Spirituality and Income

Categorized under Personal/Daily Life

In previous blogs on this site I have been emphasizing the importance of bringing the whole of one’s personal life into the logical spotlight.  And I have been critical of the way people in general, and academics and scientists in particular, limit their rationality to what is technical, abstract and impersonal, thereby keeping it well away from their deepest emotional attachments.  So it is only fair that I turn the logical spotlight around and direct it towards my own life.  In particular, I will use this blog to examine the way I earn my livelihood.

The question of how to generate an income is a challenge for anyone who seeks to lead a truthful life and become perfectly wise.  How does one gain a livelihood from a society that is steeped in falsehood, dishonesty and lies, while remaining faithful to the truth?  Is it possible to remain uncompromising in one’s thought and behaviour and yet flourish in the modern world?

There are two specific issues involved.  The first issue is time.  The spiritual person needs a lot of free time so that he can learn to think properly, develop his meditational skills, apply his reasonings in a sustained manner and open his mind to the Infinite.   The second issue is values.  Can a spiritual person give his blessing to a system that actively promotes ignorance, false values, irrational beliefs, bigotry, confusion, pettiness, deception, exploitation of the weak, emotional orgies and violence?  Can he be party to a system which instinctively smothers wisdom and truth at every available opportunity?  These two issues ultimately merge into a single fundamental question: What is the best way for a thinking individual to live the highest life and contribute strongly to the future of the human race?

The solution I have come up with is not the only solution available, and I am not necessarily advocating that people should replicate what I have done.  Every person’s circumstances are different.  But it is very important that you think through the manner in which you lead your life and earn your income.  Indeed, everyone should be doing this, regardless of whether they have spiritual aspirations or not.  Just because someone pays you a wage, or gives you money for your goods or services, and you are surrounded by a loving family, it does not automatically mean that you are doing the right thing and leading a decent life.  After all, even drug dealers and weapons smugglers can claim that.

In the first half of this blog I will outline some background information about my life and the choices I have made, while in the second half I will explain the reasons behind these choices.  My main motivation for writing about this subject is to give this site some ballast, to give readers a sense of my personality and a glimpse into my roots.  One of the problems with the internet is its encouragement of anonymity.  Although the internet is a wonderful tool that allows us to communicate with others from all over the world, the fact that most people hide behind pseudonyms only serves to make discussion less interesting and less substantial.  The popular term “keyboard warriors” is very apt in describing those whose fearlessness in the cyberworld derives purely from being an untraceable nobody behind a computer.  Although there might be plenty of earnestness and fire in the things they write, there is no blood in their words, no personal sacrifice, no risk, and thus no depth.  Indeed, most discussions (or arguments) on the internet have little to do with truth.  They are more about people taking out their frustrations and bludgeoning people to death.  It all amounts to a lot of sound and fury about nothing.

Many who read this particular blog are likely to be disgusted over the way I live my life and will instantly dismiss everything I have to say on any subject at all.  Others will be somewhat contemptuous, but nonetheless they will continue to respect the quality of my thought, although their estimation of me will probably be lowered. And then there will be some who won’t have any problems with it at all – in fact, they will probably find the whole thing highly amusing and have even more regard for me.  I have experienced all of these varying reactions in my everyday life, and continue to do so.  So I am well used to it.

Anyway, to business.  A little bit about my life:

I am 48 now and I have not been employed in any official capacity since I was 22.  The only time I had a full-time job was back in 1982, the year after I left school, when I worked as a chainman for twelve months.  I then studied surveying for several years at the University of Queensland, during which I was supported by my parents and had several part-time jobs.  By the time 1987 rolled around I had completed my course and was living in the countryside as a drop-out, my only income at this stage being unemployment benefits (or “Newstart Allowance” as it is known) and occasional help from my father.  It was during this period that I began to take a serious interest in philosophy, mysticism and spirituality.  I remember saying to people at the time that I wanted to be a spiritual man “just like Jesus or the Buddha”.  And ever since then I have been relying on social security payments for my livelihood.

Australia is a wealthy country and enjoys a fairly generous welfare system that was established at the end of World War II.  But nonetheless, there are strict guidelines in place that have to be met before one can receive a welfare payment. In order to receive a Newstart Allowance, for example, one has to provide evidence on a fortnightly basis that one is genuinely looking for work.  As I had no real interest in finding work, I initially started my career as a welfare recipient doing what a lot of other young drop-outs did at the time – namely, pretend to look for work and provide false information on the fortnightly forms.  Occasionally, I did apply for jobs so that I could receive rejection letters which could be offered as proof that I was looking for work, always making sure during the process that they were jobs I had no chance of getting.  For example, I remember once applying for a carer’s job at a women’s refuge, to which they politely replied that after some consideration my application was unsuccessful (they were careful not to mention that it was because I was male!).

This went on for several years.  Each fortnight I continued to compile a fake list of employers that I supposedly contacted and each fortnight I continued to put down false information on my Newstart forms.  I was not overly concerned about this deceptive practice during this time – indeed, I hardly gave the matter a thought, as my days and nights were thoroughly consumed with the process of developing my thinking and meditating abilities.  But eventually my conscience caught up with me.  I could no longer ignore the clash between my desire to worship truth in all aspects of my life and the dishonest manner of my livelihood. And so one day, in early 1993, I made the decision to stop providing false information on my fortnightly forms and began telling the Department of Social Security (DSS) of my true intentions – namely, that I had no desire to work in any capacity as I needed to devote all my time to wisdom and the understanding of ultimate reality.  In other words, I informed the department who I was, what my values were, what I wanted to do with my life, and then left it up to them to decide what to do with me.

I had no idea what would happen, as I did not know of anyone who had gone down this path.  There was no precedent as far as I knew.  There was every possibility that I could have ended up on the streets with no income at all.  But I was young and did not care.  I was fully prepared to live on the streets, if it ever came to that (and still am, if it ever comes to that, for it is still an ever-present danger).  I reasoned that I would get by somehow, that starving to death would be an unlikely occurrance in a first-world country such as ours, and that even though it would be rough I would still have plenty of free time to do my real work.

In any case, my values and intentions were dutifully conveyed to the DSS and wheels were set in motion.  I was examined by social workers, referred to occupational psychologists, told to undergo various tests, sent to see government psychiatrists, and so on.  Eventually it was decided that I should apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP), which is a welfare payment made to those deemed to be unemployable, either because of long-term physical injury or mental illness.  This pleased me because it meant that I would be able to receive an income without having to engage in any form of lying and I would have all the time I needed to pursue my philosophic work.

The actual process of applying for the DSP proved to be a challenge, however, for I had no recognised medical condition to speak of, never saw a treating doctor (other than a general practitioner for minor ailments), and never took medications of any kind.  Even filling out the application form was difficult as most of the questions focused on medical matters, leaving me with no choice but to leave most of it blank.  Realizing that I could not simply hand in a blank application, but not knowing what else to do, I eventually made contact with a social worker within the DSS who helped me write something that was somewhat passable.

At root, my condition was philosophical, rather than medical.  I was applying for the DSP on the basis that I had a strong philosophic nature and valued wisdom “excessively”.   Even though my livelihood was on the line, I found the whole situation very amusing and I had a lot of fun dealing with the system in this manner.  And I quickly realized that I had an opportunity with this application to make a statement about the nature of our society.  I thought to myself that if I presented myself as truthfully as possible, telling everyone concerned that I refused to seek employment because I wanted to exclusively focus on spiritual matters, never exaggerating any quirks or eccentricities I might have, focusing all attention upon the fact that I was healthy and fully-functional and yet choosing to take my spiritual conscience seriously, then I would be forcing the government, and by extension the whole of society, to reveal their attitude towards spirituality and wisdom.  In other words, it became my ambition to gain this pension solely on the basis that I valued wisdom.  I wanted to prove to myself, and to others, that society does indeed regard the valuing of wisdom as a form of mental illness.

Some years later I gained a copy of my social security files under the Freedom of Information Act and so I can provide the reader with a glimpse of what went on during that time.  It does make for interesting reading.  For example, here is the report written by the social worker mentioned above: part one, part two, and translation.  And here is another report written by a couple of psychologists who also examined me during this period: part one, part two, part three, and part four.

It took around 18 months before my case was resolved and I was granted the DSP on the basis of having a Schizoid Personality Disorder, which suited me fine.  Such a label does fit me to some degree, in that I am solitary in nature, relatively emotionless, and apathetic towards society’s goals and values.  There is little doubt that my personality is fundamentally different from the norm.  It is all a matter of perspective, of course.  From my point of view, the human race is utterly mad and I am one of the few sane individuals around, so I can easily see how most people would view the matter in reverse.  I sometimes say to people, “If you don’t have a personality disorder, then there is clearly something wrong with you.”

That was in 1994, and now it is 2012 and I am still on this pension, which means for all that time I have been receiving an income from the government – that is to say, from the Australian taxpayers – and have contributed nothing of any economic value in return.  The only things of worth that I produce are my philosophic writings on the internet and my philosophic interactions with people in daily life, all of which I do for free.  In many people’s eyes, I am a bludger, a parasite who leeches off the hard work of my fellow Australians. Their sense of “fairness” flares up whenever they think about someone like me.  They feel that I am letting the side down, as it were.  This is a perfectly understandable view on their part, so it is only natural to ask the question: How do I actually justify what I do?

It all turns on how valuable my philosophic output is.  If it is of authentic value, if it helps people to become more rational and more profound, perhaps even stimulating them into realizing the nature of reality, then I am making a genuine contribution to society and earning my keep.  There are many different ways to contribute to society.  It is not all about digging things out of the ground and producing tangible goods.  There would be no richness to our culture if that was the case.  There would no sophisticated forms of art, music, mathematics, philosophic thought, humour, and research; and there would be little in the way of health services, such as psychological therapy and counselling.  The contribution I make to society falls somewhere within the realm of all these things.

On the other hand, it could be argued with some validity that the nature and scope of my work is not for everybody.  It is true that many people cannot make any sense of my vocation.  It completely goes over their heads.  But even so, they are still benefiting in an indirect sense.  There might be only a few people in the entire world at the moment who can appreciate and benefit from the sort of work I do, but in time this could change.  If more and more people strive to become rational and wise, all the while influencing yet more others in the process, then this will have a rippling effect into the rest of society.  Just as Western civilization has become more open-minded and mature over the centuries due to the influence of scientists, even though the specifics of their work are baffling to most people, so too rational philosophers can create intangible, yet meaningful, benefits that stretch far beyond their own individual lives.

I firmly believe that my work is of tremendous relevance to all human beings, whether they realize it or not, and thoroughly deserving of the small pittance I receive for it.  There are a lot of people, such as politicians, public servants, administrators and academics, who also derive their income from the taxpayers.  Can they also claim that their work is of great significance to humanity?  Many professors enjoy enormous salaries that completely dwarf my income for work that has a fraction of the value of my own.  Should they be called upon to justify their parasitic ways?

Some argue that I should put my work in the market place and try to sell it.  This sounds fine in theory, but it is unworkable in this case.  We live in a world where people have minimal interest in the great truth of existence, and they certainly do not want to read material that directly challenges the falseness of their lives.  That is very, very unmarketable.  People generally prefer to read nice, fluffy pieces that affirms their values, not attacks them.  The Buddha himself could materialize in front of these people and speak the greatest truths in the most compelling and direct manner, and still they would find a way to block it all out.  You cannot even give this stuff away.  I have spent my life offering my work up for free and still barely anyone is interested.  The chances of my being able to sustain a livelihood without compromising my work are approximately zero.

Of course, if I had a mind to, I could play the game.  I could find a robe of some kind, for example, give myself a fancy title, plaster a permanent smile on my face and speak glowingly about the importance of love and compassion, and I would probably be able to gather a sizeable following and derive a livelihood in that way.  But that would be selling my soul to the devil.  If you ever see a guru or a spiritual teacher with more than a couple of followers, you can be sure that he has compromised his teachings and leads a duplicitous life.  His words might contain some truth on the surface, but underneath it all he resorts to the lowest common denominator and happily gives his followers what they want by affirming their deluded values and feeding their egotistical fantasies.  This is one of the reasons why I consider myself fortunate to be on a pension.  I don’t have to kowtow to an audience for the sake of gaining their approval. I can speak my mind freely.

It is often said to me that if everyone followed my path and went on the dole in order to think, the economy would collapse and no one would benefit. While this is undeniable, who really thinks this is likely to happen?  And even if it did happen, even if everyone was suddenly seized by the spirit of reason and began to take truth seriously, they would not be foolish enough to allow things to fall apart.  Becoming more conscious and rational does not mean becoming more stupid.  In a rational society, we would all be doing our bit to help with the practical running of the economy.  And I too would be doing my bit.

Many working Australians complain loudly about the “dole bludgers” who live the high life at the taxpayers’ expense, but the truth is very few people at the moment can bear such a lifestyle.  Most people need structure and purpose in their lives and instinctively look outwards to society to provide these things for them.  I have personally known quite a few people, intelligent types with an interest in philosophical matters, who have attempted to live for an extended time on the dole and it was not long before they were crawling up the walls in boredom and frustration.  To them, it felt like a living death.  You really need to have a strong inner purpose and a mind that can create its own entertainment to find life on the dole fulfilling. When you are on the dole you have no money to do anything, you are on the lowest rung on the social ladder, men treat you with ridicule and contempt, women look past you as though you were invisible, and you have endless amounts of time to brood.  For most people, this is the very definition of hell.

The question of having free time into order to properly settle the mind and think clearly is not the only issue at hand.  There is also the question of values.  Given the way society currently is, it is impossible to imagine anyone lasting a week in an employment situation while remaining faithful to the truth.  Can you imagine asking the boss for three days off because you wanted to explore a fantastic new insight into reality that occurred to you overnight?   Or the boss’s reaction if you refused to perform a particular instruction because you considered it to be dishonest and exploitative?  You would be out on your ear in no time.  Employers demand loyalty – to them.  They could not care less about your mental and spiritual development.

It would be a strange thing indeed if you observed a person who is committed to the principle of human equality working for the Ku Klux Klan.  The clash of values alone would be striking.  From my perspective as a spiritual man, nearly everything that happens in society, both within the work-place environment and beyond, is equivalent to the inner workings of the Ku Klux Klan.  The same kind of insanity and violence is in play, although expressed in a multitude of different ways.  How could I, a lover of truth, possibly involve myself in these places in an official capacity and actively promote their values?  It is unthinkable.

Some people have told me that if I feel so strongly about these matters, then I should completely divorce myself from society and live on a plot of land somewhere, growing my own vegetables and living a self-sufficient lifestyle.  However, divorcing oneself from society is not the answer.  It is a sign that one has given up on the human race, which I have not.   I want to help people.  I believe in the capacity of the human brain and its potential.  We can see in the technology around us what a marvel the human mind is.   It just needs help in being liberated from its limited frameworks.  People sometimes need a spark, a stimulating interaction, to help free their minds from their habitual ways of looking at the world, enabling them to see that what they normally consider to be important is really not so important.  Being on the pension allows me to provide some of these sparks, while remaining true to myself.

It is not a perfect solution, by any means.  It undermines my credibility as a citizen of the world and a member of the human race, but is balanced out by the way it allows my thought to become as pure, deep and intelligent as possible.  I will leave it to others to judge whether this strange child-like combination has any value.  I personally believe that my voice is unique and worth hearing, even though it does rely on economic support from the community.

Perhaps a better solution for someone like myself would be to have a wealthy patron who believed in what I did and supported me financially, a bit like how artists used to be supported in centuries gone by.  That would probably make my lifestyle seem more valid, in many people’s eyes at least.  But even here there would be problems, as one would have to take into account how the patron makes his money and what his own ethical practices are.  At this stage of our evolution as a species, no solution will ever be perfect.  The only perfect solution would be that if our entire society became sane, wherein everyone was rational and honest with each other, wherein truth and wisdom were valued above all else, and everyone was constructively helping with the practical aspects of managing the economy in an intelligent, non-selfish manner. But I cannot see that happening any time soon.


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78 Responses to “Spirituality and Income”

  1. Liberty Sea Says:

    In summary, you are living off the compassion of others, but refusing to promote compassion.

  2. Kelly Jones Says:

    You’ve got it topsy-turvy, there. Welfare systems aren’t based on charity or compassion, but on keeping the starving undesirables from creeping into your home at midnight to raid your fridge. In the old days, the undesirables were constantly sending you letters for money. Like Oscar Wilde, constantly writing to his friends complaining of his lack of money, or selling the rights of his plays fraudulently to many people, to get more money. So welfare systems are about sticking a dummy in the baby’s mouth, to avoid them crying and bugging you. Yet people believe welfare systems are about being civilised and decent to others. Similarly, when Buddhists are told they can buy merit (good karma) by donating food or money to a begging monk, it’s not compassion they’re feeling, but cupboard love. “I’ll be good because I get something as reward”. You can’t blame David for not wanting to promote these false forms of compassion.

  3. Kelly Jones Says:

    Thanks, Matt, for your work on the blog setup.

  4. Bob Michael Says:

    Get honest, David. You’re simply a weak and cowardly freeloader, who, as a consequence, has absolutely nothing of real spiritually developmental value to offer life and your fellow suffering human beings. And you can try to polish yourself up all you want with your ‘genius’ and ‘logic’, but you don’t fool me or the Infinite. And rather than your being ‘child-like’, I consider you quite childish and immature.

  5. Matt Gregory Says:

    Kelly, my pleasure! It was a little more work than I originally expected, but totally worth it. I’m still trying to figure out what to do about the comment problems. Rest assured, I’m not happy with the comments at all. I suspect I’m going to have to write a plugin myself to facilitate in-depth discussions because none of the available plugins are really suited for that, but the thought of how much work that would be makes me cringe. I think we should have used Slashcode for this rather than WordPress. I wish I would have thought of that when I started this.

  6. David Quinn Says:

    What is compassion, but understanding?

  7. Adam Pfleghaar Says:

    I completely agree with Mr. Quinn. I think the life he chose is the only possible way that he could maintain 100% integrity in the pursuit of spiritual truth (everyone has a different path in life, and certainly his life is different than say that of Spinoza). And above all, I think it is of the greatest importance to society and human life in general. It’s been a while since I’ve been in contact, but as Mr. Quinn knows, I make films (and hopefully we can make one together some day). But when making films, I need many resources and since it’s purely a collaborative and very expensive medium I need to rely on MANY people. Right now, I basically have the setup that artists used centuries ago. My patron is a successful CEO of a high technology company. This investor has more integrity than just about anyone I’ve met and this route undoubtably allows for more integrity than say going through the Hollywood studio system. But I assure you, I’ve sacrificed my integrity and my committal to truth in many ways. Even as an artist, who has spent nearly my entire life diligently and tirelessly striving towards the perfection of spiritual truth, still, I am nothing more than a prostitute like the rest of society. I’ve done all that I can to prevent being a prostitute but it’s simply unavoidable in the path that I’ve chosen. I am still offering truth in my work, but in much smaller doses than what Mr. Quinn provides. Being a prostitute has built my character in many positive ways, it certainly has humbled me, and forced me to relate to the masses in ways I never would have otherwise. I respect hard working people and those that suffer. So being able to relate to them and reach them in some small way has significance for me. Also, aside from my career, what free time is left to me is probably somewhat similar to what Mr. Quinn enjoys, solitude, meditation, philosophical exercises, and the pursuit of absolute truth/reality. But “part-time” is not enough really. Though I am not Mr. Quinn and will never live the same life as him or pursue truth in the exact same manner, I hope one day to commit myself to full time asceticism from dishonesty and delusion and like Ecclesiastes look back upon all my accomplishments as “vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

  8. cathypreston Says:

    It’s kinda funny that the billions and billions of dollars spent on social programs are thought to be a compassionate response to the suffering of human beings, yet someone who dedicates himself to understanding the cause of suffering on the tiniest fraction of those dollars is called weak and cowardly, a free loader.

  9. Kelly Jones Says:

    Adam, how refreshing to hear such honesty. What a difference to a sell-out job, with his sickly-sugary smiles, clowning, love-and-compassion claptrap, his need for a large and impressive following, sing-song voice, otherwordly gaze, dramatics, and prostitute glamour (as in the Dalai Lama, Osho Bhagwan, Alan Watts, Eckhardt Tolle, even Jed McKenna to some extent). Combining all that with some wise words (which he has borrowed for the most part) has terrible consequences. Many people are misled, because they cannot tell how shallow his attainment is, because they cannot see how much he is compromising. Society would have to be in a seriously bad way, for a wise person to have to use those gimmicks. So honesty about this, acknowledging if, and how much, one is selling-out means: at least there is no self-deception, and one is better positioned. And others can see a higher goal.

    Matt, Is it really necessary to add “reply-to” or “quote”? Simple is good. Commenters can do a cut-and-paste to quote. Maybe the only thing to avoid is a very lengthy page of scrolling down the comments. I don’t know. I think the dark-grey background for the alternate comments is a bit too dark.

  10. Liberty Sea Says:

    Compassion just means genuine care about the well-being of others. I am of course not talking about the reward-punishment psychology, which is not compassion at all. I am talking about genuine compassion, which is not a synonym for emotional attachment or self-deception. Understanding requires more than just compassion, which is why even unintelligent people can be compassionate to some extent. Ordinary people are perfectly capable of being genuinely moved or shedding tears at the sight of the suffering of their fellow human beings, which was what motivated the Buddha to pursue wisdom. Not to mention unsentimental compassion, which is the child of wisdom. I am having in mind not the likes of Osho or your everyday guru, but Jiddu Krishnamurti.

    Promoting genuine compassion is not going to get people to throw rocks at you. The welfare system might not be based on selfless intention, but certainly not on apathy either. One thing is certain: many people donate to it because they care. And self-sacrifice is exactly what many a philanthropist is doing.

    I couldn’t care less about whether a man decides to promote compassion. But if I were a Nietzchean hero I wouldn’t receive help from others either. Otherwise one ought to face it that one does not have the strength and male pride to be the camel that takes upon its shoulder the heaviest.

    Personal question, David. Couldn’t you be a librarian or a caretaker in some bookstore, in case you have no talent? There are plenty of easy jobs that can give you plenty of time to think and read books.

  11. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty Sea wrote, “Ordinary people are perfectly capable of being genuinely moved or shedding tears at the sight of the suffering of their fellow human beings, which was what motivated the Buddha to pursue wisdom.” I can just hear his father say, “Young Siddharta, sitting on your arse meditating might be motivated by compassion, but it’s of no practical help. And it looks damn lazy. If you really want to help these starving, filthy, strife-ridden untouchables, then become a wealthy merchant-philanthropist like Dick Smith or Bill Gates. Or, if you must get in amongst them, then become a psychologist, doctor, or journalist, like Fred Hollows, Mother Theresa, Peter Singer, or Michael Moore. The cardinal rule for all non-monarchs is: if you eat, you must work. And you are not working, my boy!”

  12. David Quinn Says:

    Lao Tzu wrote, “If one is sick of sickness, then one is not sick.” I agree with Kelly that it was a great response by Adam. If everyone was that open and honest about their lives, the world would be a much better place. I only hope, Adam, that you don’t decide to retire to your cave before we have a chance to do our film together!

  13. David Quinn Says:

    Liberty Sea wrote: ” Couldn’t you be a librarian or a caretaker in some bookstore, in case you have no talent? ”

    So you want me to be stuck inside some musty old store, handing out books by Joan Crawford, Dan Brown and L. Ron Hubbard? What if someone entered the store and asked for “The History of Western Philosophy” by Bertrand Russell? I would have to say to them, “What are you on about? You don’t want that pile of crap. Go read some Kierkegaard instead.” In fact, I would have to fill the entire store with nothing but Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. And well, maybe some Chuang Tzu and Huang Po too. Perhaps that could work.

  14. Liberty Sea Says:

    But Kelly, the difference between David and the Buddha is that the Buddha promoted compassion. Genuine compassion, intrinsic consideration of goodness for all living beings (aside from reward-punishment psychology mixed in his teachings). The works of the Buddha are the tremendous number of Buddhist scriptures. Not to mention Krishnamurti, who taught compassion and love as sensitivity through intelligence, free from sentimental romanticism and emotional enthusiasm.

    One either believes that each individual should take care of himself, or believes that individuals should help each other. Either way is fine so long as one’s action is consistent with one’s doctrine. One cannot pretend that the Buddha agreed with Nietzsche on the issue of compassion. David, like Nietzsche, considered compassion a weakness and preached against human compassion. David, like Nietzsche, spoke so glowingly in promotion of masculinity, strength and independence that even I felt convinced by him. But now I have to question if relying on charity to get through the day is a sign of masculinity, strength and independence. Furthermore, would a man of dignity and honesty benefit from a system he despise, receive help from an emotion he disdain? If you are honest, why don’t you go and say to people’s face: “I don’t give a damn about creatures of low intelligence and dignity like you, but damn well you should pay to feed me.” or “The best way inferior intellects like you can serve humanity is by way of providing superior intellects like me with food and bed.”?

    And David, you should have asked me for career advice. There is no shame and harm in handing out badly-written books to those who ask for them. And even if you don’t like it, there are plenty of jobs that don’t require high concentration.
    The problem is you are not willing to change your lifestyle.

    One of my major dreams is the development of a system of technology that can reduce working hours to 2 hours per day. But for now, David is what he is.

  15. David Quinn Says:


  16. David Quinn Says:

    As Kelly mentioned, the welfare system has little to do with compassion. People are willing to pay for it through their taxes because they know it keeps beggars off the street and reduces crime. They also know that they might need it at some point in their lives.

    It should be noted that neither the Buddha nor Nietzsche worked for most of their adult lives.

    Perhaps we need to discuss what compassion is. Is it empathy? Feeling what others are feeling? An acceptance of the human race? An affirmation of whatever behaviour humans happen to exhibit? Being friendly with your neighbours? Or is it something deeper, such as intelligently saving people from the hells of samsara?

  17. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty wrote: “David, like Nietzsche, considered compassion a weakness and preached against human compassion.” Nah, mate. What does Zarathustra say to the old hermit at the beginning, who sees he is returning down to mankind and accosts him, “Changed is Zarathustra, to the child Zarathustra has gone, an enlightened one is Zarathustra: only what would you do with the sleeping?”………. “I love mankind”

    There is also a chapter called “The Tree on the Hill”, where the young man blurts out, “See, what I have become, since you showed up! It is envy of you that has destroyed me!” Zarathustra waits awhile, his arm around his shoulder, waiting for him to stop crying. Then he replies, “It renders my heart. Better than your words can say, speaks your eye all of your danger. You want the free heights, for stars your soul thirsts. But also your worst impulses thirst for freedom. … Yes, I know your danger. But with my love and hope I swear to you: don’t throw your love and hope away!”

    The section on neighbourly love is perhaps what you think of, as Nietzsche despising compassion. But I don’t read it that way. Instead of being literally about hatred of charity and compassion, it’s actually full of a deeper love for people. Check out my translation here: http://www.naturalthinker.net/trl/texts/Nietzsche,Friedrich/Zarathustra/1.html#Nachstenliebe

    As for “The best way inferior intellects like you can serve humanity is by way of providing superior intellects like me with food and bed”, that’s a load of dead canetoads. At least, I see every bite of thrifty food that I eat, my simple accommodation, second-hand clothes, home-made sticks of furniture, and so forth, as sponsorship for helping as many people as possible come to see the Infinite, and a pledge I must be worthy of. Rather than despising others, I am their servant, and do my best to try to fulfil the contract I’ve signed up for.

  18. Bob Michael Says:

    If it’s any consolation you’re not alone, David. Far from it. The list of so-called enlightened men, who, upon having experienced a spiritual awakening or revelation or two and were then all-too-quick to run front and center with the ‘good news’, while cunningly taking an easier, softer, (parasitical) way through life, rather than the way of long-suffering, is quite long. And that list, to name only a few of the more recent and present ‘gurus’, ‘godmen’, etc. would include: Eckhart Tolle, Andrew Cohen, Franklin Jones, Osho, and the two Krishnamurti ‘boys’. To my knowledge the best man to ever come out of Australia in recent times was Barry Long, but he too was a failure. As you also seem destined to be.

  19. David Quinn Says:

    Well, you will have to be the successful one, then.

  20. Liberty Sea Says:

    You need to get a more systematic view of Nietzsche’s philosophy, Kelly, instead of quoting occasional passages. Zarathustra is not himself a superman, but the bridge to the superman. He is an advocate, speaking to the people before the dawn of Nihilism. The Superman overthrows all previously-established value to create his new value. Nietzsche’s central concept is the will to power. Compassion – thought Nietzsche, our old selfproclaimed immoralist – weakens it.
    “What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. ”
    “One is deprived of strength when one feels compassion. [mitleidet]”
    “Insofar as we believe in morality we pass sentence on existence.”

    David, Nietzsche was a prodigy appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel at the age of 24 (the youngest individual to have held this position). He later worked as a professor until his health did not allow him to continue. You are healthy, David. The Buddha worked, like Krishnamurti, by lecturing among the crowd for 50 years, and left behind a tremendous body of works. Their occupations: public speaker. Their profession worked, because they promoted compassion, unlike you, an ‘antisocial’ who lives off ‘social’ welfare…
    You and Kelly got something right that not all people pay taxes for social welfare out of care for the unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean nobody cares.

    In general I agree with Bob on this issue. The recent spiritual teachers failed for lacking long-term plan. Exactly the reason why I am working toward a detailed plan in academy and politics.
    For one thing, Jiddu Krishnamurti had the most detailed psychological analyses. He was the closest to the total understanding of human suffering. And I wonder if you know about existential energy.

    Compassion is sensitivity through intelligence, and the recognition that “you are the world”, as Krishnamurti said. For the teachers who teach we are all one are perfectly right. And nobody condemned them antisocial for that teaching. Love man, for you are he. Such a teaching is in accordance with the Truth of Totality, and brings people closer to each other, abandoning their discrimination and fear while maintaining their authentic aloneness. It is by no mean an endorsement of herd mentality, but for whatsoever reason you are afraid of speaking to people in promotion of that compassion and kindness. You are afraid of smiling in front of people, or are you afraid of showing people that you are glad to meet them, that you are interested in them, that you care about their well-beings and their sufferings, their mental states and future developments? You care about an abstract mankind in your head, but not the people in front of your face?

    The strong should be kind and support the weak until they become strong. The strong endure the unendurable, answer hatred and injustice with love and care. The strong do not utter a word of complain, do not let a hateful thought arise when ill-treated and misjudged. To reply with disgust and contempt when met with antagonism and misunderstanding means you are still not strong and selfless enough, means you are too sentimental and wimpy. There is nothing wrong with kindly and gently pointing out the weakness of other to help them improve, while devastating criticism can have backfire effect, and turn the world against you before it has the chance to understand you.

    Furthermore, people need to be able to survive and acquire certain physical comfort and freedom before they can reach perfection. There is nothing wrong with what the genuine philanthropists, environmentalists, human right activists, social workers and inventors are doing out of compassion to improve worldwide human conditions, because they are preparing the physical conditions for the spiritual development of mankind.

  21. Adam Pfleghaar Says:

    Sorry I have a question, and this is quite a huge tangent from the topic of the thread, and might seem like a childish play on words, but it’s late at night here and I’m going to ask it anyway. To divide conceivable phenomena into the categories of “truth” and “lies/delusion”, being that they are opposites and rather black and white at that, isn’t it dualistic thinking and therefore spiritually inaccurate (even the word “inaccurate” is inherently dualistic)? If you get rid of dualistic conceptions all together it seems that words become rather limited in conveying what is inherently non-dualistic? Language is completely dependent on dualism. Even the word non-dualistic is an opposition to dualistic and is therefore promoting dualism 🙂 Sorry. Words so often fail for me.

  22. David Quinn Says:

    Liberty Sea, I agree that compassion is acting from the recognition that “you are the world”, and this is why I say that it ultimately comes from understanding. Compassion arises naturally when you truly see that all things and all people are yourself. As soon as you try to divorce understanding from compassion, it ceases to be compassion and becomes becomes a form of egotism instead.

    The philanthropists, environmentalists, human right activists, social workers and inventors that you mention are not being compassionate in the true sense of the word. Granted, what they do is better than going around shooting people in the head, but it is still egotism nonetheless and thus a form of ignorance. It is still has karmic consequences and, in the long-run, it kills wisdom.

    It is all very well to prepare the “physical conditions for the spiritual development of mankind”, but if you extinguish wisdom in the process, then it becomes self-defeating.

    When I spoke about the gurus and their smiles and their endless talk about love and compassion, I was talking about the way they feed people’s emotional addiction to these things. If you ever visit a Buddhist community or other such religious communties, you will see the same people going to the same lectures from the same gurus, year after year. Like junkies, they are addicted to the emotional pleasures the guru, who is usually skilled orator, habitually provides them. They are not encouraged to stand on their own two feet and reach wisdom on their own. They are being kept in a state of weakness by the very people they have entrusted to help them.

    And this is all brought about by the continual emphasis placed on compassion at the expense of encouraging understanding. Deep down, the average guru probably knows that if he encourages people to think for themsleves and develop their understanding, they will end up seeing right through him. So it is in his interests to keep his followers in a stupour.

  23. David Quinn Says:

    Adam, you’re right that language is inherently dualistic, as are concepts. Indeed, anything that we experience at all, whatever it might be, is inherently dualistic. It is impossible to be conscious and not experience duality.

    Spirituality is all about learning how to stop being fooled by duality, in the knowledge that nothing really exists. It doesn’t mean ceasing to experience duality, for that is impossible. It means never getting sucked in by anything it happens to whip up.

  24. Liberty Sea Says:

    In some sense, the empathy that, say, a philanthropist feels when he sees a victim partly reduce the barrier between him and the victim. When one share the feeling with another, one partly merges with the other. In that sense it shares one characteristic of the compassion coming from understanding. What is wrong with some philanthropic activities is not the activities themselves, but the mental mindset behind them, and even that, not dead wrong.
    If you are discussing the long run, then philanthropy and social activities combined with spiritual teachings are more beneficial in the long run. Philanthropy, social activities have little to do with the promotion of ignorance. On the contrary, the social activists are trying to eliminate the boundary between people from different countries, ethnics, classes, etc. and that is the first step to eliminate the boundary between I and not-I. It is by no mean a sacrifice of wisdom.

    Just because some gurus abuse the promotion of compassion doesn’t mean you shouldn’t promote it at all. Attachments must be outgrown, not destroyed or prevented. You must see whether you actions hitherto have weaken the boundary between you and the people and between the people themselves or just strengthen that boundary.

  25. Carmel Says:

    Firstly I don’t think doxing yourself is a good idea. I’d take those links out if I were you.

    Secondly, does the spiritual man really have to justify his actions to deluded people? It should actually be the other way around! A deluded person will naturally want the enlightened person to justify his actions in a deluded way, which the enlightened person is obviously incapable of doing.

    In fact, how can anyone really justify their actions in a deluded way? It’s impossible and if attempted will produce nothing but a tasteless farce, in the manner that people who live the most depraved lives become vegetarians and animal rights activists.

    Thirdly, this whole idea of “giving something back to society” is utter bs. Can anyone seriously argue that every single person in a given society is benefiting every other person merely by doing whatever work he happens to be doing? In fact, the opposite can be argued more convincingly – that everyone thinks about their own welfare above all and precisely because of that reason causes detriment to the welfare of others.

    Fourthly, I think the a spiritual man has to be, by definition, a beggar. And who is a beggar? Someone who knows that he cannot pay for what he receives, but asks for it nevertheless. Can the richest person in the world pay for his own existence itself? No. If a spiritual man happened to be the richest man in the world, he would still be a beggar, just the same as if he were the poorest. The Buddha was a beggar – he did not lay claim on anyone’s property, compassion, respect or pity, but merely asked for the things he needed. Whether he actually got them or not was of no importance to him.

    There’s a saying in the bible which goes something like “ask and you shall receive”. If you ask God for something, and do not receive it, you will still receive what you asked for, for while you may not received what you asked for, it is God who has given you whatever it is you have received.

  26. Carmel Says:

    @Liberty Sea: “Compassion is sensitivity through intelligence, and the recognition that “you are the world”, as Krishnamurti said. For the teachers who teach we are all one are perfectly right.”

    If we are all one then what need is there for compassion? The very idea of compassion connotes a duality between oneself and others.

  27. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty, Can I ask you a hypothetical question? You are a doctor. A patient in great pain seeks your help to rid them of their pain. You tell them the only treatment, which works fully, is initially painful. The treatment commences with their consent, but then they don’t like the pain and ask you to stop. What’s your decision? Which is more compassionate – to stop, and let them continue in pain, or to continue, and let them continue in pain for a short while?

    Would you not agree that the first option is not showing compassion, but something like an ineffective pity or sympathy? In that context, Nietzsche encouraged people to be strong, via a will to power and individual evaluation, instead of crippled by a short-sighted sympathy.

  28. Adam Pfleghaar Says:

    “Spirituality is all about learning how to stop being fooled by duality, in the knowledge that nothing really exists. It doesn’t mean ceasing to experience duality, for that is impossible. It means never getting sucked in by anything it happens to whip up.”

    Very well put. Thank you.

  29. Bob Michael Says:

    Instead of idly yapping on and on about things that are not all that humanly meaningful or truly spiritually productive, you folks ought to get out there on the firing-line of life and begin to develop, practice, and perfect Love in all your words, thoughts, and deeds. Since only when ‘all’ of these things spring forth from Love can a person be called a true and full servant of God, Life, the Infinite, etc. A genuine ‘Knight of Faith’, if you will. A ‘Pure Spirit’, one might too say here.

    “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

    Nor is a life that’s lived solely for oneself worth living.

  30. Liberty Sea Says:

    Carmel, when you love, there is no I and you. There is only love. To love does not mean to be addicted to each other, or to be emotionally dependent on each other, or to try to please each other. To love means to connect man with man, to bring man closer to man, to erase the boundary between man and man. That is love, that is compassion.

    Many will die before they can become strong, Kelly. You cannot expect starving children in Africa to become supermen, can you? Save their lives first, then instruct them to become strong later. Nietzsche’s superman is not the kind of man who supports the weak before they can become strong. Rather, he expects a test so harsh that the weak will be exterminated and only the strong survive.
    “To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.”

    I am interested in your Ark project, Bob. Where can I contact you?

  31. Kelly Jones Says:

    True love — is this not treating things justly? I think Bob teaches a purely human sympathy, treasuring things like feeling warm, happy, safe, relaxed and in good health. Yet all things are dualistic illusions, so clinging to these forms as treasures is deluded — creates emotional suffering in a huge way.

    It’s true that it would be cruel to expect people who are in truly desperate straits, whose basic survival needs aren’t being met, to understand these matters. But there are millions dedicated to helping them (doctors, foreign aid workers, bioscience researchers, economists, politicians, trust funds, adoption agencies, etc.) while the true teacher is rarer than stars at midday. So it doesn’t make any sense at all to jump on that queue.

    So the crux of the matter is, all those healthy, strong and psychologically stable millions of people, are still deeply sunken in illusion and ignorance. And there is virtually no one about who inspires them to do anything about this. Should their needs be ignored?

    Also, one could argue that these people, in their attachment to comfort, affluence, worldly power and success (all deluded aspirations) are the major cause of the starvation, poverty, and related problems of illness and injustice blooming in other cultures. So all those thousands of aid-workers are actually only band-aid doctors.

    So the key to the problem, in my view, is focussing on getting as many of this lot into the realms of reason and wisdom. I don’t see any other way for an overall improvement.

  32. Liberty Sea Says:

    The process of of economical, political, social development and the process of spiritual development have to be dynamic, organic, correlated, Kelly. And I work on both.
    I don’t know about Bob’s teaching. My understanding of love is influenced by Krishnamurti, and it is non-dualistic. Bob is influenced by Krishnamurti if anyone, but I am not sure if we share our view.

  33. David Quinn Says:

    Liberty Sea wrote, “Carmel, when you love, there is no I and you. There is only love. To love does not mean to be addicted to each other, or to be emotionally dependent on each other, or to try to please each other. To love means to connect man with man, to bring man closer to man, to erase the boundary between man and man. That is love, that is compassion.”

    This is still egotism. And dualistic. For it involves distinguishing between mankind and the rest of the Universe, and thus it involves repressing the unconditional love of all things (which is true wisdom). The ego is very flexible and its bounadaries can be expanded or contracted very easily. These boundaries can be placed around one’s own individual person, or they can be expanded to include one’s family and friends, or one’s nation, or around mankind in general. But in all cases it is still egotism, and therefore fundamentally evil.

    I will probably make this the subject of my next blog, since it evidentally touches upon a strong emotional attachment and forms a big stumbling block for a lot of people.

  34. Kelly Jones Says:

    David, not to mention sex.

  35. Liberty Sea Says:

    Surely I can love a rock when there is no man around, David. But the love I mentioned is in the context of human society. I was being practical there.

    The word-choice was not the best, but my philosophy is nonetheless a bit different from your non-dualism, I admit. It is not human-centered, but rather consciousness-centered. I don’t tend to place boundary between things, but there is a gradual difference of degree among the Totality. The totality is not homogeneous. There is no boundary, but there are differences, in term of degree (diversity of density of matter, etc.), and therefore there are hierarchies. It is both pragmatic and logical, concerning potentiality, to consider consciousness a superior and preferable phenomenon to unconsciousness. Consciousness is the highest phenomenon, and therefore conscious beings should be treated with priority. Like the Buddha, I support compassion for all sentient beings, and it is plainly impractical to treat insentient beings equally with sentient beings outside of the sake of sentient beings. Evil is related to suffering. Only sentient beings are capable of suffering. It is fundamentally evil to be indifferent to beings capable of suffering and beings incapable of suffering, David. And human beings just happen to contain the greatest potential for consciousness among known sentient beings.

    Boundaries exist only in consciousness as delusions. Only beings of high level of consciousness like human beings are capable of such delusion. That is why men in particular is in the need of having boundaries erased. The task of love is to set men to acknowledge the boundaries to be delusion.
    If the delusion of boundaries between man and not-man is acknowledge, then the boundaries between man and man is also erased.

    Don’t insert sex here, Kelly.

  36. Kelly Jones Says:

    Too many cold frogs and hot toads, eh? What timing for a random quote: “The genius which runs to madness is no longer genius; it has chosen happiness instead of morality. All madness is the outcome of the insupportability of suffering attached to all consciousness.”

  37. Liberty Sea Says:

    Woman, all too woman.

  38. Liberty Sea Says:

    If you are to say anything at all in your favor, Kelly, better try to dispute my argument that consciousness is superior to unconsciousness.

  39. cathypreston Says:

    Surely you understand that even if we are conscious there is much necessary functioning that occurs unconsciously.

    Humanity can’t exist in a vacuum, to think of consciousness as superior to unconsciousness is like saying my eyes are superior to my colon.

  40. Carmel Says:

    @Liberty Sea: “Carmel, when you love, there is no I and you. There is only love.”

    There definitely is an I and you. There is someone that has to love, and there has to be an object of love. The fact that you want to erase the boundary between two people means that you think that the boundary is real. Also, you want to connect one man to another, which means that you consider the duality between them to be real. If you truly believed that duality is non-existent then you wouldn’t say such things.

    Not that there is anything wrong with duality, only with a deluded conception of it.

  41. Carmel Says:


    “Humanity can’t exist in a vacuum, to think of consciousness as superior to unconsciousness is like saying my eyes are superior to my colon.”

    Since it is solely consciousness that can make the judgment of whether something is superior or inferior to something else, or neither, it follows that consciousness is superior. If it weren’t then one would have to use unconscious means to make that judgment, which isn’t possible. So consciousness is superior to unconsciousness when it comes to being conscious.

  42. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty wrote: “If you are to say anything at all in your favor, Kelly, better try to dispute my argument that consciousness is superior to unconsciousness.”

    That argument isn’t something I’d dispute, as I see consciousness is superior to unconsciousness in understanding what is true. Perhaps you meant to say, try to dispute your argument that love and compassion are the same as teaching people how to become enlightened. That too, I wouldn’t dispute. What I would try to argue is that, since there are no actual boundaries between men, since men themselves aren’t really there, how can one even try to “erase the boundary between man and man” (which you define as love)?

    [edit: I just saw Carmel has said precisely this.]

  43. Liberty Sea Says:

    Boundaries exist only in consciousness as delusions. Only beings of high level of consciousness like human beings are capable of such delusion. That is why men in particular are in the need of having boundaries erased. The task of love is to set men to acknowledge the boundaries to be delusion.
    If the delusion of boundaries between man and not-man is acknowledge, then the boundaries between man and man is also erased.

    And Carmel, for that we have to meditate. It can be hardly be explained in word.

  44. Bob Michael Says:

    David wrote: Well, you will have to be the successful one, then.

    Yes David, it’s becoming ever more clear to me for some time now, along too with an occasional gnawing and painful feeling that I’m failing, that I am the man who is destined to gather up some of the ‘elect’ and then successfully help them along their journey of full and total self-overcoming. Which must include their going through the necessary ‘dark night’, rebirth, or radical psychic change experience. And my advantages over all the many heretofore and present day enlightened beings, besides my many years of long-suffering, intense study of others and their works, along with my huge been there – done that list in life, is my extraordinarily keen soul sensitivity and my ability and even eagerness to always remain a student and always be open to the advice, suggestions, opinions, criticism, and direction of virtually everyone that happens to offer me any of these things. I too am becoming more and more keenly intuitively aware of who the ‘elect’ are (those who the world has driven mad or half-mad) and those who are unfortunately not built for the journey. So indeed my ‘Ark’ project, which will, nay, ‘must’ be an esoteric adventure, is definitely underway, and there’s no longer any doubt in my mind that it will be successful.

    J. Krishnamurti, who was my finest of many mentors, set out in 1929 with much joy, insight, and enthusiasm to form a body of people, who, in his own words, “really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without a beginning and without an end,” and “will walk together with greater intensity,” and “be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows.” And he went on to say, “they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Such a body we must create, and that is my purpose.”

    But in the ensuing 57 years such a body of people never materialized, and he died a self-admitted failure in his role of ‘World Teacher’. Though I still feel J. K. was the finest enlightened man to have lived in the last 100 years. Yet I too must fully agree with the man in one of his audiences in England who told him, “you are a beautiful old man, but you are stuck in a rut.” I also became stuck in many ruts over the years, but the Infinite via many various means, some of them subtle and some of them not so subtle, has always managed to pull me out of them. J. K. was not so fortunate, as his life of ease done him in.

    Bob M. (new.trailblazer@yahoo.com)

  45. danrowden Says:

    Hey Bob,

    Please don’t presume to tell me, or others, what constitutes “a life worth living”. I really think that is a matter for me. Opinion expressed as dogma tends to smack of arrogance.

    Dan Rowden

  46. Bob Michael Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Are you suggesting that Socrates was arrogant too? I believe David thinks quite highly of the man. I’m open and eager to hearing your opinion of him or on what constitutes “a life worth living.”

  47. danrowden Says:


    I think it’s arrogant and pretentious for anyone to tell others what constitutes a life worth living, or, for that matter, what they should value in general. These are inherently personal matters. I mean it’s fine to point out the ramifications and consequences of such things and let people make a judgement thereupon (especially where they’ve not considered such matters in any real way), but certainly not to presume to morally demand of others they share a subjective perspective, and that if they don’t there’s something deficient in their worldview. That said, given that life is in part a battle of values there’s nothing wrong with arguing the case for a particular value framework. But, in doing so, one can never forget that one is ultimately arguing for cake over scones.

    If you hold the personal view that a life led without consideration for others is a life not worth living, then that’s fine. I just don’t think we get to tell others they need share that judgement. A life worth living is ultimately whatever any individual says it is.

  48. Kelly Jones Says:

    Dan, I might be missing a nuance here, but what you’re saying to Bob sounds like this to me: “You shouldn’t tell me or anyone to do anything, for the reason that it’s arrogant and pretentious, and I am telling you what to do, namely, give people a recipe and let them decide whether to bake the cake, so by my argument, am being arrogant and pretentious also — as I am telling you to bake this cake, otherwise you’re arrogant and pretentious.” Where are you drawing the line?

  49. Bob Michael Says:

    Thanks for your opinions, Dan. I sit content with mine and their manner of delivery.

    And for David here, my ‘humble’ opinion remains that a spiritual man of real worth ‘must’ develop himself in ‘relationship’ with life. It can not be accomplished by avoiding, hiding, or running away from life.

  50. Bob Michael Says:

    Hi Kelly. I find it’s important to still the mind and learn to intuitively ‘feel’ the point or points people are trying to get across. It can be a bit tricky when the person is not present, but in time it gets to be quite easy even without their presence. It’s much like learning to read between the lines or reading behind the lines of a book. This is a very important part of true spiritual development. The development of that vital ‘sixth-sense’, one might call it.

  51. danrowden Says:


    What does “develop himself in ‘relationship’ with life” actually mean? Are you going to define “life” for me now?


    You can’t tell people what to value. You simply can’t. You can’t define a “life worth living” for another person. You simply can’t. It’s tantamount to saying people who don’t like chocolate aren’t alive (ok, well, people who don’t like beer aren’t alive, but that’s totally different). You can state what these things mean for you and hope such statements resonate, but that’s it. If I say I value philosophical truth above all else and someone else says to me they don’t give a crap, and they do so with some consciousness of what that means, I have no issue with it (other than the practical consequences of how such a value framework might effect my goals, life being the battle of values I mentioned before).

    Basically what I’m saying is that if an individual decides that a life spent in the earnest pursuit of the extinction of the human race is what constitutes a life worth living, then I can’t argue with that. If I disagree it’s merely a disagreement; my disagreement isn’t proscriptive.

    You can’t proscriptively objectify the subjective, and for me that’s a trap Bob is falling into. Of course, he may not be formally doing this, but that’s how it comes across.

  52. Kelly Jones Says:

    Dan, okay, I see what you’re saying, and where you’re drawing the line. You’re basically saying, “This is the view I have, these are the consequences of my view; when I haven’t thought enough about them, then I am open to being persuaded otherwise; when I have thought enough about them, then I am not open to being persuaded otherwise; in the latter scenario, if someone keeps trying to persuade me, then I have to prevent them from doing so in the best way I can; if someone’s attempts to dissuade me include trying to knock me on the head, then I might have to do the same to them.” Is that correct? Then, how would this line of thought not condone the murders of Jesus and Socrates on the basis they were nuisances, Buddha a real pest, Hakuin Ekaku a downright interfering busy-body who wouldn’t focus on his own enlightenment but had to go sticking his nose in where it wasn’t wanted, etc. etc. etc. — for surely, according to you, none of them had the right to prescribe a way of life to others? I’m not saying I find Bob’s ideology interesting; the content of that is irrelevant to this point.

  53. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty wrote: “The task of love is to set men to acknowledge the boundaries to be delusion.”

    Well, fine, but I’ll make just one point, though David is likely to make this in his blog on love. If love is a psychological feeling of attachment to something, then it breeds hate, and creates division by its very nature. It’s love of _truth_ only that overrules that principle, because when one’s will to truth reaches understanding of how things really exist — and one is so compelled by that love to accept the understanding — then the love is finally dismantled by the meaning of the realisation.

    I don’t see how “bringing men closer to each other” has anything to do with this process, except if you mean within internet-range. A person only needs to be brought closer to experiencing the capabilities of logical intellectualising, and the nature of truth.

  54. Liberty Sea Says:

    Love of truth is also a psychological feeling of attachment to the knowledge of truth, Kelly.

  55. danrowden Says:

    Kelly, no, none of them, including us, have any basis upon which to *prescribe* a way of life to others; there’s no philosophical basis for it. But I don’t think that’s what any of those you mention actually did, as such. They consistently advocated for a certain way of life and pointed out the follies of common views, which is rather different, don’t you think? To me there’s a fine line here between being philosophical and being religious. You can say “Look, here’s what being deluded and not adequately valuing truth gets you – all this suffering and angst that you wish would go away”. You can say this as strongly and candidly and uncompromisingly as the situation demands. However, if someone says they don’t give a rat’s, that they don’t need to think about reality because what they value most is their happiness and contentment, and they have those things, then that’s their prerogative. The reason it’s their prerogative is that there exists no hierarchy of values. Truth isn’t ultimately better than happiness and it’s a mistaken vanity to regard it otherwise. The person who values truth has formed such a nature out of the very same delusional state as one who values happiness. The valuation of truth is no less delusional than any other [core] value. i.e. all values are irrational. That it’s the only value that can raise someone out of delusion is certainly true, yet redundant to one content in their fantasy.

    The trick here, I reckon, if your goal is that of causing people to value truth more is simply to cause them to be discontent with their happiness. This doesn’t really require prescriptive sentiments, even though it’s inherently manipulative, which is unavoidable, really. And as for the occasional harping we do about violence against people like Jesus and Socrates, I sometimes think this is a tad precious and we make a little too much of it, when you consider that they, and we, are engaged in the [metaphorical] murder of people every day. You understand that that’s what we do, in a sense – kill people? I mean, it may well be good for them in the long run, but in the meantime it’s not surprising when they get a bit uppity about it. I don’t think it’s entirely illegitimate to ask if what was done to Jesus and Socrates is really hugely different to what we do to people all the time.

    Hmm, mass murder may well be the only life worth living …

  56. Bob Michael Says:

    To “develop himself (spiritually) in ‘relationship’ with life” means to me to be rich in life’s many facets or experiences. Such things as being married, getting divorced, being single, getting married again and even again, owning a home, raising children, leaving children behind, working years in a steel mill, getting fired from the steel mill, getting another job, leaving that job, getting another job, and another and another, being in jail, travelling on a spiritual quest with very limited resources, attending A. A. meetings (sometimes 3 a day) while listening and learning and contributing, walking the streets, learning to live simply and see and appreciate the little things in life, being open to everyone one meets, meeting them at their level and corresponding with them accordingly, being of good cheer in all situations, listening carefully and with consideration to others, being self-reliant and fully self-supporting, being a giver (especially a giver of oneself), giving more to life than one takes from it, to mention just a few of these things. I would also add experiencing much heartache and suffering along the way, while taking full responsibility for all of one’s dilemmas in life. And eventually and ultimately making complete sense of it all (total ‘understanding’ of oneself and life), while not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it, but realizing that it was all necessary in order to get to the mountaintop of self-overcoming and become one with the Infinite and then, due to one’s vast experiences in life, be of real value to one’s fellows in their own journey of self-overcoming. Or as Fritz Perls alluded, getting out of the ‘garbage can’ (of self and life). Which the vast, vast majority of people are in whether they realize it or not.

    Contrast this to, let’s say, someone like Thomas Merton who lived the monastic life. I can’t help but saying the cowardly life here. Granted he was brilliantly insightful into the nature of the human condition and loaded with lots of spiritual jargon like so many others are, but in the end when it was all said and done and the fan in the shower room fell on him and electrocuted him he was of no real value to his God or his fellows.

    Regarding the ‘life that’s worth living’, according to the Buddha quote that recently passed across the bottom of the page here, it would be a life that’s “selfless, pure, and intelligent.” I would agree.

    The full Buddha quote was: “To be thoughtless is easy, it is easy to live without shame and be selfish. But it is hard to be selfless, pure and intelligent.”

    Indeed it is “hard”, and FEW, very few there be that ever find such a life.

  57. Bob Michael Says:

    Hermann Hesse, in the quote presently at the bottom of the page, makes the very same point that I have attempted to do.

    “Solitude is not chosen, any more than destiny is chosen. Solitude comes to us if we have within us the magic stone that attracts destiny. Many, far too many, have gone out into the desert and led the lives of “herd men” in a pretty hermitage beside a lovely spring. While others stand in the thick of the crowd, and yet the air of the stars blows round their heads.” (Hermann Hess)

  58. Kelly Jones Says:

    Dan wrote: “That [truth is] the only value that can raise someone out of delusion is certainly true, yet redundant to one content in their fantasy.”

    Well, if not all values are equal, in terms of their consequences, then it really is not true to say one value is not ultimately better than another. Someone who cannot know this fact, doesn’t negate it or destroy it. It’s not vanity to know that truthfulness works; it’s a fact.

    Similarly, the consequences of murdering sages aren’t the same as the consequences of people becoming awake. To label it all the same “murder” might serve you to remind you that the All is Nature, but to me it sounds quite different. The freedom and boundlessness, the mental spontaneity, of the sage is very different to the flowing immediacy of a feminine mind. They both seem to be free of fixation to things, but only the sage is truly free. The feminine mind is actually more like a steam-roller who mashes and grinds and destroys boundaries in order to remain free of conscious thought and its distinctions; the sage can already use all boundaries and distinctions to derive freedom.

    For instance, Bob reckons that being immersed in the animal life, following instincts and copying the others, is more effective a way of perfecting wisdom, and concludes that the one who focusses deeply on inward thought and inward application first, is just running away. So he is an obvious example of how your hypothesis falls flat. His method of so-called murder hasn’t had the same efficacy, as a Merton’s (or whoever focusses first on gaining a perfect intellectual understanding). So his values aren’t really the same. Nature hasn’t had its way with him, as much as it would otherwise, had he baked a “scone” instead.

  59. Kelly Jones Says:

    Another question for Dan: If Jesus, Galileo, Socrates, Hui Neng (who narrowly escaped), Hakuin, Kierkegaard, etc. were all mild, non-prescriptive, uninvasive, uninterfering and gentle, then why were they killed or harrassed? Are people today somehow more tolerant? If not, are you saying they were religious fanatics that got what they deserved?

    “What contributed, humanly speaking, to Christ’s being killed is quite clearly the fact that he unremittingly kept the people in tension.” — Kierkegaard
    — Jesus should have stopped talking and talked about the weather, so as to give people a breather?

    “For men want to be Christians, but they do not want to hear what Christianity in truth is. They fight to be called Christians, and therefore hate the person who makes it strenuous for them to be Christians.” — Kierkegaard
    — Is the person hated at fault for being hated?

    “And then once in a while someone comes along who either is a true Christian or is so concerned for the truth that he makes no secret of what is understood by being a true Christian. He is shouted down as a traitor, ad odium totius Christianitatis (ad modum odium generis humanum, as the earliest Christians were called), and killed. It is also treason to disclose this whole web of lies by being honest. Therefore they kill him. They say, as did those in the vineyard: “Let us kill him, since the vineyard is ours.”

    Humanly speaking, it is a thankless task; first to constrain oneself to self-denial (good Lord, one is still flesh and blood!) and then to be hated, cursed, and treated as inhuman because one does this.

    This is Christianity, this is the “gentle doctrine of truth” in “quiet moments” in “holy places”.” — Kierkegaard

  60. Liberty Sea Says:

    To valuate Truth is to degrade Truth. Valuation is vulgar.

    Logic is just a tool. Logic can show us the mean, but cannot determine the end. This is a logical truth: life has no intrinsic purpose. Even God cannot be an absolute purpose-determiner. In the end it all comes down to our intuitions and feelings that determine our purposes and ends. A way of life cannot be criticized unless it is internally inconsistent, self-contradictory. And if the person adopting it doesn’t regret it, then it is meaningless to criticize.

    Why are you using the words and deeds of other men as an authority, Kelly? It means nothing.

  61. Carmel Says:


    “Basically what I’m saying is that if an individual decides that a life spent in the earnest pursuit of the extinction of the human race is what constitutes a life worth living, then I can’t argue with that. If I disagree it’s merely a disagreement; my disagreement isn’t proscriptive.”

    This reasoning is circular. You seem to believe that you will never prevent others from valuing what they value, whereas you will have to do so if you value something different from what they value. If you don’t value what someone else values, then any interaction you have with them will be proscriptive by definition. You may not spell it out to them in conversation, but your views will naturally negate theirs. At the very least, you will prevent them from convincing you to have their views, which is proscriptive.

    Besides, the very act of valuing requires rationality, so to the degree a person is rational, he naturally values rationality. This is proscriptive to not valuing anything at all(irrationality.)

  62. Kelly Jones Says:

    Liberty wrote: “A way of life cannot be criticized unless it is internally inconsistent, self-contradictory. And if the person adopting it doesn’t regret it, then it is meaningless to criticize”

    Was it meaningless for Ford to criticise Arthur for defending his house, knowing as he did that the Vogons were about to demolish Earth in five seconds’ time?

    As to quoting Kierkegaard, I find his words very meaningful. Just as I find this song from Star Wars meaningful:

    “Kindle your life in the fire
    Live it with all your might
    A moth burns its wings in the flames
    This world is darkness”

    (Okay, not Star Wars, but the film Lucas was inspired by. Lucas interpreted the above Zen song as Ewoks jumping around fires).

  63. Carmel Says:

    Ultimately all values are of truth, so there shouldn’t be any conflict between two people who value different things, since both of them are in fact valuing truth(simply by the act of evaluation itself). However, if there is a conflict, then it must be due to some other reason than their values themselves.

    Let’s say John values happiness, and Ken values suffering. Both of them may have legitimate reasons for doing so. However, if there is a conflict between their values, then either one or both of them must think that their values are applicable beyond their limits.

    Happiness may be valued because it prolongs life, and suffering may be valued because it causes dissatisfaction with a particular lifestyle. But if someone believes that happiness/suffering is inherently valuable, then he will see conflict with other values and become deluded. So an *inherent* value is not really a value at all, since it detracts from the concept of value.

  64. Liberty Sea Says:

    I have no idea what the story was, so I can’t answer you, Kelly. Please give a generic situation of that kind.
    Though, meaning is relative. Ultimately there is no meaning. The universe wouldn’t shed a tear if the Earth or the Solar system was demolished. The universe doesn’t care about an enlightened man or an enlightened bacteria. What can that Sogon fellow do to diminish the universe in any manner? Billions of billions of years later, who can say if the human race will survive? The survival of wisdom is no more significant to the universe than the survival of dinosaurs.

    I do what I do to remain true to myself. That is all.
    Well, that is Liberty Sea speaking. I am actually the universe.

    I will let David rest for now. I am one of those benefited from his works, after. Though I don’t think the same quality of works couldn’t have been accomplished if he worked.

  65. danrowden Says:


    I know you mean well and I probably ought not be so dismissive, but you are hilariously stupid. Namaste.

  66. danrowden Says:


    I suggest you examine the line between the philosophic and the religious, because you don’t know where it is. Mind you, David crosses it almost constantly in his blog.

  67. Carmel Says:

    Religion is the application or expression of philosophy. Because the quality of philosophy is generally very poor, the quality of religion is likewise very poor.

  68. David Quinn Says:

    Lines are there to be crosssed. Philosophy without religion leads to sterile academia, while religion without philosophy leads to fundamentalism.

  69. Kelly Jones Says:

    Dan, it all depends what you mean by religion. For Kierkegaard, it meant the realm of consciously and intelligently grounding one’s will in the Infinite, a realm that came _after_ exploring morality. For Nietzsche, religion was something to be abhorred, but by it, he meant submitting oneself complacently to illusions. I typically define it as Nietzsche did, i.e., blindly submitting to authorities and their mysteries with a deep psychological sense of freedom and release from individual responsibility, but I am also at ease with Kierkegaard’s meaning. But I also see how much idealism can be stimulated for a youth (pre-teenager) if they visit a magnificently designed building, hear virtuosic music, read profound stories or plays, or see awesome artworks. Yes, it’s a shame these things are combined with religion (in Nietzsche’s sense), but one could equally argue that the atheist movement, encouraging the psychology of beginning everything with doubt, does at least as much damage to young people — who are so brainwashed, they can no longer recognise that they’re accepting doubt with fervency.

  70. Kelly Jones Says:

    So I think it’s unavoidable, if one really values truthfulness, to have to use psychological methods to urge people (like the gad-fly Socrates, or the pestilent Diogenes) to find _reason_ attractive and useful. The starting position requires it.

    Like truth, beer is an illusion. But does that mean there are no effects? That you don’t prefer it to apple cider?

  71. Kelly Jones Says:

    Sorry, that was wrong. Truth is not an illusion. It is not really true to say Nature doesn’t “care” about Truth, if one understands Truth to be Nature.

  72. danrowden Says:


    I agree totally that one requires a psychological method to promote truth. I think a combination of finding ways to point out the benefits of truth to people along with ways to make them discontent with their delusion is pretty much the only way to go. The difficulty of course is that such a small percentage of people lack that near impregnable wall of satisfaction with their fantasy lives. Even the mundane things they complain about on a daily basis fulfils them because they just looooooove to complain. Ironically I think if people were in fact a bit happier nowadays there might be room for manoeuvre. Happiness can be so terribly boring after a while, and if there’s one thing people can’t cope with, it’s boredom.

  73. Liberty Sea Says:

    Since when did Nature ‘care’ about itself, Kelly?

    BTW, I am interested to know more about the mindsets of the majority in Australia. Don’t you think you have a pretty ‘cynical’ view about Australians? I have some friends and relatives in Australia and they said people there are pretty ‘nice’, in the popular notion of the word. Ordinary people tend to have a decent amount of sympathy when sufferings of others are brought to their attention. I meet people like that everywhere in my country. And I read from the Hour of Judgement radio that the two Buddhists Do Kwang and Merv (granted they are stupid) saw ‘kindness and generosity’ everywhere. Though you criticize sympathy, you described the people who pay tax for social welfare as unsympathetic.

  74. Kelly Jones Says:

    Dan, okay, we agree there. Psychological methods, such as those littering David’s essays, are not necessarily religious (using Nietzsche’s sense). It’s only if one is holding onto some concept of truth/Truth, that they become religious.

    Liberty, the story was from Douglas Adam’ “The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy”, perhaps the most enlightened work of science fiction ever made. Perhaps this is not saying much. The book and BBC radio play are infinitely superior to the movies.

    “Care” used as a figure of speech. Just meaning that Nature cannot help being itself, it is stuck with the situation of emptiness (Truth).

    I’m grateful for the welfare system, but I’m not under the illusion that Australian tax-payers support me specifically. I don’t think the majority have thought enough about a life like mine, to evaluate it properly.

  75. Liberty Sea Says:

    I mean sympathy toward the ‘unfortunate’ in general, not you or David specifically.
    But well, whatever the case is, let the issue end here. I will go on seclusion for a while. Good luck.

  76. Bob Michael Says:

    Dan wrote: Bob, I know you mean well and I probably ought not be so dismissive, but you are hilariously stupid. Namaste.

    Hi Dan. Mom often told me you can judge a man by the friends he keeps. Shame on David again.

  77. rich0292 Says:

    It’s never occurred to you that living on the money of taxpayers is immoral because taxes are collected with the threat violence which the state claims a monopoly on? A libertarian perspective.

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