THE NEWSLETTER FOR DANGEROUS THINKERS
(Issue 5 May 2001)
Welcome to the latest edition of Genius News, a monthly newsletter based on the world's liveliest email forum: Genius-L. Genius-L is a discussion list dedicated to the nature of genius, wisdom and Ultimate Reality and to the total annihilation of false values. That is to say, it is a list intended solely for men - of either sex.
Nature is not an altogether fickle lover - give her the attention she is due and she will reveal her innermost secrets to you. But, in turn, you must be generous of spirit; you must hand over everything to her; you must be willing to give your very life and sanity to her if you truly desire to feel the embrace of her most intimate truths. You cannot hold back! Your love must be complete and unconditional. You must take the ultimate risk!
But then, how can she turn away from you? She whose embrace is Infinite? So, go forward and give life to your passion; throw yourself head-long into the swirling abyss of Reality. I swear you'll never look at a mere woman again!
The symbol will return you to this contents table from each section.
- Handshakes, hugs and unconsciousness thugs -
There are so many
things in life we take for granted, things that seem so trivial
to us that it wouldn't occur to us in a million years to place
them under the spotlight of critical reasoning. It requires a
very special and weird mind to do so. But it is these apparent
trivialities that are perhaps more in need of examination than
anything else, precisely because we enact them so unconsciously.
I tell you no act of unconsciousness goes unpunished! The
following exchange is an example of some of those weird and
special minds in action.........
David Quinn: There is a strong element of degradation involved in giving blowjobs that isn't present in the provision of meals or hugs (although hugs are also pretty degrading, imo). It takes a person one step closer to animalhood, and to the Great Unconsciounsess out of which humanity has evolved. It subtly reinforces in his mind that it is impossible for humans to rise to the level of sagehood. It represents a kick in the guts for spiritual idealism.
James: I was responding to other things for a second, but hold the phone; how in the name of holy living fuck are hugs degrading??
David Quinn: It is an expression of femininity - that is to say, of a sickness of mind. Hugs feed the feminine ego's desire to merge with the rest of the universe and disappear. It fosters a herdly, submissive attitude to life. There is value, perhaps, in giving hugs to small children, and to adults in great distress, but other than that it just becomes a feminine indulgence.
James: The human need for affection transcends notions of the masculine and feminine. Children and adults both can pine and die without touch as surely as they can die without bread. As society progresses, more of us spend greater amounts of our time in "great distress". It is not impossible to be affectionate and aggressive; indeed, the traits are often linked, and by your own logic I might add; for you claim that the prime impetus for sex is emotional in nature, yet men possess the drive for sex as much as women. To know and accept oneself as weak when one is weak is to understand one's limitations. We are all we have for each other, and we treat each other so very poorly. Aggressiveness and the higher position are not neccesarily the goal of the sage...
David Quinn: This is exactly what I am talking about when I say that hugging fosters a herdly, submissive attitude to life. It promotes the perception that we live in a cold and terrible universe and that we all have left to us is to cuddle each other in comfort. It's difficult to think of anything more evil. I personally find hugging a very violent and aggressive activity. Whenever someone tries to hug me (which isn't very often), I am always injured by it. Instead of trying to tune into who I really am, and trying to connect with the most valuble part of me - i.e. my thought - they want to use me as a kind of mindless teddy bear just to gain some relief from their own anxieties and fears. And they don't even try and seek my permission to do it! They just come along and wrap their big arms around me as though my mind, and my values, didn't even exist.
Philip Wild: So what? It's your ego that is injured. You need to grow up, forget about expecting changes outside of you. If someone desires less from you so be it. Your expectations, you are unreasonable. How about handshakes?
Alex Meyer: David Quinn is missing the point that hugging someone is a sign of acceptance, they could be trying to show you that they accept and respect you - how is that bad? It is simply non-verbal communication. Like a handshake, where you signal that you meet open-minded and friendly. Of course people are using such gestures for lots of other purposes, including evil ones - but I fail to see the inherently evil in a hug (or a handshake).
James: I know. If I didn't know better, I'd say he needed a hug. Again and again you [David Quinn] make bald assertions about the negative nature of physical contact, yet to look upon the lives of those sages who have lived before us I see few who have chosen to eschew that contact, either affection or sex, from their lives. I think you have a prejudice against anything the masses enjoy, an unreasoning one. I am suspicious of the opiates available to the public, although I think you might be carrying this too far. Sometimes, a thing is popular because it has genuine value. Frankly, we do live in a cold and terrible universe, as well as a warm and wonderful one. All things to all people, ya dig? Present me with a causality structure for the hug where a negative response is provoked; negative using a ceteris parabis view of intellectual value structuring
Dan Rowden: A handshake is entirely different from an unsolicited hug in that a hand is presented to you and you can choose whether to shake it or not. I have no doubt that those of you advocating this simile would not like it very much if a person walked up to you, introduced himself and then proceeded to reach down by your side, grasp your hand and shake the crap out of it. It's an obvious intrusion; it takes away your choice to respond or not respond; it is, in fact, a form of violence. An unsolicited hug would fall within the definitional parameters of an act of physical violence in a range of circumstances. Can you imagine a guy giving a girl such a hug on your average University or College campus. and later, whilst fronting the sexual harassment board saying: "Well, I just thought she looked like she needed a hug."?
Having said that, there is something that these behaviours have in common - they both express certain values and they both carry with them certain demands on those at whom they're directed. Consider the response you are likely to get from a person if you do not shake their offered hand. It will almost invariably be one of offense and indignation. You're supposed to shake their hand because you're supposed to show immediate deference to their value system. A handshake or a hug is not so much an offer, but a demand; the way that people respond if you decline the offer signifies this.
They may seem like essentially harmless and trivial behaviours, but when you get down to the underlying psychology of them, you find that they are representative of a broader psychological reality, and it is not at all pretty. I never offer my hand to a person when I meet them because I feel as if I'm forcing them, entirely unnecessarily, into an action that may, in reality, not be comfortable with. I also don't do it because I have no psychological need to do it; I don't need to present myself as harmless or have them present a harmless face to me by showing me such deference. I don't need their acceptance or respect and I certainly don't need to force them into showing it. These behaviours are a legacy of our animal natures, and whilst, because of that, they are entirely understandable, you'd think that because we can understand what they're really all about that we might have evolved beyond them by now; apparently we are not as evolved as I sometimes like to think.
Jason: I couldn't agree more. I remember with disgust having my uncle try to teach me to shake hands very firmly. He told me that if you didn't have a firm grip the other man wouldn't respect you. What can you expect from the suit-and-tie brigade though? As you said, most peole think that these issues are trivial and harmless. These issues are so deeply subconscious that the average person cannot see anything but triviality in them. It's kind of ironic that people think they can into the subconcsious with dream interpretation, and these other matters seem trivial to them.
Most people get offended if you don't return a handshake. That's the main problem I see. You have to look at what a handshake really means. It's used as a way to foster a false sense of acceptance. It originates from childhood compulsion - forcing a child to enact useless rituals, which are meant to lesson their individuality and strengthen heard mentality. Adults condition children to automatically do these things, such as shaking hands, and saying "thankyou", that the children would not naturally feel compelled to do. The only reason they get them to do these things, is so that the children will be 'normal', within cultural boundaries. If you're going to come to an agreement, do it intellectually, not by shakinghands. But how many people consciously deconstruct such socially ingrained things like handshakes? I don't think many people even give things like this a second thought. Subconsciously they probably know that if they start questioning social norms they risk the prospect of totally alienating themselves from society at large.
"Old dogs, new tricks"
Q: If Joe Bloggs aspires to sagehood at 10 years
of age, instead of 20 years of age, will his potential to
understand the ultimate be greater? If he commences at 20
years of age, he may have lost his chance to become a
sage; for he may never be able to undo some learnt
- A Solitary Journey -
by Dan Rowden
Being unemployed these days in Australia means being involved in a "mutual obligation" scheme; one as to do something, other than looking for work every day, to earn one's welfare payment. Through a process of walking the bureaucratic maze of the relevant departments, I've managed to ensconce myself in something called the "Community Support Program", which is, truth be known, a program for complete no-hopers, drug addicts, criminals on probation and so forth. Being a serious, independent philosopher, I fit in rather well. There's no person who represents more of a lost cause, employment-wise, than the serious thinker.
My "case manager" is a young woman in her late twenties - the usual officious but superficially caring type. What is most interesting about the way she deals with me is that she ignores who and what I am, more or less completely. I'm supposed to provide her with regular updates of my long and short-term goals. She types them up on a computer file for the eyes of the "powers that be". Interestingly, my most important goals are entirely absent from what she types. She does not note "to become perfectly wise" or "to become a perfect Buddha". She instead types, "finish a chapter in book", or "learn web page tabling" or any other more worldly tit-bits I toss her way. It's as if my identity as a thinker does not exist for her at all. Who I actually am is irrelevant to who I need to be to be employed and an acceptable member of the community.
This is a reality that the thinker must face at every turn in his life. He must face the truth that his path is of the most excruciatingly solitary nature - that even his identity, as he sees it, will be disregarded. If it weren't for the trappings of his outer skin and clothing, he would be wholly transparent and no-one would see him at all. He would be quite invisible. If he is seen, he is nothing more than the mental projection of values and beliefs and deluded judgments of those that "see" him. That the thinker is not seen, that he is invisible to all but the few, is a painful thing for him to deal with, as his ego is still involved in his goals. It is difficult to be this profoundly alone, but this isolation is an inevitable consequence of thought; one should not embark on such a journey without giving consideration to this consequence.
The spiritual man walks a path where he not only questions the true nature of his own identity, but one where he cannot, as most people do, find any portion of that identity in the external realities he faces, for he is as a ghost to the world, a cipher.
Despite this, if he is able to survive this difficulty, there is liberation to be found in the end.
- What should one value? -
David Hodges: On what basis do we choose our values?
On what basis can we say that one of these approaches, one set of values, is superior to another? My assumption is that values are simply a matter of choice and preference; objective values are impossible.
We must have values, because we
make choices. A choice is an expression of a value. Even simply
going along with what everyone else is doing, or doing nothing,
expresses a value (of herdliness and not making waves).
If we select values based on instinct - there is nothing objective about that. Why not select other values at random? If it is because following our instincts makes us happy, then does not that say that our primary value is happiness - which can conflict with the value of truth? Also, instincts can mislead us - as the instinct to eat, can lead to obesity, or taking drugs, or other things that are distructive in the long term. Thus, following our instincts could easily lead us into error and falsehood - and may not be truly satisfying. Short term happiness may lead to long term misery.
Given that I have complete freedom to select values - how can I possibly do so? Any choice of values means I must already have a value, to use as the basis of making that choice. Kind of like that Zeno's paradox thing where I can't get going.
All I can see at this point is that I must select values that will lead to a life that I personally will find worth living. This is not quite the same as valuing (my own personal) happiness, because there may be other goals that turn out to be worthwhile, such as the pursuit of truth, or helping others orwhatever. But it is necessary, because if I am not going to live a life that is worth living, then I might as well just kill myself now.
So, then, what values lead to a life worth living?
Victor: As I said a long time ago, values are largely arbitrary. There are no objective values because there are no objective viewpoints; a viewpoint is always subjective. There are no (objectively) "good" or "bad" values, since both good and bad are themselves value-statements and assume the existence of objective values.
Dan Rowden: Objective values certainly don't exist; however, as
I've said often times before there are nevertheless certain necessary
values - that is, certain values become necessary in certain
contexts. The valuing of reason, again, is a necessary value if
one is, for example, desirous of discovering the ultimate nature
Victor: Most values are composite values. By that I mean that your high-level values (such as a large house, a good stake, or some Picasso painting) are underpinned by lower-level values (comfort, taste, and beauty). It becomes hard to answer the question of what the low-level values are based upon. This suggests to me that most valuations, at their most basic level, occur
All values are held by an
individual because the consumption (in the wide sense of the word)
of those values results in utility (i.e. satisfaction or
happiness (not necessarily pleasure)). Thus the drive to maximize
utility (the will to power) is responsible for the things we seek
and consume, whether they are good books, music, or philosophy
and truth. Those observations, however, don't provide an answer
to the question of where the most basic values came from in the
James: Unfortunately, we cannot, empirically, or rather, as empirically as we can get given our innate self-bias. I think, however, that your use of "choose" may be a misnomer, as I did not choose my own values; some are dictated by my personality/demeanor, which is innate, and some arose after interaction with an environment, which is outside of my choice as well. Of course I like to think that my set of values is the correct one, but I know that it is not always a feasible or even adaptive set; often I engage in behaviour which is detrimental to myself in one area so that I can please my inner tyrant; my conscience.
Dan Rowden: I also don't know that it's accurate to say that we ever actually choose our values. Our values are simply an expression of our natures, and whilst the more conscious we become, the more we may seek to consciously mould our natures, the values that underpin that process are already set in place. As James suggested, our values are a result of our psychological makeup at any given time plus the experiences we have that help mould that makeup.
To me there's a significant factor in truth valuing, particularly, that is seldom recognised, that helps shed some light on why an individual might come to value such a thing, and that factor is the tendency toward reason and consistency and authenticity of thought that is expressed by the masculine aspect of mind. We tend to think that the cause of a person's truth valuing is more likely to be that they have, in the past, been damaged by mendacity of some kind, either their own or that directed at them by others, and whilst this may be a factor, it is, to me, certainly not the source of "truth" valuing as generally spoken of in discussions here. By that I mean there's a difference between truth valuing as in wanting people to be honest in their dealings, and Truth valuing as in wanting to have an accurate and consistent perspective on the nature of reality itself. The latter demands a natural tendency toward intellectual integrity; it demands a mind that experiences discomfort in any weakness or contradiction or fault in its concepts.
Natural physical properties and the influence of experience no doubt combine to create such a mind.
I think everyone, at least in the beginning, is looking for "happiness"; the truth valuer sets out on a course of enquiry which he hopes will sublimate a psychological need - that seems like looking for happiness to me.
Our natures, and therefore our
values, are not static; we evolve in our consciousness; we evolve
in our perception of things and our values change as a result of
that. We may experience an insight into some aspect of life
or reality which changes irrevocably our whole value framework.
Some of us will give expression to our natures by way of a desire
to fulfill the psychological propensity that I spoke of earlier:
the tendency toward consistency and completeness of thought.
Who and what we are in any given moment is the culmination of our past lives (i.e. our causes). We can make some reasonable guesses at the most significant factors in that evolutionary process, but ultimately the causes are infinite and unknowable. We can point to certain biological facts and maybe some events in our lives that we believe to have been formative, but we can never say exactly why we're who we are. We can, however, consciously work toward being a particular thing. We can will an authentic self.
Our primary value is the will to
power, in whatever specific way that gets expressed. If
your true nature is being expressed then you experience your
greatest happiness, your greatest sense of validity as an
existent entity. The problem for human beings is that in a
very real way they are in a state of evolutionary crossroads;
people don't know what their true natures are. But one
thing that is for sure and certain and is universally experienced
is the quest for security for the ego. That is what
motivates everyone. Everyone exists in this complex, almost
chaotic state of constant movement toward the sublimation of the
need for egotistical security. That expresses itself in a
multitude of ways, from the work we do, our leisure, the friends
we have, the relationships we form - every damn thing we do, in
Ego expresses itself as the constant outpouring of desire; no matter how full our lives may become, desire enters the picture because that's how the ego works; ego is insatiable. The problem there is that where desire exists the suffering associated with its lack of sublimation also exists, therefore we all exist in a constant state of dissatisfaction of some kind. This is the essence of samsara.
David Hodges: I'm still considering the issue of what values one should live one's life by - what should be the underlying, guiding principle.
Dan Rowden: In my view this fact alone (that you're considering these matters) gives you your answer right away - truth and reason. How might one establish an accurate view of these issues without those? What I'm saying is that enlightenment is necessary for a complete and certain understanding of the issues and the valuing of truth and reason, as well as "character" traits like courage and resilience, are necessary for such an attainment. That seems so obvious to me and yet it's something that people tend to resist as they perceive the whole concept of enlightenment as either something of a romanticism or something too difficult and "far away" to seriously contemplate.
My own experience has been that it is neither of these things. That is not to say that one should reasonably expect to achieve enlightenment simply as a natural consequence of attempting it. It's certainly a little more difficult than that. But it is a necessary goal if we're serious about answering these sorts of questions. In the end we'll only genuinely embark upon such a journey if we can see that nothing else will be adequate. Part of the reason that I spend so much time deconstructing or attacking certain epistemological models is that I can see their ultimate inadequacy. It can, at times, look like cynicism for its own sake, but it's not.
David Hodges: Truth and reason are no doubt important tools, but may not be the underlying value itself. They are the 'how', but not necessarily the 'why'.
Dan Rowden: Truth is a goal; it's something you aspire to like any piece of knowledge, but you have to place value on it to have any chance of attaining it. The motivational force that underpins the valuing of such an attainment will necessarily be egotistical security or happiness. That is for sure and certain. Every sage begins his journey motivated by a flight from suffering of one kind or another. When it comes to enlightenment, the kind of suffering that is necessary is suffering over one's ignorance (expressed , perhaps, as a fear or dread over the possibility of error). It isn't possible for a person with a fully intact ego, which is what everyone starts out with, to do other than value and pursue things egotistically. What happens along the way, however, is that the path itself undermines the ego and that motivation falls away and the pursuit of truth becomes increasingly "purer", which is to say it simply becomes who and what you are, without the egotistical foundation.
As to reason, yes, it's a tool, but the more value we place on a tool which we know to be necessary to the attainment of some goal, the better we'll utilise it.
David Hodges: Below are possible values or principles that I have thought of by which one might live one's life. There are no doubt others. These are not mutually exclusive and may overlap. They could also conflict at times, so a heirarchy is probably necessary. I'd like to discuss what should be the relative importance of the below - and what other values people have that I have not listed, that might also be important.
Empathy - not hurting others, or helping others, because of feelings of empathy for people and other animals. Compassion.
Dan Rowden: There's a quote sometimes attributed to the Buddha that goes something like: "The greatest act of compassion is to know the Truth and to make it known to others." What we more commonly think of as "empathy" is just an agreement to pander to the ego. That, in the long run, doesn't actually help anyone, it just means the avoidance of short-term discomfort. I happen to think causing people to suffer - where done wisely and in the right directions - is the greatest act of compassion, because out of suffering, thought can arise, and out of thought, the means to transcend suffering. An "enlightened empathy" would be best described as an understanding of the ignorance and delusion in others and how that gives rise to their suffering. Genuine empathy and compassion is really nothing other than a proper understanding of Reality.
David Hodges: I don't think I agree with that - or, maybe I'm
disagreeing with your use of "just", as if avoiding
discomfort is very minor and trivial. Isn't it empathy that
is the moral justification for not killing or torturing people -
because you understand that they are people, can understand that
they feel things the way you would feel - that they have a point
Dan Rowden: Yes, but on that level I would think it's just common sense. I have no problem with the notion of "empathy" on that level. Certainly we should understand that people suffer and do so out of ignorance, delusion etc. That remedial point understood, the question then becomes how to proceed in addressing the issue. That is where we go astray, because without wisdom, we necessarily proceed deludedly, and that helps nobody.
The basic question is: helping others towards what?
David Hodges: You obviously feel that wisdom is the only worthwhile goal, but you have to help people in terms of their goals, not yours.... although it is unwise to give drugs to drug addicts. That is not 'helping' them, as much as they might see it that way.
Dan Rowden: Exactly - that statement sums it up perfectly. It is unwise to give drugs to drug addicts. But the thing is that all people are drug addicts - they are addicted to false notions about reality and their very own existence; they are addicted to deluded egotistical desires. That's why I am a walking de-tox unit ;)
David Hodges: But there may be other things that are worthwhile helping people achieve - oh, I don't know, political or economic goals, say. Learning a foreign language, or fixing a car. They might be worthwhile, or not.
Dan Rowden: They may be, even for the sage, but wisdom must be the overall priority (at least where wisdom is uppermost in your value system). It all depends on what your goals and values are. I would certainly not help someone get a job, for example, because as far as I'm concerned they should be dedicating themselves to thought. If they need help in that direction (getting a job) they can go somewhere else for it. My flatmate's youngest son, for instance, has recently finished school and is in job-hunting mode (or, more accurately, those around him are). I have no intention of helping him out in any way because I don't believe in his goal. For me, it would be like helping someone to commit murder.
David Hodges: Aesthetics - doing things, or refraining from doing things, because of an aesthetic sense - that you would like things to be a certain way; preference for a certain type or amount of order. Taste. Pursuit of excellence, relative to a personal standard of what that is (elegence, economy, beauty, etc. )
Dan Rowden: I think these will be secondary values. One will see economy, beauty etc in those things which facilitate the expression and realisation of our primary values and goals.
David Hodges: That might be a chicken/egg scenario - you might also
pick certain goals and values for aesthetic reasons.
For instance, isn't part of your reason for advocating wisdom aesthetic? Don't you see a world without wisdom as an ugly, barbaric place?
Dan Rowden: Not really. Barbaric, maybe, but not necessarily ugly. I don't really judge things aesthetically. A world without wisdom would just be a world without wisdom; in that sense, neither ugly or beautiful. However, it would be a world that is contrary to my values and goals. As the ego diminishes, aesthetic judgments give way to more purely logical ones. The same applies to moral and emotional judgments.
David Hodges: Authenticity - being true to yourself, acting out of one's own convictions rather than 'just following orders'. Sincerity. (This is advocated by e.g. Sartre.)
Dan Rowden: In truth, everyone acts in this way already. It's not really possible to act contrary to one's nature. It is, however, possible to deny the truth of one's nature, hence a perceived conflict (e.g. thought v action).
David Hodges: It's true that you are what you are, and you can't be what you are not. But not everyone will, for instance, stand by a principle when it is uncomfortable to do so. I think this is tied to the Rationality/Truth value, in that it is important to know what your nature is, to be honest with yourself about it - otherwise, how can you be authentic? On the other hand, if someone is e.g. a child molester by nature, then maybe they should go ahead and lie to themselves about it and not be true to that nature.
Dan Rowden: Oh, I agree with that completely, but that's because
their supposed standing by a principle was just an expedient for
some other purpose (gaining acceptance or notoriety within a
group or something like that). It's only when the principle
is a true expression of who and what you are that you will stand
by it in the face of possible harm, which is really to say that
you couldn't abandon it even if you wanted to - you would
literally have to cease being you. People will claim to
value reason, for example, but will studiously ignore places that
reason tells them to go, because they see potential danger or
harm for themselves emotionally/egotistically in those places.
That's a very common example of what you're noting. But a
person who, rather than merely claiming to value reason, has
literally become rational, cannot avoid the consequences
of his nature; he must go where that nature leads.
You're always authentic; the real issue is in whether you're aware of the direction in which your nature lies. Most people are very unaware, women more so than men. And knowing what your nature is doesn't mean the necessity of acting it out, it just means becoming conscious. If you realise that you're a complete cunt, that doesn't mean you should continue to be so. Some, however, may lack the capacity or desire to make a change in themselves. That's unfortunate but something we should accept (that doesn't mean we should simply ignore people doing the wrong thing by us).
David Hodges: If you are going to stand by your principles, even when
it is difficult to do so, then you better have some damn fine
principles that are worth the effort.
Dan Rowden: I guess anyone who does, in fact, stand by their principles thinks they are damn fine and worth the effort.
David Hodges: Rationality/Truth - doing things that promote a view (in one's self and others) that corresponds to objective reality and rational thinking, or help to eliminate falsehood and irrationality. Seeking knowledge, truth, and wisdom.
Dan Rowden: As I say, if the answers to the problems posed here are genuinely sought, then I think these values become primary by default.
David Hodges: I've always thought this is very important. But I
think there may be other values that are also very important,
maybe more important at times. Like, you can't think if you have
to pee really bad.
Dan Rowden: I don't really see the significance of that. Certainly there are practical matters that require our attention every day. We have to eat and tend to our health, but I don't see how that relates to the pursuit of our conscious goals and values. There will always be some biological considerations in whatever we do.
David Hodges: Pleasure/Pain - Seeking pleasure/avoiding pain. This relates to empathy : seeking to avoid causing pain in others, because of one's understanding and experience of pain in one's self.
Dan Rowden: Yes, but only wisdom takes one beyond pain (psychologically). The flight from ignorance into knowledge is itself a flight from suffering. Whatever the ego does, whatever our goals and motivations, it will be, whilst the ego still exists, to varying degrees, a movement from an unsatisfactory state to what is perceived to be a satisfactory one. The problem there is that if the ego does still drives us, then there is no permanent and true satisfaction since we will inevitably be driven by continued unsublimated desire.
David Hodges: If the avoidance of suffering is driving the seeking after knowledge, isn't the pain actually the primary value, and the knowledge just a means to an end?
Dan Rowden: You mean, a state of no pain, don't you? Anyway, I agree that the thing most desired/valued is a state of no pain; the knowledge is definitely a means to that end.
David Hodges: I was thinking seeking excitement could conflict the pain/pleasure principle at times, because people will sometimes seek out (or at least risk, or put up with) pain just because they are bored. I guess it comes together if I think of boredom as a kind of pain.
Dan Rowden: People enjoy certain kinds of pain and suffering more than we tend to imagine. Women, especially, love to suffer, there's no doubt about that. The reason is that suffering, up to certain thresholds of intensity, actually invigorates the ego; it makes you feel alive and real; it validates your existence. It is better to suffer, sometimes, than to be bored and feel only tenuously existent. This is a very important and somewhat disturbing lesson to learn in terms of human psychology. Most people deny the truth of it, of course.
Boredom is definitely a form of pain, but it can be among the most frightful forms of pain we can suffer; it's about the closest most people come to genuine existential angst if it is experienced in a prolonged way, which is why everyone is so busy avoiding it, and why people will put themselves in positions of other forms of suffering, just to avoid it.
David Hodges: Personal Responsibility and Self-Discipline - I'm not sure if this should be considered a separate value, or a means to achieving other ends (such as maximizing long term pleasure, possibly at the expense of the short term). But there may be a virtue in simply being a particular kind of person - having a certain character - as opposed to taking any particular actions.
Dan Rowden: If any goal is to be achieved and any value authentically expressed, a certain amount of focus and self-discipline is obviously necessary. But I think it's fair to say that this occurs naturally in the direction of whatever happens to be, at any given time, our primary value and goal. We can actually get an insight into what our primary values are by looking at where our focus lies and where we are most disciplined in our behaviour. For some, this can be a somewhat shocking revelation.
David Hodges: While seeking rationality and truth are values about what we do, responsibility and self-discipline are about what we are. I think these may be equally important.
Dan Rowden: It is important that seeking rationality and truth evolves from what we do to what we are. That "becoming" is utterly necessary for the attainment of wisdom.
Hodges: I find it ridiculous that
I am asking myself these questions now. They seem very adolescent
to me. How can I have reached the age of 38 without having
addressed and answered these core questions about life - what it
is that I value and consider important? Obviously I must have
values - I have made decisions along the way that have lead me to
where I am today. But they were not consciously chosen and
Perhaps my next step is to consciously examine exactly what goals I have; look at what choices I have made, and see what that says about what I value. I have to know what values I actually have, before I can consider changing them.
Dan Rowden: You can see what values you have just by looking at the way you conduct your life. People's values are actually extremely transparent. But if you haven't sorted out the whole issue of the nature of values, to the point of certainty, isn't that something you should value?
|From the Twilight Zone:|
"I have no hang-ups about sex."
- Why does an enlightened sage value truth? -
enlightenment involves the realization that everything lacks
inherent existence, including truth itself, then why does the
sage continue to promote truth after his enlightenment? Why not
promote something else - such as selfish pleasure, for instance?
Jason: You have said that one reason emotions cease to exist for the sage is because they realise the fundemental non-inherent-existence of the self. By following that same reasoning the sage would also see the fundemental non-inherent-existence of the propogation of wisdom. So why should a sage choose a certain non-inherently-existing thing over any other? Why would they choose promotion of truth, instead of emotional fulfillment of self, when both things are inherently non-existent?
David Quinn: The opposite question could just as easily be asked: Why should the sage promote the emotional fulfullment of self, instead of the promotion of truth, when both things are inherently non-existent?
The main factor which leads a person to evolve into a sage is his unconditional valuing of truth and wisdom. It is his valuing of these things which propels him into the realization that everything lacks inherent existence in the first place. Since there is nothing in this realization to inform him that he must stop valuing truth and wisdom, he has no reason to stop valuing them. As such, it is only natural that he places the promotion of wisdom above the promotion of seflish fulfilment.
Jason: But Truth and self both lack inherent existence according to the sage. Why dump self and not truth? If the sages realization informs him not to stop valuing truth, why does it inform him that he must stop valuing self?
David Quinn: Precisely because he continues to value truth. You have to keep in mind that the sage, like everyone else, has to value something. It is impossible to stop valuing altogether. Valuing one thing at the expense of another is part and parcel of having a mind. Even to value nothing at all is form of valuing something.
So the sage chooses to continue valuing truth because he sees no reason to stop valuing it. To him, the promotion of truth is the least irrational thing that he can possibly do in life. And so he swans about the world promoting the non-inherently-existing truth that all things are non-inherently-existing.
Jason: Frankly, it seems like you must play a game of chance to decide which non inherently existing things will be caused to continue after enlightenment.
David Quinn: Not at all. A person grows into a sage by virtue of the fact that he abandons a self-centered existence in favour of a truth-centered one. He comes to value truth wholeheartedly, without a sherrick of selfishness to stand in the way. As such, he can no more promote the self than an apple tree can start growing oranges.
- Meditation and God -
meditation exactly? Or to put the question even more succinctly,
what does the wise person
regard to be true meditation? Are the kinds of meditations
commonly practiced in Buddhist temples and Hindu ashrams examples
of true meditation?
simply means filling your mind with God. Anything more
complicated than that is ego-centered and vain.
Juray: Interesting definition. I've seen the same silly-happy smile at people, who are meditating or which are on drugs or which are meeting their God (or even his materialization: the lokal charismatic preacher!). My Thesis is that Meditation is a cheaper (and healthier) way to get high on your own supply than taking (external) drugs, but first you need much training. If for you God is an/the ultimate drug, I'd agree to your definition.
David Quinn: God, when properly understood, is the complete antithesis of a drug. If a drug can be defined as anything that boosts the ego in some way - either through the confidence and feelings of invincibility generated by euphoric highs, or through the creation of refuges for the ego to escape reality - then God certainly isn't a drug. For the very act of filling the mind with God requires an abandoning of the ego altogether. Far from boosting the ego, it actually threatens the ego and causes it great suffering.
Instead of saying "filling the mind with God", I could have just as easily said "eliminating all false thoughts about reality", or, "plunging oneself into the void underlying all things", or "opening up one's mind to the Infinite", or "tuning into the Tao". Properly understood, they all mean the same thing.
Juray: "Eliminating all false thoughts about reality" - OK, when you stop thinking at all, you eliminate the false thoughts, too. But I don't think, that you're closer to the "right" thoughts then.
David Quinn: I agree. So the trick is to learn how to discard the false thoughts and keep the true ones.
Juray: "Plunging oneself into the void underlying all things". Please excuse my primitive ignorance of higher spheres, but such sentence I would use just as an nice euphemism for "going to bed and sleep dreamless". I really like to sleep dreamless, but this is nothing exorbitant admirable to me. To reach this stadium I don't need meditation or drugs - only a warm bed.
David Quinn: I wasn't using the term "void" to mean nothingness or anything like that. I was referring to "emptiness" as understood by the Buddha. The nature of Reality is emptiness in the sense that it is totally without form and characteristics. It lacks every attribute you can possibly think of. So in one sense, it is nothing at all - and yet at the same time, it is utterly everything. That is what the enlightened person plunges into.
Juray: Drugs and meditation have in common, that both reduce the border between ego/the schopenhauerian "will" and the reality outside the mind/the sch. "imagination/concept". Maybe sometimes it can reduce the difference to zero.
David Quinn: In my experience, most people who "meditate" - e.g. in Buddhist temples, Hindu ashrams, etc - are either trying to block everything out of their minds in the hopes of achieving an altered state of consciousness ("stilling the mind"), or else are immersing themselves in ego-pleasing conceptions of God/nirvana. The former is drug-like in the sense that the meditator is trying to tease the mind out of its normal conceptual framework in order to experience reality differently. The latter is just a case of using fantasy to boost the ego's self-esteem.
In either case, I am using the term "meditate" to mean something else entirely.
Juray: If the ego is infinite/everything (by filling the whole subjective being), the term "ego" lost it's meaning. If the ego is nothing (by being completely abandoned), I can't see the great difference in the result - it's just the same infinite, seen from another aspect.
David Quinn: The difference is in the quality of consciousness. The enlightened person who abandons all deluded thought-processes, and who perceives Reality without distortion as a result, is engaging in a very different kind of consciousness to the person who merely imagines his ego being everything. It's difficult to describe the qualities of this consciousness in words, but there is an infinite difference between it and everyday, ordinary consciousness in terms of clarity, certainty, sanity, knowledge, and intuition.
Genius-L at a glance....
Everything we assert as empirically "known" is, strictly speaking, a theory. "The moon is a satellite that revolves about the earth" is a theory, a relatively secure theory but a theory nonetheless. The idea that the force that causes an apple to fall to the ground is the same one that causes planets to revolve about the sun is a theory. Al
It is logically impossible for anything to exist in its own right, independently of everything else. At the very least, a thing is dependent upon the existence of its parts. David Quinn
A snippet heard as I passed by a street preacher, "..... The scientists and the evolutionists say that I'm evolved. I completely reject that ......." David Quinn
The real environmental problem is over-population; fail to address that and you really address nothing. Overpopulation is the very hub of the wheel of environmental problems. The issue is not what Man does, but the scale on which he does it; the problem is not internal combustion engines or greenhouse emissions or factory waste or anything of the sort; the real problem is the scale on which such things are produced which creates an incapacity in the environment to recover and regenerate. Dan Rowden
I think that it is a thing of value to promote the masculine. Masculinity denotes independence while femininity denotes dependence. One does not judge another strictly from his physical appearance or from his overt mannerisms. One judges the mind. Marsha Faizi
It could well be that there has been no one in history who was so wise as to be completely beyond all temptation by women. But the fact still remains, however, that the wiser a person becomes, the less he is attracted by what the world has to offer. Wisdom expresses itself as non-attachment. David Quinn
Judgment is everything. The wise person knows this. If one demands exemption from judgment or from being judged, then, one is desirous of ignorance. Marsha Faizi
Why would you even want a hug? Do you have to have someone's confirmation? And what exactly is being confirmed? Bob Willis
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR....
Send any correspondence to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
"Less dry intellectualism please"
Your newsletter is an interesting read. My only complaint is that it is a bit dry and "removed" for my tastes. Do you guys have to go on about Ultimate Reality all the time? What about something more human - like sex, love and relationships for example? You guys never talk about anything that affects our daily lives. Makes me wonder what's wrong with ya'll ....
"Too much Truth!"
I am quite disturbed by many of the comments featured in these newsletters. I don't think you appreciate just how dangerous it is to promote ideas about "Truth" and "Reality". They quite literally destroy people's lives.
This might sound melodramatic to some, but I'm sure they haven't seen at first hand the devastating harm these ideas can cause. I have literally seen marriages break up, friendships destroyed, and jobs being lost because of these ideas. I've even seen people going insane. And for what? A nebulus, fictitious ideal of "Truth". Oh, please!
As president of SEAT (The Society for the Elimination of All Truth), I deplore the way you are poisoning people's minds with these addictive concepts. You should be ashamed of yourselves. All for you own egotistical gratification. The sooner we remove this blight on humanity, the better.
Society for the Elimination of All Truth
I tried to give this a chance and your group does bring up interesting points from time to time, but your philosophy seems to require that a person cut himself in half--the feminine nature must be destroyed in order to achieve enlightenment. Yet, how can such a lopsided psyche with access to only half of its wisdom achieve any sort of enlightenment at all? It seems you've made the feminine the scapegoat for all thwarted progress, which is a very simplistic conclusion and definitely at odds with your newsletter's statements regarding the complexity of life and human nature.
The feminine aspect of our natures has already been warped enough through repression, loathing, and cultural pressure in an attempt twist it into something greedy and helpless on which all of humankind's evils can be blamed. It amazes me that otherwise intelligent people can be completely oblivious to this fact and that people who seem to espouse freedom from the shaping and homogenizing forces of pop culture and society can embrace such a generic, stereotypical philosophy. I see value in both sides of my nature--two forces means a balanced perspective and twice as much power and wisdom--the two sides compensate for one another's weaknesses so that I am able to seek enlightenment as a whole being.
What is the purpose of having two sides if we don't use both to their fullest? If you only paddle on one side of a canoe, you just end up going in circles.
Please keep letters to approx 150 words; longer contributions will be considered for publication but may be edited.
All images in this publication are taken from "The Devil's Gallery" http://www.theabsolute.net
Disclaimer: editorial opinions expressed in this publication are those of its authors and do not, necessarily, reflect the views of subscribers to Genius-L. 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.
Copyright © 2000 - 2007 David Quinn & Dan Rowden
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