the growth of my toenails? (Or the lack thereof for the hair on the forward part of my scalp...) If so, it stands to reason with enough prodding, we should be able to get GUIs to those subsystems as well. Question of finding them, identifying them, documenting them and establishing APIs for them, no?

To get "esoteric" for a moment, consider some of the more profound meditation/shamanistic practices and cultures. Consider LSD... is it the BootStrap to Aqua on BoriX?! Hehehehe.

Seriously though: it seems reasonable that in profound and advanced meditation it should be possible to "bring into one's own awareness" the going-ons of every cell in our bodies. I believe Buddhism provides frameworks for this kind of thing, does it not? It surely must be a requirement of Enlightenment.

However, what if "not". What if our bodies really are just a mass of molecules following rules of Emergent Behavior, and that our consciousness "merely" the by-product thereof? That would mean there is no "central control", "pacemaker", "leader". This raises issues of Ego and Id.. sound familiar, Buddhists?

So I share this with you all, fellow units of emergent systems. Process and react to it as you will.

1- Erich Bachmann

my name is erich, I just droped in your page when I was searching for something. Then I did read some of your text. Meditation; it is what I was interested for many years and I tried many different ways to improve my meditation. In spring 1999 I learned Falun Gong. It gave me what I was searching for so long, it realy gave a big change to not only my life but also the way of meditation. I would propose this kind of techniq to everybody interested in meditation and interested in finding his roots of life.
best regards

2- Boris Anthony

Erm, thank you. I would have appreciated more a link to information about Falun Gong itself rather than information regarding the persecution of Falun Gong in China.

That said, Falun Gong and Falun Dafa seem to be just the natural progression following the evolution of most of the asian "spiritualities", incorporating the same elements and methodologies as Buddhism and Taoism. They deal with the Qi, and Dharma et all. Great stuff, really. If you scratch the surface abit, all of the world's spiritual traditions are essentially exactly the same, leading me to believe that we somehow all "know" this stuff intrinsically...

Maybe "know" is the wrong word... if indeed we are all tuned into the same universal frequencies, it stands to reason that we can actually listen in on the broadcast.. and broadcast ourselves as well.

Special postions and movements I don't believe have anything to do with it, except for perhaps enforcing the sort of discipline required (is it really required?) to "tune in".