The Newsletter for Dangerous Thinkers

 

Truth Wisdom Reason Ultimate Reality Masculinity

Issue 17, May 2002

This newsletter is unashamedly devoted to truth, genius and wisdom, which, of course, makes it totally anachronistic and out-of-fashion.   Some people even go so far as to call it "medieval" in nature.  The truths that it points to are subtle, profound and hard to discern.  They aren't the sort of truths that you can hold out in front of everyone, as you can a scientific result or a mathematical proof.  Rather, they are like beautiful diamonds that are buried deep within the mind.  Much personal digging is required if you want to cash in on this wonderful treasure.    But sadly, most people are too afraid to dig, lest their whole minds cave in.  And so this newsletter is really only for the courageous few.  Let the morons endlessly prattle on about how these inner diamonds don't exist.  It is their loss, not yours.  Let them revel in their poverty.  What does it matter to you?  You are a fine young explorer of the spirit!  May you go all the way with your explorations.  May you succeed where others fear to tread!

Welcome to Genius News.


CONTENTS:

The Nature of Buddhism

What can be proven

Editorial

In the News

Time and Morality

The Book of Wife

Relative v Absolute

Genius at a Glance

Subscription Information

The -[- symbol will return you to this contents table from each major section.


 

The following dialogue(s) regarding the nature of Buddhism, Buddhas and Buddha consciousness come from a very long and complex discussion between the participants. I have attempted to distill from that conversation the most significant themes and ideas. Of course, the essential issues of one's true nature, and the awareness of it, has relevance in contexts other than Buddhism, but Buddhism provides an excellent vehicle through which they may be examined:

We are all Buddhas................

David Quinn: As everyone knows, suppressing emotion is a dangerous thing to do, as it can lead to long-term problems. If an emotion is welling inside you, it is always better to bring it to the surface and release it, whenever possible. That way they don't stay bottled up inside you. Getting into the habit of releasing emotion can also give you a reliable indication of how wise you are becoming. If they are still coming out, then it shows that you're still entrenched in egotistical modes of thought. A Buddha is someone who has emptied himself so completely that there is nothing more to come out.

Nom Sum: Nothing “shows that you’re still entrenched,” nothing! Whatever appears ‘to you’ is never you, but simply passing phenomena—illusion. We are all Buddhas.

David Quinn: Well, this is a certainly a popular Buddhist mantra, but all it does is mangle the term "Buddha".

Non Sum: I’ve never heard of its use as a mantra? It is a basic tenet of all of mysticism; nothing more.

David Quinn: It's a mantra in the sense that a lot of Eastern mystical types constantly use it (or similar kinds of sayings) to justify their lack of desire to truly become enlightened.

Non Sum: Well, if some benighted use it for such a poor purpose are we to fault the Buddha’s saying, or those who misuse it’s wisdom?

David Quinn: I think we can lay the blame squarely at Buddha's feet here. He made it too easy for low-quality people to justify their lazy, thoughtless lives. He should have been more mindful of the harmful consequences of his words.

Non Sum: “Low-quality people” (?), “their lazy, thoughtless lives”(?) I can see why you speak of “judging” so strongly, it is your ego’s main support. It must be nice to be (one of?) The Elite. You sound so superior, even misanthropic, with such apparent condescension.

David Quinn: My view is that any mysticism which is based on faulty thinking needs to be rejected - in the interests of truth. Generally speaking, what people call "mysticism" is merely the experience of altered states, rather than of comprehending and experiencing Ultimate Truth. It has become divorced from the spiritual path as originally conceived by Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, etc.

Importantly, one doesn't need to be rational in order to experience an altered state. Any slob can experience them, regardless of the quality of his thinking. But if it's your aim to go beyond all this and experience the highest that life has to offer - namely, the experience of Ultimate Truth - then sloppy, contradictory thought-processes have to be abandoned.

A "Buddha", for example, means an awakened individual - i.e. someone who is fully conscious of their true nature. Since most people are not awake to their true nature, it follows that hardly anyone is a Buddha, which means that the mantra, "We are all Buddhas", is wrong.

Non Sum: This is exactly the “wrongful identification” mentioned above. Your true Self, your only self, The only Self, is Buddha, Christ, Atman, etc., You are speaking from mind, and its conceptual self, i.e. “ignorance,” ‘not seeing’ the true state of affairs. Listen to Master Bankei:

You must thoroughly understand about not transforming the Buddha-mind into other things. As I told you before, not a single one of you in attendance here today is an unenlightened person. You're a gathering of unborn Buddha-minds. If anyone thinks, "No, I'm not. I'm not enlightened," I want him to step forward. Tell me: What is it that makes a person unenlightened?”

David Quinn: Bankei is simply playing games with people with this sort of drivel. He isn't being honest. For example, if he thinks that everyone is already enlightened, then why is he on the soap box teaching people how to become enlightened?

Non Sum: Not “drivel.” This is where we touch a truth that you haven’t yet perceived from the perspective that Bankei is now taking. You may very well agree with him, given a chance to examine it in a new light. I say this, because of some of the foregoing that you have posited so very well. He is not contradicting you. E.g. you would say that your True Nature is ‘Buddha Nature’. What is your “un-true” nature, ‘DQ’, is it not?

David Quinn: Not quite. What is untrue is the phenomenon of 'DQ', or indeed of anything else, misinterpreted by ignorant thinking. It is the false understanding of "things" which is untrue, not the things themselves. A Buddha differs form the ordinary person in that he perceives things truly. He doesn't project false concepts and existences onto things which aren't really there.

Non Sum: Bankei claims that you are ‘Truly’ Buddha all along, and there is nothing but your mind’s opinion to support the opposite contention. This is not a problem, since minds are never made into Buddhas, i.e. ‘enlightened’.

David Quinn: Saying that someone is truly a Buddha even though they are ignorant and deluded can only produce confusion. It would be like calling a barren tree "a great fruit-producing tree", or calling a scientifically-ignorant football player a "great quantum physicist". It makes a complete nonsense of the labels involved.

Sure, if the football player spent a few years studying quantum physics at university, he could well become a true quantum physicist. But to call him that beforehand only makes a mockery of quantum physics itself.

Non Sum: Not necessarily, and certainly not “only.” [Bankei's remarks] made me, and others whom I know, to inquire “How can He say that ‘I’ am a Buddha, when I appear to myself as anything but? What am I missing? Perhaps, I shouldn’t be wasting my time in making myself into something that Buddha says I am already. Perhaps, I should ‘look’ and not ‘make, perfect, change’ something.” This is the why of His excellent statement

David Quinn: Well, I think it's led you to pull up short of the ultimate goal. You've set up camp on a stepping stone, thinking it to be the final resting place, and received the blessing of the Buddha as a result. That's karma for you.

Non Sum: Your opinion, and you are entitled to it. I don’t subscribe to “karma,” as it seems self-contradictory, but perhaps that’s another discussion. I was after surety, and Truth, and not the pleasing of my mind or ego. “Goals,” and concepts have no surety in them, since anything I can gain can also be lost, and anything I can come to know can also be forgotten. With Self, I can never gain what I myself Am, and if NS forgets this, what is that to ‘Me’?

One doesn’t “transform,” into a Buddha, one was a formless Buddha all along. A human, like all creatures, has emotions and form, and will display changes and reforming, but the Unchanging does not enter time or space, and so is incapable of motion in regards to either. ‘Transcendence’ has nothing to do with modifications, observable or otherwise.

David Quinn: Once again, you're mangling the word "Buddha". A Buddha is someone who, through a long laborious process, achieves permanent, uninterrupted realization of his true nature twenty-four hours a day. This is indeed a transformative process, since the mind of a Buddha is vastly different to that of the ordinary clod who is still spell-bound by maya (the belief in self-existence).

I realize that what you're trying to say is that our true nature is always with us. It never vanishes, not even for a split-second. Even when we are thoroughly deluded, our true nature continues to shine brightly as always. All this is very true. But the mere fact that our true nature is always manifest doesn't mean that we are automatically aware of it. Quite the contrary, most people are completely ignorant of it, mainly because their minds are thoroughly absorbed in fantasy. Hence, a transformative process is need, by which a person discards all of his false imaginings of Reality and re-orientates his mind so that it can slip easily into enlightenment.

[And to go back to the original point]: The process of becoming a Buddha doesn't involve suppressing or rationalizing the emotions in any way. Think of it, rather, as a long process of growth in which one a person slowly matures beyond the inherent childishness of emotion. It's transformative process, akin to that of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. A Buddha is no longer human.


A Buddha's origins....................

Non Sum: A “Buddha” never was “human.”

David Quinn: He doesn't pop out of a woman's vagina, eh?

Non Sum: Nope. Never Popped in either. ;-)

David Quinn: Where do you imagine he comes from then?

Non Sum: I’m always Here.

David Quinn: Buddhas come and go, only Nature is always Here.

Non Sum: Exactly the contrary to what you say is the actual case. What do you mean by nature? The Earth? Wasn’t there a pre-Earth? The Universe? What in nature does not come and go? Now, look at one facet of Self, e.g. ‘Now’. The ‘I’ is inseparable from, is identically one with, ‘Now’; whereas, ‘self’ (jiva) exists only in the mind, i.e. past and future. Look at ‘Now’ (eternity) see when it comes, see when it ceases. Never. ‘Now’ is not in the mind. ‘I’ is not in the mind. Try ‘Here’, when are You ever not ‘Here’? There is more outside of the mind that you are constantly aware of then you may have realized, and ‘non-mental’ reality never comes, never goes.

David Quinn: Sure, my basic nature, the Totality, is always "here", but that is all. Everything else about me will one day disappear.

Non Sum: Yes, “Here” is inescapable, a place that does not rely on any one geographic location. I carry my ‘Here’ with me wherever I may go. ‘There’ is an impossibility for me to actually step into, excepting within thought, i.e. past and future. Reality is always right ‘Here’, and never ‘there’ (in mind). ‘Here’ does not come into time, anymore than it enters space/place, therefore Here is always one with ‘Now’. One can never be experientially ‘Here’ unless it is ‘Here Now’. And, ‘Here Now’ is never experienced except as “I Am Here Now.” This is not a dead thought, or concept, but a living
and present experience. Try to avoid this experience, feel it out in this present Now that you find yourself in, and you will see that “I am here now,” is what being a Self is. It is inescapable and cannot be separated, such as ‘Here later’ or ‘none Here’, within actual, non-conceptual, experience. “Experience” that needs no sense perception.

This is a quest for Reality, and so one must clearly look within vivid experience rather than dead concepts for it. There you will find Truth and certainty in it. All the rest is just opinion, and opinion can always be doubted, no matter how profoundly put.


Our true selves................

David Quinn:.......whatever appears "to me" is indeed Me, the Totality. In other words, my real nature is not anything specific; it is the totality of all there is.

Non Sum: Ah, some vague and abstract generality. If you are ‘everything’ wouldn’t that mean that you are ‘every thing’, and if you are also “not anything,” ‘no thing’, then aren’t you stating both a tautology and a contradiction all in one magnificent sentence?

David Quinn: First off, there is nothing vague or abstract about the concept of the Totality. It specifically refers to the Whole, to utterly everything. It's all very down-to-earth, clear and unambiguous.

Secondly, if my real nature is the Totality (and it is), then it stands to reason that it can't be any specific "thing" within the Totality to the exclusion of all else. That's why in Buddhist texts, it is said that our real nature has no form or characteristics, and is constantly refered to as "emptiness". It is empty of all form (including the form of formlessness).

Non Sum: Ah, so you are saying, that you are Not any particular thing, you have No form, No parts (“else”), you are characterless “emptiness.” Excellent, this IS very specific, isn’t it, and we appear to be reading from the same page as well. Forgive my being so obtuse; sometimes I need a picture drawn before I get it.


Judgment, duality and higher realms.........

Non Sum:Don't strain yourself, there is nothing to do or undo. Whatever momentarily arises in the body-mind has no real importance at all, has little reality whatsoever. Why identify with, and become attached to it, passing judgment upon it and ourselves?” (Lama Gendun Rinpoche)

David Quinn: The good lama is confusing judgment with attachment. The realization that everything is an illusion doesn't stop one from judging the qualities and characteristics of things, including those of people. The fact that a tree is an illusion, for example, doesn't mean that we should stop assessing its potential for producing fruit or shade or whatever.

Non Sum: ‘This too’ (“judging qualities and characteristics”); the ‘judging’, the ‘qualities’, the ‘characteristic’, are all unimportant and unreal. Could you not ‘dream’ tonight that you judged a “fruit tree?” When you awake later, and are eating your breakfast, tell me, ‘how important was it all’?

David Quinn: Again, this is based on a false duality between the phenomena of the world and some other-worldly state of existence. No such duality exists, except in the deluded imagination. The enlightened person doesn't waft off to some other higher realm and ignore the realities of this world. Quite the opposite, he becomes even more in tune with what is happening in this world. His awareness of causal consequences vastly increases and he becomes skilled in manipulating them in the interests of propogating wisdom.

Put poetically, a Buddha is constantly working towards his "future lives" - i.e. towards helping other people become Bodhisattvas and Buddhas in the future. Tinkering with causality in this way is precisely his business and no other. It is all he does.

Non Sum: Are you saying that the world is real as perceived by DQ? Are the physicists of the last century all wrong when they speak of “waves=particles, strings that extend into 12 dimensions, quantum?” They speak of what is “really” there, not what is commonly perceived to be there. Is that “other worldly?” Likewise, mysticism speaks to what is ‘real’ and what is ‘unreal’, just as you do with “real nature,” as compared to (one presumes) an ‘unreal nature’. Ask Krishna:

The entire world is deluded by the moods and mental states which are the expression of these three gunas. I stand apart from them all, supreme and deathless. “ (Bhagavad Gita)

David Quinn: Unfortunately, this doesn't really support your view that there is another seperate reality. Rather, it is referring to the importance of becoming non-attached to all mental states so that one can tune into the nature of Reality, which comprises everything.

Non Sum: Have I spoken of “higher realms?” I say no more than Krishna, or Buddha, i.e. the world is a function of mental states only, “Is mind only.” ”There is nowhere an apprehension of anything.” (Pancavimsatisahasrika, text) (I probably misspelled that ;))

David Quinn: But you speak of going beyond the mind (as if that were possible!), which means that you believe there is a higher realm beyond the world.

Non Sum: There is no other reality. (must I keep repeating this?) There is what is apparent, yet unreal, ‘maya’, and there is One (1) reality. Are the “snake” and the “rope” ‘2’ “realities?”

When Buddhism says “all exists within the mind only,” they are denying a self-existent ‘world out there’ separate from a conceiving mind. If we are to see what transcends mind, even contains mind in one sense, then we must come out from it. Mind is like a TV, ‘full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing’. If you lose your car keys, you’d be silly to turn on the TV to see if you left it on the Lucy Show. Your real home contains a small TV with all of its illusion; there is more than TV-mind, the Real.

David Quinn: If a person were to somehow transcend his mind, what faculty would he use to "see" what transcends mind? By definition, the mind is the only thing that "sees".

Non Sum: The mind only sees mind objects, by definition. Buddha Nature is not a mind object, and can never be found within a mind. Buddha Nature knows itself as such, and needs no mind to say “I Am I.”


Grasping for Reality................

David Quinn: To grasp at an unchanging "Self" that is behind all phenomena is to reveal that one is still victim to the clutches of duality.

Non Sum: Never “grasp,” it will escape you. There is no real “phenomena” to be behind, but one must address “the world,” to those who think it is there. In a dualistic world, speaking in a dualistic language, one is bound to use dualistic terms like ‘hot and cold’ just to communicate. “Dualism,” is to take opposites as two real, self-existent, entities, and then to advocate on over the other. I have Not done this, please show otherwise?

David Quinn: It is one thing to use language dualistically (in the knowledge that language is dualistic by nature), but I have the impression that you take it a step further and truly believe in an other-worldly realm seperate from the world of phenomena. Phrases such as "to those who think [the world] is there" give it away. It shows that you think that in order to be enlightened one must lose consciousness of the world.

If you really want to know what I think, I reckon that you have long been spell-bound by past experiences of a very subtle, yet powerful, altered state of consciousness (one that does indeed involve a loss of consciousness of the world) and have mistaken it for enlightenment. The fact that you seem unable to integrate "your enlightenment" with the world of phenomena supports this. For you, the world has to vanish before "enlightenment" can take place.

Non Sum: Nope. Just perceive your Self without “thought coverings.” Dreams are for dreamers, and I have no quarrel with them. They can never touch the Self.

There are two selves, the apparent self and the real Self. Of these it is the real Self, and He alone, who must be felt as truly existing. To the man who has felt Him as truly existing He reveals His innermost nature.” (Katha Upanishad)


Aspiring to what one already possesses.........

David Quinn: A Buddha is someone who, through a long laborious process, achieves permanent, uninterrupted realization of his true nature twenty-four hours a day. This is indeed a transformative process, since the mind of a Buddha is vastly different to that of the ordinary clod who is still spell-bound by maya (the belief in self-existence).

Non Sum: Wait! You are describing an ‘aspirant’, are you not?

David Quinn: Obviously, I was talking about the aspirant.

Non Sum: You might incorrectly conceive of an aspirant “achieving” Buddha-hood, but until that moment none would say, “there is a long laboring Buddha.” What has a Buddha to labor after?

David Quinn: A Buddha may not have to labour himself, but an aspirant surely does. Unless, of course, you want to believe that we are already Buddhas, in which case the term "aspirant" loses all meaning ......

Non Sum: Yes, it does, doesn’t it.

David Quinn: The mere fact that our true nature is always manifest doesn't mean that we are automatically aware of it.

Non Sum: Oh, but we are “always aware of it.”

David Quinn: A question to all of our readers: Who can honestly say they are aware of their true natures?

Non Sum: In other words: ‘all those who have no “I,” please speak up and say “’I’ don’t have an ‘I’.”’ It’s you, DQ, who would have something “other worldly,” not I. I’m saying that if you have an ego, please look inside of that thought and see if you don’t have an ‘I-experience’ that calls for no thinking. “Only God saysI.” (Meister Eckhart)

You, like most, confuse what is real with what is unreal. Buddhists call this Suffering (Dukka). You are aware of your Only Self, yet would have that Self be a particular mortal self, ergo suffering. If you don’t suffer, if you are clear, and steady, as to who you truly are, and as enlightened as Brahman, then I must apologize for “giving superfluous advice.”

This Buddha Nature depends upon nothing, especially to Self-perceive. ”Knowing itself, is the Self.” (Sri Poonja) When don’t you know that you are you? At this moment your mind is full of my thoughts, yet you never once waver into believing that you are NS the composer. You are always You, and You always know this regardless of you level of mental preoccupation. Look and see for yourself.

No “process,” processes are “mind” too. One must simply come out from mind all together, in one fell swoop, and be done with it. Try as you may, the mind will never achieve, become, attain, enlightenment. You must ‘dis-cover’ that which is always enlightened and end your false identification with the unreal. This is not done in the mind, or in time, quite the contrary.

“Mind of a Buddha?” A Buddha is that which transcends mundane mind and its illusions, ergo ‘awakened’, yet you give it a “mind.” Curious.

David Quinn: If a Buddha doesn't have a mind, then where did the Buddhist texts come from? How did the Tao Te Ching appear if Lao Tzu lacked the consciousness to write it?

Non Sum: Minds write mental texts for other minds to read. The jiva (person) of a ‘jiva-mukta’ (liberated person) is not unaware of what is True about its identity, and so may speak of it with surety and insight to the best of its jivan abilities. Obviously, an illiterate would not directly write a text as well. But, ‘The Buddha’ is Nirvana Itself, and knows nothing of your mind’s dreams.

David Quinn: What? Buddhas are completely ignorant of mental states? They are even less aware than ordinary people? You seem to be describing the awareness of a rock, not the supra-awareness of a Buddha.

Non Sum: “Ordinary people,” any people, are dream objects who perceive ‘their’ dream reality very well, as in, “look, look, a ‘snake’!” Gotama sees a ‘snake’, yet knows it to be a ‘rope’. The Buddha nature, i.e. ‘rope’, knows nothing of ‘snakes’.

"You dream you are the doer. You dream that action is done. You dream that action bears fruit." (Gita)

David Quinn: As always, you're mistaking Buddha-nature (which is always with us) with consciousness of Buddha-nature (which only a few people manage to attain). You're continually confusing the two. If we are already aware of our true nature, then what possible motivation could I have to "look and see for myself"? Why do you keep giving such superfluous advice? If, as you say, we are already enlightened, then what is it exactly that you want people to discover? The more one reads your words, the more it sounds as though you don't believe in your own philosophy.

Another thing: Since the mind is the only faculty for discovering things that unenlightened people have, how can they possibly try to discover something without using their minds? You're asking people to do the impossible.

Non Sum: But you do apprehend without the use of your mind. Living in, and as, a mind has given you the illusion that mind and its creations are all that is. This is what ‘maya’ means. “I” is not a thought. I only ask you to check me out on this. Stop thinking and see what becomes of your true ‘I’. Amnesiacs don’t lose this ‘I’.

One doesn’t come to realize this “Totality” you speak of, as if they were intent on improving their golf game. There is no work for this. You simply can’t get “there” from here. Rather, one must ‘see’ the one who has always been right Here all along. It’s done in the blink of an eye. Name a religion, and I’ll give you a major mystic’s quote to support this contention.

David Quinn: Well, for every mystic you quote, I can just as easily quote one giving the opposite view. It won't really mean anything if you and I both lack understanding of what enlightenment is about.

I have to admit that I'm still confused about your views. On the one hand, you say that we are all Buddhas, and yet above, you suddenly seemed to have changed your tune. Now you're now saying that we are least a blink of an eye from becoming Buddhas. This might sound pedantic, but it's actually a very important issue. We can't be both Buddhas and not-Buddhas at the same time, so which is it to be?

Non Sum: I hope I’ve made some progress in clarifying this issue in the foregoing? The illusion is that we are “not-Buddhas,” and, as you say, this must be addressed, but so must the non-illusory fact that ‘We are all Buddhas’ in reality. This, lest we despair, or waste our time trying to ‘make ourselves into Buddhas’. Does Galileo make stars and planets, or does he go outside and look to see what is already there?


Concepts and the Buddha mind..........

David Quinn: I suppose we should analyze exactly what you mean by "transcending all concepts". Do you mean that a Buddha no longer experiences concepts at all? Or are you refering to something more profound?

Non Sum: Yes, good idea. We should focus more on “transcendence” since this important area is where we part ways. Many of your inquiries, and challenges of apparent contradictions made by me can be resolved by our better understanding of how each understands the others use of “Transcend.” Though for you the operative word seems to be "modifies" behavior and thought. Of course, to ‘fix’ is not to ‘transcend’ is it? Let me offer a couple quotes to give you a sense of transcendence:

"The lotus leaf rests unwetted on water: He rests on action, untouched by action." (Gita)

"Like two birds, the individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the brances of the selfsame tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes." (Mundaka Upanishad)

This latter is not to say that both “selves” are real, but takes it from the error’s perspective that an individual self does exist. Self, the Absolute, absolutely Is, and the misperception that you referred to is just that a no-thing that has no more being or weight than a pocket full of mistakes would have. One denies what is false, transcends it as insignificant and illusory in order to see clearly what is real.

You and I speak as illusions within an illusion, like dream characters within a dream. My character calls himself Non Sum (I am Nothing) for he knows his own false nature, yet his very “I” is none other than the True nature, the Buddha nature. Does this make my preceding remarks clearer?

David Quinn: Perfectly clear. Firstly, it should be noted that your own method of transcending necessarily involves a modification of behaviour, even if it's nothing more than a process of "opening one's eyes" to the Self. Indeed, how can any form transcendence take place without some kind of movement or modification of behaviour? So the question really is, what sort of behaviour modification is needed for transcendence (into Truth) to take place?

My answer is that it needs to take the form of "mental re-orientation" whereby the mind repositions itself so that it can slip effortlessly into enlightenment. In Zen, this is sometimes described as a "turning about in the seat of consciousness", which is not a bad way of putting it. It is achieved when the mind is successful in eliminating every last shred of delusion concerning the nature of existence. The more the mind eliminates its delusions, the freer it becomes and thus the more potential it has of undergoing this re-orientation process.

Non Sum: Yes, but is the “seat of Consciousness” another term for ‘mind’, as you seem to be taking it? I don’t believe it is. Zen has another phrase for discovering this “Seat,” which is called: ”The dropping of body-mind.” [What you say] may be useful in terms of preparation, and one should follow the ‘inner guru’ we are each provided, but there comes a time for leaving the mind’s efforts (which also create further entanglements) behind, and transcend all illusion.

“Behavior,” all of it, is exactly that which must be transcended. ‘Behavior’, is action, which is change. I, (You), am the Changeless; Self is immutable, or it would not be perfect, or real. One can never claim something to Be if it is always in a process of becoming. Therefore, Shankara defines ‘Real’ as having to be changeless, i.e. outside of time-space. Listen to Krishna’s wonderful description of ‘transcendence’:

The illumined thinks always: "I am doing nothing." No matter what he sees, hears, touches smells, eats; whether he is moving, sleeping, breathing, speaking, excreting, or grasping something with his hand, or opening his eyes, or closing his eyes. This he knows always: "I am not seeing I am not hearing. It is the senses that see and hear, and touch the things of the senses." (Gita)

You speak from the perspective that Hui neng (6th patriarch) called “the error of mirror wiping.” Perhaps, you recall his ‘robe and bowl’ winning poem that refers to an always-bright mirror on which “there is no place for dust to cling?” You, doubtless, are familiar with the poem, please allow D.T. Suzuki to explain it to you:

The wiping-off of the ten-thousand things in order to see into the mirror-nature itself is an absolute impossibility. Yet Buddhists all attempt to achieve it. The fact is that the wiping itself is the work of the original brightness. The brightness is there all the time, even when it is thought to be covered with dust. The brightness is not something to be restored; not something appearing at the completion of the procedure; it has never departed from the mirror. (‘The zen Doctrine of ‘No-Mind’, the Significance of the Sutra of Hui-neng’)

David Quinn: Sure, I know the poem, and I understand it throughly. The problem is, both Hui Neng and Suzuki are still involved in mirror-wiping of their own, as indicated by their words above.

The moment you engage in mirror-wiping,
You automatically obscure realization.
Yet if there is no mirror-wiping,
How can there be realization?


- David Quinn


How one knows what one knows..........

David Quinn: How have you determined that what you are seeing as "real" is actually real, and not just another illusion?

Non Sum: This is an excellent question, and should always be asked, especially of ourselves. I came to mysticism and this insight by way of eschewing concepts, and their endless self replacing. Like Descartes, but hopefully more thoroughly, I doubted everything and even doubted what could not be successfully discounted. All I found myself with was ‘I’. Even when I said, “ ‘I’ have no ‘I’” I was stuck with this very ‘I’ who now asserted its own non-existence. What is this indubitable ‘I’ that never seems to change since my earliest memories of being a ‘me’? When I meditated, and
completely emptied my mind of body awareness, and thoughts, ‘I’ was even more vivid, it called for no thought to prop it up. Even when totally occupied, I found that while my mind was lost in a book, or putting out a kitchen fire, that ‘I’ was Self-aware and never became anything other than ‘me’ throughout. This is the, as they say in Zen: ”face I had before my parents were born.”

I’m not pushing concepts, or Buddhism, I have none reliable of either. I just have my true and intrinsic Buddha Nature, that cares nothing of the dream worlds and persons I seem to become and then un-become. Mysticism confirms my non-mental ‘experience’ by the accounts of the enlightened, but it doesn’t make for it. This I, myself must do by careful introspection, such as in Vichara Yoga, which asks the question” ”Who am I?” Look to see who is asking the question, David. When you Know the answer, you will know with absolute certainty that you are the One Self.

David Quinn: Rubbish. All you've done is mistaken a conceptual construct for reality. The "I" that you believe is constant and stands apart from everything is nothing more than an habitual thought-process that arises as each of your other perceptions arise. Because you do not understand the true meaning of emptiness, you've become deceived by this habitual thought-process and confused a thing of this world for reality itself.

No wonder you need to keep quoting scripture all of the time!

Non Sum: I’d have to ‘think’ a concept wouldn’t I? And, if I forgot to think it, I’d lose it, and be without it. I’d have to say, “’I’ have no ‘I’.” Can you get rid of the first ‘I’ in this quote? If you do, will you then say, “’I’ killed the ‘I’?” We can all conceive of an ‘i’, but who is this Self of the one who conceives?

David Quinn: But again I ask, how have you determined that this "I" that you speak of, this Buddha Nature, isn't just another illusion?

Non Sum: As Lin Chi says, "Look, look!" You have to come out of mind and look for yourself. Even if you accepted everything I, or Buddha, says, it would do you no good. One must inquire within themselves. For your mind’s criteria, you might want to use a strict definition of ‘reality’ such as Shankara’s: "That which does not change, nor depends upon anything else in order to be. And, I’d add to it: ‘that which cannot be successfully doubted’. Distrust All concepts, and opinions, especially your own. [



Simple however it: ive often wondered if there is such a thing as truth. there are many christians that believe in god, and accept Him as truth... they cannot prove it. it works the same for me; i could tell you that i worship "mxyzptlyk the god of superfluidity," and if i honestly believed that in my heart, it would be a truth. but i couldnt prove it to you. set up a computer in front of me and prove to me that it's really there. prove to me that im not dreaming. prove to me that you're not dreaming. prove to me that this isnt the "unreality" region where nothing actually happens and nothing is real. hell, i dont know. i guess my question is "how can you prove anything?"

David Quinn: In short, by becoming a quality thinker.

Some things are easily proved. For example, the belief that consciousness exists and experiences are happening - i.e. that the world is not nothing whatsoever - is easily proved with a little thought. Deeper truths about the nature of existence are usually more subtle and require greater logical skill to prove them, but they are just as irrefutable.
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- What it means to be a real Man -

by Dan Rowden


Both historical and contemporary literature, though the latter being of a more confused and imprecise nature, is replete with notions of what it means to be a man in any given society. However, if being a man in any of these schemas means anything remotely less than being an entity deeply infused with the will to express true individuality and to stand naked before Reality with the utmost sense of truth and integrity, then I cannot conceive of such a being as a man at all.

To what end is a man truly a man if he is not fully himself? In what possible sense is a man truly a man if he cannot stand before Reality as an individual and declare "I am what I am."? Is it enough that he is a father, a husband, a lawmaker and jurist, a provider and a protector? Is it enough that he is willing to sacrifice himself, in every possible sense, for a society that is grounded in egotism and falsity? Hardly. For a man to truly stand before reality as an individual he must first aspire to an understanding of that reality, otherwise he stands nowhere but knee-deep in muck.

Wisdom is the true destiny and completion of man. Man is incomplete without it. It is part of the nature of consciousness that it seeks to fulfill itself (i.e. to be certain about those things from which certainty may be gleaned), and to the degree that any given person is conscious, to that degree he will aspire to truth because he suffers for his ignorance - his lack of completion.

Unfortunately, certain intellectual and social forces have conspired to strip modern society and modern man of all its ideality. No longer is any such completion, such certainty, deemed possible, therefore man is left in psychological and spiritual limbo, the social effects of which are all too obvious - the increased feminisation of both society and man, the embracing of mediocrity and the democratic pragamtism associated with it, increased male youth suicide, the dimunition of masculine influence in the lives of young people.

Yet, as socially damaging as all these effects may be, nevertheless the true man has the capacity to stand apart from it all and strive for the completion of his own individual self. His duty to himself, if not any other, is to embrace his reason, take heed of his conscience and realise that the continual existential crisis he finds himself in can never be truly abated without the fulfillment of the natural destiny of that consciousness.

The forces of modern society lure man to find himself outside of himself, outside of mind and contemplation. This is madness, as the only thing that can authentically take a man outside of himself is if he is reborn as a woman. To my horror, more and more men are seemingly thus being reborn.

However, whatever is lost in them is not lost in me. These others, and society in general, represent only one dimension of my purpose and values. The primary one relates to me personally. It is about my personal relationship to God and involves no other. So ought it be. Indeed, so must it be.

[


 

Is it sex, fashion or moral failure?

by Susan Hopkins

The Courier Mail

Tuesday, March 19

 

It may be just a television show, But Sex and the City is kicking up very real controversies and contradictions. In the modern media mix we can follow the moral failures of politicians, priests and sporting heroes before tuning into Sex and the City or Temptation Island. As television blurs into real life - and real life blurs into television - viewers and voyeurs can have it both ways. They can call into question moral standrads but also avoid taking them too seriously.

Sure Sex and the City is funny, clever and right on the pulse of post-modern culture. But it also raises a timely question: How does the "It's all about me" set deal with issues of moral accountability? Critics have called the SATC heroines "evil emasculating harpies". Fans have embraced them as power-women role models. But both sides of the SATC media debate have missed the point. The real issue of SATC is not sex as liberation but sex as fashion. For the heroines of the show there is no right and wrong, there is only the glamorous and the disgusting.

The program works as a series of amorality tales chronicled by the journalist character Carrie. It picks up on the common anxieties about sexual and social interaction at a time when the old rules no longer apply. The thritysomething single girls of SATC have certainly challenged the old gender stereotypes. They have embraced the characteristically male role of sexual predator. Wary of committment and wise to naive romanticism, these New Women do what men have done for centuries: they objectify the opposite sex.

In their free-floating fashion utopia, all social relationships can be tried on or trashed at will. In the absence of religion, ideology and other belief systems, only fashion it seems is sacred. "Here", says Carrie, "Swear, swear on Chanel." It's progress of a kind that the SATC heroines do not define themselves by their relationships with men. What's depressing is that these women define themselves instead by fashion labels and logos. For the urban Uber chick, identity is not about what you do: it's about what you buy.

Committment, consistency and character is replaced by a kind of lifestyling: making it up as you go along. Fashion is frequently woven into the storylines of Sex and the City. In the tradition of post-modern television (starting with Miami Vice in the '80s) the show's plot is frequently upstaged by its wardrobe. Carrie's identity crisis comes when her credit card is cut up at Dolce & Gabbana.

.........there might be more to being daring and radical than just being fashionable. Does it make me a sexual conservative to hope there's more to life than shopping?

Comment: The characters of this show and the form of post-modern, feminist influenced culture they represent, is actually symbolic of the entirety of feminism. It is quite literally all about fashion - intellectual, political, moral and sexual fashion. One could identify certain core social principles in the views of the suffragettes (the so-called "first wave" of feminism), but things have slowly degenerated since then. It's not unlike the corruption of spirtitual teachings that always occurs immediately following the death of some spiritual identity. The more noble ideas get caught up in the greater force of the underlying social unconsciousness and are slowly usurped by them. The author of the this article makes one or two crucial mistakes, even though the article is interesting enough. One of those mistakes lies in the belief that women are actually attempting to define themselves, either by way of relationships with men or by relationships with fashion accessories. But women lack sufficent centre of being to have any need to define themselves. Their very nature is that of the reflection of their environment. They are defined by that environment, but that is not to say that they are actually defining themselves.

Women do not enter into relationships with men - or anything else - out of any sense of conscious purpose. Such relationships are simply the heart of soul of what they are. Women are forever being defined, but never consciously defining. Of course, to be fair, one should note that this is true of men, also, to the degree that they are feminine minded.

[


Gregory Shantz: Is time created by chemicals in our brains?

simple however it: time is just a name we've applied to the world turning, things deteriorating, organisms aging, so on. well, that's how i see it anyway.

Gregory Shantz: Time is the word we assign to the perception of things changing. We think things change because of time, but what really is the case is consciousness creates the concept "time" because of our perception of change.

So is this concept of change taking place at the chemical level, in a person's brain? Are chemicals and cells dying, "changing" physically, so change appears to take place to the consciousness? I'm wondering what the relationship between physical change and change in the mind is. This is tied into my other thread about the relation of the brain to consciousness. This may have been adressed before, I think.

Gregory Shantz: Time is the word we assign to the perception of things changing. We think things change because of time, but what really is the case is consciousness creates the concept "time" because of our perception of change.

So is this concept of change taking place at the chemical level, in a person's brain? Are chemicals and cells dying, "changing" physically, so change appears to take place to the consciousness? I'm wondering what the relationship between physical change and change in the mind is. This is tied into my other thread about the relation of the brain to consciousness. This may have been adressed before, I think.

David Quinn: Time is fundamentally a product of our memories and categories. It is through our memories that we gain a sense of past, present and future, and it is through our categories (such as the category of a permanent, unchanging self) that we gain a sense of time flowing by. Without these basic building blocks, time wouldn't exist.

The main problem with this [the above] line of thinking is that changes occuring in the brain's chemistry are part of the world of changing phenomena and hence in the same boat as the people, clouds and trees that are changing before us.

If you really want to get to the root of time and where it comes from, you'll have to examine the nature of duality itself. Time is a dualistic creation that can only exist in contrast with the opposite of time - "not-time" or "static permanency" or whatever you want to call it. Indeed, that is how we experience any sense of time at all, by subconsciously creating its opposite and making the comparsion therein.

The subject of time reminds me of a brilliant piece of philosophical reasoning conducted by Otto Weininger in his book, "On Ultimate Things". The way he integrates time with ethics is most interesting (I don't necessarily believe in his thesis myself, but I did find it stimulating.).....

- People have thought a great deal about the unidirectionality of time, its advancing in only one sense, its non-reversibility, but so far have only brought to light nonsense. The unidirectionality of time, together with the riddle of the world (the mystery of dualism), is the deepest problem in the universe, and it is not surprising that the world's most outstanding thinkers – Plato, Augustine, Kant, Schopenhauer – have kept completely silent about it, even in the places where they have dealt with time, itself. Yet Kant, above all, should not have kept silent, for if time is only an a priori form of intuition, without significance for things-in-themselves, then the mystery of a sense, a direction, of time remains more pressing than before. I can walk back and forth on a straight line; but time, though it is represented as a straight line, lacks this characteristic. However, the unidirectionality of time, i.e., that what is past never returns, is the ground of all those famous phenomena of opposition to retrograde and revolving forms of motion. This form of motion is, as proven, unethical.

Accordingly, the reason that time is unidirectional must lie in morality.

The contradiction in the Kantian system feels even more cutting; if time has a meaning, no matter how much it is a form of mere intuition (and it certainly is that), there must still be a connection between it and the intelligible, ethical basis of the world. Many things indicate that the unidirectionality of time is an expression of the ethicality of life. It is immoral to say the same thing twice; at least it feels that way to the person who places the highest moral demands on himself, and knows that he is lost if he does not obey them.

Christ also felt this to be so; the most profound and at the same time the strongest moral command of the Gospels (even surpassing Kant in strength) is contained in the never-noticed words (Gospel of Matthew, 10: 19): ‘Care not what you will say when you are asked, but speak what the spirit has given to you.’ For if I say what I intended to say then I erase the time that comes between the moment of reflection and the later moment of action. I perpetrate a lie against the new moment by positing it as identical with the earlier one; and at the same time I am determined, because I have determined myself through an earlier moment, through empirical causality. I am no longer behaving freely, out of the totality of my ego, I am no longer seeking anew to find the right action; and I am, however, really a different person from the moment before, at least a richer one, and no longer completely identical with the earlier. [Pages 88-89]

- It is unethical to want to change the past; all lying is falsification of history. One falsifies one's own history first of all, and then that of others. It is unethical not to want to alter the future, not to want to make it different, better than the present, i.e., not to want to create. The categorical imperative could be formulated: Will! [89]

- The future is not yet true. The past is true. The lie is a will to exert power over the past, which can give it no freedom or existence, because the present is equally unfree, equally dead. Past and future meet one another in the present; the present is a person's potential. He no longer has power over the past, and none yet over the future. When eternity and the present have become one, then man has become God, and God is all-powerful.

The lie is therefore unethical; it is a reversal of time, in that the will to make changes extends itself to the past instead of to the future. However, all evil is a cancellation of the meaning of time, it is to renounce in despair giving a meaning to life. [89]

- Boredom is an eminently unethical feeling, because it can only really be defined through its appearing to cancel the unidirectionality of time. [89]

- To go around in circles is senseless, aimless, anyone who pirouettes has a self-satisfied, ridiculously vain, vulgar nature. The dance is a female motion, and indeed is above all the movement of prostitution. One will find that the more a woman likes to dance, and the better she dances, the more of the prostitute she has in her. [84]

- Very few men, when they are forced to return to their point of departure, will willingly go back by the same route that they followed on the way there – a phenomenon that absolutely belongs here. Only the unethically-inclined man will feel no reluctance in such a case. That is also why the thought of the wanderer strikes us so congenially; and that is why even the most superior women have no need to travel. All travel has an indefinite longing, a metaphysical motive, as its basis.

For the same reason it is anything but a satisfaction of the need for immortality to take the eternal return of the same in the way the Pythagorean and Indian teachings do (including the Cosmic Days of esoteric Buddhism 11 ), and as Nietzsche has again proclaimed. On the contrary, it is terrifying: for “the same” is a doppelgänger, though not in temporal co-existence, but only in succession. The will to (one’s own) value, to the absolute, is indeed the source of the need for immortality. However, all striving after endless improvement is ridiculed by nothing so much as by the thought that every victory over imperfection brings us closer in time to a relapse into the greatest degree of imperfection.

This is also the reason why many people find so uncomfortable the feeling, that a new situation is something they have already experienced before (cf. the theory of fear). People have absurdly sought in this feeling the factual basis of the belief in immortality. This inference is absurd for this feeling is full of fear, because in such moments we feel that we are fully determined, as though bound to a wheel (or on a cycloid). The feeling of immortality, on the contrary, negates exactly this determinism by whatever external cause; it posits and affirms the only thing that is not a function of time, namely, the thought of freedom, the conqueror of fear, the consciousness of immortality: supreme self-confidence. [85]

- Dance music encourages people to dismiss the ethical struggle; its effect is a feeling of being determined. [86]

- Thus, because the planets move in circular paths, anyone who, with Kant, sees the ethical in progress and in struggle can only perceive in the planets something completely foreign to morality. Thus also, we do not find in them a worthy example for our existence as ethical beings. Indeed, our existence only acquires nobility when it is detached from all the particulars of visible nature. Thus, if the solar system had been specifically ethically conceived, then the path of a planet would never be allowed to turn back on itself. The moon also revolves around the earth just as the earth does around the sun, and there is certainly nothing at all ethical in this (as is proven by the moon's intimate relation to female physiology, and to the dog), And Saturn, which certainly stands in the closest relationship to humans of all the planets, plainly appears with its rings and moons as the summation of evil.

Perhaps there are heavenly bodies that do not perform any retrograde motion, which will destroy astronomy. Even if this critique of paths that turn back on themselves should be fully justified, the starred heaven that Kant set beside the moral law 17 will not in any way now have to lose all its majesty in favor of the moral law. One should just not seek more in it than it really represents for us psychologically; it is the symbol of the endlessness of the universe, of which we only feel worthy in the moral law, and which alone is worthy of the moral law, and of the painless felicity of its light. [87]

WolfsonJakk: I am not quite sure how Kant or yourself made this leap of logic that "time is ethical". To me (and seemingly anyone who actually exhibits Pure Reason), it is obvious that "time" is a concept derived from the daily rising and setting of the sun, the passing of seasons, and the body's increasing age. Also, life events such as the passing away of a neighbor or family member act as milestones in a person's life that pass through us then behind us like a boat on a river, never to return. Time is merely observational.

Ethics gives rise to thoughts of good and bad, in terms of moral judgements. I don't see that here at all. Time merely IS. It flows like a river.

Non Sum: Exactly, a la Heraclitus and his "flowing river." And, not a drop of "morality" or "ethics" in it. DQ, I am not familiar with this Carl Weinenger, but I suspect he's pulling your leg with a long pull of poor sophistry (Or, are you pulling ours, DQ?). Augustine (who never addressed time?) spoke in "river" terms when he used time's peceived motion to necessitate a 'somewhat' that itself must not flow, else there would be no motion sensed.

David Quinn: It's pretty hard to take the objections of you two guys seriously when you can't even get his name right. It wasn't Kant, Carl, or myself who wrote those passages. This error alone creates the impression that both of you have instantly dismissed those passages without giving them a lot of thought.

What I found interesting about Weininger's thesis was the way he brought together two seemingly disparate and unconnected phenomena - namely, time and morality - and fused them into a unified, logically-coherent whole. To my mind, this is the stuff of genius.

Essentially, what he tried to do was establish the basis of morality in a primary fact of existence - i.e. the unidirectionality of time. Noting that the unidirectionality of time was fundamental to Reality, he suggested that any action that contradicted Reality in this manner was immoral. For example, engaging in repetitious activities, mindlessly repeating one's words, stagnating in the same mind-set and views, mental illness, trying to change the past via lying, failing to have the vision and wisdom to create a different future, etc. In fact, when you think about it, everything that one finds disgusting and ugly in life is in direct conflict with the unidirectionality of time.

What's also interesting is that Weininger's thesis continues to be applicable right up into the Buddha realms. A Buddha is someone who, with his eyes fully on the future, is constantly manipulating the process cause and effect for the purpose of creating a wiser world, which means that he, and he alone, is in perfect harmony with the unidirectionality of time.

WolfsonJakk: I re-read your passage and see now that you meant to tie in a theory of Weininger's concerning ethics and the unidirectionality of time and how Kant's ideas on intuition might support this theory.

I still don't see it though. We are back to the old argument of something existing inside your head and outside your head. I suppose we all believe in the existence of thoughts and a priori intuition. But how would it be possible that a "mind" can develop separately from it's environment? A priori intuitions are merely reflections of external phenomenon. Time is a personl interpretaion of the rhythm of nature and only exhibits a relation to "ethics" if it makes you happy to see (and create) this relationship. "Ethics" in this regard would be relative.

David Quinn: "Ethics" are always relative, in the sense that they are derived from one's values. In Weininger's case, he chose to base his ethics on what is undeniably true in life - such as the unidirectionality of time.

WolfsonJakk: And again, you border on a highly egotistical and personal interpretaion of what it means to be enlightened. There is no absolute proof the the "world" even exists. Nor is there absolute proof that your thoughts (which are derived from the "world") are not deluded. Deluded means "not representing fully the state of Nature and the Universe".

I see a Buddha as someone who sees that there is always more work to be done. I see a Buddha as an individual with the inklings of understanding of his/her place in the Universe, and as a result a deep humility takes hold. I see a Buddha as a person who undestands the flux of the forms of Nature, and thus knows perfection is only possible through constant change. Still water stagnates.

For humans, understanding nature is an asymptotic undertaking...we approach truth, getting ever closer and closer, but never quite reaching it. In fact, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle implies that if we were ever to actually reach true understanding of Nature, Nature would change as a result.

David Quinn: If Heisenberg managed to achieve true understanding with this prophecy, then Nature would have instantly changed and made allowances for absolute truth to be known, thus making Heisenberg's views redundant. If he didn't achieve true understanding, then his views are irrelevant. Either way, they are meaningless

WolfsonJakk: The reflections in your mind will never be absolutely representative of the real thing, merely approximations.

David Quinn: Since this isn't, by your own admission, an accurate representation of what goes on in my mind, I will ignore it.

Avidaloca: [To WolfsonJakk] I think you are part of the way there but have stopped short of going that step further. The Buddha is complete in himself - no more work can be done. But of course, he participates in the world as humans are meant to do, and by doing so he advances the teaching. He doesn't have an inkling, but an absolutely certain knowledge of his place in the universe. With that comes no ego, so humility is not an option - there is nothing to be humble about. Of course, I don't believe he understands the mind of God, but rather is the mind of God, which is so great it can only be manifested, not "understood" in the conventional sense of that term.

With that in mind, I am very weary of the "knowledge" held by those who fall short of enlightenment. It seems to me that the more certain those are who lay claim to this "knowledge", the more they have to learn. I totally include myself in that group. People can very easily reach a place of imagined certainty in their own ideas, which is really only a mental prison that prevents them from moving ahead and past those ideas.

Non Sum: If I recall rightly, Dogen said, "What was formerly firewood is not latterly ashes." The point being that 'cause and effect' are a synthetic mindset that has no reality in it. Each moment arrives complete in itself, but we use memory to tie things together into a nonexistent chain of events. This is what not carrying a trace of one's self into the next moment is referring to; an artificial linking of events.

David Quinn: You're confusing egotism with intelligence. The "artificial linking of events", as you put it, is a function of intelligence and necessary for conscious activity to take place. If we didn't do this, we would be unconscious. Even Buddhas have to do it.

Egotism, by constrast, involves a misapplication of intelligence, in which our reason and memories are misapplied to the preservation of a non-existent thing (namely, the "self").

So the phrase, "not carrying a trace of one's self into the next moment", simply refers to the cessation of missapplying intelligence to non-existent things. It definitely does not mean a cessation of linking events together conceptually. For, as I say, if we ceased to do that, we would become unconscious, no different from a rock.

Having said that, I agree that cause and effect is a "synthetic mindset" and has no reality in it, at bottom. But this doesn't mean that it doesn't have value. Its value lies in the way it is able to dissolve all synthetic mindsets, including itself. It's a bit like taking a medicine to cure a disease. Once the disease is gone, the medicine can be thrown away. [


An excerpt from: The Book of Wife

by

David Quinn and Kevin Solway
Copyright © 1995-98

[


This topic has been explored in depth in previous editions of Genius News, but since it is such a critical issue, it's certainly worth exploring again. Kevin Solway takes the reigns this time. He starts off by examining the common fallacy that the truth of relativity refutes the existence and knowability of absolute truth, before moving onto a more general analysis of logic and the role it plays in human knowledge.


Kevin Solway: There is some confusion over what "relative truth" means, but it is easily resolved. The confusion arises over what the term "relative" actually means. It can mean several different things, but people tend to confuse the different meanings, and end up melding all the different meanings into one, in a sort of fuzzy lump.

There are two main meanings of the word "relative", as it has been discussed recently on this forum.

1. Something is "relative" if it exists in relation to something else. Every single thing in the Universe is "relative" in this way, as every thing has a relation to that which is other than itself.

2. The second meaning, quite distinct from the first, is when one says something is "relative" in the sense that it can be changed by changing its conditions. This second one has special application in the empirical world.

What tends to happen is that people fail to distinguish between these two different meanings. For it is possible for something to be "relative" in the first sense, and yet not be able to changed by changing conditions. Such is the case with non-empirical things, such as logical truths, or objects. Purely logical truths, such as A=A, or 1+1=2, purely definitional truths, are "relative" in the sense they relate to other things, yet they are not able to be changed by changing conditions, because they contain all the conditions for their own truth.

Those who feel a psychological need to destroy the very idea of absolute truth have a vested interest in failing to make the distinction between these two kinds of "relative".

Witt: Your understanding of 'absolute' truth is different from mine. The truths of logic-math, the tautologies, are not without time. Their apparent timelessness is dependent on the timelessness of mind. Surely a mind is pre-requisite to an understanding of any tautology. There cannot be a possibility of 1+1=2 before, or after, there are minds.

Kevin Solway: Let's take the truth A=A, for example, since it is even simpler than 1+1=2. Yes, it depends on mind, but mind only has to exist for the tiniest fraction of a second to affirm the truth of A=A for all eternity. Even if all mind where to die out in the Universe, the truth of A=A has already been affirmed for all time by my mind right here and now. That makes it timeless.

Witt: How can you possibly know this?

Kevin Solway: I know it because I created it. I know it in the very same way I can know any simple logical truth.

Witt: Your creation? How do you know 'any simple logical truth' other than by your omniscient creations?

Kevin Solway: The only way you can know anything is by your own "omniscient creations" (such as 1 + 1 = 2).

Witt: How do you 'show' that you 'know'?

Kevin Solway: You only have to reason it to yourself.

Witt: How can there be any affirmation without minds? To know that A=A, we need to be able to confirm it. How does confirmation take place when there are no minds? There is no knowledge about timelessness.

Kevin Solway: I've already agreed that for there to be affirmation there needs to be a mind. But that mind only needs to function for a moment to affirm the truth of A=A for all time.

Witt: The condition of change that truth submits to is verifiability. To know that we have a truth is to be in possesion of a decision procedure that confirms that truth. In virtue of different systems of decision, we do indeed have truth 'relative' to system.

For example, one system of logic will produce different truths from another system. The null set = 0, is true for Zermelo (ZFC) but false for Russell-Quine-carnap.

Kevin Solway: Absolute truths, such as A=A (and what is derived from it, such as 1+1=2), are necessarily true across all systems of logic. If A=A (the truth of identity) were not true in all logical systems, those systems would not be called logical, but would be called madness, because madness is not logical. They would not be "systems" of madness either, because true madness cannot be systematic.

Witt: The notion of all possible systems is more vague than your absolute truth. How can we talk about systems not yet devised or of faulty systems? It seems to me difficult to talk about absolutes without an absolute method of decision. Where is this absolute system??

Kevin Solway: Simple logic is the absolute system. Only it can make determinations about all other systems.

Witt: Even the empirical truths of 'factual' propositions require minds to determine. The world presents itself only. Truths are a concoction of mind.

Kevin Solway: It is an absolute truth that the world presents itself only.

Witt: In my world, it is true, perhaps even tautologous, but not possibly 'absolute'. An absolute truth would have to be true in: all possible worlds, all possible systems. Many logicians have shown that this cannot be done.

Kevin Solway: Are you saying that many logicians have shown that nothing can be true in all possible systems, and that statement itself is true for possible systems, in all worlds? Can you see the ridiculousness of that?

Witt: One system of logic will produce different truths from another system.

Kevin Solway: Logic in its basic form is universal, and is of the form A=A. All different uses of logic use A=A identity) as a starting point. As logic is the same everywhere, it necesssarily always produces the same results.

Witt: False. p v ~p, cannot be arranged into the form A=A.

Kevin Solway: "p v ~p" is based on the fact that "p" is identical to itself and "~p" is identical to itself, and even that "v" is identical to itself. Without this basic logic nothing useful can ever be thought or communicated.

Witt: Propositional logic does not involve A=A in any way.

Kevin Solway: See above.

Witt: Predicate logic without identity, obviously, does not use A=A.

Kevin Solway: If it didn't, it would be meaningless. Nothing would ever be identified for it to be able to work with.

Witt: Modal, temporal, epistemic, predicate logics (without identity) also do not need or use identity as a relation at all.

Kevin Solway: If all these various "systems of logic" do not present to the mind as basically logical, or rational, then they would be useless.

Witt: Description theory, given by Russell, proves that:
(the x:Fx & ~Fx)=(the x:Fx & ~Fx), is false.
(the x:~(x=x))=(the x:~(x=x)), is false.
(the x: x=x)=(the x: x=x), is false. etc.

Kevin Solway: All these logical statements of Russels use basic logic in their very formulation. If they didn't they wouldn't mean anything.

Witt: If the values of x, in the expression x=x, are to be previously confirmed 'existent' objects, then you are correct; x=x for all x, is true.

Kevin Solway: Yes, the "A" in A=A refers to any existing thing (real or imaginary). Then you agree with me on this point.

Witt: I agree that the tautologies of logic are timless within the range of times in which there are minds. But, not truth can be absolute, even this one, since we cannot provide a method to decide it!

Kevin Solway: If you can't prove that what you're saying is absolutely true, then I'm not particularly interested in it. You may decide tomorrow that you don't believe in it yourself.


Kevin Solway: Purely logical truths, such as A=A, or 1+1=2, purely definitional truths, are "relative" in the sense they relate to other things, yet they are not able to be changed by changing conditions, because they contain all the conditions for their own truth.

WolfsonJakk: Don't these logical truths arise from empirical and observational evidence?

Kevin Solway: I observe that A=A - that a thing is itself, and is not other than itself - and that depends on my observation. The "thing" in question is anything observed by the mind, and is not necessarily an empirical object. We don't know for sure that empirical things really exist - they too are only things observed by the mind. They too are necessarily purely logical, definitional things.

WolfsonJakk: Then what might be considered the cause of these concepts in our mind? They must be a reflection of something, mustn't they?

Kevin Solway: The ultimate cause of the concepts in our mind can never be found, because causes are endless. One thing we can say for certain is that our concepts are caused by whatever is other than themselves. We might presume that our thoughts and experiences are caused in part by our supposed physical bodies, brains, senses, etc, but that is only speculation, nothing more. It is nothing we can ever be certain about.

WolfsonJakk: Agreed, but it would seem that a behavioral stance or mindset based on the assumption that the physical world does not exist would be just as flawed as an assumption that it DOES. At best, it would seem logical that an individual could only assume a sort of ambivalence or agnosticism about the physical world, since there is no absolute proof either way that our concepts are products of our mind solely or reflections of the "real" world.

Kevin Solway: Agreed.

WolfsonJakk: Also, wouldn't this ambivalence or this "middle way" be the type of attitude promoted by ancient Greek and Chinese philosophers? Because of the dual nature of existence, the Yin and Yang, wouldn't balance be an extremely relevant and usefool tool to incorporate into one's mindset?

Kevin Solway: It's debatable what the ancient Greek and Chinese philosophers were on about. But there may be some parallels.

I'm not convinced that the idea of "balance" is a good thing. Our aim should be truth. If truth represents a balance of some sort then well and good, but if it represents an extreme imbalance, then so be it.

WolfsonJakk: If the physical universe were such that 1+1 did not equal 2 (in fact, it doesn't on a granular level), would the logical truth 1+1=2 have arisen? If no, then how does the concept 1+1=2 or A=A contain their own inherent, non-changing truth? There is no proof the laws of physics as we know them are absolutely universal.

Kevin Solway: 1+1 equals 2 because 1+1 is defined to be 2. It has nothing to do with the empirical world, so quantum physics or whatever cannot alter it. In fact, 1+1=2 is also necessarily true on the "granular level", in quantum physics, when it is not misused to apply to supposedly empirical events.

WolfsonJakk: It is assumed 1 object + 1 object = 2 objects. But how does an inquiring mind quantify two objects? No two apples are alike, on a physical level.

Kevin Solway: It does so however it likes. What I call one object you may call two objects. What you call two objects I may call one object.

WolfsonJakk: Where, then, does one make the leap toward the conceptual object, knowing full well that any concept of an "apple" is mere approximation and not actual?

Kevin Solway: We don't make a leap towards the conceptual - we are already there. We can't escape it. The physical, "actual" world is a myth.

WolfsonJakk: How does one the extrapolate the absoluteness of these concepts into an individual's mindset and behavior knowing these concepts are merely mathematical (approximations). How would this focus on the conceptual be any different than the mathematician whom espouses the supremacy of his craft in relation to "truth"?

Kevin Solway: Mathematicians tend not to see the big picture. They use logic in a limited way, but ignore the use of logic in fullness. There is much in the world that mathematics on its own cannot explain, but which logic can. But mathematicians tend not to be interested in that.

Every single thing we experience falls into the category of absolute concepts, or abstracted things, including empirical things like an apples, and so they are not "merely mathematical approximations". There is nothing approximate about A=A or 1+1=2 or "apple". They are what they are.

WolfsonJakk: It would seem a person could end up in a quandry if that person assumed that 1+1=2 represented anything real; in that 1=1=2 is non-changing and yet purports to represent the real world which is in a state of constant flux. The same, it would seem, would apply to concepts such as "Absolute Truth". If an ambivalence or agnosticism is the only logical stance an individual can have concerning the physical world and it's actual existence, then that same individual would be illogical if he embraced a concept such as Absolute Truth of any kind.

Kevin Solway: You state that as an absolute.

WolfsonJakk: I am speaking of an abstract, but I don't pretend it is something of physical merit. It is as true as 1+1=2, I grant you that.

Kevin Solway: Rules that apply to the physical world do not apply to the abstract world. The limitations of the physical world are not limitations of the abstract world. Physical things change, abstract categories don't. That is an immense difference.

You seem to be equating "real" only with physical and measurable objects. But the abstract objects in our minds are just as real - in that they exist and we can deal with them, and they are not false (if one doesn't project onto them more than they really are). As far as consciousness, knowledge, and learning is concerned, these abstract objects are the most important reality of all, because without it our species couldn't do all the wonderful things it does.

Abstract ideas like 1 + 1 = 2 can only lead to difficulty when they are applied to physical/emprical things in an inappropriate way.

WolfsonJakk: I agree that this is the split I have with this line of thinking. My definition of these abstract objects are that they are a reflection of what we percieve externally.

Kevin Solway: For all we know, everything we perceive is internal. We don't know that anything exists "externally". Even if we had no senses of external things (if they exist), as long as internal objects are generated we will have all kinds of concepts associated with them.

WolfsonJakk: Forgive my ignorance but I am not understanding you. How can you explain my dizziness after spinning around? It seemingly alters my consciousness in some way. What of chemical alteration of consciousness (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, and especially behavioral pharmaceuticals)? Also, how do you explain the results of clinical double-blind trials of behavioral pharmaceuticals using placebos?

All of this is apparent circumstantial evidence that the physical world does exist.

Kevin Solway: Circumstantial evidence is not knowing. Those who are interested in discovering absolute truths (and I am one of them) are only interested in things we can know for sure. What's the point of wasting time on presumptions that can be totally mistaken?

All the things you mention as being physical things (eg, drugs, chemicals, etc) are things which occur to our mind, but we don't know if these things physically exist, or if they are just in our minds.

WolfsonJakk: How can an individual differentiate between the concepts I just defined and another group of concepts for which this might not hold true? In fact, this other group of concepts need be universal and static and thus not be "truthful in reflection" of the environment we see around us. How can a person of logic presume this class of concepts is any less imaginary than the ramblings of a schizophrenic?

Kevin Solway: We are part of that environment - not separate from it - and we experience categories/things/abstractions. That is the way of Nature and is not fabricated in any way. As long as we are not attached to our categories, and refrain from projecting onto them qualities they do not really possess, there is nothing wrong with them.

WolfsonJakk: If it turned out that the physical world did indeed exist and the concepts in our mind were reflections and attempted re-creations of this same world, then all "truths" become relative. On the other hand, if the concepts in my mind are created solely by my mind, then "I" would be the only truth that mattered and created concepts such as 1+1=2 would be absolute.

Kevin Solway: Your concepts are most definitely created in your mind. Where would concepts like "simplicity" and "complexity" come from, if not from the mind? The concepts of "1" and "2" cannot exist in the physical world (because it is fuzzy and always changing), so they can only exist in the mind.

So long as there is consciousness there will always be an abstract mental world, and along with that there may too be the appearance of physical existences. Nothing can ever make mentally constructed objects or categories (like "1" and "2") anything different than what they are.

WolfsonJakk: I see no absolute proof of this, certainly not enough to build a philosophy around it. Honestly, I would like to see.

Kevin Solway: All consciousness is abstraction. It is a drawing of boundaries around things, such as "self" and "not-self", to make them exist. Right there is the abstract mental world. Self + not-self = 2 things (1 + 1 = 2). Consciousness is dualism. Wisdom is a transcending of dualism (but not a flight from it).

WolfsonJakk: Who is to say we are really conscious?

Kevin Solway: Only we ourselves can know if we are experiencing anything, and if we are, then we are, by definition, conscious.

WolfsonJakk: I appear to be self-reflexive but can I be absolutely certain I am not deluded?

Kevin Solway: Most people have animal-type minds. Consciousness is very minimal in them. Experience of "things", which is necessary for consciousness, does not truly happen in them. They might uses words to describe things, but that is a red-herring, because their notion of things is so fuzzy and undeveloped it is hardly a notion at all.

Anything such a fuzzy mind judges will be mistaken.

WolfsonJakk: Irrelevant ego and personal differentiation. We are to a maggot what God is to us. I see no evidence that Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu did not also have "animal-type" minds. I also see no evidence that "enlightenment" itself is nothing more than a continuation of animal evolution.

Kevin Solway: Enlightenment must be an evolution on the non-enlightened mind, as there is nothing else it could have come from. And consciousness is an evolution of the non-conscious.

One can only appreciate how different people such as Jesus, and the Buddha are from ordinary folk, if one shares enough of the same consciousness with them. A genius consciousness. That is extremely rare.

WolfsonJakk: It would so much easier for me (emotionally) if I could rid myself of this relativity all around me. I could be static and unchanging...and yet I still feel that state does not exist in nature. How could I, a mere human, be so egotistical to believe that I could achieve some form absolute purity that seems, in fact, unnatural?

Kevin Solway: It depends whether you identify yourself with your physical body, which was born and will die, and exists for almost no time at all, or whether you identify yourself with more abstract notions like Nature, the Infinite, God.


Serpenteen: We decide that something “is” something and “is not” something else by its appearances. Since appearances can be deceiving, we cannot be absolutely certain that something is one thing and not another thing.

Kevin Solway: Appearances themselves are not deceiving. An appearance is just an appearance. Our brains may do subsequent processing on those appearances - that is where the deception comes in.

Serpenteen: Basically we jump to conclusions about appearances, based on what is empirically the most practical.

Kevin Solway: We naturally do this, but we don't need to be so sure of ourselves.

Serpenteen: Since perception appears to appear, we can conclude change is happening, but still we can’t really be sure what it is (other than something that is not absolute).

Kevin Solway: If change is always happening, then that fact itself is not changing. It is absolute.

Serpenteen: When the mind tries to identify things, is, I believe, when imaginary boundaries are created. An “absolute” thing is where the mind recognizes similarities and ignores differences.

Kevin Solway: Yes, that is true for physical, empirical objects, but when the things in question are abstract and mentally created then no smoothing, generalizing, or sharpening of boundaries needs to occur.

Serpenteen: Nice, but you gave no reasoning for this assumption. A thought probably is just as empirical as any other “object”.

Kevin Solway: I don't believe any reasoning is necessary for this point. And I'm not sure any reasoning is even possible for such a simple point. Take the number 1 for example. It is an object of thought. The number 1 is not something measurable by science, so it is not an empirical object. And no reasoning is necessary to justify it. And the number 1 is something sure and sharp - not fuzzy in any way. To think of and use the number 1, one doesn't have to ignore any information, like "ignoring differences" for example.

In one sense thoughts are empirical objects that may lend themselves to be studied by science, but abstract objects of thought, like the number 1, are beyond the reach of science.

Serpenteen: Without close observation, many objects seems sure and sharp. The same seems to be with concepts. Since the concept of “1" appears within the mind, its (“empirical”) observation is introspective.

Kevin Solway: I would only use the word "empirical" if concept/observation was measurable and demonstrable to others, and testable and verifiable by others. The purity and sharpness of the concept "1" is none of those things.

Serpenteen: It is true the concept of “1” is only observable within the mind. But just because you can’t verify it with others doesn’t mean it is then pure and sharp. It just means it is easier to be deceitful (unconsciously) about its nature.

Kevin Solway: It is certainly possible to have concepts that are not well defined, in the comprehensive sense. Weininger calls these "henids", which are kind of vague intuitions. They sort of momentarily fade in and then out of existence - fading out of existence before they are examined.

Nevertheless, I have a very clear consciousness of the difference between "1" and "2", and I believe the chances are that you do as well.

Serpenteen: My belief (after introspective observation) is that all thoughts are sensed by the mind and all conceptions are a sensation. All the parts of any concept are created by sensory change. Every time a concept is conceived it will never be perceived exactly the same. I believe there isn’t too much difference between mental concepts and outside objects. They are both experienced within the mind. They are both sensations, changing and uncertain in similar ways.

Kevin Solway: I always conceive of "1" and "2" exactly the same ever time. No matter whether I am thinking of 1 apple, 2 apples, 100 apples, or 200 apples, the concepts of "1" and "2" are identical. There is never any overlapping between the two.

It would be a mad world indeed where peoples' idea of "1" and "2" overlapped!

Serpenteen: After one ignores the differences, then one may claim a concept is always the same. And one can ignore the overlapping of concepts to say they never overlap. (Yes, it would probably be madness not to.) But concepts seem to be able to be anything ­ even incoherent. The “truth” of a concept may simply be an illusion attained after we ignore all the things that seem untrue about it.

Kevin Solway: The concept "1" really is different to concepts like "2", etc. It's not a matter of ignoring differences, but of percieving/conceiving them. If there wasn't a clear, sharp difference between "1" and "2", they would be useless.

Serpenteen: Just because objects are not clear and sharp, doesn’t mean they are useless. If this was so, all objects in the empirical world would be useless.

Kevin Solway: Things in the physical, empirical world, being fuzzy and uncertain, are only useless when it comes to understanding absolute truths. They are useful for other purposes.

Serpenteen: The mind can also use the concept of “1" in similar ways it uses other objects -- except that it is inside the mind and not “outside”. The “ignoring of differences” happens when the mind identifies the concept of “1" from other concepts. The fuzziness occurs when the mind tries to specifically identify what the concept of “1" is. The difference, though, is that since the concept is purely imaginary, it can be defined to be whatever the mind can conceive. It can even be defined to be something nonsensical. Note: defining the concept and observing/identifying the concept aren’t the same thing.

Kevin Solway: The defining and the observing/identifying happen at one and the same time. Without the definition (of boundaries) the object could not be perceived. Even though the word/symbol "1" could be defined to be anything at all, we English speakers all tend to define the word to mean a particular thing, and more often than not, the very same thing.

Serpenteen: I imagine “defining” as painting a concept. To observe a meaning of the concept one has to stand back a bit and watch. The definition can be conceived and what the definition is pointing towards can also be conceived. I don’t think they are the same conception.

After the definition, one can see that the perception of the concept is always different. Let’s define a “hammer” as something that pounds nails. There is an infinite number of possibilities of how this can be conceived in the mind. Same with “circle”. Same with “1”.

Kevin Solway: The number "1" can apply to any physical object, but that shouldn't confuse you about the difference between "1" and "2". I don't believe it does confuse you. I think you are only trying to construct barriers to protect yourself from thinking in terms of absolutes.

Serpenteen: I’m simply attempting to point out the apparent barriers of imaginary “absolutes”. They seem to be constructs in the mind.

Kevin Solway: That something is a construct of the mind doesn't make it false. "Truth" and "falsity" only exist in the mind.

Serpenteen wrote: My statement was implying, if the mind constructs it, it isn’t absolute. Something absolute doesn’t change (by becoming created or destroyed).

Kevin Solway: The realization of truths (like A=A) come and go, because they are dependent on mind. But the truths themselves are timeless.

Serpenteen: Another problem is: even if after the pseudo-empirical testing of memories, we decide the meanings are exactly/absolutely the same (BTW, I doubt such an appearance has ever occurred), the problem of knowing what the meaning absolutely means is still uncertain when looked at honestly. This is because the meaning appears only as a relative appearance in the continually changing mind. What the appearance/meaning actually is is uncertain, just as what any empirical appearance actually is is uncertain.

Kevin Solway: I would agree that the realization that A=A happens extremely rarely, and is almost incomprehesible. I believe it is the essence of genius, and spiritual enlightenment. But I don't think you are right when you say "the meaning appears only as a relative appearance in the continually changing mind", for the following reason:

When one realizes that A=A (a thing, or object of perception/conception, is itself, and not other than itself), it immediately strikes one as eternal, absolute, unchanging, and pure. Its appearance is certain (as it doesn't depend on sensory data, or interpretations of sensory data), and its meaning is likewise certain.

Serpenteen: Many things may strike a delusional person as eternal, pure, etc. This isn’t a very believable argument. Thoughts probably are sensory ­ the alternative seems to only be unconsciousness. Their meanings may be as uncertain as any other identification ­ well probably more so, since it is easier to be misguided without being able to confront conclusions against an unbiased source.

Kevin Solway: There's no doubt that a delusional person may believe things to be eternal and pure that actually aren't so. But it doesn't follow from that that anyone who believes something is eternal and pure is necessarily delusional.

The only "unbiased source" there can ever be is pure, unbiased reasoning. And nothing can check this except itself.

Serpenteen: Pure logic is 100% biased with pure logic

Kevin Solway: Yes. But I don't consider that to be bias.

Serpenteen: The rules of logic (which deal with non-changing labels) are not necessarily the same rules of Nature (which seems to deal with changing forces). Since Nature apparently made the mind and the mind made logic, I believe Nature is the most objective.

Kevin Solway: Logic doesn't just deal with labels, but what the labels refer to - the appearances/things. On the one hand, Nature doesn't cut things up into sharp bits and pieces like consiousness and logic do. On the other hand, consciousness was created by Nature, and is part of it.

Serpenteen: I'm not concluding this, but even if there are absolutely no absolutes (outside of delusional thinking), the apparent contradiction is not a real problem. It is only a contradiction within the system of logic which assumes there are actual "things" and “contradictions”. But if change is all there is, logic itself, which deals with unchanging "things", is what is being incongruent.

Kevin Solway: Any "system of logic" which doesn't have "things" (objects of thought) as a part of it, would not be any system of logic at all. It would be unconsciousness. While there is consciousness there are necessarily "things" (objects which appear to the mind). So, in any system of logic, it would be nonsense to say that there are absolutely no absolutes.

Serpenteen: But if change is all there is, logic itself, which deals with unchanging "things", is what is being incongruent.

Kevin Solway: Logic can deal with anything, both the changing and the unchanging. The "changing" is itself, as a category, an unchanging thing.

Serpenteen: Yes, logic can be empirically applied to the unchanging (this is physics/science), but as you seem to have realized, categories (definitions which logic uses) are unchanging. This limits logic to the unchanging realm (which may very well only occur in an illusionary imagination).

Kevin Solway: The changing realm, too, is only something which appears to our minds. And whereas we can be certain of our purely logical thoughts and definitions, we can never be certain of what appears to us in the changing world.

Serpenteen: The mind does seem to use some sort of reasoning system for consciousness. But this doesn’t mean that consciousness is all there is. Consciousness may depend on factors which are beyond it. If there are “absolutely no absolutes”, then a purely logical system is impotent in defining it.

Kevin Solway: The statement "there are absolutely no absolutes" is self-contradictory, and hence meaningless. No meaning can be gotten from it whatsoever. It is a waste of words.

Serpenteen: Empirically, the words are not necessarily nonsense, though. They could be trying to describe something beyond its capabilities. From what I understand, scientists have had to accept a similar problem.

Kevin Solway: Ok, I would agree that the statement "there are absolutely no absolutes" might be marginally useful if it is qualified as only applying to a certain realm of things. But it is rarely qualified. People these days think its application is universal. [



Quotes of quality from Genius-L and Genius Forum


The conflicts that exist in the world are of an essentially feminine nature. That is, they are petty and instinctive; they are about politics and property - dogs pissing on trees. They are imbued with underpinnings of principle because man always has to strive to substantiate his feminine behavior. His conscience forbids him to be involved in something as frivolous as a mere cat-fight, even though that is basically what he is, in fact, involved in. Few human conflicts ever rise above this level. Have you ever heard of two nations going to battle over ideas, waging their war in the arena of reason? No, reason is a mere expedient tool, exploited to assuage the conscience and provide a seemingly ethical basis for what is fundamentally unethical. Dan Rowden


In equating God and Truth, were one to be aware of truth and act upon his knowledge in a manner befitting his conscience, he would be that much the mouthpiece of God. God's grace lies in one's conscience. Bryan McGilly


Genius: An amphorous bloblike adjective so emotion laden and evocative to have no consistent or objective meaning. Eureka! pjmciii pjmciii

That's the sort of conclusion mediocre people come to in order to justify their mediocrity. It doesn't mean anything to the genius himself, who is perfectly able to ascertain what genius is with his own mind. The fact that non-geniuses continually squabble over the term is irrelevent.
David Quinn


All pride is hubris, and the law of karma is nemesis. Pride of an "I", investing oneself in a thing- be it a body or what have you, is the greatest of sins. Bryan McGilly


What strikes me most about women is their low sense of self-worth. When they display arrogance or egotism, it usually takes form either in the justification of themselves to others, or in their certainty of some higher moral law that they derive from society. Their self-worth is entirely based on the opinions of others, whereas in men this is not universally the case (although, it usually is). From the moment a female child is born, she is forever being placed in relationship to her physical appearance, as opposed to males where that usually tends to turn into comments about his intelligence after a few years, even if he remains attractive to people. As a result, the male tends to look inward for his self-worth, whereas the female generally doesn't. Although most women will speak highly of a person's inner beauty, they only see it as another external appearance (personality). So, basically, women have no appreciation for the qualities of others, beyond the external appearance of them. They appreciate the appearance of their qualities, but not the qualities themselves. A woman enjoys her man's qualities insofar as it makes him more attractive, because, as a result, it makes her more attractive being with him. She sees him primarily as a fashion accessory, whereas men normally see women primarily as a way of completing the lack in their character, and only secondarily as a fashion accessory. Matt Gregory


Any product of thought is more impressive that a biological process. Women are supposed to be so special because they can create babies. Big deal! I could create babies, too if I had a womb. It's not as though it took any mental effort on the woman's part. All she had to do was lay back and be passive, and then discharge it when it's done. Let's see her write a book or do something that involves actual willed effort and thought. That would be something impressive. It never fails to grate on me when I hear this "women are so special because they can concieve a child" crap coming out of someone's mouth. It's ignorant. Gregory Shantz


What is philosophy? The citing of the works of others? The discussing of the ideas of others? The discussion of Buddha? Jesus? Some Krishnamurti or other? The discussion of some trivial law of physics?

What is philosophy? It is the art of thinking. It is the method of self-thinking; of individual purpose or individual method of living. To take it a step further, it is the art of living alone in the universe. It is the art of effectually cutting oneself off from the outside world while continuing to live in the outside world. It is the art of introspection at all costs.
Marsha Faizi

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All images in this publication are taken/adapted from "The Devil's Gallery"

Editors: David Quinn and Dan Rowden

Disclaimer: editorial opinions expressed in this publication are those of its authors and do not, necessarily, reflect the views of subscribers to Genius-L or Genius Forum. Dialogues adapted from Genius-L and Genius Forum have been edited for the purpose of  brevity and clarity.  Certain spelling mistakes and typographical errors have been corrected to preserve meaning.

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