The World's First Scientific Model of Awakening
Physiks takes its name from the service provided by the physician or physikos of the ancient world: the facilitation of healing through profound spiritual experience and realisation. We believe research into wisdom is by nature indistinguishable from this service, and falls inline with the modern conception of the activity theory of causation:
"Suppose someone claimed to have discovered [through research] the cause of cancer, but added that his discovery would be of no practical use because the cause he had discovered was not a thing that could be produced or prevented at will. Such a person would be ridiculed by his colleagues in the medical profession. His 'discovery' would be denounced as a sham."
- R. G. Collingwood, An essay on metaphysics, 1940.
Not only must our research be indistinguishable from the service, but as the service is also indistinguishable from participating in the phenomenon of awakening, then the physiks variables must be synonymous with a description of the characteristics of awakening itself.
Any genuinely scientific model of awakening must therefore be esoteric by necessity, and any research program or theory of causation for awakening that proposes or tracks variables that fall outside of a phenomenological description of awakening would be both bad service and bad science.
Further down the page you will find a description of the 6 basic physiks variables (for research purposes these variables are broken down into multiple higher resolution sub-variables) and a related common myth promoted by bad research programs (and teachings) that attempt a non-esoteric understanding of awakening.
Physiks as an Autonomous Guidance platform
The end goal of the physiks model is not only the ability to predict a student's awakening, but the provision of autonomous guidance for facilitating awakening as an integrated feature of the Wiser Master Class.
You can learn more about how we hope to fund the development of the platform, and our overall mission, here.
variable #1: INTELLIGIBILITY
The first variable that is a factor in awakening is the degree to which the practice, and therefore awakening, makes sense to the student.
This means an ideal practice should make sense of awakening before, during, and after awakening occurs; with the ideal form of practice incorporating an analogical structure to awakening.
Wiser Esoteric Practice is unique in its explicit use of analogy, and demonstrates that making sense of awakening prior to the realisation is possible, preferable in cultivating a reliable, safe and efficient awakening - something unavailable from mere practical methods, and essential as a characteristic that defines awakening as a phenomenon.
Myth of Preference
There is the ubiquitous false belief that not only is it impossible to make sense of awakening before actually waking up, but that it's not possible to make sense of it after the fact either. And so any method of meditation is to be treated as a means to an end, something to be discarded once awakening occurs, and the only point of consideration when it comes to what method is used is the extent to which a student 'prefers' one method over another. In other words, neither meditation nor awakening make any sense at all, and the best we can hope for is that meditation 'feels good'.
However, reports of awakening describe the opposite: awakening makes total sense - there is no faith or doubt about what is seen or realised, otherwise it wouldn't be a realisation - and it is only methods that inherently fail to make sense of awakening that suddenly seem incompatible with the realisation. Again, another demonstration that intelligibility is a key characteristic.
Further, there is evidence to suggest that what is considered 'preference' is in fact a function of the degree to which a practice makes sense for a student, which may suggest the practice that makes the most sense is universally preferable.
variable #2: SELF-sabotage
A defining feature of awakening is the recognition that up until its occurrence, your ability to directly participate in the true nature of reality is sabotaged by the playing-out of a non-verbal, prior false existential belief. Analogical in structure to dreaming, this acting-out of the false belief - experienced as if playing a role in a drama - is what you do instead of waking up whenever you try to realise the truth for yourself.
This is the variable known as 'self-sabotage', and it's the answer to the puzzle of why some people wake up faster than others, or why some people simply seem 'stuck' in their progress in wisdom.
In addition to false existential beliefs that are universally suffered by everyone across all times and cultures, there are also particular false beliefs transmitted through the familial and cultural lineages that can sabotage practice too, which must be resolved before it's possible for a student to engage with awakening directly.
An indispensable feature of Wiser training is the incomparable method of Wiser Dialectic Practice for resolving self-sabotage. You can see the evidence for the efficacy of Wiser Dialectic Practice here.
Myth of Helplessness
Without making sense of awakening on its own terms, the question of why some people wake up and others do not cannot be answered; and rather than admit one's own failure in making sense of awakening, it is common for many teachers to instead decide it must be reality itself that is essentially unintelligible. And yet which is more likely?
So when it comes to advice for those unlucky students who do not wake up, superstition is the best that can be offered; awakening is best considered 'a mystery' (i.e. its nature is unknowable, contrary to the defining characteristic of the phenomenon itself), 'a matter of grace' (i.e. an uncomprehending faith is the only way forward), or the phenomenon is simply an artefact of fate or luck (i.e. awakening is non-participatory and meaningless).
What this really means is that both the teacher and the student have bought into the myth of helplessness, when all that is required is a way to make sense of awakening to see that we are receiving all the help we need, all of the time; all we have to do is suspect we might be in error due to our false beliefs, and then employ a way to surface and resolve those beliefs, such as Wiser Practice.
variable #3: continuity
The next essential ingredient to awakening is the recognition of continuity, or the fact the nature realised during an awakening is 'always the case', despite the fact it appears to be absent prior to the realisation.
Continuity of Wiser Esoteric Practice is the key variable to track when it comes to cultivating awakening, but this doesn't mean merely consistency of practice, but the extent to which the practice is embodied as a living reality. Daily sitting practice, interruptive practice throughout the day, and dream practice at night all contribute to establishing a consistency of practice as a necessary part of continuity, but continuity goes beyond the mere application of a regular practice routine.
Myth of Dose
Without a way to make sense of awakening, false beliefs are drawn about the phenomenon based on its attendant superficial characteristics; and so it's common to think that because awakening appears as an intense, state-based 'punctuation' to the regular, delusional condition of everyday life, then practice should follow suit: if the 'dose' of practice is high enough, then an awakening will occur.
What this usually means is that a student will do very little practice at home, but will sporadically go on retreat to get a high enough dose of sitting practice - say 5-8 hours a day - in the hope that this will be enough to wake up, and then the burden of the necessity of practice can be over.
However, the myth (and the burden) of 'dose' is only possible with an incoherent or merely practical view of awakening; if we understand that the continuity of awakening is both effortless and intelligible, then practice follows suit; and rather than an unrelenting practical burden, an embodied esoteric practice is experienced as a life-enhancing privilege.
Variable #4: Falsification
This variable is the most essential when it comes to describing awakening, and it's the reason the analogy of waking up is both accurate and technically appropriate: the direct falsification of a non-verbal, prior existential belief, that before the awakening set the rules for how life is lived, and how the nature of reality is experienced.
Without this falsification, there is no awakening, no matter how profound or intense the spiritual experience; just as it's possible to have a falsification occur despite the lack of attendant overwhelming spiritual states too.
By capturing and describing these falsifications, an intelligible order of falsifications emerges as both a universal series of awakenings and as a description of the structure of reality (traditionally called a cosmology).
It's customary for students who suspect they've had an awakening to seek outside confirmation, which basically means looking for someone else to provide a best guess as to the nature of the experience, and to give strategies for coping with the possible outcomes; as if the intelligibility of the experience is absent. But with Wiser Cosmological Practice, it's possible for a student to take any spiritual experience or event and, through making sense of the experience on its own terms and thereby going beyond faith or doubt, see directly for themselves whether or not an awakening occurred. No guesses or prior beliefs required.
Myth of States
Without the variable of falsification as the key characteristic in describing an awakening, many teachings and research programs are forced to use approximations for awakening by focussing on superficial details such as the intensity and duration of states of mind.
This means the continuity of states can be mistaken for, or misrepresented as, the continuity of awakening, creating many 'false positives'; and many 'quiet' awakenings discounted because of the lack of practice-induced superficial states.
If awakening is then being measured as the persistence of positive mental or emotional states, a 'scientifically-validated' false view of awakening is conjured up that merely repeats the superstitious view of profound spiritual realisation promoted by the religions of the past: the idea that to be wise (or awake) is to be in a state of happiness or wellbeing at all times.
The myth of states is perhaps the worst contributor to sabotaging the provision of wisdom as a service, causing detrimental harm to students, accumulating a wealth of bad science, and misleading the public.
Variable #5: shared AWAKENING
Another name for the variable of shared awakening is transmission, and it's the most taboo aspect of the phenomenon of awakening; completely ignored by researchers, discounted by secular or practical meditators, and vehemently-resisted by anti-guru campaigners. If this variable were ever taken seriously it would mean a radically different view of the world would be required (science is not only by nature extremely conservative, but culturally hopelessly nihilistic), the idea of 'secular' meditation would become impossible (practical meditators - by definition - can only accommodate their own individual efforts as the mechanistic cause of awakening), and we would have to accept that some of the extraordinary claims of abusive gurus were actually true (there is the irrational fear that if an abusive guru said something both profound and true, then we would have to excuse all of their crimes).
And what is shared awakening or transmission? Through simple proximity, sight, sound or touch, a student can share directly in the degree of awakening of a teacher or more advanced practitioner, to the extent the student is capable (this is determined by self-sabotage - see variable #2 above).
At Wiser we believe that shared awakening can only be understood, and its exploitation by amateur and dangerous gurus prevented, by ignoring the hysteria and studying it in a rational manner. So rather than burying our heads in the sand, we are the first to study the phenomenon of shared awakening on retreat; and not only will shared awakening not go away as a feature of growth in wisdom, but evidence suggests it's a key variable in cultivating an ideal, efficient, and reliable awakening.
Myth of Biological Explanation
All previous or existing studies into awakening are practical in nature, meaning they adopt a strategy of studying the phenomenon as if the object of the study is absent.
(To create a scientifically-valid model of awakening would require describing awakening itself, meaning the research methodology must be esoteric in nature by necessity.)
The upshot of this is that superficially-related variables are measured as proxies. These include 'states' and 'dose' (see above for an explanation of these research myths), but by far the most popular proxy to avoid taking awakening on its own terms (and one usually suggested as the basis for all other proxies too) is the myth of 'biological explanation'. This myth is the ultimate refuge from the variable of shared awakening or transmission, and the strongest hope for denying the reality such a phenomenon suggests.
Many different biological markers have been tracked by numerous studies, despite the fact even the world's most sophisticated imaging equipment is too low-resolution to say anything meaningful when it comes to the brain (other than where blood is flowing, which suggests activity - or lack thereof - in a given area), and all commercially available bio-feedback devices (such as brain-wave readers or skin-galvanometers) are astonishingly unreliable (never mind these measurements are meaningless too).
The promise of the myth of biological explanation is the replacement of all practices and traditions with some kind of simple mechanical or pharmaceutical intervention - which based on current research is a thoroughly unscientific superstition - as if awakening is something separate to both practice and service. This not only goes to demonstrate a failure to grasp the most basic details of the object of study, but it requires the astonishing ignorance of proceeding as if an intervention for cultivating awakening doesn't exist already: namely, traditional practice and service!
Variable #6: invited intervention
The final variable in cultivating an ideal awakening is the one most recognisable as service: the direct intervention of an experienced practitioner in the current drama of a student, without which the student would remain lost.
It's impossible to see outside of your own problems, which is precisely why they are your problems and not someone else's; and although Wiser Practice can be considered an intervention in its own right, some problems are so entrenched that someone is needed to facilitate the practice for you.
However, the nature of wisdom is such that the intervention - regardless of whether it's always available - must be invited or consented to, as growth in wisdom is only possible as a shared phenomenon.
This means awakening (or wisdom) is fundamentally participatory; and although an intervention is required, it is the participation of the student in the intervention offered that results in the resolution of the false belief in question. The student heals themselves through the provision of a shared practice and service.
This is the basis of Wiser's mission in creating a universal wisdom service: by students healing themselves, they can then offer the intervention to others as Wiser Practitioners.
Myth of Isolation
Counter to the truth of wisdom being fundamentally participatory or shared - just like the nature of reality itself - is the myth of awakening as an isolated phenomenon that springs from nothing more than an individual's practical efforts.
Just as all 6 physiks variables go hand-in-hand as a description of awakening, so too where we find one myth we are likely to find the others in attendance. So it's not unusual to find meditators who buy into the myth of isolation to be obsessed with chasing states of mind and upping their dose of their preferred sitting practice, all the while hoping for something to happen to their brain.
Unfortunately, if an awakening does occur and some of the physiks variables are necessarily recognised, it can still be difficult to let go of the myths, because although the awakening invalidates each and every one of the myths, it nevertheless seems as if the myths led directly to the awakening occurring.
Thankfully, the relationship between awakening and practice isn't a new problem, and we find it answered in every tradition that can rightly be described as esoteric. Historically these teachings have been largely inaccessible, but for the first time it's now possible to learn the esoteric practices of the unique Western tradition of awakening, through the Wiser Master Class.
And for the first time too, we have a research program that is in its own nature esoteric, in the form of the Wiser Incubator.