Issue 21, September 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.
The -[- symbol will return you to this contents table from each major section.
(interspersed through the newsletter)
A student of philosophy, eager to display his powers of argument, approached Diogenes, introduced himself and said, "If it pleases you, sir, let me prove to you that there is no such thing as motion." Whereupon Diogenes immediately got up and left.
Rhett: I hope that a genius can achieve plenty of happiness
whilst honing their awareness of reality...
Dan Rowden: The genius has no need of happiness. He is beyond happiness and unhappiness. Unhappiness arises precisely because of our egotistical desire for happiness.
Greg Shantz: Yes but before you become a genius couldn't feelings of happiness accompany learning about the infinite even thought they will eventually have to go?
Dan Rowden: Sure, that will inevitably occur at times, but Rhett's implication was that it is a good and desirable thing. It isn't. It indicates the continued presence of ego and therefore delusion. But you're right to say that the seeker will feel emotionally empowered, sometimes happy, as a result of certain insights. But, those feelings are a danger to him and he must not rest in them.
Greg Shantz: He must not rest in them, he must continue on the path to overcoming them entirely. But while he is learning about reality without having a full knowledge of it he will still experience emotions. When he has a new insight or works out a problem that has been nagging him he may experience happiness and contentment. An enlightened person is beyond dualities like happiness or unhappiness. But enlightenment is not an emotion; enlightenment is freedom from the unpredictable winds of emotions. Enlightenment is when you see the world clearly without delusion. Emotions are clouded thoughts, enlightenment is a clear mind.
Rhett: When i remove myself from social interaction my emotions fade away and i am neither happy or unhappy. When i engage in social interaction the experience of emotions increases. I seem to be attempting to maximise happiness and minimise unhappiness in a social context through the application of accumulated (and accumulating) wisdom at the core of issues. When i surround myself with seekers they give me space within their world. I avoid being worshipped overtly by them but i do appreciate their thanks for what i share with them. But i have not as yet found people with comparable insight as myself. Thus, there is a hole somewhere in me...
I am searching for a better understanding of the path that will...see me...if i could finish this question i think i would immediately know the answer. Perhaps i'm just trying to work out my best compromise between isolation - integration with society(?).
Leo Bartoli: Dan is referring to a perfect genius so his advice has little practical relevance to all of us here. For all we know, and as i say we may know this intuitively or instinctively, periods of happiness may have a healing effect on the body or the brain helping to eventually bring one closer to perfection of consciousness, just as play may help a young mind develop properly. Of course, to use this as an excuse to indulge without restraint may be counter productive.
Dan Rowden: In strict terms, yes, my point refers to the perfect state of affairs, but to say it has no practical relevance to the imperfect is wrong. One does not require perfection to significantly and meaningfully transcend the egotism of the happiness/unhappiness duality - and therefore samsara and suffering.
Development in this area occurs with any diminution of the force of the ego.
The advice is entirely relevant to the imperfect. Anyway, we're striving the goal of enlightenment and perfection, aren't we? Are you saying it is of no practical help to the seeker to comprehend the nature of that which he is striving for?
Leo Bartoli: No, i was simply saying, or believe i was saying, that the genius in not beyond the need for happiness unless he is perfect. Does that help?
Rhett: Happiness is an emotion and is therefore a real state. Can humans be emotionless? Should humans strive for emotionlessness?
I spent a number of years trying to be emotionless. Why did i try to do this? Perhaps the greatest factor was that it was a self protecting response; I feel that geniuses are more sensitive to people and thus suffer from negative emotions/interactions more than others. Being constantly misunderstood is extremely alienating and dispiriting. I did not fully succeed in being emotionless. Complete isolation may have brought that, but, whilst i am not afraid of isolation, i do not particularly value it. Thus, i chose to accept that i will experience emotions. Simple logic suggests that if i am going to experience emotions then i'll try to maximise the desireable ones and minimise the undesirable ones.
Subhash: Happiness should not be an emotion. It should be a state beyond that.(The Genius would know better !)
Genius is not one who is sensitive to the world as we conceive a sensitive individual to be. He is able see and experience things in the light of eternity. Hence he is not disturbed by the 'leela'(worldly play) and is able to live in 'ananda' undisturbed by the sensual world.
Rhett: I'm quite uninterested in any construct that suggests that all thinking leads to sadness. It seems that many people engaging in this forum believe this. If you're unhappy, how smart is that? Surely a genius can facilitate their life such that they are happy? Why not? I'm amazed that this topic is so contentious. Is it perhaps a common pitfall that has grown into a culture within philosophical circles? I've read widely whilst unconsciously avoiding most of the eastern 'enlightenment' books and western books on philosophy. The common ruts within the debates on this forum have me celebrating my intellectual path. Of course i may simply be ignorant.
When i use the word happiness i mean exactly that. I am not talking about a false or superficial happiness.
Dan Rowden: Thinking necessarily leads to sadness (suffering) because thinking necessarily means a critical examination of one's self-reality and of one's attachments. Whatever the outcome of that examination, it will produce, if authentic, anxiety, which is a form of suffering.
Irena: What makes you think the state of happiness has anything to do with desire or any other form of volitional pressure. Can't it be possible that happiness is the optimal condition for a normal human, aiding digestion for example? and what not?
Why must happiness be characterized additionally as a desire when it is already quite sufficiently described under its accepted definitional term as happiness?
Is the need for food always a desire for food? Isn't it sometimes a pressing need? Ditto for other conditions. Would you say a desire for anger is a typical way to describe what is a very similar condition, emotionally to happiness, in that it is a somewhat elevated state? No, generally we accept anger is a result of certain factors, including biological. So why would happiness be any different? Why do you infer happiness is a weakness?
Dan Rowden: Well, let's get our concepts in order here: happiness is not a desire. Happiness is an emotional state; it is the sublimation of the will to power in the emotional realm. The desire for happiness is a desire. The need for food is a basic biological need. The desire for happiness is an expression of our psychology; specifically, it is a desire of the ego for power.
And it is not weakness but rather delusion. The desire for happiness indicates the egotistical sensation of a lacking that is not based in valid notions of reality.
Irena: I guess you see happiness as a kind of mindless bliss. I see it as a joyful contentment. And I just looked up happy in the dictionary and it says "to be content with one's lot". I would guess to be content with one's lot would mean not to desire anything more or less.
Dan Rowden: Well, yes, I guess I do see it as mindless, because that's basically what it is! Most people don't have the foggiest understanding of their own psychology, so how could their state of happiness really be other than mindless? Happiness, however, is one of those slightly nebulous terms that can refer to a variety of mind states - joy; gladness; contentment etc, so it can be hard to pin down the psychology of happiness per se. What one might say about its nature depends on the way one is defining it. But all these states share certain common properties, so let's se what we can do with it..........
Any desire represents the will to overcome some negative state - that means one is powerless (lacking) in the face of circumstance. The sublimation of any desire is to gain and possess power over the lack of a desired state; it is to gain power over circumstance.
Irena: If the desire for it is desire for power, then I would guess you define happiness as power.
Dan Rowden: It's a form of power, yes. As I said previously, it is power over circumstance and the absence of something. If you conquer your fear of flying you experience happiness at your having conquered this fear. That happiness is an expression of your power over fear. How many unhappy people have you met whose unhappiness expressed their power over something? Happiness is absolutely a feeling of power.
Irena: Well, that's one way to describe being contented - in a position of power.
Dan Rowden: That's right - power over that which made us discontent.
Irena: You are describing a kind of ego gratification which is not happiness but egotism.
Dan Rowden: The desire for happiness is egotism. That feeling of power one experiences, which again is happiness, is egotism. That which stems from ego is necessarily egotism.
Irena: Fine, you are probably right. But assume i know a little about two kinds of ego behaviour. One being egotism the other egoism.
Dan Rowden: Well, I regard that distinction as part of the gibberish of academic psychology. It might have its place somewhere in that great malaise, but not, I would argue, in this discussion.
Ego, Happiness and Samsara:
"Happiness is the transition from one form of suffering to another. Suffering is the transition from one form of happiness to another. Samsara is made of these transitions."
Desire is expressed in the individual because the ego - the concept held in mind of an inherently existent, separate self - has a continual and necessarily unending need to ground itself in reality, to substantiate its existence, to give itself permanence and therefore security (generated by the perception of separation). The ephemeral nature of things, however, constantly steps in to destroy that security and hence desire constantly arises. This is the basis of the forming of attachments. Attachments give a foundation and support to the idea of our existence; they ground us, our egotistical selves, in "reality" and therefore provide security, a concrete sense of being. "Happiness" is that state in which this desire for substance and security is sublimated, in whatever context that might occur. Unhappiness (suffering) is that state where ego feels insubstantial or disconnected from reality in some way (lacking in something it perceives itself as requiring). The desire for happiness may be characterised as the ego's will to security in being.
But happiness only lasts as long as the conditions upon which it is based continue to exist. Therefore happiness is not only, itself, ephemeral, it is dependent upon those continued conditions. Herein lies the beginning of a need for control of one's environment, physically and psychologically. Happiness is a state of such control and therefore, as I said before, a sense and type of power. I don't there's too much need for me to elaborate on the personal and social consequences of that need for control.
The reason the desire for
happiness is delusional is that the entire above state of affairs
is delusional in that the "ego" conception of self is
false (i.e. there is no separate, inherently existent self) and
all psychological phenomena that arise with this falsity as their
basis, are also necessarily false.
I mean, we can get bogged in terminology and semantic pedantry if we want to, and some of us probably do want to so as to avoid the crux of the issue, but rather than worry about whether we should characterise something as a "need" rather than a "want" and so forth, we should look to the essentials of the issue. We could quite easily characterise the desire for happiness as an essential need of the ego, because, frankly, it is - which is to say it is as natural to the ego as the spreading of roots is to a tree - but the point is the ego itself is not hard-wired into mind whereas certain biological needs like breathing are hard-wired into our biological natures.
We might be stuck with the need to breathe and take water, but we're not stuck with the delusion of the ego or any of the psychological phenomena that emanate from it, the desire for happiness being one of the more prominent ones and also being one of the most significant sources of suffering.
Alex Meyer: But the lack of psychological understanding in "most people" [you spoke of], has nothing to do with the question of happiness being necessarily mindless. Would you disagree that it is possible to feel happiness, and at the same time be aware, and conscious about the psychological implications of that feeling?
I often find that I can recognize a feeling, and because I recognize it, it is easier to control it and sometimes ignore it. I do no longer need to succumb to the feeling. I am not perfect though, and do not always immediately recognize the feeling, but that is irrelevant to the issue of the possibility, that the state of happiness doesn't need to be mindless.
Dan Rowden: Actually, it has everything to do with people being mindless. A psychological phenomenon that is occurring, and is valued, that is happening in an absence of any understanding of its nature, is necessarily mindless. One cannot truly understand the basis of happiness and experience it, for to really understanding happiness is to understand the basis of ego and of Reality itself. If one is experiencing happiness, understanding is necessary absent in the moment that happiness is being experienced.
One can understand happiness and have a memory of the "feeling" but that is not to be in a "happy" state. One cannot be happy and mindful at the same time. Understanding is dependent on the absence of ego; happiness is dependent on its presence. You can't have both, not in any pure sense.
Alex Meyer: Also, mindless happiness will kill any motivation to seek truth. So perhaps happiness should be sold with a warning-label on the package... As David Quinn pointed out in the forum, though, if the will to truth/wisdom is strong enough, mindless happiness will eventually become tiring, and not so mindless after all.
Dan Rowden: Happiness - and the desire for it - is transcended. Till that time, one is still engaging in mindlessness to some degree - namely, the degree to which one experiences happiness.
Alex Meyer: Yes, I think I understand now. I have both, but not in pure form.
Laughter, Anger and Deep thought.......
Rhett: Dear Dan, Do you value smiling?
Dan Rowden: No, but I do smile, quite a lot actually. Like now.
Rhett: Do you value laughter?
Dan Rowden: No.
Rhett: Do you laugh?
Dan Rowden: Yes, but's it the laughter of irony; it is a "higher" laughter.
Rhett: This is interesting. Hmmm. I suspect that i experience it quite a lot. It really throws people sometimes. They suspect i'm laughing at them, but somehow their ego seems to be able to adapt to it(?). Perhaps i radiate enough compassion for people that i am able to get away with laughing at their irony. Perhaps because i make little attachment between verbal expressions and ego-identity in both myself and others it helps them to do so as well, and thus avoid a major dent in their ego. This lack of attachment also helps me laugh at my own irony, both unintended and intended.
Dan Rowden: Well, it's more likely they just project whatever their ego needs onto you at the time (which I guess is saying much the same thing). What I find is that I laugh at things no-one else finds funny and I don't laugh at the things most laugh at. It's a question of values. Petty egotistical goals and values gives rise to frivolity in all things. Most ego-based laughter is a form of Will to Power. One laughs at another's misfortune or one laughs at the idea of another being in a more lowly place than oneself. Laughter is almost invariably a form of violence against others. Even the form of laughter I engage in is somewhat of this nature. A fully enlightened Buddha, however, has no need to laugh at anything. The psychology behind laughter no longer exists in him.
Rhett: You obviously experience anger. Anger is a clear
indication of a lack of insight.
Dan Rowden: Agreed. Of course, it's not just anger that indicates that work is left to be done. Any remotely associated feeling such as frustration, impatience, annoyance, or moral indignation generally, has the same psychological source as anger and indicates the presence of ego, however residual.
I certainly experience, on occasion, some degree of those things, but then I well know what work I have left to do. However, I can't quite tell from what I've seen of your view on matters why you would think this of anger. In what way is an emotion like "happiness" legitimate and not indicative of a lack of insight, where anger is?
People sometimes exasperate me somewhat, but I don't really feel anger in any meaningful way. And sometimes the rhetoric of the written word can seem to contain a certain emotion that isn't really being experienced by the writer. Sometimes you have to employ emotional tools when dealing with emotional type people. Nevertheless, the experience of any kind of emotion is an expression of one's lack of perfection.
Rhett: I do not value anger. It creates social disharmony and has a negative impact on your mindfulness and physical body. Happiness has positive effects on your emotional state and to a lesser extent your physical body. It is socially harmonious.
Dan Rowden: I think you could benefit from giving far more thought to causality in psychology. Yes, anger causes social disharmony; it also causes social harmony when everyone is angered by the same thing. And happiness does cause social disharmony because those that find themselves happy fight to retain that happiness against what they perceive as social forces working to undermine that happiness. The desire for happiness causes social disharmony for the same reasons.
In fact, both happiness and the desire for it are among the primary causes, if not the primary cause of anger! Anger is invariably and inevitably generated where happiness is being undermined by social circumstance and where the desire for happiness (the pursuit of it) is being blocked or thwarted by social circumstance.
Happiness and anger are intimately and ultimately connected. To believe that the one can exist without the other is to believe in some weird utopian state where change never occurs.
Irena: This to me is like the argument that hate is the flip side of love, which it ain't, just like black is not the flip side of white, but its opposite. it's good to understand both because it helps you define black or white. But in order for black and white to be considered the flipside of each other they would essentially have to be two sides of one thing. You could say they are, they are conditions of light, but then you would have to say so are blue, red, yellow etc, and this totally dilutes the argument. it all becomes....ah, flippant....ahahaha, sorry.
Happiness and anger are connected because they are emotions and thus in a chainlink of other emotional connections, love, fear, etc. Are you suggesting that anger and happiness have the same wellspring, but different from the source of other emotions? it isn't all one source?And really, isn't happiness ( especially in the socio-economic context you place it) so much predicated on what you think it might be, whereas anger tends to be more an instinctual reaction?
But if you take happiness out of the political thing it is as instinctual, laughter, when tickled, ... bodily satisfaction, pleasant absorbsion in a mindless task, etc, these are sub-intellectual physical states. Or are you about to lump anger/hate on one side and happiness/love on another, polarizing, and dualizing what is essentially one thing - emotions.
Dan Rowden: Love and hate, in whatever degrees they exist and are expressed, always arise together. One can consider them two necessarily connected modes of a multiple personality. Hatred always arises out of a love of something (that is, the hater is always also a lover) and one that loves always hates that which may destroy or threaten his love. And yes, they all have the same source: ego, attachment, delusion. They all arise from the same basic psychological forces and they are therefore all intimately related.
The best way to think of such things, and what "duality" really means, is that certain things necessarily arise in relation to each other. They needn't be thought of as strictly polar opposites.
Patrick: Could we not be satisfied when we do all the "right" things in the course of living a more spiritual existence and ephemerally experience varying heights of this mental state without greedily grasping at maintaining it?
Dan Rowden: That would be a start, but one has to look closely at the psychological underpinnings of happiness and the desire for it, and see if they are expressive of a valid understanding of Reality. If not, then happiness, wherever, whenever and to whatever degree it is experienced, is delusional and one ought to strive to abandon its false basis (that is if one cares about truth). It's not a matter of whether happiness is bad or good; it's a matter of whether happiness is sane or not.
We humans are very weird when it comes to emotions, or, maybe, not so much weird as insipidly predictable. We extol the virtues of those emotions we deem positive and deride those that we deem negative: "By all means let us rid ourselves of our negative emotions, our anger, our greed, our lust, our hate," we say, not once bothering to stop and consider the psychological basis of these emotions and how this relates to those emotions we deem virtuous. And what's the basis for our judgments of the various merits or demerits of certain emotions? Simply that of what impact it has on us when others express them. We derive benefit from happy people. We suffer at the hands of angry or hateful or lustful or greedy or resentful people.
But at no time to we stop to consider whether any of these emotions, "good" or "bad" are true or not! The formula is simply: feels good, is good; feels bad; is bad. All based on egotistical responses which we also don't ever question.
In fact, it seems to me that the perspective of ego as the source of emotion and ego as a false concept of self is too radical a theorem for people to even be bothered thinking about. It just doesn't "feel" good.
Feels good = true.
That's the formula of the day.
Rhett: Do you want to be in a constant state of deep thought from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep?
Dan Rowden: Yes! Do you want to be shallow? Deep thought is what to you? Pain? Hard work? How much do you really value it?
Rhett: Sometimes i do, and sometimes for a few days. But accepting that i am human and that humans have a diversity of needs to achieve an optimal state...i prefer to mix a bit of social interaction, physical exertion, etc into my life. I explore the extremes but live between the extremes as i realise that maximising life is a result of balancing those extremes.
Dan Rowden: Well, this is pretty typical, but let me tell you as unequivocally as I can: wisdom is an extreme and one cannot pursue it half-arsed. What you want and appear to value is mediocrity, isn't it? Mediocrity is easy to achieve.
Rhett: Deep thought is immensely rewarding to me, more so than anything else. However, fulfilling my other human needs is also rewarding. I have realised great benefit by eating exceptionally well, sleeping well, maintaining my physique, developing close human friendships, connecting with our natural world. To me (at this point in time) this is a truly holistic intellectual approach to life.
Dan Rowden: Ok, but I call it mediocrity. When you compromise deep thought in any way, you basically destroy it.
Rhett: To me wisdom is wisdom, as per the dictionary meaning.
To me extremism is mediocre. Extremism is often a mind out of control of itself. It is simple and linear, unlike complex systems. It is also a form of specialisation.
Dan Rowden: Yes, of course extremism is a form of specialisation. How is it that one might hope to gain an understanding of the ultimate nature of Reality if one doesn't specialise? What you're talking about is worldly wisdom. How to be as mediocre yet as happy as possible. I'm talking about spiritual/philosophic wisdom. How to live truthfully.
Rhett: I think you're being very black and white. As i have said i currently accept compromise as being intrinsic to life, and perfection to be the maximisation of that compromise.
Dan Rowden: Yes I am being black and white, because in this instance that is entirely appropriate. Profound thought, where authentically expressive of the goal of enlightenment, admits no compromise. That is, you can't serve two masters; you can't have competing and incompatible values and goals and expect the goal pertaining to deep thought to have any chance of realisation. This doesn't mean that one has to "burn oneself out" in pursuit of the goal. One may have to occasionally step back from it somewhat if it becomes overwhelming in a negative way. But it does mean that one cannot place any real value on the content of what one experiences in that stepping back; it too must be expressive of one's one-pointed devotion to the goal of enlightenment. One may find that one must take rest on a journey, but if one stops and begins to take too much notice of the scenery, one forgets the goal and becomes enamored of other things.
Rhett: Do you advocate 100% idealism or 100% realism?
Dan Rowden: I advocate 100% idealism so as to achieve 100% realism. If you compromise on an understanding of what is real, you can never have true Reality. You may as well be a million miles from it. It a bit like walking along an endless translucent glass wall, you on one side, and a life of pure Reality on the other, with just these hazy, half-glimpses (if that) coming through. The glass is only paper thin but it may as well be a foot thick if one is not willing to stop and shatter it and open oneself up to Reality. To live a life of compromise is to eternally walk on the wrong side of that glass.
Rhett: You know i am not trying to be mediocre. I already embody many exceptional traits due to my dedication to expanding my awareness, and look forward to developing myself, and others, further. Once again, i am not trying to be happy. I am often happy.
Dan Rowden: Doesn't matter. My point is all about what the state of being happy means; that is, the psychology underpinning it and whether that psychology is expressive of delusion or not. I am asserting that it is. Therefore, even though one may well experience it from time to time, one ought not place any value on it nor form an attachment to it.
Rhett: I value a positive emotional state.
Dan Rowden: Ultimately, there's no such thing, as all emotional states have their origins in delusion. But what is "positive" is rather in the eyes of the beholder when it comes to emotion. I happen to think reasonably severe forms of emotional suffering are very positive when it comes to the spiritual path. In fact, I don't think people suffer any where near enough or in the right ways. People are far too skillful at being "happy" and vacuous to be in a place of readiness for spiritual endeavours.
Rhett: I'm interested in talking about the application of worldly wisdom to everyday life, to talk about the embodiment of wisdom rather than just have it as a construct in our minds.
Dan Rowden: Wisdom manifests as non-attachment. Beyond that, there is just practicality dependent on circumstance. Talking about how to practically apply wisdom before one possesses it strikes me as a cart before the horse kind of thing.
"Why is it, Diogenes, that pupils leave you to go to other teachers, but rarely do they leave them to come to you?"
"Because," replied Diogenes, "one can make eunuchs out of men, but no one can make a man out of eunuchs".
Gregory: What makes it ethical to
Dan Rowden: Consciousness. That is, consciousness asks "why?" which makes it [enlightenment] logically necessary, but it also asks "how?" and "what?" in the ethical realm, which makes it ethically necessary (which is really to say that consciousness generates an ethical realm). In other words, as soon as any ethical question arises in consciousness, enlightenment becomes both logically and ethically necessary. If such questions didn't arise, there would be no necessity for enlightenment.
So, in short, it is only ethical
to becomes enlightened if one has asked an ethical question.
Matt Gregory: What difference does it make if someone acquires an understanding for himself? Does it have any affect on anyone else? It doesn't automatically mean that what he's doing is diminishing suffering in the world at large. He still has to deal with the infinite multitude of causes. If a butterfly flapping its wings in Boston can create a monsoon in China and the total effects of any action can never be determined, then a single breath can be the cause of untold suffering no matter what type of understanding the person has.
Jon: So, best to enlighten yourself. Sure, you can't stop 'the suffering'. And if an asteroid was heading for us right now and you knew it, sure you couldn't stop it, no matter how enlightened you were. At least you could calmly go about the last hours of your life without joining the mass panic caused by the un-enlightened who still think 'someone' could do something about it. I find that many people (for whom watching the news is about as much enlightenment they can handle) simply prefer to go with the bandwagon approach of leaving it all to someone else to sort out. Lazy? You bet! For those of us with a thirst for knowledge and wisdom, it is hard to relate to the 'turkey brigade' sometimes.
Your questions are perfectly valid - I didn't answer each directly because I don't believe that enlightenment in the 'true' sense (meaning that you have attained something beneficial) could be a bad thing. As long as you're not neglecting yourself or family in the pursuit of it. That would be selfish - and unethical.
Greg Shantz: Well John, Jesus certainly had something of a different view on the matter, as evidenced by this saying from Luke 14.26:
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (English Authorized Version of the Holy Bible).
So once you begin to pursue enlightenment, wisdom, truth, etc., really in earnest, all of these familial concerns will really become a bunch of meaningless crap to you and you won't give a shit about them.
Shardrol: If a person becomes enlightened, he becomes free of delusion. He experiences things as they are. If a person is free of delusion he does not act in a deluded manner, such as thoughtlessly, selfishly, narrow-mindedly, etc. He experiences the reality of the interdependence of all things so he is free of the delusion of being able to act in isolation. Since he has no egotistical purpose of his own, he works for the benefit of all beings.
Since he sees without delusion he sees that the best way to benefit all beings is to help them to develop the wisdom to see without delusion as well. The enlightened person experiences Reality. How could he wish for others to remain in delusion? He is not separate from them. He would not even have to think about it, he would automatically act in such a way as to facilitate enlightenment in others because that is in line with Reality.
There would be no reason for him to do otherwise.
Matt Gregory: So it's ethical or apart from ethics or what?
Shardrol: Yes, apart from ethics, at least deluded subjective ethics. If what you mean by ethical is conforming to a subjective standard of good, then enlightenment is either ethical or unethical depending on what the standard is.
If you recognize that all ethical standards are subjective then the question loses meaning. An enlightened being, who was free of delusion, would engage in undeluded activity. This would have nothing to do with subjectively imposed ethics but would be spontaneously evoked by the situation in which the enlightened person found himself.
Actions which are free of delusion & in accordance with Reality could be defined as ethical in a nonsubjective sense, if you like. That is what is meant by 'pure' in Buddhism, though it's often misinterpreted as being one pole of a dualistic pure/impure dichotomy.
Matt Gregory: Doesn't ethics have to do with other people? If other people don't matter, then what makes anything ethical? I mean, what makes consciousness think ethically if there's no ethics?
Dan Rowden: Not necessarily. Haven't you experienced internal ethical conflict between, say, what you think you should be doing in relation to your personal pursuit of wisdom, and how you actually live your life? Ethics has to do with other people to the degree that your goals and basic values have to do with other people.
Real ethics is where one has a conscience about whether one is living true to oneself or not; whether one is being faithful to one's values and goals and principles. It doesn't have to have anything to do with other people.
But let me add something in relation to the issue of the ethics of enlightenment: the ethical dimension exists only in the earlier stages off one's spiritual development. As one develops, the dynamic moves from "enlightenment as something I should be trying to attain" - to "enlightenment as an expression of what I am". It moves from being an "ought" to an "is".
The ethical dimension actually disappears, or is made redundant by both understanding and the alteration of one's nature. One's pursuit of enlightenment, as Nietzsche stated it, goes beyond good and evil. The pursuit of enlightenment as an ethical imperative is something that exists for those still bound to the ethical realm.
When someone once asked Diogenes why he often laughed by himself, he said, "For that very reason."
- Men of the Infinite -
By Dan Rowden
The true Man of the Infinite is not bound by labels; he is more than happy to be called a theist or an atheist as long as the concepts behind such labels give expression to his infinite nature. He is an atheist in that he rejects all finite gods, which hold, for him, no philosophic significance, but a theist in that he embraces the infinitude of Reality and is perfectly comfortable with calling that Reality, "God".
He doesn't get caught up in petty squabbles about "strong" and "weak" forms of atheism; he does not concern himself with the question of whether agnostics ought refer to themselves as atheists; he is above all such trivial disputation. He alone concerns himself with those matters of ultimate importance.
Whilst people of all metaphysical persuasions debate what they perceive as the finer points of their various beliefs, the Man of the Infinite goes immediately to the core issues; he does not waste his time in irrelevancies and false piety; he strips Reality bare and reveals its secrets - he penetrates to the depths.
The Man of the Infinite does not engage in philosophical politics. His motivation is pure. He is a thinker and a willer of Truth; he is no mere intellectual whose only concern is maintaining the causes of his pride in his intellect. Where might such a man rest his pride? In his ignorance, should he not have overcome it? Hardly. In the grand emptiness of Reality, then? Oh! How much folly springs from the very thought of it! There is nowhere for such a man to rest his pride therefore he does not bother with pride. He goes straight to willing, which knows nothing of pride other than the fact of its egotistical amenity. Such willing is the opposite and ultimate slayer of pride.
The Man of the Infinite is a world and a will unto itself. Such a world and will has no need of the callow bickering of those who have yet to even perceive the truth of their wretched ignorance and delusion. What lesser need could he have of the so-called "ideas" of such ones?
He cares nought for what it means to be a "Humanist". His concern is with what it means to be human! He cares nought for what it means to be a "Citizen". His concern is with what it means to exist! He cares nought for what it means to have knowledge, to know "facts", to be privy to this theory and that theory.
His only concern is how to be true in Nature.
Plato considered Diogenes' stray-dog behaviour unbecoming to one calling himself a philosopher. "You really do live up to your name" he said to him disapprovingly one day. "By the Gods, you are right for once Plato," replied Diogenes, and then baring his teeth, he added, "But at least I've sunk my teeth into philosophy."
was knee deep in a stream washing vegetables. Coming up to
him, Plato said, "My good Diogenes, if you knew how to pay
court to kings, you wouldn't have to wash vegetables."
"And," replied Diogenes, "If you knew how to wash vegetables, you wouldn't have to pay court to kings."
Kevin Solway: Here is how I would word my proof for the nonexistence of the standard Christian God. Feel free to offer objections:
LOGICAL PROOF OF THE NON-EXISTENCE OF GOD
That which Christians call "God" must logically be one of the following two things:
1. The Totality, the sum total of the All, the Infinity of Existence, the totality of Nature.
2. Something less than the Totality.
There is logically no third alternative. It is one or the other. It is not possible to be more than the Totality, because the Totality, by definition, includes everything.
Now, the God that is identical with the Totality of all things may possibly be believed by some pantheists, but would not be believed in by many who would call themselves Christian. So, the God whose possible existence we need to examine is the second of the two alternatives - i.e., a God who is something less than the Totality.
Now is it possible for a "God" who is less than the Totality to be everything that Christians conceive him to be?
Christians conceive their God to be all-powerful - "omnipotent" - and all-knowing - "omniscient". And Christians consider their God to be the creator of all things.
So is it possible for a being who is something less than the Totality of all things to be the creator of all things and have power over all things? No. It is not logically possible. A limited being cannot reach everything (by definition).
Is it possible for a being who is something less than the Totality of all things to be everywhere at once and to know all details about all things? No. It is not logically possible. A limited being cannot reach everything.
Thus the God of the common Christian is a logical impossibility and can never be more than a figment of the imagination. And just as a dream can be experienced, while having no logical coherence, and no reality beyond the imagination - so can the Christian experience his God.
The God I believe in is not literally all powerful, He is merely powerful enough to do all that He chooses to do. That is, if he doesn't know everything, it is because he chooses not to.
Response: This does not escape the fact mentioned above, that a being who is less than the totality cannot possibly create all things, and have power over all things, as a limited being cannot reach everything. The God you believe in could not know everything about all things, even if he wanted to.
David Quinn: What about the Christian argument which states that God is a finite being with unlimited powers? In other words, his existence is limited in extent, but He is still able to know and manipulate everything via his supernatural capacities.
Kevin Solway: That would be covered by the argument that because God is finite, he therefore cannot reach everything. So I should expand on why a finite being cannot reach everything.
Firstly, there is the purely logical fact that God cannot change the one thing that exists apart from himself, ie, the thing "not-God". That thing will always be identically "not-God" and there is nothing at all God can do about it, for sheer reason of logic.
In other words, such a God's powers are limited by laws of logic.
But perhaps God's powers are otherwise unlimited?
Unfortunately, the laws of logic themselves dictate that a finite being's reach and powers cannot be unlimited, because to have true power, you would need to know what is happening everywhere in the Universe ("Knowledge is power"), to a measurement accuracy of infinite decimal places, which would require an infinite capacity for sensing and then processing the infinite quantities of information needed to do even the most trivial task with 100% confidence. Such infinite capacities cannot logically reside in a finite being.
In fact, it is logically impossible to measure the length or position of something to an accuracy of infinite decimal places, so a finite God would have to make-do with an estimation, which can result in some nasty mess-ups. That is hardly a position of unlimited power!
Witt: This is way too presumptuous for me. Your presumed proof fails in that your premise 'God is not the universe, therefore God is finite' is false.
Kevin Solway: I agree that it rests on the notion that if God is not the All, the Infinite, then he must be finite.
Let me go back to what I said before about how a God who is limited to being less than the Totality, must be finite (ie, limited):
It could be argued that God is limited, and hence not truly Infinite, yet still have some infinite properties, just like an infinite series of numbers is limited (to being a series of numbers) yet still has an "infinite" property.
But what infinite properties would a finite being be able to have? He still wouldn't be able to measure anything to infinite decimal places, so his power would be limited.
The Master: I think it goes without saying that the Christian theology is a limited definition of God, created and adhered to by those at a certain level of understanding. Just like a child sees its parents as the centre of everything true. You can't say the child is foolish though, when the time comes other factors will challenge the belief, if the child possesses a greater intellect than the parent, focus will shift. If not, the child's beliefs remain valid as far as their life is concerned. They have at least some comprehension of God, which is better than none.
Since Christians are Christians because they haven't been endowed with the intellectual capacity to comprehend the abstract and objective nature of spirit, their understanding of God will be found within their own interactions. They grasp at the good in each other, to achieve a crude understanding of what God is.
That's still knowing God.
Kevin Solway: I think you're practicing wishful thinking. There is a saying in Buddhism: "What fools say is pleasure, the nobles say is pain. What fools say is pain, the nobles know as pleasure." Similarly, what fools says is good, the wise say is bad; and what fools say is bad, the wise know as good. How can Christians "grasp at the good" in each other, when what they think is good, is actually bad.
I've must say that I've never known a Christian who had even a crude idea of what wisdom, or Truth is, and what they grasp at is anything but good.
The Master: There is also a saying held secure by the masses "He who thinks himself wise is the biggest fool of all"
Kevin Solway: . . . So anyone who thinks that saying is wise, is therefore a great fool?
The Master: You would like to think so. I believe they are referring to people like yourself though. Where do you stand in relation to the masses? What are you going to do to interfere with what they have planned? Why is your perception more valid than theirs? What are you doing that has any consequence whatsoever for the human race?
Diogenes was once asked what he thought of Socrates. "A madman," he replied. Later, Plato was asked what he thought of Diogenes. "A Socrates gone mad," he replied.
Diogenes ridiculed Plato for being long-winded.
"What is the need in understanding or caring why someone commits a violent act? So we can be understanding and caring victims? No thank you."
Diogenes was once invited to dinner by a wealthy man. During the evening, one of the guests became so outraged by Diogenes' general behaviour that he began to throw bones at him, calling him a "dog."
Whereupon Diogenes got up, went to the guest, cocked up his leg and urinated on him.
Solway: This will give you a laugh:
Theologian William Lane Craig (you can look him up on the Internet) argues that God must exist, because the Universe must have a cause. He says the Universe must have a cause because it cannot be Infinite. And why can it not be Infinite? Because, he says, the idea of Infinity is absurd. For example, he says, let's say there is a hotel that has an infinite number of rooms which are all full, and a new person arrives, wanting a room. All existing guests are moved to the next room along, leaving a room free for the new guest . . . yet even with the new guest, the number of guests in the hotel remains identical! Amazing eh! He says, "These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things."
Personally, I can't believe how stupid this argument is. Firstly, if all the rooms are full (as specified), then you could not logically move the first person you needed to move into any other room - since it is specified that there are no vacant rooms.
He seems to think that because mathematics has difficulty dealing with infinity then it must follow that that nothing can be infinite. He seems to be putting an awful lot of faith in mathematics for a Christian!
For your amusement, this is his argument, in his own words:
"This argument, which I have called the kalam cosmological argument, can be exhibited as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
2.1 Argument based on the impossibility of an actual infinite.
2.11 An actual infinite cannot exist.
2.12 An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
2.13 Therefore, an infinite
temporal regress of events cannot exist.
2.2 Argument based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite by successive addition.
2.21 A collection formed by successive addition cannot be actually infinite.
2.22 The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
2.23 Therefore, the temporal
series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence."
David Quinn: It is interesting that he doesn't apply his reasoning to his own God. If, as he asserts, an actual infinite cannot exist, then it means that an infinite God cannot exist. This must mean that his God is finite and had a beginning in time. And so we are back to where we started.
Kevin Solway: Yes, if God is anything at all, he must be Infinite. Yet Craig, in his Christian wisdom, wants to disprove the existence of such a God!
David Quinn: His argument reminds me of the old traditional argument which states that the Universe cannot have been beginningless because that would mean an infinite succession of past events. Since an infinite series of events can never reach an end, continues the argument, it follows that a Universe with an infinite past can never reach the present moment. As the present moment does in fact exist, the Universe must be finite.
The problem with this argument is that rests on the false assumption that the Universe is actually made up of events. But "events" are things that the human mind artificially creates. They result from our mind's propensity to draw boundaries around things. Since, in reality, the Universe is a seamless continuum, the whole argument collapses. The argument's appeal to the shortcomings of mathematical infinity no longer has any basis.
Kevin Solway: He argues that there can in fact be logical infinities (like an infinity of things created by the mind), but not an actual infinity of things (like an infinity of physical things).
As you say, what he doesn't realize is that the so-called "actual", "physical" things have had their boundaries created by the mind.
In fact, each and every physical thing (whatever our mind decides is a physical thing) can be composed of an infinite number of things, if we decide to divide the thing up enough with our definitions.
Thomas Knierim: This is an error of thought because the physical "thing" (call it physical, actual, or phenomenal) does not depend the definitions we apply to it.
Kevin Solway: If our senses and mind did not define where a thing begins and ends, ie, where to place boundaries at any particular time, we could not say that there was a "thing" at all. A "thing" is clearly dependent on its having boundaries, and those boundaries obviously only come from our senses and minds.
Thomas Knierim: This is another error of thought. "Boundaries", or any other properties we might observe, are equally dependent on the observer as what is observed.
Kevin Solway: There are many causes of boundaries, but our senses and minds do the final deciding of where those boundaries will be.
Thomas Knierim: Very well. In any case, the causes that lead to the perception of boundaries are FINITE.
Kevin Solway: Do you mean the individual causes, or the totality of causes? The individual causes will be finite, as we will decide where they begin and end, but the totality of causes must be infinite, as there is no cause that can be without a cause.
Thomas Knierim: You also engage in another error of thought by ignoring the fact that phenomena are finite, and therefore their division into smaller parts is finite, even though the number of smaller parts might approach infinity (such as the number of particles in our universe.)
Kevin Solway: No matter how small a thing you get, you can always speak of "half that thing". For example, "half a photon" and "quarter of a photon", etc. This process is truly infinite.
Thomas Knierim: Yes, but this process is purely conceptual. I did not say that we cannot imagine infinity, but that infinite phenomena cannot be observed. In other words: although we can imagine "half a photon", we cannot observe it. Infinity is a property of mind.
Kevin Solway: If you can observe a photon, then you are automatically observing two half-photons.
Imagine a whole cake, that has no division between the two halves. The two halves of the cake are still real, even though they may never be cut apart, or may never be able to be cut apart.
Thomas Knierim: You can imagine two half particles, but you cannot observe them. Imagination is not existence. Therefore the number of imaginable phenomena is infinite, while the number of observable phenomena is finite.
Kevin Solway: Take my example of the whole cake. You cannot observe the two half cakes, as they are not separated, and we don't know whether the two halves can be separated - yet the two half cakes exist!
Quinn: [Craig's] argument reminds
me of the old traditional argument which states that the Universe
cannot have been beginningless because that would mean an
infinite succession of past events. Since an infinite series of
events can never reach an end, continues the argument, it follows
that a Universe with an infinite past can never reach the present
moment. As the present moment does in fact exist, the Universe
must be finite.
The problem with this argument is that rests on the false assumption that the Universe is actually made up of events. But "events" are things that the human mind artificially creates. They result from our mind's propensity to draw boundaries around things. Since, in reality, the Universe is a seamless continuum, the whole argument collapses. The argument's appeal to the shortcomings of mathematical infinity no longer has any basis.
Samuel Wood: David, from your reasoning it seems one could also conclude that if a (causal) event is only an imaginary boundary created in the mind, then the mind -- which created or caused these boundaries -- must have no cause.
David Quinn: Not necessarily. The mind itself is an imaginary "event" with a beginning and end. Mind is as much an illusion as everything else is. It is a trick of Nature, as it were.
Samuel Wood: If mind is only an imaginary event, then there must by definition be a mind to imagine this. The absurdity is still unresolved.
David Quinn: Nature is the "mind" which imagines mind, as well as everything else. The reason why I put "mind" in inverted commas is because Nature isn't a mind in the normal sense of the word. While it is the creative principle of all existence (thus resembling mind), it itself is entirely lacking in attributes and characteristics, including the characteristics of mind. It is the void which creates all.
Samuel Wood: When you claim all events are imaginary, it sounds very misleading if you are meaning Nature is imagining the event (such as the creation of a mind).
David Quinn: It's evocative, poetic language designed to stimulate the mind. As I say, on some levels, Nature does resemble mind - and indeed, that is why Zen Masters have sometimes referred to Reality as "Mind". But in a more fundamental sense, Nature doesn't resemble anything at all, not even mind.
Samuel Wood: When you claim Nature is the creative principle of all existence, you contradict the claim that Nature has no characteristics. Basically, any attempt to describe(/characterise) something as characteristicless, becomes self-contradictory.
David Quinn: Yes, it is not strictly characteristicless in that sense. It is characteristicless in the sense that it lacks all form. It isn't a "thing", like a tree or a car, with specific properties. While it is the totality of all things, it itself is nothing in particular. It is everything, yet nothing.
Samuel Wood: When you say Nature is the totality of all things, you are giving it a specific property. This is a form. An analogy is the set of all numbers. Each number has a form and the set of infinite numbers is also a form. (Form, characteristic, and property pretty much mean the same thing here; so juggling the words around doesnt change the meaning.)
David Quinn: I've already agreed that Nature isn't entirely formless in the strict sense of the word. It does have a form, that of formlessness. (Even that is not strictly true, since Nature is so formless it lacks even the form of formlessness. But that is another story.)
To use your analogy, the set of infinite numbers isn't a number. It is something other than a number. Likewise, the totality of all things isn't a thing. It is something other than a thing.
Samuel Wood: Youre confusing the analogy. Im talking about form. A form is something that has a characteristic. A number has a form and the set of all numbers has a form. (Yes, the two differing forms can be categorized into different kinds of forms, but that doesnt get rid of their form property.) Similarly, a thing is a form and the set of all things, because it has the characteristic of being the totality of all things, is a form. You are simply trying to hide one contradiction with another one.
David Quinn: Let's go back to basics. A "thing" can only exist in relation to what is not it. For example, a tree can only exist in relation to not-tree (the rest of the Universe.) If there were no not-tree, then there could be no tree. Thus, the tree's existence and form is entirely dependent upon the existence and form of not-tree.
Since there is nothing beyond the Totality by definition, it follows that there is no mechanism by which the Totality can acquire existence and form. There is no not-Totality existing seperately from the Totality. This means the Totality is non-dual in nature and beyond form (and formlessness), as well as beyond existence (and non-existence).
Having said that, we are still able to conceive of the Totality, even though it lacks existence and form. We can conceive of it by contrasting it to its parts. The Totality is distinguishable by virtue of the fact that it doesn't constitute any of its parts. So we are able to talk about the Totality as though it had form. But in reality, because there is nothing beyond, or outside of, the Totality, it doesn't really have any form.
Because your argument doesn't acknowledge the dynamics of this line of thinking and recognize the way in which the Totality can be conceived and talked about as though it were a form and yet be completely without form, it entirely misses its mark. It is causing you to make up contradictions that aren't really there.
Samuel Wood: I disagree with a your reasoning/semantic gymnastics. Since Totality can be contrasted to its parts, it is dual. (The opposite of whole is part.)
David Quinn: Our conceiving of it is necessarily dual. But as I outlined in the reasoning above, the reality that the concept refers to is not dual.
If it wasn't for its parts (duality), we wouldn't have any means of becoming aware of the Totality. However, the fact that we can become aware of it via dualistic perception doesn't change the truth that the Totality isn't a part, and is therefore beyond form and duality.
Samuel Wood: Also, since Totality is the sum of all its parts, it has a characteristic, which means it has a form albeit abstract.
David Quinn: You've got the reasoning backwards. Since the Totality is defined to be the sum total of all things, it automatically becomes true that its form is beyond determination and has no existence at all. In other words, the formlessness of the Totality is a logical consequence of its definition, not a part of it. The contradiction that you are creating and projecting onto my words is a result of you failing to make this distinction.
Wood: If the Universe is only a
seamless continuum (which may only be another concept of the
mind, btw) then there would be no difference between A
and not A and all logical arguments about the
David Quinn: "A" and "not-A" are logical concepts that are defined to be opposites. The fact that they are fundamentally illusory doesn't negate this. By way of analogy, the fact that a tree and a car are illusions doesn't mean that they have identical properties.
I agree that the seamlessness of the Universe is only a concept in the mind. It is a conceptual corrective to the delusion that things are seperate and discrete. Once this delusion has been corrected, the seamlessness concept is no longer needed.
Samuel Wood: The problem with the analogy is it assumes that there are properties that are different from each other -- contradicting the seamlessness conception. If the Universe is a seamless continuum, there would be no possibility for (even the illusion of) properties (or differences).
David Quinn: You're not conceiving of seamlessness correctly if you imagine that it wipes away all properties and differences. There is another way of conceiving of it. Consider the process of a plant growing out of a seed, for example. The causal unfolding which allows the seed to become an adult plant is seamless in the sense that the entire process is unbroken and uninterrupted. The boundary between the seed and plant is therefore an illusion. And yet the plant and the seed display different properties
Samuel Wood: Also, it seems from your argument one could just as validly claim the contradictory opposite. Namely: the concept that the Universe is not seamless, is a conceptual corrective to the delusion that something is unified. And once this delusion has been corrected, the non-seamlessness concept is no longer needed.
David Quinn: This isn't valid because the concept of seamlessness is on a different level to the concept of discreteness. It is a bit like how Einstein's theories of relativity can be used as a corrective to Newtonian physics, but not the other way around. Einstein's theories are better at approximating reality than Newtion's theories are. Likewise, the concept of seamlessness is a better approximation of Reality than the concept of discreteness.
However, it is true one does have to leave seamlessness behind at some stage in order to advance even closer to Reality - not back to the delusion of discreteness, but in the other direction.
Samuel Wood: Once you say that there is a property, then there is something that is it is and something that it is not. This is pretty much what you claim is an illusionary seam. So if you claim there are differing properties in seamless Nature, all I can guess is that you are confused.
David Quinn: The confusion is entirely your own. It is created by your equation of seamlessness with some sort of homegenous soup. Why you do this, I do not know. Seamlessness simply refers to uninterrupted process, and process refers to changing forms.
It's a bit like a water fountain that continually spurts ever-changing forms into the air. If it wasn't for the essential "formlessness" of water, these forms could not be created.
Samuel Wood: This is a nice analogy but the water never becomes formless in the literal sense of the word. It always has some sort of form. Its just that the old forms change into new ones.
David Quinn: And that, in part, is what I mean by formlessness. Nature has no fixed form. It is changing every moment. We cannot confine it to any concept and describe it in any way. Yet it is never hidden from us. It is directly before our eyes.
I could just as easily say that Nature has an infinite number of forms. Its creativity is inexhaustible. Such is the power of formlessness.
Samuel Wood: If Nature has no fixed form, then you are giving it the fixed characteristic/form of no fixed form. (Self-contradiction.) If Nature cant be described in any way, then Nature can be described as something that cant be described in any way. (Self-contradiction.)
David Quinn: I've already agreed (several times now) that Nature isn't strictly formless and indescribable in the way that you mean. It does have an abstract form with certain traits such as formlessness, emptiness, beginninglessness and endlessess, etc.
Keep in mind that I'm using these words to point to a subtle reality that is very hard to discern. They're are just tools for directing the mind's attention. But for some reason, you want to deludedly grasp hold of them and make a meaningless semantic issue out of it.
Wood: Your resolution to the
infinite past problem claimed it was invalid because
events dont really exist. However, the argument
you used, relies on logic which deals with concepts/things
which don't really exist so your criticism falls on its own
sword, invalidating itself.
David Quinn: Logic deals with the appearance of events. It doesn't need to go any further than this and presume that these events are ultimately real.
For example, World War II is an event that is conventionally defined to have occurred between September 3, 1939 and May, 1945. But it is easy to see that these dates are purely arbitrary. We could just as easily say that WWII began when Hitler invaded Poland in September 1st, 1939, or before that, with the rise of Hitler in the early thirties, or before that, with the start of WWI. It depends on where we want to draw the boundaries. Logic deals with the the results of this boundary-drawing. It doesn't need to take that extra step and assume these boundaries are anything other than mental projections.
Samuel Wood: I agree, but its not relevant. The boundaries in the infinite past problem can be made just as arbitrarily. Heres a review of the problem: If there is an infinite distance in the past that has to be traversed in order to get to now, now will never be arrived. The boundary of what is now could be this second, or whatever form of measurement one chooses. It is not necessary that the boundary of now must be real. The same goes for the boundary(s) of the past.
The point you dont seem to recognize is when you invalidated the events of the infinite past problem, you invalidated the events of logic.
David Quinn: It doesn't because, as I say, the practice of logic doesn't rely on the ultimate reality of "events", whereas the infinite past problem does.
Samuel Wood: Perhaps you should explain your point.
David Quinn: In simple language: Logic analyzes the appearance of "events". Logic discerns that "events" are not ultimately real. Logic concludes that a past of infinite events is not ultimately real. Logic then moves onto the next appearance.
Quinn: There is another way of
refuting the infinite past problem and that is by bringing
infinite time into the equation. As you mention, the argument
states that an infinite past of discrete events can never reach
the present moment. But that has to be balanced against an
infinite timespan for the infinite past to unfold. The two
infinities, in effect, cancel each other out and we are left with
the present moment.
Samuel Wood: Perhaps youll need to give an analogical example or something to help explain the point. It sounds like your saying something like this: To write down an infinite amount of numbers one needs an infinitely large chalkboard. In this case, no, the two infinities do not cancel each other out.
David Quinn: This analogy is not a good one. A better one would be writing down an infinite amount of numbers in an infinite amount of time. Imagine someone in the middle of this process. He is immortal and has done nothing with his time except write down numbers. He has been doing it since the beginningless past, just writing down one number after another. Each number that he writes down represents the present moment. The fact that he has written numbers for all eternity doesn't negate the fact that he continues to write them down now. Similary, the fact of the beginningless Universe doesn't negate the existence of the present moment. The two are perfectly compatible.
Whenever we look out into the world, what we see is eternity. It is as though we are looking at the very first moment of creation. There is no "before".
Samuel Wood: Whatever happened to two infinities crossing each other out? Basically your solution to the infinite past problem is to ignore it. If the immortal is writing infinitely before now, he will never be able to reach now.
David Quinn: Not necessarily. There are many ways to circumvent this apparent dilemma. For example, it may be that the universe is a cycle which infinitely repeats itself (along the lines of Nietzsche's theory of eternal recurrance). If that is the case, then not only is the present moment perfectly possible with the existence of an infinite past, but it is something which would necessarily occur an infinite number of times.
Or alternatively, we could substitute the conception of infinity that stretches out in both directions (e.g. .... -4,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,4 ....) with one that only stretches out in one direction (e.g. 0,1,2,3,4 .... or .....-4,-3,-2,-1,0.) These latter sequences are just as infinite as the original.
The important point is that there is no logical necessity for the concepts of the present moment and an infinite series of past events to contradict. The infinite past concept is malleable enough to iron out any possible conflicts.
There is another serious flaw to the argument which is so obvious that it's a wonder no one has spotted it before. An event in the past was once an event in the present. Thus an infinite series of past events is really an infinite series of present moments. There cannot be one without the other. It follows, then, that the infinite past argument presupposes the very thing it is trying to refute.
To use the number writing analogy, the only way that the infinite series of past numbers can have any existence at all is by virtue of the fact that the immortal wrote each number down in successive present moments. If there were no present moments to begin with, then there could be no past events at all.
Samuel Wood: Again it appears you do not understand the problem. It is agreed that if there were no present moments, then there would also be no past moments.
Please try to understand: The problem isnt that the past didnt also occur as a now. That is assumed. The problem is that for the latest now moment to occur all moments in the past must have already occurred. So if one perceives the present moment after the past moments, one can conclude there must have been a beginning to these moments. This is because to reach the latest now all past nows must be traversed and this would be impossible to do if there were an infinite number of them. (Hint: The argument is showing how a beginning must be possible.)
David Quinn: You're applying two different standards to reach this conclusion and ignoring the fact that the "past now" is in the same boat as the "current now". Both are the result of an infinite series of events.
No matter how far back in time we go, each "past now" is the result of an infinite series of events. In a beginningless Universe, every event is the product of an infinite past, no matter where it is situated in history. Both the "current now" and the "past nows" are exactly the same in this regard.
So if you are willing to accept the existence of "past nows" - even though you know that each and every one of them was the product of an infinite series of events - then by rights, you should have no problem with the "current now" being produced by an infinite series of events.
As it stands, you are wanting it both ways.
Samuel Wood: No, the problem does not want it both ways. I agree -- to assume current now came from a beginning and all the preceding past now moments did not would be quite absurd. How you assumed the problem was implying this is even more absurd.
The infinite past problem illustrates that it is impossible for any moment (past now or current now) to be reached if it must come after an infinite series. Therefore the problem suggests all moments came from a starting point. (Reminder Hint: The problem is arguing that there must have been a beginning).
David Quinn: It is obvious that the argument is trying to prove that there was a "beginning". It has Christian apologetics written all over it. But the method by which it tries to do this - namely, prove that it is logically impossible for the Universe to have been beginningless - doesn't work. And so it fails abysmally in its designated purpose.
If, in a beginningless Universe, it is impossible for any "past now" to have been reached, then what is this infinite series that you keep referring to?
If you say that you are referring to an infinite series of "past nows", then this immediately undermines your contention that no "past nows" can be ever be reached (in a beginningless Universe).
You can't postulate an infinite series of "past nows" in a beginningless Universe, and then turn around and say that, because of this infinite series of "past nows", no "past nows" are possible. That is a flat-out contradiction. As I say, you are wanting it both ways.
Samuel Wood: The infinite past problem does not postulate an infinite series of past nows. What the infinite past problem assumes is that the past has to happen before the present. Then it suggests IF the past was infinite, now could never come to be.
David Quinn: I'm not saying that your argument postulates an infinite series of past nows. What I am saying is that as soon as you assume, for the sake of argument, that there is an infinite series of past nows, then you must also assume the existence of the current now. The two necessarily go together. This is because an infinite series of past nows cannot exist unless the very existence of the current now is possible in the first place. But because of your agenda, you want to split these two apart and pretend that you can have one without the other.
If two beings were to have this same argument in ten years time, one of them would be using the idea of an infinite series of past nows (of which our present moment is part) and using it to prove that the present moment can never be reached via it. That is, he would be saying that even though it is perfectly possible for the present moment to be reached ten years before (namely, our present moment), for some miraculous reason his own present moment would unable to be reached - even though both moments are the result of an infinite series of past events.
Not only this, he is saying that every single present moment in history can be reached from an infinite series of past events, but not the one he happens to be dwelling in! It's a miracle. There must be a God.
Samuel Wood: The argument could just as well say any moment in history cannot be reached if infinite moments must be traversed to get to it. It doesnt matter if the now is a past now or current now. Or in other words, since we are experiencing now, we know that an infinite series cannot have been traversed to get to it. We can still assume all moments in the past occurred as now, but if they did they could not have had an infinite past. So the argument never accepts an infinite past (of past nows).
David Quinn: Another reason why the argument doesn't work is because it is assumes that the "present moment" is something that needs to be reached - as though there was a time in the past in which the present moment was somehow absent. But in reality, the present moment has always existed. It is the visible expression of eternity. Far from being at odds with one another, the beginninglessness of the Universe and the present moment are actually one and the same. Only an insane Christian with a mad-cap agenda could imagine otherwise.
What God has joined together, let no man pull asunder.
Samuel Wood: If the present moment always existed, how do you explain our perception of change?
David Quinn: The machinations of memory operating in the present moment. Although things are always changing from one instance to the next, the present moment always remains the same. Things can only find their existence in the present moment. Even the past can only exist in the present moment.
Samuel Wood: Once a person perceives differentiation in a moment, the moment is different. The only way for the present moment to not become a past moment would be for it to not change. Since change is being perceived, moments have past. Since the past moments have past and are no longer occurring, there cannot be an infinite number of them. (Please notice how the problem doesnt need to assume that now must be reached. It assumes every moment has occurred (or is occurring) as now, then shows a conclusion about the moments that have already past.)
David Quinn: If the "now" doesn't need to be reached due to the fact that it has always existed, then we have automatically proven that the now is perfectly compatible with the past - regardless of whether the past is finite or infinite. The only difference between a finite past and an infinite past is the length of time by which past moments have been created.
Think of the present moment as an inexhaustible well which is constantly creating past moments. It is akin to God sitting in eternity creating the world in each moment. Because it is inexhaustible, its supply of past moments will never dry up.
Your argument is based on the idea that the past existed first, with the present moment subsequently tacked onto the end of it. This picture of the Universe is false because it ignores the fact that the present moment has to exist before any kind of past can be created. For the infinite past to have ocurred, the present moment must have always existed.
Samuel Wood: It is true that there must be a present moment before the past begins. The first now becomes the starting point of the past and continues to spew out past moments perhaps even infinitely -- after the beginning. Youve accomplished nothing other than ignore the problem that there must have been a beginning to these past events. Aside from your confusion that an infinite past is somehow acceptable, your new point here is not contrary to the infinite past problem and leaves it unresolved.
David Quinn: I think we've thrashed out this matter enough. It's up to the reader to sift through the evidence and decide one way or the other for himself.
In the end, there are only two incontrovertible facts in this matter: (a) the present moment exists, and (b) all things are caused. The latter fact automatically implies, of course, that the Universe is indeed beginningless because causation is something which goes back and back forever and can never be breached.
The idea that an infinite past cannot possibly lead to the present moment isn't an incontrovertible fact because it is easy to conceive of ways to get around it (e.g by postulating an eternal recurrence). It can thus be dismissed as an irrelevence. It doesn't have enough power to sever the link between the present moment and the beginningless past.
Since only incontrovertible facts should be considered when it comes to matters of philosophy, it follows that there are no compelling reasons to conclude that an infinite past cannot possibly lead to the present moment.
Diogenes stood outside a brothel, shouting, "A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey! A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey! A beautiful whore . . . ". Men entering the house threw him a coin or two to shut him up. Eventually Diogenes had collected enough money and he too went into the brothel.
Whenever people complimented Diogenes, he would slap himself hard across the face and in self-reproach would cry, "Shame! I must have done something terribly wicked!"
- THE LIE THAT BETRAYS BOYS -
Sunday Mail August 25
It is good news that girls are doing so well in school exams. But it is worrying that boys seem to be slipping further behind.
This trend isn't confined to the high-flyers passing exams. At the bottom of the system, the drop out rate among boys is a serious concern. And the cause is the wholesale feminization of education.
Course work now accounts for a large proportion of final marks at all levels. This favours girls. Boys tend to like sudden death exams. They like taking risks, pitting their wits against the odds. Girls don't. They prefer to work steadily without gambling against memory, the clock and questions from hell. The curriculum has expanded in ways that suits girls rather than boys, with a proliferation of discursive, "soft" subjects, such as sociology or drama.
The evidence suggests that boys and girls learn in different ways. Research has found that girls gain more satisfaction than boys do from understanding the work they are doing. Boys are more ego-related, gaining more satisfaction from competing with each other.
Nevertheless, education policy denies such differences and imposes and agenda of equality. For at least 20 years in Britain and elsewhere, feminist teachers have attempted to change a school system they held to be hostile to girls. The assumption was that the tendency for boys to opt for science, math and technology and girls for languages, humanities and domestic science proved this discrimination. It never occurred to the feminists that this pattern has evolved because each sex naturally gravitated towards these subjects. Boys and girls were identical, and these differences had to be corrected. The result was active discrimination against boys.
As British academic James Tooley comments in his book, "The Mis-Education of Women", girls began to be privileged over boys at school. Teachers give priority to girls in class discussions, playground space and sporting fixtures. The masculine content and orientation of text books, topics and tests was obliterated in favour of female references; teachers were forbidden to use sexist language: and male teachers bonding with boys through jokes or allusions to sport had to be programmed out of the system.
During the 1980's one project followed another to get girls into maths, science and technology. But sexism wasn't keeping girls from such subjects, it was their choice. Time and again it has been shown that, given the opportunity, boys gravitate to mechanical sciences and girls to discursive subjects. If any prejudice existed, it would be right to address it. But this was not prejudice. It was boys and girls behaving in different ways. This was not an issue in single-sex schools. But when co-educational schools became the norm, the differences became striking - and feminists assumed that to mean inferiority and discrimination.
This was not only wrong - it was disastrous for boys. For, rather than men being masters of the universe as feminists contend, the sense of what they are is fragile. Unless their male characteristics are acknowledged and supported they slide downhill. In schools, boys find girls threatening, a fact generally masked at the top of the ability range but often in evidence at the bottom. Girls mature earlier than boys do, so unless boys are exceptionally able, they tend to be outclassed. And if they don't dominate, they give up and drop out.
Because doing well in school involves no manual or physical activity, but requires sitting quietly, reading and writing, the most vulnerable boys view learning as feminine and uncool. And being feminine is their deepest dread. This is because men's sense of masculinity is far more vulnerable than women's sense of femininity. Biology reminds girls what they are every month. Boys, by contrast, need to prove their identity, particularly among those with poor prospects. But rather than celebrating male characteristics, society tells boys that its values have turned female, and that if boys want a place in it they must do so too. Thus male characteristics are derided. Warfare is said to be obscene. Authority is oppressive. Chivalry is a joke. Competition creates losers - taboo in education, where everyone must be a winner. Stoicism is despised; tears must flow and hearts be worn on sleeves at all times. Men, however, define masculinity by being different from women.
This unisex culture has resulted in two things: more men are driven into stereotypical macho behaviour to prove their masculinity; and they withdraw from any sphere identified with women. Because the success of female students in now widely celebrated, disadvantaged boys identity school failure with being macho. So more give up or drop out.
It is not good for either sex to be at a disadvantage. The aim must be to make opportunity as fair as possible. But that cannot be done by confusing quality of opportunity with identical experience, the error of our age. Boys and girls are different. It would be far better if they were educated in single sex schools. Neither sex is well served by co-education. Neither sex benefits from coercion by the educational gender police. Many girls resent the pressure to do science subjects. Feminists fear that if girls don't study science in the same number as boys, they won't have the same career opportunities. But girls make different choices because they have different impulses and interests and calculate life prospects very differently. This is not an argument against girls studying engineering, or women becoming train drivers or particle physicists. It is rather that the system has become unfair and discriminatory against boys - the outcome of a philosophy that, despite its feminist credentials, does not allow girls the freedom to make their own choices, for fear that the dogma of unisex behaviour will be exposed once and for all as a big lie.
Comment: The issue here is not so much one of social injustice being meted out against males, but one of yet another feature of the continuing feminisation of culture; the gradual drift into mindless conformity and false egalitarianism; the seemingly inevitable slide into wholesale social mediocrity and "safety". And that's the key: the "safety" part. Conformity and guaranteed "success" (i.e. the appearance of an absence of failure) due to things like affirmative action or non-competitive forms of education make for a place without pressure; without the fear of failure; a safe haven where one and all will reap the benefits of existence without having to take any risks. But it will also be a place without soul, without the will to strive beyond the realms of comfort and security, without the will to danger and adventure - the will to extremes. What place could wisdom or even the valuing or acknowledgment of such a thing, with its inherently extreme nature find in such a place? The answer to that is: absolutely nowhere. Wisdom will become, and indeed generally has become a synonym for "playing it safe", for not being "too radical" in anything one does. Wisdom is the middle ground, nay, the "middle way" of Buddhism itself!
Hah! Of course. Now I see it! The feminisation of society is the path to Buddhahood for us all! We are all on the way - the middle way!
midst of serious discourse in the Craneum, Diogenes realised no
one was listening. So he instead began to whistle
and dance about to attract attention. Immediately, people flocked round him. Diogenes stopped and said, "You idiots, you are not interested to stop and pay attention to wisdom, yet you rush up to observe a foolish display."
A heckler in the crowd shouted out, "My mind is not made like that, I can't be bothered with philosophy."
"Why do you bother to live," Diogenes retorted, "if you can't be bothered to live properly?"
Bartoli: Can anyone say? Has it
been suggested Otto Weininger penned a suicide letter? How
credible is it? Where is the note, what did he say? Kevin Solway,
have you got a copy of it?
Kevin Solway: I have never heard it reported that there was a suicide note. Although all of his writings could be seen as a suicide note.
Gregory Shantz: In Chandak Sengoopta's Otto Weininger : Sex, science, and self in imperial Vienna, he writes that Weininger's note said "I am a murderer," and goes on to ridicule him for killing himself after having written that to murder a man is to murder the universe.
Kevin Solway: I found the following in Sengoopta's book: "Pervaded by vague feelings of guilt and a growing, unexplained conviction of his own criminality, he told Gerber: 'I am a murderer! Therefore, I must kill myself!'" Nothing about a suicide note, however.
Marsha Faizi: Weininger is very well esteemed and thoroughly studied and investigated by those intrigued by masculine thought. He was an extraordinary thinker and writer. His method of expression was most intense; dynamic. As a writer and a thinker, I greater admire his technique as well as his philosophic intention. His technique was superb; very sharp; focused.
However, I am somewhat curious that he is held in such high regard by those who value enlightenment. Though he was a superb writer and thinker, I have some trouble equating his suicide with the action of an enlightened human being. Yet, his life and thought seem to be as highly valued by yourself and David Quinn as one who is commonly cited as ultimately enlightened -- Buddha, for example; or Jesus.
If all of his writings may be considered a suicide note; and it has been said here or on the List that suicide is an egotistical act, how is it that Weininger, despite an enormous ego that enabled him to write and to kill himself, is regarded as somewhat of a philosophical saint among the few enlightened men who participate here?
Kevin Solway: Otto Weininger certainly wasn't fully enlightened (ie, a "Buddha"), and he probably wasn't even enlightened (ie, having a complete intellectual understanding of Reality, as well as the direct experience of it).
But, relative to ordinary people, he is practically enlightened, because he is so far above the station of the ordinary human mind, and so close to absolute Truth.
Being so close to it, his life reflects enlightenment, even if it did not reside fully inside him.
"God can involve himself with the human race on one of two conditions, either in such a way that individuals are found who are willing to venture out so far in hating themselves that God can use them as apostles, or in such a way that the true situation is honestly and unconditionally admitted. The latter is my primitivity.
As far as the former is concerned, this is certainly the instruction of the New Testament. But with respect to venturing out so far, the following must be noted. This is something so dreadful for a human being that it is permissible to say: I dare not."
Kierkegaard is here saying that he has complete knowledge of the true situation (ie, God/Reality), but he hasn't the strength, or faith, or love of truth, to enter fully into it.
Now, Weininger's knowledge of the "true situation" (ie, God/Reality) was probably even less than that of Kierkegaard, yet it was enough to fill him with so much pain that he couldn't live with it.
Shardrol: What was the nature of that pain?
Kevin Solway: I think it was the pain of having some comprehension of what is actually true, and then seeing just how incredibly remote the world, and even himself, was from that truth.
It was the pain of being a "criminal" (ie, non-enlightened, non-perfect) - and knowing you are a criminal. I believe it was that very pain that killed him.
I recommend a study of Kierkegaard to learn more about spiritual suffering. He writes at length about Jesus as the "suffering servant".
Marsha Faizi: If an enlightened sage values the thought and the writing of someone who, despite his sharp focus of thought and inwardly projected vision, is yet egotistical and unenlightened, then, is the thought of such a person as significant as one who is enlightened?
How important is the thought of one whose mind is finely tuned and sensitive -- however neurotic -- compared to enlightenment?
Kevin Solway: The thought of an enlightened person is more significant than the thought of an unenlightened person, by definition. Yet it can be much easier for an ordinary person to relate to, and learn from, a lesser-enlightened person. An ordinary person doesn't seem to be able to relate to a Buddha whatsoever. That's why, in modern Buddhism, the Buddha isn't even regarded to be human, and they will regard you as a blasphemer if you say that the Buddha was a human being, and that we have potential to become such a Buddha in this life. Weininger, by contrast, while he appears very far above the human race, still has some human attributes which makes people feel a connection with him. In that way, even though he knows less, he may teach more.
The Master: Someone who kills himself at 23 should not be shown such reverence. It's about as sensible as worshipping Kurt Cobain. Weininger may have been a genius, but he was so misguided that what he wrote is but a cautionary tale of how not to think.
Dan Rowden: I think Weininger's suicide, much like Kierkegaard's lapse into illness and, in part, Nietzsche's breakdown, could be seen as cautionary tales.
Weininger's suicide is indicative of an undeveloped mind. Great as it was, it hadn't transcended the moral realm.
Weininger was killed by his own morality. He believed, basically, that it was evil for him to continue to exist if he couldn't be perfect. Seems noble on the face of it, but it was actually pretty silly.
He has plenty of work yet to do on some of his concepts and he simply should have done that work.
Thomas Knierim: I too think that he was a brilliant writer and that he had extraordinarily deep insights into psychology (which was an "emerging science" at his time). Yet, what he wrote was largely crap, since he abused his intellectual brilliance to develop propaganda literature with a philosophical touch out of his personal aversions.
David Quinn: How can someone have extraordinarily deep insight into psychology on the one hand and yet write "largely crap" on the other? This does not compute.
Thomas Knierim: I guess people do not always "compute". Someone capable of refined, rational thought can still be trapped in irrational attitudes. Weininger is a perfect example.
David Quinn: I'm sorry, but if a person is trapped in an irrational attitude and produces crappy writings, then he cannot have extraordinary insight into human psychology. The two just do not go together. It would be like calling someone the greatest physicist ever, only to qualify this by saying that every theory he produced was crap.
It is interesting that Weininger consistently produces such strong negative responses in people. Most people treat him as though he were either mentally diseased or evil. This is very interesting, especially given the fact that these same people also tend to describe him as brilliant. It indicates that he was in possession of a very powerful truth that no one wants to know about.
One doesn't observe the same kind of hostility expressed towards Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, for example. You do see it to some extent, but not to the level of intensity that Weininger always manages to invoke. Weininger obviously didn't water himself down as much as those other two did. He is the modern-day Jesus/Socrates. "Away with that man, he does not deserve to live!"
Shardrol: People have strong negative feelings toward Weininger because he can be so easily associated with the term Nazi, which in turn means something like 'demon from hell' in our current culture. I am not saying Weininger is a Nazi, I'm just saying that it is easy for him to look like one.
We currently live in an egalitarian culture (especially here in the US). It is seen as morally wrong to observe any differences between people of different races or genders. I'm sure you've observed this in the reaction of some feminists to the idea that there could be statistically significant innate differences between males & females. This can't be allowed to be true because it's too threatening.
The reason it's too threatening is because it's hard for people to say there is a difference without having to say that one is better than the other. And it's hard for people to say that one is better than the other without having the thought that life would improve if there was more of the 'superior' one & less of the 'inferior' one. This is a very threatening thought because it is feared that the next step is to start building death camps.
In the 20th century the Nazis gave us an example of doing just that. We feel we need to thoroughly distance ourselves from the Nazis. They are not us & we could never be them. But of course we could. And at some level we know it & we don't trust ourselves. We feel we must avert this catastrophe way before it has a chance to develop momentum. Even the hinting at differences evokes it, so we disallow that from civilized discourse.
Weininger is not operating by these rules. He egregiously violates them, which evokes fear & loathing in the unconscious oven-building part of our brains. Yes he certainly is saying something people don't want to hear. But that still doesn't mean it is true.
David Quinn: Sure, the fact that he says things people don't want to hear doesn't automatically make them true. But it is interesting that Weininger is never described as a "buffoon" or a "flake" or a "second-rate thinker" or the like - which would have been the case if people were convinced that Weininger was speaking pure crap. It seems that people cannot ignore the substance and weightiness of his thought - it is too overwhelming - and yet they don't want to hear what he has to say. Regardless of whether Weininger was speaking the truth or not, I find this is an interesting phenomenon.
In the end, what people object to is the consciousness of Weininger's judgments and discriminations. They are not really objecting to the fact that he made judgements and discriminations - after all, they are constantly judging and discriminating between people themselves. No, what they absolutely cannot stand is the idea of taking conscious responsibility for their own judgments and discriminations. Weininger's great crime is that he didn't play the game of sweeping everything under the carpet and pretend that he was some kind of non-judgmental saint.
Very few of Diogenes' disciples had the physical and mental stamina to become cynics. One in particular left the circle, but not before entreating Diogenes to give him one of his books. "You really are a silly fellow," said Diogenes. "Surely you wouldn't have painted figs instead of real ones. And yet you pass over the genuine practice of wisdom and would be satisfied with what is merely written."
Quotes of quality from Genius-L and Genius Forum
Music is everywhere, like a drug for mind-control in the water-supply. It is used to make us buy more unwanted goods in the supermarket. It is in restaurants, so you supposedly enjoy the food more. And thanks to technology such as portable CD-players, you do not need to live without it even for a moment.
It is used so much because it works. Somehow music can put part of the brain into a trance-like state, and the music will induce feelings and mood according to the associations the music triggers.
That is why I think the music people hear can be pretty revealing of their psychology. Unfortunately it seems most of the lyrics present in hit-songs are stupid, or even disgusting. Alex Meyer
At bottom, one experience has the same essential character as any other. One single experience is all it takes to become wise; it's just a matter of how one thinks about the nature of that one experience. Dan Rowden
There is a point at which one becomes sufficiently poisoned by truth that a return to an authentic egotistical life is impossible, certainly a return to anything resembling what it was like before. But even that's not entirely accurate as we ought not forget that a person seriously driven to the life of truth has been thus driven precisely because of their incapacity to live the ego-life with any real level of satisfaction. Usually, where one cannot go forward, the end result is not a genuine return to the ego-life but a sort of philosophical limbo, where one suffers for one's inability to move forward, but also for one's inability to go back. That's not a great place to be, again, depending on one's level of attainment. The trick is to continually strive for a way to take those steps forward. Dan Rowden
One can never say for sure that [spiritual] progress has become impossible. Since, to say any such things, means that the depth of self-awareness (consciousness) that grants the possibility of progress, is present.
In short, one cannot meaningfully declare oneself to be without potential for progress (and any degree of progress brings better karma into the world than none at all). Dan Rowden
Passing a stream, Diogenes saw a boy drinking out of his hands. "A child has beaten me in simplicity," he said, throwing away his cup.
Tue, 24 Mar 1998
From: Dan Rowden <email@example.com> [defunct]
Subject: Emphasis on the feminine
There seems to be a good deal of confusion regarding the motivation and utility of the discussion concerning the feminine (Woman) and enlightenment. In the interests of clarity, and sense, I thought I'd say a few things about it.
Enlightenment if the complete absense of all delusion, not just the big delusions, not just the ones that make us suffer, but all deluded concepts. Part of the process by which one casts off these delusions is an examination of human consciousness, in every sense. This means looking at the masculine and feminine, the passive and the dominant, the rational and the emotive, the willful and the merely willing, right down to the last detail. This much ought be obvious. However, it seems that some would have us exclude the feminine from this process, for reasons which make it all the more important to scrutinise. Now, some will say that there is a difference between analysing the feminine and taking the extra step of rejecting it. Yes, there is a difference, but when one understands the feminine one automatically takes the step of rejection, because one sees clearly the dangers of it in the context of the pursuit of wisdom. And this is the key: the context. For someone with different values (that is, other than striving for wisdom) scrutinising the concept Woman, would possibly be a meaningless thing to do, and even perhaps a counterproductive thing to do, especially if one is interested in relationships and sex. But striving for wisdom is no ordinary thing. It demands an inordinate degree of character, of courage, of will, and the readiness to put aside attachments however pleasurable they may have been. It demands an inordinate degree of honesty.
What is interesting is that the voices of dissent are all but silent when it comes to articulating the merits of the feminine mind. There is practically no argument of any kind raised against myself or the Quinns and Solways - it is all cries of indignance, accusations of "denigration" and "prejudice", a cynical dismissal of "the boys" and all the rest of it. If what is said is so obviously false, then it should be but a simple matter to put the case in favour of the feminine, but where is it? I would expect better from this list. In fact the standard of response isn't much better than I would get at the local pub or on some mediocre talk-back radio show. This disappoints me because if there is indeed something about the feminine that is conducive to the pursuit of wisdom, I certainly want to know about it! Let me make it clear that what is said by me, and although I cannot speak for them, I suspect by DQ and KS, has nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with any battle of the sexes, nothing to do with feminism (although the nature of the feminist movement can provide interesting insights), nothing to do with neurosis and bad relationships, and everything to do with reality. If it is not reality then let's hear the arguments. I, for one, am always ready to have my errors pointed out to me if that is what they are.
Nothing is sacrosanct to the thinker. No, not even Woman. And especially not Woman, given the extraodinary attachment we have to her. This attachment alone should make us suspicious, because the strongest delusions are to be found within our strongest attachments. Someone once said that to "pretend to understand women is bad manners, but to really understand them is bad morals". There seems to be too much agreement with this sentiment around the place for my liking.
What of Truth?
was walking backwards across the Agora, affecting a studied
indifference to all who laughed at him. Finally, when he had
collected a large following he stopped and announced, "You
are laughing at me walking just a little distance backwards while
you all lead your entire lives arse-about."
"And what's more," he asked, "can you change your way of living as easily as this?" Whereupon, he turned on his heel and walked off in normal fashion.
All images in this publication are taken/adapted from "The Devil's Gallery"
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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